Interactive Houston Folk Music Venue Story Map


The Woodson now has a new addition to our Story Maps. We’ve used Esri’s ArcGIS software in conjunction with their Story Map application to create a map that follows the growth and decline of Houston’s folk music scene. Included are photographs of venues, posters, video clips of people describing the places, and some live audio.

If you haven’t checked out our Story Maps on U.S. Civil War Narratives and Journals and Diaries, you are in for a visual treat.

Memorabilia Monday: Autographs 4: Literary Writers

Let’s forge ahead with more notable signatures from the Gordon Russell West collection. Unlike the last few batches that have been British-only, this is more of a hodge-podge.

First, we’ve got playwrights.


Caption: Henrik Ibsen: 1828 – [1906]


Caption: Tom Taylor: 1817 – 1880. English dramatist and art critic. Editor of “Punch”, 1874 – 80.

While Tom Taylor may not be a household name, Pres. Lincoln was watching Taylor’s play, Our American Cousin, when he was shot.

Next, there are the novelists.


Caption: Victor Hugo: 1802-1885.

If you look up Hugo’s quote, it has a few iterations.


Caption: Charles Dickens: 1812 – 1870.


Caption: Charles Kingsley 1819 – 1875.


Caption: Anthony Trollope: 1815-1882.


Memorabilia Monday: Autographs 3: British Scientists

Continuing our ongoing series on the unusual Gordon Russell West autograph collection, today we’ll focus on scientists.

First, we can start with an unlikely inventor.


Caption: Baron Henry Peter Brougham. 1778-1868. Celebrated British statesman, orator, jurist, and scientist. One of the founder of the “Edinburgh Review” in 1802. Counsel of Queen Caroline 1820-1821, and Lord Chancellor of England 1830-1834.

Baron Brougham is also known for inventing the brougham style of carriage.


Caption: Sir William Crookes, FRS, etc: 1832 – [1919] noted English chemist and physicist, who discovered thallium ad invented the radiometer.

He was also a pioneer in vacuum tube technology.


Caption: John Tyndall: 1820-1893. British physicist and natural philosopher, who made notable contributions in electricity, magnetism, light, acoustics, and glaciation


Caption: Sir Richard Owen: 1804-1892. Noted English biologist and paleontologist.


Based on that letter, which is a bit hard to read, Owen was a bit feisty.


Caption: Sir William Thomson, 1st Lord of Kelvin, FRS, LLD, etc. Celebrated British physicist and mathematician, who made important contributions in electricity, magnetism, and heat. He took a prominent part in laying the first submarine cables across the Atlantic. (1824-1907).




To get our collections processed, we have to remove a lot of stuff. That includes switching out folders and removing rusty staples, all binder clips, paper clips, and sticky notes. Trevor, one of our summer student archivists, has been processing  the City of Bellaire historical records. Over the course of one day, he amassed this amount of material to either be recycled or thrown in the trash. At least, it’s colorful.

Memorabilia Monday: Autographs 2: British Politicians


Caption: George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Earl 1859- [1925], English statesman. Governor-general of India 1899-1904. He married a daughter of Joe [Levi] Leiter, of Chicago. Upon returning to England he became Chancellor of Oxford University, and at the same time served in the ministries of Asquith and Lloyd George. He was one of four (the Prime Minster, Milner and Henderson [?]) constituting the War Cabinet, responsible for the daily conduct of the World War.

Building off the post from last Monday, here are some notable British politicians’ signatures from the Gordon Russell West autograph collection.


Caption: Sir Robert Peel, Bart., 1788-1850. Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer: 1834, et seq. under William IV.

Sir Robert Peel was instrumental in setting up the modern police force, also known as “bobbies” after its creator.


Caption: William Ewart Gladstone, 1809 – 1894 Eminent British statesman, financier, and orator. Prime Minister of England in 1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, 1892-1894, and also served as first lord of the treasury, chancellor of exchequer, and lord privy seal.


Caption: Wm. Lamb: Lord Melbourne. 1779-1848. Prime Minister of England in 1834, preceding Peel, and again 1835-1841. A close friend and adviser of Queen Victoria. His favorite political dictum was: “Why not leave it alone?”


Caption: Arthur Wellesley: Duke of Wellington. 1769-1852. British general who, with Blücher, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Later Commander-in-chief of the British army, and Prime Minister of England 1828-1830.


Memorabilia Monday: Autograph collection, part 1


In our vault is a small little collection consisting of only three folders. It came to the Woodson in 1985, donated by Josephine Morrow West who passed in the same year. She was the sister of Kyle Morrow, who is the namesake for the Kyle Morrow Room, which at one time held the rare books collection. Her spouse was Gordon Russell West, 1896-1976.

West maintained a rather peculiar autograph collection. You may wonder why it was peculiar and the answer is there are scrapbook pages consisting of famous signatures removed from the original source material. In other words, West purchased letters or notes written by notable people, cut out the signatures, and pasted them onto scrapbook pages. Another scenario is that West purchased these items already clipped from a dealer. The collection is divided into three groupings: labeled signatures on scrapbook pages, loose signatures many unidentified, and intact letters without descriptions.

Over a series of Mondays, we’ll show images from this collection. This week will be British royalty, followed by British politicians, scientists, literary writers, and finally a hodge-podge of philosphers, historians, and activists.

The following signatures do not need a major introduction and are nicely described in beautiful handwriting by West.


“George III: 1738-1820. King of Great Britain and Ireland, 1760-1820. Said to be one of the last documents signed before he went insane, in 1811.”

Wouldn’t it be great to see the original document?


“George IV: when regent for his father (1811-1820)”


“George IV: 1762-1830: King of Great Britain and Ireland, 1820-1830”


“Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India. 1819-“

It is rather odd that there is not a date for the end of her reign, since there are other items in the collection with later dates, specifically the Governor of Nebraska ca. 1930.

Memorabilia Monday: Original Campanile painting


In our vault, we have a section for paintings, plaques and other items that can stand upright. The above item lives there.

Here’s the label on the back of the painting:

Tidden, John Clark

Original painting from which illustration for “Classes” in 1916 Campanile was produced.

Given by Elva Kalb Dumas in memory of E. F. Kalb, Rice ’16. 07-30-1965


John Clark Tidden, born 1889, was an early member of the Rice Institute Art and Architecture faculty. His artwork is sought after and examples show up in the  HETAG: Houston Earlier Texas Art Group newsletters.

Tidden also enjoyed drama. In 1921, he started “The Green Mask Players” with Caroline Levy and Mrs. Charles Robertson. Blanche Higginbotham a science teacher who taught at Houston South End Junior High, later South Jacinto High School managed the group. Their acting troupe was part of the Little Theatre Movement and was the first of its kind in Texas. On a side note, after looking at the Wikipedia entry, no one has added the Houston theatre to the listing of theatres. If you are a Wikipedia editor, that information would be an easy addition using the source below.

It’s a little unclear what happened to Tidden after leaving Rice in 1925. One source has him marrying a Lois Little and refers to him as a commercial artist. If you know more, please let us know in the comments.

Sources used:

Texas High Schools: Classification and State Aid

The Little Theatre Review: A Forthnightly Survey

The Rice Thresher, December 11, 1925


Memorabilia Monday: AIDS Quilt Commemoration


In honor of Pride Month, this a section from a series of panels made by the Rice community to commemorate the display of the The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which visited campus. The Community Involvement Center, the Wellness Center, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs spearheaded the display in 2001.

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Here is a photograph of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Rice Memorial Center around February 15, 2002.


The AIDS Memorial Quilt still goes out on display and is searchable by name. In this vein, the oH Project collection, containing oral histories of HIV/AIDS in Houston, Harris County, and Southeast Texas, has a large number of interview transcripts online. If you want to learn more from AIDS survivors and caretakers in Houston, it is a wonderful resource.

Spare Albums and Deserved Recognition


A recent university archival collection yielded a large amount of LPs. Sadly, many of these are multiple copies. We have kept two for ourselves and will eventually digitize them. We’d like to offer the rest to you for free. Please email if you are interested.

In other news, our own Amanda Focke won the Society of Southwest Archivists Distinguished Service Award. She is a long serving member, who has been active on a variety of committees, served as president, and is currently a board member. Congrats to her on such a well-deserved honor.


New collections in the Houston Folk Music Archive

Over the past few months, we’ve processed a number of collections for the archive. Here’s a run down of the new collections.

The Little Ol’ Show That Comes on After Monty Python collection


Still of Vince Bell from The Little Ol’ Show That Comes on After Monty Python

This collection contains digitized video, correspondence, and a master list of performers including performance dates.

The Little Ol’ Show That Comes on After Monty Python aired on KPRC from 1975 to 1980. It was the brainchild of Bruce Bryant, whose friend and long term production partner, Jim Barham, provided film shorts. The show aired on Saturday nights between Monty Python and the station’s sign-off.

The show featured film shorts, comedy bits, clips from classic films, and in-studio performances. The performers include but are not limited to Townes Van Zandt, Wheatfield, Hoyt Axton, Vince Bell, Ry Cooder, Frank Davis, Richard Dobson, George Ensle, Danny Everitt, Blaze Foley, Nanci Griffith, Eric Taylor, Emmy Lou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Don McLean, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Reed, Shake Russell, Dana Cooper, Doug Sahm, Don Sanders, and John Vandiver.

Bruce Bryant collection

This collection contains news clippings, photographs, audio, video, and memorabilia collected or created by Bruce Bryant. The video highlights work by Shake Russell, Dana Cooper, John Vandiver, and Don Sanders.

Born in Austin on November 10, 1942, Bruce Bryant moved to Houston in 1965 to work for KPRC. During his time with the local NBC affiliate, he directed the Larry Kane Show in 1971. He went on to create and direct “The Little Ol’ Show That Comes on After Monty Python,” which featured a hippie/experimental sensibility and showcased local and regional musicians. This series aired from 1975 to 1980.


Still of Shake Russell, Pete Gorisch, and Dana Cooper from the Russell Cooper worktape

He also opened The Sweetheart of Texas Concert Hall and Saloon with Charlie Hargrave in 1974. It showcased regional Texas singer-songwriters, as well as some national acts. The venue closed in 1975.

Bryant eventually went on to direct live events, telethons, TV specials, documentaries on Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant. He now directs opera productions for television and live opera simulcasts.

Bianca DeLeon collection


Photocopy image of Bianca DeLeon from press kit

This collection consists of correspondence, fliers, business records, audio, and digital images charting the life and career of Bianca DeLeon. There is correspondence and audio from songwriter Fred Koller.


Growing up in and around Houston, as a teenager, Bianca DeLeon began performing in local Houston clubs in the late 1960s to early 1970s and became friends with others in the Houston folk music scene including Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Rex Bell. She moved with Van Zandt to Nashville. Over the next few years, she travelled between Nashville and Santa Cruz, California.

In the 1980s, in Santa Cruz, she formed the band the Mudflaps and started a logging company. After the 1989 earthquake, because of environmental regulations, she stopped logging and set up a fishing business. During this time, she maintained her connection to the Texas music scene continuing her connection to Townes Van Zandt and becoming friends with David Rodriguez.

In the late 1990s, she moved back to Texas and restarted her music career in Austin. She has released five albums, “Outlaws and Lovers” (2001), “Live: From Hell to Helsinki” (2002), “The Long Slow Decline of Carmelita” (2004), “Love, Guns and Money” (2011) and “Dangerous Endeavor.” She tours throughout Texas and overseas.

Bob Johnston collection

This collection mainly consists of live recordings of shows at Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant.

Bob Johnston (October 28, 1947 – May 24, 2012) worked as a volunteer at Anderson Fair Retail Restaurants. For almost three decades, he recorded shows at the venue. He helped start Camp Stupid at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Earlier in his life, Johnston attended Rice University in 1965. He went on to serve in the Vietnam War.

About Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, taken from Wikipedia:

“Anderson Fair is one of the oldest folk and acoustic music venues in continuous operation in the United States. Located in the Montrose area of Houston, TX, it has been called an ‘incubator’ of musical talent for the folk scene, especially during the folk music heyday of the 1960s-1980s. Notable performers who credit Anderson Fair as an important part of their careers include Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams and many more.

Anderson Fair was founded as a restaurant in 1969 by partners Marvin Anderson and Grey Fair. In the early days, patrons would flock to the Fair for a lunchtime meal such as spaghetti or tacos. The club was housed in the Montrose area of Houston which was, at that time, an enclave for artists, free-thinkers, and war protestors. As a result, it was not long before the Fair became a gathering place for musicians and artists from the community to come together and talk politics. By 1973, the crowd that frequented the barn-like building on Grant Street began to turn the lunch club’s main focus towards live music. Gradually, the venue grew into a destination for singer-songwriters who were willing to perform for an attentive, albeit discerning, audience.”, page written by our student archivist Claudia Middleton.

Franci Jarrard collection

This collection consists of digital audio files and images documenting the Houston folk scene of the 1970s-1980.

Born and raised in Houston, Franci Files began hanging out at Sand Mountain Coffee House in the late 1960s. She befriended members of the community including Guy and Susanna Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Don Sanders, and Vince Bell.

A few years later after graduating from college, she became one of the co-owners of Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant. As one of the crew, she organized and handled food preparation, specifically the spaghetti lunches.

As the 1980s approached, Franci Files married Stephen Jarrard and began to explore her own musical career. She teamed up with her husband as a duo, performed in the band Terry and the Telephones, and lent vocals to Richard Dobson’s second album, “The Big Taste.”

Ready for a change, in the early 1980s, Franci and Stephen Jarrard relocated to the Austin-area. They continued to explore their music. Franci Jarrard started to play the accordion and performed with Richard Dobson when he played in Texas. In the 1990s, Stephen and Franci participated in the strolling trios Europa Trio with Javier Chaparro and Troika with Ann Mesrobian.

Rich Layton collection


Hot Air Band, L to R: Rich Layton, Jack Saunders, and Buddy Duncan

This collection consists of photographs, audio, news clippings, and poster/fliers documenting the Houston career of Rich Layton.

Growing up in Houston, Rich Layton fronted a junior high garage band, attended Lightnin’ Hopkins’ concerts at the Jewish Community Center and was heavily influenced by the various musical styles the bayou city had to offer. Ready for another Lone Star music adventure, he headed to Austin for college and earned a degree in Radio, Film and Television from the University of Texas.

While in Austin, he began playing harmonica with then-girlfriend Lucinda Williams. Lu convinced him to move back to Houston to join the burgeoning music scene at Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant in Montrose, where he became the house harmonica player.

In 1979, Rich joined Rock Romano to form “Dr. Rockit,” the city’s legendary rockin’ blues party band. Adding the Sisters of Mercy, the band played regularly in Houston, throughout Texas and along the Gulf Coast in the early to mid 1980s. Throughout this time, he continued to play with other performers in the area and beyond, including Buckwheat Zydeco, Rocky Hill and Alan Haynes. In 1984, he was named one of five Texas Harmonica Tornados by “Buddy Magazine.”

In 1996, Rich moved to Portland and broke into the NW music scene. In 2003, he formed Rich Layton and The Troublemakers. The band has released two albums to date – “Chop Shop Pit Stop” and “Tough Town.”

You can find a complete list of all of the collections in our archive, as well as new oral histories via the Houston Folk Music Archive research guide.