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Oildale residents and musicians bid final farewell to Trout's honky-tonk

Posted at 7:52 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 10:55:31-04

OILDALE, Calif. (KERO) — The community of Oildale saying a final farewell to the Trout's Nightclub. A long-time honky-tonk and one of a few historic locations made famous by the Bakersfield Sound. From Merle Haggard to Tommy Hays, the stage of Trout’s once hosted them all.

“Every musician in town, everybody, always came to trouts," said Bobby Durham, who played for decades alongside Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in the Bakersfield Sound.

Durham remembers Trout's fondly as a working man’s honkey-tonk. Mike McCoy with the Kern County Museum reiterated this sentiment, saying with the building gone, Bakersfield has lost yet another piece of history.

“What I would call a working man and woman’s bar, cold beer, good music, and just a place where a lot of friends gather and have a good time,” McCoy said.

Trouts Night Club opened its doors in Oildale in 1945 all thanks to local blue collar Dalian Vern Hoover.

“When Vern Hoover got out of the Korean War and came back to Bakersfield, he picked up a place called 'Red's Place' and so he got into the bar business. Well when he had a little money that borrowed from a relative, he started Trouts," McCoy said. Trouts on North Chester, the Blackboard on Chester Avenue, and the Texas Barrelhouse on the Garces Circle. And for up until the 1970s even 80s those places were all rocking and rolling.”

The building home to all the major country stars who found their start as part of Bakersfield Sound. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Red Simpson, Henry Sharpe, and Tommy Hays. The voices of Kern County heard all around the world all played right here.

“My dad played on both stages with Bobby and many others," said Anna Reading-Carey of Citizens Preserving History. "e also went down in the basement, there’s a basement under all this rubble, down the stairs and that’s where all the musicians would come down stairs and jam."

David Simpson, son of famous country star Red Simpson, first played at Trout's in 2014.

“This is where I got my start with my ole' man right here," he said.

Trout’s made it’s final last call years ago — the nightclub closing its doors and the building was sold in 2018. But it remained unused over the years and then on Sunday night flames erupted, leaving a pile of rubble and a sense of loss for the community of Oildale.

Longtime trouts visitor Don Elliot stopped by Tuesday to pay his respects to the place he spent nearly 2 decades visiting. Taking a piece of what remains home with him.

“It was really nice, I really enjoyed it," he said, holding a piece of burnt plywood in his hands. “It meant a lot it really did.”

But out of the ashes the memories of Trout's will live on.

“They’ll never destroy the memories, them memories will be here forever," said Durham.