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Cisco Houston: His story and songs....

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Frank of Toledo 20 Apr 99 - 11:35 PM
Joe Offer 21 Apr 99 - 03:21 AM
Doctor John 21 Apr 99 - 04:11 PM
Mudjack 21 Apr 99 - 05:11 PM
John Hindsill 21 Apr 99 - 10:24 PM
Sandy Paton 22 Apr 99 - 02:44 AM
Doctor John 22 Apr 99 - 03:15 PM
Frank of Toledo 22 Apr 99 - 10:34 PM
Sandy Paton 23 Apr 99 - 12:27 AM
Rick Fielding 23 Apr 99 - 12:53 AM
Joe Offer 23 Apr 99 - 02:30 AM
Big Mick 23 Apr 99 - 09:04 AM
Joe Offer 23 Apr 99 - 02:42 PM
Art Thieme 23 Apr 99 - 06:03 PM
Frank of Toledo 23 Apr 99 - 07:54 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Apr 99 - 01:18 AM
Frank Of Toledo 24 Apr 99 - 01:41 AM
catspaw49 24 Apr 99 - 08:40 AM
John Hindsill 24 Apr 99 - 11:48 AM
Art Thieme 24 Apr 99 - 12:47 PM
Frank of Tolede 24 Apr 99 - 02:27 PM
Joe Offer 24 Apr 99 - 02:40 PM
Frank of Toledo 24 Apr 99 - 04:28 PM
Doctor John 25 Apr 99 - 09:16 AM
Art Thieme 25 Apr 99 - 12:31 PM
Ewan McV (inactive) 25 Apr 99 - 01:04 PM
Frank of Toledo 26 Apr 99 - 12:37 AM
Frank of Toledp 26 Apr 99 - 07:30 PM
Sandy Paton 26 Apr 99 - 10:02 PM
Joe Offer 27 Apr 99 - 01:30 AM
Frank of Toledo 28 Apr 99 - 01:34 AM
GUEST,BUTTERFLY 03 Nov 03 - 06:49 AM
Mark Ross 03 Nov 03 - 11:41 AM
Steve-o 03 Nov 03 - 12:11 PM
Charley Noble 03 Nov 03 - 01:47 PM
Mark Clark 03 Nov 03 - 03:26 PM
Steve-o 03 Nov 03 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Mark Eastman 04 Nov 03 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,BUTTERFLY 17 Nov 03 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 17 Nov 03 - 10:07 AM
Charley Noble 02 Mar 12 - 09:34 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 02 Mar 12 - 10:50 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 03 Mar 12 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,Doc John 04 Mar 12 - 09:56 AM
Charley Noble 04 Mar 12 - 10:08 AM
John on the Sunset Coast 04 Mar 12 - 11:23 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 04 Mar 12 - 11:53 AM
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Subject: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 20 Apr 99 - 11:35 PM

I just finished reading the book by Jim Longhi, Woody, Cisco and Me, and have read many books by and about Woody Guthrie. I would really appreciate and additional information and literature on my favorite Cisco Houston. Anything would be appreciated. I have an old Oak publication of some of his songs; that is the one's he sings....Thanks in advance for anything I can get on Cisco......


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 03:21 AM

Hi, Frank - I've always enjoyed the recordings of Cisco Houston. the All-Music Guide gives a good discography, and a biography that might be a good starting point:

Cisco Houston is best remembered as a traveling companion and harmony vocalist for Woody Guthrie. But Houston was equally influential as a folk singer in his own right. With his acoustic guitar accompanying his unadorned baritone vocals, Houston provided a musical voice for America's downtrodden -- the cowboys, miners, union activists, railroad workers and hobos -- that resonated in the songs of the urban folk revival of the 1950s and '60s.

The second of four children, Houston inherited the musical traditions of North Carolina from his father, a sheet metal worker, and the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where his mother and grandmother learned many traditional folk songs. A native of Delaware, Houston moved, at the age of two, with his family to southern California. Nearly blind and suffering from nystagmus, Houston's early interests were in theater and art. At Rockdale Elementary School, in the Eagle Rock Valley between Pasadena and Glendale, he participated in many school productions. He sharped his acting skills with courses at L.A. City College and in productions presented by Hollywood Theater groups and the Pasadena Playhouse.

Deserted by his father in 1932, two years after moving with his family to Bakersfield, Houston left home at the age of 16, and together with a brother wandered the country seeking work. The journey marked the first of more than 30 treks across the United States. During the trip, Houston renamed himself after Cisco, California, a small town between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada.

Returning to Hollywood, Houston renewed his involvement with theater groups in Hollywood. In one such group, he met and befriended actor Will Geer. In 1938, Houston and Geer heard a radio show on KFVD in Hollywood featuring Woody Guthrie. Inspired by Guthrie's performance, the two, struggling, decided to visit the young folk singer. When they did, it sparked a longtime friendship.

Not long after meeting Guthrie, Houston began appearing on the radio show, singing tenor harmonies to Guthrie's lead vocals. Houston and Guthrie subsequently began performing at migrant camps, occasionally with Burl Ives, with Geer paying their expenses. When Guthrie traveled to New York in 1939, he persuaded Houston to join him. Houston later returned to the Big Apple on his own and accepted a job as a street barker for a burlesque house on 42nd Street.

In 1940, Houston joined the merchant marines. Although he spent most of the next few years on a ship, he performed with Guthrie and the Almanac Singers whenever the opportunity arose. Shortly after the start of World War II, Guthrie joined him on the seas. During the time they served together, the two folk singers were on two ships that were torpedoed.

After his discharge, Houston traveled in and out of New York, often staying with folk singer Leadbelly and his wife, Martha. Houston continued to spend much of his time on the road, working occasionally as a cowboy, lumberjack and potato picker, and appearing in bit roles in movies.

After Guthrie signed a recording contract with Folkways, Houston sang high-tenor vocals on his recordings. He also made his debut solo recordings for the label.

In 1948, Houston appeared in the hit Broadway musical, The Cradle Will Rock. He returned to Hollywood the following year, however, and appeared in bit roles in several films. By 1950, he was back on the road, traveling with Guthrie.

In the early 1950s, Houston recorded several tunes for the Decca label, including several that went unreleased until recently. He also appeared on television shows in Tucson, Arizona. Houston's greatest break when he was hired to host his own three-days-a-week television show, The Gil Houston Show, for the International Network. By January, 1955, the show was broadcast over 550 stations by the Mutual Broadcasting System. He also had his first success as a songwriter when his tune "Crazy Heart," co-written with Lewis Allen, became a minor hit for Jackie Paris.

Things began to fall apart, however, during the red-baiting days of the McCarthy era. Although there is no documentation to show that Houston's radio show was cancelled due to a blacklist, the network tired of his leftist views and gave him his walking papers. Houston returned to California to play concerts.

In 1959, Houston was invited, along with Marilyn Childs, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, to perform during a 12-week tour of India, sponsored by the Indo-American Society and the United States Information Service. After his return to the U.S., Houston served as narrator and performer of a CBS-TV show, Folk Sound, U.S.A. Broadcast on June 16, 1960, the show represented the first full-length television show on folk music. Later that summer, Houston appeared at the Newport Folk Festival and recorded for the Vanguard label.

Just when it seemed that Houston's career was taking off, he was diagnosed with cancer. His death in the spring of 1961 was mourned throughout the folk community, and memorials were written and recorded by Tom Paxton ("Fare Thee Well, Cisco"), Peter LaFarge ("Cisco Houston Passed This Way") and Tom McGrath ("Blues for Cisco Houston").

In 1965, Moses Asch, the owner of Folkways Records, and Irwin Silber, publisher of Sing Out! magazine, edited a collection of Houston's songs, 900 Miles: The Ballads, Blues and Folksongs of Cisco Houston, that was published by Oak Publications. -- Craig Harris, All-Music Guide


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Doctor John
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 04:11 PM

Frank, I've been working on a discography of Cisco for a number of years: it's incomplete but if you send me your address or better still fax I'll send you a copy. Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Mudjack
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 05:11 PM

Thanks Joe, thats a terrific short bio and I find it extremely valuable, I can add a tidbit to his internment, He was buried in San Bernardino, California and I was always going to seek his marker for a photo but have moved to Washington state.Sound sick? I just wanted to pay respects to some one I never had met but admired his work and in a small way show honor to his memory. We should have a Cisco Houston Day in his honor. Sandy, dejavue, some one was reading your mind while we were e-mailing.Thanks for the thread Frank, it's a dandy. Jack mos/fol


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: John Hindsill
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 10:24 PM

The nearest I got to Cisco Houston was dating a girl named Ellen in San Francisco about 1963 & 64. When she learned of my interest in folk music she told me that CH was her uncle. She, herself, was not a folkie, nor could she introduce me as he had passed a couple of years earlier.

If anyone is interested in a little follow-up on Marilyn Child (no S), who is mentioned in the biographical sketch posted by Joe Offer, she went on to a writing and acting career. The last time I saw her, about a dozen years ago, (we have a mutual cousin), she had a recurring role as a lawyer on The Judge, a syndicated daytime TV show.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 02:44 AM

I'm glad to find others who appreciate Cisco Houston's life and work as much as I do. Most of the people I run into have never heard his recordings and only know of him through his association with Woody Guthrie. I was doing a small concert in Chicago the night I heard of his death. I recall singing "Soon one morning, death come creepin' in the room" with tears in my eyes. I'm just grateful that I had a chance to get to know him. He was a good man.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Doctor John
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 03:15 PM

According to Moses Asch the FBI were interested in Cisco's activities - see the Smithsonian/Folkways site. Does anyone have any information about this or even better have seen the FBI files on him? DrJohn


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 10:34 PM

Thanks for the offer Dr. John, but I don't have a fax. This is as much out of the darks ages I chance to venture. My e-mail is flnjjones@harborside.com and my address is Frank Jones 570 NE 1st St Toledo Oregon 97391 1-541-336-5743


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 12:27 AM

Hey, Dr John: I have a fax, and I'd love to see a copy of that discography! FAX: 860-364-1050. I'm working on the addresses of the used LP outfits, but it will have to wait until Tuesday, I'm afraid. Festival this weekend. Van to pack, booth to set up, songs to plan for a couple of workshops, etc. All else is on hold until we return.

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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 12:53 AM

Sandy, the book Woody, Cisco and Me gives an interesting peek into his character, and your admiration of him counts for a lot. Do you have an anecdote or story to share. You know I love that kind of thing. By the way, just found out that my little pilgrimage to Lee Hays' house in Croton was to the WRONG house. Dammit!


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 02:30 AM

Doctor John, you may want to compare your discography with Folk Music - An Index to Recorded Sources. It's not comprehensive, but it has a heck of a lot of information.
Click here for a discography from Tunes.com, with sound samples.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 09:04 AM

Joe,

What a marvelous piece on a marvelous singer. I have been a fan of Cisco for a long time. Thank you for sharing it.

Sandy,

I would like to second Rick's request. Do you have any personal stories of this man? Something we wouldn't get in the books.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 02:42 PM

Yeah, Sandy, tell us a story, willya? You tell good ones....
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 06:03 PM

I first grew a mustache to emulate Cisco. Still got it. I learned "DOBE BILL" from his Folkways LP & it was a much asked for song at "serious" folk venues. By that I mean where the folks truly wanted to hear the great, long story ballads--.

Art


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 07:54 PM

I have two LPs of Cisco...An old Folkways called (I think) "I Ain"t Got No Home"...And a Vanguard "Sings the Songs Of Woody Guthrie"....Does anybody know if Folkways plans on any more reissues. I would sure like to get more. And while I'm at it, thanks a lot for all the great input on this great person in our folk heritage......


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 01:18 AM

While Sandy goes festival-ing this weekend, let's keep this alive til he gets back.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank Of Toledo
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 01:41 AM

Going through some of my old and dusty LP's found one of some "interest" called "The Life Treasury of American Folk Music". Songs done by Hermes Nye,Huddie Ledbetterr, Logan English, Gene Bluestein, Alan Mills, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and two songs by Cisco: Drill Ye Tarriers Drill and The E-R-I-E Canal. Both very well recorded and worth the price of the entire album which in 1961 was sold for $2 by Life magazine. Haveno idea where I got it but it's great.....


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 08:40 AM

Hey there Frank...Go up to the top of this thread, the second message, and click on the link to the AMG that the amazing, startling, and miraculous Joe Offer provided regarding Cisco's discography and what's available.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: John Hindsill
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 11:48 AM

To F of T-- You may not remember where you got your Life Treasury; I got mine in a thrift store for a buck. Thrift stores are a great place to find folk treasures for cheap...just stay out of mine! Saw a copy in a used record store for $10 recently. As to the album, it is really quite good. The tracks of Hermes Nye are all of him I have...he's on my wish list. Alan Mills is to my mind the Canadian Ed McCurdy (who did a lot of work in Canada also). Is Mills still alive?


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 12:47 PM

A while ago I started a thread asking for information on where the tapes went of LEE HAYES sitting down an talking to CISCO HOUSTON right before the latter died. It was an attempt to "get it down" on tape before, as both were painfully aware, Cisco was near death.

I renew my request here for that information. I'd sure love to hear those candid conversations. Someone is sitting on those tapes and depriving us all of an important insight into two men who have always fascinated me and so many others.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Tolede
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 02:27 PM

I tried that Catspaw, but I guess I don't have the equipment to click and get results. My old laptop is a 386 and all I can do is email and talk on the Mudcat. That's why my message is duplicated once in a while. Sorry for that. If any one can tell me what I need to improve, I'd be thankful. As far as I know Alan Mills is still alive and you're right; he does remind me of Ed McCurdy. I have a Bob Gibson CD with Shel Silvlerstein 1995 "Makin a Mess" probably one of Bob's last, and there's a picture of the whole group, around twenty five musicians and right next to Bob is Ed McCurdy . I would like to find out about him too.....


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 02:40 PM

Try again, Frank - click here. If you can get to the 'Cat, you should be able to get to All-Music Guide. their home page is http://allmusic.com/. If you have to work with the graphics turned off on your browser, then I guess it wouldn't work for you. I had to use a 386 SX for work until a month ago, so I can "understand your pain."
Smithsonian Folkways still has all of the old Folkways recordings available, and they'll make you a cassette of any Folkways album you want to pay for. They were making custom CD's for a while, but that service has been temporarily discontinued.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 04:28 PM

Tried the click and still no luck. The dad/blamed machine just tells me I can't do it. Oh well the puter-guru's gotta figure this one out...Thanks for the help. I'm about ready for some new equipment....


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Doctor John
Date: 25 Apr 99 - 09:16 AM

Art, Those Cisco-Lee Hayes tapes are in the Smithsonian archives. Someone was asking if S/F were going to issue anything else; well, they have a few more titles but most has been issued now as far as I can tell. What they do have are the recordings he made for the BBC what he came to the UK after his visit to India and when I missed him. I suppose I "rediscovered" those tape and was lucky to get permission from |Harold Leventhal to have a copy made. Let's hope S/F will release them someday. I'll try and get his discography I've done on the Mudcat when I've found out how! I' really glad about this renewal of interest. Dr John.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Apr 99 - 12:31 PM

Dr. John,

Thank you! I' doubt it's doable, but I'm gonna contact S.F. & see if they'll make copies of the Houston/Hayes tapes. At least I've got the same chance as buying as when I buy a lottery ticket.

Art


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Ewan McV (inactive)
Date: 25 Apr 99 - 01:04 PM

Cisco was truly a gentle giant of a man. He toured the UK and sang in Glasgow in I think 1960. He told us he worked on many Hollywood B cowboy movies, always as the man what sat whittling at the fork in the road. When the posse rode up, his line was always "They went that-away!" When he came to Glasgow he asked to go to Betty's Bar, a goodtime girls' haunt on the Broomielaw waterfront which he and Woodie had frequented on wartime trips. Hamish Imlach (q.v.) took him there, but a new landlord had just recently cleared the girls out. Ewan McVicar


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 26 Apr 99 - 12:37 AM

SING OUT!, October-November 1961 issue contains a few of Cicso's songs as well as "Cisco's Legacy" by Lee Hays and "For Cisco Houston-The End of the Road" by Bill Wolf. The Wolf article contains more personal info about Cisco. I have sent to Sing Out for a copy.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledp
Date: 26 Apr 99 - 07:30 PM

Here is an excerpt from Joe Klein"s "Woody Guthrie - A Life" (Pages 445 & 446): Shortly after Cisco Houston arrived in New York, he learned that he was going to die of stomach cancer. He kept on performing until the very end, when they almost had to carry him off and on the stage at Gerde's. And he alwlays maintained that he wasn't nearly as courageous as his good friend Woody. In reminiscences he tape with Lee Hays near the end, he said, "I don't consider my case nearly as bad as some. When I go out to see Woody, and I see this broken man going in and out, back and forth from the hospital room, trembling and shaking, and just at the end of all the - well, off all the good things in life, just sort of breathing and walking around, enjoying this in a very limited way-the way he faces all this is with tremendous courage..... "You know my situation, which could be a matter of weeks, or months before the wheel runs off. Nobody likes to run out of time. But it's not nearly as great a tragedy as Hiroshima, or the millions of people blown to hell in a war that could be avoided. Those are the real tragedies in life. What's happening to me and Woody are just mistakes of nature, things that eventually someday will be overcome.: On an afternoon in Feb of 1961, Woody's friends gathered to play some music for him at One Sheridan Square, the Greenwich Village nightclub that formerly had been Cafe Society. Lee Hays remembered Cisco walking in, riddled with cancer, and seeing Woody there shaking so badly that he barely could hold on to his seat. "Cisco went over to him," Hays remembered, "and kissed Woody on the forehead and Woody, who always was a macho sort and never much for physical contact, seemed to lift his head up in order to be kissed. It was a stunning moment." Cisco died on April 29, 1961................


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 26 Apr 99 - 10:02 PM

I'm transferring this paragraph from the "Performers You Were Lucky To See" thread (or whatever it was). It's my favorite story of Cisco. I may have misremembered the club where Cisco was playing. Frank's quote above leads me to think it might have been the former Cafe Society place, but I saw it as a huge and quite barren barn that was painfully empty that night. Here's the paragraph:

Cisco Houston, in New York for those Vanguard sessions that proved to be his last (stomach cancer), helping to pay his way by gigging at the Village Gate (I think it was - it certainly was not Gerde's Folk City). Immense, empty barn of a place; about fifteen kids sitting around the stage to hear him, probably the ones I'd overheard at Izzy Young's Folklore Center asking, "Cisco Houston! My God, is he still alive?" Cisco joined me between sets (I'd gotten to know him in California) and, as we sat there, he shook his head and looked around the empty room. "Sandy," he said, "I don't know what I'm doing in a place like this. I'm just a bare-assed ballad singer. I don't belong here." That was the last time I saw him. Another man done gone.

That's about it, friends. I'd known him briefly in California, thanks to a concert series at the University in Berkeley in which we each did one. I was thoroughly out of my class, but proud to be included in the series (Jean Ritchie did one of the other concerts, for instance). I think Barry Olivier was responsible for scheduling the series, and he was probably just being kind to a friend.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Apr 99 - 01:30 AM

I haven't got anything to add, but I'm savoring every word of this thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Frank of Toledo
Date: 28 Apr 99 - 01:34 AM

I believe this thread is about finished. I would like to thank everybody very much for some great information and truly wonderful stories about Cisco Houston. I only wish more had been written about him and more recorded music was available. But we take what we have and go on. Thanks again for our wonderful three, or was it four days?


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: GUEST,BUTTERFLY
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 06:49 AM

Does anyone know the name of a Cisco Houston LP (which I once got on Vinyl from a record library) which featured, among others, the following songs:

Big Rock Candy Mountain
? Old Blue (I think is the name, about a favoutite dog called Blue)
? Goldmine Blues (Again, I think this is the title; it starts: "Come all you young fellows so young and so fine, And seek not your fortune way down in the mine)
? Hard Travelling (Included the lyrics "I've been doing some hard travelling, I thought you knowed; I've been doing some hard travelling, way down the road..")

There was also a talking blues song (whose title I forget) with the immortal lines: "Well I always did guess and I always did figure, that if that there stew had been a little bit thinner, some of these here politicians could have seen through it"

I am sure there were several other songs on it. If anyone can name the title or suggest where I could get hold of the album, I would be very grateful.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Mark Ross
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 11:41 AM

Butterfly,
         Don't remember which album you're talking about, but "Goldmine" is DARK AS A DUNGEON by the great Merle Travis. The Talking Blues is tALKIN'G DUSTBOWL by Woody Guthrie. Check the discography mentioned above.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Steve-o
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 12:11 PM

Well, I do have that old vinyl, but can't remember the title. Pretty sure it was on Vanguard. When you do a search you come up with a couple of albums that are still "in print"- they seem to be "Best of" albums, and they include a lot of the songs that are on the old album. My personal favorite, which I love to sing still, is called "Talking Guitar Blues"....I always thought it was one of his very best, but it's not there!


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 01:47 PM

Steve-o:

"Talkin' Guitar Blues," is that the one about your folks running you out to the henhouse every time you wanna practice guitar?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Mark Clark
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 03:26 PM

“West Virginia—A good place to be if you’ve got a guitar… don’t amount to a great deal if you ain’t.”

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Steve-o
Date: 03 Nov 03 - 06:56 PM

Yep, that's it, Charlie. And "My dad, he took it in a different way....he said, 'Son, you may turn your Ma's hair gray....and drive your sister from her home....but either you or me is a goin' roamin......and I ain't leavin', boy.....you figure it out!'"


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: GUEST,Mark Eastman
Date: 04 Nov 03 - 06:50 PM

The songs you write about are all on the Cisco Special album, his first on Vanguard. Big Rock Candy Mountain, Old Blue, Dark as a Dungeon, Hard Travelin' and Talking Dust Bowl (which takes you on a wild ride through the mountains - "enGINE trouble" says the mechanic) which I think was originally done by Woody. Cisco also recorded another talkin' blues on Vanguard, "Talkin' Guitar Blues" (the song about his dad giving him and his geetar the boot) on his "I Ain't Got No Home", his final album made less than 2 months before he died. That happens to be my favorite Cisco album but I love them all. Yep, Cisco recorded two talkin' blues songs so that's where the confusion may lie................ And it's great to see all the interest in one of our greatest folksingers......... A new website has recently gotten off the ground, www.ciscohouston.com.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: GUEST,BUTTERFLY
Date: 17 Nov 03 - 09:35 AM

Thanks to Mark Eastman about the Cisco Houston LP; any idea where I could get it (I live in the UK)? And of course the tune is called "Dark as a Dungeon", not "Goldmine Blues.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 17 Nov 03 - 10:07 AM

I knew Cisco casually in the Fifties. He was indirectly responsible for my interest in folk music. I saw him sing 900 Miles at a private party hootenanny and I was hooked.

He was an unassuming, mild-mannered guy, handsome and kind. He was always encouraging to me and I'm sure any one else he came into contact with. It didn't seem like he had a self-serving nature. He blinked a lot when he talked with you...due to his myopia which I can identify with. I met Bina once or twice and thought she was a nice lady.

Lee Hays told me the sad story. Cisco had this tumor in his stomach and refused to see a doctor about it. He headed home to Eagle Rock to leave the planet.

He had a sense of how he looked and was perceived (that's why he didn't wear needed glasses) but I can understand this. Marlon Brando is also purported to be near-sighted and it gets in the way of an acting career if you don specs. (Woody Allen excepted, maybe). But not for leading men.

Cisco had this pride thing. But he only had it for himself and would never have criticized others for not having the standards he set for himself.

He had a nobility about him that impressed me as a young man and made me want to get into folk music in the way a kid wants to emulate a movie or sports star, idol, or hero. I wasn't alone. A lot of us young folkies adored Cisco.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 09:34 PM

Just thought I'd revive this tribute thread. Cisco Huston was certainly one of the folk singers I listened to in the 1960s, and his renditions of Woody Guthrie's songs are the ones that still resonate in my head.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 10:50 PM

I recently watched Bound For Glory. It seems that the Cisco character in the movie was given a different name and I wondered why?


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 03 Mar 12 - 07:30 PM

I think they sometimes do that, Sandy, to avoid any possibility of litigation for use of persona, although his being already deceased I'm not sure that that would be the case.

This thread puts me in mind of my long ago youth. A girl I knew in the early/mid-sixties...she my escort for weekends in San Francisco over a couple of years time, was a cousin of Houston's. As she was not particularly a fan of folk music, I supposed it was true.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 09:56 AM

Sandy, the character in Bound for Glory (who looks a bit like Cisco) seems to be a mixture of Cisco himself, the actor Will Geer and the lady Woody Guthrie used to sing with on the local radio station in California, Left Lou. You may well be right John but I don't know where the charcter's odd name comes from.
Cisco Houston's life is strangly difficult to research. Just about all that is kown is here: www.ciscohouston.com/
Mr Frank Himilton, they would love to hear from you and anyone else who knew Cisco Houston personally.


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 10:08 AM

One of my favorite set of folk music recordings in the early 1960s was actually distributed by Readers Digest. There were at least 8 tracks from Cisco including Hard Traveling, East Texas Red, Around the Western Water Tank (Danville Girl), Rueben James, If You ain't Got that Doughraymee (sic), Roll on Columbia Roll On, This Land is Your Land, etc.

There was also Ed McCurdy, Deller Consort, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, missing quite a few. I guess I mostly listened to Cisco Houston.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 11:23 AM

Hey Charley--

Your Readers Digest set sounds almost congruent with the "Folk Song and Minstrelsy" set distributed by The Book of the Month Club compiled from Vanguard recordings and released in 1962. BTW, is the BotMC still around in the Amazon age?

Think I'll digitize the set if the platters are not too noisy.

JotSC


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Subject: RE: Cisco Houston: His story and songs....
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 11:53 AM

Thanks folks! When the Cisco character first appears in the movie he is a union organizer driving a car. I understand that Cisco was near blind so did he drive or was that perhaps a glimpse of Geer inserted into the character? I know that Hollywood does not always let truth interfere with a good story but the credits list Leventhal as a producer and he was a close friend to all three.


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