Allen Wayne Damron was a superb entertainer – he had an uncanny ability to read an audience and then to select material he knew would capture their attention. Mr. Damron rarely relied on a set list, choosing freely from his repertoire of thousands of songs. Allen’s great wit and infectious joie de vivre made him a favorite wherever he performed. A Texas folk music legend who amassed thousands of loyal fans during his long career, Allen was one of the key figures in the early development of the Austin music scene in the 1970’s, as well as being an integral part of the Kerrville Folk Festivals from the very beginning. Unfailingly generous about encouraging and fostering emerging artists, Allen often invited musicians for guest sets during a show. In 1976 Allen put a young Tim Henderson on the stage at a joint called the Rome Inn near the University of Texas campus. Their friendship began then and lasted until Allen’s death in 2005.
Tim and Allen were like two sides of the same golden coin. Together, these friends created a synergy that resulted in extraordinary Texas-themed songs. Over the decades, Tim wrote 25 songs that Allen performed and recorded. These two Texans, one native born and one West Virginia immigrant, enthusiastically embraced a romantic vision of Texas, and a love of its history, tales, people and the immense grandeur of the land. They always had fun wherever their escapades took them, in Austin, South Texas, or the Trans Pecos, enjoying each other’s quick wit and willingness to set off on an adventure wherever that might lead them. Tim loved Allen’s tales, and Allen got a kick out of Tim’s unpredictable imagination. Once, entranced by one of Allen’s stories about diving on the Spanish shipwreck off the Padre Island coast, Tim was spurred to write “Spanish Silver”.
Tim also greatly admired Jack Damron, Allen’s dad, who was then foreman of the Duval County Ranch, and he composed “Texas in His Ways” with Jack firmly in mind. The song “Rattlesnake Man” was penned after Tim laid eyes on those tremendous rattlesnakes Duval County seemed to always have in such generous supply.
These two compadres often egged each other on. While visiting Art Eatman’s place by Terlingua Creek in the Big Bend, Allen said, “Let’s get up before dawn and see if we can come across the big cougar who left those fresh tracks.” So sure enough they went off to find a cougar. Another time, Tim made replicas of the Spanish silver coin Allen and his dad had found. His Texas friend wore this medallion around his neck for the rest of his life. Allen was also certain that buried treasure was located by a big tree in a particular field near Poteet, Texas. But, if it was there, it’s still there, waiting for future dreamers, artists, and seekers.
Maybe they are now off having a grand ‘ol time in that next dimension where they both have traveled, in the company of those friends and family who have gone before. They are sorely missed, and we are more than fortunate that they passed this way at all.