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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
Page 21
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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 21. January 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 10, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2136.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(January 1980). Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 21. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2136

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 21, January 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 10, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2136.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date January 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Item Description
Title Page 21
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File Name femin_201109_556at.jpg
Transcript The cultural center for the counterculture BY JANICE BLUE JB: RT: JB: RT: JB: RT An interview with Ryan Trimble, co- founder of the late Liberty Hall. Janice Blue: How did your interest in music begin? JB: Ryan Trimble: It started with Ikey, my next door neighbor. He played the RT guitar and I played the banjo. We did the folk songs back then. That was when I was 13 or 14 years old. This was in Beaumont? This was in Nederland, Texas. JB: Nederland? That's where Karen Silk- RT wood grew up. I knew Karen Silkwood. Karen and I went through junior high, high school and we went to Lamar University. JB: We were friends. I dated her girlfriend. RJ: What was she like? Karen was independent and smart. She was pretty smart. Karen and her friends had a clique, sort of a small sorority. They all made good grades. They were a little elitist, but they were smarter than most of the other people. JB: JB: How did you react to her death? RT: RT: I was freaked out when I first learned she had been contaminated (with JB: Plutonium) and everything after that. JB: That's another story, I know. Tell me RT: how you got from playing the banjo to getting into the music business? RT: I bought The Halfway House in Beaumont from Mike Condray, who was to be my partner in Liberty Hall a few years later. Mike and I met while we were going through Lamar. I had some money. I saw the club and bought it on the spot for about $1500 back in 1966. It was at Second and Broadway in Beaumont, Texas. It was a Victorian-style two-story house with 20-something rooms. It had big pillars and a large wrap-around porch. It was a real nice club, a kind of a folk club where we served exotic coffees. We had a chess room and set aside two rooms for student art showings. JB: You were still a student then? RT: Yes, I was a . . . JB: A business major, sounds like. No, I was a government major. I had about six or seven majors. But, anyway, I was popular because I had a club, popular among the liberal- minded students. Is it true Janis Joplin would come and sing there? JB: RT: Yes. Janis and I met at Lamar. She was a singer and she came to the club. RT She dated my friend, Ed Kalbaugh. He was a singer and songwriter. He RT: JB JB: RT JB: RT JB: RT: and I used to play the guitar together, so we used to show Janis the chords and how to do it. Are you saying she got her start at your club? Yes. She sang at the club and I never even paid her because she was a friend. I would have paid her at Liberty Hall but Janis never made it. [Joplin died in 1970.] What did she sing at your club? She did blues. She liked to scream real bluesy songs. Rhythm and blues. She had a personality to fit that blues image. What do you mean by that? She cussed a lot. Her grammar was awful. She said fuck a lot. Back then, girls didn't say fuck. Janis had a habit of hanging out and not taking care of herself. Her hair would be stringy, She wouldn't use deodorant she wouldn't take baths or brush her teeth. She was just like . . . A rebel? Well, more like a dirty hippie. She just didn't take care of herself. Who were the other artists that played at your club? I gave Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark $10 or $15 a night because they had to come all the way from Houston. My cover charge was a dollar. I didn't serve alcohol, so I couldn't afford to pay talent very much. You know who else used to hang out with me there? Don Sanders. He's here in town, still sings folk music. In fact, Don is still singing some of the same songs he sang in Beaumont, back in 1967. You ran your club as a business. I'm amazed you did all this while you were still in college. Most of us had a hard enough time working summers. At one point, I had the club, a 40- hour job and was taking 15 hours a semester. Did you sleep? I slept about three hours a night. What motivated you more, your interest in music or the business part? I like being independent. I like to be around artists, creative people. I like the way they're different. I don't like to be around people who sit and watch the football game every week and drink a couple of beers. Didn't you ever want a career as a musician? Well, at Liberty Hall I used to have a band. We'd play after hours. We'd get up on the stage. Mike would sing, Roberto Gonzalez would play bass, and I'd play guitar and piano. I've played some real famous people's guitars. I've played more guitars than anybody in town. Everyone who left their guitar at the Hall, I'd play it. JB: How did you get from The Halfway House to Liberty Hall? RT: I straightened up my whole act. I graduated from college in January 1969 and moved to Houston in March. I was an underwriter for the Hartford Insurance Company almost two years. JB: Why did you leave? RT: The company was very conservative and was giving me a hard time about my cutting my hair above my ears—it was about as long as it is now—and they told me if I wanted a raise, I'd have to get married. I was handling a million and a half's worth of their accounts and I was over 40 of their agents. I would have stayed with the company if they allowed me my freedom, but I got a real good business training at Hartford, which I put to good use when I opened Liberty Hall in February 1971. JB: Liberty Hall was the cultural center for the counter culture in the seventies. What did the founders want it to be like? RT: Mike [Condray] and I wanted to start a place where people would work together without it being like ITT. It was a social experiment, not just a music movement, an ethical-type movement showing people could work together and not depend on the big money scene, not rip people off with prices, yet give a good thing. JB: How were you able to do it? RT: Our rent was cheap, all of our overhead was cut to the bare minimum and these other promoters had to charge $5-$6 for a concert. We were putting them on in a smaller place, charging half the price and that made them look pretty foolish. We put a lot of promoters through some bad trips. We undercut their prices and probably put on better shows. Nobody got rich off the place, the people got the benefits, not the owners. Mike and I put the money back into the place. It wasn't a capitalistic trip. JB: What about money? How much did it take to open a counter-culture business? RT: About $3000, and $2000 was just for the lease. The rest was for paint and repairs. JB: How did you live before the business got going? RT:Mike, his girlfriend, Linda Herrera, and I decided we'd all live together, we'd all eat together, we'd all work together. When we opened Liberty Hall, we all ate there. We ate brown rice and beans, a lot of brown rice and beans. I didn't have many of the physical, materialistic comforts, but I had the comforts of going to the shows and knowing I helped put on those shows. Plus, I didn't have any free time to spend money. I had all the entertainment I could ingest. JB: How did you happen on the building at 1610 Chenevert? RT:We got the old American Legion hall from these World War I veterans. They really let the place get run down. They only met once a week to play penny-ante cards. It was trashed out, so some of the workers got lifetime passes for their contributions to Liberty Hall. We didn't have any shows booked but we had a building. JB: How did you go about booking talent? RT:We had a policy before we'd book anyone that we'd all vote on a suggestion. We tried to take anyone's suggestion. Right at the start, we went to Austin. We had good connections there. We met Freddie King and we ran into C. C. Courtney, the director of the Earl of Rustin troupe. We signed a deal with both of them and they were our first acts. They were a big hit. JB: So Liberty Hall just took off? RT:Like any business it had its ups and downs. After the Earl of Rustin, which ran for five weeks, we did a blues review. Six weeks of the blues with Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Willie Dixon and John Hammond, and I promptly lost $10,000. But, then, I produced some rock and roll shows and we made it back. JB: Why didn't the blues work? RT:The blues worked. The blues established us as a place in the U.S. to play. All these blues players we had were national acts. We got mass media coverage but we lost money because there weren't that many people who came. But we were reviewed in all the trade journals and it let the booking agencies on the West and East coasts know we were here. JB: Were you in competition with the black clubs? HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 21 DECEMBER/JANUARY 1980