Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: An Exhibit of the Crossroads Music Archive

SPChrisGunsupADJ

Among the many collections located at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library the Crossroads of Music Archive is unique. Comprised of the papers of West Texas musicians, Crossroads also contains recordings, artifacts such as posters and instruments, and other materials documenting West Texas’ rich musical history. “Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air” is an exhibit showcasing the work of Chris Oglesby, who can be seen throwing a dramatic Texas Tech “Guns Up,” above. More specifically, it focuses on the book from which this exhibit gets its name.

Oglesby book cover

Chris Oglesby grew up in Lubbock where his father was a coach and his mother an English professor, both at Texas Tech University.  While earning his bachelor’s degree and doctorate of jurisprudence from Texas Tech, Chris immersed himself in Lubbock’s musical nightlife. However, it took moving to Austin in 1991 for him to learn how greatly artists from his hometown had affected the music and art scenes of Texas and the world beyond.

hatch taylor elyLloyd Maines, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, and Joe Ely

In 1998, Chris began interviewing musical artists with ties to Lubbock. He paired those with articles, photographs, and other research materials to augment the amazing stories from the talented musicians. Posters and playbills similar to the one below were not neglected.

Bob Livingston Poster

After seven years of research, Oglesby published Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air. The book highlights twenty-five musicians and seeks to discover what it is about Lubbock and West Texas that feeds the creative process and spirit. More than a few notes were scribbled down in the notebook below.

edited stenographic note book cover - (fire in the water earth in the sky)

September 1, 2016 will be the tenth anniversary of the book’s publication. In conjunction with that, we are proud to announce that the Chris Oglesby Papers are now housed in the Crossroads of Music Archive. They are open for research, and a simple call or email to our dedicated Reference Staff can get them into your hands.

Another Year, Another Cowboys’ Christmas Ball!

It’s that time of year: the ol’ holiday season, and that means that folks from the Southwest Collection will be headed south to Anson, Texas, for the annual Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball. Down in Jones County, roughly 25 miles northwest of Abilene, the event has been held almost-annually since the first grand ball thrown at Anson’s Star Hotel in 1885. That night, attendee William Lawrence “Larry” Chittenden was inspired to compose his poem, “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball,” promptly published in Anson’s Texas Western and, subsequently, in Chittenden’s Ranch Verses of 1893. “Born in the idle hours on a Texas ranch” where he lived for almost two decades seven miles outside of Anson, the poem is still a hallmark of the event today.

chittenden_small

The poem was dedicated “To the Ranchmen of Texas.” It captures the spirit of the occasion, with its “togged out gorgeous” hotel festooned with candles, mistletoe, and “shawls” (which many have interpreted as blankets placed at the windows to insulate the hotel better). Lead by “Windy Billy,” who sang and called the dances, the crowded Star Hotel saw a very “lively gaited sworray” that evening in 1885. Chittenden even describes the original instrumentation: bass viol, fiddle, guitar, and tambourine.

that livelygaitedsworray

Though the hotel would be lost to a fire in 1890, Chittenden’s poem immortalized the spirit of a cowboy Christmas celebration for generations to come. Many folklorists reprinted his words through the years (including John Lomax first in his Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads in 1910. Lomax eventually attended the Ball in 1939). Even to this day we see the Chittenden’s poem in pop culture. Anson, Texas, would see some Christmas celebrations similar to the ball held irregularly in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn.

In 1934 an Anson schoolteacher and local folklorist named Leonora Barrett helped stage the first re-enactment of the 1885 ball. People from Anson and surrounding communities gathered in the school gymnasium for the event. Barrett insisted that the reincarnation of the ball retained the original dances, music, and customs of the first ball. This tradition, which includes men removing their hats on the dance floor and women only allowed to wear skirts, is kept to the present day.

leonora barrett frank reeves

Barrett, along with Hybernia Grace (another local historian), meticulously researched the conditions surrounding the original ball and worked diligently to preserve as much local history as possible. For example, suggested by Mrs. Ophelia Keen nee Rhodes, whose father owned the Star Hotel in the 1880s, wrote a letter to Barrett that was then published in the Anson newspaper Western Enterprise of December 19, 1935. In it, Keen remembers wedding at an early Ball. As a result, each a newly-wed couple leads the Ball’s opening grand march. Several other dances follow, including the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel, a polka, Schottische, two step, waltz, and ‘put your little foot’.

Image 0003.B+W

Soon after its rebirth, the Ball began to gain attention. It was part 1936’s Texas Centennial. In 1938 Anson residents danced on the lawn of the White House during the National Folk Festival. Soon after, it expanded from one night to three, including a parade of historic vehicles (although that tradition has since passed.) Because of the Ball’s continued success, Barrett helped to copyright the reenactment and created a board of directors, who are now known as the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association. Pioneer Hall, its current residence, was built in 1940 and was designated a historic site (and the Ball a historic event) by the Texas Historical Commission in 2010.

From the 1940s up until the 1990s, few records exist of the ball. We know it was a successful event based on newspaper articles, as well as the few surviving photographs, film reels, and one amazing ledger housed at the Southwest Collection. Started by Leonora Barrett in 1934 on the occasion of the first re-enactment, the ledger details yearly guests, hosts, radio broadcasts, leaders of the grand march, and a myriad of other facts. The Ball kept the ledger updated until 1994, ensuring that future scholars can appreciate this unbroken tradition.

pg002-3small

The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn in a sense in the early 1990s when Michael Martin Murphey began performing in Anson as the annual headliner. In 2010 Murphey began donating his materials to the Southwest Collection’s Crossroads Music Archive. At this time he also put the archive in touch with the Ball’s organizers. As a result, in 2014 Texas Tech professor emeritus Paul Carlson published Dancin’ in Anson, a definitive account of the Ball’s rich history.

DSC_0214

Though the music has been electrified and grown beyond four instruments, and historical dress is not required, attending the ball is still a festive step back into an older tradition. Each year, the ball is held on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to Christmas. This year’s ball will be held December 17th, 18th, and 19th. Michael Martin Murphey will be performing on the first evening. For information on tickets, times, and directions, visit the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball website.

by Elissa Stroman

Odis “Pop” Echols – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

Odis Echols and his Melody Ranch Boys KWKH Car

This April the Crossroads Music Archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is excited to debut their exhibit, “Odis ‘Pop’ Echols.” It highlights the life of the titular Echols, whose influence on music in the United States was tremendous.

Echols Brothers Trio

Odis Echols, known as “Pop,” was born May 7, 1903 in Enloe, Texas. In 1922 he moved near Clovis, New Mexico, with his bride Grace Traweek. There he taught shape-note singing, formed the Echols Brothers Trio, and joined The Plateau Quartet. In 1926 he won a spot with Frank Stamps’ original Stamps Quartet, which traveled the South singing gospel and popular music of the day (while selling Stamps-Baxter songbooks…) Echols often got standing ovations for his baritone rendition of “ol’ Man River.” In 1927 the group recorded for Ralph Peer of Victor Records and their “Give the World a Smile” became the first gospel record to sell one million copies! Echols formed his own quartet and opened a songbook store in Lubbock, Texas, organizing singing schools at churches across West Texas all the while.

Odis and Stamps Record Cover

Soon Echols had moved his Stamps Melody Boys to CBS affiliate WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky, where he convinced Mutual Radio Network to broadcast the first coast-to-coast gospel music show. In the meantime he built Hartford Publishing into the second-largest gospel publisher, sold his interest in the company, and moved to Shreveport, Texas, where his Melody Boys sang on KWKH’s Red River Valley Roundup, the forerunner of the Louisiana Hayride.

KCLV Building ADJ

He moved back to Lubbock, where he worked as a radio announcer at KSEL and mentored entertainers including saxophonist Bobby Keys and vocalist Charlene Hancock. Never one to stop pushing forward, Pop then purchased station KCLV in Clovis in 1953, and settled there.

Empire Room McGuire Sisters

In 1957 Pop appeared on national television’s This is Your Life at the request of teen idol Tommy Sands, who credited Pop with starting him in show business. But his biggest success came a year later when he met Charlie Phillips and collaborated on the song “Sugartime.” You know the song: “sugar in the mornin’ / sugar in the evenin’ / sugar at suppertime.” (Enjoy the earworm!) Released with McGuire Sisters’ vocals, in 1958 “Sugartime” went gold and reached Number One on the pop charts. Pop Echols continued to work in the music business until his death on March 23, 1974.

While the exhibit is only up from early April until the early fall, Echols’ Papers are forever available for research at the Crossroads Music Archive here at the SWC! Contact our ever-helpful Reference Staff if you’d like to take a peek at them.

– Curtis Peoples, Associate Archivist, Crossroads Music Archive

Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball!

cowboy xmas paul coverLast year, we told you about the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball, a musical tradition held every December in Anson, Texas (in Jones County, roughly 25 miles northwest of Abilene). Because this year they’re celebrating the Ball’s 80th reenactment (and because we at the SWC enjoy it so much!), we’ve decided to tell y’all about it one more time. The event began at Anson’s Star Hotel in 1885 at a grand ball held in honor of the cattlemen of the region. William Lawrence “Larry” Chittenden attended that night and was so impressed by the festivities that he immortalized them in poetry. His “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball” was first published in the Anson Texas Western in 1890 and subsequently in his Ranch Verses of 1893.that livelygaitedsworrayChittenden’s poem was dedicated “To the Ranchmen of Texas,” and paints a vivid picture of a holiday celebration. The hotel was “togged out gorgeous” and decorated with candles, mistletoe, and “shawls” (which many have interpreted as blankets placed at the windows to insulate the hotel better). Lead by “Windy Billy,” who sang and called the dances, the crowded Star Hotel saw a very “lively gaited sworray” that evening. Chittenden even describes the original instrumentation: bass viol, fiddle, guitar, and tambourine.Image 0003.B+WAnson, Texas would continue to see some Christmas celebrations similar to the ball held irregularly in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn when an Anson schoolteacher and local folklorist named Leonora Barrett helped stage the first re-enactment in the school’s gymnasium. Barrett insisted that the reincarnation of the ball retain the original dances, music, and customs of its predecessors, such as men removing their hats on the dance floor and women only allowed to wear skirts. Each year a newly-wed couple leads the ball’s opening grand march, one of eight dances that are traditionally performed there including the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel, a polka, Schottische, two step, waltz, and ‘put your little foot.’pg002-3smallFrom the 1940s until the 1990s, few records exist of the ball. We know that it was a successful event based on newspaper articles, as well as the few surviving photographs, film reels, and one amazing ledger. The Southwest Collection is proud to house the original ledger (seen above,) started by Leonora Barrett in 1934 on the occasion of the first re-enactment. Each year she noted guests, hosts, broadcasts made by radio stations, the leaders of the grand march, and other pertinent details. The ledger was kept updated until 1994 and is one document that allows scholars to see the completely unbroken tradition.murphThe Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn in a sense in the early 1990s, when Michael Martin Murphey began performing as its annual headliner. In 2010, Murphey began donating his materials to the Southwest Collection’s Crossroads Music Archive, as well as putting the archive in touch with the Ball’s organizers. That led to the recent publication of Texas Tech professor emeritus Paul Carlson’s book on the Ball, Dancin’ in Anson, the cover of which headlines this article.

Though the music has been electrified and grown beyond four instruments, and historical dress is not required, attending the ball is still a festive step back into an older tradition. Each year, the ball is held on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to Christmas. If you would like to attend this year’s event, you can do it on December 18th, 19th, and 20th. For information on tickets, times, and directions, visit the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball website.

– Elissa Stroman & Robet Weaver

Hispanic Church Music: the Suppe Collection

suppeboatcombo

This Sunday, April 20th, is Easter Sunday, celebrated by Christians worldwide, and that’s why this week we’re taking a look at the Gertrude C. Suppe Hispanic Church Music Collection. Suppe was an ethno-hymnologist who lived in Southern California. Beginning in 1976, she became involved in the identification, transcription, translation, liturgical use, and promotion of Hispanic hymns, working with groups both nationwide and internationally. Suppe retired in 1996 as Secretary to the Editor and Consultant to the Ecumenical Spanish Hymnal Committee just after she and her peers finished a five-year project authoring El Himnario, “a compendium of traditional and contemporary hymns as well as songs and choruses representative of a large variety of Hispanic cultures” covering languages from Spanish to Portuguese to Catalan.

To compose that work, Suppe gathered cancioneros; small song books used in worship. The image above is a cancionero entitled Today I Return from Afar. The bottom of the image shows one of the hymns it contains, “Christ Surrendered for Us.” suppe004Cancioneros were not the only hymnals included in the Suppe Collection. The work pictured above, The Paschal Mystery, is a full-sized publication containing songs to be sung during Paschal week. The Paschal Mystery is a central tenet of Christian faith for both Catholics and Protestants. It revolves around the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus its celebration, and the performance of these tunes, occurs at Easter. Many of the works found in Suppe’s collections relate to such holidays, as well as Saints’ days and festivals. suppe005A large portion of the Collection documents Suppe’s participation in workshops and conferences in the United States, Canada, and a number of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations. She also worked with scholars, private individuals, and various organizations to assemble her impressive collection. The letter above comes from Rev. G. R. Sanchez in Lima, Peru, who asked not only to meet her in person if possible, but also thanked her for her efforts to preserve these materials and, by extension, this aspect of international Hispanic culture.suppe001This final image is of another cancionero. This book was one of dozens of cancioneros published as a part of a series entitled “Cantado al Señor.” Many cancioneros were published in similar series, organized either by theme or as collections of specific composers and authors’ pieces.

For those interested in seeing these materials, as well as the other items such as correspondence and research notes that document Gertrude Suppe’s work, our Reference Staff would be happy to help. Why don’t you give them a call!

Women of Texas Music

Mary Jane Johnson fencepost

Mary Jane Johnson (photo courtesy of Texas Monthly™)

March is Women’s History Month, and in recognition of that the Crossroads Music Archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has curated an exhibit entitled The Women of Texas Music.

Mary Jane Johnson La Fanciulla

The most prominent musician among those featured is Mary Jane Johnson. Counted among the great dramatic sopranos and considered one of opera’s premiere interpreters, Johnson has toured North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Among her many heralded interpretations, that of Minnie in La Fanciulla del West stands out. It has been heard on stages around the world including the Teatro Communale in Bologna, the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, on tour in Japan with La Scala, and with the Santa Fe Opera Festival. Her career went to the next level when she appeared with Luciano Pavarotti in a televised performance as Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

SusanGrisantiTexasMusiciansHallOfFame

Susan Grisanti, known as the “First Lady of Classical Guitar in the Southwest,” was a recognizable figure in Lubbock, Texas music for over four decades. A gifted guitar instructor, she taught over 5,000 students during her career and served as a resident house musician at local Lubbock institutions. The Crossroads Music Archive contains the materials donated after her death in 2013. In fact, the “Susan Grisanti Memorial Fund” was established to help preserve her music legacy at the Crossroads Music Archive.

Texana Dames CD front

Beginning in the 1950s, the Hancock Family helped usher in the era of modern Lubbock Music. The family has participated in notable bands from The Roadside Playboys to the Texana Dames. The Dames was an all-female trio, with mother Charlene Hancock and siblings Traci and Conni Hancock. Their career spanned some 25 years. The Dames music varied from cumbia to country, and was a favorite for dancers.

ADJ-Heartbeats-web

The Heart Beats were an all-female garage rock band based in Lubbock and founded around 1966. They were led by drummer and lead vocalist Linda Sanders, along with younger sister Debbie Sanders (guitar), Debbie McMellan (bass guitar), and Jeannie Foster (guitar and keyboards.) They attracted nationwide attention in the summer of 1968 when they won the battle of the bands on the popular ABC-TV variety show Happening 68, hosted by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere of Paul Revere & the Raiders.

The materials documenting the lives and careers of musicians both female and male can be found at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. In fact, our always-helpful Reference Staff would be happy to arrange for you to view them yourselves.

– by Curtis Peoples & Robert Weaver

Anson, Texas’ Cowboys’ Christmas Ball

that livelygaitedsworray

This drawing is used annually in Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball promotions. It depicts the instrumentation described by Larry Chittenden in his poem, as well as depicting dancers performing a quadrille.

The Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball is a nearly unbroken Texas musical tradition held every December in Anson, Texas (in Jones County, roughly 25 miles northwest of Abilene). The event began with a grand ball thrown at Anson’s Star Hotel in 1885 in honor of the cattlemen of the region. William Lawrence “Larry” Chittenden attended that night and was so impressed by the festivities that he immortalized them in poetry. “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball” was first published in the Anson Texas Western in 1890 and subsequently in his Ranch Verses of 1893. He describes his Ranch Verses as being “born in the idle hours on a Texas ranch.” Chittenden’s ranch on which he lived for almost two decades was located seven miles outside of Anson. For more information, check out the Texas State Historical Association’s biography of Chittenden.

Chittenden’s “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball” was dedicated “To the Ranchmen of Texas,” and paints a vivid picture of a holiday celebration. He describes the hotel as being “togged out gorgeous” and decorated with candles, mistletoe, and “shawls” (which many have interpreted as blankets placed at the windows to insulate the hotel better). Lead by “Windy Billy,” who sang and called the dances, the crowded Star Hotel saw a very “lively gaited sworray” that evening in 1885. Chittenden even describes the original instrumentation: bass viol, fiddle, guitar, and tambourine.

chittenden_small

Larry Chittenden

Though the hotel would be lost to a fire in 1890, Chittenden’s poem immortalized the spirit of a cowboy Christmas celebration for generations to come. Many folklorists reprinted his words through the years (including John Lomax first in his Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads in 1910. Lomax eventually attended the Ball in 1939). Even to this day we see the Chittenden’s poem in pop culture. Anson Texas would see some Christmas celebrations similar to the ball held irregularly in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn.

In 1934, an Anson schoolteacher and local folklorist named Leonora Barrett helped stage the first re-enactment of the 1885 ball in the school’s gymnasium. Once again, people from Anson and surrounding communities joined in to celebrate the Christmas season. Sadly, Chittenden passed away in September of 1934 and would never get to see the ball reborn. Barrett insisted that the reincarnation of the ball retained the original dances, music, and customs of the first ball. This tradition, which includes men removing their hats on the dance floor and women only allowed to wear skirts, is kept to the present day.

leonora barrett frank reeves

Photo from the Frank Reeves Collection (http://ow.ly/rOf5t). We believe this to be a rare image of Cowboy Christmas Ball founder, Leonora Barrett at one of the 1930s balls.

Barrett, along with Hybernia Grace (another local historian), meticulously researched the conditions surrounding the original ball and worked diligently to preserve as much local history as possible. For example, another tradition kept to this date is one suggested by Mrs. Ophelia Keen nee Rhodes, whose father owned the Star Hotel in the 1880s. She wrote a letter to Barrett that was then published in the Anson newspaper Western Enterprise of December 19, 1935. Keen remembers that one of the early Christmas balls celebrated a wedding, and so at the ball each year, you will see a newly-wed couple lead the grand march at the beginning of the ball. The grand march is one of eight dances that are traditionally performed at the Ball; others include the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel, a polka, Schottische, two step, waltz, and ‘put your little foot’.

Image 0003.B+W

Several couples dancing at the Ball in the late 1940s or early 50s. The Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association members emphasize that the event is a recreation of an 1885 celebration, and therefore have rules about dress. Men must not wear hats on the dance floor, nor should they wear spurs. If women are on the dance floor, they must be in skirts but no split skirts are allowed. Because of the spirit of the event, many participants attend in period attire. Notice in this picture the attempt for historically accurate western clothing. But also notice the many onlookers in the background; pioneer hall has plenty of seating for those who just want to watch the festivities and not dance or dress up.

Soon after its rebirth, the Ball became part of the Texas Centennial festivities in 1936, and in 1938 Anson residents danced on the lawn of the White House during the National Folk Festival. The Ball was expanded from one night to three, with a parade of historic vehicles even being featured in the late 1930s. Because of the Ball’s continued success, Barrett helped to copyright the reenactment, as well as creating a board of directors, who are now known as the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association. Pioneer Hall was built in 1940 as a permanent home of the three day festivities. The Hall was designated a historic site (and the Ball a historic event) by the Texas Historical Commission in 2010, after 75 years of re-enactments.

From the 1940s up until the 1990s, few records exist of the ball. We know it was a successful event based on newspaper articles, as well as the few surviving photographs, film reels, and one amazing ledger. The Southwest Collection is proud to house the original ledger started by Leonora Barrett in 1934 on the occasion of the first re-enactment. Each year she details noted guests, hosts, broadcasts made by radio stations, the leaders of the grand march, and other pertinent details. The ledger was kept updated until 1994 and is one document that allows scholars to see the completely unbroken tradition.

pg002-3small

The ledger that Leonora Barrett started with the first re-enactment of the Cowboys’ Christmas Ball in 1934 and was kept until 1994. This is the first page of the ledger, which details some of the earliest Cowboy Christmas Ball activities and participants. The original ledger is kept in the Southwest Collection, and the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association displays a facsimile copy at the ball each year. (Click on the image for a larger version!)

The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn in a sense in the early 1990s, when Michael Martin Murphey began performing in Anson as the annual headliner. In 2010, Murphey began donating his materials to the Southwest Collection’s Crossroads Music Archive. It was also at this time that he put the archive in touch with the organizers of Anson’s Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball. In 2014, Texas Tech professor emeritus Paul Carlson’s book on the Ball will be published through Texas Tech University Press.

DSC_0214

Cowboy singer and songwriter Michael Martin Murphey has been the annual headliner at Anson’s Cowboys’ Christmas Ball since 1993. Here he performs one of tunes with his daughter, Sarah.

Though the music has been electrified and grown beyond four instruments, and historical dress is not required, attending the ball is still a festive step back into an older tradition. Each year, the ball is held on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to Christmas. If you would like to attend this year’s Cowboys’ Christmas Ball, it is this weekend! December 19th, 20th, and 21st. Michael Martin Murphey will be performing on the final evening.  For information on tickets, times, and directions, visit the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball website.

by Elissa Stroman, Southwest Collection Audio/Visual Department