Category Archives: Music

Photos of Two Concerts from 32 Years Ago

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Since the Austin Shutterbug Club’s still-life photography workshop, it’s just been blazing hot here in Austin, and I so I have not been out taking any photos since then.

Recently, I told the story about finding my long-lost shoe box containing a dozen smaller boxes of photographic slides. Since it’s been so hot outside, I spent some time during a couple of evenings scanning a few more of these slides into my computer. What I have here to show you in this post are photos that I took during two rock concerts, which occurred in 1981. That’s 32 years ago!

On Thursday, September 24, 1981 my first wife and I went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin.

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In 1981 my 35mm camera was a Canon AE-1, and I had three prime lenses: a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and a Canon FD 200mm f/2.8 lens. The slide film that I was using was Kodak Ektachrome, and I believe that it was ASA (ISO) 64.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

I am not sure which lens that I used for the photos that I am showing to you here, but I’m pretty sure that I only brought one lens with me to each of these two concerts. I doubt that it was the 50mm lens.

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Back in 1981, nobody seemed concerned at all when I would show up at the entrance door, with ticket in hand, and my camera and lens hanging from my neck strap. I did not have any special “photographer’s pass” for these shows. I was located at the seat indicated on the ticket shown above. In the previous photo, you can tell that the heads of the people in front of me blacked out the lower right corner of the photo, which would be due to my reluctance to just stand up and take a photo while everyone behind me was sitting down.

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Since I was 16 rows from the stage, I can only assume today that I was using my 200mm f/2.8 lens to get the musicians to appear this large within my photo.

Tom Petty has always been one of my favorite musicians over the years, so I was very glad to find these slides of this concert!

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The first photo that I took at the concert was frame number 29 on the roll, and I managed to get 37 photos from that roll of Ektachrome. I just showed you the best 4 of the 9 photos that I took at the Tom Petty concert. I can only imagine how many photos that I would have taken today with a digital camera. I’m sure that it would be at least 100 photos during a 90 minute concert. Oh yea, I forgot… today you can’t get into a concert with a camera, …. unless of course it is built into your cell phone.

It’s also worth noting that the camera equipment that I was using didn’t have any autofocus. There wasn’t any image stabilization. I didn’t have an LCD on the back of the camera to tell me if I needed to add or subtract any exposure compensation (there wasn’t any histogram or any “blinkies”). No, I simply had 8 or 9 frames left on the roll of slide film, and I really didn’t have any idea of how well the photos were exposed until I received them back, after sending them in the mail to Kodak for processing.

Next up are some photos that I took at a Christopher Cross concert, which was also on a Thursday. This was earlier that same year, on March 26, 1981 and it was also at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin.

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Christopher Cross, who lived in Austin at the time (and still does?), had his self-titled first album come out in 1979 and won 5 Grammy awards (including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist)! This concert in the spring of 1981 was during his meteoric rise to the top of the music world.

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Kodak Ektachome slide film was intended to be used in daylight, and not with ever-changing colors of theatrical stage lights, like those used at rock concerts. Even so, it did a good job of capturing, and preserving, the colors in the scene. This next photo clearly had the musicians illuminated by different colors of lights.

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What I thought was interesting as I first viewed these slides in my little Pana-Vue 1 slide viewer, was the varied backdrops that were used behind the band during this concert.

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Here’s a photo of Christopher playing a “double-necked” guitar.

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This next photo is my favorite of this entire post, and that is also why I used it as the opening photo in this post.

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While the smoke still filled the stage, I managed to get another shot of the band.

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This next photo must have been taken during their encore. I believe that is the case because Christopher has changed his shirt to be the Houston Oilers jersey of Earl Campbell. Earl won the Heisman Trophy playing football at The University of Texas here in Austin, 3 and 1/2 years earlier in 1977. Earl was a local favorite, and Christopher was showing his support of another “local legend”.

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In the opening paragraph I stated that I haven’t been out taking any photographs lately. Well, maybe, maybe not… I am writing this blog post on Saturday morning. It will go live early Wednesday morning. On Sunday morning, Barb and I will have driven down to Galveston, gotten on a cruise ship, spent Monday at sea, and Tuesday in Key West, Florida. When this blog post goes live, we will be nearing The Bahamas. I will not be anywhere near a computer, or the internet. If you leave a comment, I will not be responding simply because I am ignoring you. Instead, I’ll be out taking tons of vacation photos, and drinking margaritas!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

The Armadillo World Headquarters – December 27, 1980

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In my previous post, I told the story about finding my long-lost shoe box containing a dozen smaller boxes of photographic slides. Over the years, I have kept wondering what happened to that shoe box. There was only one small box of slides that I really wanted to find, as I really had no memory of what any of the other boxes of slides contained.

The box that I really wanted to find contained photos that I took inside of the Armadillo World Headquarters on December 27, 1980, which was just 4 nights before they closed their doors forever. That box of slides was plainly marked “AWHQ 12-27-80″.

This place has played a legendary role during the 1970′s for helping to put Austin, Texas on the map as a prominent center of music – behind only Los Angeles, California and Nashville, Tennessee. Wikipedia has an excellent history of the place, as well as a pretty decent list of the bands that played there, and the albums that were recorded there over the years. Here is a link to the site that declares itself the official web site for this place that closed its doors more than 32 1/2 years ago. Under the lower left corner of the photo, click the link to “Enter The Site” and then on the left side, click on the photo that says “Performances”. The list is truly staggering in length!

I have been busy this week learning how to scan these slides on my Epson V500 scanner and using the Epson scan software that came with it. There is no metadata that I can look at to tell me anything about the settings that I used.

All I know for sure is that in late 1980 my camera was a Canon AE-1, and I had three prime lenses: a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and a Canon 200mm f/2.8 lens. I am not sure which lens that I used for which photo that I am about to show you. I also had a Canon Speedlite 199A external flash, and you can tell that I used it (in the hot shoe) to illuminate several of the photos of the artwork (but certainly did NOT use it to photograph the bands). The slide film was Kodak Ektachrome, and I am guessing that it was ASA (ISO) 64.

The ticket stub shown at the top of this post says that the show started at 9:00 PM, and my first wife and I arrived well before that. We were probably one of the very first people in through the door, and nobody said anything about me bringing in a camera with a large lens attached. It never occurred to me that they might not allow that, either.

I took my first photo of the stage, while the first band was still checking out their sound settings, and before any other customers parked themselves in my field of view.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

I remember that the first time I came to The ‘Dillo was in the spring of 1974. I remember that, because I remember the 3 other guys who I came with – we all lived next to each other in the dormatory at UT. I do not remember which band that we saw, however. I do know that we were all very impressed with the whole “experience” that we had that evening. I knew that I would be back!

The artwork on the walls was somewhat “iconic”, and that was the main reason that I wanted to bring my camera into The ‘Dillo.

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This large canvas painting was hung high and to the right of the stage. My memory says that someone once told me that was Freddy Fender in the photo above, but I must admit that I really don’t know who it is. I just thought it was pretty cool! That canvas is probably 10 or 12 feet across.

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The photo above was high and to the left of the stage. This is the legendary blues man, Freddy King. I guess he represented the heart and the soul of the Armadillo.

The women’s restroom was located to the left of the stage, and the door was in plain view of everyone in attendance. That door is in the lower right corner of this huge painting on the wall.

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I walked to the back of the “concert hall”, where one of the two bars was located. This photo is exposed for the neon signs, but you can still see the pitchers all stacked up and ready to be filled with beer. On a “good night”, you had to hang onto your pitcher, as they would run out at the bar and then you could only order by the bottle (oh no!).

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OK, so that’s all of the photos that I took before the first band came out on stage. I really do not remember who they were.

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I do remember that the photo above was taken from our seats, which were the first row of metal folding chairs. Everyone in front of us was sitting on old beer stained carpet remnants scattered all over the floor. You can see that in the next photo, which I took during the intermission.

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The 20 or 30 minutes between the two bands was usually enough time to get your pitcher refilled, and to go to the restroom. After the men had “done their business” in the trough, and they turned to exit the restroom, here is the larger than life-size artwork that they would see.

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The main event of the evening was billed as “Joe Ely – Lubbock Reunion”. I had seen Joe at least 3 or 4 times before this show and always really liked what I saw and heard. I know that even today I still have a couple of his vinyl records and at least a half a dozen of his CD.

Lubbock, TX is the home of Texas Tech University, and is located exactly 400 miles northwest of Austin. Lubbock has been, and still is, the home of several highly respected musicians. Buddy Holly (and The Crickets) was from there. Later on Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore formed a band they called The Flatlanders.

Lloyd Maines, was also born and raised in Lubbock, and supposedly has appeared more times than any other musician on the Austin City Limits television show. He’s the master musician playing the pedal steel guitar!

OK, so it’s time for the main act, and here’s one of two photos that I took of them from my seat.

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That’s Joe Ely playing guitar in the center, and Lloyd Maines is seated just to Joe’s left (your right). I guess I knew that if I was going to get any decent photos, I was just going to have to get up out of my chair and work my way into the crowd.

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That’s Butch Hancock sharing the microphone with Joe Ely. The next photo shows them together, as well as a better shot of Lloyd Maines on the pedal steel guitar.

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I’m going to stop typing now, and just show the best 6 of the last 9 photos that I took while they played.

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Wow, what a show! Being that close to the stage, the wall of speakers to either side of you just resonant right through to your sole.

After the show, and the lights were turned back on, I realized that there was another piece of artwork that I had missed.

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The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were always watching over the crowd at The Armadillo World Headquarters!

Last night after I had finished scanning this box of slides, I was really in a nostalgic mood. I got out my box of ticket stubs that I have saved over the years. I think I found all of the ticket stubs that I have from The ‘Dillo. This is certainly not all of the shows that I saw there – these are just the ticket stubs that I saved.

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The Armadillo World Headquarters wasn’t the only honky-tonk that I would go to in the 1970′s. But The ‘Dillo was where you could go and drink your pitcher of beer right in front of the stage with all of the other cosmic cowboys. And in the 1970′s there wasn’t any other honky-tonk that I was aware of that everyone was welcome: hippies, cowboys, UT students, working people. In all the times that I went there, not once did I ever see, or even hear about, a fight. Not once did I ever feel unsafe or threatened. With all of beer that was consumed there, that  just doesn’t seem possible today!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

James McMurtry – Levelland

OK, this post is really just an experiment, to see if I can get a YouTube video to show on my blog site.

Don’t worry, I’ve got a ton of photos that I took last week on a photo excursion to some premier Texas BBQ joints in Lockhart – and I’m having trouble getting it down to a small enough number of photos to put into a single post or two. Maybe I will have to chop it up and make three posts….

Anyway, here’s the video of a song called Levelland, by Austin musician James McMurtry, who I believe is the son of the novelist Larry McMurtry. I think that the images are just as powerful as the music.

If the YouTube video does not appear above, then my experiment has failed, but you can still watch this powerful music video here. If anyone can enlighten me on how to embed a YouTube video, I would appreciate it!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!