East Texas Gem
Winnsboro couples small-town charm with the sights and sounds of the big city
- By Jan Adamson
- Issue: January 2011
For More Information
Winnsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, (903) 342-3666
t’s not on the road to anywhere big. It’s considered part of East Texas’ Piney Woods belt but also is a showcase for dogwoods in spring and spectacular leaves in the fall. And because it’s a bit off the beaten path, Winnsboro has developed as a destination in its own right.
Winnsboro, southeast of Sulphur Springs in the northeastern corner of the state, was one of the first East Texas towns to bring music downtown in a big way. The Crossroads Music Company was started in 2005 by singer/songwriters Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne, honoring Winnsboro’s 1854 name—Crossroads. The venue’s owner, Gus Gustafson, is crafting a new home for the music hall with concerts being held in the city’s downtown arts district. “We want to be the venue that supplies Winnsboro with some fantastic entertainment opportunities,” Gustafson says. “We’ll keep the big names coming and, partnered with the Center for the Arts, we’ll expand what we’re offering.”
Crossroads isn’t a restaurant, and it’s not a bar—it’s a music venue. You can usually get a cup of coffee, a bottle of water or a soft drink, but any other beverages you’ll have to bring yourself. Most of all, patrons are asked to bring a healthy love for and respect of music.
Once Crossroads found success in Winnsboro, other music venues sprang up.
Art & Espresso features music most Friday nights, serving assorted coffee drinks, pastries and ice cream. And, there’s the occasional poetry reading. “We’ve got great coffee, great pastries, great lunches,” says owner Marilyn Arnaud. “And we have a diverse talent selection here on Fridays.”
Although the Double C Steakhouse and Saloon makes its home in what may have been a stand-alone saloon or gambling hall long ago, it has found other ways nowadays to entertain its clientele. Huge flat-iron steaks, chicken-fried steaks and catfish start diners on their way while homemade desserts—such as apple, peach, apricot and cherry fried pies and coconut-cream pie—polish off the experience. The steakhouse also hosts concert nights featuring live music.
Brewbaker’s Restaurant & Pub is one of the newer music venues, offering a wide assortment of musical styles, both indoors and outdoors in its brew garden. The restaurant serves food all day, and my favorite lunch here is the sizzling goat cheese salad—mixed greens with roasted red peppers, kalamata olives and sautéed rounds of breaded goat cheese dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.
For a really special dinner before one of the concerts in town, ciboVino is a great choice. You’ll feel like you’ve just arrived in Tuscany when you open the restaurant’s doors. Dark woods and Italian-style murals just make ciboVino feel special, and the food doesn’t change one’s opinion. Extremely well-prepared Italian entrées and wood-fired pizzas are served along with steaks and lamb.
When it’s time to settle down for the night, there are plenty of choices. Aunt Ann’s Cottage is a three-bedroom cottage on a working cattle ranch. You’ll have your own kitchen and lots of privacy for relaxing. The FARMHOUSE at Hunter’s Moon Farm is a 1930s farmhouse that has been updated for the comfort of today’s traveler. The cottage has two bedrooms, two porches and a kitchen for the use of overnight guests. And Thee Hubbell House is a southern plantation estate nestled among gardens and 400-year-old oak trees. In addition to a separate cottage, there are five rooms in the mansion and six in the carriage house. Both houses are wrapped with porches just right for enjoying the setting.
After all that music, big plates of great food and a good night’s sleep, a little shopping is definitely in order.
Beauweevil’s is an antiques mall with vendors all showing the best of their wares. Soy candles and goat’s milk soap and lotions are specialties of the house.
To deck out your home and kitchen, Ladles to Linens can equip the most demanding gourmet. There’s also a wine-tasting bar, and you can get a bottle of wine with a personalized label to make any occasion special.
Winnsboro has worked hard at distinguishing itself as a go-to place for food and music, but it’s also a haven for the arts. The 3rd Friday Arts Fest Crazy Daze is a monthly arts festival featuring downtown vendors, art classes and exhibits, and the
Winnsboro Center for the Arts sponsors an art gallery with original works for sale.
Winnsboro may be off the beaten path, but you’ve definitely arrived at someplace special when you get here.
Jan Adamson is a freelance writer based in Grand Saline.
Jan Adamson – Texas Co-op Magazine (Jan, 2011)
Jan Adamson – Texas Co-op Magazine
Yes, Winnsboro, Texas!
Lauren Warner – Southern Living Magazine (Apr 1, 2012)
The Dallas Morning News
THIS JUST IN: Link here to read Dallas Morning News writer Michael Granberry’s 10-22-08 blog, which has nice things to say about Crossroads, AND points readers to Jimmy LaFave’s appearance on our stage Saturday, October 25.
(And congrats to the good folks at the Palace over in Grapevine!) Here’s what the blog had to say…
Kudos to the Palace Theater in Grapevine
4:50 PM Wed, Oct 22, 2008
Cool new concert venues are popping up all over the place. I, for one, have written extensively about Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. in Winnsboro and Music City Texas Theater in Linden. Both are sweet little venues that give new meaning to musical intimacy. Last Friday night, I found another one when I drove to Grapevine, where Jimmy LaFave was playing the Palace Theater. It’s a restored movie house in the heart of downtown Grapevine with fabulous acoustics. It’s always a pleasure to hear Mr. LaFave, whose songs are greatly enhanced by such gifted bandmates as John Inmon (lead guitar) and Glenn Schuetz (bass). Mr. LaFave was once described as the Van Morrison of Texas, and it’s easy to see why. He’s remarkable at covers, putting his own special spin on Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” and the 1966 hit by the Left Banke, “Walk Away Renee.”
Photo: Jimmy LaFave, left, with lead guitarist John Inmon
I prefer his own compositions, such as “Never Is a Moment” and “River Road.” They’ve never sounded better than they did in the Palace, which promises a concert-filled future. For more information, go here. Mr. LaFave is one of many artists these days who have cultivated a loyal following, largely through the Internet. His Internet band of loyal listeners will no doubt be heading to Winnsboro this Saturday, when he performs again on the back porch-like stage at Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. For more information about that event, go here. Lindy Hearne and Lynn Adler have done a terrific job with Crossroads.
Michael Granberry – The Dallas Morning News (Oct 22, 2008)
Once again The Dallas Morning News has found our little venue to be newsworthy! This article appeared on the FRONT PAGE of the October 14, 2007 Sunday paper. We’ve posted all of the written contents of the feature story below for your reading pleasure. OR to go directly to the ONLINE STORY or VIDEO, here are the links!
To view the VIDEO:
Cozy concert halls draw big names to small-town Texas
12:16 PM CDT on Sunday, October 14, 2007
By MICHAEL GRANBERRY / The Dallas Morning News
Photo by RANDY ELI GROTHE/DMN
Caption reads: Jimmy LaFave (with guitar) and his band, including accordion player Radoslav Lorkavic (left) perform at the Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. in Winnsboro, Texas.
WINNSBORO, Texas â€“ Once upon a time in this town of 3,584, nestled in the Piney Woods of East Texas, live music meant only a sock hop, played by a high school band in the local gym. “But all of a sudden,” says optometrist John Whorff, 42, “we have heart and culture. The sidewalks don’t roll up at 5 o’clock in the evening. The impact has been tremendous.”
In the past 12 months, Winnsboro has seen its sales-tax revenue climb 80 percent, according to Shane Shepard, 27, the town’s Main Street/community development director.
The catalyst is Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co., which provides some of the best live music in Texas on Saturday nights, Mr. Shepard and other residents say. The intimate venue occupies a 100-year-old building once used as a mortuary and hardware store on the town’s Main Street.
Crossroads’ popularity is part of a live-music boom that has infiltrated pockets throughout rural Texas. Coffeehouses and other acoustic venues have come to outposts such as Athens, Teague, Linden, Archer City and Mineola. And in tiny Point, artists including Mark Chesnutt and Gary Busey have performed in a converted cotton gin called the Cotton Pickin’ Theater.
“I used to come [to Crossroads] when this was a hardware store, but I like it much better now,” says Larry Tucker, 56, an English teacher and basketball coach from nearby Yantis. “Three years ago, I drove to Linden in Cass County to see Jackson Browne, who gave the best concert I’ve ever seen.”
Big names, small towns
It would have been unheard of before, say, the year 2000 for Mr. Browne â€“ a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame â€“ to perform in a town where the population hovers barely a guitar string over 2,200. But in 2004, he played a sold-out show in Linden, home to the 420-seat Music City Texas Theater, which months later welcomed native son Don Henley, another Hall of Fame member.
Mr. Whorff was one of about 150 patrons lining up outside Crossroads on a recent Saturday to see Jimmy LaFave, who was born in Wills Point in Van Zandt County but now lives in Austin. A rising star, Mr. LaFave once shared a Dallas concert with Bruce Springsteen and is a prime example of the kind of performer now playing sold-out shows in areas where “entertainment” was once confined to cable TV.
Mr. LaFave says Texas may have spearheaded the rural music boom but that it’s now spreading to the rest of the country. “You see places like this springing up everywhere,” he says. “Some are house concerts, some are in places like this, some are in churches.”
His own musical hero, Woody Guthrie, was “an American troubadour who went from town to town singing, and that’s what’s happening now. Music is flowing back into the community,” Mr. LaFave says. “But you don’t make people travel to see you. You go to them.”
Mr. LaFave and his band, including lead guitarist John Inmon â€“ who carved out a legend as a member of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Lost Gonzo Band in the 1970s â€“ dazzled the standing-room-only crowd for three hours and closed by leading a singalong finale to Mr. Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”
Richard M. Bowden, 62, who launched the effort to convert Linden’s abandoned American Legion hall into a pristine music venue, hears Music City Texas patrons “complain all the time about the corporate mentality and what it’s done to radio. I think it’s also damaged the aesthetics of music.”
What Linden and Winnsboro offer is very appealing, he says. Upcoming shows at Crossroads will feature artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ruthie Foster, Sara Hickman and Billy Joe Shaver. Linden has Robert Earl Keen booked for Dec. 1.
“To have something intimate in a rural setting, hey, it was bound to take off. There’s also the safety factor,” Mr. Bowden says. “People don’t have to go through metal detectors, like they do at big-city shows, and you don’t have somebody lurking a quarter of a mile away in a dark corner of the parking lot.”
Lynn Adler, 51, moved to Winnsboro from Dallas six years ago and lives at what she calls the Spring Hollow Organic Song Farm, where she and “soul mate” Lindy Hearne, 58, share the same land. The two opened Crossroads together in November 2005. Now, Ms. Adler and the ponytailed Mr. Hearne often share the stage at the venue, where pickers and singers peer out at the crowd from what resembles a creaky front porch in the Mississippi Delta.
“Lindy was the fearless one,” Ms. Adler says. “Absent his heart and vision, this wouldn’t have happened in a place like Winnsboro.”
Mr. Hearne doubles as a guitar and songwriting teacher, and Ms. Adler says Crossroads has been a nurturing ground for the town’s youths, including Mr. Hearne’s gifted guitar-playing daughter Kate, who’s 17.
“I think it’s been a remarkable transformation of our town,” says Mr. Hearne.
Ms. Adler says Crossroads’ rural isolation may be its biggest plus. As with Music City Texas in Linden, Crossroads is a draw for people from Dallas. Some of those constituents actually own second homes in the Piney Woods.
They include Dallas banker Craig Bevil, 60, and wife, Mary, 59. Mr. Bevil believes the success of such musicians as Miranda Lambert, from nearby Lindale, is helping fuel the small-town live-music phenomenon.
But Ms. Bevil contends that Crossroads is a charismatic draw by itself. Whereas big-city venues are large and impersonal and dominated by ticket scalpers, this one, she says, is warm and intimate.
Many who came to see Mr. LaFave say they want to be in a venue where they can hear the words, where they’re not bombarded with billowing smoke and flashing neon, and where the message of the music strikes more at the heart than the pocketbook.
For most shows, Crossroads’ ticket prices range from $15 to $20. Ms. Adler says the Internet has helped widen the fan base. Those who like Mr. LaFave, for instance, see that he’s playing in Winnsboro and make plans to go, having no clue about where or what Winnsboro is.
“People come here for the first time and say, ‘Oh, my God, I had no idea there were rolling hills and winding trails and all this water, all these pine trees, all this beauty,’ ” Ms. Adler says. “You can just feel the stress fall off of you.”
Of course, Dallas and other cities are experiencing their own acoustic boom. Venues such as Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse, a no-smoking, no-alcohol club in North Park Presbyterian Church, have never been more popular. Fort Worth has the Jefferson Freedom Cafe, Lake Dallas has the Town and Country Coffeehouse, and Plano has the new Amphitheater at Oak Point Park.
Jimmy Wilson, 64, and wife Patsy Wilson, 64, drove to Winnsboro from Hughes Springs to hear Mr. LaFave. They’re also fans of Music City Texas in Linden, where Mr. Henley’s show drew fans from as far away as Germany and Japan. But the Wilsons say the live-music surge has more to do with basic survival than with being entertained.
“Let’s face it, a lot of these towns are dying,” Mr. Wilson says. “I see this as an effort to bring a little back in.”
Mr. Bowden agrees, saying that Linden turned to Music City Texas and tourism in hopes of reviving a sagging economy, which was hit hard when a Wal-Mart opened in nearby Atlanta and took business from mom-and-pop stores on the town square.
Music is also drawing tourists to Winnsboro, which revels in not having a Wal-Mart and where chain restaurants have been limited to Sonic and Dairy Queen. Crossroads now counts as its neighbors LouViney Winery & Bistro, a New Age spa, a pair of bed-and-breakfasts and, soon, an eagerly awaited gourmet Italian eatery.
James Peal, 58, who drove from Garland to Winnsboro to see Mr. LaFave, says live music is thriving in small towns because baby boomers want good music.
Some, like Mr. Tucker, a recovering alcoholic, appreciate the no-alcohol, smoke-free environment.
“I come here because I can feel comfortable,” the Yantis coach says.
With age comes wisdom, and Bertie Kirby, 85, who lives in nearby Hawkins, says she came to see Mr. LaFave because no place showcases his music better than Crossroads.
“You don’t go to a honky-tonk to see Jimmy LaFave,” she says. “It’s listenin’ music.”
David Hyatt, 65, from nearby Holly Lake Ranch, says Winnsboro looms as a sweet tonic. “I was at Woodstock,” Mr. Hyatt says. “But now, this is the kind of music that we â€“ the Woodstock generation â€“ want to curl up and listen to. If anyone can tell me a better place than Crossroads to hear such music, please do so. Because I want to know where it is.”
IF YOU GO
Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. is at 216 N. Main St. in downtown Winnsboro. For more information, call 903-342-1854 or 1-888-342-1854, or visit www.crossroadsmusiccompany.com.
Upcoming shows include:
Albert & Gage on Nov. 10
Ray Wylie Hubbard on Nov. 24 (Crossroads’ second anniversary celebration)
Sara Hickman on Dec. 1
Ruthie Foster on Dec. 15
Billy Joe Shaver on Feb. 2
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Other places in Winnsboro worth checking out include:
Thee Hubbell House Bed & Breakfast (1-800-227-0639)
Oaklea Mansion and Manor House, a bed-and-breakfast (903-342-6051)
LouViney Winery & Bistro (903-342-0485)
ciboVino, an Italian-Mediterranean restaurant opening in late October
Double C Steak House (903-342-3111)
Music City Texas Theater is at 108 Legion St. in Linden, about 150 miles east of Dallas. For more information, call 903-756-9934 or visit www.musiccitytexas.org. Upcoming shows include the Bellamy Brothers on Oct. 20, Robert Earl Keen on Dec. 1 and Gene Watson on Dec. 8.
Annual events include the Piney Woods Cowboy Gathering and the T-Bone Walker Blues Festival.
Michael Granberry – The Dallas Morning News (Oct 14, 2007)
Here’s a “Road Trip” feature the Dallas Morning News published spotlighting Crossroads in June of 2006…
Crossroads Coffeehouse in Winnsboro Ideas for out-of-town getaways
Byline: Michael Granberry
Art: PHOTO(S): (James Madison Thomas) Photo caption: Pierce Pettis will perform Saturday at Crossroads.
Text: Settled in the 1850s, the East Texas hamlet known as Crossroads would eventually take on a new name: Winnsboro. So it’s fitting that Winnsboro has a cool new venue called Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. that features some of the best live music in Texas. Its stage, resembling the front porch of a Mississippi Delta farmhouse, has lured such names as Tish Hinojosa, Vance Gilbert, Albert & Gage and Ronny Cox, a singing actor seen most recently in Desperate Housewives but perhaps best known for his role in Deliverance.
The coffeehouse explosion that began in Dallas with Uncle Calvin’s has segued nicely to the Piney Woods, where you can find Winnsboro at the junction of State Highways 11 and 37, 15 miles northeast of Sissy Spacek’s hometown of Quitman. Launched by performing songwriters Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne, Crossroads has plans to fill out the rest of 2006 with, among others, Sara Hickman, the Austin Lounge Lizards and Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines (the father of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks). Ray Wylie Hubbard will perform for its first anniversary during Thanksgiving weekend.
Ms. Adler and Mr. Hearne say Crossroads serves a “soda-shop-style menu” and even has a store that provides a “rare-to-these-parts source of new to vintage instruments and music supplies.” Lodging is available at Thee Hubbell House, whose Internet link can be reached through the Crossroads Web site. Area “wining and dining” includes LouViney Cellars & Bistro, just half a block from Crossroads; Rita’s Italian; and the Winnsboro Bakery & Cafe. Just across Main Street from Crossroads is the Copper Leaf Day Spa & Salon, where even the Crossroads performers “find relief in the form of massage therapy.”
Saturday nights at 7:30. This week’s performer is Pierce Pettis (who will be at Dallas’ Uncle Calvin’s coffeehouse on June 23); Ryan Beaver will perform June 24. Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Co. is at 216 N. Main St., Winnsboro, about 90 minutes east of Dallas by taking Interstate 30 to Sulphur Springs (exit 124) and heading east on Highway 11. 903-342-1854. www.crossroadsmusiccompany.com.
$10 in advance, $12.50 at the door.
This article has been a welcome help, bringing MUCH attention statewide to our venue. Thank you Dallas Morning News and Michael Granberry!
Michael Granberry – The Dallas Morning News (Jun 16, 2006)
SHORT CUTS – A special section featuring a review of our duo debut CD, along with new CDs out by such artists as Pete Seeger, T Bone Burnett, Slaid Cleaves, and the late Dave Van Ronk.
Here’s what they wrote…
ADLER and HEARNE, Opposites Attract, (Spring Hollow 0105). Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne’s debut CD was recorded live during one of their house concerts. Lynn’s vocals range from crystalline (“Lullabye”) to sultry (“He’s So Big”). Their instrumental work together provides a rich backdrop to their duets and harmonies. Two songs that showcase the strength of Adler & Hearne’s writing and performance are the achingly heartfelt “Take It Back” and the rousing “Hollerin’ The Hills.”
Reviewed by: KE (soon as we find out who KE is, we’ll let you know!)
Sing Out! Vol. 50 #4 Winter 2007 (Nov 27, 2006)
WINNSBORO’S NIGHT LIFE
by Maryann Miller
Like many other small towns, Winnsboro used to roll up its sidewalks at five o’clock, and folks had to go elsewhere for any kind of evening entertainment.
Not any more.
It started a few years ago when the Trails Country Center for the Arts (TCCA) scheduled concerts, plays, and other entertainment on weekend evenings and people came; but that was only on the occasional weekend. The rest of the time people still had to go out of town if they wanted a little entertainment with their dinner.
Now Winnsboro has three venues for live music every weekend, and by all indications, all are thriving. “We’re not really in competition,” says Jeff Heath, owner of the Winnsboro Bakery & Cafe. “We compliment each other and support each other.”
The Bakery offers fine dining on Friday and Saturday evenings and often will partner with TCCA or the Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Store for a dinner and a concert event. Other evenings the Bakery has live music at the restaurant. A recent guest performer was Jessica Faltot, one of the duet team of 2Accordions. The duo, which includes Rebecca Ratliff, are the National Accordion Classical Duet Champions.
They’ve only been in business for four months, but already the LouViney Winery has impacted the downtown area in a positive way. People can enjoy a variety of Texas Wines, specialty appetizers, and live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Singer/Songwriter, Stan Narramore, was the most recent performer at The Winery, singing a variety of folk and blues songs. He also slipped in one or two original pieces. Here he’s getting ready to start another set. As every performer knows, the microphone has to be in just the right place.
That same evening, the Crossroads Coffeehouse & Music Store had a special concert by owners, Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne. Filling out the ensemble group was Kate Hearne on guitar, L. Alan Prazak on drums, and Randy Simmons on bass guitar. They performed for a standing room only crowd that thoroughly enjoyed the mix of folk and Americana music.
What is truly amazing is that all of this is local talent, people who live in or near Winnsboro, and it is only a small representation of the creative talent in this area.
A wealth of actors and artists have sustained the Trails Country Center for the Arts for four years and continue to offer exceptional entertainment and classes. The surrounding area hosts a number of artist’s studios, and there are several well-known writers who call the Piney Woods home.
Shannon Monk who helped organize the latest concert at the Crossroads said, “Winnsboro can be a destination city for folks who want to come and have a taste of what is normally only offered in a larger city.”
Crossroads salutes WinnsboroToday.com and writer Maryann Miller!
Maryann Miller – winnsborotoday.com (Feb 6, 2006)