Danny Barton's Narrative

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That next fall I was back at UT, more interested in old time music and new wave culture than in any usable curriculum. A girlfriend gave me an old National guitar refitted with a wooden hollow body. I learned more guitar chords and tried to find anyone else interested in jug band or country blues songs. I bought albums, anthologies of old recordings by Son House, Lonnie Johnson, Leadbelly, and John Hurt. At an anti-war protest I played some jug band songs with Jamie Howell and David Mahler. I met Tom McEvoy, a good finger picking guitar player who knew a lot of old time songs. Several trips to San Francisco and several painful and dramatic love affairs left me all alone, kicked out of college, and even then still wondering where the Country Blues had come from.

I came back to Austin in 1967, not as a student, but subsidized by another girlfriend who had landed a secretarial job at the legislature and an arrangement with Texas State Senator Carl Parker, of which arrangement I was politely ignorant. I moved in with a group of hipsters who had rented an old rooming house at 22nd and Rio Grande. Art Osborn, with whom I'd attended high school in Dallas, was pals with Bill Dorman and Rick Rubottom, two UT students who had dropped out and moved to San Francisco in 1966 to get blue collar jobs and live a sort of beatnik life. They were going back to school at UT and wanted to put together some sort of communal living project to lower their living costs and increase their sexual opportunities.

Rubottom had been in a jug band at his prep school, Phillips Exeter, and Dorman had played guitar a little with some of the UT 'ghetto' gang. Art Osborn played very good Scruggs style banjo. My girlfriend bought me a pretty nice new guitar, a Fender Palomino, the first non-electric guitar Fender made. I got these guys together with my friend Tom McEvoy, and we started having regular Saturday night jams in the big house on 22nd street. Phyllis Ivey, sister of my sarcastic ex- roommate, Gene, sang. Bob Tom Reed moved into the attic of the house and played guitar with us when he wasn't working with Shivas's Headband. Fiddler and mandolinist Ric Speed had played in earlier incarnations of Shiva's and knew Tom from communal use of LSD. Paulette Just, teenaged surfer girl from Port Aransas, played washboard. Rubottom played a wooden box washtub bass built by one of our fellow communards. Jim Beard, frenetic electrical engineer, played jug, but poorly. Still, playing together was a lot of fun.

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