Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tribute to the 'Dillo'

I close my eyes and concentrate...I can feel the coolness of the shade from the wisteria which was draped overhead. I can smell the sweet aroma coming from the table next to mine as they pass around a big fat one. "Huh? What's that? Sure man, pass it on over this way!" I can still taste the wonderful peanut butter and bananna sandwiches with cantelope slices on the side. Ummm, those were the best! And as my mind continues to drift back to that time, I can hear the music. Ahhh! The music! Some of the best artists performing in one of the best places, and it was shared with some of the best people that I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

This place, is where the cowboys and the hippies began to find some common ground. I'm not sure if it was the music, the power of place, or whether it was just time for the people to evolve. Now that I think about it, it was a really strange unearthly place which didn't mirror any of the cultural, ethnic, or lifestyle differences or conflicts which were so prevalent in society at the time. This time I'm referring to can be called the decade of the dillo and the place was known as the Armadillo World Headquarters. The Armadillo was host to names such as Charlie Daniels, Bruce Springsteen, Emmy Lou Harris,Willie Nelson, Taj Mahal, Leon Redbone, Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, Steve Fromholtz, BB King, Jerry Jeff Walker, Greezy Wheels, Edgar and Johnny Winters, Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Raitt, and many, many, more. That list is just the tip of the iceberg as this phenomena grew. With a song release from Michael Martin Murphey the name cosmic cowboy was now hip.

In an essay by Michael Allen, he relates how the counterculture of the time had a larger impact on the cowboy culture than what most people would admit.
"Cowboys" and "Hippies" are not as different as one might think. This article explores the connections between cowboys and hippies portrayed by 1960s and 1970s countercultural musicians, moviemakers, and novelists who stressed themes of the Myth of the West and the Cowboy Code. These portrayals of "Cosmic Cowboys" show that many scholars' generalizations about the "radical" and "leftist" nature of the 1960s "counterculture" break down under close inspection.

We're just a couple of free spirits driftin' across the land.
Chris LeDoux, "The Cowboy and the Hippie"

On New Year's Eve of 1980, Kenneth Threadgill played the last concert at the Armadillo. I was very fortunate to just happen to be in Austin during the early 70s and I was fortunate to have a good friend who drummed for Threadgill during '73-'74 in his Velvet Cowpasture Band. This allowed me a unique backstage position during a small section of this era of the Dillo and I shall never forget how the people came together in spite of their differences. A solidarity which to this day I can't explain. But I am proud I was able to experience the phenomena which proved to me that it is possible for the people to unite and share in taking part in something which is considered impossible by the mainstream!

Steve Hopson has some awesome photos of the old place featuring a lot of Jim Franklin's art.
"Armadillos and hippies are somewhat alike, because they're maligned and picked on. Armadillos like to sleep all day and roam at night. They share their homes with others. People think they're smelly and ugly and they keep their noses in the grass. They're paranoid. But they've got one characteristic nobody can knock. They survive." - Eddie Wilson (Founder of AWHQ) -


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