Austin Folksters Circa 2006

In this cover photo we are all in my bedroom on E. 11th street with my dog Hoagy and I am wearing my ‘United States of Texas’ tee. Doesn’t get much more personal than that. And yet, everyone was welcome. It was a genuine collective of artists being free and loving. Well, I was free and loving at least, can’t speak for everyone else. My friend Sarah Lucas dubbed us folksters, as in folk-hipsters. I think she hit the nail on the head. But we weren’t trying to be hip, we were just trying to be. Just wanting to live.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell once. The majority of us knew each other from the University of Texas and that was the heart of it. Then others came in and gave the group arms, legs and a head. The body had a name, The Tonewheel Collective and a label, Autobus Records.

My only contribution in those days was a few backing vocals. I was extremely shy with self-esteem issues that have since been resolved by a series of psychotic breaks. But I was always there, both physically and in spirit. I was the secret mother. At every show with my Canon Elph digital camera, probably grinning some ridiculous mom-grin the whole time, completely content to just listen and encourage.

Every other Tuesday we could all be found at Beerland here in Austin, sharing songs. It was a glorified open mic, perfect for honing both performance and songwriting. Why, Father? Why are we oblivious when we are in heaven? Is it because it is our natural state so why should we be self-aware of the natural? In any case, there is little by way of recordings of these shenanigans. We were too busy being kids to archive the fun.

Bill Baird did get one good one: Martin Crane :: Nobody’s Listening

I grew up singing in choirs, so I never took singing seriously. It was all just a fun hobby. But I was so wrong. All the things they teach you to prioritize in school are wrong. Math, History, Science, Business – those things don’t matter in your real life. Music, Art, Theater, Writing, Friends – these are what feed your soul and make you a whole person. Zappa said, “If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” I am not so cold-natured. Instead, I wish to be in authority and scream from the mountain, “STOP what you’re doing! LISTEN to your HEART! Don’t go into debt for ANYTHING! That is the modern day slave shackle. FORGIVE everything! BE SATISFIED ALWAYS! Keep a PET!”

But who am I? Just a mad girl in a straight world, no? What can I do? I can’t change anything. Shouldn’t even bother trying. Let things go on the way they’re going and let’s see what becomes of us. If we are in hell we’ve no one to blame but ourselves. Our Father is a gracious and loving Father, eager for us to turn to him. Look in. Look up. And above all, don’t give up. Perseverance. ‘Endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And your hope will not be cut off.’

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