For more than 80 years, the Devil's Backbone Tavern in Fischer, Texas has been a staple of the Texas Hill Country. Texans young and old have gathered in the historic establishment, beneath the multiple dollar bills stuck to the ceiling, to visit, play shuffleboard and spin around the dance floor to classic country on the jukebox.
The Devil's Backbone changed hands this year, but new owners Robyn and John Ludwick and Abbey Road are keeping everything that made it special while breathing new life into the beloved tavern.
Among the changes: there's no more smoking inside (but still plenty of room to do so on the revamped patio area). The tavern now has a full liquor license, but you can still enjoy an ice cold (and cheap) Shiner, Pabst Blue Ribbon or Schlitz. Don't worry, the bullet holes in the ceiling (reportedly from a few patrons using Christmas decorations as target practice in the late '70s) are still there. And the jukebox will still be playing George Jones and Mickey Gilley. The new crew has even reopened the abandoned dance hall that sits adjacent to the tavern.
All of the owners are heavily involved in the Texas music scene. Robyn Ludwick is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter. Her husband, John Ludwick, has been playing with Texas legends like Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis for years. Abbey Road operates yet another historic Texas venue: Coupland Dance Hall in Coupland, Texas.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, the bar on the border of Comal and Hays County (near Wimberly, Texas) first opened in 1937. In the 1940s, it was operated by Evelyn Kubena, who ran the venue until 1974. The tavern changed hands a few times in the 1980s before Helen Ferguson took over in 1990 and helped renew the Backbone and make it into the honky tonk heaven it is today.
Throughout the years, The Devil's Backbone Tavern has been a haven for live music. Texas natives and touring musicians have made it a point to stop at the haunt, whether to play music or just take in the atmosphere. Singer-songwriter Todd Snider even penned a song in honor of the bar, "The Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern."
Among the regular patrons, you might see a few of the non-living variety. There are multiple ghost stories about the tavern's haunted history. People have reported seeing ghosts of Confederate soldiers and a lady dressed in all white strolling around the country roads that lead to the bar.
Whether you're a native Texan or just passing through, no trip to the Texas Hill Country is complete without a stop at the Devil's Backbone Tavern.
The Devil's Backbone Tavern is located at 4041 FM 32 in Fischer, Texas