IMG_3937On a hot summer day David Longoria and I borrowed a truck from Steve Odom and drove out to Conroe to see a retired printer named Mike Condray about some wood type. We pulled into a secluded dirt driveway and a friendly dog came out to greet us. Stepping inside an enormous building, a barn the size of a basketball court built by a sculpture professor back in the 70s, we met Mike. I loved his style on the instant, a white tee shirt he trimmed at the waist and neck, straight out of Flashdance. IMG_3938In the early 70s Mike opened a club in downtown Houston that became the bedrock of hippiedom named Liberty Hall. Mike booked all the acts, such as ZZ Top, The Velvet Underground, Waylon Jennings, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, and Gram Parsons. My heroes. Bruce Springsteen made his Texas début at the Liberty, commemorating the venue in ‘This Hard Land,’ when he sang ‘Hey Frank, won’t you pack your bags and meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall?’ IMG_3939Mike explained that he got into letterpress because musicians often called him looking for a gig very last-minute, and the local print shops couldn’t turn a poster around fast enough to get it out before the show, so be bought a Vandercook and did it himself. He showed us a bunch of show posters he made, usually a combination of san serif wood and metal type, zincos, much more in the rectiliniear tradition of country music and minor league baseball posters than the silkscreened psychedelic art coming out of the Fillmore in San Francisco. IMG_3942Soaked in sweat, David and I loaded up the truck, overflowing with equipment and history, and drove back to Austin, where I’ve been sorting it ever since. IMG_3943Today, I’ve finally got the shop in order, type sorted, and I’m ready to get back to work. First project will invariably be a poster for a band I love honoring Mike and the Liberty Hall. Thanks y’all, and special thanks to David, Steve, and Brad for making this happen!