Gatchet - Authenticity and Blues in Austin

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Scholarly article on blues in Austin



Tve Cot Some Antique in
The Discourse of Authenticity and
Identity in the African American Blues
Community in Austin, Texas
Roger Davis Catchet

Abstract: This essay draws on the author's oral history work in the African
American blues community in Austin, Texas, in order to examine how professional
blues artists there understand and negotiate the concept of authenticity.
More to the point, this essay explores the ways in which the narrators use the
category of authenticity as a way to articulate their own identity. Through a
close textual analysis of the interviews, it demonstrates how race, class, and
lived experience are intimately tied to notions of authenticity in the blues and
locates the ambiguity inherent in the narrators' discourse at the center of a
larger cultural struggle for empowerment and recognition in this historically
marginalized community. Two songs by the musicians featured in this essay
follow after the conclusion. Listening to these requires a means of accessing
the audio files through hyperlinks. See "Instructions for Multimedia Reading of
the OHR," which follows the Editor's Introduction at the front of the journal, for
further explanation on how to access this article online.
Keywords: African American, authenticity, blues music, class, race.

The peculiar human desire for authentic objects and experiences, although not
new, appears to be a particularly salient concern today. As rhetorical scholar
Barry Brummett argues in A Rhetoric ofStyie, "our culture is shot through with a
The author would like to thank Kathryn Nasstrom, Martha Norkunas, Joshua Gunn, Barry Brummett, Dana
Cloud, Madeline Maxwell, Jennifer Fuller, Amanda Davis Catchet, and the blind reviewers for their thoughtful advice and generosity. The interviews conducted for this essay are part of the Project in Interpreting the
Texas Past, which is made possible by the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium at the University of Texas
at Austin.

The Oral History Review 2012, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 207-229
©The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Oral History Association.
All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]


longing for authenticity precisely because it is so engrossed in images, floating
signs, simulations, and style. There is thus a cultural longing for authenticity,
for the real, that is expressed in numerous texts and advertisements."^ Similarly,
literary critic Ceoffrey Hartman argues that we are currently living "in an era
of simulacra, of increasing saturation by the media and new, vast sources of
information or disinformation," which leads to "the schizoid feeling that the
world we live in is not the real world."^ Many hope that authenticity, whatever
they understand it to be, is the prescription for curing this postmodern, cultural
schizophrenia, the terra firma that prevents them from losing their footing during times when everything else seems so uncertain.
Authenticity can be productively understood not as an objective quality
or state of being but rather as the product of cultural struggle.^ The many
ways in which authenticity is defined, categorized, and negotiated symbolically
will always depend on how this struggle plays out and who takes part in it, as
various parties draw on discursive and symbolic resources (language, images,
signs) to influence what they and others understand authenticity to be. In
popular cultural forms such as music, an artist's identity often heavily influences
whether or not that artist is perceived as "authentic." This is particularly true in
the blues, where constructions of race and class are used to negotiate authenticity in complex ways. Indeed, the blues' historical roots in slavery and systemic racism have often led some to link the authenticity of its performers with
problematic conceptions of primitive blackness. For example, rhetorical critic
Stephen A. King argues that dominant discourses framing historical blues sites,
such as the Mississippi Delta, often traffic in pervasive racial stereotypes that
romanticize the poor, itinerant, or hypersexualized black musician—what King
calls the "primitive blues subject."'' In Romancing the Folk, historian Benjamin
Filene shows how famed cultural preservationists John and Alan Lomax, whose
early field recordings of American vernacular music for the Library of Congress
have had a powerful impact on our understanding of the authenticity of blues
and folk artists, "thoroughly exoticized" Huddie Ledbetter (better known as
"Lead Belly"), one of the more popular artists they recorded. In their efforts to
depict him as an authentic musician, Filene shows how the Lomaxes' "publicity
campaign depicted him as a savage, untamed animal and focused endlessly
on his convict past."^ The history of American popular music is replete with
examples like Lead Belly's, to such an extent that historian Brian Ward argues
^ Barry Brummett, A Rhetoric of Style (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008), 31.
^ Ceoffrey Hartman, Scars of the Spirit: The Struggle Against Inauthenticity (New York: Palgrave, 2001 ), 98.
^ See Benjamin Filene, Romancing the Folk: Public Memory ond American Roots Music (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 3.
'' Stephen A. King, "Memory, Mythmaking, and Museums: Constructive Authenticity and the Primitive
Blues Subject," Southern Communication Journal 71, no. 3 (2006): 235-50.
5 Filene, Romancing the Folk, 59.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 209

that "the earnest quest for some sort of mythical, hermetically sealed, 'real'
black American music, unadulterated by white influences and untarnished by
commercial considerations, continues."^ In light of this, it is important to consider how black blues musicians themselves understand authenticity in relation
to their art, a task for which oral history is uniquely well suited.
This essay explores the concept of authenticity through oral histories with
African American professional blues musicians. Drawing on interviews with four key
members of the Austin, Texas, blues community, I examine how their constructions
of authenticity reflect a complex discourse on identity that is tied to race, class, and
lived experience. Oral history provides access into this world of professional blues
artists, a world where authenticity in the blues moves far beyond one's technical
proficiency in the idiom. In fact, contrary to what common sense might suggest, for
some narrators authenticity has very little to do with musical ability. To this end, the
essay proceeds as follows. First, I examine the historical and cultural roots of East
Austin's blues scene, taking care to situate this local scene in the broader context
of the history of the blues in the United States. Next, I offer a close textual analysis
of the interview transcripts, focusing on the artists' discourse of authenticity and
identity. Finally, I conclude by considering the ambiguity inherent in the narrators'
discourse, especially in relation to the changes that have occurred in Austin's blues
scene as a result of desegregation. As I will show, the artists' definitions of authenticity can be understood as part of a larger cultural struggle for empowerment and
recognition in this historically marginalized community.

The East Austin blues scene
Since its emergence in the mid-1970s, rap has grown to become the dominant
form of contemporary African American musical and cultural expression in the
United States, but the blues, an older African American musical idiom with West
African roots, continues to enjoy widespread popularity around the globe. In his
introduction to the exhaustive All Music Cuide to the Blues, Cub Koda describes
the blues as "a bedrock musical form" that "has always been here."^ Its origins
can be traced back at least as far as the early 1900s, when artists like Certrude
"Ma" Rainey and W. C. Handy claimed they first heard songs that were representative of the genre.^ Over the past century, the blues has evolved into a
powerful cultural force: it is performed by both black and white musicians (and
increasingly by whites), it has a woridwide (and since the 1960s predominantly

^ Brian Ward, Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations
(Berkeley: University of California Press), 11.
' Cub Koda, Ail Music Guide to the Blues, 3rd ed., eds. Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen
Thomas Eriewine (San Francisco: Backbeat, 2003), vii (original emphasis).
^ Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History [New York: Norton, 1971), 332.


white) audience, and its widespread infiuence on popular music is evident in
genres such as jazz, rock, funk, and, most recently, rap and hip hop. Thus, the
historical and contemporary significance of the blues is complex and can best
be understood as a long, often contentious process of struggle and appropriation between African American musicians and white musicians and record label
owners. Cultural critic George Lipsitz argues that popular music and the blues
in particular are created through "a dialogic process" that is "embedded in collective history and nurtured by the ingenuity of artists interested in fashioning
icons of opposition."^ For blues artists, the blues creates opportunities for opening political spaces of contestation, emancipation, and identity formation. More
importantly for this essay, the concept of authenticity has become a ubiquitous
part of the relationship between a blues artist's subjectivity and the music she/
he plays.
In The Sound of Soul, black studies scholar Phyl Garland reminds us, "It
should never be forgotten that the sound of soul has also been the sound of
suftering."^° Indeed, the emergence of soul and its close relative, the blues, as
distinct musical idioms must be understood in relation to the historical context
and specific material conditions that aftected the creation and development of
early black music in America. The so-called "father of the blues," W. C. Handy,
claimed that he first discovered blues music when he encountered an itinerant
slide guitar player in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in 1903 or 1904.^^ The preconditions for the development of the blues can actually be located much earlier, in
the long history of institutionalized racism, forced enslavement, and the myriad
acts of systemic violence enacted on southern blacks by whites throughout the
early history of the United States. Although it is impossible to identify a precise
year or geographic location when the blues first formed, blues scholar Clyde
Woods situates the birth of the blues "after the overthrow of Reconstruction,"
when "the blues became an alternative form of communication, analysis, moral
intervention, observation, [and] celebration for a new generation that had witnessed slavery, freedom, and unfreedom in rapid succession between 1860
and 1875."^^ According to Woods, the blues was an agentive response from
southern blacks to the violence and oppression that pervaded the American
South. Interestingly, he further describes the blues as an epistemology, or way
of knowing, that "ensure[d] the autonomy of thought and action in the midst of

' George Lipsitz, Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture (Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 1990), 99.
1° Phyl Garland, The Sound ofSoui (Chicago: Regnery, 1969), 39.
" See Houston A. Baker, Jr., Blues, ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1984), 4; Adam Gussow, Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the
Blues Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 94.
'^ Clyde Woods, Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta (London:
VersoBooks, 1998), 36.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 211

constant surveillance and violence," and became a "highly developed introspective and universalist system of social thought."^^ Thus, the blues is more than
a simple musical art—it is a symbolic resource for unifying oppressed blacks, "a
way of being" in the world and a direct means of consciousness-raising for the
black community.^^
The two Creat Migrations—the diaspora of black laborers out of the South
and into urban centers in the North, West, Midwest, and Northeast United
States—that took place from 1915 to 1930 and again from 1940 through
1970 "had profound cultural implications," Lipsitz argues.^^ Chief among them
was the growth of white interest in the blues, as whites "sought autonomy, emotion, and authentic connection to others."^^ Moreover, the regional variety blues
fans enjoy today—from the fingerpicking style known as "Piedmont" blues on
the East Coast to the swinging jump blues of the West Coast, and everything in
between—all developed largely because of the Creat Migrations. As a result, a
unique style developed in and around Texas, a state that has a long and rich blues
history. Although there is no shortage of books in both the academic and popular
press detailing the history and development of the blues in cities like Chicago,
Detroit, and Memphis, less work has been done on Austin. Several excellent
studies have been published in recent years that focus on Texas cities, such as
Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, but to date there has been no comprehensive
study of the storied blues scene on Austin's East side.^'' Despite its blues history,
Austin, the capital of the state, is better known in the popular imaginary as the
seat of Texas country music and home to the "cosmic cowbo/' and "progressive
country" movements of the 1970s. It is important to consider Austin blues more
closely, not simply because its history has been overlooked, but also because it
is an example of what rhetorical theorist Kenneth Burke calls a "representative
anecdote" for the ways that blues authenticity is always articulated to specific,
localized scenes.^^ Austin race relations in the twentieth century were inextricably yoked to the local blues scene there, making it a particularly fecund site for
analyzing the identity politics of authenticity in the blues.
In 1928, city planners called for the creation of a "Negro district" in East
Austin as part of efforts to segregate the city along the East Avenue corridor.

'^ Woods, Development Arrested, 29.
1'' Kevin Phinney, Souled American: How Black Music Transformed White Culture (New York: Billboard,
2005), 2 1 .
^^ Lipsitz, Time Passages, 117.
^^ Lipsitz, Time Passages, 120.
" See Roger Wood, Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003); Alan
Govenar, 7exos Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008);
and Bill Minutaglio, In Search of the Blues: A Journey to the Soul of Black Texas (Austin: University of Texas
Press, 2010).
'^ Kenneth Burke, A Grammar of Motives (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1945), 59-61.


now the site of Interstate Highway 35. "It was segregated here hard," recalls
East Austin blues artist Donald "Duck" Jennings.^^ Within this segregated community, however, blacks created spaces where they could enjoy music and forge
strong social ties. By the 1950s, a vibrant blues scene had developed there,
based around popular black-owned clubs. Decades before Austin christened
itself the "Live Music Capital of the World," the city held a small yet prominent place on the national blues scene by virtue of its location on the "Chitlin'
Circuit," a loose collection of venues throughout the country where touring
black performers could play for enthusiastic black audiences. As historian Allen
0. Olsen argues, Austin's unique reputation on the Chitlin' Circuit was fortified
by the success of similar black clubs in San Antonio, where artists were "continuing an age-old tradition of bringing fresh musical ideas into black neighborhoods and helping to create the kind of communal events that brought people

Fig. 1 Victory Grill Mural, 2010. The mural features the visages of individuals who
were once mainstays of the East Austin blues scene: (left to right) Roosevelt "Grey
Ghost" Williams, Victory Grill founder Johnny Holmes, and Lavelle White. (Photograph
by Roger Gatchet.)
^' Donald "Duck" Jennings, interview by Roger Catchet, February 16, 2008, Projert in Interpreting the
Texas Past: African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 213

together to share in a dynamic cultural exchange."'^" Internationally known artists, such as B. B. King and Ike and Tina Turner, were among some of the more
prominent musicians who frequented East Austin during this time. This cultural
enclave included numerous black-owned blues clubs or "juke joints," such as
the historic Victory Crill, venues that provided gainful employment for local artists and touring musicians alike.
East Austin juke joints, particularly Charlie's Playhouse, were also some of
the first sites to experiment with desegregation in Austin, years before the city
began the official, legal process of integration. Although it was rare for Jennings
and his colleagues to find work playing in West Austin clubs when the city was
legally segregated, he was one of the few black musicians who got booked
regularly for fraternity and sorority events for white students. Jennings was a
member of Bluesboy Hubbard and the Jets, an all-black band fronted by Henry
"Bluesboy" Hubbard. The Jets' popularity at Creek social events led many white
university students to venture into East Austin to watch Hubbard and his band
perform at Charlie's Playhouse. Speaking of this era, Hubbard remembers, it got
"to the point where if you went to Charlie's on a Friday or Saturday, the place
was completely white. It would be like ninety-eight percent white."^^ Jennings,
who continues to play in a band with Hubbard today, agrees. "They'd be in there
like flies," he says, referring to the large number of white students that visited
the club operated by Charlie and Ira Cilden.^^
For Jennings, blues music carried the potential to help facilitate the complex process of integration throughout Austin, especially after Clifford Antone,
who was white, opened his famous namesake blues club in East Austin in the
summer of 1975. "So the music helped bring people together," Jennings says,
"people of different color and people of color, it brought us all together because
it didn't matter about you being there white, and I'm being there black. We
come for the entertainment."^^ One of the unfortunate consequences of desegregation in Austin, however, was the closing of the more prominent clubs that
anchored the East side blues scene. As these dubs faced greater competition
from white-owned venues like Antone's, many struggled to stay open as black
blues musicians sought more and higher-paying gigs in clubs throughout the
city.^"^ Increasing numbers of whites were now not only attending blues performances but playing blues professionally as well. Cultural scholar Barry Shank has

^° Allen 0. Olsen, "The Post-World War II 'Chitlin' Circuit' in San Antonio and the Long-Term Effects of
Intercultural Congeniality," Journal of Texas Music History 7, no. 1 (2007): 24.
^1 Henry "Bluesboy" Hubbard, interview by Roger Catchet, February 19, 2008, Project in Interpreting the
Texas Past: African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX.
^•^ Jennings, interview.
^^ Jennings, interview.
^'' Jonny Meyers, "Juke Joint Blues: Bluesboy Hubbard Remembers Austin's Chitlin' Circuit," Austin
Chronicle, July 13, 2007,


argued that "the African-American community in East Austin nurtured a blues
culture that would come to reinforce the developing white blues scene in the
late sixties and seventies—even as one remained cleariy and firmly separated
from the other."•^^ Even as East Austin's blues scene waned, white artists like
Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, Angela Strehli, and others found
success performing their own interpretations of black music to mixed-race audiences throughout the city. This continues to be true of the larger Austin blues
scene today; no longer delimited by the boundaries of the East side, it is a
largely integrated scene where musicians from a variety of racial and ethnic
backgrounds perform in mixed-race bands together In the section that follows,
I examine how black blues musicians in East Austin understand authenticity, a
concept that is closely tied to the musicians' identity and their relationship to
the evolving scene they helped found.

The discourse of authenticity and identity
In his book Faking It, social theorist William Ian Miller looks in the mirror and
wonders about the relationship between authenticity and his personal identity.
"Am I merely the sum of my roles," he asks, "father -i- son + husband + professor H- American H- Jew -H next-door neighbor -i- writer H- teacher + jester? What
if I am good enough at some to qualify as the genuine article but am pretty
much a fraud at others? Is it only the roles I am good at for which I can claim
authenticity?"^^ Miller's questions point to broader cultural anxieties over the
connections between authenticity and identity, and the ways in which the two
are inextricably bound together Similarly, architectural theorist Hilde Heynen
observes that authenticity "remains one of the important driving forces of our
culture, and it is a category we cannot do without when thinking about identity."^''To explore the relationship between authenticity and identity, I now turn
my attention to the narrators interviewed for this project: professional, working, African American blues musicians who reside in Austin. Although some are
adept at performing in other genres, such as jazz or country, all of the musicians
have spent a majority of their professional careers in the blues, giving them
special insight into issues of authenticity and blues music. Most of the artists
have been playing professionally in Austin for decades, and some, like Henry
"Bluesboy" Hubbard, have been entertaining audiences for fifty years or longer
The narrators' discourse is noteworthy for the way it defines authenticity in
consistent yet ambiguous ways. All four musicians articulate blues authenticity

^^ Barry Shank, Dissonant Identities: The Rock'n'Roll Scene in Austin, Texas (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan
University Press, 1994), 12.
^^ William Ian Miller, Faking it (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 129.
^^ Hilde Heynen, "Questioning Authenticity," National Identities 8, no. 3 (2006): 299.

Discourse of Authenticity and identity I 215

as a quality that one can only access through a combination of racial and
class identification, in addition to the lived experiences that are common to
those identity categories. Some of the artists privilege one category over the
other, while others emphasize the interconnections between them. In each case,
the narrators' eftort to work through the meaning of authenticity in the blues is
deeply rooted to their own experiences and identities as black musicians.
Several narrators talked about authenticity by evoking a black/white racial
binary, not an uncommon way of understanding blues history and performance
considering the genre's complex racial politics. For the narrators who do this,
authenticity is connected to race when they evoke their racial identity and the
history of the black experience in the United States in such a way that blackness
becomes a principal signifier of blues authenticity. From this perspective, some
white performers are described as inauthentic, despite their talent or ability to
play and sing the blues, while others are praised for approaching an authentic
presentation (but never quite achieving it).
The narrator who most clearly suggested that authenticity is underwritten
by what amounts to racial essentialism was Henry "Bluesboy" Hubbard, referred
to by many in the Austin music community simply as "Bluesboy." Hubbard was
born in La Grange, Texas, in early 1934, and from his childhood to the present
day, music has remained a central part of his life. A talented pianist and guitarist, Hubbard was first inspired to learn piano at the age of eight when he heard
a song from child star Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson on the radio. He would
go on to teach himself guitar by imitating AM radio broadcasts of the legendary blues guitarist T-Bone Walker, and he was later tutored by fellow Victory
Grill mainstay T. D. Bell, another prominent bandleader in the East Austin blues
scene.^^ Hubbard m'oved to Austin in 1955 at the age of 21, where he served in
the Air Force as a jet mechanic while stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base (now
the site of Austin's commercial airport) until 1958. During this time, he started
to play blues professionally as the bandleader for Bluesboy Hubbard and the
Jets in both East and West Austin.
During one interview, Hubbard discussed his friend and one-time student.
Bill Campbell. "He's a guy that I taught to play the blues," Hubbard said, "and out
of all the white guys that I've taught to play blues guitar. Bill has to be the purest. He sounds just like a black guy when he plays blues. Sounds just like a black
person, you wouldn't know it that that's a white guy on guitar." Hubbard was
at one time a popular teacher for aspiring white blues players; Austin blues club
owner Cliftord Antone, singer Angela Strehli, and Grammy-nominated guitarist/
singer/producer Johnny Winter all took private lessons from him. Hubbard also
mentioned Mickey Bennett, another white student. "I taught him to play bass.

^^ Govenar, lexos Blues, 488.


Fig. 2. Henry "Bluesboy" Hubbard playing at the South-by-Southwest Music Festival
in Austin in 2010. (Photograph by Roger Gatchet.)
guitar, piano, organ, and he was real good at it," Hubbard said. "He could play
black stuff real—and you know, sound pretty black."^^
Fascinated by Hubbard's remarks, particularly his references to a "pure"
and "real" black sound that suggest an essential, racial benchmark for measuring blues authenticity, I asked if he felt there were any differences between the
blues performances of white and black players. "Black guys has more soul, more
feeling, when they play," he responded, "and white guys don't automatically
have that. It's sort of like they have to learn to put that in there. And all white
guys don't do too good at learning it, you know." Hubbard evokes a black/white
binary that demarcates authenticity along racial lines. White players seem to
fall short of achieving authenticity because they have to learn how to play the
blues. By contrast, an innate, authentic feeling for the blues is natural for black
musicians. He elaborated:
If a white guy's playing a guitar and a black guy's playing, and they can
be in a room, and you say, "Hubbard, this guy's going to run some notes.
2' Hubbard, interview.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 217

and this guy going to run them, now you tell me which one is white and
which one is black." And I can pretty much tell you, you know. It's just that
much difference. Doing the blues, they're going to be both doing blues.
And I can pretty much tell you that's a white guy, man. That's a black guy.
Because it's that much different. White guys adjust to what comes natural.
And most white guys, country and western comes natural. A black guy
don't want to adjust to country and western, because it don't come natural. They have to learn country and western. But when it comes to blues,
a black man pick up a guitar, he's going to play the blues. If he don't do
nothing else, he's going to play the blues. Because that's our heritage. We
come from Africa, our ancestry. So, I don't know what does it, but that's
the way it is.^°
Hubbard's claim—that he can hear race encoded in sound —has great rhetorical power and implications for understanding the politics of authenticity.
Hubbard is arguing that although the musical or sonic dimension of the blues
is indeed important, it is epiphenomenal to the performer's authenticity, which
in turn is inextricably tied to race and cultural heritage. It is the heritage of
African American blues artists that makes the blues come "naturally" to blacks.
One can play the blues perfectly, one can even play the blues hiaci<, but this in
and of itself does not make the artist authentic. Authenticity is also tethered,
for Hubbard, to a foundation of racial essentialism and his community's African
roots. Campbell and Bennett are able to "pass" as black musically precisely
because they have a black sound, but race still continues to be Hubbard's central criteria for assessing their authenticity as performers. More importantly,
because they are white, Campbell and Bennett will always lack the natural talent and affinity for the blues that is necessary in order to be a truly authentic
Matthew Robinson is another soul and blues singer/guitarist with a
long history on Austin's East side. Robinson achieved early success in the
mid-1960s opening concerts for legends such as James Brown and Big Mama
Thornton as the lead vocalist in a high school soul outfit called The Mustangs.
Fourteen years Hubbard's junior, Robinson teamed with him for a time under
the aegis of the Dynamic Duo, and the two experienced regional success in
Central Texas and parts of Europe in the early 1990s. Like Hubbard, Robinson
similarly described the blues as a substantive art that comes naturally to
blacks. When I asked him if race factors into one's ability to play the blues
well, we had this exchange:
MR: I'd say it helps a lot [laughs]. Mostly, ninety percent. But if you have
it in your heart—
' " Hubbard, interview.


Fig. 3. Matthew Robinson playing at the Austin club Cappuchino's in September,
2009. (Photograph by Roger Catchet.)

RC: What helps?
MR: Just being black. That helps—that's almost automatic. But if you have
it in your heart, and you really love that, I think people can tell it. They might
say, "Man, he's playing that blues really good." But, you could tell he might
be from Spain or somewhere, but he goes, "Man! Wow!" You see what I'm
saying? So you can play blues. Like yourself, we played and had so much fun
together with your harmonica, you be playing it, and we forget they're up
there because we're having so much fun. It's the same spirit of it all.
But sure you, being black, that's what happens to you. It's just there. It's
nothing you can do about it [laughs]. And like me, it took a long time to find
out [that it was his calling to play the blues], but I finally did. And so I just
realized, hey, this is normal for me
So, to your question, sure it helps, but
if you really love it, you can get right to the core of it. And by just the fact
that you love it, that means you're going to grab something. And when you're
playing that blues, improvisational thing, that's when it comes out. Just as in
jazz, or gospel, or whatever. It's just like that. So you have to love it first, then
if you love it, you're going to learn. And then by learning the spirit of it all.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 219

you'll get your own little notch in it, and that's what's really important right
there. And that's making a statement bold, right there, if you can just do that.
And if you're black, most people expect you to do that
Robinson, like his mentor Hubbard, also believes that nonblacks can play the
blues (he even kindly mentions an evening when I accompanied him playing
harmonica at an improvised blues jam organized by the Austin Blues Society
in 2008). If the artist can convey a certain love for the genre through the
notes she/he plays, then for Robinson the artist can be a successful blues
musician. That said, he observed that black people have an "automatic" talent
for blues and that blackness "helps a lot" to be a real blues player Robinson
further noted that there is a social expectation that blacks play blues. With
blackness positioned here as a central component (ninety percent) of real
blues, the music again becomes an important but secondary feature of blues
James Kuykendall, an established blues artist who continues to run in the
same musical circles as Hubbard and Robinson, was born in 1949 in Eagle Lake,
Texas, but was raised in Austin. Kuykendall was drawn to the guitar by watching
his father play the instrument, and he built his first guitar by hand.^^ He played
with East side soul-blues band Lee & the Capris in the 1960s before joining
Hubbard's band the Jets as their bass player Toward the end of our interview,
I asked Kuykendall to define the blues. He explained
And you really can't play the blues unless you done had it hard. You can
play it, but you don't really have it in you until you done really had it hard.
And I had it hard. So I got the blues in me. At times I didn't have enough
to eat. At times I didn't have clothes to wear, shoes to wear, I had holes in
my shoes. And that's seeing it as hard. But now, it's a few peoples can play
the blues and play them better than me, and they ain't never had a hard
time in their life [laughs].^^
Where Hubbard and Robinson evoke blackness as a prerequisite for blues
authenticity, Kuykendall identifies class-based signifiers of a "hard" life as the

^^ Matthew Robinson, interview by Roger Catchet, June 1, 2009, Project in interpreting the Texas Past:
African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX.
^^ Kuykendall told me this during our interview together. Note how this story seems to authenticate the
story's teller; the narrative of a young aspiring musician who fashions single-string "diddley bows" or cigar box
guitars with broom sticks is a common trope in the biographies of blues guitarists. See, for example, Robert
Cordon, Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters (Boston: Little, Brown, 2002), 73; Covenar,
Texas Blues, 67.
" James Kuykendall, interview by Roger Catchet, August 14, 2010, Project in Interpreting the Texas Past:
African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX (original emphasis).


defining markers for playing real blues. Interestingly, Kuykendall allows that
there are some musicians who have not suftered the way he has, yet they can
still play the blues "better" than he does. However, he also makes the subtle yet
important distinction between playing the blues and having the blues "in you,"
which suggests that playing the blues authentically requires more than technical
proficiency in the genre. Kuykendall reiterated this point when he listed several
of the veteran black blues artists he trained with as he struggled to learn his
craft, including one prominent musician (W. C. Clark) who is considered the
"godfather of Austin blues": "Major Burkes, T. D. Bell, W. C. Clark, pretty much
everybody that played on the East side I played with. Time or another, here or
there, I played with them. . . . I've got some antique in me that I can use. I've
been around all these guys, and most of them is about dead now "^^ Only those
who have some "antique" in them—who have lived a hard blues life and played
under the tutelage of elder blues veterans whose own authenticity is never
questioned, as is the case with the three men Kuykendall identifies—deserve
the privilege of being considered real blues artists.
Seeking clarification, I asked Kuykendall if he felt the music played by musicians who have never lived through hard times was still the blues in his mind.
"Nooo," he replied,
JK: But they're playing the blues, and they're playing it good. And they
got it going on with it, but it's that they learned to pull it out like that.
I don't know how they're doing it, but—
RG: Are they faking it, or is it still the real thing, in your opinion?
JK: They're faking it. It's not the real thing. It's not the real thing. They're
faking it, but they can make it sound so good. But it's not, it's not what
I interpret as being the blues.^^
Noticing this interesting tension between having a good blues sound that could
still be construed as "fake," I asked Kuykendall, "So there's more than just playing the notes right, is that what you're saying?" He responded, "Yeah. Well, it's,
you can play it, you can play it, but you can't never write it and have it going
on."^^ Real blues, for Kuykendall,
is hard. Something happens to you that you realty didn't like. Something
happened to you that wasn't good for you. That's the blues. Something
that you had a hard time doing. Something that brought tears to your
eyes. That's blues. Your wife left you, she done you wrong, left you for
^^ Kuykendall, interview.
^^ Kuykendall, interview.
^^ Kuykendall, interview.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 221

your next friend. The man come and took your car from you. Or repossessed your house, or you lost your job, or you didn't get enough to drink
at the club [laughs]. Whatever, that's the
Kuykendall distinguishes between those who can "make it sound so good"
and those who "have it going on," and between blues that one learns to play
and blues that originates from a wellspring of suffering and the toil and hardship of lived experience. In contrast to Hubbard and Robinson, Kuykendall also
emphasizes being able to write the blues, rather than performing them. (This
especially so because he concedes there are those who "play them better than
me.") The class-based experience of hardship and poverty enable one not only
to play blues, but to write original, convincing songs as well. This ability to write
authentic blues further distinguishes between the authenticity of Kuykendall
and his colleagues and those who are mere "players" in the genre. Ultimately,
Kuykendall connects authenticity to identity by making the style or sound of the
music secondary to lived experience.
Charles Shaw is a drummer with a long history playing with Austin soul and
blues bands alongside Hubbard, Robinson, and Kuykendall. Born in 1945 and
raised in an African American community in South Austin, Shaw was inspired to
play drums at a very young age when he observed the drum lines at high school
football games he attended with his family. He was the drummer in Matthew
Robinson's band the Mustangs, and he is often invited to work as a session
musician recording for the Austin-based blues label Dialtone Records. Shaw
had this to say when I asked if there is such a thing as authenticity in the blues:
I'll put it this way: if you don't have a feel for it, you can't play it. You have
to really, really have a good feel for it. It's hard to do. . . . There's different
types of blues now. You got country blues, or hip hop blues, or different
kinds of blues. Now the authentic blues, it's, that's hard to do. I mean,
John Lee Hooker stuff, back in them days, Robert Johnson, all them cats
like that. That's the authentic blues. Unless you try to live that, you really
can't hit it just right, you know? Somebody that really knows can tell the
difference. But if you can play, you can play. That's the bottom line, if you
can play you can play it. But you have to really study it to really, to do it
the right way. They have so many people, different blues songs played so
many different ways. "Stormy Monday," I heard about a hundred versions
of it. . . . They're doing it their way, instead of the authentic way. They're
doing it their way.^^
'^ Kuykendall, interview.
^^ Ghades Shaw, interview by Roger Gatchet, September 30, 2010, Project in Interpreting the Texas Past:
African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX (original emphasis).


Shaw associates authenticity with having "a feel for it," a particularly interesting
connection that points to a kind of ineffable, affective substance that underwrites blues authenticity. Robinson similarly emphasized the affective dimension
of blues music when he told me that, "the blues is the blues. It's a feeling."^^ Such
references to feeling reflect the embodied nature of "authentic" blues musical
expression and the powerful hold it can take on both listeners and performers.
Of course, this is also true of music more generally. As communication scholar
David L. Palmer has argued, music "operates as a mode of communication" that
"evokes affect in an acutely distinct manner, operating rhetorically by inviting
insight into the nature of shared passions and values."^° Ethnomusicologist
Aaron A. Fox, who wrote an insightful rumination on musical feeling in his ethnography of country musicians in rural Texas, reminds us, "if you have to ask
what 'feeling' means, you'll never know, and that's the point. 'Feeling' is an
inchoate quality of authenticity.'"*^ One either has feeling or does not; there is
no middle ground, and when this "feeling" exists, it is palpable. For example,
Kuykendall described an evening when Texas blues legend Freddie King sat in
with his band, noting, "it's funny how you can feel the power from this man.
When he starts, you could feel something around you. . . . And when he plays
you can feel it inside you, man. Just being close to him, you know? . . . You
could feel electricity moving around."^^ All of the bluesmen I spoke with seemed
to acknowledge the power of affect, although they often struggled with finding
the words to describe it at any length—thus demonstrating, again, the ineffability of musical affect and its centrality to blues authenticity.
What gives someone a "feeling" for the blues? Shaw's answer is that
"unless you try to live that, you really can't hit it just right." He refers to the
hard years in which canonical artists like John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson
were recording, a period of time that encompasses some seven decades, from
the mid-1930s (for Johnson) through the 1990s (for Hooker). Hooker and
Johnson, who are both black, were born in the South and were no strangers
to racial oppression and violence. Johnson is widely believed to have died from
drinking poisoned whiskey, and Hooker, who left the South to find work in the
automobile plants of Detroit, once described his home state of Mississippi as
"the worstest state in the world.'"*^ In this sense, Shaw's deceptively simple

3' Matthew Robinson, interview by Roger Catchet, March 25, 2009, Project in Interpreting the Texas Past:
African American Texans Oral History Project, Austin, TX (original emphasis).
'"' David L. Palmer, "Virtuosity as Rhetoric: Agency and Transformation in Paganini's Mastery of the Violin,"
Quarterly Journal of Speech 84, no. 3 (1998): 343.
"•^ Aaron A. Fox, Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Ciass Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University
Press, 2004), 155.
''^ Kuykendall, interview.
''^ John Lee Hooker, The Voice of the Blues: Classic Interviews from Living Blues Magazine, eds. Jim O'Neal
and Amy van Singel (New York: Routledge, 2002), 224.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 223

insistence that one must "live that" in order to really play the blues is revealed
to be a rather nuanced reference that is rich with meaning. Poverty, Jim Crow,
and racial violence—all things that Johnson and Hooker had to struggle with
during their lifetime become part of a larger experiential foundation for blues
authenticity in East Austin.^"^
As Shaw and I continued discussing the complicated nature of blues
authenticity, I raised the issue of race and asked if that had anything to do with
authenticity in the blues, in his view. "Race? No. No, no," he replied, but he
then added an interesting caveat:
Blues is the blues regardless . . . . I don't think race has a part to do with it.
No, unh-uh. But I'm saying, if you've never picked cotton, and never been
a slave, well you really can't sing too much to that. You can't really put a
lot of feeling into what you want to express about hard times. You've never
had it. So, it's just as simple as that. Hey, if you've never been a slave, you
don't know what it's like to be a slave. I was never a slave, but you know,
I have some slave blood in me [laughs]! I've seen some, remember some
Shaw's discussion of slavery as a criterion for blues authenticity connects
Hubbard's evocation of race and race-based oppression with Kuykendall's
remarks regarding an experiential, class-based authenticity. Shaw's laughter
underscores that he was not, of course, ever a slave, but "slave blood" and
having seen "some hard times" links him to the heritage of slavery, which no
white blues musician can claim. Moreover, Shaw recognizes that the institution
of slavery contributed to the creation of the blues, a form of human expression
that seeks joy and liberation through expressions of pain and suffering. The
common ground between Hubbard, Robinson, Kuykendall, and Shaw is that the
blues, although a musical idiom, is so much more than that. When it comes to
authenticity, for these artists musical ability becomes secondary to one's identity
in terms of race, class, and lived experience.

Authenticity and identity are always politicized in larger cultural contexts, and
given the important connection between the two concepts, it is worth considering

"^ For a detailed discussion of life in Mississippi from the standpoint of black blues musicians, see Stephen
A. King, I'm Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta (Jackson: University Press
of Mississippi, 2011), 117-39.
"^ Shaw, interview.


the larger ideological significance of these blues artists' discourse. As I argue
eariier in this essay, the blues is originally an African American idiom developed
by black musicians in response to their subjection to systems of racial oppression and institutionalized violence in the American South. Hubbard, Robinson,
Kuykendall, and Shaw's efforts to privilege the African American community's
struggles throughout that history, both in terms of racial and class identification, therefore suggest that authenticity creates a conceptual field where those
injustices can be addressed in an implicit, perhaps even coded form. Authenticity
becomes an empowering form of discourse for these bluesmen and a source of
agency in a community that has historically suffered greatly at the hands of a
hegemonic white majority.
This form of empowerment can be seen not so much in what the artists
say but rather in what they do not say. None of the bluesmen directly attack or
criticize white blues musicians; however, they do define authenticity in such a
way that no white musician could ever claim it. More importantly, these black
artists use history to do this rhetorical work. By advocating racial essentialism
and aligning themselves with the historical legacy of slavery, segregation, and
other race- and class-based experiences, they establish definitional boundaries
that necessarily exclude white musicians who can never satisfy those criteria for
authenticity. In this sense, they never openly denounce white artists—something they would almost certainly be loathe to do, considering all four perform in mixed-race bands today—because such criticism is unnecessary. This
form of unspoken opposition is a subtle, but no less powerful, way to protect
these artists' community of working black performers in East Austin and, more
broadly, in other geographic regions as well. Indeed, as Shaw's reference to the
authenticity of Mississippi natives John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson makes
clear, he is keenly aware of the struggles of other blues musicians around the
country. Their discourse therefore demonstrates that authenticity is not only
tied to localized scenes but can also do important identity work beyond their
immediate locale.
Interestingly, it is precisely on this terrain, beyond Austin's city limits, that
the artists' emphasis on racial essentialism as a criterion for blues authenticity takes on added significance. The logic that drove the Lomaxes' presentation of Lead Belly "as a savage, untamed animal" in the 1930s—that primitive
blackness signifies authentic blues—continues to underwrite the contemporary
blues scene around the country today. For example, in his study of the Delta
Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, rhetorical critic Stephen A. King found
that the
permanent exhibit focuses on promoting "authentic" images of primitiveness and impoverishment—iconic symbols that reflect larger, more
encompassing, blues mythic narratives—that arguably satisfy (White)

Discourse of Authenticity and identity I 225

tourists who share culturally specific memories of the blues. At the same
time, these mythic narratives serve to racially reinscribe predictable and
stereotypical images of the downtrodden, dispossessed blues subject."*^
More recently. King has discovered similar racist constructions at work in touristic narratives throughout the Mississippi Delta, where they are deployed in
order to promote the "authenticity" of blues festivals and destinations like the
Shack Up Inn, a series of repurposed blues-themed sharecropper shacks where
travelers can stay overnight.^'' Although these constructions share a commitment to racial essentialism that is also evident in the discourse of the artists
I interviewed, Hubbard, Robinson, Kuykendall, and Shaw's use of race notably
lacks the problematic focus on primitiveness and exoticism that defines these
mainstream cultural forms. Instead, their constructions draw on lived experience to craft an image of an authentic black blues artist that does not traffic
in overt racial stereotypes. This empowering narrative emerges from within a
vernacular community rather than being imposed from the outside, and the artists' discourse öfters an alternative (and, one might argue, more valid) definition
of blues authenticity that does not privilege black musicians at the expense of
dehumanizing them.
If authenticity is a complex site of struggle over identity and power, then
the meanings that emerge from that struggle can take many difterent forms,
even between members of a particular community (e.g.. East Austin blues musicians) who have known and worked with each other for decades. As archival
studies scholars Heather MacNeil and Bonnie Mak describe it, authenticity "is
a creature of circumstance. What it means to be authentic continues to change,
and the parameters and content of authenticity are always under negotiation "'*^
Although Hubbard, Robinson, Kuykendall, and Shaw share some similarities
in the way they discuss authenticity, particularly in their consistent focus on
its relationship to identity, the four men are also often contradictory in their
attempts to define it, as evidenced by their conceptual stutterings about its
boundaries. For example, Shaw argued that "the blues is the blues regardless"
of the racial identity of the musician performing it. Yet moments later, he maintained the opposite: "But I'm saying, if you've never picked cotton, and never
been a slave, well you really can't sing too much to that." In a similar exchange,
Kuykendall asserted that artists who have not struggled with the hard life of an
authentic blues musician are "playing the blues, and they're playing it good."
But they're also "faking it," he said, and playing something that's "not what
I interpret as being the blues." At one point, Hubbard even referred to one of

''^ King, "Memory, Mythmaking, and Museums," 247-48.
"•^ King, I'm Feeling the Blues Right Now.
''^ Heather MacNeil and Bonnie Mak, "Constructions of Authenticity," Library Trends 56, no. 1 (2007): 44.


his white students. Bill Campbell, as being the "purest" white blues player he
has heard. He "sounds just like a black guy when he plays blues," Hubbard said,
so much so that "you wouldn't know it that that's a white guy on guitar" But
Hubbard also claimed that, "If a white guy's playing a guitar and a black guy's
playing . . . I can pretty much tell you that's a white guy, man. That's a black guy.
Because it's that much different."
This unresolved ambiguity inherent in their discourse is fascinating on multiple levels. First, it is interesting to note that the artists exhibit no cognitive
dissonance due to the conflicting elements in their definitions of authenticity; indeed, they appear quite comfortable with the entirety of their responses.
These conflicting responses emerged as they worked through what authenticity
means in the dialogic context of these particular oral history interviews. That
is, they engaged in dialogue with me on a topic that they have not regularly
discussed with other interviewers. The relative ambiguity of their responses
on authenticity stands in contrast to the clarity of their comments about their
life histories, who they have played with, and how they discovered the blues,
whether delivered to me or to the other interviewers who have spoken with
them.''^ Second, the fact that the artists did not produce rote responses to my
inquiries about authenticity suggests that they do not have a larger agenda
to push with regard to authenticity, race, or class, nor were they interested in
putting me, the interviewer—a white, middle-class, formally educated, blues
harmonica player in his mid-30s—"in my place." Their willingness to dialogue
openly about authenticity with someone who could never meet their definitions
of the term bespeaks a genuine desire to wrestle with it, to understand not only
what it means but also what its larger implications are for blues performers. And
third, in an integrated blues scene like the one that exists throughout Austin
today, black blues artists enjoy certain tangible benefits, such as the ability to
share their art with larger audiences and the freedom to play in a greater number
of clubs with a wider pool of musicians. It is no surprise, then, that they would
offer praise to nonblack artists who play the blues well (as all four men do). Still,
when probed about whether or not those artists are really authentic, they drew
a line that establishes black musicians as the benchmark of authenticity.
Finally, the artists' discourse, and particularly their emphasis on race and
class, implies a concern, albeit an unspoken one, over what their purchase on the
blues is and will continue to be in Austin's integrated scene. As the legal barriers that divided East and West Austin started to slowly come down beginning in

' " See, for example, Meyers, 'Juke Joint Blues"; Margaret Moser, "Bright Lights, Inner City," Austin
Chronicle, July 4, 2003,; Josep Pedro, "A
Meeting with Matthew Robinson," n.d.,;
and Jay Hardwig, "Roots, Reckonings, and Resolutions," /Austin Chronicle, November 27,1998, http://www. -27/520689/print/

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 227

the early 1970s, the segregated East Austin blues scene gradually transitioned
to a larger Austin blues scene that is integrated, both on the bandstand and
in the audience. "There's no blues scene, as far as black blues scene, in Austin
anymore," Shaw told me.^° If this has caused a sense of loss for these musicians, they do not seem to show it, at least not explicitly. Indeed, when I asked
Jennings, who has played alongside a Japanese guitar player in Hubbard's band,
if he feels saddened by the way the East Austin blues scene dissolved when
the city started integrating, he said, "You can't want desegregation and then
at the same time be segregated. That don't work." The entire city of Austin is
one "big playing field, and you don't have to try to just be confined to one type
[of music or venue]. You can go make money anywhere if you can play, and
it don't matter whether you white or black."^^ If these artists have embraced
these changes, as they appear to have done, why then would they lay claim to
an authenticity that is tied so closely to blackness and black experience? One
answer may be that, despite the fact that the blues scene is largely integrated
today, not only in Austin but across the United States, black musicians continue
to experience varying degrees of marginalization. For example, in his analysis
of the cultural functions of blues music festivals, Stephen A. King interviewed
some black musicians who experienced "a race-based, inequitable pay system"
that compensated white blues musicians more so than their black colleagues,
leading King to argue that, in some ways, "segregation prevails" in the blues
today.52 Although King is not writing about Austin's scene, Hubbard, Robinson,
Kuykendall, and Shaw are no strangers to the milieu he describes (they have
performed in many blues festivals), and by privileging blackness as the center
of blues authenticity they may be attempting to preserve some of the autonomy and control they once enjoyed when East Austin's blues scene was largely
segregated. This view was most clearly expressed by Shaw, who noted the drop
in the number of black blues players postintegration. Although he is thankful
that the blues is "still alive in Austin" due to the proliferation of white players
around the city, he also lamented, "a lot of people don't want to play it no more.
Black people anyway, for sure. I mean now in Austin; you go South somewhere,
or Chicago, Mississippi, it's strong. Austin, it's not here as far as the black musicians are concerned. It's not here."^^
Moreover, for Shaw, who told me that young blacks in Austin "don't give
a heck about the blues" and "don't know that it comes from slavery times," his
definition of authenticity also functions as a stay against historical amnesia.

^° Shaw, interview (original emphasis).
^^ Jennings, interview (original emphasis).
^^ Stephen A. King, "Blues Tourism in the Mississippi Delta: The Functions of Blues Festivals," Popular
Music and Society 27, no. 4 (2004): 469-70.
" Shaw, interview.


Authenticity can work in this way when it is directly yoked to a community's history, especially when that history is in danger of being forgotten. For example,
Shaw described the East Austin blues scene as "a family" that is now "scattered, diversified." The Austin black community is "all spread out," he said, with
"nobody to show you anything, they're on their own."^"* Maintaining a sense
of authenticity that is tied to identity would be especially important in a dispersed community that does not remember its own musical heritage, because it
provides a sense of stability and rootedness in an otherwise uncertain, changing world. And although Shaw stops short of wishing that more young blacks
currently played blues (he notes that many have turned to hip hop because the
pay is better), his very mention of them suggests a sense of loss stemming from
their diminishing role in Austin's contemporary blues scene—a loss both of the
black history that is tied to the blues, as well as a loss of authenticity in Austin's
larger blues community.
Blues music has long been characterized by its oppositional nature as a
counter-hegemonic art, and as growing numbers of white and other nonblack
musicians perform in the blues idiom, authenticity will likely become an increasingly important resource for black blues artists who are negotiating their own
evolving role in the genre. For oral historians, it is important to note that this
negotiation whereby authenticity is constructed does not occur in isolation.
Rather, one of the places where a sense of authenticity can emerge is in the
dynamic dialogic exchanges between interviewers and narrators, an idea that
resonates with philosopher Charles Taylor's argument that authenticity requires
a "self-definition in dialogue" that "binds us to others."^^ As the struggle over
authenticity continues in vernacular communities, both in the blues and elsewhere, oral historians and the narrators who collaborate with them stand poised
to enrich our understanding of this concept that continues to drive our search
for identity and a sense of "wholeness" in the twenty-first century.
Sample the Music of Matthew Robinson and James Kuykendall
Co To Song 1 : "Wet Paper Sack"
ohs091 /DCl /OHR_39_2_Catchet_Song_01 _Robinson_Wet_Paper_Sack.mp4
Written by Matthew Robinson (04:45)
Performed by Matthew Robinson & Texas Blues Band
©2000 Dialtone Records, ©DialT Music

' Shaw, interview.
Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991 ), 66, 67.

Discourse of Authenticity and Identity I 229

Co To Song 2: "Kuyk's Back"
ohs091 /DCl /OHR_39_2_Catchet_Song_02_KuykendalLKuyks_Back.mp4
Written by James Kuykendall (03:28)
Performed by the Texas Eastside Kings
©2001 Dialtone Records, ©DialT Music
Roger Davis Catchet is an assistant professor of communication at Eastern New Mexico
University in Portales, New Mexico. His research interests include the rhetoric of popular culture
and oral history, and he serves as a volunteer oral historian with the Austin, Texas-based Project
in Interpreting the Texas Past. Catchet has published book chapters in the edited collections
Sporting Rhetoric: Performance, Cames, and Politics (Peter Lang, 2009) and Uncovering Hidden
Rhetorics: Social Issues in Disguise (Sage, 2008). His current research investigates our seemingly
never-ending quest for authenticity throughout popular culture, and the ways that authenticity
has become a principal category around which people organize and make sense of their lives and
identities. E-mail: [email protected]

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