Archive for the ‘Kerrville Folk Festival’ Category

Chris Chandler’s M.U.S.E. .A.N.D. .W.H.I.R.L.E.D. .R.E.T.O.RT. JUNE, 2017

June 5, 2017

All rise for the National Anthem…

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

I grew up on a dirt road…. As the deep south’s only city Atlanta was expanding… Swallowing my little town,
leaving me feeling like Jonah
sitting in the belly of a leviathan known as Coca Cola…

The dirt road I grew up on saw encroaching subdivisions everywhere…
I remember walking through some of my sacred woods that Were now disappearing …
with my brother Kevin…
and lo and behold… I saw something that I had never seen before…
It was a no trespassing sign… it read, “No Trespassing Violators Will Be Prosecuted”

and I thought, “What we have here is a failure to punctuate!”

And my brother Kevin replied with something for which I will forever be in his debt…

He sang me the “no trespassing” verse of our national anthem…

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

I knew from an early age that i wanted to be a folk singer…
So at the age old 16 I did what
Woody Guthrie woulda done if he had been born in the early 60s…

I dropped out of school and joined a punk rock band…
called The Weasels
Not as a band member but as the the Roadie..
And at an early age I got to see….

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

I got so into running lights
that even though I was a high school drop out…
… I still earned a scholarship top a prestigious university…
And as I said, “I come from a long line of trailer trash”
and in my family…
This was a big deal….

However, when I was in that prestigious university… I began writing these monologues… For plays…
And I wanted to try them out so I went out on street corners… Only people just looked  at me like i was crazy a crazy guy talkin to him self – because the cell phone had not yet been invinted….

So, I done what Woody Guthrie woulda done…
I went down to the thrift store
and bought a cheap acoustic guitar…
Now I didn’t even know how to play the guitar..
But I just held it…
as I told my little stories…
and that made me… A folk singer…
And I knew it would not be long before I would be walkin that ribbon of highway….

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

Now when I graduated from that prestigious university,
I had to go audition at theatres
around the country,
and the way I paid for that trip
was by being a street musician…

and that got me all the way to New York City,
and my friends, I am not makin this up!
I landed a job on Broadway
as an assistant lighting designer…

Now all I had to do was get back to Stone Mtn, GA,
get my stuff
and move to new York City…

but on the way back down…
my friends,
a miracle transpired…

I picked up a hitch hiker,
and he told me…

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Now that Hitch Hiker
also told me of an event in Philadelphia
called the People’s Music Network…
a gathering of people who sang political folk songs…

So I went, and for what ever reason,
I landed a spot in their big concert – to sing one song…

I had never played in front of a big crowd before – and I was nervous!  Gonna make it my last hoorah!

I carefully selected from my repertoire…
A song called “Watergate Generation.”

And my friends I saw that pitch, and I swung hard… and my friends… another miracle transpired… I knocked it out of the park!

but that is not the miracle I am referring to.

Ya see,  I had no idea at the time –
but Pete Seeger himself was in that audience…
and he came back stage just to tell me how much he liked my song…

and I told him all about my plans to give up being a folk singer and get a job on Broadway instead…

But he told me – and I am not making this up –
that I should turn down that job on Broadway
and keep being a street musician.

And I did. And I thought…

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

Also at that event,
was someone else that would forever change my life
– a woman named Anne Feeney –
and she told me all about a place called Kerrville, Texas

and my friends,
I roamed and I rambled,
and I followed my footsteps…
to the sparkling sands of her diamond desserts
and that is how I got to the Kerrville Folk Festival

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
to the New York island;
From the red wood forest
to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Check for more information on Chris and his adventures.


Ken Gaines talks about epitaphs

November 9, 2016

This was a Facebook post from a musical friend – I admire him for a lot of reasons, many of which involve his immense skills as a songwriter and singer, but mostly because he is a beautiful, thoughtful, peaceful and intelligent man. I felt I should preserve his post here for the record.

Your quote for the day: “Excuse my dust.” Dorothy Parker suggesting her epitaph.

Hi Folks,
What is it you would prefer to leave behind when you’re no longer here, kicking up the dust of the past? Wealth for your children… tangible works of art or construction… memories in those who knew you? All of these are wonderful. I’d love to leave behind some extra cash for the kids to make their lives a little easier. It probably won’t happen. I know I’ll be leaving behind songs, writings, and works of visual art most of you know nothing about. And I’ve had a hand in building a lot of structures, from fancy bars and cabinets to chicken coops.

Memories? I’d like to think that friends and family will have fond memories of me… as long as they themselves can remember. But, in the end, “it’s all gonna fade”.

What I’d really like to leave behind is love; the love that has been given to me, and that which I have to give, and pass on. I believe love is the one powerful, positive thing that lasts. It grows when you feed it and share it with those who, in turn, share it with others. It won’t buy you a beer. It won’t have your signature on it. You won’t be able to copyright it. But you’ll be a part of it as it flows along… forever.

So, excuse my dust. And, I love you. Pass it on. It’s free. And, there’s true freedom in it.


Thanks Ken!

(Anyone recognize the Paul Simon quote from “Still Crazy After All These Years?”)


More Kerrville Folk Festival History

May 19, 2016

This story was copied from  for posterity and safekeeping.

Kerrville Folk Festival & Rod Kennedy (from LoneStarMusic Magazine, May/June 2010)
City of Song

For 39 years (and counting), the Kerrville Folk Festival has drawn music lovers from all walks of life deep into the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Some come as legends or to launch their careers; others, just to escape the real world, if only for a week or three. But nobody leaves untouched by song — and without a profound understanding of the words “Welcome Home.”

By Richard Skanse

In the before and after, Quiet Valley Ranch can be a little too quiet. Come late morning or mid afternoon or early evening or whatever time of day it is on Monday, June 14, when the very last campsite is struck and the last of many, many hugs is finally exchanged, the 39th annual Kerrville Folk Festival will be over and the ranch will once again feel as empty and forlorn as it does on this rainy Wednesday afternoon in April. While waiting for a photographer to set up her equipment for a photo shoot, festival founder Rod Kennedy sits alone in the middle of the main stage and looks out over the empty outdoor theater that bears his name, his brow furrowed in agitation.

It has nothing to do with the coming deluge, though heaven knows Kennedy’s seen more than his fair share of those over the years. Nor does the ex-Marine, who turned 80 in January, seem all that bothered by any particular physical discomfort, even though it’s been only five weeks since he underwent knee-replacement surgery. He’s not out running sprints in the rain, but in 24 hours he’ll be hopping on a plane with his girlfriend, retired nurse Carolyn Pillow, for two weeks of vacation in Florida and the Cayman Islands, followed by another week of fun and sun in Maui in early May. (“I’ve worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for about 30 years,” he explains with a shrug, “so …”) Kennedy doesn’t even seem to mind having to spend the day before his trip doing a photo shoot and conducting a lengthy interview; he’s patient and gracious, quick to flash a twinkling smile for the camera and a seasoned pro at recounting his eventful life story and the history of all things Kerrville in encyclopedic detail.

Oh, but that bank of lights laying haphazardly at the foot of the stage — left there, he guesses with a disapproving sigh, since last year? You can tell that’s driving Kennedy flat-out nuts. Ditto all the mounds of rolled up old carpet and other unsightly detritus onstage, not to mention that pile of tree limbs just laying out there in the field to the right of the theater benches, or the number of those benches that could use a fresh coat of Kerrville sea-foam-green paint, or the leak backstage, or this or that and 100 other things he probably can’t help but notice as part of the “what’s-wrong-with-this-picture” drill running through his brain. For more than half of his life, “Kennedy” was only his middle name — as in Rod Kennedy Presents — and eight years of retirement hasn’t entirely quelled his producer’s instincts. And so he frets and sighs and tsk-tsks over all that still has to be done before opening weekend in late May — even though he knows full well that his ultra-competent successor, Dalis Allen, and the rest of the festival staff and volunteers will have everything in order just in time to welcome the first wave of returning Kerrverts back “home.”

“We’re ready for you, Rod,” calls Allen, standing in the wings with Pillow next to Kennedy’s captain’s chair, from which he’s watched countless performances over the years. He stands and hobbles over to them with his cane, smiling for the camera as Allen plants a kiss on his cheek.

“Somebody’s always kissing on you,” Pillow teases. “I don’t remember what event we were at the other day, but everybody was kissing him on the mouth. Where were we?” Kennedy, boyish grin brighter than the camera flash, answers back, “Who cares?”

Everyone laughs, and just like that — chaotic appearances aside — all is exactly as it should be on Quiet Valley Ranch. Because although the music and crowds and all-night campfire song circles are still a month and a half away, the first magic little moment of the 29th annual Kerrville Folk Festival is already in the books. And come 7 p.m. on May 27, when Allen takes this very same stage to greet the crowd and introduce the first act of the year (singer-songwriter Ana Egge), the City of Song will be in full bloom again.


Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Kerrville Folk Festival — a landmark that will most certainly (and deservedly) be recognized with much fanfare not only by artists, fans and staff at the festival itself, but by media outlets across Texas and probably far beyond. After all, although plenty of artists have enjoyed careers that long or longer, only a handful of other music festivals the world over have ever made it to or beyond the big 4-0. Sure, a little Google detective work will turn up things like the 62-year-old Ozark Folk Festival in Eureka Springs, Ark., not to mention the 53-year-old Monterrey Jazz Festival and maybe even the Library-of-Congress-certified “oldest music festival in the country,” the 152-year-old Worcester Music Festival in Massachusetts, though that last one is really more of a seasonal fine-arts series than a true festival. But when you narrow the search down to continuously running, multi-day music festivals dedicated to showcasing original music, Kerrville’s closest antecedent on U.S. soil is the Philadelphia Folk Festival, founded in 1962. (The famous Newport Folk Festival, which helped launch the careers of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, dates back to ’59, but was dormant from 1971-1985).

Granted, the big anniversary is still a year away. But given that Kennedy, without whom there wouldn’t even be a Kerrville Folk Festival, had a landmark birthday of his own earlier this year, we figured we’d split the difference and get an early jump on the celebration. Allen, who’s produced the festival since Kennedy’s retirement in 2002, can relate.

“I’m already scheduling people for 2011,” she says in early April, while still literally up to her ears in prep work for this year’s festival — which, frankly, might be hard to top. The first weekend alone features not only Kerrville mainstays like Jimmy LaFave, Terri Hendrix, Eric Taylor, Brave Combo and Sara Hickman, but major-label Texas country star Randy Rogers and 2010 festival brochure cover gals the Indigo Girls — arguably the festival’s biggest nationally known headliner in years.

All together, the Kerrville Folk Festival and its shorter kid sister, the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival (held in the fall), constitute 21 days of programming — but putting all the pieces together is a full-time, year-round job. The evidence of this is, literally, all over Allen’s office. Her own little corner of the tiny festival office building on the ranch looks like the “before” picture in a before-and-after study on workspace makeovers, so stuffed with papers, folders, notebooks, posters and music that you suspect the adding of one more business card or CD to the pile would be hazardous to everyone in the immediate area. In addition to booking the festival, which among other myriad logistical details entails making travel and hotel arrangements for every songwriter and band and crew member, Allen is also in charge of managing all of the submissions for the Kerrville New Folk Competition for Emerging Songwriters. “We had close to 700 entries this year — that’s 700 artists with two songs each,” she says. “I listen to all of them, and then we have an online system where 30 to 40 other people have about a month to listen to them. At the end of the deadline, I take all of their scores and my scores, and from there we end up with the final 32. I spent all day yesterday and all day Friday listening to submissions, and I still have a couple hundred to go.”

Songwriters who make it to the “final 32” will get a chance to perform at Kerrville’s famous New Folk Concerts, held the first weekend of the festival at Quiet Valley’s second stage, the Kenneth Threadgill Theater. After that, it will be up to this year’s judges, songwriters Susan Gibson, Tom Prasada-Rao and Ronny Cox, to select the “winners”: six new names to join the ranks of such past New Folk champions as Tom Russell, Vince Bell, Eric Taylor, Tish Hinojosa, Robert Earl Keen, James McMurtry, Slaid Cleaves, Ray Bonneville and BettySoo. Meanwhile, the remaining 26 contestants who “tie for second place” can forever commiserate with fellow New Folk finalists like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Jimmy LaFave.

Add to that distinguished list of New Folk alumni even a smattering of the hundreds of other notables who’ve played the festival over the last four decades — including Mance Lipscomb, Willie Nelson, the Flatlanders, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kevin Welch, Iris DeMent, Terry Allen, Janis Ian, Jimmy Driftwood, Eliza Gilkyson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steven Fromholz, Billy Joe Shaver and even Peter, Paul and Mary — and you’re still only scratching the surface of what the Kerrville Folk Festival is all about. Because no matter how famed and acclaimed many of the artists on the “main stage” lineup may be, people come to Kerrville year after year first and foremost to hear and share songs, not to see the biggest names in music (“folk” or otherwise). The only stargazing at Kerrville is done out on the sprawling campgrounds after dark, when anyone with a guitar can find themselves swapping songs with … well, it really doesn’t matter if its Butch Hancock, Gary P. Nunn or some dude who works for the phone company back in the “real world.” Because here in the Never Neverland of Quiet Valley Ranch, for three decidedly unquiet weeks every May and June, they’re all equals — if not practically family. Some may be better pickers, singers and far better writers than others, but anyone with an original song to share and a modicum of patience will get their turn and an attentive audience.

And there’s even more opportunities come daylight. Although the main stage performances don’t begin until early sundown, throughout all 18 days of the festival, songwriters by trade and hobby alike gather around the “Ballad Tree” and at Steve Gillette’s (of “Darcy Farrow” fame) “Texas & Tennessee” daily song circle/critique sessions. There are also staff concerts, children’s concerts, and even various music seminars, workshops, and a three-day, registration-required Songwriters School.

“I think from the beginning, Rod wanted to create an atmosphere where people could exchange ideas and work on the quality of their songwriting,” says Gillette. “And that’s what makes the festival so attractive to me. Because every year until I’m 90 years old, I can still live and grow as a writer, and going to Kerrville is like going to the well.”

Guy Forsyth, one of the many performers on this year’s lineup who will almost certainly find his way out to the campgrounds at least once during the festival, concurs.

“There is nowhere I imagine you could go that has more songwriters per capita, per square mile, in the whole world than the Kerrville Folk Festival,” he marvels. “If you’re interested in learning how to be a songwriter, you could go and camp at Kerrville for two weeks, and even if you never saw a single show on the main stage, but just wandered around from campsite to campsite with your ears and a guitar, you would probably learn more about songwriting than you would by getting a college degree in it.”

But even though Quiet Valley Ranch may be as overrun with songwriters (professional or otherwise) during the festival as the Hill Country roads are with deer after dark, there’s no entrance exam or audition to get in. Because along with drums and stereos in the campground, exclusion and elitism are strictly frowned upon here, which means that that “Welcome Home” sign at the front entrance applies to seasoned Kerrverts and first-time Kerrvirgins alike, and you certainly don’t have to be a songwriter to feel welcome here and enjoy the festival to its fullest. And whatever stereotype-based misconceptions you might harbor about folk festivals and folk music and the folks that make and/or love it, you don’t have to be a Birkenstocks-wearing, tie-dye-sporting, hybrid-driving, protest-marching, hippie-dippy left-wing vegetarian tree-hugger, either. Heck, so long as you come with music in your heart, you can even be Republican.

Just ask the guy who started it all.



As legacies go, one could do a lot worse than “only” leaving behind an institution that’s meant so much to so many people as the Kerrville Folk Festival. And though he shows no signs of being in any hurry to leave just yet, when it comes time for Rod Kennedy to move on up to that big campfire song circle in the sky, his name will forever be associated, first and foremost, with what is unquestionably his greatest production. But the Kennedy that organized the very first Kerrville Folk Festival back in 1972 was no whippersnapper wunderkind fresh out of college. He was 41 years old, and you could easily fill a book just by chronicling the very eventful first four decades of his life … or at least the first seven chapters of his 379-page memoir, Music From the Heart, published in 1998.

“You can skip all of this stuff,” Kennedy offers as he flips through the tome at the dining room table in the house he shares with Pillow in a Kerrville subdivision. “You oughta start with the Chequered Flag, which is what led to me doing festivals.”

But no, it turns out that Kennedy had already produced a successful festival or two even before he opened Austin’s first (and last) racecar-themed folk music club (“Folk songs and fast cars!” was the slogan) in 1965. In 1964, he debuted his KHFI-FM Summer Music Festival, featuring six nights of free concerts at Austin’s Zilker Hillside Theater. It may have been tiny compared to today’s massive Austin City Limits Music Festival, held in the same park, but 15,518 fans, glowing reviews and an eclectic lineup including everything from Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins to Chuck Reiley’s Alamo City Jazz Band to classical music (string quartet and full orchestra) was nothing to slouch at. Clearly, Kennedy was a natural when it came to organizing and staging music events on large scale. He also knew a thing or two about owning and operating radio and TV stations, racing (and collecting) “midget” Italian race cars and even carrying a tune; as a teenager in the ’40s in his native Buffalo, he played the cotillion and private party circuit as the “boy singer” for the Bill Creighton Orchestra.

Kennedy would later draw on all of those experiences (save, perhaps, for the racing stuff) during his Kerrville era. But more than any other chapter from the first half of his life, it was his three years of combat duty as a Marine during the Korean War that had the most profound and life-changing impact on him. “War was the loudest, most disorienting experience I’ve ever known,” he wrote in his book. “The noise, death and destruction, pain and tragedy were close to unbelievable. And, when it was all over, no ground had been taken or given. … We heard on our way home, after a year had passed, that out of an original battalion of 1,050, only 200 came home …”

“I didn’t know why I didn’t get killed along with over half of my battalion,” he says today. “But I knew I was going to have to pay back, somehow.”

Under the banner “Rod Kennedy Presents,” he began producing all manner of theater shows, concerts and outdoor festivals in and around the Austin area. Classical, big band and jazz music were his first loves, but he also developed a strong affinity for blues, bluegrass and traditional and contemporary folk music. Somewhere along the line, he became friends with Texas folk singers Carolyn Hester and Allen Damron (who was also one of his business partners in the Chequered Flag), and with Geroge Wein, founder of the Newport Folk Festival. It was Wein who first connected Kennedy with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, when the folk icon needed a road manager for a few Texas dates on his first solo tour. They bonded straight away over their shared love of music and songwriters, even though, politically, they made for as odd a couple as Mary Matalin and James Carville.

“I thought he was a left-wing bomb thrower at the time that he was doing all the stuff that Peter Paul and Mary did,” Kennedy admits. And though it may have been one of his other folk singer friends, Tom Paxton, who called Kennedy “a God-damned Republican,” the thought probably crossed Yarrow’s mind a time or two, too.

“I found him to be personally very self-contradictory,” Yarrow says of his initial take on Kennedy. “He was, on one hand, very open and warm and authentic. And then he would lapse into his post-Marine perspective, and be a really blotto, biased kind of guy who was very rigid about his evaluation of certain things. He was fiercely judgmental in the military way he viewed behaviors or activities that he considered to be ‘un-American.’ But that was overwritten by his decency as a human being, because his heart and his humanity was always very much there and very special, and his respect for musicians was phenomenal.”

Kennedy had recently been asked by the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities to put together “some kind of Texas music” event to unofficially coincide with the new Texas State Arts and Crafts Fair to be held in Kerrville. The concert had to be produced by the private sector so as not to conflict with the state-funded Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio. Kennedy was game, and the first Kerrville Folk Festival was set for June 1-3, 1972 at the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium. Performers would include Damron, Hester, Lipscomb, Steve Fromholz, Michael (Martin) Murphey, Kenneth Threadgill and a band called Texas Fever featuring one Ray Wylie Hubbard. Yarrow wanted in on the fun from the start. In addition to offering to play the festival himself, he also sold Kennedy on the idea of adding a showcase for new songwriters modeled after the New Folks Concerts he’d been in charge of at the Newport Folk Festival during the ’60s. The “s” was dropped and New Folk was born. Although no winners were officially announced at that first year’s “competition,” which unlike the rest of the festival was held outdoors during the day, Yarrow and Kennedy did hand-pick one act to come inside for a main stage showcase: a scruffy band of Lubbock guys (Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely) who called themselves the Flatlanders.

“It was all kind of mind boggling,” recalls Gilmore. “I remember this entourage of Secret Service guys came by, and it turned out Lyndon Johnson was there.”

“I remember looking down on him in the front row, and he had shoulder-length hair,” adds Ely. “He looked like an old hippie. I kept thinking it was my old uncle J.B. from Petersburg.”

The festival’s maiden voyage was deemed successful enough to warrant a sequel, so Kennedy booked the auditorium again for the following May. Damron, Hester, Yarrow, Fromholz, Murphey and Threadgill were all back for encore performances, along with B.W. Stevenson, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. Even with the music now spread out over five days, it was clear the festival would need to find a bigger home if it was to continue. By year’s end, Kennedy and his wife, Nancylee, had sold their house in Austin and moved onto their newly purchased, 63-acre spread nine miles south of town. They had to work around the clock for months to get it ready in time for the third annual Kerrville Folk Festival (May 23-27, 1974). They pulled it off, though the campgrounds weren’t opened to the public until Kennedy’s next major production, that fall’s Kerrville Bluegrass and Country Music Festival (a Labor Day weekend tradition for 19 years before Kennedy became a wine connoisseur and it evolved into the Wine & Music Festival, aka “Little Folk”).

Although it would be several years before it grew into a three-weekend affair, the spirit of the Kerrville Folk Festival as it is known and loved today was already very much in place by the mid-70s. The campfire culture was in full swing, the main stage lineups were consistently solid and the New Folk competition was fast becoming a benchmark for success in a field of music in which earning the respect of discerning fans and one’s peers was deemed more important than mainstream airplay or record sales. Behind the scenes, though, Kennedy often found himself hanging on by the skin of his teeth, as year after year of pounding rains kept the festival in the red. As he put it bluntly in his book, “We were actually flying on unfunded optimism.”

The Kerrville Folk Festival is now run under the umbrella of the Texas Folk Music Foundation, a non-profit 501c. Yarrow frankly opines that the festival should have been a 501c years ago, but Kennedy was determined to keep the whole thing privately run. By the end of the ’70s, though, he did begin selling stock and loan packages to help with cash flow. The ’80s were just as touch and go; in 1987, the first year that the festival was stretched to three weekends, it rained 14 out of the 18 days. But like the hero in an old Saturday matinee serial, Kennedy always managed to bounce back for another thrill ride the following year. Granted, he didn’t do it alone: the numerous “Folk Aid” benefit concerts by Yarrow and other friends of Kerrville certainly helped bail the festival out of a tight spot or two, as did the introduction in the mid-80s of a few key corporate sponsorships (including Texas Monthly and Southwest Airlines). But at the end of the day, it was Kennedy’s unflappable commitment — Semper Fi! — to the music that kept him going.

“I’ve seen him in desperate states, but I never felt that he was going to throw in the towel,” Yarrow says. “It just wasn’t in him to do that. Maybe that was the discipline of his training in the military — he was hyper-dedicated and had extraordinary determination. But mostly, the fact is, he was in love with this.”

It wasn’t just his love of the festival, though. It was his genuine belief in the importance of the songs and their need to be heard. Kennedy may claim to have been a proud Republican all his life until two years ago, “when Obama appeared on the scene,” but he was always tuned in to the decidedly hippie ideal of music as a viable agent for change for a better society.

“I never booked an artist because they were popular,” Kennedy insists. “I booked them because I thought what they were doing met my standard of excellence: It was music from the heart, that spoke to people, made people realize that they weren’t the only ones suffering under a certain problem — it could be loneliness, it could be lack of self-confidence, it could be poorness or it could be the way other people treated them for being fat or short or whatever else. And I felt that our music could bring an end to that kind of treatment of people. I was adamant about it. And I am to this day.”



True to the spirit of the festival, committed Kerrverts are, as a general rule, an open, sharing lot. Getting them to talk at length about the festival is disarmingly — and sometimes alarmingly — easy. What’s surprisingly hard, though, is getting them to pick a single favorite memory — that one perfect Kerrville Folk Festival moment that stands out from the crowd of thousands. What you usually get is an answer along the lines of, “Wow … gosh … I guess that’d be … well, honestly? There’s just too many … I wouldn’t know where to begin …” Now and then they might finally light upon a particularly magic song they heard around a campfire at 3 a.m., but more often than not, they’ll just launch into a sincere rhapsody about the “vibe” or the “people.”

Sometimes, though, you do get lucky. Like when you find one of those most fortunate of all Kerrverts who was there on the night of May 25, 1980, when the Joe Ely Band played chicken with arguably the meanest thunderstorm to ever beat down on Quiet Valley Ranch. It was a classic unstoppable force vs. immovable object showdown, played to a technical draw but with the band’s tenacious performance forever cemented in festival legend.

Lyle Lovett was in the crowd that night 30 years ago, and he remembers it as though it was yesterday. “It was packed that night,” Lovett says. “Joe Ely and his great band — you know, that great band that played on his early records, like Honky Tonk Masquerade — had come in from somewhere on the road and they had just made it in time to take the stage. And right as Joe stepped up to the microphone, there was a bolt of lightning and this big storm just seemed to suddenly come up — and they just kept playing. I’ll never forget the way Joe just stood there at the mic … it was really a powerful thing to see.”

Even Lloyd Maines, whose runaway-train pedal steel playing was as lethal a weapon in that band’s arsenal as Jesse “Guitar” Taylor’s dynamic blues licks and Ely’s Clash-approved rock ’n’ roll swagger, recalls the whole scene with awe, as though he were a mere witness rather than an active participant. “That was epic,” he enthuses. “I think we’d actually played maybe two songs, and then the storm started coming in like crazy. I mean, the wind was just blowing like hell.”

Kennedy came onstage to apologize about having to shut the show down. Apart from the danger to the crowd and band posed by lightning, there was the matter of the wind rocking the speakers so bad that they had to be taken down. “But we still had power,” Maines says. “And Joe had this Fender Super Reverb amp, and he just happened to have a high-impedance mic in the back of it with a plug that he could plug straight into the amp, so we finished out the show with Joe just singing through that amp. There was a huge crowd there, and about half of them stayed and just packed up against the stage. The band was dry because the stage was covered, but the crowd just got soaking wet. But they hung the entire time. It was absolutely just a magical night — one of those high-energy, Mother Nature moments.”

Ely himself adds that Kennedy, undoubtedly fretting about any number of liability issues, was less than thrilled that the band refused to yield to the storm after he’d tried to stop the show. “But we had just driven non-stop 2,000 miles from Duluth, Minn., and we were not about to not play that gig after driving that far,” he says. “I was not invited back after that — but we went out in style!”

Ely wasn’t the only Kerrville performer — or Flatlander, for that matter — who one way or another got sideways with Kennedy during the first 30 years of the festival. “Rod once banned me for life,” laughs Jimmie Dale Gilmore. “When I got a major-label record deal and started touring all the time, I got another gig that I just couldn’t turn down and had to cancel my Kerrville engagement. And I did it quite a bit ahead of time, but Rod didn’t like that at all. It was even in the Statesman the next day: ‘Gilmore banned for life from Kerrville.’ But then I came back the next year.”

Meanwhile, Butch Hancock still gets a kick out of telling the story about the time Kennedy sent him back out onstage for “one more song,” and he obliged with a 30-minute opus. “There’s something like 14 verses, and every verse is about as long as a normal song, so it just went on and on and on,” Hancock says. “I could see Rod out of the corner of my eye, trying to give me the cut-the-neck sign. And then at some point, he finally just left the whole campground I think. At least from what I heard. At any rate, for at least several years, he never asked me to do another encore.”

Even Eliza Gilkyson managed to get herself banned from the festival for several years. Kennedy, who prided himself on running a disciplined, family-friendly show, was not amused when she dropped the “f-word” onstage — an act Gilkyson concedes was “utterly inappropriate” on her part.

“I have some last thoughts on the time I did that, and concerning others who had their own sundry battles with Rod,” she explains in an email. “My conclusion, in retrospect, is that poor Rod was the unfortunate recipient of our last vestiges of parental acting out. Being as we had all at least by then left home, he became our surrogate father figure, and we all had to go up against his rules at one point or another just to butt our heads against something vaguely authoritarian! How’s that for a psych 101 analysis? Anyway, all is long forgiven, at least on my part.”

It’s clearly long forgiven on Kennedy’s end, too, as Gilkyson was invited to perform at his 80th birthday tribute this year at the Paramount Theater in Austin. So were all three Flatlanders, along with a veritable all-star list of other Kerrville favorites from the very beginning up to the present: Ray Benson, Marcia Ball, Robert Earl Keen, Jimmy LaFave, Terri Hendrix, Ruthie Foster and Randy Rogers. Naturally, there was a little good-natured roasting of the birthday boy on the stage that night, but just like the music, it was all delivered with genuine affection. Kennedy says he could see, hear and feel the love “coming over that stage like the Niagra Falls.”

It’s a memory that now probably ranks right up there at the top of Kennedy’s own favorite Kerrville moments. But it’s one he might not have lived to see had he not retired eight years ago. He managed to steer the ship through thick and thin (literally to the point of bankruptcy) for three long decades, but that last five years or so may well have been the roughest. His book follows the entire journey in painstakingly meticulous detail right up until the end of 1996, which he sums up as “Kerrville’s most exciting and successful year.” But instead of ending with “happily ever after,” the last six graphs read like he dashed them off right as the ship hit an iceberg. Three major corporate sponsors bailed all at once, his ex-wife (but still friend) had a serious car accident, and the pump to the ranch’s entire water system went kaput, all in a matter of weeks. “I knew I should end my book here,” he finished his memoir with “uh, gotta go now” duress, “and maybe re-title it Hit or Myth, the story that begins with a whimper and ends with a bang!” A brief epilogue, tacked on right before the book went to press a year later, offers a little relief: the arrival of a new sponsor in Elixir Guitar Strings, an encouraging update on Nancylee’s recovery, and even a little joke about the epilogue actually being Chapter 12, because “we did not want to end this book with a Chapter 11.”

Better that, though, than the unwritten Chapter 13, which might have opened with Kennedy’s heart attack in 1998 and ended with him selling his majority stock in the festival to — long story put politely short — “a fellow with a lot of problems.”

“I just had to get out of there or I wasn’t going to make it,” he says. “Too much stress.”

So much stress, in fact, that Kennedy now says that for the first year or two after his retirement, “I never wanted to hear another folk singer or deal with another artist or manager or agent. I hated everything.

“I’ve never told anybody that, so don’t headline it,” he adds with a worried smile. “But anyway, after awhile, I began to get backstage again, and I’d see the people coming back every year, people that I had known for 34 years in this business. And hearing their songs again had the same effect on me that the original songs had, which was to open my heart and my mind and get me to back off a little bit. And now I miss it every day and every moment that I’m not there. Not so much doing the work, but really enjoying the music. And with the exception of last year, I’ve been there practically every night. And I’m going to be back there again this year.”

Then he looks over and smiles warmly at Allen. “Because it continues,” he says confidently, “with this one.”

When Allen stepped into her job as only the second producer in the Kerrville Folk Festival’s existence, she wasn’t exactly new to the gig. She ran her own booking agency for years in Houston, and, give or take a few festivals that she missed in the ’80s, she’s been part of the Kerrville family going all the way back to ’72. She was running a coffee house at the University of Houston back then, and was personally invited by Kennedy’s old Chequered Flag partner Damron to come check out “this thing happening in the Hill Country.” She worked as a volunteer at the festival for several years before finally taking a full-time job running the office. Her first production was 2002’s Wine & Music Festival.

Her job is, in different ways, both easier and more difficult than it was for her mentor. Whereas Kennedy ran the entire operation — from booking talent to ranch maintenance to fund-raising — like a “benevolent dictator,” Allen handles only the creative end (booking, scheduling, MC’ing) and some day-to-day business during the festival, and everything else is overseen by separate committees. The aforementioned fellow with problems was eventually pushed out of the picture by the stockholders on the Festival Board, which later became the Festival Operating Committee when the shareholders handed full ownership of the festival over to the non-profit Texas Folk Music Foundation. Quiet Valley Ranch, though, is still owned by the Ranch Board, which leases the property to the festival year round. Oh, and Who’s on first.

“It’s a bit complicated,” Allen admits with a laugh. “And I have to answer to all of them on some level. But as far as finding and booking the artists is concerned, I’m pretty much still autonomous on that part. Everybody figured out pretty quick that that’s exactly how it had to happen.”

Kennedy reaches across the table and squeezes her hand.

“This is a business, but most people don’t know what this business is about,” he says. “The business is about people, and broken hearts and lonely hearts, and people who want to heal from what this festival has to offer. It’s not just a series of concerts. It’s a family whose roots are deeply embedded in each other’s well being. And I thank God this child has kept it going in the same way that I would.”



Indeed, the more things change, the more things stay the same. And Kerrverts wouldn’t have it any other way. Because for all that’s gone on behind the scenes, at the end of the day, all that matters is that the Kerrville Folk Festival continues to offer all of the things that have kept people coming back for (almost!) 40 years now. And between Allen’s Kennedy-instilled commitment to excellence and the Texas Folk Music Foundation’s protective stewardship, there will almost assuredly be a festival for those people to come back to for years and years to come.

“It’s an incredible thing to see when we have the early land rush for campground spots a week before the festival, and thousands of people come, every year,” Allen says.

“The line on the highway is a mile and a half long,” Kennedy adds. “Everything from Cadillacs to cars that will hardly move, just bumper to bumper, with kids hanging off of them, waving their flags when they come by the office.”

Jimmy LaFave, a 1987 New Folk finalist, has been making the pilgrimage out to Quiet Valley Ranch now for 25 years. And he still gets a tingle every time. “When I pull up to Kerrville and walk through those gates, it’s like there’s a particular smell, you know? And I don’t mean the latrines! There’s just a certain feel, like the way the dust gets on your shoes, and when you first see that little ‘Welcome Home’ sign … it’s just an amazing vive. And even though it’s changed a lot, that vibe is still there.”

Ruthie Foster has only been coming to Kerrville for the last decade or so, but it’s telling that she describes the thrill of turning off Highway 16 into the festival driveway almost exactly the same. Like they’re singing the same song. There’s no place like Kerrville, there’s no place like home.

They come from all across Texas, North America and maybe even the globe, not just to hear and play music, but to reconnect with folks they may see only once a year but who they embrace at first sight like immediate family. Many reconnect, too, with their “other,” truer selves, happily exchanging their ties, button-downs and Florsheims for tie-dyes and Birkenstocks, and all the worries of their “regular” lives for a long but somehow never quite long enough vacation in an all together better, truer and more humane world. One where it sometimes rains like a bastard and things may not always go exactly according to plan, except, of course, for the three promises that count the most: songs will be shared, lifelong memories will be made and, before it’s all over, every Kerrvert left standing after 18 days and nights of nonstop music will come together to sing Bobby Bridger’s official Kerrville Folk Festival anthem, “Heal in the Wisdom.”

“It’s an amazing thing,” Hancock says. “I think with all these years of Kerrville, somewhere back in there, I began to see it as a little small city,” muses Hancock. “Do you remember Brigadoon?”

He’s referring to the fictional Scottish town featured in the 1940s Broadway musical Brigadoon, which was later adapted for a 1954 Gene Kelly movie and, a decade later, a TV movie with Robert Goulet and a pre-Columbo Peter Falk. In the story, Brigadoon — along with all of its inhabitants — appears for one day once every 100 years, then mysteriously disappears back into the Highland mist.

“It’s sort of like that, except this one appears every year,” Hancock says. “It really is a great study of a city suddenly appearing out in the middle of a field, and then disappearing after, in this case, three weeks. And it’s wonderful that it comes out with the theme of music. Everybody that goes there, it seems they come away going, ‘Wow! I wish it could be this way the whole year round.’

“What a beautiful wish,” he continues. “People getting along with each other, singing songs and living together. It’s such a positive energy that just makes the whole thing something worth keeping — and worth being a part of.”

Kerrville Folk Festival History

May 19, 2016

This was copied from for posterity and safekeeping.

KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL. The first Kerrville Folk Festival was held June 1 through 3, 1972, in the 1,200-seat Kerrville Municipal Auditorium; 2,800 fans from all over Texas and as far away as Colorado attended the thirteen-performer event. The festivals at Kerrville were a direct outgrowth of the Austin Zilker Park KHFI–FM Summer Music festivals (1964–68), the Chequered Flag folk-music club on Lavaca Street in Austin (1967–70), and the eight Longhorn Jazz festivals (1966–73), as well as the “live” and recorded programs of Austin folk artists produced on KHFI–AM–FM–TV during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Performers included Allen Damron, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael (Martin) Murphey, Townes Van Zandt, Kenneth Threadgill, Carolyn Hester, Frummox (Steven Fromholz and Dan McCrimmen), Rusty Wier, Three Faces West (including Ray Wylie Hubbard), Bill and Bonnie Hearne, Mance Lipscomb, Bill Neely, and others. Many of them emerged as national recording artists identified with the “Austin Sound.”

The first Kerrville Folk Festival included many of the Austin artists as well as National Fiddling Champion Dick Barrett of Pottsboro and Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary). The 1973 festival expanded to five concerts in three nights, and 5,600 people jammed the auditorium. Among the new performers were Willie Nelson and B. W. Stevenson. The success of the event led to a search for larger quarters, preferably an outdoor location. In December 1973 a sixty-acre plot was acquired nine miles south of Kerrville on State Highway 16 and dubbed the Quiet Valley Ranch to keep from frightening the neighbors. Work began immediately dozing thousands of cedar stumps and debris from a previous runaway fire. Construction began on a stage, a seating area, a concession stand, underground water and wiring, and 6,000 feet of deer-proof seven-foot fencing.

The facilities (except for camping facilities) were completed, outhouses rented, and the first outdoor festival held on the new stage on May 23–26, 1974; the schedule had been expanded to four nights. Asleep at the Wheel, Flaco Jiménez, and Chubby Wise were among the first-time performers, who drew a crowd of 6,000. Lucinda Williams was among the New Folk finalists. The gates were opened daily at 6 P.M., and the concerts started at 8. The nonprofit Kerrville Music Foundation, Incorporated, was established in 1975 to help beginning songwriters and, for many years, also promoted and worked to preserve such traditional art forms as country yodeling, harmonic and mandolin playing, and bluegrass music. While attendance was growing, a spirit also grew out of the warm ambience of the festival, which has been described as “spiritual optimism.” The campfire singing in the now-developed campgrounds became a worldwide trademark of the festival, which maintained its momentum in spite of seven years of heavy rains out of the first nineteen.

In 1980 crowds reached 13,000, and the festival expanded to eleven days for its tenth anniversary in 1981. The present expanded and cantilevered stage was built in three weeks by volunteers that year. In 1986 the festival celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with an eleven-day festival, a special documentary album, and a musicians’ fifteen-day tour of nine states on behalf of the Texas Sesquicentennial as official state ambassadors. The next year the festival expanded to its present format of eighteen days, which includes three weekends.

By the 1990s attendance had grown to 25,000. The program included an eighteen-day schedule of eleven six-hour evening concerts, New Folk Concerts with forty writers, Folk Mass celebrations, six two-hour children’s concerts, and a four-day Festival of the Eagle honoring American Indians at a newly constructed and then expanded Threadgill Memorial Theater in the campgrounds. The festival has become America’s largest and longest-running celebration of original songwriters and draws performers and fans from around the world. It remains a family affair with the same intimate atmosphere of the early years. A companion event, the Kerrville Wine and Music Festival, held over the Labor Day weekend, began in 1992. By the twenty-second season of the folk festival in 1993 more than two dozen of its early “unknown” performers had earned national recording contracts, including Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Hal Ketchum, David Wilcox, John Gorka, Tish Hinojosa, Pierce Pettis, Cliff Eberhart, Darden Smith, Michael Tomlinson, Lucinda Williams, James McMurtry, David Massengill, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen, Jr., Jon Ims, and the Flatlanders (including Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore).

On October 1, 1999, ownership of the festival changed hands, as founder Rod Kennedy, now aged seventy, sold the event to Vaughn Hafner, of Dallas, and his investors. By the year 2000, festival attendance had grown to 30,000, and popular performers on the main stage included Jimmy La Fave, Trout Fishing in America, Eric Andersen, Katy Moffat, Peter Rowan, Stacey Earle, Tom Prasada–Rao, Sara Hickman, the Chenille Sisters, Susan Werner, and the Limeliters, among hundreds of others. Educational workshops sponsored by the Texas Folk Music Foundation (renamed the Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation in 2013) included a songwriters school, the Professional Development Program for Teachers, a harmonica workshop, and a Kerrville Music Camp for teenagers (held in July). In 2007 the Texas Folk Music Foundation launched a capital campaign to purchase all related assets of the Kerrville Folk Festival, Inc., and secure non-profit legal status for the festival. It achieved this goal by late 2008. Founder Rod Kennedy died on April 14, 2014. In 2015 Dalis Allen served as producer of the festival. Rachel Brown was festival coordinator, and Chuck Miller was creative director. By 2015 more than 1,500 singer-songwriters had performed at the event during its history.

Veterans Day – from Chris Chandler

November 12, 2014

The following is from an email from a Kerrville friend, who is an amazing performer, funny as well as a serious poet and artist. I thought it worthwhile to preserve it here and offer it for your consideration. I agree with Chris that it is well and good that we should honor our veterans on November 11th, but I also believe it is important to honor the “other veterans” who have given so much in the effort to preserve and fight for freedom for all of us.

Veteran’s Day
By Chris Chandler
I believe that on Veteran’s Day it is important to remember there are many ways to die in the service of your country. We should not only honor, remember, celebrate and lay wreaths upon the tombs of our fallen military veterans, But our fallen Veterans for Justice and our fallen Veterans for Peace. All who gave their lives for our freedom.

I am aware of the naiveté of my pacifism. Yes, The United States did do her fair share liberating Europe and vicariously Russia from brutal  tyranny just sixty odd years ago. But most of our military campaigns have been dubious at best. Perhaps we did need to step in a century ago and mop up that awful squabble over the shifting powers of the newly industrialized European Corporations (I mean countries) Perhaps Abe Lincoln was justified in raising troops and marching them against his rebelling people. (Though people much smarter than me have pondered that one for much longer than I have. Could the slaves have been freed with out a war?)

But The War of 1812 – AKA the failed land grab of Canada.?
The Seminole Wars?
The Texas Revolution?
The Invasion of Mexico?
The Indian Wars of ’65 to 90?
The Invasion of Cuba?
The Philippines?
Countless occupations in Central America?
The Korean war?
The Cold War?
Oil War I?
Oil War II?
The occupation of Afghanistan?

I can at least intellectually wrap my head around honor in serving your country. But, I also recognize (at least by odds) that inside Unknown Soldier’s tomb lays a conscript. Throughout human history poor people have been drafted to fight in rich people’s fights. But still, I believe in Abraham Lincoln’s words. “We have come to dedicate… a final resting place for those who here gave their lives [so that the] nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

Yes, in my younger days I might have jumped up on a bar stool and decried all warfare on Veteran’s Day. But today I think – of those who have fallen in wars just and unjust. I think of conscripts forced to fight. Economic conscripts caught between Hardship and Kandahar – Bankruptcy and Baghdad. They are martyrs. They should be honored. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. However, There are many ways to die in the service of your country. Many people in the United States have taken on many battles that are just, proper and good.

The fight for the 8 hours day.
The fight for child labor laws.
The fight for women’s suffrage.
The fight of civil rights.
The anti war movement.
The Fight for Gay Rights.
The Fight for Immigrants’ Rights.
(to name a few.)
Not to mention
The war on Poverty
The War on Drugs.
The War on Christmas.

No, seriously on this Veteran’s Day I remember not only our fallen Veterans of War, but I remember Sacho and Vanzetti. Joe Hill, and John Brown. August Spies and Albert Parsons and the other Haymarket Martyrs.

I remember Rachel Corey. I remember Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder who were killed at Kent State.

I remember James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders.

I remember Emily Davidson who in 1913 martyred herself in protest of women’s right to vote.

No, I can’t name them all. And there are countless activists that have died in the line of duty. I ask for a tomb of the unknown activist. I ask Barak Obama on Veteran’s Day to lay a wreath in Utah where Joe Hill was killed by firing squad. “Don’t mourn. Organize,” he said.

On this Veteran’s day, I remember Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

I remember that in May 1920 despite efforts by police chief (and former miner) Sid Hatfield and Mayor C. Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive in West Virginia. A gun battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of 7 detectives, the mayor and 2 miners. Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at “The Battle of Blair Mountain,” still, “the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War” The battled included aerial bombardment of US Citizens by the US military. I remember the battle of Matawan.

I remember Rev. George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered. I remember that on November, 23 1887 The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage. I remember the victims of the Thibodaux Massacre.

I remember Harvey Milk the first openly Gay politician to hold elective office in California who was assassinated after passing stringent anti gay policies.

I remember the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911 whose death brought to light working conditions as well as child labor laws.

I remember Lamar Smith who was organizing black voters was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.

I remember that on July 6 1892 Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel-workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. I remember the victims of The Homestead Strike.

I remember that on December 29 1890 as many as 500 Lakota Sioux American Citizens were mowed down with machine guns by the United States Army as the attempted to practice their religious freedom. I remember Wounded Knee I.

I remember that on April 23, 1973 between eight and twelve individuals (names unknown) trying to break the siege of Wounded Knee by The U.S. Armed Forces were intercepted by vigilantes. None were ever heard From again. I remember Wounded Knee II.

I remember that on June 21 1877 Ten coal-mining activists were hanged in Pennsylvania. I remember the “Molly Maguires”

I remember Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

I remember that on March 5, 1770 five labor leaders including one abolitionist were killed by the British Military. I remember the Boston Massacre.

I remember the hunger strikes of the Suffragettes. I remember that on January 13 1874 as unemployed workers demonstrated in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with Billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. Commented Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw…” I remember the victims of The Tompkins Square Riot.

I remember Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

I remember Raymond Yellow Thunder, member of the American Indian Movement tortured and beaten to death after being stripped naked and left in a Gordon, NE bar.. Found a week later stuffed in a trunk.

I remember Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.

I remember that on June 8, 1904 A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners ended with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. I remember the Dunnville Massacre.

I remember Elijah Lovejoy abolitionist murdered for his beliefs and his printing press destroyed in 1837.

I remember Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.

I remember Fred Hampton, an African-American activist was assassinated as he lay in bed in his apartment.

I remember that on November 11, 1919 Violence erupted when members of the American Legion attempted to force their way into an IWW hall in Centralia, Washington during an Armistice Day anniversary celebration. Four armed intruders were shot dead by members of the IWW, which prompted a local mob to publically lynch IWW organizer Wesley Everest. I remember The Centralia Massacre.

I remember Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.

I remember that on September 10, 1897 Nineteen unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse in Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves. I remember the victims of the Lattimer Strike.

I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

I remember that on February 24 1912 Women and children were beaten by police during a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

I remember the Bread and Roses Strike.

I remember Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

I remember that on August 19 1916 Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene. In response, the IWW called for a meeting. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing. I remember the Battle of Everett.

I remember Clarence Triggs was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

I remember that on November 21, 1927 picketing miners were massacred in Columbine, Colorado. I remember the first Columbine Massacre.

I remember Benjamin Brown, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.

I remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.

I remember that on October 12 1898 Fourteen were killed, 25 wounded in violence resulting when mine owners attempted to break a strike by importing 200 nonunion black workers. I remember the victims of the Virden massacre.

I remember that on April 27 1973 Buddy Lamont-AIM member was hit by M16 fire at Wounded Knee, Bled to death while pinned down by fire. Still no investigation.

I remember that in July of 1877 A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. In Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100. I remember the “Battle of the Viaduct”

I remember Malcolm X though killed by people within his own cause, the institution of racism and the “Hate that hate produced” was the ultimate culprit in his demise.

I remember that on April 20 1914 the State Militia attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire. Five men, two  women and 12 children died as a result. I remember The “Ludlow Massacre.”

I remember that on July, 22 1916 a bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer and Warren K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted, but were both pardoned in 1939.

I remember IWW organizer Frank Little lynched in 1916 Butte, Montana.

I remember Philip Black Elk-AIM supporter killed when his house exploded. No details as to possible bomb parts found available. No further investigation.

I remember United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin was shot by a hired private policeman outside Cumberland, British Columbia in 1918.

I remember that on December 22, 1919 approximately 250 “anarchists,” “communists,” and “labor agitators” were deported to Russia where several of them died. I remember the first day of the 70 year Red Scare.

And finally on Veteran’s Day, I remember The Veteran’s Day Massacre in which Police killed 10 and wounded 30 at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago in 1937.

Yes, these are battles – and yes let us remember. It is by no means all. But it is important we remember them all. To paraphrase Utah Phillips, (who was paraphrasing someone else – making this a “Folk” quote) “The most dangerous thing in the world is a long memory.” And “Once your memory goes. Forget it.”

Kerrville Day 18

June 14, 2010

Yup, it’s the last one! I stopped by Threadgill on the way to Camp on This and listened to the Jitterbug Vipers. They play some very cool 20’s to 50’s jazz. Slim Richey is on guitar and probably leads the group.  He’s very smooth and quite good.

Slim Richey and the Jitterbug Vipers

I eventually wandered back to the trailer and spent some time next door with Andy and the gang. I snapped a couple of pics of people that I hadn’t gotten yet.

Bill Bernard (2 doors down in the big rig)

Robert (of Robert and Ann Mary - never got a pic of her though)

Miller again, this time without the shades!

I missed most of the Fire Ants who opened the evening. I had seen them last year, and I guess they’re just not my cup of tea. Dana Cooper was on next and did a laid back set.

Dana Cooper - a little blurry, but it's the only one I got where he's smiling, has his eyes open, and is not behind either the harmonica or the mic!

I wandered during Two High Strings set. Very good bluegrass, but I needed to go shopping. I ran into Steve Brooks by the crafts booths and chatted for a bit. I congratulated him on having his name mentioned on main stage as either the writer or co-writer twice on Saturday night. He said that Albert and Gage were going to play another co-write during their set (Wings of War). We talked about how ironic it is that he submitted songs to new folk for 20 consecutive years and was never selected as a finalist. Go figure!! Some things just don’t make sense!

Steve Brooks in his Kamp Kantigree T-shirt and frog hat... long story about the frog reference... perhaps some other time.

Stonehoney was next and I didn’t know what to expect. I started out sitting pretty far back with Andy and the gang, but the first time I heard a riff from the lead guitar, I had to move down front. They play what probably could be called as mainstream country or country rock, but seeing and hearing Phil Hurley was all I wanted to do… This cat can play!!!

Stonehoney with Phil Hurley on the right

Phil Hurley

Thought I’d get a pic of Vern and Lenore, but they stay pretty busy and it’s not easy to find them together so I just caught them in the act of working.

Vern working security on the aisle stage right... actually he's dancing! 😉

Lenore - working security stage right

Albert & Gage (Christine and Chris) closed out the night with a fine set! Chris is a tremendous talent on guitar, keyboards, accordion and who knows what else. He appears to be a man among boys, as Scott likes to say. He also produces records for a lot of Texas Artists.

Chris Gage and Christine Lambert

Chris and Christine were joined by a cast of hundreds singing Heal in the Wisdom and then it was time to go. I didn’t get a picture cuz I was captured on my way back to my chair by Tom and Carol so I was holding hands and swaying like we always do…  no really, we always do that!!!  Some of us try to leave the theater to avoid it… just kidding! 😉

I made the rounds yesterday and today to say my goodbyes and get and give my kerrhugs. I guess this is my last post until I get home. I plan on being in bed early tonite and getting an early start so I may not even check my email before I leave. When I get home I will gather up all the blog-posted photos and slap them up on Facebook, I’ll also send emails to all the people who I’ve talked about and taken their pictures while I documented another wonderful year at the greatest little folk festival in the world! I hope I’ve brought some of the magic to you.


Kerrville Day 17

June 13, 2010

Day 17

Welcome Home and the rock garden at the front gate

I suppose this should have been the first picture on day zero, but yesterday was a day to take a sentimental walk around the ranch and snap some pictures of some landmarks. The rock garden is nowhere near as complex as it usually is. I dunno if it got knocked down and is in a state of reconstruction or what.

Things are winding down, people are talking about their plans to leave and I feel a familiar sadness about our little village of musicians disbanding for another year (I don’t count little folk, since I’m never able to be here for it). Scotty left before I got out of the trailer about 10am this morning. Maybe he didn’t want to see me cry…. 😉 There are other people that have already gone home that I didn’t get to spend near enough time with, but that’s how it goes when you’re having fun.

I’m still thinking I’ll spend Monday packing up and resting for an early departure Tuesday morning. The prospect of driving nearly 12 hours without some recuperation does not make me feel optimistic and I don’t want to have to spend the night in a Wallyworld parking lot in the summer with no air conditioning. There’ll be a few people leaving at various times Monday so I’ll be able to go around and get some departing kerrhugs.

Okay… now on with the walkabout pix –

This sign is just inside the front gate. I don't know how long it's been there, but it seems like quite a while.

Staff Rekerrds - Anyone on staff can put their CDs here. Kinda nice - it's faces the Kerrtry Store and there's always a crowd gathered near here. Lotsa impromptu performances occur on the little stage out in front of it.

Kerrtry Store - Beer Ice and soft drinks mostly

Mo's Cafe - Next door to the Kerrtry Store. Great food here! Wraps, breakfast tacos etc. - They do catering all over the country and also do the backstage food at Woodyfest. They have a booth in the main stage area too. I had a Santa Fe wrap Friday nite. It was great!

Other than my lunch in town with Dan and Terri, and the breakfast tacos I bought and brought out here to freeze and eat for 3 days, the Santa Fe wrap Friday night was the only time I “ate out”.

Kidsville - Lots of activities going on here for the kids.

Green Room at Threadgill - I think they finished it up before the festival this year. I haven't been in it since they finished it, but it's probably a lot nicer than the main stage green room which Happenstance stayed at on the work weekend we played here.

Coffee Shop near Threadgill - I've never patronized it, but it's here every year.

I pretty much missed the staff concert. I got down there too late to get a seat in the shade. I went down and found a place to sit long enough to see Raina Krause’s new group, The Love Leighs, perform and then headed for someplace cool.

The Love Leighs with Raina in the middle. If I heard correctly, the guitarist is not a regular part of this double ukelele group. It's Wilson Marks filling in for Jimmie Dreams. (Thanks Bob for the info - I've played with Wilson on the street, but it was dark and I didn't recognize him in the daylight... quite the player, isn't he!!)

Last nite was good if only for the opportunity to see Anthony daCosta and Danny Schmidt. Danny sang his song about the church with the broken and replaced “Stained Glass”… it’s a six or seven minute saga and one of the best songs I’ve ever heard out here. It was one of his two songs when he was a New Folk winner in 2007. What can I say about Anthony? You would think that there’s no way to stuff this much talent into this young man and from all indications it has not gone to his head. I still feel remorse that I missed his set two years ago when I was still on staff and unable to see him because of my working in the CD Booth. Getting to see him at Brick Street last year sorta made up for it. He broke a string on his guitar and borrowed my Taylor to play his set. We (Happenstance) were playing that afternoon and were doing the MCing so my guitar was handy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Red Molly opened and Abby (who shared the stage with Anthony here two years ago), Laurie and Carolann were very good. Nice three part harmony and Abby’s Dobro work was quite nice. I didn’t know anything about them, and maybe what I heard from a few friends who had seen them had me expecting too much, but don’t get me wrong, they’re mighty fine performers!

Red Molly - Abby, Laurie and Carolann

Anthony DaCosta

Anthony and the Fragrant Vagabonds (or was it Flagrant Vagabonds)

Colin Brooks should have been in the picture above, but he was way off to the right, sitting down, had his hat on and his head down, so I cropped him out… sorry Colin… That’s Pickles on the far left and Raina Rose 2nd from the right. I don’t have the other names. It seems like Raina Rose is the backup singer of choice for this year’s mainstage performers.

Kinky was here and read a chapter from his book in between sets... I'm not sure why... OH YEAH! maybe to try to sell some books back there by the Hospitality Booth? 😉

After Anthony’s set and the Kinky appearance, the Flying A’s took the set. Stuart and Hillary Claire Adamson have some nice harmonies and good tunes. They’re Austin folks and an obvious crowd favorite. I met Hillary at Camp on This a couple of days ago when she had just arrived on the ranch and came by to visit Jack and Lura Fay.

Hillary and Stu - The Flying A's

Danny Schmidt followed with Carrie Elkin sitting beside him. Beautiful harmonies and I’m just not going to try and describe Danny other to say that he plays sitting down and you’d think that works against him, but if you’re up close and can watch him, you sort of get transported in his images and delivery. Great Set!! “Stained Glass” brought an awesome round of applause.

Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin

Danny, Carrie and Anthony

I still love Slaid Cleaves and I’m glad he’s writing again, but although he had two very talented sidemen (fiddle and mandolin) they just didn’t seem to click. I think I would have enjoyed him more with a full band. He did a few of his old songs that were still my favorites, but all in all, I could have missed the set and been okay with it.

Slaid with his accomplices

Slaid shows a touch of gray nowadays, but he still makes the ladies swoon. I overheard a few of them talking on the way out to the campgrounds after the show.

Kerrville Day 16

June 12, 2010

Okay… time for a quick review of the past 24 hours or so…

First, this the 3rd post of the day so be sure and check the previous two posts which contain links to a couple of videos (Jack Motley’s ailments and Chuck Pyle’s bumper stickers).

Day 16 My neighbor and friend Andy discovered during a morning thunder shower yesterday that there was a hole in his roof…. right over the bed!!! Talk about a rude awakening.

Andy doing roof repair - evidently the skylight / roof vent blew off- What would we do without duct tape?!?!?!?

Laurie George and Randy watching Andy doing roof repair

Andy and Laurie's Robbie grew up!

Miller - Robbie's cousin - sat down front with Scotty and me for the last 2 sets last nite

At any Camp on This song circle, an excuse will cost you a dollar!

At any Camp on This song circle, an excuse will cost you a dollar!

Lisa, Scott and Laurie under the big tree at Camp On This

I finished the rough edits of the Happenstance live CD yesterday so I was able to dismantle the PC and stow it out of the way. When I get back home Brooks and I will begin the final edits prior to mastering in earnest!

I talked to Bruce Chapman last night and he told me he would give me a copy of Rod Kennedy’s New Folk history presentation, which he made prior to the New Folk Winner’s concert. I was hoping it would be on the Winner’s Concert CD, but I checked and it wasn’t. When I get it I’m going to post it on my New Folk History site. That reminds me, I haven’t posted this year’s winners yet!!!

Krista Detor was better than I thought she was gonna be… sorta low key, but a beautiful voice, nice piano and accordian playing and some pretty good songs!
Chuck Pyle is just the only guy in the world that writes Zen Cowboy Music, but it’s great no matter what you wanna call it.

Krista Detor hubby Dave Weber

Chuck Pyle never fails to amuse, entertain, enlighten and amaze me. What else can I say…

Chuck Pyle - The Zen Cowboy

Susan Gibson has written some great songs, but I didn’t sit still for much of her set… I did some visiting!

Susan Gibson

Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros and then the Band Of Heathens closed out a great night with back to back powerful sets.

Walt Wilkins

Walt and the boys

Band of Heathens

Well, I gotta get rolling down to Threadgill… The Staff Concert is underway!!!


Jack Motley’s Ailments

June 12, 2010

This video is from a coupla days ago. I’d heard Jack telling this stuff about all his recent ailments so I took my camera over to Camp on This and had him do the routine so I could record it. I honestly tried not to laugh and so did Jack, but I just couldn’t help it…

more pix and stuff later, I just had to get this posted this morning!

Kerrville Day 16 partial

June 12, 2010

I just wanted to post this little video of Chuck Pyle closing out his set with his “Bumper Stickers I’ve seen on the road” routine at the tail end of “Keeping Time By The River” Excuse the jerky motion but it’s hard to keep the camera still when you’re laughing!!! 😉

I’ll post pix and stuff later…