Interactive Houston Folk Music Venue Story Map

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anderson_Fair_Retail_Restaurant, 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

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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.

Houston Folk Music Archive: New Collections

Over the past few months, we have been adding to existing collections and finished processing new collections. Here’s a run down of some of our new materials.

Jack Saunders collection

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Playing at Rockefeller’s as part of The Shake Russell Band, ca. 1982

Jack Saunders grew up in a military family that lived all across the U.S. After an eye-opening trip to Dallas, he relocated there to join its music community in 1971. Disapointed that the scene had moved on, he quickly relocated to Austin.

In 1976, at the behest of Rick Gordon, he moved to Houston. There he joined a wide range of bands from Taxi Dancer to The Revolvers to The Senders. In 1982, he joined The Shake Russell Band. That partnership with Russell continued for a more than a decade. After The Shake Russell Band broke-up in 1989, Saunders and Russell became a duo until 1996.

After they parted ways, Saunders embarked on a solo career. He followed that up with opening White Cat Studios in 1999.

Saunders currently plays at venues around Houston, most notably McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, works on recording projects for local and regional musicians,  and does side man work with a variety of regional and touring artists.

His collection includes photographs, newspaper clippings, fliers, posters, and a wealth of live music from various stages of his career.

Lynn Langham collection

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Playing at Anderson Fair, ca. 1976

Lynn Langham grew up in Texas and spent her teen years in Freeport, Texas. At an early age, she gravitated to music learning first the piano and then the guitar. When she began college at the University of Texas, she started playing clubs in Austin and moved on to playing in Houston, Dallas, and Denton.

While in Houston, she became a part of the music community at Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant. On a daily basis, songwriters shared their work and motivated and challenged each other to improve as writers, players, and performers. She appears on the 12″ LP “Through the Dark Nightly,” which featured players from the venue.

At the request of a friend, she spent time in New York. She played at the famed Bitter End and other clubs in the area. Before ultimately relocating to Los Angeles, she briefly returned to Houston to continue her career.

After a long break from the music business and performing, she began recording again in Los Angeles. Moving to Nashville in 1989, she received a recording contract with Capital Nashville and began writing songs for a publishing company, Hayes Street Music. Although the album deal eventually fell through, she continued working for Hayes Street. While the writing scene has changed in Nashville, she continues to write and tours with her partner Doug Gill.

Her work has been recorded by Wynona Judd, Trisha Yearwood, and Carolyn Hester. The song “Old Yellow Moon,” which she co-wrote with Hank DeVito, is the title cut of the Grammy winning 2014 Americana Album of the Year by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.

Langham’s collection has a large amount of lyrics and photographs.

Sara Hickman collection

 

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Performing at her Necessary Angels party, 1994

Sara Hickman grew up in Houston, Texas and attended the famed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts [HSPVA] in the late 1970s. For college, she moved away from Houston to attend North Texas State University (University of North Texas) and graduated with a BA in painting in 1986. After graduation, she relocated to Dallas and embarked on her musical career, playing at venues like Uncle Calvin’s, Club Dada, and Poor David’s Pub.

After recording and promoting her first album “Equal Scary People,” Hickman signed with Elektra. While with the major label, she re-released that album and put out a new one, “Shortstop.” Due to a variety of factors, she parted ways with the company in 1993.

Since her third album masters were Elektra property, she raised money from family, friends, and fans to buy back her masters and went on to release her fourth album, “Necessary Angels.” Around the same time, she formed the trio Domestic Science Club with Robin Macy, formerly of the Dixie Chicks, and Patty Lege, which ended up putting out two albums.

In 1995, she left Dallas for Austin and has lived there ever since. She released 15 more albums over the next 20 years, including four children’s albums. In 2010, the Texas State Commission on the Arts named her the Official Texas State Musician.

Since her days at HSPVA, Sara has devoted her time to a myriad of charitable activities including Habitat for Humanity, House the Homeless, Race for the Cure, and the Uganda Fistula Foundation. While she retired from music in 2017, she still continues her charity work and does vocal work for national commercials.

Hickman’s collection spans the breadth of her career and documents her life through photographs, lyrics, charity work, music, and even fan mail.

Upcoming Projects

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2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.

Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:

  • We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
  • We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
  • We will be making new collections available for research from Audrey Jones Beck, Brochstein, Inc., and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston [CAMH].
  • We’ve continued to work with the Chao Center and are expecting new additions and improvements to the Houston Asian American Archive website.
  • Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.

As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.

Online Exhibit: Houston Folk Music Archive

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We’re happy to announce the new online exhibit for the Houston Folk Music Archive. It features a history of the scene, mini-exhibits on musicians, bands, music venues, and others. Each mini-exhibit contains a biography or history, images, and/or an oral history.

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The online exhibit also has a map of music venues where folk musicians played. It even includes a timeline where you can track the folk scene’s rise and fall.

A big thank you to Claudia Middleton, our student archivist, for all of her scanning, metadata work, and for creating the map.

More Folk Music Oral Histories

We have uploaded another batch of oral histories. These will all be included in our upcoming Houston Folk Music Archive online exhibit.

David John Scribner

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He speaks about his life and his time hosting the “Chicken Skin Music” program on KTRU.

Lynn Langham

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The Grammy winner discusses her long career in the music industry and her experiences as a singer-songwriter in Houston, New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

Don Sanders

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He talks about his time playing at the most famed folk clubs in Houston.

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.

 

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.

George Ensle collection

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1970s

Under the auspices of the Houston Folk Music Archive, we’re happy to announce that the George Ensle collection is available for research. This collection includes a wealth of photographs, lyrics, fliers, audio, and video chronicling Ensle’s life as a performer.

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Growing up in Houston, Ensle began taking guitar lessons at the age of 14. A few years later, his guitar teacher introduced him to Houston’s folk club scene. He moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas in the fall of 1966. The following summer he began playing at Sand Mountain Coffee House where he befriended Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Carolyn Hester, among others.

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1979 for cover of Head On

In the 1970s, he made Austin his permanent home. He toured the college circuit with Nanci Griffith. He also played in venues across the state of Texas, including Houston’s Anderson Fair, the University of Houston Coffee House, and the Old Quarter. Towards the end of the decade, he began teaching music in economically disadvantaged schools as part of a Texas Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts program.

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1980s

Ensle released his first full length album in 1980 entitled, Head On. He followed this up with Heartwood (1990), One Gentle Hand: A Collection (1999), Live Set (2006), Build a Bridge (2008), and Small Town Sundown (2012), and CD and DVD Live from the Brauntex (2013).

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2016

Ensle continues to play throughout Texas and runs the weekly Songwriters Showcase at Poodie’s Roadhouse in Spicewood, TX.

For information on other collections in the Houston Folk Music Archive, please check out our research guide.

Images from: George Ensle collection, 1973-2016, MS 680, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

KTRU Tuesdays: Lucinda Williams

On her birthday in 1982, Lucinda Williams visited KTRU studios for an interview with David John Scribner on his “Chicken Skin Music” radio show. In this one-on-one, she discusses how she got started, musical influences, early life, living in Houston, her albums Ramblin’ and Happy Woman Blues, working with the Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys, and the worst music venue.

For copyright reasons, we have cut out her live performances.

Image from: Sweetheart of Texas Concert Hall and Saloon poster collection, 1974-1975, MS 662, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. Courtesy of Bruce Bryant.