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Submitted by m3jimphoto on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 8:53pm
Tex RitterKris Kristofferson and Rita CoolidgeDoug Sahm and Billy Joe ShaverDripping Springs 1972Hank SnowDripping Springs 1972Dripping Springs 1972

And now for something completely different … Monterey Pop and Woodstock are tough acts to follow, festival-wise, so we thought we’d change it up a bit and focus over the next few weeks on some early and legendary country, western and bluegrass music gatherings, starting with The Dripping Springs Reunion of 1972.

This seminal country music festival, which Jim’s photos document so wonderfully, happened on a ranch near Dripping Springs in Hays County Texas in March 17-19, 1972 and inspired the (mostly) annual Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic.

There’s not a lot out there on this first Dripping Springs, which seemed to happen a bit under the radar and remains somewhat misunderstood.  Compounding my research challenge, my musical focus did not really include country or western (quite the contrary!) when I was with Jim, so he didn’t spend much time trying to fill in the blanks for me.

Luckily, the web came through again, and I was able to uncover a decent chronology of Willie’s Fourth of July picnics, which gives proper due to this original event.  Here’s the excerpt from the Austin American-Statesman online.

“The Dripping Springs Reunion was, essentially, the Picnic prototype.  Roy Acuff, for one, was excited about the idea, proclaiming it could ‘turn the entire country music industry completely around’ and had more ‘potential as a lasting event’ than the Newport Jazz Festival (which is still going strong).

The Reunion attracted 25,000 fans over three days, but promoters had planned for as many as 75,000 a day. Despite later reports, it was not a Willie Nelson-organized event — a press release and early newspaper stories didn’t even mention that he was part of the lineup.

“LINEUP: Included Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow and Tex Ritter.

“QUOTE: ‘The first reunion was a success in every way but financially,’ bragged one promoter to the American-Statesman.  That, apparently, was enough.  Despite brave talk, Dripping Springs Reunion II didn’t happen.”

You can see by these shots that Jim had a tremendous connection with Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Doug Sahm, Billie Joe Shaver and so many more of the musicians who were such linchpins of the rapidly evolving country scene, away from sequins and crinoline and toward black leather and Jack Daniels.  Jim used to always talk about how comfortable he was with these guys, that he must have been from Texas in another life.  Maybe it was his Assyrian-Armenian roots that went back to the farms in the San Joaquin Valley or the fact that he was a natural-born outlaw himself, but he really felt at home with these folks.  And the shots show it.

Austin City Limits Live: The “Jack & Jim” Gallery

In other Texas and Jim-related news, here’s an update on the next Jim Marshall Photography exhibit that I posted on our JMPLLC Facebook page recently:

Jim Marshall Photography LLC is extremely psyched to announce a partnership with Jack Daniels and Austin City Limits Live: The “Jack & Jim” Gallery, set to debut on Sept. 14, 2011. With 30 original photos from the JMP archive – including iconic faves of Jimi, Johnny Cash, Janis, Dylan and more – “Jack & Jim” will run ’til Fall 2014 and marks the longest-running public display of Jim Marshall’s work to date.

We will be posting more on “Jack & Jim” in upcoming blogs.  And be sure to stay tuned for next week’s installment on Dripping Springs 1973, and the birth of  “Outlaw Music” as seen through Jim’s lens.