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In many respects, Texas was a scary place to live during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Repression of minorities was officially sanctioned, police brutality was commonplace and “free thinkers” and non-conformists were not welcome. At the same time, however, Texas continued to maintain elements of its long progressive tradition. After all, this was a state where voters had elected an anti-Ku Klux Klan and pro-alcohol candidate as Governor in the 1920s. When the legislature responded by impeaching and removing him, the voters retaliated by electing his wife—the first female Governor in the United States. Forty years later, Texans were still electing progressive mavericks. For example, a liberal Democrat—the late Ralph Yarborough—was sent to the US Senate in the early 1960s.

Indicative of the progressive elements in Texas society, the Lone Star State produced some of the greatest legends in rock and roll music—ranging from Buddy Holly to Janis Joplin. It also produced some incredible nightclubs during the psychedelic era. The most important of these was the Vulcan Gas Company in Austin, Texas.

Throughout the early to mid-1960s, Austin’s counter-culture had searched for a club that would showcase its music. For a time, the Cliché, the 11th Door and the Chequered Flag had sufficed as these were “folkie” clubs that catered to University of Texas students and others interested in this progressive music form. However, those seeking more “authentic” hillbilly music journeyed to North Austin and hung out at Threadgill’s. At that establishment they could mingle with Central Texas’ “cedar choppers” (rednecks), drink beer and listen to yodeling and fiddling. According to most accounts, Janis Joplin spent many evenings at Threadgill’s. No one would dare to enter The Skyline, a real redneck country and western roadhouse that was located on far North Lamar (sometimes called the Dallas Highway).

In 1965, Austin’s folk music scene began to yield to the psychedelic music era. New bands—particularly the 13th Floor Elevators and the Conqueroo—began to draw attention. But the bands had no place to perform on a regular basis. The New Orleans Club—a sleepy watering hole that catered to middle aged white folks with a taste for Dixieland Jazz—took a chance and began to showcase the 13th Floor Elevators to huge crowds. Legal hassles, however, led the New Orleans Club to reverse course and abandon rock and roll. At that point, the Jade Room stepped in. But this club also proved to be a poor substitute. By late 1966, it would agree to hire psychedelic bands only during mid-week and reverted to a “big band” format for the weekends. The club also attracted a large contingent of the university’s Greek community who could not understand or appreciate the alternative music. The fraternity brothers preferred endless renditions of “Louie, Louie” and “Gloria” and quarreled with the hippies.

Arguably, Austin’s first real effort to establish a psychedelic club was The Fred. It included a light show and psychedelic bands. But this establishment was very short-lived. Like other venues of the era, it was raided by the Texas Liquor Control Board (LCB) and lost its liquor license after a minor was found to be drinking beer. The Fred was then replaced by Club Saracen—a venue that combined elements of the psychedelic scene and the fraternity scene. As might be expected, the venture failed. Another interesting experiment entailed moving the psychedelic music scene to the IL Club or The Afro in Austin’s African-American community. But the efforts suffered a similar fate and most clubs located in the African-American community-including the famous Charlies Playhouse-refused to book the hippie bands.

The continued need for a psychedelic club that would showcase psychedelic music and other “non-conventional” music forms (including the blues) on a regular and predictable basis led to the creation of a loose group of hippies who originally called themselves “The Electric Grandmother.” Rather than print posters in the traditional "boxing style" format, the Electric Grandmother used psychedelic art to promote their shows. After organizing three concerts by the 13th Floor Elevators (including one at the Houston Music Theatre in Houston, Texas), the group changed its name to “The Vulcan Gas Company” and promoted three more shows. These included an April 22, 1967 Conqueroo concert at the Doris Miller Auditorium, a May 6, 1967 show at the Doris Miller Auditorium and a September 24, 1967 “Love-In” at Austin’s Zilker Park. The Vulcan Gas Company then rented a building located at 316 Congress Avenue (at the time a run-down part of downtown Austin) and opened a club under its name.

Not surprisingly, the local “establishment” did not approve of the Vulcan Gas Company. The operators didn’t even bother to apply for a liquor license—knowing that the Vulcan would be raided (and closed) by the TCB. Consequently, the club depended entirely upon revenues generated by “the gate” and by various benefit concerts. Sometime in 1969 it also sought to generate some money by requiring a membership card for patrons (it cost one dollar). The cards included a detachable stub so members could fill them out and be placed on a mailing list to receive handbills announcing events in the mail (the Vulcan had started using mailers in 1968).

As described, local authorities were not ready for a psychedelic nightclub in the midst of downtown Austin. Since the Vulcan could not be raided for “liquor violations,” it was busted for “electrical violations” by the city. It seems that the famous Light Show constituted a major electrical danger to people’s lives. The city also attempted to pressure the owner of the building to terminate the lease and evict the hippies. Moreover, in another effort to kill the Vulcan, the local newspaper refused to run advertisements promoting its shows (this ban was lifted after a few years). In order to overcome this obvious handicap, the club owners turned to posters—very BIG posters.

The Vulcan Gas Company operated from 1967 until mid-1970. It was the state’s first real psychedelic nightclub and generated some of the best psychedelic poster art printed during the 1960s. Artists who created posters for the club included Gilbert Shelton (who later penned the Fabulous Fury Freak Brothers comix), Jim Franklin, John Shelton, Jack Jackson and Jim Harter, among others.

The Vulcan Gas Company’s posters and handbills promoted performances by a wide variety of bands and musicians. The club’s management displayed a keen appreciation for both psychedelic music and the blues. In the field of rock and roll, most of the bands were local. One will find that Shiva’s Headband and the Conqueroo are very well represented on the Vulcan’s posters. But posters and/or handbills also promote shows by larger acts, including the 13th Floor Elevators, Moby Grape and the Velvet Underground. With respect to the blues, local Texans like Freddie King and Mance Lipcomb performed regularly at the Vulcan. However, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thorton, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Jimi Reed and others also journeyed to Austin for shows.

For several years, the Vulcan Gas Company reigned supreme as Texas’ premiere psychedelic nightclub. For a brief period, it looked as if the Pleasure Dome, another psychedelic club in downtown Austin, might provide the Vulcan with some real competition. However, this nightspot was short-lived and closed after the owner purportedly experienced legal problems. Other psychedelic clubs—most notably Houston’s Love Street Light Circus and Feelgood Machine—tried to follow in the footsteps of the Vulcan Gas Company. But none of these 1960s-era clubs ever generated posters or handbills to rival those produced for the Vulcan Gas Company. The Vulcan Gas Company stood alone as the premiere psychedelic club of Texas during the 1960s. Indeed, it was one of the most important psychedelic nightclubs of the entire psychedelic era.

The Concerts

January 7, 1967 Doris Miller Auditorium, Austin, TX (Electric Grandmother Presents: 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo, Jomo)

February 10, 1967 City Coliseum, Austin, TX (Electric Grandmother Presents: 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo)

February 18, 1967 Houston Music Theatre, Houston, TX (Electric Grandmother Presents: 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo, Jomo Disaster)

Electric Grandmother was a production company that preceded Vulcan Gas.

April 22, 1967 Doris Miller Auditorium, Conqueroo, Austin, TX (Vulcan Gas Company Presents: Conqueroo, Rachel's Children)

May 6, 1967 Doris Miller Auditorium, Conqueroo, Austin, TX (Vulcan Gas Company Presents: Conqueroo, Rachel's Children)

September 24, 1967 Zilker Park, Austin, TX (Love-In: Circus Maximus, Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband, Thingies, Black Lace. Vulcan Gas Company was among the promoters)

October 27-28, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (The first Vulcan Gas show at 316 Congress. Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband)

November 3-4, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband)

November 10-11, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Swiss Movement)

November 17-18, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Thingies (17th only), Shiva's Headband (18th only), South Canadian Overflow)

November 24-25, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Thingies, Golden Dawn)

December 1-2, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Lightnin' Hopkins, Conqueroo)

December 8-10, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (13th Floor Elevators, Shiva's Headband, Swiss Movement, South Canadian Overflow)

December 15-16, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Lost And Found)

December 17, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bust Benefit: Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband)

December 22-23, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Afro Caravan)

December 29-31, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband (30th & 31st), Conqueroo (29th & 31st), Golden Dawn (29th & 30th)

1968

January 5-6, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Lord August And The Visions Of Life, Georgetown Medical Band)

January 12-13, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Lost & Found)

1968-01-16+23+30+02-06 ‘CONTEMPORARY CINEMA CLASSICS‘ FOUR FILMS SHOWING AT THE VULCAN GAS COMPANY

1968-02-21+28+03-6+03-12 "CONTEMPORARY CINEMA CLASSICS TWO" FOUR FILMS SHOWING AT THE VULCAN GAS COMPANY

January 19-20, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mance Lipscomb, Conqueroo)

January 26-27, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband (26th only), Afro Caravan (27th only), Strawberry Shoemaker)

January 30, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Tuesday Movie: Gold Diggers Of 1937)

February 1-3, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Conqueroo, (1st only) John Clay)

February 9-10, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Lost & Found, Georgetown Medical Band)

February 14, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Shiva's Headband)

February 16-17, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband (16th), Conqueroo (17th), Rubaiyat)

February 18, 1968 (onwards) Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Portrait Painting for $2)

February 22, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Bust Benefit Dance", Shiva's Headband, Conqueroo, Georgetown Medical Band)

February 26-27, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Lightnin' Hopkins, Conqueroo)

March 1-2, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Big Joe Williams,

March 8-9, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Rubaiyat)

March 10, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bust Benefit: Rubaiyat, Austin Suburban Loan Co.)

March 15-16, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Space American Eagle Squadron)

March 22-23, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Lost And Found)

March 29-30, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Bubble Puppy)

April 5-6, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Blues Bag)

April 12-13, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Rubaiyat, Oat Willie)

April 19-20, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Sleepy John Estes, Oat Willie)

April 25, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Angela Lewis & The Fabulous Rockets, Oat Willie)

April 26-27, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Bubble Puppy)

May 3-4, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Angela Lewis & The Fabulous Rockets, Wild Chickens)

May 10-11, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Canned Heat (11th only), Shiva's Headband, Conqueroo)

May 13, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bubble Puppy)

May 16, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("FREE GIG" Conqueroo)

May 17-18, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Zig Zag Quartet, Liquid Marble)

May 24-25, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Wild Chicken)

May 24, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (2 shows 7.30 & 10.30. Moby Grape, Shiva's Headband)

May 25, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Angela Lewis & The Fabulous Rockets)

May 31-June 1, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Bubble Puppy)

June 7-8, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Winter)

June 14-15, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Zig Zag Quartet)

June 20, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis)

June 21-22, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo, Bubble Puppy)

June 27, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Conqueroo)

June 28-29, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bubble Puppy (28th only), Ezmerelda'z Muzick Amuzementz (29th only), Afro Caravan)

July 5-6, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Johnny Winter, Bubble Puppy)

July 26-27, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, Grits)

August 2-3, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Muddy Waters, Winter)

August 16-17, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, 1948)

August 23-24, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Winter, Zackary Thacks)

August 29-31, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (13th Floor Elevators 30th & 31st only, New Atlantis)

September 5, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Killer Chicken & The Dumplings)

September 6-7, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bubble Puppy, Zig Zag String Quartet)

September 12-14, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, Gritz)

September 20-21, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Winter, Endel St. Cloud In The Rain)

September 27-28, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Big Joe Williams, Sky Blues)

October 10-12, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, (11th & 12th) Winter)

October 13, 1968 Hemisfair Theater, San Antonio, TX (Steppenwolf, Winter)

October 17-19, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, (17th & 18th) New Atlantis, (19th) Winter)

October 31-November 2, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Grits

November 8-9, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Steve Miller Band, (8th & 9th) New Atlantis, (10th) Shiva's Headband)

1968-11-14/15 "BAIL FUND BENEFIT" Texas Pacific, BLUES BAG

November 15-16, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Freddy King, Winter)

November 21, 1968 Hemisfair Theater, San Antonio, TX (CANCELLED. Big Brother & The Holding Company, Shiva's Headband, Winter)

November 22-23, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mance Lipscomb, Shiva's Headband)

November 28-29, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (The Children, New Atlantis)

December 6-7, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Bubble Puppy)

December 13-14, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Texas, (13th) New Atlantis, (14th) Texas Pacific)

December 15, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Benefit for Oleo Strut, A Radical Coffeehouse for G.I.s at Fort Hood”. Shiva's Headband, Texas Pacific, New Atlantis)

December 20-21, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Winter, New Atlantis)

December 31, 1968 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Winter)

1969

January 17-18, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Big Joe Williams, New Atlantis)

January 30-February 1, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (John Lee Hooker, Shiva's Headband)

February 7-8, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, Texas Pacific)

February 16, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Benefit for Oleo Strut, A Radical Coffeehouse for G.I.s at Fort Hood”. Texas Pacific, New Atlantis, Shepherd’s Head, Good Humor)

February 21-22, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Fugs, Shiva's Headband)

February 28-March 1, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Texas, (28th) Georgetown Medical Band, (1st) The Mustangs)

March 7-8, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, (7th) Untouchables, (8th) Texas Rangers)

March 14-15, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Jimmy Reed, Onion Creek)

March 21-22, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Big Mama Thornton, New Atlantis)

March 28-29, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mustangs, (28th) Georgetown Medical Band, (29th) Fox Blues Band)

April 4-5, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Onion Creek, Texas Rangers)

April 11-12, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Sunnyland Special)

April 18-19, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Fred McDowell, Texas Rangers)

April 25-26, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Special)

May 2-3, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Sherwood)

May 7-8, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Benefit for The Vulcan Gas Company: Shiva's Headband, Sunnyland Special, (7th) Mustangs, (7th) Wally Stopher, (8th) Ramon Ramon & The Four Daddyos, (8th) John Clay)

May 9-10, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mance Lipscomb, Onion Creek)

May 16-17, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Georgetown Medical Band, Sherwood)

May 23-24, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Texas Rangers)

May 28-29, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Now The Revolution: A Multi-Media Folk Fantasy". This was a play that was kicked off the campus of the University of Texas due to nudity and was picked up by the Vulcan)

May 30-31, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Big Joe Williams, Georgetown Medical Band)

June 11, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband)

June 13-14, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Texas, Fat Emma)

June 15, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (The Revolution)

June 20-21, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband 21st only), Georgetown Medical Band, (20th only) Ramon Ramon & The Four Daddyos)

July 4-5, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Onion Creek)

July 11-12, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Georgetown Medical Band, Naked Letus)

July 18-19, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Moan Hey, Onion Creek, Shiva's Headband)

July 25-26, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, Jomo)

August 1-2, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Onion Creek)

August 8-9, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Texas Rangers, Water Brothers)

August 12, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis)

August 13, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Ramon Ramon, Jomo)

August 15-16, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mother Earth, Shiva's Headband)

August 20, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Somo)

August 22-23, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (United Gas, (22nd) Somo, (23rd) Onion Creek)

September 12-13, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Aus (Bubble Puppy, (12th only) Ramon Ramon & The Four, (13th only) Onion Creek)

September 16-17, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (New Atlantis, Water Brothers)

September 19-20, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Freddy King, (19th only) Shepard's Bush, (20th only) Onion Creek)

September 26-27, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Mother Earth, Mance Lipscomb, Jomo

October 1, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Onion Creek)

October 2, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Jazz Night)

October 3-4, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Poco, (3rd) New Atlantis, (4th) Water Brothers)

October 7-8, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (James Cotton Band, Mance Lipscomb with Jomo)

October 10-11, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Ramon Ramon & The Four Daddyos, Water Brothers, Texas Rangers)

October 23-25, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Velvet Underground, (23rd & 25th) Ramon Ramon & The Four Daddyos & Crowbar, (24th) Water Brothers)

October 31-November 1, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Sunnyland Special, Texas (with Jimmy Vaughn)

November 2, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX ("Student Mobilization Committee Benefit Dance to end the war in Vietnam". Shiva's Headband, Smoke, Bazooka)

November 14-15, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Sunnyland Special, Birth)

November 21-22, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Children, Water Brothers)

December 12-13, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Onion Creek)

December 19-20, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, 1948)

December 26-27, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Hub City Movers)

December 31, 1969 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Shiva's Headband, Sherwood)

1970

January 2-3, 1970 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Ramon Ramon & The Four Daddyos, Sherwood)

January 9-10, 1970 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Hub City Movers, Birth)

1970 (WEDNESDAY EVENINGS) Hub City Movers

March 10-11, 1970 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Johnny Winter, Hub City Movers)

April 12, 1970 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (SMC Benefit. Fat Emma, Salt)

May 8-9, 1970 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX (Bubble Puppy, Hub City Movers, (9th only) Night Hog)

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