Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982

For those of us who do not live in Texas, and even for many who do, Austin is an outpost of progressive weirdness in a state better known for its regressive rectitude. Music has been the key to Austin’s enlightened reputation, and after a brief flirtation with psychedelia in the late 1960s, the posters that were created to promote the state capital’s music scene became as iconoclastic as the city itself, as a new book called Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982 ably demonstrates.

With essays by noted Texas author Joe Nick Patoski and poster artist and historian Nels Jacobson, Homegrown is mostly organized into thematic sections, including Blues Portraits (Muddy Waters, Mance Lipscomb, Big Joe Williams, Johnny Winter), Traveling Bands (Frank Zappa, Gram Parsons, Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead), and Punk (The Ramones, Iggy Pop, David Johanson). The first section, though, is devoted to the city’s first full-fledged rock hall, Vulcan Gas Company, which produced shows by local bands like Conqueroo, Shiva’s Head Band, and 13th Floor Elevators at 316 Congress Avenue, from the fall of 1967 until the spring of 1970. Gilbert Shelton, who is better known now for his Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, was the venue’s first poster artist, hewing to the psychedelic sensibility being practiced by Wes Wilson and others in San Francisco.

After Shelton and three other Austinites moved to San Francisco to found Rip Off Press in 1969, Jim Franklin took over art-director duties at the Vulcan, bringing a more realistic style to the club’s rock-posters. It was also Franklin who made the lowly armadillo a symbol of the Austin music scene, a stature that was codified when the Vulcan closed and a new venue called Armadillo World Headquarters opened in 1970. Franklin designed the first poster for that storied hall, along with 58 others, although Micael Priest and Guy Juke produced more (99 and 61, respectively). Other artists whose careers are recounted by Patoski include Ken Featherston, Danny Garrett, and Sam Yeates, while Jacobson offers readers a window on techniques employed by artists and printers alike. We learn, for example, that Shelton used white acrylic paint to cover up mistakes made in India ink, and that it was a printer named Johnny Mercer who introduced Austin poster artists to the wonders of split-fountain printing, which allowed them to riff—if briefly—on one of the San Francisco poster community’s signature psychedelic looks.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Notable Replies

  1. Huh - should get this for my uncle. He played in Austin for years for a group called the Uranium Savages. I'm sure he is familiar with lots of the artists. I think he plays for a Jazz band now... not sure... I know its his full time gig now.

  2. yes, you should, your uncle would love it.

    I moved to austin in 82. and my college dorm wall was PLASTERED in "drag posters" all the bands, all the shows, all the time.

    When I moved to CA in ~ 2000? I tossed about 4 shiner beer boxes full of posters into the recycling. Should have kept em.

    Big Boys, Uranium Savages, Nice Strong Arm, Meat Puppets, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Butthole Surfers, Lucinda Williams, the Dicks, Poi Dog, The Scabs, Omar & The Howlers, WC Clark, Glass Eye, Scratch Acid, Ed Hall, (and Ed Hall Sucks) the list goes on and on,

    and all posters were same size, different colors, different design, but same clubs...

    Man, what fun those days were. Art for the hell of it...

    Now I am a fat old man. and Liberty Lunch is condos.

  3. dood, i've been at their shows, (a long time ago) at Club Foot, in Austin.

    Biscuit from the Big Boys would leave the bathroom window open, so you could climb in and see the shows for free. No one at the foot really cared that much. as long as the bar was selling beers....

    you know the Savages have a web page? and still do shows??? right???

    Oh, I almost forgot about the HIckoids, who, at one point, had a litter of puppies, which is how I got my beloved Ladybird, who was with me for almost 16 years....

  4. Might have mentioned this to you before but I still have some of those flyers, probably all Kozik stuff. I was there 86 to 90 so I missed The Big Boys but was at just about every Poison 13 show an at EVERY Agony Column show.

    Really low chance but you might have seen/had some of my "work" which was all B&W xerography/collage stuff made and posted up around "just because".

    Oh and Butthole Surfers at Liberty Lunch shows? Unforgettable kept for the parts I can't remember...

    Dunno if it jogs your memory but I was a short little punk with a hand drawn Samhain logo'd leather jacket and a long devil lock. Now a bearded old yid in Tokyo and not just Liberty Lunch is condos, but theres a HUGE Whole Foods full of yuppies on W5th.

  5. A Jim of Mad Dog & Beans rings a bell for me, spent enough time there drinking Shiner Bock and rereading Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics bought from the head shop next door. See what I did there to bring this back relative to the actual post? smile

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