New HFMA Oral Histories

The Houston Folk Music Archive has been steadily posting new oral histories online. Here are few of the newer ones.

Danny McVey

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He talks about his time doing sound for a variety of performers in the city.

Jack Saunders

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He discusses playing with local bands, joining The Shake Russell Band, his duo with Shake Russell, and his recording studio White Cat.

George Ensle

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He describes how he came to folk music and his recording projects.

Dana Cooper

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He tells about his life growing up in Missouri and his careers in Houston and Nashville.

We’re also working on other oral histories by Don Sanders, Lynn Langham, Isabelle Ganz, Sara Hickman, and Franci Jarrard and Lyse Moore.

 

Primary Source Literacy

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Recently, we taught primary source literacy skills to students in Sophia Hsu’s FWIS 191. Literature and Public Health. The students looked at newspaper clippings, photographs, fliers, and other pertinent documents to get  a sense of how members of the administration, faculty, and students viewed the event. They also heard the voices of some of the major players including Dr. William H. Masterson on his megaphone, Dr. Clark Read speaking his mind, and Bari Kaplan explaining events from a student perspective.

In the class, the students first considered the differences between primary and secondary sources, identified the subjectivity of the archival items on their tables, and extracted information from the items, like key players and power relationships.

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After these exercises, the groups looked at the primary source materials that they will be working on for the semester, which includes a few items from the McGovern Historical Center and the Woodson’s Encyclopédie and the Vince Bell collection.

If you are interested in us doing the same for your course, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Images used: “Rice University students and faculty protesting outdoors during Masterson presidency controversy, wearing “It Can’t Happen Here” signs.” (1969) Rice University: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/75392.

Fate Magazine

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Over the past year, we have expanded our collecting focus to include the paranormal. As part of a larger collection from Robert Fuller, we have Fate magazines dating back to 1948. They have incredibly interesting advertisements.

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Everything else seems like an ad found in a paranormal magazine, but the one below doesn’t really fit.

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Memorabilia Monday: Gilley’s Bumper Sticker

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This bumper sticker from the early 1980s comes from the Jack Saunders collection, which is currently being processed.

For those not from Pasadena/Houston area, Gilley’s is synonymous with Urban Cowboy the movie based on the Esquire article “The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy.” If you haven’t read about Rice’s connection to the story, you should read this blog post from the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies published a few years ago.

The CAMH at the Woodson

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Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs “Suite for Five” in April 1965 in conjunction with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston exhibition “Robert Rauschenberg.” Courtesy Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) recently donated their extensive archive to us. For more information, please read the recent Rice News & Media article about the transfer.

We are incredibly excited by this donation and cannot wait to share it with the public after it has processed.

New Houston Folk Music Archive Collections

Two more collections are available for research from the Houston Folk Music Archive.

Lucille Borella collection

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In the late 1960s, Bill and Lucille Cade formed a folk duo. Over the next several years, they performed throughout the region. They played in Houston venues, such as Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, the UH Coffee House, and the Wooden Nickel Club, as well the college ciruit in and out of the state. They also performed at Kerrville Folk Festival in 1974 with their young baby in tow.

Around 1976, Bill and Lucille Cade broke up. Later on, Lucille, now Borella, began performing with her husband Larry at Anderson Fair in 1979 under the name Larry & Lucille.

While no longer actively performing, Lucille Borella has stayed a member of the folk community. She and her husband support the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival.

David Rodriguez collection

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David Roland Rodriguez (1952-2015) was a Houston-born folk musician and lawyer. At the age of two, he contracted polio. Because of his decreased mobility, his parents bought him a guitar. Throughout his teens, he played in a variety of musical groups including a rock band, a folk group, and an avant garde ensemble as a pianist. In the early to mid 1970s, he honed his craft in Houston’s folk venues.

After relocating to Austin in the late 1970s, Rodriguez graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1981. He practiced law in Austin into the 1980s, focusing on criminal law and working with the Austin Arts Commission. While he maintained his music career in the early 1980s, he began to focus exclusively on his law practice in 1984. He even mounted an unsuccessful bid for public office in 1990.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Rodriguez began focusing more attention on music. Local Austin music magazine “Third Coast Music” voted him Best Texas Songwriter for 1992, 1993. and 1994.

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David Rodriguez with daughter Carrie, 2000s

In 1994, he moved to the Netherlands to play music full time. While abroad, fellow musician and daughter, Carrie Rodriguez would play fiddle with him on occassion. He had a vibrant career overseas and released a number of albums. David Rodriguez died at his home in Dordrecht, Holland, on October 26th 2015.

His most widely covered song “The Ballad Of The Snow Leopard And The Tanqueray Cowboy” was recorded by Lyle Lovett, Melissa Greener, and many others.

Rodriguez came from a musical family, which includes his aunt singer and actress Eva Garza, his brother singer-songwriter Philip Rodriguez, and his sister singer Leti Garza.

To see more of our collection, please see the Houston Folk Music Archive research guide. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Houston Folk Music Archive Updates

Over the past few months, we’ve been busy.

New Archival Collections

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The Banded Geckos collection features the work of the band, which called Houston home from 1979 to 1993, before relocating to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The collection has a great array of posters, photographs, promotional materials, and audio.

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Frank Davis, Sand Mountain Coffee House, ca. 1965

The Boys From Houston research files includes photographs, digital images, news clippings, and memorabilia that Vicki Welch Ayo and William C. DeLaVergne used to write the book series.

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Shake Russell, Dana Cooper, and Jimmy Raycraft at Rockefeller’s, ca. 1981

The Danny McVey collection features photographs, news clippings, and audio saved by McVey, a sound engineer for The Michael Marcoulier Band, The Dishes, and Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds. Within the next few days, his oral history will also be online.

Oral Histories

Since November, we’ve been doing oral histories with members of the folk community. We’re so happy to announce that some of those are now online.

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Judy Clements of the folk duo Ken and Judy talks about being a Jester Lounge regular, an early folk club in Houston.

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Vince Bell discusses his time starting out in Houston up to his current work. He even performs a couple of songs and explains his unique playing style.

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Richard Dobson talks about working in Houston and Nashville, and his current adventure of being a Texas singer-songwriter in Switzerland. He also discusses his songwriting process and performs two songs.

To keep up with new collections and oral histories, please follow the Houston Folk Music Archive Facebook page, as well as check out our research guide.

Memorabilia Monday: St. Patrick’s Day Tie

Looking around this morning for a holiday-themed post, I could only find a reference to Tom Kelley’s St. Patrick’s Day tie. Since the box wasn’t onsite, I made the assumption that inside the box there would be a necktie; thus, fulfilling the theme of this post.

Rather than seeing the object, we get a couple of views of Tom Kelley, an employee for Texas Eastern in March 1958 showing off his tie. Does it look homemade to you?

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Vince Bell collection

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ca. 1976

As part of the Houston Folk Music Archive, we’re happy to announce that the Vince Bell collection is ready for research. His collection contains lyrics, journals, photographs, fliers, audio and video, and business records related to album creation, promotion, and touring. Bell also donated quite a few books where he is featured, mostly books on Texas singer-songwriters.

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Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, 1974

While the physical collection is available, the digital side will take a bit longer. Over the next few months, we’ll be adding digital files, mostly music, to this collection, as well as post his oral history online.

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Calendar drawn by Jean King from 1976 journal

For those not familiar with Bell, starting in 1970, he began playing folk music in clubs across Houston, including Sand Mountain Coffee House, the Old Quarter, Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, as well as larger venues like Liberty Hall and local universities. He also went on to play the U.S. coffee house circuit.

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Rockefeller’s, 1979

In the mid-1970s, he spent his time living in both Austin and Houston forming bands and playing solo. In 1980, he worked on the rock ballet Bermuda Triangle with James Clouser for the Space/Dance/Theater. The ballet premiered in Houston at the Miller Outdoor Theater in May 1980.

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On European tour with Eric Taylor and Iain Matthews,  1990s

After recording in an Austin studio, on December 21, 1982, he was hit by a drunk driver. The accident damaged his right arm, caused a severe brain injury, and he had a partially paralyzed vocal chord. After the accident, he worked over the next decade to rebuild his life and play the guitar again. This led him to develop a unique picking style and to write new music for his singing voice.

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Austin City Limits: Step Inside This House, 2000. L to R: Guy Clark, Matt Rollings, Steven Fromholz, Sam Bush, James Gilmer, Viktor Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Michael Martin Murphy, Dan Tomlinson, Vince Bell, Eric Taylor, Gene Elders [?], and Pat Bergerson, photo taken by David Roth

In 1994, Bell released his first album, Phoenix, to wide critical acclaim. He went on tour with The Jayhawks throughout the U.S. and in Europe. He followed this up with, Texas Plates (1999), Live in Texas (2001), Recado (2007), and One Man’s Music (2009), and the DVD New Lamps for Old. His songs have been covered by Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Little Feat, Trout Fishing in America, among others.

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He later chronicled his life in two independently published autobiographies, which were later re-published as one book entitled One Man’s Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell by University of North Texas Press.

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If you are interested in learning more about the Houston Folk Music Archive, please check out John Nova Lomax’s article.