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Quiet Valley Ranch
Kerrville, Texas
May 27 – June 11, 1981
20” X 26” (50.8cm X 66.04cm)

The venerable Kerrville Folk Festival, now entering its fourth decade, celebrated its 10th anniversary back in 1981. Measuring 20? X 26?, it is not a standard-size cut. Ordinarily when standard-size stock doubles in size, it does so on every other side with each increase. For instance, typewriter paper is 8.5? X 11?; when it doubles, it does so on the width aspect to 11? X 17? (which BTW, the size of most Austin music posters). Next doubling is on the height aspect, to 17? X 22?, and so on. Done in pen-and-ink and oil crayon, it was a two-color print, black and medium brown. The title has a 50% brown printed over, while the main graphic is a duotone ? a double printing of the same image, in this case black and brown. It shows a woman musician, modeled after a Mary Pickford movie still photo, holding a guitar, enthralled by what she is hearing from a songbird perched on a blossomed branch. For the guitar, I used an image of a guitar made by Ken Hogue, a luthier who rented space in the same building as Sheauxnough Studios, my art lair of the time ? his logo is on the head.


For over thirty years as the Texas spring slides into the endless Texas summer, The Kerrville Folk Festival has filled the small river valley southwest of Kerrville, Texas with some of the best music to be heard anywhere and in a setting appropriate – a gentle nook of the high Texas Hill Country. This particular nook is situated a beautiful valley of a tributary of the Guadalupe, chiseled from the limestone formed on the bottom of an ancient ocean. Pin oaks and junipers along with Spanish daggers constitute most of the foliage that textures the landscape, with willows, pecans and cottonwoods crowding the water sources. Within the natural trough of the valley, it is a quiet place; a perfect place to enjoy – and create music. This is where the music took root in 1972. And this is where it blossoms each year when May becomes June.

Quiet Valley Ranch has stirred and come alive each spring since then and by the time Memorial Day affords the opportunity to travel to this remote part of the state, the people return in ever greater numbers; as if on pilgrimage. The air is alive with music and filled with the scents of all that is both primal and exotic within it. Conceived and created by Rod Kennedy, the festival draws artist and participant alike to the valley to what only can be described as a musical and cultural communion within the limestone cathedral of the valley. They come from all over the world for a unique event and a feast of song that is never limited by the genre in its title. This piece celebrates the first decade of the festivals and the incredible music born of it. Here is a partial list of the musicians who played: Tom Paxton, B.W. Stevenson, Allen Fotenot, Juke Boy Bonner, Twelve Moon Storytellers, Odetta, Harmonica Frank Floyd, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Spider John Koerner, Nanci Griffith, Mance Lipscomb, Eliza Gilkyson and Mary McCaslin. From Austin alone, came: Jubal Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lucinda Williams, Rich Minus, Joe Ely, Plum Nelly, Kenneth Threadgill, Townes Van Zandt, and Willie Nelson. Shawn Colvin, an Austin resident now, made her debut at Kerrville.

When the music ends around midnight, the music just begins. As everyone filters back to their campsites, while the music is fresh and newfound spirit animates being itself. With the main stage darkened a vast constellation of smaller stages bloom across the sea of campers and tents. The gravity of the campfires accretes assemblies of artists and appreciators woven together by song. Changing combinations and permutations of players bring forth musical material every bit as varied. This is how the days and nights are passed.

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