Jimmy Don Smith collection

Image of embroidered bell bottom jeans that say "BLUES POWER," an LP, and two photographs of Jimmy Don Smith

We recently got in a new collection featuring Jimmy Don Smith. It includes posters, fliers, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other interesting items. Check out those embroidered jeans.

Smith (1948-10-28 – 1986-01-25) was a Houston transplant and made his name as a Blues guitarist and founder of The Cold Cuts, as well as other bands throughout the 1960s-1980s. He/His bands opened up for Blues musicians like Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Albert King, and Freddie King, the King trifecta. He had also been the lead guitarist for Billy Joe Shaver and Roy Head.

Two Liberty Hall posters: one for Freddie King and the other for Willie Dixon and the Chicago All-Stars

The collection includes a variety of unique posters that generally showcase the opening act, but Jimmy Don Smith or his band at the time served as an opening act.

Vince Bell collection


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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

Liberty Hall Oral Histories Online


Back in June, we conducted oral histories with Ryan Trimble and Lynda Herrera, two of the co-owners of Liberty Hall. While this is just the first step in putting these videos online, we’re happy that we made it to this point.

Please enjoy and learn a bit more about Houston’s historic music venue.

Also, thank you to Claire Weddle for your wonderful editing.

Image from: Liberty Hall collection, 1971-1978, MS 658, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Memorabilia Monday: Liberty Hall Tickets


While our Liberty Hall collection is not ready for viewing yet, (we’re expecting a few more items next month), we did want to provide you a sneak peek. Above are a few tickets from shows most likely designed by George Banks. If not, please let us know.

These came from a scrapbook that Ryan Trimble kept, which documents the first two years of the venue. It’s a wonderful scrapbook filled with great photography, especially from the plays. Sadly, it had some preservation issues. The tape that affixed these tickets lost its stick and left brown stains behind.

We do have big plans for this collection, including an online exhibit, which will include oral histories from co-owners Lynda Herrera and Ryan Trimble.

If you have items from this historic music venue that you would like to donate, please contact us.

Memorabilia Monday: Liberty Hall T-Shirt

Sorry for the radio silence. The Society of Southwest Archivists conference caused most of us at the Woodson to be away, while the others had to pick up the slack.





On Sunday, we received a wonderful donation of Liberty Hall materials, mostly posters, a bumper sticker, and an original T-shirt from one-time employee and collector Gerald “Scooter” Ebel. We’re creating a Liberty Hall collection, so this is a great first step in preserving the history of this iconic music venue.

One more thing, if you are a Wikipedia contributor/editor, it would be great to work with someone to create and/or flesh out some entries. Although it is referenced, Liberty Hall does not have its own entry. Please leave a comment if you’d like to work together to fix this and other Houston music oversights.