The Oldest Concert Hall In El Paso May Have Been The Courthouse
When concertgoers in El Paso wanted to see a show back in the day, they had to go to court.
Seriously. The El Paso Courthouse, once known as "Liberty Hall", was torn down back in '88 to build the courthouse we have now. Downstairs, Liberty Hall had a good-sized auditorium they used for many things like jury selection, meetings, rallys, etc.
Until then, it may have been El Paso's oldest, contemporary concert venue. See a pic here.
It was also used for concerts and according to some of my relatives, things got pretty wild down there.
In the 60's and 70's especially. Can you imagine sneaking in a joint and smoking it in the very building where they handed out ridiculous jail terms for even the tiniest amounts of ganja?
Today, you might get a ticket. Back then? A decade in jail.
Apparently, authorities were fairly good at looking the other way back then though. Otherwise, the bands that played there, (especially the rock, blues and jazz musicians), would have all been locked up.
After a few concerts, most of the concert goers would probably have been in jail too.
As time went by, UTEP built their facilities and the Coliseum was modified to meet the needs of live events other than rodeos. Numerous, smaller venues exist around El Paso as well and, today, whether a band needs to seat 5 people or 50,000; there's a place in El Chuco for them.
From the 50's to the late 80's, some big names played Liberty Hall. Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Jethro Tull, Captain Beefheart, King Crimson, 10 Years After and Robin Trower just to name a few. Click here to see the dates and the songs they played. .
I doubt we'll see rock bands perform in the Courthouse again. Although, if Texas will ever legalize pot, maybe we'll see peeps lighting up in the basement again someday.