Archive for the ‘museums and collections’ Category

Willie Nelson featured in new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s new exhibit, “Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s”

Thursday, May 17th, 2018
by:  Juli Thanki

“Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s”
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
(222 5th Ave. S)

May 25, 2018 – Feb. 14, 2021. 

General admission tickets ($25.95 for adults, $23.95 for seniors and students, $22.95 for military personnel and $15.95 for youths 6-12 years old) can be purchased online at the museum box office or online at Admission is free for children five years old and younger and museum members.

Information about upcoming exhibit-related programs can be found on the museum website

On May 25, the museum will celebrate its newest exhibition with a sold-out concert in the museum’s CMA Theater. The super-sized lineup, led by musical directors Shooter Jennings and Dave Cobb, features Joe Ely, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Billy Joe Shaver, Kimmie Rhodes and Delbert McClinton, Michael Martin Murphey, Gary P. Nunn, Tanya Tucker and Bobby Earl Smith, several of whom have artifacts in the exhibit. They’ll be joined by Jason Isbell, Jack Ingram, Ashley Monroe, Jamey Johnson, Amanda Shires, Jason Boland and Colter Wall, a new generation of musical renegades who, decades from now, might be featured in a museum display of their own.

One of the most vibrant and creative eras in country music history began with a fire at a pig farm.

In December 1970, the 400-acre spread in Ridgetop, Tenn., belonged to Willie Nelson, a singer and songwriter who had found more success as the latter than the former during the years he spent rattling around Nashville. After the blaze destroyed his house, Nelson returned to his native Texas.

The fire and Nelson’s relocation serve as the beginning of the story told in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s new exhibit, “Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s,” which opens Friday, May 25, and is scheduled to run until February 2021. The exhibit focuses on “Nashville and Austin, the blossoming of those music scenes, what was happening in each city and the interaction between them,” said exhibit co-curator Michael Gray.

Austin had a thriving creative scene, with artists and musicians making their mark all over town. There, Nelson grew his hair long, traded his turtlenecks for T-shirts and found a community of like-minded musicians. At venues like Armadillo World Headquarters and the Broken Spoke, audiences comprised equally of hippies and cowboys grooved to the progressive country sounds of Nelson, the Sir Douglas Quintet and Jerry Jeff Walker, to name just a few.

“In Nashville, there was a system for a lot of sessions where people like Nelson and Waylon Jennings would go into the studio with company producers and it was almost like they had to take a passenger seat in their own car,” said Peter Cooper, who co-curated the exhibit. “They weren’t able to make creative decisions about what musicians would and would not play on the records, or how the records would sound. They chafed at that.” When artists like Jennings, Nelson, Bobby Bare and Kris Kristofferson fought to gain creative control, Cooper added, it “opened up Nashville’s recording system in a really interesting way.”

While some previous depictions of Austin and Nashville have pitted the two music-heavy towns against one another, museum CEO Kyle Young describes the interaction as a “cultural exchange.”

“Tom T. Hall was coming down to Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic and taking his shirt off and saying how it was country music’s Woodstock. Waylon and Willie were in Nashville studios a lot, as were Michael Murphey and Kinky Friedman,” said Cooper. “It’s a little bit like what was happening at the Armadillo, where people that think they may not be on the same side of things wind up finding out they were playing for the same team.”

“Outlaws and Armadillos” features more film than any of the museum’s previous exhibit thanks to co-curator Eric Geadelmann, an Austin-based filmmaker who has spent the last several years working on a documentary about the outlaw movement. “Based on the narrative we’re telling, we ordered up eight short films (from Geadelmann), six to eight minutes each … These shorts are going to be a centerpiece of the exhibition,” said museum Young. The films include exclusive performance footage and interviews, some of which were conducted with artists, such as Guy Clark, who’ve since died.

That’s not the only thing that may surprise visitors.

Yes, there’s the usual museum fare: stage wear, awards and instruments galore. But there’s also the blade that inspired Clark’s masterpiece “The Randall Knife,” a set of Ringling Bros. coveralls worn by Joe Ely when he left music to join the circus, and a copper moonshine still — parts of it covered in the same green oxidization that blankets the Statue of Liberty — that was used by singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall and the Rev. Will D. Campbell, a self-described “bootleg preacher” and important figure of the Civil Rights Movement who also served as pastor to several country artists.

“Will Campbell was part of our family for years,” Hall told The Tennessean after Campbell’s death in 2013. “He married those who were in love, tried to reconcile those with hate, buried our dead and tolerated the rest of us.”

The exhibit isn’t limited to those who stood behind the microphone, either. Several gig posters designed by Texas artists like Jim Franklin and Micael Priest are featured. One glass case includes a windbreaker that belonged to Darrell Royal, the former University of Texas Longhorns football coach who’s credited with developing the wishbone offense and introducing Willie Nelson to harmonica player Mickey Raphael. Raphael has now been an integral part of Nelson’s Family band for over 40 years, and has a diamond-encrusted ring, which is also adorned with Nelson’s tiny, gold face, to prove it. (That ring? It’s in the exhibit, too.)

By the second half of the 1970s, the outlaw movement had captured the attention of the mainstream. However, “By the time ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’ (a compilation record featuring Jennings, Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser) comes out in ’76 and is the first certified platinum country record, our story’s almost over,” said Gray. “We’re talking about everything that leads up to the moment when (‘outlaw’) becomes a big marketing term.”

“Outlaws and Armadillos” begins with a pig farm fire, and concludes with artwork. Artist and songwriter Susanna Clark’s rendering of the Pleiades constellation will be on display. The painting was used on the front cover of “Stardust,” Nelson’s sophisticated and sentimental album of pop standards. The 1978 release of “Stardust,” along with two other events that year — Jennings’ arrest at a Nashville recording studio for possession of cocaine (charges were later dropped) and subsequent single, “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” — marks the end of the exhibit.

Read rest of article here, see more pics and videos

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings featured in “Outlaws and Armadillos” Exhibit in Nashville

Thursday, January 18th, 2018
by: Dan Solomon

see more share options.

When Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson came to Texas in the 1970s, the move signaled their desires to escape the Nashville machine and make music in a freer, looser environment on their own terms. The community and free-spirited Austin atmosphere that waited for them, led by artists like Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver, helped inspire the greatest musical achievements of a whole lot of talented folks, Jennings and Nelson included. (Read John Spong’s 2012 oral history of Austin music in the 1970s for the full story.)

The outlaws and rebels of the Armadillo World Headquarters played the game very differently than they did out in Nashville, and the two communities have always had a subtle rivalry. That’s exemplified, in part, by Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, which focuses decidedly more on the culture of its city than on the work that redefined the genre in the 1970s—much of which happened in Texas.

Last week, the museum announced plans to rectify that with a major, three-year exhibit, titled “Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s,” opening on May 25. The museum promises to give the outlaws’ contributions their due, acknowledging in a release that “40 years ago they started a musical revolution by creating music and a culture that shook the status quo on Music Row and cemented their place in country music history and beyond.” The exhibition promises to “explore this era of cultural and artistic exchange between Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, revealing untold stories and never-seen artifacts” and “explore the complicated, surprising relationship between the cities.”

The exhibit chronicles a movement that has shaped the music of subsequent artists, including contemporary country stars like Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, and Dierks Bentley. A quarter century after Jennings and Nelson made their way to Austin, it pays due homage by framing the era not as a quirk in country’s history, but as a whole separate wing in the annals of the genre.

Willie’s Fire, by Sam Yeats, at “Outlaws and Armadillos” Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

“Willie’s Fire” by Sam Yeats

“A piece I’ve done for the upcoming show at The Nashville Music Hall of Fame, “Outlaws and Armadillos”……”Willie’s Fire” . It shows the fire at Willie Nelson’s house in Nashville prompting the move to Austin in the early seventies.”

Sam Yeats

For information on the exhibit:


Created with Raphaël 2.1.0

Willie Nelson featured in “Outlaws and Armadillos” exhibit at Country Music Hall of Fame (opens May 25, 2018)

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Willie Nelson. Waylon Jennings. Kris Kristofferson. Jessi Colter. Bobby Bare. Jerry Jeff Walker. David Allan Coe. Cowboy Jack Clement. Tom T. Hall. Billy Joe Shaver. Guy Clark. Townes Van Zandt. Tompall Glaser. Today, all names synonymous with the word “outlaw,” but 40 years ago they started a musical revolution by creating music and a culture that shook the status quo on Music Row and cemented their place in country music history and beyond.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s upcoming major exhibition, Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s, will explore this era of cultural and artistic exchange between Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, revealing untold stories and never-seen artifacts. The exhibition, which opens May 25 for a nearly three-year run, will explore the complicated, surprising relationship between the two cities.

While the smooth Nashville Sound of the late 1950s and ’60s was commercially successful, some artists, such as Nelson and Jennings, found the Music Row recording model creatively stifling. By the early 1970s, those artists could envision a music industry in which they would write, sing and produce their own music. At the same time, Austin was gaining national attention as a thriving music center with a countercultural outlook. Musicians of varying stripes migrated to Austin, where the disparate strains of country, bluegrass, folk, blues, rock, and conjunto blended to create a unique environment hosted by music–friendly venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Broken Spoke, Soap Creek Saloon and Antone’s.

“Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s offers an unprecedented look at some of the most compelling music and artists in music history,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “This was an era in which renegades Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson fought for and won creative control of their own songs and sounds. It was a time when melodic poets Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver elevated public perception of what a country song could be. It was a time when the Austin, Texas, music and arts scenes blossomed, and when characters like singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, Hondo Crouch (who bought his own town, Luckenbach, Texas), armadillo art specialist Jim Franklin and University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal changed Lone Star culture. At the time, some of these things seemed unusual, even insane. Now, they all seem essential to any understanding of this great American art form, country music.”

Read more here.


Willie Nelson Songbook added to Wittliff Collections at Texas State University

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University has announced a new archival project to gather materials from Texas musical history.

David Coleman, director of the Wittliff, says the plan is to build on an assortment of artifacts already on hand, like a songbook written by an 11-year old Willie Nelson.

“It’s got some great lyrics in it, just from an 11-year-old boy,” he says, including a song about the “hangover blues.”
“I think he knew pretty darn early what his path was.”

Credit Courtesy of the Wittliff Collections

Willie Nelson Exhibit at Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (thanks, Janis from Texas)

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Thanks so much to Janis Tillerson, from Texas, for sharing photos from her visit to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, in Carthage, Texas. I want to go!

TCMHoF was initiated in 1998 to celebrate the contributions of Texans to the country music profession. The project highlights those individuals, living or dead, who are recognized nationally as outstanding in their field. The impressive structure encompasses 13,000 square feet of space for exhibits, a gift shop and a large banquet room.

The shoes

Hello Walls!

The Willie Nelson & Friends Museum and General Store, “Nashville’s Hidden Gem”

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

by:  Lori Liebig

If you’re a country music lover, there are plenty of historic sites that come to mind when you think of Nashville: Music Row, Broadway, the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sure, those places are must-sees for tourists, but if you’re longing for a unique look into the lives of country music’s biggest legends, there’s one lesser-known museum you should visit — the Willie Nelson and Friends Museum.

Owner Mark Hughes inherited the museum from his father, Frank Hughes, who was a friend of Nelson’s. Frank and his wife once owned framing store in Madison, Tenn., which Nelson regularly visited. Over the years, they collected memorabilia from Nelson and other famous regulars, like Johnny Cash. After legions of country music fans began visiting the store for its array of unique souvenirs, the frame shop evolved into the “Willie Nelson General Store.” The store moved to various locations around town before becoming the “Willie Nelson and Friends Museum.”

Today, the bright blue building sits in a strip mall across the street from what was once known as Opryland, which is now home to the sprawling Opry Mills shopping mall. Nearby you’ll find the historic Nashville Palace music venue.


Back in the early 1990s, the McGavock Pike area of East Nashville was a huge tourist destination, thanks to Opryland and its new Grand Ole Opry House, along with the large outlet malls and shops in the area. Opryland closed in 1997, and during that time there was a huge focus on reviving the downtown district. With the opening of the Bridgestone Arena, Wildhorse Saloon and rebirth of the Ryman Auditorium, there wasn’t much left to keep business in East Nashville.

Yet, somehow, the Willie Nelson and Friends Museum stayed afloat as the businesses around them went under. Although it doesn’t have the interactive touchscreen exhibits or modern design of its much newer counterparts downtown, it has a story that makes it a truly special place.

Willie’s likeness is found on nearly every inch of the museum and store’s interior.

One of the big reasons why the museum is still operating, even when other businesses around it began to close, was because of their ever-expanding gift shop. Along with the novelty Nelson-themed items, you can buy souvenirs of all shapes and sizes shapes from the Music City. As downtown Nashville has blossomed, many of these types of tourist-friendly shops have closed, making theirs one of the last of its kind.

Once you get to the back of the massive store, you’re greeted by a set of saloon doors that mark the entrance to the museum. As you step through, hundreds of items that hold their own amazing stories greet you.

Many of the objects found inside the museum came from an 1990 IRS auction of all the country legend’s personal items. Although the Hughes family gave most of those items back to Nelson, the rest are currently on display in the museum for fans to enjoy.


The original guitar that Nelson played during his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1964.

One of Nelson’s worn out pairs of running sneakers. For years, Nelson has been an avid runner and will only wear New Balance brand shoes to jog

museumcountry4Read the entire article and see more photos:

Inside the Willie Nelson and Friends Museum, Nashville’s Hidden Gem

Visit the Willie Nelson Museum and General Store in Nashville

Friday, June 3rd, 2016


2613 McGavock Pike
Nashville, TN
(615) 885-1515

Visit the Willie Nelson & Friends Museum and General Store in Nashville, when  you get the chance. It is so much fun.  I  got to go last March and it was just as cool as I thought it would be.  My friend Jodi and I went to Nashville  to see a couple Willie Nelson & Family shows and we went a couple days early to site-see.  And the Willie Nelson & Friends Museum was at the top of my list, before the Country Music Hall of Fame or the Tennessee State Museum (which was my second favorite museum in Nashville).


The Willie Nelson and Friends General Store & Museum was founded July 4th, 1979 in Madison, TN with Willie’s good friends Frank and Jeanie Oakley as the storekeepers.  The General Store began life as a local art & picture framing store that Willie frequented often while visiting his friends in nearby Ridgetop, Tennessee.   It is the oldest, continuously operated country music artist Museum and souvenir shop in Nashville

I’ve always wanted to visit the Museum,  ever since I first heard about it.  And it’s not just because I love looking at collections of Willie Nelson stuff, which you know I do.    But when I read about how the museum got started by close friends of Willie Nelson  I knew it would have be different than lots of museums.   And there are lots of museums in Nashville,  but this one really does have heart. It has an unusual collection of original photographs, movie souvenirs, posters and more.

And it is a real country music museum in town.  Not only it’s rare Willie Nelson collections and photos and movie props, the Museum features other country music artists, friends of Willie Nelson.  The exhibits change, as well, as they get new items to display.

Their website is very entertaining and interesting, too, and they are on FaceBook.



Check out more of their great souveniers and gifts on their website:

They have a giant souvenir and gift shop.  Not just Willie Nelson merchandise, which they have a lot of, but also a huge assortment of Nashville souvenirs and T-shirts, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Jack Daniels and Elvis Presley merchandise.   They have a large selection of  T-shirts and toys for the kids and grandkids.  The collection includes many cowboy hats, key chains, coffee mugs, shot glasses, clothing, western products, jewelry, souvenir guitars, specialty foods, snacks, drinks, belts and many, many other one-of-a-kind gift ideas.DSC_0414hotsauce


The store is open seven days a week, and the adult admission price is only $8.00. That is really a great value, considering the collections they have — and compared to the other museums we visited.    Children under 12 are free with a paid adult admission.  Also, every visitor receives a detailed four page written guide that describes all the great exhibits and items you’ll see as you tour the museum.  They have plenty of free parking, and are located right off the interstate and directly across the street from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry House.  They are 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, with easy access to hotels, shopping, restaurants.  We found it very easily.

I’ve got to know Mark Hughes, who operates the Museum now with wife Kay Kennemore Hughes.   Mark is so interesting to talk to and knowledgeable about Willie Nelson and the museum exhibits.  Mark and Kay were out of town the week we were in Nashville, but his staff was so welcoming and helpful.  And they weren’t just clerks taking money behind the counter, they were friendly and involved and described the exhibits and answered questions.  We were sorry not to get to meet Mark and Kay, but we had a great time at the museum with the folks working that day.


Museum stores are always fun to visit, and their gift shop is great.  I got some really cool souvenirs, too, including a Willie Nelson doll.   They really have the biggest and most unusual collection of Willie Nelson stuff in Nashville, and you know I looked for those (The Country MusicHall of Fame gift show didn’t have any Willie Nelson stuff — they said they can only sell what’s on current exhibit upstairs)  The Willie Nelson Museum and General Store had the best collections, at really fair prices.

The Museum and General store has a great website, with information about their exhibits and stories about Willie Nelson and his friends.  They have an on-line store., if you can’t visit Nashville.

img884 by you.

 Willie Nelson on 11/28/1964

Willie Nelson, November 28, 1964
photo by Les Leverett

“We’re very proud at the Willie Nelson Museum is to announce an exciting new Les Leverett photographic exhibit opening very soon – an historic country music photographic collection taken by long-time Grand Ole Opry photographer and Nashville resident Les Leverett.

Les Leverett’s photographs have been seen on hundreds of album covers, books, magazines, newspapers and video. Les’ photographic career at the Grand Ole Opry spanned more than 32 years. His love of the Grand Ole Opry and its many stars are evident throughout the images captured through the lens of his trusty Nikon camera.

Willie Nelson shotglass

Sunday, March 6th, 2016


I gave my friend Ben Holmes, from Centennial Seeds, a Willie Nelson shot glass, and he’s using it to count his marijuana seeds.

You can get your seeds from Ben,  and he carries some horticultural supplies.  He sells the brands that he uses for his successful business and research.  If you are in Colorado, you should visit his shop and lab in Lafayette.

And you can get that cool Willie Nelson shotglass from the Willie Nelson & Friends Museum and General Store in Nashville, where I got mine.  They have a website, too!

Willie Nelson featured in California Science Center’s exhibit, “Earth in Concert”

Friday, January 8th, 2016


The  California Science Center  is featuring an exhibit about protecting our planet through music.  The #EarthInConcert features Willie Nelson Jack Johnson Sheryl Crow Sting Pharrell Williams and Ziggy Marley — in Los Angeles, California.

Willie Nelson featured in Earth in Concert Exhibit (opens Nov. 12, 2015)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015



Today our planet faces many challenges. As we lose important species every year, we also lose their unique contributions to their ecosystems, and the diversity of life on our planet—called biodiversity—shrinks. Scientists and environmentalists around the world are working in creative ways to protect biodiversity and ensure a healthy planet now and for future generations. Some very dedicated and concerned musicians are also helping.

The California Science Center, the GRAMMY Museum, and Global Wildlife Conservation have partnered to create a one-of-a-kind exhibit that examines the status of the Earth’s biodiversity, while exploring how artists like Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson, Sting, and Pharrell Williams have helped raise awareness of the global issues that present threats to our planet. Through original compositions, unique footage, and personal artifacts from well-known musicians, as well as multimedia and interactive exhibits, Earth in Concert: Protecting the Planet through Music examines Earth’s ecosystems and the health of biodiversity in our oceans, grasslands and forests.


Some things you’ll do:

  • Discover the diversity of species that settle on tropical coral reefs.
  • Help complete a new composition by musician Jack Johnson about reducing plastic pollution in the ocean to inspire others to action.
  • Listen to animal calls and match the sounds to the species that made them, just like real ecologists do to explore biodiversity.
  • Use sounds of nature to compose a wild symphony and discover how positive action works to keep the Earth in Concert.

Explore the contributions of leading artists and scientists as they use their talents to preserve our natural world. Earth in Concert opens at the California Science Center on November 12, 2015.

Free admission.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

(323) 724-3623

The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park at the corner of Figueroa Street and 39th Street, west of the 110 (Harbor) freeway.

The Science Center is adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and across the street from the University of Southern California.


Willie Nelson General Store

Sunday, August 30th, 2015


img884 by you.

If you are ever in Nashville, be sure to visit the Willie Nelson General Store. If you can’t make it you can see their collections and buy souvenirs from their giftshop at:

Willie Nelson and Jerry Retzloff

Friday, May 22nd, 2015


Last March, when Janis from Texas and I were in New Braunfels for the Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard shows, we got to spend some time with Jerry Rezloff.   Jerry has an extensive Willie Nelson & Family collection of photos, posters and memorabilia from the ’70’s and ’80’s when he was with Lone Star Beer and spent time with Willie Nelson.


Last year Jerry donated some of his collection to the Wittliff exhibit, at the Texas State University in San Marcos.   When I was in Texas, Jerry kindly gave Janis and I a tour of the exhibit.




Armadillo Rising marks the debut of a major new archive recently acquired by the Wittliff: the 1970s Texas Music/Lone Star Beer Collection of JERRY RETZLOFF (featured in Texas Monthly’s November 2014 issue). As the Lone Star Beer district manager in Austin during the 1970s, Retzloff was in the thick of the action. He was a longtime friend of Willie Nelson, and he collected many keepsakes now recognized as pop-culture treasures. The Retzloff Collection includes posters, flyers, unique 1970s memorabilia, and personal photos of Nelson and other stars, richly illuminating the Austin music scene during this era. LONG LIVE THE LONGNECK!—a satellite exhibition of Retzloff’s collection is on view on the first floor of Texas State’s Alkek Library through March 31.

When Willie Nelson returned to Texas from Tennessee in 1972, Willie saw the lively, growing music scene in Austin at the Armadillo World Headquarters and other clubs. He felt strongly those young music lovers would appreciate his live shows, if given a chance to hear him.   Lonestar Beer was also interested in that youthful market and Willie called Jerry Retzloff, and invited him to get together after a show and throw around ideas.  The result was a lasting friendship and an informal  relationship, that helped blur that demarcation between redneck straight folks and hippies.  Willie struck a deal with his friend who would would provide beer for backstage, and Willie would enjoy that beer onstage.  Jerry would also provide LoneStar for Willie’s friends, Kris Kristofferson, and Leon Russell, too.

Back then I had about a $90,000-a-year backstage beer tab. Poodie [Willie’s longtime stage manager, Poodie Locke] and the boys really had a way with the beer.”
— Willie Nelson

Author John Spong sat down and interviewed Jerry Retzloff and wrote a great article here:

The well known picture of John Travolta in Urban Cowboy with his long neck showed young people had started thinking differently about Lonestar Beer




Artwork of famous Austin graphic artist Jim Franklin helped promote the brand further  with his  Lone Star posters.

“Retzloff was a reluctant newcomer to Austin, having been abruptly transferred from the brewery’s San Antonio headquarters the previous summer. Budweiser had started taking huge bites out of Lone Star’s Austin sales, in large part by targeting college kids. Retzloff knew that Lone Star president Harry Jersig, a first-generation German Texan and beer man of the old school, was unwilling to court the youth market. Their long hair sat ill with Jersig’s buttoned-up sensibility, and he didn’t want to appear to encourage underage drinking. And even if Jersig eased up, Retzloff would still have Lone Star’s long-standing image to contend with. Its slogan at the time, as voiced in commercials by Ricardo Montalbán, was “The Beer From the Big Country.” It was a rural, outdoorsman’s beverage, a beer for cattle pens, deer blinds, and bass boats.

But when Retzloff arrived in Austin, he saw a surefire new angle emerging. He spent his days cultivating relationships with the distributors who brought Lone Star to town and the bartenders who sold it. His nights, however, were spent listening to music in the city’s budding progressive country scene, and he noticed an ungodly amount of Lone Star being drunk at its epicenter, the Armadillo. A check of the books at the brewery confirmed his impression: more Lone Star draft beer was sold at the ’Dillo, capacity 1,500, than any venue in the state except the 44,500-seat Astrodome. Whether it was a Texas nativism that even a hippie couldn’t shake or some precursor to modern-day hipster irony, the longhairs were threatening to make the cowboy beer their own.

Retzloff persuaded his superiors to let him pursue them. He brought the vice president of marketing, a thick-necked Canadian named Barry Sullivan, to the ’Dillo to hear the scene’s golden boy, Michael Murphey. When Murphey opened the second verse of his anthem, “Cosmic Cowboy, Pt. 1,” by singing, “Lone Star sipping and skinny-dipping,” every hippie in the room raised a Lone Star toward the rafters and screamed. Sullivan was sold.”

by John Spong
Read complete article, see more photos:


Janis took these photos, thanks, Janis.  That’s me with the Lone Star.


The exhbit ended at the end of March, but there are some items from Jerry’s collection still on display.




Willie Nelson featured in 2015 Wittliff Collection exhibits

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015


Thank you, Jerry Retzloff for sharing this flyer about upcoming Wittliff Collection Exhibits. Some of Jerry’s collections are on display at the Armadillo Rising: Austin’s Music Scene in the 1970s.

by: John Spong

What it was was a generational shift, and not one that Music Row wanted. In the late sixties, Nashville country music was defined by the string-swelling, countrypolitan gloss of Tammy Wynette and Glen Campbell. RCA executive Chet Atkins was a chief architect of the Nashville sound, and when people asked him to define it, he liked to jingle?the change in his pockets and say, “It’s the sound of money.” No tweaks to the formula were tolerated. Even Willie Nelson and Waylon?Jennings, two Texas boys with ideas of their own, were forced to fit the mold. They recorded for RCA, and their records sounded exactly the way Atkins wanted.

The rest of the nation had less success maintaining the old order. In cities like San Francisco, the counterculture was popular culture. Hair was long, love was free, and dope smoking was considered tame. The music ranged from the psychedelic extremes of Jefferson Airplane to the rootsier jangle of Creedence Clearwater Revival, with acts like Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead straddling the two. Nashville, with its pompadours, whiskey, and quiet reliance on truck-driver amphetamines, had no use for any of it. When Los Angeles bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers started playing country rock, winking at Nashville in Nudie suits festooned with rhinestone pot leaves, Music Row responded with disgust.

Halfway between the coasts sat Texas, where hundreds of honky-tonks functioned as Nashville’s farm system. But that music belonged to the old guard. Texas kids were more interested in the state’s thriving folkie circuit. The hub was a Dallas listening room called the Rubaiyat, from which young singer-songwriters like Steve Fromholz and B.?W. Stevenson sallied forth to coffeehouses around the state. The music they played was distinct from the protest songs of Greenwich Village. Texas folk was rooted in cowboy, Tejano, and Cajun songs, in Czech dance halls and East Texas blues joints. It was dance music. And when the Texas folkies started gigging with their rock-minded peers, they found a truer sound than the L.A. country rockers. There was nothing ironic about the fiddle on Fromholz’s epic “Texas Trilogy.”

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when that sound and scene coalesced into something cohesive enough to merit a name, but then again none of the labels people came up with—cosmic cowboy, progressive country, redneck rock, and, ultimately, outlaw country—made everyone happy. Still, the pivotal year was 1972, and the place was Austin. Liquor by the drink had finally become legal in Texas, which prompted the folkies to migrate from coffeehouses to bars, turning their music into something you drank to. Songwriters moved to town, like Michael Murphey, a good-looking Dallas kid who’d written for performers such as the Monkees and Kenny Rogers in L.A. He was soon joined by Jerry Jeff Walker, a folkie from New York who’d had a radio hit when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered his song “Mr. Bojangles.” In March, Willie played a three-day country festival outside town, the Dripping Springs Reunion, that would grow into his Fourth of July Picnics. Then he too moved to Austin and started building an audience that didn’t look like or care about any Nashville ideal. By the time the scene started to wind down, in 1976, Willie and Austin were known worldwide.

Read the entire article:

Willie Nelson collection featured on Antique Roadshow

Monday, January 26th, 2015