Thursday, December 11, 2008

the Rubaiyat

Coffee houses. What an archaic term. If you said that today the closest thing to come to mind would be a Starbucks. But in the 60s and 70s they meant something entirely different. And I’m not even sure they actually served coffee. I digress.

On a pretty busy thoroughfare called McKinney Avenue in the middle of Dallas, Texas was a little place called the Rubaiyat. It was longer/deeper than wider and didn’t look like much of anything. There was some sort of counter/office area in the front where you could pay your money to get in and I think a restroom or two and a small kitchen in the back. I remember pitchers of beer. But even more I remember music.

I think the owner/manager’s name was Bob Johnston and I may have even met him once. I think he was a pretty big deal in the folk music scene. But to call what emanated from the Rubaiyat “folk” limits it greatly.

The Rubaiyat was almost always crowded. I don’t remember it costing very much to get in – I think cover charges were around $2 – 3 but remember now this is the late 60s and early 70s.

I don’t even know how we (more about “we” later) found this place but I guess college-age students had a pretty good grapevine even in the days before MySpace.

I can’t even begin to list everyone who played there because I couldn’t afford to go all that often but I’ll bet we went once or twice a month at least – usually on a Friday or Saturday night.

The “we” part. I had two real close buddies and we thought we just might be big stars. So we played lots of guitar and tried to do our own covers of the hits of the day – John Denver, the Eagles, America – mostly main-stream stuff.

The Rubaiyat was never main-stream but some pretty main-stream people passed through.

I first heard Mickey Raphael there. Who is Mickey Raphael? If you follow Willie Nelson you know he is his harmonica player and I’d put him up against Stevie Wonder as the best that ever was. If memory serves, he started playing for B.W. Stevenson, aka “Buckwheat” long before his hit “My Maria.” People hear that song now and think Brooks & Dunn wrote it. BW played and wrote “Texas Morning”, “Say what I feel” and many more.

Back in the 80s I was working on the east coast and a show I worked on had Willie Nelson on as a guest. I’m always intimidated by celebs so like to find a common point of reference to start up the conversation. Something beyond “Like, wow, love your music, man.” So I bumped into Willie in the hall and for some reason BW popped into my head and I asked about him. Little did I know he had passed away. He was a big guy and maybe weight or a weak heart or something. But he had a sweet voice.

At the Rubaiyat the worst seat in the house was not very far from the stage. It might not be an exaggeration to say we could see the calluses on the fingers of the people playing guitar.

A not-quite-so-young man named Michael Murphey (now aka Michael Martin Murphey of Cowboy music fame.) played there often and would even play a BW song or two. This was in the days before “Wildfire”. Michael Murphey’s songs included “What am I doing hanging ‘round”, “Geronimo’s Cadillac.” I think MMM was also my counselor at a week-long camp in north Texas in the early 60s. And now he is close friends with some friends of ours who help him put on his Cowboy Christmas shows here every year.

Larry Groce. Our local public radio station used to air his Mountain Stage program every Saturday night. Back in the 70s I saw him play there once or twice. I had the same music teacher as Larry (and many others) in junior high-school; Jeanne Brown at W.E. Greiner.

Another regular – who later became “regulars”, was Robin Williams – no not the comedian/actor guy. But the Robin of Robin and Linda Williams that frequently appear on Prairie Home Companion. Robin came in with his own sweet voice and fancy guitar licks and we’d sit and soak it all up. When he announced he was getting married and then brought his new bride Linda along – we were initially disappointed. I think she did change his style and sound but eventually we grew to like both of them.

I have a Robin Williams story. One of my guitar buds and me were at a music store on the north side of Dallas, taking guitars down, playing a chord or two and putting them back up. And down the aisle was Robin. So we walked up, started talking, mentioned the Rubaiyat etc. He told us he was going to play a “House Concert” at his dad’s house in Dallas and why didn’t we come over that night. My friend couldn’t come but I got directions and showed up. It was a great evening of music and fun with about 20-30 people crammed into his dad’s house. I saw him again in Springfield years later when he was playing a “paying” house concert and he even remembered the thing at his dad’s.

I’ll bet there were dozens more who played there. Some may have even gotten their starts at the Rubaiyat.

Willis Allan Ramsay played (before the Captain and Tenille got hold of Muscrat Love). Townes Van Zandt. I’m sure other names will come back to mind before long. I think Asleep at the Wheel may have played there but I have no idea how all of them would fit on the Rubaiyat’s small stage – wasn’t even a stage as I recall but just a short carpeted riser to put the performers just a little higher than the audience.

Steve Fromholz wrote one of the most touching songs that evokes mid-west Texas. Actually it’s three songs – Texas Trilogy. Fromholz was another regular. I recall him being alone but his group was called Frummox so there must have been somebody else. He’s still alive and kicking. I found him on the internet looking up song lyrics and trying to track down another performer. He emailed back but I don’t think he remembered me.

Russ Kirkpatrick. Anybody have any clue where he ended up? I learned one of his songs, “Timothy Tucker” but have since lost some the lyrics and can’t find it anywhere. No offense to the others mentioned but I think he was our favorite of all those we saw. Pretty good picker but more of a chord guy with good lyrics and voice. We always tended to like the people we could play along with.

Sometime in the early 70s the Rubaiyat moved. I imagine it was to get more space so they could book bigger acts and therefore make better money. The one on McKinney had to be a labor of love.

It was never the same. The newer place was on Lemmon Avenue. This was still near downtown but no longer in a funky neighborhood and there were tons of used car lots in the area. But it did allow for more business and indeed bigger acts.

I can’t pin-point the year but I actually took a date (“we” hardly ever took dates to the Rubaiyat – it was always about the music) once to see a little known comic named Steve Martin. SNL was not on the air yet and he spent a good deal of his performance with the arrow-thing through his head and he played a lot of banjo – pretty good picker.

One thing that was very different about this type of music and place is that often you couldn’t find the performers music. Most of these acts (MMM excluded and BW later) were not on a label so the only way to hear them was live in small places. Radio would play little if any of this style of music. Record stores – that’s what they called them back then – usually didn’t have this stuff either. And records were so expensive to produce that few acts ever showed up with anything to sell. I bought a couple over the years but mostly just listened live.

The Rubaiyat will always be my favorite music place. Up close and personal. The performers played mostly their own tunes and talked to the audience. Sometimes between sets they’d come down to sit and chat and act just like real people.

59 comments:

SWSam54 said...

Wasn't the location for the Rubaiyat in Dallas on Maple, hard underneath the Dallas North Tollway overpass? Could there have been an earlier site that you are referencing? I got a parking ticket once on my '61 Beetle after having parked it in a dubious spot at that location. I used to go every once in a while and I was always impressed with Bill and Bonnie Hearne because although they were both blind, they played pretty well and had beautiful harmonies. I saw Fromholtz and Ramsey both as solo acts there and also at the Hop over in Ft. Worth near TCU. Good talking to you, hope all goes well for you and yours.

Vince Crunk said...

You are probably right about Maple as being the second location. I thought Lemmon but that was a long long time ago. Do you know status and whereabouts of any of the other folks who played there?

Anonymous said...

This is a digression of sorts. Regarding your blog title: Blackie Sherrod did in fact start his Sunday column with the word, "Scattershooting," but it was always followed with the phrase, "while wondering whatever happened to...." and then he would name some mercifully forgotten personage such as Victor Mature, Charro, or Bubbles Cash. He also always included, somewhere in the body of the text, a strange saying preceded by, "My neighber Jones sez...." Though I grew up in Dallas (left in 1968), I never went to the Rubaiyat, but I did, a few years later, get to know Blackie a little bit. Big, big difference between the impression of the guy that you get from reading his columns and the real thing. He was not a jokester and funny man. Leave it at that. The Dallas Times Herald is no more. The Rubaiyat is no more. Blackie Sherrod is no more. Hail their memories. Scattershooting, while wondering whatever DID happen to Bubbles Cash.

msaxe said...

As I remember, the Rubaiyat was originally on McKinney during the early 60's and moved to Maple in the late 60's or early 70's.

When I went it was owned and operated by Ron Shipman. Ron was a terrific entertainer and musician. He could keep the old place rolling with his great voice and crystal clear play on a wonderful Martin.

Me and my friends would come to the club at least a couple of times a month. I can't remember all of the other great Dallas and Texas folk musicians that played there. Almost all of them hit the place at one time or another.

Long and thin. Black walls. A Texas version of a Village coffee house without the winos. There was a $2 cover on the weekends and you could get a tall thin Tom Collins glass of some grenadine colored drink for another $2. You could have a great date for $10 or $15. People came to have a good time and sing along, almost like the Bumblebee at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

My best friend Mike and I would go with or without dates. Between sets, we would play Klabiash and bug the waitress or the performers. Both our fathers knew how to play and passed it down. Mike unsuccessfully tried to teach me Pinocle there. So we stuck to Klaber and gin rummy.

Ron sang some great tunes. It's how I found this board. I was looking for the lyrics to Fanny Brown, Deep Elum Blues and Deacon Johnson, his best numbers. Haven't found them yet. Ron did a great Ghost Riders in the Sky, too. As good as Frankie Lane.

We closed the place down many a night. Ron would throw us out and invite us back. I went off to school and only made it back once or twice to the new place. I think it was John VanDiver playing. Not the same, but a nice Tejas folk joint anyway.

Anyone finds those lyrics. Please post them.

Happy Trails....

Vince Crunk said...

thanks for commenting. Helps to fill in the gaps caused by years and whatever else blurred things along the way.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for the memory. It was on Maple Ave. Moved because we lost our lease.

Bob Johnson
Former owner of The Rubaiyat after Ron Shipman..email is rob1498@cox.net

guitarbob said...

The Maple location was the one we always went to. Sorry to say, I never made it by after the move. I wasn't old enough to legally buy a drink, and they checked everyone's ID at the door. We still got in, and ordered pitchers of Dr. Pepper.

My wife and I are often disappointed when we get the chance to go hear live music these days because of all the talking in the crowds. And, usually the loudest guy is right next to us. We've often said, "they would never let this happen at The Rubaiyat." It was a true "listening room." Sure miss it.

msaxe said...

Talking at shows is a real sore point with me, too. Ron would throw you out if you talked during his set.

I saw Steve Martin opening a concert for John Prine during his heyday at UNC in Greeley CO. There must have been 8000-10000 people, at least. Martin was just an up and comer. Some dumb ass started making noise, probably heckling him. Steve Martin, arrow in head, stopped the show and made a total spectacle of the idiot...and threw him out. He stood there on the stage, silent, watching the guy limp one step after the next up the aisle and out the back door of the hall. We were way in back. It seemed to take forever. As soon as the ass left, the started right back.

It's nothing like today. In the last 5-10 years, I can hardly remember a concert where some idiot sitting nearby isn't talking loudly, non-stop through the show. If you don't want to accidentally spill you $8 beer on them, all you can do is call the usher. They are more likely to move your seats than stop varmints.

By the way, the Rubaiyat was not the only great coffeehouse west of Greenwich Village. I found a great one in the Haight in the late 70's. The Other Cafe on Cole and Cale. Saw Jay Leno, big jaw and all, open for R Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. You Rubaiyat hounds would have loved it.

John Maddox Roberts said...

I moved to Richardson, TX in the summer of 1963 and started 11th grade at Richardson High that fall. I soon made friends with the little arts-and-music crowd and it was probably still '63 that I first went to the Rubaiyat. At that time it was in a tiny place, no bigger than a 2-car garage and the cigarette smoke was thick enough to walk on. I loved it. Soon it moved to more spacious but still small digs. I no longer remember the address but it was near the SMU campus. It was strictly a coffeehouse so high school students had no trouble getting in. I had my first cappucino there. Ron Shipman was the owner. Chappie Stout was one of the regular singers. I recently learned that she is a horse-breeder in Dallas. Roseanne Cauffman (sp?) was a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice. I remember Bob Bodine coming through, and many others whose names I no longer remember. I graduated in '65 and then was off to college, then the Army. In the late '60s while on leave from the Army I went back to the Rubaiyat, but by then it had a beer licence and the atmosphere was very different. I still miss that place.

pgarrett said...

The names that I remember as synonymous with the Rubaiyat were Ron Shipman and John Vandiver. Others were Ray Hubbard and Mike O'Murphy. I saw Jerry Jeff Walker there once pre-cowboy. John Vandiver was a great guitarist and singer. I remember following him around until he agreed to show me how to play "Down and Out". This was at the original location on McKinney. There were a couple of other coffee houses , one called the Mooonraker where I saw Lighnin' Hopkins once and one called Sisters of Sorrow or something like that. I never went there.

Anonymous said...

I remember going in the early 60's before graduating HS. We were under age and served some juice(no buzz) of some kind. Went into the service after that and always wondered what happened to the place. We kinda compared it to a one car garage.

Vance said...

I used to go to the Rubaiyat in 1971-1972 when it was located on Mckinney Ave and heard quite a few fantastic guys there. Frummax, England Dan and John Ford Coley, BW Stevenson, Alan Damron, MMM, etc. I was even there the last night (August 12, 1972 - a TV crew was filming that night) when it closed for a while before opening up again under the overpass on Maple Ave. I wasn't quite the same after that. What ever happened to Michael Williams?

Anonymous said...

I lived in an apartment complex behind the Rubaiyat, facing Cole Avenue (4200 Cole). Alan Damron managed the apartments for a while while he temporarily managed the club. Bob, correct me if I'm wrong but I think you were out of town for an extended period of time. And many of the acts would hang out at the complex, around the pool, etc. For instance, BW Stevenson was my next door neighbor for a while. Also got to listen to some great jams by others late into the night. County Line, Ray Wiley, Alan Damron, etc. Those are truly some of my fondest memories.

Matt said...

Knew the location under the overpass on Maple - went there several times in high school, 70-71-72, right around then. Saw Buckwheat (but he wasn't performing that night, just there - watching either Kirkpatrick or Fromholz), saw Hubbard and Damron, Russ Kirkpatrick (he put out an album I had a copy of once, but it has gone missing now - wish I could find it) - Fromholz performed with a group that had a bass player that wouldn't face the audience - was that Travis Holland? - heard Steve play an early version of "Dear D'arcy" one night in a small room off the floor during a break - place was jammed - everybody loved it, of course - much better version than what showed up on his Capitol record a few years later - saw Murphy play his $1500 blonde Martin one night (lot of money for a guitar in those days). Wonderful memories. A couple years ago, I was back in Dallas and was going down Maple late one night - not even thinking of the old place - and drove right by an old ramshackle bldg partially under an overpass - my GOD, I said, is that it? (Is it?)

Anonymous said...

Steve Fromholtz is still my favorite, even after his stroke he did not lose his awesome voice,just some memory.he comes to east texas a lot last time he was here i pulled out his album and he signed it and yes janie was with him.
i still have my russ kirkpatrick album.must be mint does'nt get a lot of play.

Pecos Bill said...

Small part of the Rubiyat:
I played the Rubiyat about six times under the name Mark Smith. I had moved to Denton from Lubbock, where I had played for years. I was briefly in a blues band, "Crackerjack" before the busts and fire.
After I graduated Denton, I changed my name. I then played under stage names, inclunding Jack Acid and Mark Villa. I had a short stint touring as a guitarist with Kenny Loggins on the Starfest summer tour. I moved to Charleston, SC, and began to write music and play - a lot. I had a harmonica player nemd Peter (Sneaky Pete) and we would have gigs each weekend. After about 6 years, I moved to Charlotte, NC, and my playing out knid of went away.
I opened the night the Rubiyat closed. BW and Micheal Murphey played later. Martin closed.
Great place, alway be missed.
It's all about the music.

Susan Jones Strobel said...

bob Johnson died November 1, 2010. He was a great guy. He was very kind to me when I sang at the Rubaiyat, and he gave me lots of chances to perform. (He used to introduce me onstage as Little Susan Jones. Geez, I hated that!)

What could be better than giving a struggling young folksinger a venue?

ellenb220 said...

I also lived next door to BW Stevenson and remember the Rubaiyat. I have many fond memories of walking with BW and friends to different coffee houses but I remember walking to the McKinney location. There were so many good performers and it was so laid back. I noticed someone posted on here that he lived next door to BW, also. He posted 4200 Cole which would be Fitzhugh and Cole. Does anyone remember the address of the Rubaiyat on McKinney? It's been so long that I have been looking for where my apartment would have been on Cole that backed up to the Rubaiyat. Any help would be great!

ellenb220 said...

I also lived next door to BW Stevenson. I remember walking with BW and friends to the Rubaiyat and listening to Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Murphy, Ray Wiley Hubbard, BW and more. Someone posted on here that they lived next to BW, also. Does anyone remember the address to the Rubaiyat on McKinney? I have been searching for where these places might have been and even my apartment. I remember it backed up to the Rubaiyat and this person on here posted 4200 Cole. That is Cole and Fitzhugh. Was the club on McKinney and Fitzhugh? Any help would be greatful. It's been a long time.

super secret game club said...

Wow. This blog proves that my memories of the Rubaiyat weren't just imagination fueled by cheap whiskey and Country Club malt liquor. As an errant youth in Dallas I went there many times and I recall there was a section for under age customers... a rail of some sort seperating tables.

Did I imagine seeing Dave Van Ronk perform there? Maybe in '66 or '67? What a great place and my thanks to Google for making it possible for me to realize not all my memories are false. Now if I can just convince my kids I actually did see Hendrix perform at Village East in NYC....

lou.allison said...

I first started going to the Rubaiyat in '66. Graduated from NTSU (now UNT) in '68 and started hanging out there seriously in '69. The original Rubaiyat was, I believe, near the intersection of McKinney and Hall. I only went there a couple of times... Ron Shipman was owner... went at least once to see Johnny Vandiver, possibly the best white finger pickin' blues singer to ever walk the planet.

The long skinny version of The Rubaiyat was right on the intersection of McKinney and Hall -- diagonally across the intersection from Bread Winners.

Folks who saw Ray (before the Wiley) Hubbard there saw him as 1/3 of the trio, Three Faces West. The group picked up stakes in the early 70s and moved to Red River, New Mexico where they started a folk club called The Outpost. Bill and Bonnie Hearn made the circuit from the Rubaiyat to the Outpost for many years.

I too met BW Stevenson at the Rubaiyat, just as he was coming out of the army on, according to him, a made-up medical discharge. He was dating Kathy Cloninger at the time. After a tragic incident, BW and Kathy broke up. Someone wanted to know what ever happened to Mike Williams ("Is There A Heaven For Balloons?"). Mike Williams, after years together, married Kathy. And Kathy, you may be interested in knowing, became President and/or CEO of The Girl Scouts of America.

Jim Ritchey was one of the terrific singer/songwriters who played often at the Rubaiyat -- as a solo act and later with his wife, Bejae Flemming. Jim wrote, among other wonderful songs, "Tennessee Bottle" which is on Kenny Roger's Gambler album.

The late great black bluesman, Mance Lipscomb used to play at the Rubaiyat occasionally. Usually either Bob Johnson or John(ny) Vandiver would drive to Nacadotches (sp?) Texas to pick him up and bring him to Dallas. What a treat!

When the Rubaiyat moved to the Maple Ave address (under the North Dallas Tollway) I helped Bob Johnson and others turn the building from a pet shop into the last iteration of the Rubaiyat. As a reward for my meager services, Bob gave me "musician prices" on beer. That was enough to step up my hanging out time.

Uncle Walt's Band was one of my favorite groups that played the new location.

It was my pleasure to meet Townes Van Zandt during those years. At the time I was renting a 3 bedroom, one bath hovel in the Northwest Hwy Marsh Lane area. I only had one roommate at the time so Bob Johnson introduced me to Townes and asked if I would let him stay in the extra bedroom. Of course I said yes. He stayed there on two or three other occasions. Several interesting stories that there isn't room for here.

Dozens of wonderful pickers and song writers came through the doors of the place. A group called Colors from Denver stands out. John Vandiver and the Ewing Street Times. Michael Murphy back when he actually tried to entertain. Frummox -- Steve Frumholtz and Dan McCrimmon (sp?). Jimmy Johnson. Mike Ames, who first let Mickey Raphael play harmonica on stage with him. Texas Fever, one of Hubbard's many bands. And even yours truly, playing an entire week for $50. And, of course, musician prices on beer. And all the memories you can carry away.

Anonymous said...

The Rubaiyat (man, I can never spell that) on McKinney loomed large in my legend as a teenager. My sister was an old college friend of Steve Fromholz and Dan McCrimmon (who were Frummox) and went there whenever they played, which for awhile was once a month or so. She let me tag along, even though I was only 16 or so. I loved that place... loved the music, loved the ambiance, loved feeling like part of an older crowd. So many people that I saw there went on to become at least sort of famous for awhile, which was cool. I went out with one of the managers, Mack Partain, for a summer. He was Alan Damron's roommate at those apartments on Cole. There was at the time a gay bar next door. The Rubaiyat guys used to make me go over there to buy them cigarettes. I went off to college and never did make it to the new location. Thanks for the little trip down memory lane!

Nancy Wagner said...

My high school friends and I went to the old Rubaiyat on McKinney in the 60s many times. We heard Michael Murphy, Miss Vicki (small woman with a wonderful deep voice; sang "Foghorn;") John Deutschendorf (later John Denver), the Balladeers (our friends John Clark & Gari Ruggles, from Irving High School); and a Marcus nephew, who played a great 12 string. Many many others--I remember Alan Damron--and Ron Shipman, the owner. We drank lots of coffee; too young to drink the beer; and heard the best contemporary folk music. I only went to the second location a few times--maybe that's where I heard Alex Moore? the pianist. Wonderful!

Timmyray said...

My brother,the late Rick Boeglin used to sing with Marcia Cash and John Beam in the group "The Boarder Revers".They were the regular weekend band for a couple of years at the Rubaiyat.Rick later sang with B.W.Stevenson there.They would swap sets.Thanks for the memories.Tim

Timmyray said...

My brother,the late Rick Boeglin used to sing with Marcia Cash and John Beam in the group "The Boarder Revers".They were the regular weekend band for a couple of years at the Rubaiyat.Rick later sang with B.W.Stevenson there.They would swap sets.Thanks for the memories.Tim

Anonymous said...

The address of the first Rubaiyat location was 3235 McKinney Ave. I know this for a fact because I have an original flyer from the club framed hanging on my bedroom wall dated March, 1971. The reason I have it is because my mother was one the musical performers playing at the Rubaiyat then and her name is on the flyer. My mom, whose name at the time was Karen Oznick, was described on the flyer as, "a lovely face and voice.". According to the flyer, she sang the Friday night of the same week in March of 1971 that lists performances by Three Faces West, Mike Williams, Michael (Martin) Murphy, B.W. Stevenson, and John Vandiver amongst others. I was just a kid and don't remember going to the original Rubaiyat location on McKinney even though I was there watching my mom perform and then fell asleep on the chairs before she finished. I do remember going to the second location on Maple Ave.(the building is still there and is now a Hispanic and or Gay bar) to see the Ewing Street Times perform. My mom grew up with Vandiver, Murphy, Hubbard, and Stevenson in Oak Cliff and knew them during high school. She sang at the first two Kerrville Folk festivals and recorded an album of mostly her original material. She played a Martin six string and twelve string guitars. She knew Alan Damron and Rod Kennedy and was instrumental in getting Peter Yarrow involved in the Kerrville Folk Festivals. My mom was extremely talented and is the reason I still love Texas music to this day. The Rubaiyat was the venue that gave her, as well as so many others, a place to start.

james said...

the rubaiyat burned down,as i recall,i first saw mickey raphael and bw at the el centro coffeehouse hosted by susan in 1968...and i still remember susan singing 'suzanne takes you down...' and,of course,am still in love with her...

Jaquine Hudson Bly said...

My friend Mike Harrell and I sang at the Rubaiyat in '63 or '64, and I sat in the front row when Mance Lipscomb performed there--he was so very good.

Gypsy Trading Company said...

Sadly, Bob Johnson passed away in December of 2009 just a couple of months after he posted here.

So many gone now... BW, Walter, John Vandiver, Champ, I miss them all so much - just as I miss the Rubaiyat.

I worked there the last couple of years it was in existence... a run of fabulous memories. How did I get so lucky?

Hey, Lou... got any "Blues for sale"?

This was a nice little trip down melancholy lane.

Thanks,
Candy

jeniferstone said...

Melancholy drive indeed. Ewing Street Times, Shake Russell, et al...Randy Dean used to do a killer "Wild Fire".....anyone know what happened to Jim Ritchie, manager at one time? Spent many many nights at this wonderful place....a bass player named Doug Cedarholm? Jimmy Johnson from Austin? Thanks for the memories!!

jeniferstone said...

Quite a drive down memory lane. Ewing Street Times. Dee Moeller. A bass player named Doug Cedarholm who played with Jimmy Johnson from Austin. Randy Dean who used to do a killer "Wild Fire" until MMM finally recorded it....Jim Ritchie, once a manager...Worked the door for a short time. A good, good time!

daGeezer said...

A friend and I played the Rubaiyat in the late 60's. We were the core of a jug band that was more spontaneous than musical; sometimes two of us, sometimes almost a dozen showed up and joined in. Ed and I intro'd for Tom Paxton (I think) and he said, "You guys know what it supposed to sound like," as we left the stage. I've never figured out if that was a compliment or a slam.

Dylan and Dallas was the end of my folk career and while I made a bunch of my living in music afterwards, it wasn't as a musician.

Howard Hoffman said...

I used to go to the Rubaiyat club on Maple Avenue in Dallas. Those nights were memorable experiences. I remember particularly one night when Michael Murphy had all of us in the audience sing "Amazing Grace" with him a cappella. It was wonderful !
Howard Hoffman

hillcountrylady said...

My then boyfirend and I, went to 'the Rubaiyat" in 1962- '63, I think. My memory is not at all like the people that have posted, I wish I could remember everyone we heard and there were many.
If bob were here (my boyfriend who I married; lost him 1991) he would remember eIf you will be at the General Meeting on Tuesday, March 20th please try to come a little early, around 12 or so,

so I can get input on what kind of articles you would like to write about, and if you will be available during the

summer months.

If you will not be attending the meeting, please send me an email.everything! My favoite song by Ron Shipman was "The Parrot". I used to sing it all the time. And as one blogger on here posted, Ron sang "Ghost Ryders in the Sky" as well as anyone could. I was going thorough some of my old albums )today and found "Strange Affairs" and then had to Goggle Ron Shipman and was so delighted that I found all the posts about those days.(my album is autographed) Brought back many memories of Bob and I going there.

hillcountrylady said...

My then boyfirend and I, went to 'the Rubaiyat" in 1962- '63, I think. My memory is not at all like the people that have posted, I wish I could remember everyone we heard and there were many.
If bob were here (my boyfriend who I married; lost him 1991) he would remember eIf you will be at the General Meeting on Tuesday, March 20th please try to come a little early, around 12 or so,

so I can get input on what kind of articles you would like to write about, and if you will be available during the

summer months.

If you will not be attending the meeting, please send me an email.everything! My favoite song by Ron Shipman was "The Parrot". I used to sing it all the time. And as one blogger on here posted, Ron sang "Ghost Ryders in the Sky" as well as anyone could. I was going thorough some of my old albums )today and found "Strange Affairs" and then had to Goggle Ron Shipman and was so delighted that I found all the posts about those days.(my album is autographed) Brought back many memories of Bob and I going there.

Candice Powers said...

I remember playing the Rubaiyat during a break between sets with Townse Van Zandt and Michael "Murph" Murphy. Met BW there and remember feeling so honored when he said he really liked my set. Those were such great and memorable times, so much great music. Had a dream years later that I was playing at the Rubaiyat and Janis Joplin showed up. She said she'd just come to say good-bye. Woke up wondering what that meant and two weeks later she died. Thanks for the memories.

Candice Powers said...

I played the Rubaiyat during a break between sets with Townse Van Zandt and Michael "Murph" Murphy. Met Bw that night and felt honored when he said he really liked my set. Those were great times, so much great music. Years later I had a dream that I was playing at the Rubaiyat and Janis Joplin showed up. She told me she'd just come to say good-bye. Woke up wondering what that meant and two weeks later she died. Thanks for the memories.

lou allison said...

Candy,
I can't believe you remember that old song. I very flattered!
You'll have to help me-- what was your last name im those days.
Lou

lou allison said...

Jenifer
Are you related to Billy Stone?
Lou

E Hope said...

My father played with a group called Touchstone at the Rubaiyat in the early 70s, the only recording I have of it is a live tape recording from 1972 transferred to CD, I don't think they ever sold anything, but they played there several times.

Happy in Texas said...

Ray Wylie Hubbard performed there in middle 60's. His college pals from UT Arlington would drive over there to watch him. He is on Letterman Jan. 9, 2013.Can recal if on McKinneyor Maple though.

MSaxe said...

Going down to the land of who cares...
That's where they have those strange affairs...
Down in the land where they say So What...
The sun goes down and the night get hot.....

Baggy bo...

I used to love Ron's rendition of Foolish Questions too...

Anonymous said...

All of these comments have brought back great memories. My friend Gail was good friends with Alan Dameron and we practically lived at the Rubaiyat summer of '71, good times! I became good friends with Buckwheat, great adviser, he married a friend of a friend. I remember the apts Alan managed and all the people who stayed there. Does anyone remember the "house band" headed up by a couple named Shane and Kitty (if you do what was their drummers name)? Last, does anyone know what MMM meant on the Geronimos Cadillac liner notes when he said he returned to Dallas & the Rubiayat only to find Omar had gone? Who was Omar?
RIP dear Rubaiyat friends!

John Maddox Roberts said...

Omar Khayyam was the Persian poet who composed the "Rubaiyat." Maybe that's what he meant.

Anonymous said...

That makes a lot of sense, thanks John!

Gary Shipman said...

Well, a lot of what is written here is correct and some is not. The straight story is the Rubaiyat was originally at the corner of McKinney and Bowen in a small long black building that was only about 60 feet deep and 20 ft wide. It held as many as 300 people over the course of an evening. It opened in January of 1959 and it's success was noted in all the local papers and also made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Ron Shipman had been in the navy stationed on the west coast and enjoyed coffee houses like the purple Onion and Hungry Eye and did some acting at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. He learned to play the guitar in the service and fashioning his style after blues singers like Josh White and folk singers like Stan Wilson, who he knew in Hawaii. Ron had many friends and fans in the Dallas area after playing at Herb's Magic Grill on Lovers Lane for a while in 1957-58. Besides winning honors like the Tony Award, awarded as the "Best Male vocalist" in DFW, he is also a great song writer to this day. The Rubaiyat was a favorite place for young talent to perform before discerning crowds that actually listened to the performer. People like Michael Martin Murphy, Owens Castleman, Jerry Jeff Walker, B J Stevenson, and John Denver (Duetschendorf then). Other notables were Johnny Cash, Theodore Bikel, The Claybrooks, the Charanbar Trio, Vicki Lewis, Johnny Vandiver, Sal Saldano, Stan Wilson, and Mance Lipscome.
Ron Shipman, through it all, was still the main attraction. I even played and sang there myself for several of the early years. Ron moved the Rubaiyat to larger quarters around 1966 up to Hall and
McKinney where he also opened Moon Alley, another entertainment Mecca. Ron had an itch to travel and sold the clubs and joined up with Rusty Draper and played Tahoe for several years. He still writes and is still a great entertainer. He is also an accomplished poet. Catch him if you can.
I know all this because I'm his brother, Gary Shipman

Gary Shipman said...

Well, a lot of what is written here is correct and some is not. The straight story is the Rubaiyat was originally at the corner of McKinney and Bowen in a small long black building that was only about 60 feet deep and 20 ft wide. It held as many as 300 people over the course of an evening. It opened in January of 1959 and it's success was noted in all the local papers and also made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Ron Shipman had been in the navy stationed on the west coast and enjoyed coffee houses like the purple Onion and Hungry Eye and did some acting at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. He learned to play the guitar in the service and fashioning his style after blues singers like Josh White and folk singers like Stan Wilson, who he knew in Hawaii. Ron had many friends and fans in the Dallas area after playing at Herb's Magic Grill on Lovers Lane for a while in 1957-58. Besides winning honors like the Tony Award, awarded as the "Best Male vocalist" in DFW, he is also a great song writer to this day. The Rubaiyat was a favorite place for young talent to perform before discerning crowds that actually listened to the performer. People like Michael Martin Murphy, Owens Castleman, Jerry Jeff Walker, B J Stevenson, and John Denver (Duetschendorf then). Other notables were Johnny Cash, Theodore Bikel, The Claybrooks, the Charanbar Trio, Vicki Lewis, Johnny Vandiver, Sal Saldano, Stan Wilson, and Mance Lipscome.
Ron Shipman, through it all, was still the main attraction. I even played and sang there myself for several of the early years. Ron moved the Rubaiyat to larger quarters around 1966 up to Hall and
McKinney where he also opened Moon Alley, another entertainment Mecca. Ron had an itch to travel and sold the clubs and joined up with Rusty Draper and played Tahoe for several years. He still writes and is still a great entertainer. He is also an accomplished poet. Catch him if you can.
I know all this because I'm his brother, Gary Shipman

Chet said...

I was Russ Kirkpatrick's agent/Manager and good friend in 1969 through about 72, but the small business I started became one of the largest talent agencies in the country and I'm most sorry to say Russ fell through the cracks. There was a period of time that he lived in my home in Boulder with my family.

I loved him like a brother, I was the producer of his album and we traveled all over the country together for a period. He lost the lead role in the film Jesus Christ Superstar to the fellow who played him on Broadway.

Last time I saw him was in 1981 sitting on my floor Japanese style in Austin. If anyone should know of his whereabouts I would love to have you pass on my e-mail. Ideaguy@chethanson.com. He was and I still hope is, a wonderful talent and a very warm person.

Chet said...

I was Russ Kirkpatrick's agent/Manager and good friend in 1969 through about 72, but the small business I started became one of the largest talent agencies in the country and I'm most sorry to say Russ fell through the cracks. There was a period of time that he lived in my home in Boulder with my family.

I loved him like a brother, I was the producer of his album and we traveled all over the country together for a period. He lost the lead role in the film Jesus Christ Superstar to the fellow who played him on Broadway.

Last time I saw him was in 1981 sitting on my floor Japanese style in Austin. If anyone should know of his whereabouts I would love to have you pass on my e-mail. Ideaguy@chethanson.com. He was and I still hope is, a wonderful talent and a very warm person.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone. I am Kathy Johnson, Bob Johnson's wife. I used to do everything from wash and iron the tablecloths, to drawing up the newsletter/flyers/posters. Bob died in Dec. 2009, not in Nov 2010. I stumbled onto your site just by accident because I was looking to see whatever happened to Three Faces West--they were terrific! Bob and I did everything! And yes, Damron ran the club while we lived in England for more than a year. I agree with you about Russ Kirkpatrick--he was wonderful--but then, so many were. And Gary Shipman--I wish I knew how to reach your brother Ron--just to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to participate in that wonderful era. I'm Kate now--and an English professor in Pennsylvania. I always give my students verses from The Rubaiyat--and sometimes, I even tell them about those days when the earth's crust was still cooling and we dinosaurs walked the earth...

Anonymous said...

I think you are referring to my father-in-law. Is the Russ you speak of formerly of Favorite Son? If so, please email me at sarahmarkos@yahoo.com

john russell said...

It's wonderful to read these remembrances of the Rubaiyat in Dallas. I started going there around ‘64 or ’65 first at the McKinney/Bowen St. location then later at the Hall St. room. It was pretty exciting to be out late hanging out there at age 16 or 17. I was an aspiring singer and eventually played there a couple of times, once with a trio called Peace River, around 1971 opening for Michael Murphey. I remember most of the above mentioned performers. One that wasn’t mentioned was a great blues guitarist/singer named Ted Jordan. I’ve never seen or heard of him since. My favorite performers were Murphey and John Vandiver. These guys were natural performers; each could mesmerize a room full of listeners with great songs and stories.

Vandiver and Shake Russell played there with a wonderful roots band called Ewing Street Times. We became friends, actually shared a house with them in Houston for awhile in 1976. We played lots of live music venues around the Montrose district. I was their lead guitarist and did the occasional solo set. It was great to hear more about Ron Shipman, the original owner and performer. A great talent and performer, I’d love to hear him play again.

Richard Wood said...

Richard Wood said: I played the Rubaiyat in the late '60's after coming back to Texas from San Francisco and Sausalito coffeehouses. Mark Casstevens and I played there with Jimmy Johnson during '68 and '69. Mark has gone on to perform with every major recording star in Nashville as the greatest back-up artist of our era. Michael Martin Murphey and B.W. Stevenson were a joy to see and hear. Ron Shipman was such a force in "the Great Folk-Scare of the '60's". I remember him as one of the most gracious hosts I ever knew in the coffeehouse circuit,along with Mike Considine.

Jim Avery said...

Wow! What a trip down memory lane. The words to "In the Land of Odin" were running through my head this morning, and I thought...let me look that up, it's been a loooonnnng time. And found this blog. I spent many evenings in the original Rubaiyat dressed all in black, turtleneck, slacks, jacket - looking good, listening to some of the most terrific music and talent. I remember Ron's (and Gary's) dad, Presley making empanadas when the spirit moved him, and Lord! were they good. Dated one of the waitresses, Minda Seals. Ran into Dave van Ronk in Petersburg, VA a number of years later. He remembered and recognized me. What fun.

The second location up the street wasn't nearly as eclectic, but was still a great place to hang. Was in Germany when the third iteration appeared and disappeared. Sorry I missed it. "The Parrot," I'd forgotten that one. Charanbar Trio, BW, so many greats. Thanks!!

Jim Seelen said...

I visited the Rubiayat back in the 60's with my first wife Nancy. I can remember seeing Frummox, but remember little more. They have inspired me to this very day. I can also remember the airplay they got even on the rock stations. The Texas Trilogy remains one of my favorite tunes even 45 years later. I liked it so much that I purchased 3 copies. All are near pristine today except the one I play often. I also saw Buckwheat Stevenson and Mickey Mouth there. I have often thought that maybe Mickey Mouth was Mickey Raphael. (Can anyone clear this up?) The man wore a belt that must have had 10 harmonicas on it.

Steve rest well in heaven!

Kris Benson Riek said...

Tonight brought me back to McKinney Avenue from half a continent away and 40+ years because of all the people I could see in a tiny town on the Oregon Coast named Newport, I ran into Richard Silen from County Line. All these memories came flooding back, but most of all it is the music that I still love even if the people are gone or pass from memory. I shall always cherish 1971 and the Rubaiyat.
I was one of the gang of young people who lived at 3400 Cole the year that Damron managed it and the club. Because of Damron and Gayle Piburn Ross, I married my former husband. We had children and built a life that had at its center lots of music. The place literally changed my life. I learned to love music in a way that feels like magic to me now. All those special, incredibly talented people walked through those places and created a very amazing memory for those of us who shared the laughter, the booze, the tears and the songs. Tonight brought me back there from half a continent away and 40+ years because of all the people I could see in a tiny town on the Oregon Coast named Newport, I ran into Richard Silen from County Line. All these memories came flooding back, but most of all it is the music that I still love even if the people are gone or pass from memory. I shall always cherish 1971 and the Rubaiyat.

Susan Lumsden said...

I once kidnapped Mance Lipscomb to play a private performance for my husband who could not get off work to come see him. Wasn't interested in the pizza we offered but happily removed his dentures to gnaw on some fried chicken. The roof of his dentures had a gold guitar and the letters ML. He was such a gentleman and came very willingly. Allen Damron , who was road manager or something for him, was NOT happy when we returned him.

Anonymous said...

BW is one of my favorites. I attended his graveside service with on a handful of others. I do remember B.J. Thomas sing Amazing Grace at BW's grave. It was a very moving experience.
In original "blog" stated that BW wrote "Texas Morning" and "Say What I Feel". Both of these song were written by Michael Murphey. Michael remains a dear friend of mine.

Raul Flores said...

I was born and raised in Dallas. As I youth growing for a time around McKinney Ave. I first heard Wildfire by local performer singing MMM’s song. Before, I had even heard of MMM. That’s also when I started hearing about the Rubaiyat, the musicians that had played and perform there through its years. As I got older and entered the music business in my twenties working for a national concert promoter. I continue to hear more of the Rubaiyat’s rich and amazing history. Never knowing exactly where it existed.
Then, for the longest time I was under the expression the Rubaiyat's location, had existed somewhat across the street southeast from the elementary school named after the W.B. Travis. The leader at the Alamo. More than a hundred years after the fall the Alamo. Travis must have turned in his grave, knowing the school named after him, was now educating a large portion of Dallas’ Mexican-American community….and I stress, this segment of Dallas’ citizens were not immigrants. But, second and third generation Americans. I suspect some people would call that irony?
After reading the history shared by Gary Shipman’s on this blog. I find that I actually had grown up a few blocks from the Rubaiyat . From its days on McKinney Ave. at Bowen St. to its larger space by Hall St. as mentioned by Gary. I must have walk by it, at both locations a thousand times on my way to school and back home, never knowing I had till today.
I want to thank Al Marks, former A&M Records rep. A legend in his own right. Who I had the pleasure to meet in my days working for one of the national known bands on A&M Records in the nineties, he represented. Sharing his story on Michael Murphey’s start on a national level. More than half a century later, finally learning the location of the famed Rubaiyat. Thanks Al!