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Charlie Daniels Band
Armadillo World Headquarters

December 8, 1980
11" x 17" (27.9cm x 43.18cm)

This is one of the best posters that I’ve done for the Armadillo; all the more so as this was the last month of the famed venue’s existence. The entire approach is graphically oblique. Charlie is never shown -- only his shadowed hat and partial form, backlit behind the frosted glass and wood of a weathered door. The labeling of the venue is oblique as well – lettering on an ancient posted bill glued upon the door, now mostly peeled away. Upon the door itself the braded address number yields the date of the show. The doorknob and plate speak of an earlier decade -- perhaps the 40s; while the light in the keyhole forms the shape of a fiddle. This is the only poster that I drew for the Armadillo that was not executed in pen and ink, but instead rendered in oil crayon on cold press illustration board. It was also printed with a base color of dark brown instead of the usual anchoring black, and a color overlay of yellow. It was the next to the last poster that I would ever do for this legendary venue.


I was to do only one more poster for Armadillo World Headquarters after this one, a bill for Delbert McClinton on the 28th. The Armadillo would be history 4 days after that. The Barton Springs Road venue was where I cut my teeth on music art with the first poster that I ever did, John Sebastian -- eight years earlier. It was a huge loss for me as well as a large segment of the community – for the Armadillo was much, much more than a simple music venue, it was sacred musical ground for Austin and the very epicenter for the vibrant counter-culture community that formed and thrived here in the 1970’s. Its like would never be seen again.

I wish that I could impart to you a description of the show that night over at the club that was a former National Guard Armory, but I can’t. The fact of the matter is that I was working on this poster at the very time that the concert was taking place. Yes, I had quite dramatically missed the deadline on this bill, but was instructed to finish it up to be printed anyway as a commemorative of the soon-to-be-gone music hall. As I was working, a phone call came in shortly before midnight. It was one of Micael Priest’s friends who was calling from New York City to give the very bad news that John Lennon had just been assassinated outside of his Dakota apartment house. The news was announced onstage at the show about an hour later and devastated the music community here. The only occasion that would devastate it more would be the loss of Stevie Ray Vaughan a decade later.

That night I was alone in Sheauxnough Studios, a work space I shared with Micael Priest, Guy Juke, Sam Yeates, Bill Narum, Dale Wilkins, and occasionally Jim Franklin -- all fellow poster artists. It was from these great friends and colleagues that I really learned how to be an artist, which was not what I had set out to do in life professionally. I graduated from college with a B.A. in History, with every intention to acquire professorial tenure in that discipline within academe. The Draft and Vietnam had disabused me of that notion, though I had still clung to that illusion. For some reason doing this poster for this venue that night alone in the studio, in the midst of a palpable cultural poverty extant in Lennon’s death, I felt the first embrace of the calling of art.

This bill holds a great deal of meaning for me.

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