Between Crawford and Porter Avenue in Norman, a resurgent live music scene is brewing. At the forefront of this movement is The Bluebonnet Bar, clad in worn pool tables and chipped blue paint. At first glance, it may seem weathered, but The Bluebonnet epitomizes the history and tradition that has welcomed rising folk and country artists to the oldest bar in Norman.
The Bluebonnet, located on Main St and next to Bigfoot Creative, holds open an inconspicuous door with dated glory for weekend performances. This dull brown door, set between faded neon 80’s beer signs, holds little to catch the eye but serves as a crossroads to art and leisure. For those uninitiated, the bar’s cash-only policy and bottled domestic drafts comfort those looking for a convenient escape from drab day-to-day activities that unite each of us. This no-frills, come-as-you are type of hospitality is the strongest suit of The Bluebonnet, where each patron is treated as family.
Upon crossing the threshold from the sidewalk, The Bluebonnet greets you to to an atmosphere reminiscent of an Elks Lodge. Dated electronic dartboards set next to a faded cigarette machine hold the eye hostage. On the opposite wall, a pixelated twenty foot mural of the Budweiser Clydesdales sets the background for the small stage. With a soundboard, a few monitors and a bar stool set in a ten square foot space, the crude stage eliminates the unnecessary separation between artist and listener. This lures the listener into not just the physical performance space, but also the artist's aura. With the first table within arm’s distance of the artist, The Bluebonnet sets a casual tone best suited to more personable artists.
Between the small alley of wooden spool tables and the opposite wall sits the exposed brick bar. With its fine wood countertops and open-ended demeanor, the character of The Bluebonnet’s bar invites patrons into the warmth of the ever-charming conversation of the cultivated barkeep. Behind the bar, various dated bottles highlight the mirrored background while elk busts and bull horns flank a 16x20” oil painting of Johnny Cash that accompanies the slogan, “Cash Only.”
Towards the back, after passing the tinted and well-used jukebox, the pair of side-by-side billiards tables feature the The Bluebonnet’s casual vibe. With restrooms labeled “Pointers” and “Sitters,” the demeanor of well-worked leather permeates the lounge.
With strong country influences, warm greetings and Rusty Weir tunes playing at a casual level, the bar represents hospitality at its finest. The Bluebonnet hosts singer-songwriter types such as Tanner Miller, Caleb McGee and Dylan Stewart, but more importantly, brings the community together in a welcoming atmosphere that represents the history of Norman.