Field Notes on Houston Music, 1830s-1920s

Hopkins on a live recording about Dowling Street

Come the 20th century, Dowling Street (named after former Confederate officer Dick Dowling) eventually became the center of Houston blues culture, home to many blues clubs, lounges and parties. T-Bone Walker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and many others hung out and played there.

Medicine shows rotated on Dowling Street. A banjo picker claimed to heal tarantula bites with his personally intricate plucking, twisting, and turning power of music. A man sung a song with each package of toothpaste he sold.

Pinetop Burkes, Blackboy Shine, Rob Cooper and Robert Shaw were all a part of the loosely knit group of blues pianists called the "Santa Fe Group" who performed in juke joints and roadhouses along the Santa Fe tracks in Fourth Ward throughout the 1920s.

Also during the 1920s, Dixieland bands played in city parks, particularly at Root Square and Hermann Park.


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