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.

 

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.

Disaster Recovery

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The Woodson Research Center and its collections on an off site suffered no damage from Hurricane Harvey. We sincerely hope that you and yours made it safely through the storm.

If you did suffer any damage, we are sorry. If you are dealing with recovering precious items or know someone who is, we have created a research guide filled with information and tutorials.

We are doing a little bit of disaster recovery of our own. Melissa Kean brought in damp materials from the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston on Greenwillow St. We took the wet paper out of its binder and spread out the pages to dry.

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.

The Texan Emigrant

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Among our Masterson Texana collection is this unusual little book about Texas.

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Written by Col. Edward Stiff, the book acts as a biography of Col. Stiff, as well as a history of Texas. There are a few surprises inside, like this map.

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Col. Stiff had very strong opinions about critics.

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Also, this book plate from Yale is a bit unusual. I hope the book was obtained in an honest way.

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Richard G. Park, Jr. Scrapbook

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Back in October, we received a wonderful phone call from a woman in the NE offering us a scrapbook, belonging to her relative Richard G. Park, Jr.

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Why would we be interested in this scrapbook? It provides more history on the Texas Mexico Border Campaign. Almost exactly two years ago, we featured a scrapbook on the same topic, focusing on one man’s experiences during the campaign. While the scrapbook is fascinating, it’s unlabeled.

In comparison, Park labeled almost all of the photographs and included people’s names, dates, and locations. It is a treasure trove of information. This would be a wonderful digitization project in the future.

Now, feast your eyes on the photographs.

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For more information on the collection, please see our finding aid: Richard G. Park, Jr. scrapbook, 1915-1917, MS 673, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.