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The Rainey Street Bar That Started it All

The Rainey Street Bar That Started it All

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Austin, I hope that you’ll have done your homework and will know where to go (The Noble Pig, anyone?) because the options are endless. But just in case your online searching didn’t inform you, make sure to stop by Lustre Pearl in the city's historical district, a bar with such an extreme personality that you’ll never forget your visit.

Lustre Pearl is located on a stretch of Rainey Street that is lined with bungalow-style homes, all built before 1934. Thanks to some rezoning laws in 2004, savvy bar owners were able to seize a new opportunity and turn this once sleepy residential area into a funky bar scene. Walk into Lustre Pearl, “the Rainey street bar that started it all,” and you’ll find yourself in a rickety stripped-out home with wooden floors that creak and rooms that evoke more shabby than chic.

However, once you pick up a bottleneck beer or their specialty cocktail, Moonshine with Lemonade, you’ll feel right at home in any of the bar’s different rooms. Feel like being outside? You can rent a hula hoop and show off your moves in their large outdoor space in the backyard. The bar menu is limited but provides all of the essentials, from Nachos and Fried Pickles to Philly Cheesesteak and Bad Ass Burritos.

Lustre Pearl, Bar That Started It All on Rainey Street, Celebrates 10 Years

The bar that launched the bustling, booming Rainey Street entertainment district is turning 10 on Feb. 21, 2019. They grow up fast, don’t they?

Here’s the story behind the bar that started it all.

Disclosure: This is my honest opinion, but it is not unbiased. Bridget Dunlap is a lifelong friend, and I am incredibly proud of her and her achievements. I also do some marketing for her and her company, Dunlap ATX.

The Luv Doc: Premature

By The Luv Doc, Fri., May 14, 2021

I excitedly made my first foray into clubland in more than a year on Saturday night with a group of friends who are all officially vaccinated. We had a nice dinner at Moonshine and then walked to Rainey Street for post-dinner cocktails. We're all in our mid-30s, single, and used to go out a few nights a month before the pandemic. I don't know if it's because a lot of older people are still hiding out or maybe because I never noticed before, but everyone on Rainey Street seemed so young. It didn't help that when I was passing by the service bar on the way back from the restroom, the bartender pointed at a margarita and said, "That's for the gray haired lady in the blue shirt." He was talking about me. I don't have gray hair, I have one streak of gray hair that I have been letting go for the last year because I haven't been to the salon. I know I shouldn't care, but I have been obsessing about it all week. I was thinking I might gradually start letting my gray hair grow out, but now, after being out of circulation for more than a year, I feel extra old. I am only 36! I would really like to stick with the plan, but I don't think my vanity can take it. How do I get my head straight about this? And don't tell me to start hanging out in nursing homes!

Happy news, Silver Streak! You have come to the right advice columnist! I myself have been prematurely graying since my early 30s. In fact, I am still prematurely graying. Every damn day. Some people might say that at this point I'm just graying, but those same people would also have to admit that no one has ever described me as mature. Not my jam. I have, however, been called "old man," "geezer," "boomer" (that one stings because I am really more of a Gen X-er), and lastly, "grandpa," which will be true soon enough because, what can I say? I'm a breeder. Even still, I have always thought of myself as Dirty Sixth old, or maybe even Red River old, but Rainey old? Damn, that stings.

Maybe I'm going senile, but as I remember it, Rainey used to be routinely overrun with beer-gutted, lanyard-wearing conventioneers from Squaresville, Indiana, and gaggles of bleach blonde bachelorette partiers wearing matching pink T-shirts that said something like, "Bridal Party Animal" or "How Merlot Can You Go?" &ndash you know, the kind of predictably generic, mildly obnoxious "fun lovers" that could really fill up a cash register at Unbarlievable, but made you pine for the days of the old Chain Drive. Pssst . for all you dark-rooted youngsters . The Chain Drive was a leather bar on Willow that was literally the hottest thing going in the Rainey Street District for a solid decade &ndash and by "hottest thing going," I mean that the air-conditioning system was underwhelming for a leather bar. It was a great place to go to cook up some crotch chowder, but maybe not a huge hot spot in a social sense. Amazing what a few hundred million dollars of speculative real estate cheese can do to fuck up a vibe, isn't it? And now it's a district. Oh dear. It looks like I have dated myself.

It sort of goes without saying that a cluster of bars in the shadow of a cluster of pricey condos isn't likely to be the genesis of an interesting cultural scene, but damned if they aren't giving it the post-college try, albeit a couple of decades too late. I know, I know, I sound like a goddamn boomer. The point is that Rainey Street, while a perfectly acceptable place to do some bachelorette party binge drinking, is a horrible place to use as a measuring stick for your worth as a human being, regardless of your hair color.

We both know you can change your hair color anytime you like, and you should if it will make you feel better about being you. Remember though, you're only forestalling the inevitable. There is only one alternative to getting older, and it definitely involves not getting laid. Dead people might look pretty, but old people FUCK. All the time. So much that there is an epidemic of venereal disease in nursing homes . #barebackboomers. Anyway, the point is that changing the hair on your head is fine, but it's only a temporary fix. Changing the thoughts in your head might take a little more effort and perseverance, but the result will be much more valuable and enduring. Let me be clear: I am not saying you can't do both. I am just saying that one yields better long-term results. Either way, you're still going to have to touch up the roots every now and then, so get to it.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Forget 99 bottles on the wall Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden has 101 beers on tap, and the bartenders are friendly and extremely knowledgeable about each of the pours. Throw in a selection of gourmet sausages and a huge outdoor seating area—perfect for the balmy weather Austin is known for—and it’s basically the beer garden to end all beer gardens.

Want to taste local beers? Craft Pride has a serious selection on tap, as well as bottles to buy and growlers to fill, exclusively from Texan breweries. It also benefits from a huge backyard with a Via 313 Detroit-style pizza truck permanently parked there. (Order the figgy Cadillac to split with friends—you won't regret it.) The vibe is fun and casual, and it's hard to beat a beer-and-pizza combo after a day of running around.

Lustre Pearl, the Rainey Street bar that started it all, reopens

Lustre Pearl is back on the scene. The East Austin reincarnation of the Rainey Street bar that started it all is slated to open on Friday, November 6.

Fans of Lustre Pearl will see that this "new" bar looks pretty familiar. The original Lustre Pearl building was moved from 97 Rainey St. and transplanted to a new home at 114 Linden St.

"It was crucial to restore this incredible house, to replicate everything the original Lustre — built in 1895 — embodied, to give our customers back the space they made an institution. It's been a labor of love and we are excited to once again have a full house," said Bridget Dunlap of Dunlap ATX in a press release.

In addition to the house, which has seen some much-needed upgrades, the Lustre Pearl East grounds will feature a separate building with a kitchen and a second bar. "The stark differences in the two buildings highlight a delicate harmony, a new Austin that couldn't exist without the old and an old that would not be preserved without the outcomes of the present," said Dunlap.

The kitchen will be helmed by Executive Chef Carson Symmonds, who has created a tasty menu of sandwiches and salads. On the bar side, guests can choose from a lineup of cocktails and beers.

Lustre Pearl East will be slinging drinks Mondays and Tuesdays from 4 pm to midnight, Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 am to midnight.

This is a hot time for the Dunlap ATX group. Burn Pizza + Bar recently opened on East Sixth Street, and another Lustre Pearl is in the works for Rainey Street.

Make Yourself at Home at 70 Rainey

70 Rainey takes luxury living to the next level. Our 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condos and penthouses combine sophistication with comfort. Our new condos in Austin are your own private sanctuary in the middle of a vibrant urban hub.

Inspired by natural surroundings, our condos for sale in Austin are meticulously crafted. Every night feels like a special occasion as you watch the sunset on your private balcony. Floor-to-ceiling windows fill your living spaces with natural light. Open floor plans highlight high-end designer finishes in 70 Rainey’s Austin luxury condos. At the heart of each residence is a custom-designed kitchen with premium appliances.

With over 31,000 square feet of amenities, 70 Rainey residents can have it all. Our 10th floor deck is an outdoor oasis featuring stunning scenery and lush greenery. At the northwest corner is a 72-foot long heated infinity pool residents enjoy year-round. Garden-wrapped seating and private alcoves allow you to dine al fresco with a kitchen close by. A fenced-in dog park allows your pets to play. Watch the sun rise as you begin your day with yoga or a casual stroll. In the evening, catch up with friends and family around one of the gas fire pits.

You will not have to venture far from our downtown Austin condos to discover hidden gems. Our prime location makes it easy to have a lifestyle that is uniquely Austin. A foodie's dream, you can sample gourmet cuisine prepared by renowned chefs. Find one-of-a-kind treasures at upscale boutiques. Listen to your new favorite band at a live music venue. Plan a waterside picnic for the family. Attend the opening of an art exhibit. Choose your favorite craft cocktail in one of the hottest nightlife spots in Austin. The choice is yours.


There is uncertainty about the birth date of Gertrude Pridgett. Some sources indicate that she was born in 1882, while most sources assert that she was born on April 26, 1886. [2] Pridgett claimed to have been born on April 26, 1886 (beginning with the 1910 census, taken April 25, 1910), in Columbus, Georgia. [7] However, the 1900 census indicates that she was born in September 1882 in Alabama, and researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc suggest that her birthplace was in Russell County, Alabama. [8] [9] She was the second of five children of Thomas and Ella (née Allen) Pridgett, from Alabama. She had at least two brothers and a sister, Malissa Pridgett Nix. [7]

In February 1904, Ma Rainey married William "Pa" Rainey. [10] She took on the stage name "Ma Rainey", which was "a play on her husband’s nickname, 'Pa'". [11]

Pridgett began her career as a performer at a talent show in Columbus, Georgia, when she was approximately 12 to 14 years old. [1] [12] A member of the First African Baptist Church, she began performing in black minstrel shows. She later claimed that she was first exposed to blues music around 1902. [13] She formed the Alabama Fun Makers Company with her husband, Will Rainey, but in 1906 they both joined Pat Chappelle's much larger and more popular Rabbit's Foot Company, where they were billed together as "Black Face Song and Dance Comedians, Jubilee Singers [and] Cake Walkers". [14] In 1910, she was described as "Mrs. Gertrude Rainey, our coon shouter". [14] She continued with the Rabbit's Foot Company after it was taken over by a new owner, F. S. Wolcott, in 1912. [1] Rainey said she found "Blues Music" when she was in Missouri one night performing, and a girl introduced her to a sad song about a man leaving a woman. Rainey said she learned the lyrics of the song and added it to her performances. Rainey claimed she created the term "blues" when asked what kind of song she was singing. [10]

Beginning in 1914, the Raineys were billed as Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. Wintering in New Orleans, she met numerous musicians, including Joe "King" Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Pops Foster. As the popularity of blues music increased, she became well known. [15] Around this time, she met Bessie Smith, a young blues singer who was also making a name for herself. [A] A story later developed that Rainey kidnapped Smith, forced her to join the Rabbit's Foot Minstrels, and taught her to sing the blues the story was disputed by Smith's sister-in-law Maud Smith. [16]

From the late 1910s, there was an increasing demand for recordings by black musicians. [17] In 1920, Mamie Smith was the first black woman to be recorded. [18] In 1923, Rainey was discovered by Paramount Records producer J. Mayo Williams. She signed a recording contract with Paramount, and in December she made her first eight recordings in Chicago, [19] including "Bad Luck Blues", "Bo-Weevil Blues" and "Moonshine Blues". She made more than 100 other recordings over the next five years, which brought her fame beyond the South. [1] [20] Paramount marketed her extensively, calling her the "Mother of the Blues", the "Songbird of the South", the "Gold-Neck Woman of the Blues" and the "Paramount Wildcat". [21]

In 1924, Rainey recorded with Louis Armstrong, including on "Jelly Bean Blues", "Countin' the Blues" and "See, See Rider". [22] In the same year, she embarked on a tour of the Theater Owners Booking Association (TOBA) in the South and Midwest of the United States, singing for black and white audiences. [23] She was accompanied by the bandleader and pianist Thomas Dorsey and the band he assembled, the Wildcats Jazz Band. [24] They began their tour with an appearance in Chicago in April 1924 and continued, on and off, until 1928. [25] Dorsey left the group in 1926 because of ill health and was replaced as pianist by Lillian Hardaway Henderson, the wife of Rainey's cornetist Fuller Henderson, who became the band's leader. [26]

Although most of Rainey's songs that mention sexuality refer to love affairs with men, some of her lyrics contain references to lesbianism or bisexuality, [27] such as the 1928 song "Prove It on Me":

They said I do it, ain't nobody caught me.
Sure got to prove it on me.
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends.
They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men.
It’s true I wear a collar and tie.
Makes the wind blow all the while. [28]

According to the website, the lyrics refer to an incident in 1925 in which Rainey was "arrested for taking part in an orgy at [her] home involving women in her chorus". [29] The political activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis noted that "'Prove It on Me' is a cultural precursor to the lesbian cultural movement of the 1970s, which began to crystallize around the performance and recording of lesbian-affirming songs." [30] At the time, an ad for the song embraced the genderbending outlined in the lyrics and featured Rainey in a three-piece suit, mingling with women while a police officer lurks nearby. [31]

Unlike many blues singers of her day, Rainey wrote at least a third of the songs she sang including many of her most famous works such as "Moonshine Blues" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" which would become standards of the "classic blues" genre. [31]

Throughout the 1920s, Ma Rainey had a reputation for being one of the most dynamic performers in the United States due in large part to her songwriting, showmanship and voice. [31] She and her band could fetch earnings of $350 a week on tour with the Theater Owners’ Booking Association which was double that of Bessie Brown and George Williams while a little over half what Bessie Smith would ultimately command. [32]

Toward the end of the 1920s, live vaudeville went into decline, being replaced by radio and recordings. [26] Rainey's career was not immediately affected she continued recording for Paramount and earned enough money from touring to buy a bus with her name on it. [33] In 1928, she worked with Dorsey again and recorded 20 songs, before Paramount terminated her contract. [34] Her style of blues was no longer considered fashionable by the label. [35] It is unclear if she maintained the royalties to her songs after she was fired from Paramount. [31]

Ma Rainey and Pa Rainey adopted a son named Danny who later joined his parents' musical act. Rainey developed a relationship with Bessie Smith. They became so close that rumors circulated that their relationship was possibly also romantic in nature. [10] It was also rumored that Smith once bailed Ma Rainey out of jail. [29]

The Raineys separated in 1916. [36] [3]

In 1935, Rainey returned to her home town, Columbus, Georgia, and became the proprietor [37] of three theatres, the Liberty in Columbus, and the Lyric and the Airdrome in Rome, Georgia, [38] until her death. She died of a heart attack in 1939. [39] [40] [3]

Ma Rainey created what is now known as "classic blues" while also portraying black life like never before. As a musical innovator she built on the minstrelsy and vaudeville performative traditions with comedic timing and a hybrid of American blues traditions she encountered in her vast tours across the country. She helped to pioneer a genre that appealed to North and South, rural and urban audiences. [31]

Her signature low and gravelly voice sung with Rainey's gusto and authoritative style inspired imitators from Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt among others. [31]

In her lyrics, Rainey portrayed the black female experience like few others of the time reflecting a wide range of emotions and experiences. In her 1999 book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Angela Davis wrote that Rainey's songs are full of women who “explicitly celebrate their right to conduct themselves as expansively and even as undesirably as men". [41] In her songs, she and other black women sleep around for revenge, drink and party all night and generally live lives that "transgressed these ideas of white middle class female respectability". [42] The portrayals of black female sexuality, including those bucking heteronormative standards, fought ideas of what a woman should be and inspired Alice Walker in developing her characters for The Color Purple. [43] Bragging about sexual escapades was popular in men's songs at the time but her use of these themes in her works established her as both fiercely independent and fearless and many have drawn connections between her use of these themes and their modern use in Hip-Hop. [44]

Rainey was also a fashion icon who pioneered flashy, expensive costuming in her performances, wearing ostrich plumes, satin gowns, sequins, gold necklaces, diamond tiaras, and gold teeth. [31]

Rainey was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. [45] In 1994, the U.S. Post Office issued a 29-cent commemorative postage stamp honoring her. In 2004, "See See Rider Blues" (performed in 1924) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was added to the National Recording Registry by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. [46]

There was also a small museum opened in Columbus in 2007 to honor Ma Rainey's legacy. It is in the very house that she had built for her mother and later lived in from 1935 until her death in 1939. [47]

The first annual Ma Rainey International Blues Festival was held in April 2016 in Columbus, Georgia, near the home that Rainey owned and lived in at the time of her death. [48] [49] In 2017, the Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts opened in Columbus, Georgia, named in honor of Rainey and author Carson McCullers. [50]

Sterling A. Brown wrote the poem "Ma Rainey" in 1932, about how "When Ma Rainey / comes to town" people everywhere would hear her sing. In 1981, Sandra Lieb wrote the first full-length book about Rainey, Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey. [51]

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a 1982 play by August Wilson, is a fictionalized account of a recording of her song of the same title set in 1927. Theresa Merritt and Whoopi Goldberg starred as Rainey in the Original and Revival Broadway productions, respectively. Viola Davis portrayed Rainey in the 2020 film adaptation of the play and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. [52]

Mo'Nique played Rainey in the 2015 television film Bessie about the life of Bessie Smith, for which she earned a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. [53]

The True Story of Ernest Hemingway's Favorite Bar

Three places lay claim to the title, but there can be only one.

In the 56 years since Ernest Hemingway died, even the most mundane details of his daily existence have taken on mythical proportions. Where he vacationed as a child, his favorite drink or where he liked to get a baguette are routinely debated by the literary-inclined.

Hemingway lived in Key West for about 12 years, owning a house there that is still populated by the six-toed (supposed) descendants of his beloved cat Snowball. It&aposs also no secret that he was a man who enjoyed a drink or several, routinely spending his evenings in a particular watering hole named "Sloppy Joe&aposs."

Today, Sloppy Joe&aposs on Duval Street is a Key West icon and pridefully plays up their Hemingway connection in every way possible - including plastering his face on t-shirts and hosting an annual Hemingway look-alike contest. Mere feet away and around the corner is another bar, "Capt. Tony&aposs." They too sell merchandise and have taken their own piece of the Hemingway legend by claiming they were "The First and Original Sloppy Joe&aposs." For years, the bars have engaged in legal battles to settle once and for all who can trademark themselves as the original "Sloppy Joes."

Here&aposs the thing, though: They are both wrong.

It was 1918 when Spanish bartender José Abeal y Otero finally got tired of working for others. A decade and a half earlier, he had arrived in Havana from Spain to serve drinks to thirsty patrons. His craft had taken him north to the United States - including bartending gigs in New Orleans and Miami - before coming back to Cuba and getting a job at the "Greasy Spoon." But enough was enough. Using the money he had saved, he bought a small bodega and opened his own bar. It&aposs unclear what Otero first called it, but when old friends from the States came to visit him - who called him "Joe" rather than "Jose - they had a suggestion. According to the bar&aposs 1932 cocktails manual, upon seeing the state of the bar, they exclaimed, "Why Joe, this place is certainly sloppy. Look at the filthy water running from under the counter." They started calling the downtown Havana bar "Sloppy Joe&aposs." The name stuck.

"Sloppy Joe&aposs" on Agramonte and Animas Streets in Havana became a frequent haunt for Americans escaping their country&aposs ban on alcohol. Despite its outer appearance, and according to their own advertising at the time, Otero believed in "genuine" ingredients and the bar was always "supplied with all the best liquors wherever produced, regardless of cost." Otero&aposs clinetelle was diverse — from prostitutes to celebrities like Frank Sinatra and boxer Joe Louis to regular, well, Joes. Hemingway was also a frequent patron. While the opening of Havana&aposs "Sloppy Joe&aposs" predated the author&aposs move there by about a decade, he liked to vacation on the tropical island (there was alcohol there afterall). And he was often joined by his friend and bartender Joe Russell.

At this time, Joe Russell was likely running a speakeasy in Key West. These trips to Cuba with Hemingway also perhaps doubled as rum-running expeditions. But after 13 years of the so-called "Great Experiment, prohibition was repealed. Now running a legal business, Russell was looking to expand so he purchased the old city morgue on Greene Street in Key West. He turned it into a bar and named it "Sloppy Joe&aposs," essentially stealing the name of the more-famous and original establishment 90 miles away in Havana.

While it may not be the first "Sloppy Joe&aposs," today&aposs "Capt. Tony&aposs" was absolutely a regular stop for Hemingway. Hemingway haunt. After all, his buddy Joe Russell owned it. "No doubt, [it] is where he did most of his drinking," says Monroe County historian Tom Hambright, "It was a real dive, though, so I&aposm sure he didn&apost take (his wife) there." Literary historians also believe that the bar was the inspiration for "Freddy&aposs" in Hemingway&aposs Key West-centric novel To Have and Have Not. In 1937, perhaps upset that his rent was being raised by six dollars, Russell moved the bar about a half block to Duval Street. One version of the story says that Hemingway financed the move (Hambright says there are no records of this, but doesn&apost rule out the potential that the author gave his friend cash).

Meanwhile, in 1965, the Castro-led Cuban government shutdown the original "Sloppy Joe&aposs." But in 2013, it was restored and reopened. Reviews are mixed.

In truth, while there is only one original "Sloopy Joe&aposs" and it&aposs in Cuba, Hemingway probably drank at all three bars. As Hambright puts it, the great writer "was not drink-shy."

22. Jam Out at Austin City Limits

If you happen to be in Austin during ACL but for ACL, good luck. This is the biggest music festival that brings people from all over the world on two consecutive three-day weekends Oct. 6-8 & Oct. 13-15, 2017. If you’re not here for ACL, avoid Zilker Park at all costs. If you want to check out, you can usually buy a wristband from someone at the entrance.

If you want to experience live music, visit Austin City Limits (ACL) Live at The Moody Theater.

The Studio

The sign outside the studio in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom says the label is Hot Rhythm Recordings, a play on a nickname for the “rhythm and blues” and jazz music of that era. In truth, however, Rainey recorded with Paramount Records between 1923 and 1928. Formerly known as Black Swan, the company was founded in 1920, and was the second Black-owned record label in history. It was bought out in January 1924, by M. A. Supper, changing it to a white-owned company. But its output throughout both eras was called “race records,” and they made bank.

“Ma” Rainey was immensely popular in the Southern theater circuit. She’d been a popular solo performer before she teamed with her husband William “Pa” Rainey, forming together the “Assassinators of the Blues.” In 1916, Rainey separated from her husband and toured with her own band, Madam Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Her Georgia Smart Sets. Her tent shows featured a chorus line, a Cotton Blossoms Show, and Donald McGregor’s Carnival Show. Talent scout and recording session supervisor Mayo “Ink” Williams brought her in for her first Paramount recordings in 1923, three years after the first blues singles were recorded by Mamie Smith.

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Williams was the first Black producer at a major record label, and the most successful blues producer of his time. He earned his nickname because he was very successful getting African American musicians signed to recording contracts. He’d move on to Decca Records in 1934 where he produced or wrote songs for a wide range of artists and genres, including jump blues, which became rock and roll.

Rainey was 37 years old when she signed with Paramount in December 1923. Rainey wrote 38 of the 92 songs she recorded, and her first session was recorded with Lovie Austin and Her Blue Serenaders. She and Lovie also recorded with Louis Armstrong for the label.

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Bigger genre labels like Okeh Records and Columbia Records, where Bessie Smith was signed, had much better studios. This complaint makes it into Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom several times, especially when a perfect performance never makes it through the needle because of a faulty microphone. Sound quality for most of Rainey’s recordings suffered at Paramount. The company went bankrupt in the 1930s.

While recording at Paramount, the studio did arrange a very successful promotional tour. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom includes scenes from Rainey’s run at the renowned Grand Theater on State Street in Chicago. Rainey was the first country-style blues artist to play the venerable room. This context is something the movie explores at length.

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The Rainey Street Bar That Started it All - Recipes

Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden

121 Pickle Rd, Austin, TX 78704
(512) 333-8516

Monday - Thursday: 12PM - 9:00PM
Friday - Sunday: 12PM - 10:00PM

Lustre Pearl - Rainey St.

94 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
(512) 662-8516

Monday - Thursday: 4PM - 11:00PM
Friday & Saturday: 2PM - 1:00AM
Sunday: 12PM - 11:00PM

The Infatuation

Keep Austin Eatin



“The wings at Tommy Want Wingy have developed an almost cult-like following in Austin, with people clamoring for their distinct, frenched chicken wings. There’s no debate about flats vs drums here - all the wings start as a drumette before being cleaned into a lollipop-like shape with a little bone handle. It makes them easy to eat, which probably comes in handy when you’ve got the munchies after a long night out, given their original Rainey St location. They’ve since expanded, now with a second location at Cosmic Coffee near 290 and South Congress.” - Adele Hazan

“Tommy Want Wingy, from the name alone, brings the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan to life. It’s a favorite food truck in Austin. They serve up delicious Chicken with sauces such as “Ranch on Fire” and “Holy Schnikes”

“There's no second guessing, this chicken is pretty much wing perfection.” - Yvonne Nava

“At one time, Tommy Want Wingy was an establishment that claimed to be South Austin's coolest food trailer. These days they're serving up wings on both Rainey St. and at Cosmic Coffee & Beer Garden, but both food trailers still boast the same delicious made-to-order chicken lollipops and friendly attitude. Their lollipops—aka chicken wings—are available in flavors like Sweet Chile, Ranch on Fire, Spicy Pineapple and more. Having tried their food numerous times ourselves, we can unequivocally state that we want Tommy Want Wingy." - Arielle Avila

We french cut all our chicken wings and turn them into amazing chicken lollipops!

"If you're looking to up your chicken wing game, there's a spot downtown you'll most definitely want to try. Tommy Want Wingy is located next to Lustre Pearl off Rainey Street. The wings are tasty and the story behind this business is even better.

"We put a lot of love into our work and you can tell when it comes out," said owner Neil O'Quinn. Neil and his brother, Shawn, had a love of chicken wings and a bright idea.

"We were just making them at home all the time, we used to live together, making them for our friends and family every weekend and said, 'Well, lets try it out, see if we can make this a business,'" said co-owner Shawn.

But their business needed a catchy name to tack onto the side of their bright-yellow food truck. Growing up in El Paso, the O'Quinn brothers remember watching a lot of VHS tapes and they really liked the movie "Tommy Boy." "When we were thinking of names for it, it just hit, it stuck. That was it," said Neil."