Archive for Armadillo World Headquarters

Video of the Week: “Live Forever,” Joe Ely

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 23, 2010 by 30daysout

This week is the beginning of school in most parts of the country – and over the weekend we took my daughter over to Austin where she begins her sophomore year at the University of Texas.

On Saturday night she went to Threadgill’s South to hear the great Joe Ely, who was celebrating the 40th birthday of the Armadillo World Headquarters (where the Threadgill’s restaurant now stands).  Joe played his version of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever,” and I thought it’s a perfect reflection this week for everyone about to start a new chapter of their lives – “gonna catch tomorrow now.”  Good luck to ya!

Joe Ely official website

Threadgill’s Home Cookin’ World Headquarters

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Shiva’s Headband

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , on February 14, 2010 by 30daysout

Now this is a real psychedelic relic – Take Me To The Mountains by the Austin-based Shiva’s Headband.  If you thought the Haight-Ashbury was America’s only psychedelic hotbed in the late 1960s, think again: Texas had a pretty groovy scene too, with Conqueroo and the 13th Floor Elevators from Austin, Bubble Puppy out of San Antonio, the Red Krayola, the Moving Sidewalks and Fever Tree from Houston and good ol’ Johnny Winter from Beaumont/Port Arthur.  (Note to wiseguys: Port Arthur’s Janis Joplin made her earliest music in Austin, but didn’t become well-known until she moved to San Francisco.)

Shiva’s Headband was a six-piece group that formed in 1967 around musical prodigy Spencer Perskin and his wife Susan.  The band started its own label – Armadillo Records – to release singles but Capitol “discovered” and signed the group in 1970.  Perskin mainly produced Take Me To The Mountains and it was recorded at the Grateful Dead’s studio in San Jose.  When it was released later in 1970, it was the first appearance by an Austin-based rock band on a major label.

Listening to the album now, with 21st century ears, you can certainly identify the DNA of what would later become “cosmic cowboy” music in Texas.  Even though the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers were traveling down a country-rock road (more country than rock, actually) Shiva’s Headband sported a back-to-the-earth sound that incorporated fiddle and harmonica as well as traditional rock instrumentation.  The title track could very well be a Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen song – with its down-home fiddlin’ and drawling vocals, it turns Haight-Ashbury into the corner of Hippie and Redneck.  Likewise with the bluesy “Homesick Armadillo Blues,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Doug Sahm-Sir Douglas Quintet setlist of the era.

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A Lot Of Soul: Austin’s Tribute to Doug Sahm

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by 30daysout

Doug Sahm hill sign

On a foggy morning recently, I climbed to the top of Doug Sahm Hill.  It was just a few days after a bunch of Austin musicians gathered at Antone’s to pay respect to the late, great Douglas Wayne Sahm.  I didn’t go to the concert but I did drop by Austin’s new Lady Bird Lake park and took the winding path up to the top of the hill named after this legendary Texas musician.

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Doug Sahm

Not much to see from the top – especially with the fog and all – and the only thing up there is a concrete bench circling a Texas map inlaid in concrete.  The only clue that the hill is related to anything about music is the sign you see as you are about to climb the hill (see above).  That’s why they had this big show the other night at Antone’s: to raise money for a plaque, a statue or something.

Climb to the top and take a look around.  You should have some Doug Sahm music playing in your portable player, because there’s no music to be heard up here.  At the right time of year you can certainly hear live music coming from just across the street at Auditorium Shores; a number of live shows happen there, including the big SXSW free shows in the spring.

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A Smoke and a Cheap Guitar

Posted in Lost Classics!, Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , on November 4, 2009 by 30daysout

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Earlier this week we roamed over to Luckenbach to soak up a little of that Texas mystique, and I thought while we’re in the neighborhood we oughta just keep goin’ about the good old days.  Well, as I said, back in the 1970s Texas became the epicenter of something called the outlaw country music movement.  It kinda started around 1972, right about the time Willie Nelson’s Nashville home burned down and he moved back to Austin.  Later that year Nelson held his first Fourth of July festival at Dripping Springs – featuring Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser, Kris Kristofferson and Leon Russell – and that sort of kicked off the whole shebang.

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Michael Martin Murphey

You’d hit the usual hangouts, like the Armadillo World Headquarters and Soap Creek Saloon, and you’d see musicians sipping their beer from longneck bottles and longhairs and rednecks co-inhabiting peacefully.  The music could turn a redneck into a “cosmic cowboy,” and hippies became “redneck rockers.”  Michael (not yet Martin) Murphey wrote the movement’s unofficial anthem with “Cosmic Cowboy,” off his Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir album.  Willis Alan Ramsey cut his one eponymous album on Leon Russell’s Shelter label in 1972 then he dropped off the face of the earth.  Jerry Jeff Walker walked onstage at Castle Creek in his boxer shorts, and Gove Scrivenor played the harmonica and the autoharp and did a solo with his foot (stomping percussion).  Over in Houston, Townes Van Zandt played in places like Anderson Fair and the Texas Opry House, commuting from the dilapidated trailer where he lived in Austin, while Guy Clark gave voice to his great songs.

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Friday is Boss’s Day: Austin, 1974

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , on March 28, 2008 by 30daysout

Springsteen poster           

Blogkeepers’ Note: ‘Round here, every Friday is Boss’s Day.  Each week we’ll bow at the altar of Bruce Springsteen, and tell you about some of our favorite moments with the Boss.

March 16, 1974: Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas

In 1974, my college buddy Cindy came back from a spring weekend raving about this singer-songwriter she caught in concert at Liberty Hall in Houston.  “The guy’s incredible,” she said, “he moves all the time … he must be on speed.”  I’d heard of this guy before, so I gamely agreed to go with Cindy to catch a show the next weekend in Austin.

Back then, Austin’s top music venue was the Armadillo World Headquarters, an old National Guard armory converted into a music shed.  There weren’t many chairs; the floor had seating for 2,000 or so hippies and of course you could lean against the wall.  So anyway, we head over for a show by this speed guy: Bruce Springsteen.

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