The Rogers & Hammerhead Show aired from 1996-1997 on the Austin Music Network on cable access TV. Freddy Powers and Bill McDavid created the show to shine a spotlight on songwriters who developed country music in Texas—and whose songs made various country musicians famous. Powers is a legend in his own right, penning hits for the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones and Willie Nelson. In 2009 Freddy Powers donated a substantial archive to the Wittliff Collections, including the broadcast tapes of The Rogers & Hammerhead Show.
The entire show run can be viewed at the Wittliff Digital Collections page at https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/7218.
Catherine Powers, Freddy’s widow and executor, continues his work promoting country music and musicians. Her book The Spree of 83 covers Freddy’s life working with a wide variety of musicians in Austin over his 50-year career.
This clip and the descriptions below provide a peek into the show and the joy of the songwriters playing and talking about their craft.
0:00-0:41 Gary P. Nunn wrote “London Homesick Blues,” which Jerry Jeff Walker recorded live in Luckenbach. The song ended up as the final track on Viva Terlingua, with Nunn on vocals. The song was the theme song for Austin City Limits for more than 25 years. Nunn is considered the father of the progressive country scene that started in Austin in the early 1970s. This version sung by Gary P. Nunn includes Nunn yodeling at about 0:30.
0:42-1:34 Floyd Tillman helped create the Western swing and honky-tonk genres. Tillman grew up in the cotton-mill town of Post, Texas as a sharecropper’s son. Here he sings his song “This Cold War,” which he wrote and recorded with Merle Haggard and the Strangers, and Haggard makes an appearance at about 1:02 and joins him on some harmonies.
1:35-2:47 Sonny Throckmorton had more than 1,000 of his songs recorded by various country singers. He also had minor success as a recording artist. George Burns recorded Throckmorton’s song, “I Wish I Was Eighteen Again,” and here Sonny Throckmorton tells that story.
2:48-4:05 Rusty Wier wrote “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance,” which was covered by Jerry Jeff Walker, Todd Snider, Chris LeDoux, John Hiatt, and Barbara Mandrell. Bonnie Raitt’s version of the song became a country hit on the Urban Cowboy movie soundtrack. Here Rusty Weir discusses writing the song and sings his own, slower version.