I created this website because I feel The Jester Lounge is an important part of Texas', and especially Houston’s musical history that deserves to be remembered.
The Jester was the birthplace of Houston's folk music scene in the 1960’s. Opened in 1962 by Mack Webster behind a popular barbecue joint at 4600 Westheimer, The Jester became Houston's focal point for the then burgeoning folk music phenomenon that had swept the country. Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and The Kingston Trio were on radios and record players across the nation. If I Had a Hammer had risen to number one on the Billboard charts.
Houston area singer/songwriters made their way to the Jester stage and later to national and international audiences. Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lomax Jr., Guy Clark, Kay (K.T.) Oslin, and later Townes Van Zandt, all found a receptive and fertile arena in which to hone their considerable talents. Scott and Vivian Holtzman both told me years later that hearing Big Brother and the Holding Company's first album on the independent Mainstream Records label, they realized that the scruffy young woman who had sung at Open Mic Sunday at The Jester had been Janis Joplin.
Although not regulars, other performers at The Jester who went on the much bigger audiences were Judy Collins, Barry McGuire, John Denver and the Stoneman Family.
Although I was much too young to go to the Jester when it was open, my brother Baron Clements was a regular audience member and good friends with many of the performers there. My brother would later marry Judy Stewart, of Ken & Judy, so I am writing this as sort of an inside outsider. I grew up hearing my brothers records of Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, and of course The Jester album, Look, It's Us! I am including the Look, It's Us! album in its entirety on the website and will be adding other unreleased recordings from many of the regulars at The Jester as the website grows.
One of the main purposes of this website is to share what information and recordings I have regarding The Jester, and to invite any of you out there who have stories, photographs or recordings to do the same. So far, the only photograph of the Jester other than the album photo I have been able to find is a blurry shot of Ken & Judy performing. So any of you who are holding on to Jester photos, they would be a welcome addition to the website.
Houston and Texas both have a huge and important musical heritage that should be preserved. I hope you enjoy the music and a look at some familiar faces from Houston’s early folk scene.