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Remembering the Armadillo

Thursday, May 10, 2018 by Jo Clifton

Eddie Wilson, owner of Threadgill’s restaurant and co-founder of the Armadillo World Headquarters, says he thought he would never go to Nashville. But he’s had to change his mind because the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will be honoring the Armadillo with what the museum describes as a first of its kind, major exhibition emphasizing the musical connections between Austin and Nashville. The exhibit, called “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70s,” is slated to open on May 25 and run through Feb. 14, 2021. According to a letter Wilson received telling him about the hall of fame/museum’s plans for the exhibition, “We highlight the music, personalities, and venues that are essential to the country music story. One of those venues is the Armadillo World Headquarters, the Austin concert hall that was ground zero for Austin’s cultural renaissance.” For those who don’t recall, Wilson and his friends, including co-owner Mike Tolleson, refurbished an old National Guard Armory building at the corner of Barton Springs Road and South First Street, turning it into a venue that welcomed cowboys, hippies and everybody else who wanted to listen to the music of “outlaw” artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Guy Clark, Joe Ely and many more. Wilson opened up his storehouse of memorabilia from the Armadillo and loaned numerous items to the Nashville museum. According to a news release from the museum, “artifact cases line the walls and vibrate with energy, as touchstone artifacts sit side-by-side, for the first time.” Other items on display include “Nelson’s signature sneakers, Clark’s Randall knife, (Jessi) Colter’s dresses, Susanna Clark’s album cover paintings, Shel Silverstein’s worn and battered songwriting guitar,” and so on. For a look at the history, check out Joe Nick Patoski’s description of the scene.

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