Rag Radio : Legendary Houston Folksinger Don Sanders

Houston singer/songwriter and storyteller Don Sanders (right) with Rag Radio host Thorne Dreyer at the KOOP studios in Austin.

Legendary Houston folksinger Don Sanders on
Rag Radio with Thorne Dreyer. Listen to it here:


Don Sanders was a central figure in the early Houston folk scene, playing all the landmark venues — from Anderson Fair, Sand Mountain, the Old Quarter, and Liberty Hall to Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters and the Kerrville Folk Festival. He has shared the stage with Lyle Lovett (who considers him an important influence), Nanci Griffith, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Lightin’ Hopkins, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Janis Joplin. He performed at countless peace rallies, benefits, progressive political events, and street concerts in Houston’s Montrose.

Don also worked with Pacifica Radio’s KPFT-FM (he was Donnie Jo DJ) and in Houston theater, producing and performing El Peregrino a one-man show at Houston’s Main Street and Chocolate Bayou theaters. In recent years he has devoted much of his time to performing for school children as the “Sourdough Cowboy.” Don was featured in For the Sake of the Song, the documentary film about Houston’s venerable acoustic venue, Anderson Fair, that incubated such major talent as Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Lucinda Williams, Guy Clark, and Lyle Lovett.

Don has always been known for his unique vision and his quirky, personal songwriting style. Among his best-known songs were “Third Eye,” the “Coffee Song,” and “Heavy Word User,” in which he describes himself as a “greasy, sleazy information abuser.”

Rolling Stone called Don Sanders Houston’s “spritely local folkie,” and Lyle Lovett, then a Texas A&M student writing in the school paper, The Batallion, tagged him the “grand old man of Houston folk music.” John Wilson wrote on The Rag Blog: “Over a five year period from 1970 to 1975, Don wrote and performed a suite of songs that pretty much provided the soundtrack for that tumultuous and intensely musical period of Houston’s history.”

Many of those historic songs have been released on a new CD titled Heavy Word User which came out during the Kerrville Folk Festival. It is available at YourTexasMusic and recently was accepted by Pandora into the Music Genome Project.

This show includes live performance by Don Sanders.

Rag Radio — hosted and produced by Rag Blog editor Thorne Dreyer — is broadcast every Friday from 2-3 p.m. (CDT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, and streamed live on the web. KOOP is a cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin.

Rag Radio, which has been aired since September 2009, features hour-long in-depth interviews and discussion about issues of progressive politics, culture, and history. After broadcast, all episodes are posted as podcasts and can be downloaded at the Internet Archive. Tracey Schulz is the show’s engineer and co-producer.

Rag Radio is also rebroadcast on Sundays at 10 a.m. (Eastern) on WFTE, 90.3-FM in Mt. Cobb, PA, and 105.7-FM in Scranton, PA.

The Rag Blog

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