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Remembering Liberty Hall - Concert venue on Chenevert in downtown Houston

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Anyone remember or have any stories to tell about Liberty Hall which was located at 1610 Chenevert? All sorts of performers played there...Jimmy Reed, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, NY Dolls, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, just to name a few.

I believe it had formerly been a movie theatre.

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I knew a guy named Ron who managed it in some fashion or another. He ran that and a place call the Jubilee Hall (?) sometime in the late 1960s/early 1970s. ZZ Top used to play at the Liberty Hall back in the early days, too, from what I heard.

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I only went there once, and that was to see Doug Kershaw. He was so strung out on coke that his eyes reminded me of Marty Feldman. He would start every song normal enough, but would always end up in some wild adlibbing that was actually painful to listen to.

The highlight of the night was when he got into it with one of the guitarists who he booted off the stage. Kershaw was one of my idols growing up, but that ended that night.

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I never went there, but I think an old friend of mine used to manage it at one time. His name was Roger Ruffcorn, and he died 5.5 years ago of a brain tumor. Really nice guy. Anybody remember him and if he managed the place or not. I may have it confused with Anderson Fair.

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Anyone remember or have any stories to tell about Liberty Hall which was located at 1610 Chenevert? All sorts of performers played there...Jimmy Reed, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, NY Dolls, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, just to name a few.

I believe it had formerly been a movie theatre.

I played there twice: Once opening for Cheech and Chong on their first tour, and another time opening for big Mama Thornton. This would be about 1971 or 72.. great room..big nice stage..Cheech and Chong got us totally wrecked in the Green Room, and then stood offstage, pointing and laughing at us like a caricature of themselves..I'll never forget it..

stu

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As someone who was a regular customer at the old Liberty Hall from its time of estbalishment up until about 1975, I have a very warm place in my heart for this historical venue. It was a safe and pleasant place to visit in those days, with easy access right off the Gulf freeway coming into Houston from the south. There was a group of us who worked at NASA, and played and enjoyed listening to alternative/folk bands). I used to bring my children there for musical "education". Since the Liberty served food, it was possible to bring in under-aged children (with a guardian); our whole family would eat red-beans and rice there (that was standard meal offering) it was an incredible opportunity to see bands that were one their way to national prominence, but who were still open to playing relative small venues. The place had a very intimate feel to it, and it seemed almost as though the performers werein your living room.

I remember one night in particular when Lightning Hpkins played there with Big Momma Thornton, and by the end of the set, Lightning (who seemed intent that night on impressing Big Momma) ended up playing his guitar lying flat on his back on the floor...something you wouldn't probably see in other venues.

I saw up-close and personal, many wonderful performances of the well-known and the obscure (for instance, anyone remember the numerous highly popular appearances of "GooseCreek Symphony"?). I have been trying to track down Liberty's historical development, and more importantly any pictures (inside or out) of the old venue. Some have said it was a theatre, while others have said it was an old VFW hall. Does anyone have authoritative info on this?

There was another Houston venue around the same time, that was located downtown (near the Bayou) close to the "farmer's market", called "The Old Quarter". Again, a very cozy place (much smaller than Libtery) where one could see performances of many great players (Lightnin Hopkin's...I had a drink with him at the bar during a break, ZZ Top before they became nationally aclaimed, Townes Van Zandt, etc, ....then the obscure.....a friend and I even played there one time).

I am seeking historical info about the looks and appearance of both these venues.

Thanks for any help.

Dave Lang

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I too was a frequent patron of Liberty Hall. The place had vibes like no other concert venue I have ever attended. I attended HSPVA in the early to mid 70's and that was where we saw music. I saw Kinky Friedman, David Bromberg, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Murphey, Willis Alan Ramsey, Goose Creek Symphony, Lightnin' Hopkins, Freddie King, Loudon Wainwright III & John Lee Hooker to name just a few!

I recorded many Liberty Hall concerts that were broadcast on KPFT. I am always looking for recordings from this venue. If you have any you want to share, please don't be bashful.

I would love to hear your Liberty Hall memories as well.

If you remember the sangria, red beans & rice & Roberto then you know what to do,

Gregg

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I never went there, but I remember Bruce Springsteen used to play there. Of course , this was before he made it big. Until he released his third album "Born to Run" and ended up being on the cover of both Time and Newsweek the same week (?!), he had kind of a cult following. Houston was one of the places where he developed a small following, thanks in part to Liberty Hall and former Houston Post music critic Bob Claypool, who was a big admirer.

Springsteen plays tribute to Liberty Hall in his song "This Hard Land": "Hey Frank won't ya pack your bags, And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall"

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As someone who was a regular customer at the old Liberty Hall from its time of estbalishment up until about 1975, I have a very warm place in my heart for this historical venue. It was a safe and pleasant place to visit in those days, with easy access right off the Gulf freeway coming into Houston from the south. There was a group of us who worked at NASA, and played and enjoyed listening to alternative/folk bands). I used to bring my children there for musical "education". Since the Liberty served food, it was possible to bring in under-aged children (with a guardian); our whole family would eat red-beans and rice there (that was standard meal offering) it was an incredible opportunity to see bands that were one their way to national prominence, but who were still open to playing relative small venues. The place had a very intimate feel to it, and it seemed almost as though the performers werein your living room.

I remember one night in particular when Lightning Hpkins played there with Big Momma Thornton, and by the end of the set, Lightning (who seemed intent that night on impressing Big Momma) ended up playing his guitar lying flat on his back on the floor...something you wouldn't probably see in other venues.

I saw up-close and personal, many wonderful performances of the well-known and the obscure (for instance, anyone remember the numerous highly popular appearances of "GooseCreek Symphony"?). I have been trying to track down Liberty's historical development, and more importantly any pictures (inside or out) of the old venue. Some have said it was a theatre, while others have said it was an old VFW hall. Does anyone have authoritative info on this?

There was another Houston venue around the same time, that was located downtown (near the Bayou) close to the "farmer's market", called "The Old Quarter". Again, a very cozy place (much smaller than Libtery) where one could see performances of many great players (Lightnin Hopkin's...I had a drink with him at the bar during a break, ZZ Top before they became nationally aclaimed, Townes Van Zandt, etc, ....then the obscure.....a friend and I even played there one time).

I am seeking historical info about the looks and appearance of both these venues.

Thanks for any help.

Dave Lang

This is from "The last of the past : Houston architecture, 1847 to 1915": an inventory and architectural stylistic history of remaining early commercial buildings, Houston, Texas, 1980 / by William Scott Field for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, the Harris County Heritage Society.

Liberty Hall was definitely an American Legion Hall and not a theater.

Old_Quarter.jpg

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Sometime around 1975 Kinky Friedman played Liberty Hall and the afternoon before the performance he appeared with Huey Meaux on KPFT, where he and his Jewboys played an impromptu concert that I still have on tape somewhere.

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I played there twice: Once opening for Cheech and Chong on their first tour, and another time opening for big Mama Thornton. This would be about 1971 or 72.. great room..big nice stage..Cheech and Chong got us totally wrecked in the Green Room, and then stood offstage, pointing and laughing at us like a caricature of themselves..I'll never forget it..

stu

I saw that show. They were great.

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I saw Billy Cobham/Eric Johnson & The Electromagnets there, and took some great pictures I'll have to dig up. Great show!

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I never went there, but I think an old friend of mine used to manage it at one time. His name was Roger Ruffcorn, and he died 5.5 years ago of a brain tumor. Really nice guy. Anybody remember him and if he managed the place or not. I may have it confused with Anderson Fair.

I remember Roger. He and others (including Houston Chronicle music editor Marty Racine) were regulars at Fitzgerald's happy hour in the early to mid 80's. He WAS really nice. I believe he managed Anderson Fair? And before his death, ran a Comedy Defensive Driving business.

Also... hi y'all.. as you can see, I'm a "newbie" to this group..

I'm interested if anyone has any memories of this small folk club on Richmond that was called Sand Mountain? I believe Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt played there (among others).

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I remember Roger. He and others (including Houston Chronicle music editor Marty Racine) were regulars at Fitzgerald's happy hour in the early to mid 80's. He WAS really nice. I believe he managed Anderson Fair? And before his death, ran a Comedy Defensive Driving business.

Also... hi y'all.. as you can see, I'm a "newbie" to this group..

I'm interested if anyone has any memories of this small folk club on Richmond that was called Sand Mountain? I believe Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt played there (among others).

Guy and Townes did play there but it was before my time. It was located near where El Pueblito and the Menil annex is today. It might even have been one of those places.

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I saw Billy Cobham/Eric Johnson & The Electromagnets there, and took some great pictures I'll have to dig up. Great show!

I saw Robert Klein around 1973. My buddy & I got up the courage to go backstage to talk with him as we were EAGER to get into the entertainment biz. He did everything in his power to change our minds. He failed...I've spent all but 8 years of my working life in music! My buddy is one of the top artist managers in the world.

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I've been meaning to get over there and see that show. I have a couple of items from Liberty Hall on my website I'm working on but would like to add more if anyone would like to contribute. Would really love a picture of the place if anyone has one.

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~tannahil/index.html

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Wrecks Bell that was one of the owners of teh Old Quarter downtown (along with Dale Soffar) owns a club on 20th near Post Office in Galveston. It is called teh Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe. Very cool guy. He has a small shrine to both Townes Van Zandt and Lightnin Hopkins in the club. Wrecks played bass for both guys.

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cool thread... always interested to hear about the good old days in houston music history. keep the stories coming.

i've got a townes van zandt album called "live at the old quarter - houston, tx." great stuff.

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Anyone remember or have any stories to tell about Liberty Hall which was located at 1610 Chenevert? All sorts of performers played there...Jimmy Reed, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, NY Dolls, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, just to name a few.

I believe it had formerly been a movie theatre.

I believe the incarnations of Liberty Hall were:

1. A church

2. An American Legion Hall

3. Liberty Hall

4. A Chinese Movie Theatre

5. Demolished

The first show I saw there was a play "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that someone else mentioned. I think that was 1971 and I would have been 16. I would try to go see Lightnin' Hopkins whenever he played there. I saw Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dr. John, Taj Mahal (a few times), Bruce Springsteen, Clifton Chenier (anyone remember him playing Juneteenth at Miller Theater in 1985 or 86?), Cheech & Chong, Townes Van Zandt. The last show I saw there was the Ramones in 1977. It is the only show I still have a ticket from...too bad.

The folks that created Liberty Hall were many of the same folks that created The Family Hand Restaurant on Brazos. Mike Condray and Lynda Herrera along with Ryan Trimble.

I remember it as looking like an small Art Deco Theater with an overhanging awning/marquee. It had a row of windows running across the front of the building above the marquee. Someone, somewhere must have a photograph of the place. I had several at one time, but they were lost about 1980.

From the American Legion Hall Days:

1610_Chenevert.jpg

Edited by isuredid

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I believe the incarnations of Liberty Hall were:

1. A church

2. An American Legion Hall

3. Liberty Hall

4. A Chinese Movie Theatre

5. Demolished

The first show I saw there was a play "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that someone else mentioned. I think that was 1971 and I would have been 16. I would try to go see Lightnin' Hopkins whenever he played there. I saw Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dr. John, Taj Mahal (a few times), Bruce Springsteen, Clifton Chenier (anyone remember him playing Juneteenth at Miller Theater in 1985 or 86?), Cheech & Chong, Townes Van Zandt. The last show I saw there was the Ramones in 1977. It is the only show I still have a ticket from...too bad.

The folks that created Liberty Hall were many of the same folks that created The Family Hand Restaurant on Brazos. Mike Condray and Lynda Herrera along with Ryan Trimble.

I remember it as looking like an small Art Deco Theater with an overhanging awning/marquee. It had a row of windows running across the front of the building above the marquee. Someone, somewhere must have a photograph of the place. I had several at one time, but they were lost about 1980.

From the American Legion Hall Days:

1610_Chenevert.jpg

This guy orig. from Houston, now in Austin.. a country guy named Roy Heinrich.. says he opened for the first punk show in Houston.. He wrote me once, but I ended up having my e-mail crash and lost his note, but I believe he said his band opened for Tuff Darts.. in the mid 70's maybe? .. at Liberty Hall.

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This guy orig. from Houston, now in Austin.. a country guy named Roy Heinrich.. says he opened for the first punk show in Houston.. He wrote me once, but I ended up having my e-mail crash and lost his note, but I believe he said his band opened for Tuff Darts.. in the mid 70's maybe? .. at Liberty Hall.

trying to remember that e-mail. Actually Roy Heinrich states that he was in the first punk band in Texas.. maybe not opening at the FIRST punk show in Houston.. but they did open for Tuff Darts and it was at Liberty Hall.. around the mid 70's.. maybe 1977?

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I do remember Liberty Hall. Liberty Hall 'replaced' Jubilee Hall which was near or on Bagby & McGowen, downtown. The Family Hand Cafe (?Restaurant?) was a block or so away.

And of course, it seems light years ago in a galaxy far far away... I was going thru a few boxes of packed away memories & I found multiple flyers for John Lee Hooker playing at Jubilee Hall on Sunday, Feb 1...but it doesn't say the year... 7-11pm. My guess is that it was '67 or '68? Maybe '69? hmmm. Opening act was Sherwood, a Houston group...

Ahh, memories are sketchy... but I'd give anything for a bowl of beans & rice from the Family Hand.

I found this website forum by googling . This is the first post I've done. I'm hoping to hear from some ole Houstonians...

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I do remember Liberty Hall. Liberty Hall 'replaced' Jubilee Hall which was near or on Bagby & McGowen, downtown. The Family Hand Cafe (?Restaurant?) was a block or so away.

And of course, it seems light years ago in a galaxy far far away... I was going thru a few boxes of packed away memories & I found multiple flyers for John Lee Hooker playing at Jubilee Hall on Sunday, Feb 1...but it doesn't say the year... 7-11pm. My guess is that it was '67 or '68? Maybe '69? hmmm. Opening act was Sherwood, a Houston group...

Ahh, memories are sketchy... but I'd give anything for a bowl of beans & rice from the Family Hand.

I found this website forum by googling . This is the first post I've done. I'm hoping to hear from some ole Houstonians...

Can you scan the flyer and post on this thread? I believe Jubilee Hall and The Family Hand opened in 1969 and closed in 1971, so the flyer is probably from 1969.

Edited by isuredid

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I saw Tuff Darts (from NYC) play in Denver in the spring of '78. They were touring to support their LP on Sire.

My guess is they must have played at Liberty Hall around that same time.

trying to remember that e-mail. Actually Roy Heinrich states that he was in the first punk band in Texas.. maybe not opening at the FIRST punk show in Houston.. but they did open for Tuff Darts and it was at Liberty Hall.. around the mid 70's.. maybe 1977?

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