This article is part of Wide Open Country's ongoing series Back to Country, which celebrates country music venues around the U.S.
If you're driving through the towns of the Texas Panhandle and you've found yourself southeast of Amarillo near the Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway, you've come to a good stopping point. You're one of the lucky travelers who has found themselves just north of a small town called Turkey, Texas.
Turkey, Texas is famously known as the home of the king of western swing, Bob Wills. It is also the home of a family-owned and operated bed and breakfast that goes by the name of Hotel Turkey.
We were lucky enough to get in touch with Carley Martinez, a local Turkey, Texas resident, and the manager of the Hotel. Martinez sent us this story:
Established in 1927, Hotel Turkey operated as your typical small-town establishment until 2015 when it found itself full of new life after being purchased by Pat and Tina Carson. Turkey has a storied history, and for years this small Panhandle enclave would be a quiet typical town except for one weekend a year when it filled to the gills with two-steppers and fiddle players!
"The Hotel belongs to Turkey. We are just its current caretakers. We knew that we could add something special to the community and it has been a wild ride watching it grow. Heck, we used to not have locks on the doors, now we are adding rooms as quickly as possible so we can accommodate everyone that wants to visit!" the Carsons explain.
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But in 2015, the Carsons made a commitment to creating a year-round respite from the rest of the world. And no small part of that is the incredible music scene that has been cultivated over the years. The first official act to play at the Hotel was the legendary fiddler Jason Roberts, but the music that fills the air in Turkey does not end with Western Swing. With help from Dave Martinez, the roster of acts that travels to this small town of 400 is nothing short of exceptional. John Baumann, Drew Kennedy, Ross Cooper and Matt Martindale are just a few of the well-established names you will see on the marquee. But it is the more hidden gems that can offer some of the best musical experiences. From legends in their fields like Junior Vasquez or Hawkeye Henson to fresh faces sure to be legends someday like Tyler Halverson or Juliet McConkey, there is magic in the Music Shed every weekend. The Hotel itself boasts a unique stay that can not be matched and you will never leave hungry. The food is something of its own celebrity. Especially Saturday's Steak Night.
"We hear people say 'oh this is the next Luckenbach or Marfa. But I hope that is not the case. Turkey has its own magic and what we are creating out here is truly unique," Martinez shared.
You have to be headed to Turkey to get there, but once you are there, you won't want to leave.
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