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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 23. January 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 17, 2018. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2138.

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 23. 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/2138

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 23, January 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 17, 2018, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2138.

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.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 23
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File Name femin_201109_556av.jpg
Transcript parties. RT: Roberto Gonzales got married there. He had two best men, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins. And Philip Bowles, who worked with lights, staging and the creative ideas got married there, too. I picked out two Gordon Lightfoot albums for the wedding music. Philip and Caroline had a preacher and they got married on the stage. When the entertainers came to town, some of them that I liked, I'd drive down to Kemah and get a fresh batch of shrimp and cook shrimp gumbo for them. We used to take care of the people who came to the Hall. We'd invite them into our family. We'd eat with them, we'd have fun with them, and we'd work with them. That's what I enjoyed most, the personal contact. JB: How would you describe the audience? RT: All the way from lower class to upper class. Ninety percent white and 100% pot smokers. Maybe 1% didn't smoke pot. The police could have arrested every house, every night. I lived in seven years of fear because I knew we were breaking the law every day. JB: I've always wondered, did you pay off the police? RT: No. The cops never asked me for any money. They sometimes asked us to help them locate a missing person or with some VD problem. They'd ask how they could reach this person. They knew we were getting kids off the street. We were giving them entertainment. We were running a real clean operation. We weren't dealing in drugs. The only thing wrong was that we had people that smoked pot in our place. The police did raid the place in 1971. John Lee Hooker was on the stage. At midnight, two young policemen came to check ID's. After a brawl, seven or eight people were arrested for abusive language and stuff like that. I went down and bailed everyone out. The next day, some of the motorcycle police came out and brought me some chocolate cupcakes. Somehow I can't imagine the police doing that, especially during the Herman Short era. Sure they weren't brownies? Pretty sure. Is it true Liberty Hall created the cosmic cowboy? That's not true. Austin created the cosmic cowboy. Liberty Hall introduced it to Houston. We just happened to be booking country and western acts and we booked Michael Murphy and he was singing about cosmic cowboys. That's how that myth got started. JB: What was the high point at Liberty Hall? RT: That had to be One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It was a real success. It got a lot of critical acclaim and we went on TV and radio shows to talk about it. We cast it, produced it, directed it—all the money came from Liberty Hall. It ran for two months, from March to May of 1972. Oh yeah, and Jerry Jeff Walker—that was a good show. He played one year for New Year's Eve and played all night long. JB: And the low point? RT: That had to be Ripped and Wrinkled JB: RT JB: RT: by C.C. Courtney. It was a "musical fantasy" and the critics thought it was awful. Come to think of it, C.C. had the high and the low—he also produced, directed and acted in Cuckoo's Nest. JB: I just have to ask you about the poster art, that's what I remember over the years, seeing some really good art go up on those telephone poles. That was such a good way to communicate. I know there was Space City!, Southern Voice and KPFT publicizing your shows, but it's the poster art that I remember. RT: Posters had to go through a committee for approval and we used some good artists like Bill Narum, Ham, and George Banks. I developed a distribution route, a scientific method, with a key map, of blocks, corners and intersections. I didn't put them up indiscriminately, so a thousand posters went a long way. I even figured out how to put them on the poles so everyone could see them from four corners. JB: Well, I thought they were everywhere. RT: I figured out that we probably put out over three and a half million posters in seven years. JB: When Liberty Hall closed in 1977, was that the official end of the sixties for Houston? RT:That was the end of an era in music when you could go to a small place, see a name act and not pay much money for it. We didn't scalp people. We didn't buy the acts cheap and sell them expensive. We bought them cheap and sold them cheap. We wanted to have shows that people, like ourselves, could afford to see. At the time we opened, I was 24 years old. We thought it would be better for the club to have people like it because they got a good deal. We thought the community would support it and they did. People in Houston supported Liberty Hall. JB: Do you think Liberty Hall was a product of its time? RT: Yes. It seemed like the people of the early seventies had more of a bond together. We were fighting against the war, we were fighting for the legalization of marijuana, we were fighting for human rights. We were fighting for a system to work together and not have rip-off profits. All these things we were fighting for seemed to dissolve when people realized there was nothing holding them together. Today, we have a population that's #more individual-oriented. Bonds are developed on an individual basis. JB: Are you saying the changing times closed Liberty Hall? RT: The business was a hard business. It had its problems. Mike and Ken got out. We had a disagreement in 1975. I got fed up with the business for personal and drug reasons. People coming to the Hall were getting uncontrollable. They were taking uppers and downers and getting sick and I got sick cleaning up the place. Also, the new wave of music, punk stuff, was coming and I didn't like that. When I lost the enjoyment of putting on shows, making people happy for my self-fulfillment, I lost everything I was there for, so I got out in 1976. Roberto kept it another year. He lost some money and went out of business. JB: RT: JB: RT: JB: RT: JB: RT: JB: RT JB: RT The drugs were always there, weren't they? The only drug around Liberty Hall was marijuana. There was no heroin ever, or cocaine, Quaas, uppers and downers. Liberty Hall didn't have rules. We were loose. We gave people freedom. Our name was Liberty Hall. We wanted people to come and do whatever they wanted, as long as it didn't hurt other people or themselves. It was good for a long time. But, later, when it became abused, when they abused their bodies, they were abusing the place and the other people around them. People were killing themselves on Mandrix. The late seventies became a down generation. People realized they weren't going anywhere. They were getting older, they hadn't accomplished anything. I mean, every day you're down and out on a Quaalude and alcohol, is a day you aren't going to accomplish very much. They're wasting a lot of time being stoned. But people were stoned on marijuana, too. Do you think you just got burned out, I mean, after seven years, you were entitled to? Well, I'd been there six and a half years, every night, and I'll tell you, Janice, towards the end I'd go to the place, open the show, and stay outside with my friends. That sounds like burnout. Well, the reason for being burned out was because the New York Dolls were on stage and I couldn't tolerate their music. They were loud, abrasive, stupid . . . But I've heard some people say that was a stroke for Liberty Hall to bring a group like the Dolls to Houston, a couple of years before people had even heard of punk rock, glitter rock, mascara rock, whatever. We had indications people here wanted to see that group. I thought they were awful. So, the change in music, the new wave, had a lot to do with closing the Hall? It wasn't only that the music was degenerating—in my opinion it was— but I think the music came about because the young kids, as they grew up, didn't have the discipline to sit down and learn music, so what evolved was a bunch of musicians who had energy and ambition, but no musical skills. Ryan, that sounds like what our parents said to us in the 1950's about Elvis Presley and in the 60's about the Beatles. Well, my definition of music doesn't fit the definition of music of what the New York Dolls is about. I think that's a bunch of crap that they're putting out. I play the guitar and I can turn my guitar up really loud and send somebody on a psychic trip, too, but where's that? What universal beauty is in that? What poor peasant in the Tibetan mountains can appreciate that bombardment to the ears? You're saying that the new wave was brought on by the drug problem. I think people's minds under drugs are at a point where that music makes sense to them, because they have a dull sense of awareness. I think it takes something really loud and hard to get through those people's dull senses. I think that's why it's working. JB: What about disco? RT: The same goes for the disco beat. That beat is mindless. That beat is appreciated by people who can't appreciate other qualities of music. That's why it's so popular. People haven't been educated in music. They don't understand the finer parts of it. JB: So, it was the change in music that caused you to lose interest in Liberty Hall? RT: I took my name away from Liberty Hall because I wasn't satisfied with what was coming down, the acts that the record companies wanted to promote. We couldn't book an act without record company cooperation and the record companies decided they wanted to push new wave rock. Also, the record companies decided they wouldn't promote the acts on the road. And if I couldn't get record company money, I couldn't operate a place like Liberty Hall and put on the same kinds of shows I was used to putting on. So, when the record companies took their funds away, they killed a place like Liberty Hall. JB: Did the oil embargo in '74 have a lot to do with the record companies pulling their supports out of live entertainment? RT: There was a vinyl shortage and records are made from petroleum. They're plastic. The cost of records went up, real fast. They had cash flow problems, so they quit promoting their smaller acts. A lot of artists ate it, went under, because they couldn't make it on their own. The record companies were just putting their money into their sure things and their top stars. It's a big business. JB: Do you think Liberty Hall would be as popular today? RT: The shows would be as popular because we had the best shows in the country. But, whether or not our clientele would have that bond, like the anti-war, anti-Nixon, or marijuana thing, that wouldn't be there, but they'd be there because the entertainment was good. You must realize that we did Liberty Hall to entertain people and to give ourselves a way to make a living that we enjoyed doing. We didn't create Liberty Hall to be a charity organization. We created Liberty Hall to entertain people. And we did let some of our political views come through. We did a lot of benefits for progressive candidates, like Sissy Farenthold, Leonel Castillo, Ron Waters and Fred Hofheinz and for KPFT-Radio. And at the same time we tried to help the city become a better city through our politics. JB: What do you see for the eighties in music? Do you see a return to message music? RT:Well, the message music has really slowed down, but it's a cycle. I think it will come back real heavy in the eighties and I think people are going to get away from the disco beat. They're going to get away from the hard rock beat. They're going to start listening to lyrics again, and they're going to start paying attention to a more refined mode of music. Janice Blue is an editor of Breakthrough. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 23 DECEMBER/JANUARY 1980