Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Honkey Tonks


After hearing the term Honkey Tonk over my life time I only recently thought of looking up the entomology of the term.

Basically what it means is a cheap bar, saloon or night club that features country music. The earliest use of the term was in 1924, earlier the phrase honk-a-tonk was used in 1894.

The "honkey" portion of the term was attributed to the sound of geese, which led an unsuspecting group of cowboys to the flock instead of to the variety show they expected.

The "tonk" portion of the name may have come from a brand name of piano. One American manufacturer of large upright pianos was the firm of William Tonk & Bros.

It seems more of a term to describe the music than an establishment term. There are honkey tonk bars and not all host honkey tonk music. There is a lot of self described honkey tonk music out there, but when you hear the real thing you know it.

7 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

I always assumed the "honky" referred to white people.

5:02 AM  
Blogger mark said...

Me too. But we've got plenty of white people in Astoria, but no honky tonk bars

8:07 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

That being the criteria, I believe I have been in a few Honkey-Tonks over the years. I always felt pretty well out of place in them, since I never have been a real fan of country music. But the places were always entertaining, to say the least.

8:43 AM  
Blogger g said...

When I lived in Oklahoma back in the mid 80's, I had the opportunity to visit some really excellent honky tonks. Some great times.

7:05 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, that was a term that came later for white people because to the ear a bunch of white people talking at the same time do sound like geese.

Mark, the closest we have it the Voodoo Room and the Labor Temple.

Darev, I think if you dress for it you could have fit in.

g, Great times only when you are accepted by the locals, otherwise always keep your back to the bar.

5:35 AM  
Blogger g said...

I was in my late teens and was part of the rough crew lol.

In Oklahoma at the time, the drinking age was 18 so if you were 16, notaproblem.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Joni said...

Upon reading this post, my first thought was of the Blues Brothers singing "Stand by your Man" LOL

12:15 PM  

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