Archive for Armadillo World HQ

Texas Thanksgiving – Live from the Armadillo

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by 30daysout

Armadillo World HQ poster by Jim Franklin

Editor’s Note: This is a blog post that originally appeared in 2010, repeated here in case you can’t get home to the Armadillo this holiday season.

Long as I can remember, the corner of Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road in Austin, Texas,  has been a Thanksgiving Day oasis.  Today of course that’s the location of Threadgill’s World Headquarters, a down-home restaurant with killer chicken-fried steak and the best tattooed waitresses in town.  And yes, they are open on Thanksgiving Day: usually the place is packed by 11 a.m. and although no reservations are necessary you can expect to wait at least an hour before being seated.

Doug Sahm in the 1990s (Photo by Scott Newton/KRLU)

This Threadgill’s is also the living descendant of the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters, the city’s top music venue in the 1970s and the spiritual heart of the Austin music scene.  Many of the top touring acts of the era played there, as well as Lone Star legends like Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Joe Ely, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Delbert McClinton and many more.  One of the house favorites was Doug Sahm, the unofficial State Musician of Texas.

In 1972 Sahm decided to look up some of his friends and play a giant Thanksgiving show at the Armadillo.  He enlisted a who’s who of Austin musicians and added ace keyboardist Leon Russell.  Then he learned the Grateful Dead would be in town for a gig the night before; Sahm and the Dead went back a ways, so he gave them a call too.

Armadillo World HQ, back in the day (Photo by Steve Hopson)

So on November 23, 1972, Doug Sahm and his all-star band – including the Dead’s Jerry Garcia on steel guitar and Phil Lesh on bass – took the stage at the Armadillo and delivered a sonic feast of country, R&B, early rock ‘n’ roll, honky tonk, blues, bluegrass and Bob Dylan.  Somebody in the house had the foresight to roll tape from the soundboard, the recording of that show has been a sought-after souvenir for many years.

Thanks to a number of sources (mainly the excellent blog The Adios Lounge) you can download and hear the entire show here.  Think of it as a little thank-you gift to you, our loyal readers.  Being a soundboard recording from the early 1970s, the sound isn’t perfect but it’s a great way to celebrate a holiday.  The full set list is included in the download, and we’ll give you a few samples so you can decide if you want the whole meal.

Thanksgiving Jam samples

MP3: “Wild Side Of Life”

MP3: “Me and Bobby McGee”

MP3: “Swingin’ Doors”

MP3: “Roll Over Beethoven/Good Golly Miss Molly”

The Full Show (ZIP file)

MP3: Doug Sahm’s Thanksgiving Jam, 11/23/1972 entire show (269 MB)

Armadillo photo by Steve Hopson – here is his website

From “Armadillo Comix” by Jaxon

From Jersey to the Armadillo: Bruce Springsteen hits Austin, 1974

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on March 14, 2012 by 30daysout

Springsteen poster           

Blogkeepers’ Note: This is a repost from a piece we originally ran in 2008. It caught the eye of the Austin Chronicle, and they interviewed us for their big SXSW 2012 preview issue. Read the Chronicle story here.

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 and some other folks 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.

The scruffy kid from Jersey.A buck and a half for admission and we were in for the second show on his Friday-Saturday stand.  It was Springsteen’s first Austin gig, and they were apparently worried how his Jersey-poet schtick would go over with the Texas crowd.  It didn’t help that the opening act was this country-rock outfit, Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys.

No worries, though: the packed crowd loved the show, everyone was dancing everywhere.  “Spirit In The Night” was a highlight, it had gotten some radio airplay.  Then the band ripped into “Rosalita,” still too fresh to be an FM radio staple and maybe a bit much for this crowd.  The E Street Band’s big showstopper was instead “Thundercrack,” which — like the singer — was every place at once.

And of course “The Fever” made an impression.  We loved the band, which seemed more like a dangerous Boardwalk kick-ass gang than a bunch of musicians.  I was also impressed with Bruce’s fashion sense — he favored the classic black-and-white Chuck Taylor Converse basketball shoes, low tops.  And I wore my own Chucks (high tops, though) throughout college.  In fact, I haven’t been without a pair since 1974.

What we saw that night was an incredibly talented performer still working out who he was going to become.  That came the next year, when he exploded nationwide with the stone classic Born To Run.  I honestly don’t recall hearing anything from that album that night at the Armadillo.

Springsteen played for a while, might have been a couple of hours, and when it was over everyone was drenched in sweat.  It was a fine introduction to a guy who would put on some incredible shows in later years.

Backstreets website

Armadillo World Headquarters