This week in Texas music history: Dolores Fariss is born

She was the queen of Austin’s early country scene.

By Jason Mellard, Center for Texas Music History at Texas StateApril 17, 2024 10:15 am, ,

From KUTX:

On April 18, 1912, country bandleader Dolores Fariss was born in Hutto, Texas. She spent most of her life in the Govalle area of Austin graduated from Austin High.

Her musical career began as a piano player in her father’s polka band, and it was in that role that she met her future husband and bandmate Lee in 1930. The two married the following year in San Marcos, and in the early 1940s Dolores organized the country band Dolores and the Bluebonnet Boys with Lee on drums.

They toured Central Texas, appeared on radio and recorded several popular regional singles that Dolores had written or arranged, including “Austin Waltz,” “I Don’t Care” and “A Broken Heart.”

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dolores and the Bluebonnet Boys became the house band for the Skyline Club in North Austin. This was a key spot on the Texas honky-tonk circuit that became infamous as the site of the final concerts of Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Horton. More importantly, though, the Skyline also planted the seeds, night after night, of a Central Texas country sound that would continue to unfold in the years ahead.

Fariss, for example, was a tremendous influence on yodeler and business owner Kenneth Threadgill, who said that Dolores, “did more to teach me about music than anybody,” a favor Threadgill would pass on in his mentorship of Janis Joplin at his bar on North Lamar, not far from the old Skyline.

In one sense, then, Dolores Fariss set the stage for Kenneth Threadgill, and Threadgill used that stage to nurture the younger talents of Austin’s folk and country scenes in the 1960s and 1970s, putting Austin on the musical map.


Michael Corcoran, “T for Threadgill: Father of the Austin Music Scene”

Clay Shorkey in Laurie E. Jasinski, Gary Hartman, Casey Monahan

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