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Don Julio

Jester, Bird Lounge, Lou's Ricksha Lounge

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There's an album from 1964 entitled "Lightnin' Hopkins Live at the Bird Lounge, Houston, Texas."

This must have been a short lived club. I've never heard any oldtimers ever mention "The Bird Lounge."

The Jester was better known and around for a few years, say 1961-1965. As far as I know, nothing's ever been written about this place.

Lou's Ricksha Lounge was supposedly connected to the Bird, or maybe a later incarnation.

All three places were supposed to have been on Shepherd Drive, around Westheimer up to West Gray.

Somebody, please fill in some details. Anything...

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There's an album from 1964 entitled "Lightnin' Hopkins Live at the Bird Lounge, Houston, Texas." This must have been a short lived club. I've never heard any oldtimers ever mention "The Bird Lounge." The Jester was better known and around for a few years, say 1961-1965. As far as I know, nothing's ever been written about this place. Lou's Ricksha Lounge was supposedly connected to the Bird, or maybe a later incarnation. All three places were supposed to have been on Shepherd Drive, around Westheimer up to West Gray. Somebody, please fill in some details. Anything...

Don't know anything about the Bird Lounge or Lou's Ricksha, but the Jester was located on Westheimer at Midlane, just a few blocks inside the Loop 610. A huge apartment complex now covers the spot where it was situated.

It was a fun place to hang out back during "The Great Folk Scare" of the early sixties, when folk music was still acoustic and more or less traditional. I spent many a night there drinking Mack Webster's beer and trying to hustle the cute young folk music fans who flocked to that place.

I know I'm going out on a limb here, but I seriously doubt -- in the early 60s -- you would find a club showcasing black singers like Lightnin' Hopkins located west of Main Street. Houston was still a very segregated city then -- socially, and to a great extent, artistically.

In those days Main Street was the unofficial but very real dividing line between the races and social classes in Houston.

Upscale white collar whites were west of Main. Blacks, Hispanics and blue collar whites were east of Main and north of downtown.

Black entertainers -- especially blues singers - played almost exclusively at small clubs on the east and southeast side of town, in the 3rd ward. White entertainers did the clubs on the west side, including Montrose and Shepherd.

Edited by FilioScotia

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From the 1964 City Directory

The Jester Lounge 2509 Udemi Lane

The Bird 2305 S. Shepherd

Owners of the Bird are listed as Miguel R. Ogando and Mrs. Wanda Parker.

So there you have it. Lightnin' Hopkins did actually appear west of Main in the early '60s.

(2305 S. Shepherd is now that 10-story white building. 2509 Udemi is no longer a street.)

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From the 1964 City Directory. The Jester Lounge 2509 Udemi Lane. The Bird 2305 S. Shepherd. Owners of the Bird are listed as Miguel R. Ogando and Mrs. Wanda Parker. So there you have it. Lightnin' Hopkins did actually appear west of Main in the early '60s. 2305 S. Shepherd is now that 10-story white building. 2509 Udemi is no longer a street.

The only thing in your posting that I'm questioning is the name "Udemi Lane." I'm not surprised to learn that Lightnin' Hopkins played a club on the west side. The sixties were a time of change in a lot of ways.

However, I've lived in Houston most of my life, and I ran around over most of the city during the 50s and 60s and I have never heard of Udemi Lane. I've Google searched the name and the only place in Texas with a street with that name is in Cleveland Texas. Can you tell me where the "Udemi Lane" in Houston was located?

I can say with no fear of contradiction that the Jester Lounge where I spent a lot of time in the mid and late 60s was on Westheimer at Midlane, several blocks east of the West Loop. Midlane is a short street that runs north from Westheimer through that big complex of apartments to San Felipe. The area known in the 50s and 60s as "Sin Alley", because of its big population of young urban singles who really knew how to party. The Jester was torn down and plowed under a long time ago, and there's a very big apartment complex on the site where the Jester once stood.

I can't help but observe that the last six letters of Udemi Lane almost spell out Midlane. And if you Google search the address 2509 Midlane, you get the corner of Midlane and Westheimer. Precisely where the old Jester once stood.

Even the old City Directory got street names wrong from time to time.

Edited by FilioScotia

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the last six letters of Udemi Lane almost spell out Midlane. And if you Google search the address 2509 Midlane, you get the corner of Midlane and Westheimer. Precisely where the old Jester once stood.

Even the old City Directory got street names wrong from time to time.

Yes, I was just quoting the city directory with its "Udemi Ln," but noticed that this street is not listed on current Houston maps. Your explanation makes more sense.

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The only thing in your posting that I'm questioning is the name "Udemi Lane." I'm not surprised to learn that Lightnin' Hopkins played a club on the west side. The sixties were a time of change in a lot of ways.

However, I've lived in Houston most of my life, and I ran around over most of the city during the 50s and 60s and I have never heard of Udemi Lane. I've Google searched the name and the only place in Texas with a street with that name is in Cleveland Texas. Can you tell me where the "Udemi Lane" in Houston was located?

I can say with no fear of contradiction that the Jester Lounge where I spent a lot of time in the mid and late 60s was on Westheimer at Midlane, several blocks east of the West Loop. Midlane is a short street that runs north from Westheimer through that big complex of apartments to San Felipe. The area known in the 50s and 60s as "Sin Alley", because of its big population of young urban singles who really knew how to party. The Jester was torn down and plowed under a long time ago, and there's a very big apartment complex on the site where the Jester once stood.

I can't help but observe that the last six letters of Udemi Lane almost spell out Midlane. And if you Google search the address 2509 Midlane, you get the corner of Midlane and Westheimer. Precisely where the old Jester once stood.

Even the old City Directory got street names wrong from time to time.

I double-checked on this today, and "Udemi Lane" is correct.

Here is the 1962 Houston city directory:

UDEMI LN (from a dead end south 2 blks to Westheimer Rd., 2 west of Kitty)

2426 Manuel Udemi

2509 The Key Club - private

2510 Tomy (sic) Udemi

The 1964 city directory is the same except "Jester Lounge" has replaced the Key Club.

So I'm guessing that "Udemi Lane," with just three lots, was the start of Midlane north of Westheimer. Except nobody noticed that it was called Udemi Lane.

In a related note, "The Bird Lounge" was on 2305 S. Shepherd. It was called "The Little Jazz Bird" in the 1962 city directory, and just "The Bird" in '64. I've confirmed that it was inspired by Charlie "Bird" Parker and obviously was a jazz oriented club, not a "folk" club like I initially speculated. It was replaced by "Lu's Ricksha Lounge" by the 1966 city directory. Lightnin' Hopkins played both incarnations.

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I double-checked on this today, and "Udemi Lane" is correct. Here is the 1962 Houston city directory: UDEMI LN (from a dead end south 2 blks to Westheimer Rd., 2 west of Kitty) The 1964 city directory is the same except "Jester Lounge" has replaced the Key Club. So I'm guessing that "Udemi Lane," with just three lots, was the start of Midlane north of Westheimer. Except nobody noticed that it was called Udemi Lane.

Wow. That's all news to me. It makes sense that the Jester was something else before Mack Webster bought it and turned it into a folky club. I remember it was rather old and a little ratty looking at the time.

Udemi Lane is still a mystery to me. I'm not questioning what you've found out, but I just don't remember it. Then again, going to the Jester was the only reason this old Pasadena boy even went to that part of town in the mid 60s.

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There was also a folk music club in the 1960's called Sand Mountain, on Richmond. My wife an I, when we were dating, used to go there.

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There was also a folk music club in the 1960's called Sand Mountain, on Richmond. My wife an I, when we were dating, used to go there.

Sand Mountain was in an old house on Richmond just several blocks west of Montrose. That was a fun place because the owners worked at attracting the best big name performers they could find. In the mid 60s I saw Jerry Jeff Walker doing his first appearances in Houston, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, who was also a regular at the Jester, and, would you believe, Don Sanders, before he became a whacked out flower child. He was performing in a suit and tie, believe it or not, and his hair was still short.

Ah yes. When you and I were young McGee. Those were indeed the days.

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Sand Mountain was in an old house on Richmond just several blocks west of Montrose. That was a fun place because the owners worked at attracting the best big name performers they could find. In the mid 60s I saw Jerry Jeff Walker doing his first appearances in Houston, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, who was also a regular at the Jester, and, would you believe, Don Sanders, before he became a whacked out flower child. He was performing in a suit and tie, believe it or not, and his hair was still short.

Ah yes. When you and I were young McGee. Those were indeed the days.

John Carrick & his Mom ran Sand Mountain. I was a bit young to make The Jester, but did go to the Mountain. John was in San Francisco at the time & he'd sent back a copy of Jefferson Airplane's first album, which was often played between sets. (Just on the cusp of Folk Rock.) Janice Joplin was making a name for herself Out There; she'd played the Mountain--again, just before my time. Mrs Carrick was heard making unkind comments about her (ahem) orientation.

Townes, Guy & Jerry Jeff weren't "big name performers" back then; they were just beginning. Jerry Jeff went off to DC to form Circus Maximus (more "Folk Rock"). Just before he left, he played a brand new song--"Mr Bojangles." Which made his fortune. And he made it back to Texas in time for Cosmic Cowboy days...

And I remember Townes, debuting the first serious song he'd written. It was "Waitin' Round to Die."

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John Carrick & his Mom ran Sand Mountain. I was a bit young to make The Jester, but did go to the Mountain. John was in San Francisco at the time & he'd sent back a copy of Jefferson Airplane's first album, which was often played between sets. (Just on the cusp of Folk Rock.) Janice Joplin was making a name for herself Out There; she'd played the Mountain--again, just before my time. Mrs Carrick was heard making unkind comments about her (ahem) orientation.

Townes, Guy & Jerry Jeff weren't "big name performers" back then; they were just beginning. Jerry Jeff went off to DC to form Circus Maximus (more "Folk Rock"). Just before he left, he played a brand new song--"Mr Bojangles." Which made his fortune. And he made it back to Texas in time for Cosmic Cowboy days...And I remember Townes, debuting the first serious song he'd written. It was "Waitin' Round to Die."

Thanks for remembering John Carrick. I recall getting acquainted with him and his mom through a number of repeat visits to Sand Mountain in '65, '66 and '67.

I didn't mean to say those "name" singers were well known nationally at that time. I meant they were fairly well known in Houston and around the state and had big followings. People would plan visits to Sand Mountain if they knew those guys were on the bill. I remember Jerry Jeff singing Mr Bojangles at the Mountain several times in 1966.

For years I thought Townes VZ wrote The Ballad of Ira Hayes because he sang it at Sand Mountain the first time I went there in early 66. Imagine my surprise when I learned someone else wrote it. It has the mood and feel of a TVZ song. If he didn't write it, he should've.

Edited by FilioScotia

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John Carrick & his Mom ran Sand Mountain. I was a bit young to make The Jester, but did go to the Mountain. John was in San Francisco at the time & he'd sent back a copy of Jefferson Airplane's first album, which was often played between sets. (Just on the cusp of Folk Rock.) Janice Joplin was making a name for herself Out There; she'd played the Mountain--again, just before my time. Mrs Carrick was heard making unkind comments about her (ahem) orientation.

Townes, Guy & Jerry Jeff weren't "big name performers" back then; they were just beginning. Jerry Jeff went off to DC to form Circus Maximus (more "Folk Rock"). Just before he left, he played a brand new song--"Mr Bojangles." Which made his fortune. And he made it back to Texas in time for Cosmic Cowboy days...

And I remember Townes, debuting the first serious song he'd written. It was "Waitin' Round to Die."

The other day I read that Jerry Jeff wrote "Mr Bojangles" upstairs at Sand Mountain.

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The other day I read that Jerry Jeff wrote "Mr Bojangles" upstairs at Sand Mountain.

That's probably true. Who can say?

I just remembered another Sand Mountain "moment". I definitely recall seeing and hearing Townes Van Zandt singing Pancho and Lefty there sometime in 1966. It's such a haunting song I never forgot it. Years later, in the 80s, when I heard Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's recording for the first time, I flashed back to that night at Sand Mountain. It gave me goose bumps all over again.

To this day hearing that song always makes me think of TVZ.

Edited by FilioScotia

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You guys are talking about some great music. Sand Mountain and The Jester were well before my time, but I read a lot about them in TVZ's biography, which I highly recommend to Texas Music fans, A Deeper Blue by Robert Earl Hardy.

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There's an album from 1964 entitled "Lightnin' Hopkins Live at the Bird Lounge, Houston, Texas."

This must have been a short lived club. I've never heard any oldtimers ever mention "The Bird Lounge."

The Jester was better known and around for a few years, say 1961-1965. As far as I know, nothing's ever been written about this place.

Lou's Ricksha Lounge was supposedly connected to the Bird, or maybe a later incarnation.

All three places were supposed to have been on Shepherd Drive, around Westheimer up to West Gray.

Somebody, please fill in some details. Anything...

You hit a nerve when you mentioned Lou's Rickshaw. I hung about that place when I was living nearby and have quite a few memories of the place. The house band was hispanic rockers and the go-go girls were in the cage up in front near the sidewalk. One of the musicians was named speed-o...one night I sat in (guitar) I think some fast chicken place is on the corner where Lou's place used to be.

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You hit a nerve when you mentioned Lou's Rickshaw. I hung about that place when I was living nearby and have quite a few memories of the place. The house band was hispanic rockers and the go-go girls were in the cage up in front near the sidewalk. One of the musicians was named speed-o...one night I sat in (guitar) I think some fast chicken place is on the corner where Lou's place used to be.

That's great...caged go-go girls was very 1966, so it had to be around that time.

So far you're the only soul in Houston to actually remember Lou's Ricksha Lounge, a "semi-hippy hangout," according to Blues Unlimited magazine.

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That's great...caged go-go girls was very 1966, so it had to be around that time.

So far you're the only soul in Houston to actually remember Lou's Ricksha Lounge, a "semi-hippy hangout," according to Blues Unlimited magazine.

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I used to go to The Jester to hear my brother Gordon and other "folk singers" like C.P.(Caddo Parish) Studdard (The Baby Died Last Night) and Scott Stripling. I remember that it was to the left and slightly behind Byron's BBQ on Westheimer, not two blocks away at Mid Lane (Sin Alley). The only thing at Mid Lane and Westheimer was the entrance to the apartments, two brick columns and some shrubs. I know because I would cut through there to get to The Deputy Drive-Inn right before the railroad tracks on Westheimer. Got a ticket one night for "peeling out". The Jester opened after the bars closed, typically after 12:00 or 1:00 on weekends, and the little hidden shack which held less than 75 patrons, was the only building on that street. The Jester closed when the sun came up in the morning and they did not sell alcohol.

The Bird was up the street (closer to Alabama) from River Oaks' Battlesteins and faced W. Gray from the other side of the street on the east. I saw Lightnin Hopkins there twice. La Bodega and Sand Mountain were two other clubs that hosted local performers. Some called The Bird, The Bird Cage. And, don't forget Grif's Family Inn was THE sports bar at a time when you could get Eggs Benedict and a Mimosa at the Shamrock.

Edited by jwphillips2

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That's great...caged go-go girls was very 1966, so it had to be around that time.

So far you're the only soul in Houston to actually remember Lou's Ricksha Lounge, a "semi-hippy hangout," according to Blues Unlimited magazine.

�Lightnin� Hopkins is currently playing a spot called Lou�s Rickshaw Room, a semi-hippy hangout, and is sounding bad. He gives the people rock �n� roll for the most part and is very conscious of playing for Mr. Whitey.� � BLUES UNLIMITED #37, October 1966.

MEMORIES !!! I was one of those 'caged' go-go girls at Lu's Rickshaw for quite awhile. It was owned by Manos Daskolas and his wife?/girlfriend? Lu...nice people. This was in 66 - 67...and my other half also worked there as the bartender. We live on Westheimer and Montrose. Alot of good memories. Wish I had kept pictures when they were taken professionally by the club. Maybe there is a way to trace them?

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MEMORIES !!! I was one of those 'caged' go-go girls at Lu's Rickshaw for quite awhile.

Evelyn...I think we knew each other. Do you remember Jerry Carr? I dated her.

Might you be up for a private chat?

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There's an album from 1964 entitled "Lightnin' Hopkins Live at the Bird Lounge, Houston, Texas."

This must have been a short lived club. I've never heard any oldtimers ever mention "The Bird Lounge."

The Jester was better known and around for a few years, say 1961-1965. As far as I know, nothing's ever been written about this place.

Lou's Ricksha Lounge was supposedly connected to the Bird, or maybe a later incarnation.

All three places were supposed to have been on Shepherd Drive, around Westheimer up to West Gray.

Somebody, please fill in some details. Anything...

 

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Hi my name is Christopher Clements and I am replying to the post regarding the Jester Lounge where Lightnin' Hopkins played in the 1960's. I have recently created a website, www.thejesterlounge.com to hopefully answer many of the questions that people may have about The Jester (the people who performed there never called it by it's full name, just The Jester.) Guy Clark, Kay Oslin, Scott and Vivian Holtzman, Ken and Judy, Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt and Frank Davis all played there in the 60's. And of course Lightnin'. I have included the album Look, It's Us!, by The Jester regulars for everyone's enjoyment. Any questions can be addressed to my email on the website. Hope you like it.

 Sincerely, Christopher Clements

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Could this have been Lou's Rickshaw Lounge before Dionysos?
2912 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098, first Dioysos, then The Cove.


 

0e27ed3c032ec0c213fafc30e5f324a9.jpg

Edited by Victor Del Rio
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Maybe I can clear up some of the confusion, misinformation and unclear memories about The Jester, Sand Mountain, The Bird, and some of the other folk/blues landmarks that have been mentioned in this thread. For credentials -- I worked at the Jester, Sand Mountain, The Bird and The Balladeer during the Great Folk Music Scare of the 1960's. Most of my work was with the Bayou City Boys, a trio consisting of Davy Jones (local actor, musician and tv personality, not the former member of the Monkees), Buster Sullivan and myself. Davy played banjo sometimes and the guitar the rest of the time. Buster played bass, and I played banjo, guitar and dobro. We all did vocals.

 

The Jester was definitely located on Udemi Street, but Udemi was a very short street. It did not go all the way through from Westheimer to San Felipe. Basically, it was between Mid Lane and what is now Loop 610. The Jester was separated from Westheimer by a longish driveway and a muddy parking lot. Mack Webster was the owner. A lot of us got their starts at the Jester.

 

The Bird Lounge went through several name changes. For a while, it was The Purple Onion. Then it was the Jazz Bird, and finally the Bird. It was not a very large place. It was owned by a fellow named Pucho, who was the maitre d' at Sonny Look's on Westheimer.

 

The Balladeer was a short-lived club on Shepherd near 59. It was owned and operated by Rich Elmer. Due to a work conflict, it closed down in about a year or so. If memory serves, it was in operation from about 1963 - 1964.

 

Sand Mountain followed the Balladeer. It was, as mentioned, located on Richmond near Montrose, and owned by John Carrick and his mother. It was a coffee house. Janis Joplin was a waitress there at one time, and occasionally did a few blues tunes.

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