down the spine of anyone who spends rush hour sitting in vapor-locking traffic on Loop 1. But Rod’s aim was true. He indulges in a rare explanation of his motives: The stratification of city life had always bothered me, and I saw in the festival a golden opportunity for commerce and community to come together on many levels. Okay, well, maybe. Except it is uncertain and Kennedy never confirms that it ever worked out that way. Mainly the event just devolved from summer regatta to ethnic pork-out to frat beer chug to permanently closed \(though near its end, under music promoter Ernie Gammage, it had a brief, promising moment as a reThe other beneficiary of Rod’s considerable talents in this period was politics –.Republican politics to be exact. I think it was Carl Sandburg who said that he wouldn’t give two cents for anyone who didn’t at least start out as a socialist. But Kennedy’s politics seem to have run counter to the usual trend, toward premature middle-aged conservatism, and many ardent Kerrverts will be surprised to read that Rod was early and late an admirer and promoter of conservative Republican Texas Senator John Tower. True to form, if Kennedy recognizes any contradiction between his politics and the emerging youth culture of the protest folk music that he seems to have increasingly enjoyed and promoted, he never lets on. SPEED RACER AND NIGHTCLUB OWNER The Aqua Festival experience also seems significant \(although as in many other matters, one has to read between the lines, that it set Kennedy on the road to the two interests that seem to define much of the middle passage of this tale: music event promotion and car racing. That’s right, car racing. In 1968, when the fabled Austin Music Scene was still in its embryonic stages, Rod Kennedy and his running buddy Allen Damron opened an establishment called The Chequered Flag at the corner of 15th and Lavaca \(later, for many years the site of the Capitol Oyster parallel enterprises, a folk music venue and a “speed museum” where Our Hero displayed the exotic Italian, German, and Peter Yarrow and Rod Kennedy, Kerrville, British racing cars that he himself was actually driving in road races in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Car racing and folk music: doesn’t that seem like a logical combination to you? No? Well, then you aren’t in the proper Rod Kennedy mindset, for in his free-ranging career, the only consistency seems bizarre inconsistency. Until relatively recently, Rod simultaneously promoted such oddly eclectic events as jazz concerts and hillbilly hootenannies, ballet performances and car races, Carlos Montoya and Kenneth Threadgill. In one particularly weird outing, Kennedy brought to Austin the world premier of the 1966 Batman movie the one based on the campy television series starring Adam West. I remember the event well. Ten at the time, I stood atop a car on Congress Avenue to glimpse the “real-life” Batman, Penguin \(Burgess Other Kennedy promotions during this period were high-quality events, especially the annual Longhorn Jazz Festival, held for many years. For these concerts Kennedy drew the best of the best: Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham, Teddy Wilson, and many others. Indeed, Texas jazz fans might well 1996 Alan Pogue ask: why do we have the Kerrville Folk Fes tival, rather than the Kerrville Jazz Festival? FINALLY, KERRVILLE After many a page of car racing news, after The Chequered Flag goes belly up \(it seems the public liked the music, but the cars most readers would probably have liked the story to begin: at the Kerrville Folk Festival. We learn or are reminded that the first two festivals were three-day events held indoors in Kerrville, that Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson attended the first year’s that the familiar logo with rustic lettering and guitar dates to Year One, that Carolyn Hester and Allen Damron and Bill & Bonnie Hearne played the first Kerrville Folk Festival \(and, indeed, nearly every one reader is reminded also that the Folk Festival began as one of several music festivals that were held at the Quiet Valley Ranch, including a country-and-western festival, a bluegrass festival, and what have you all of which dropped out as the Folk Festival came to be the principal, if not only, event promoted by Rod Kennedy Presents. Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 6, 1998
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