THE MUSTANG BAND
by Jim Olinger
Although there are certainly hundreds of gay
Country and Western musicians, there is still only
one openly gay Country and Western band. Naturally,
they are Texans - the Mustang Band from Houston.
The original Mustang Band was an offshoot of the
Mustang Club, a gay C&W club in Houston. Several
Mustang Club members, including guitarist Tom Groves
and keyboardist Larry Hodge, began playing together
in 1977. Their first paying gig was one night a week
at the Inside/Outside in Houston. A series of appearances at the Brazos River Bottom and the Exile followed,
and then the Reno Gay Rodeo.
The Mustang Band is currently playing gay clubs
all over Texas. They are appearing every other Friday night at the Red River Crossing here in Austin.
"We're really happy to play the Crossing," Tom Groves
says. "The way our audience here in Austin is building is very nice."
The band's biggest problem, according to Groves,
is "We really need to have five Saturdays a week.
That's the night everybody wants us." The Mustangs
are also appearing regularly at Snuffy's Saloon in
San Antonio and at The Saddle Club and Houston Country in Houston. The band is working full time and
none of the members have outside jobs.
The band embarked on a 23-state tour early in
1979. "We did local bars from coast to coast,"
Groves and Hodge recall. "Florida, St. Louis, Nashville, Ohio, Denver, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Reno,
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio,
Corpus Christi, Austin, and Houston. We played
places ranging from the Twin Oaks, a gay dude ranch
in Caliente, California, to some joint with a sign
that said 'We do barbecue.' There were people
fighting and shooting guns. We ran like hell."
Other experiences on that tour included running
out of gas on Hoover Dam and playing the rest areas
of the North. "We had a camper with a poier supply,
so we'd stop at rest areas, set up and try out new
songs. Truckers would stop and listen. It was
In July and August of 1980, the band toured the
West Coast for six weeks. One stop was their second
appearance at the Reno Gay Rodeo. "We played for 4500
people at a barn dance and for 9000 in the stands,"
Tom Groves remembers. Real People was there filming
the Gay Rodeo and they taped us." That segment hasn't
been aired, as of mid- 1981. However, the
Mustang Band has appeared on the national cable television program What's Up, America?
If you are going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
this year, be sure to catch the band at The Refuge,
a new restaurant/bar in the French Quarter. Other
plans for the near future include a party in Manhattan
to publicize the Reno Gay Rodeo and Lone Star II -
a Texas-wide motorcycle club meeting in Dallas.
The Mustang Band, and its audience, is breaking
down the myth of gays as high-fashion disco queens.
There's some good, old-fashioned, HOT cowboys in them
there hills, and the Mustang Band is bringing them
out. More power to them!
Robert Bodalatto (bass), Larry Hodge (keyboard), Don Barnett (leadvocals),]
Joseph Siegel (fiddle), Tom Groves (guitar), and Kevin Dwyer (drums)