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Allen Wayne Damron

Posted by Common Tater on Sunday, August 25, 2013

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He is missed by many here in Texas.

Allen was, originally, from Raymondville in the Rio Grande Valley part of Texas.  Growing up around there, he spoke Spanish almost like a native speaker.  Allen's instruments were the guitar and banjo.  Some regarded him as a folkie and others as simply a Texas storyteller but Allen was more than that.  He was a real entertainer.

I first saw him at a bar in Austin named the Checkered Flag in the 1960's.  His banjo style was similar to that of Pete Seeger and his finger picking style on the guitar had definite Hispanic influences.  When he sang I'm A Good Old Rebel, he accompanied himself on the banjo - picking single notes with one finger as he sang.  His "talking intro" for the song always made reference of Col. Santos Benavides' 33rd Texas Cavalry of the Confederate Army.  The 33rd was from the Rio Grande Valley.

Allen was able to switch ethos is a heartbeat and not leave one feeling that he had forgotten to activate the clutch!  He'd go from an Irish ballad such as Nancy Whiskey directly into one of his own compositions such as Is There a Heaven For Baloons? or Come And Take It  (a song of the Texas Revolution) and his audience felt that the roller coaster of musical energy  was a just a natural thing.  Sometimes (as in Ay, Jalisco, No Te Rajes), Allen would switch between English and Spanish and stop in the middle of the song and give the audience a lesson in Spanglish ... and then start the song again.  It was all Texas Natural because that's what Allen was.

By the time I had finished with my time in the Marines and some graduate school in Northern Virginia (and returned to Texas), Allen had left Austin and had migrated to west Texas.  It seemed to me that Allen had become an actual legend hereabouts.  People would make reference to his early troubadour days in Austin and rightly conclude that those were his dues-paying times which led him to be one of the prime movers of the Kerrville Folk Festival and the unordained (and unpaid) poet laureate of Texas.

Allen is gone.  Texas storyteller, Texas folkie, entertainer, member of the NRA, Texas singer-songwriter, guitarist and banjoist.  Is There A Heaven For Baloons?  Allen knows.




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