AllisonWonderland Concert Lightshow
James C Allison (Dec'd April 12th 2022)
When Allison was in elementary school, his fourth grade teacher, Ms. McKinny
noticed that his syntax wasn't normal. He would refer to colors as sour, sweet, loud, or bitter.
The AllisonWonderland Concert Lightshow was last done, along with the “Eyedream of Jeane” in
1997 with Charles Neville's Band “Diversity” at Tupitina's in New Orleans.
There were many people associated with the AllisonWonderland over the many years. There was his patron, Mr. H.A. Lott, his manager Mary-k Ashley Wilson, his agent Gerry Zekowski,
The 1972 “Sensatiation” TV Program personnel were Kenan Branam, TV Producer
(who passed on some years back), and Mary-k Ashley Wilson, executive coordinator,
(see below image).
In doing the research into Lumia, the Art of Light, it was found that people such as:
Allison has worked with:
Seals and Crofts, JJ Cale, Mother Earth, Charlie Neville, Buddy Miles, Richie Havens, Hank Saroyan, and many local Houston Bands. But the AllisonWonderland is a stand alone concert attraction, having its own Concert Sound System, thus not needing to work with a band. Allison is also an accomplished musician who makes his own music to which
the lightshow is done.
Allison has cooperated with:
The name is a play on the title of Lewis Carroll's book “Alice in Wonderland” but using Allison's name.
Here is an article about AllisonWonderland By Kent Skinner:
After I returned from my backpacking trip to Europe, my friend Dale Meyler suggested that I go check out a place called AllisonWonderland on Knox Street in Dallas. It was an old movie theater that the tenant, Jim Allison had turned into a cool weekly multimedia show with live music, serial movies, weird flicks and the most amazing light show.
Dale had been doing lo tech multimedia shows in his garage for years and he wanted me to try and figure out how Jim was doing his lightshow.
I was flummoxed. All I had to do was ask.
I introduced myself to Allison and played some original guitar pieces and songs while we talked for a while. I ended up playing there almost every week for a while. After that initial chat, Jim asked me “OK, so you're name isn't really Cat Skinner is it?" Laughter. He had misheard. "No, it's Kent Skinner!" I corrected him.
He gave me a tour backstage and demonstrated the instrument he had built and named the Crystalume.
This was leagues beyond the cool but splashy psychedelic light shows that one associates with the 60s. This was a polished, practiced visual interpretation of music. This was art.
Jim would drop little nuggets of information occasionally but he let me discover on my own. I had to build my own setup. I experimented and went through a couple of Crystalumes before building one that was portable and powerful and is sadly gathering dust in my garage as I write.
I convinced the art department at U.T. Austin to give me six hours of credit towards my Art Degree. I named my show "Talking Lights" and later, "Choreoptics" and always acknowledged Jim as the source of my inspiration. But this story is not mine but his.
Jim is a visionary. In the early 70's he anticipated a day when you would be able to buy your favorite album of music and take it home and watch it! I remember him owning an early videotape cassette recorder and in later years, playing with lasers.
The AllisonWonderland Theater did not endure. There was conflict between partners and it eventually folded.
After a stay in Natural Dam, Arkansas, Jim lived with his lady friend and manager, Mary-k Wilson in a house near Inwood and Mockingbird Lanes in Dallas. Although they were probably about 15 years older than me, it was cool to go hang out and listen to his stories.
Jim is one of those people who has this incredible charisma that people are drawn to. Within five minutes, no matter where you are, there will be a crowd of enthralled listeners. There were also rumors of their cat "Slo" (short for "Speed's Little One"), relaxing in a giant glass brandy snifter while smoke was blown through the center hole of an LP placed over the top. Liquid cat. He could slosh him around like a giant furry shot of cognac.
I lost track of Allison for a few years and then by chance ran into Mary-k in Austin. She put me back in touch. Jim was living in Houston with his new lady, Judy Zekowski. We had independently discovered and were using some of the same music for our shows. I refer to it as graphic music, music that begs to be augmented visually. Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield for example.
Again I lost touch for a few years. I don't recall how but we reconnected again in the late eighties or early nineties and collaborated on a show with Judy's son, Greg Zekowski who had taken up the Crystalume himself at the White Rock art facility, The Bath House.
I need to drag out my Crystalume and clean her up. I may have been intimidated by the amazing visuals possible with digital technology today, but thinking more about it, I can make impressive music in the studio with only my computer but it will never replace the satisfaction and the purity of sitting and playing my guitar.
Jim is living somewhere in a small town called Onalaska, Texas I have connected again and have dusted off my Crystalume and am honing up on my Vusical chops!
Here is an interesting incident that happened:
One time, Mr. Lott and Allison were together at a Piccadilly Cafeteria in Houston. Mr. Lott, being uber wealthy was dressed in the finest hand-taylored suit. Impeccable!
Allison being a Hippy type had shoulder length hair, and a beard. He was dressed in a black turtleneck sweater, black denim shirt and slacks, a buffalo-hide fringed coat, which had a brass temple bell at the end of each fringe strand, and matching fringed boots. He “chingged” when he walked.
In the middle of their meal, three really foxy hippy chick groupies types showed up at their table, and one of them said: “You're AllisonWonderland, aren't you?”. Allison nodded yes. Another one asked if they could get autographs. “Of course.” replied Allison. With that they each unbuttoned their blouses, and presented a bare shoulder for Allison to sign.
Everyone in the restaurant had stopped eating, and were watching this.
The three cute little chicks thanked Allison profusely, and left. Allison looked over at Mr. Lott, who gave him a slight smile, and just shook his head. Mr. Lott enjoyed this kind of thing, he WAS, after all, a key player behind the AllisonWonderland.
Here is story about how Allison met Jeane Z Champion, Gerry and Judy Zekowski.
There's a special story about how AllisonWonderland met one of his best students, Jeane Z. Champion who does the Eyedream of Jeane Concert Lightshow using a Crystalume.
Her father, Gerry Zekowski was the vice president of Lightolier, one of the world's largest producers of lighting equipment. This part of the story is about how Gerry, and Allison happened to meet.
Allison was living in a big old mansion in the Montrose, in Houston. Each evening, Allison would rehearse with his Crystalume. His fans and followers were welcome to come watch, and every evening there were new comers accompanying Allison's friends, fans and followers.
One evening, a new guest had left Allison's phone number on her answering machine for her boyfriend to call. He called and wanted to come be with her at Allison's place. He showed up and watched the rehearsal.
There was another fan, who worked for Bechtal Corp as an engineer whose job included the specifying of lighting equipment. Both the boyfriend, and the engineer knew Gerry Zekowski, and the next time that they met with him, they told him of Allison, and his Crystalume, and both gave him Allison's phone number.
Gerry called, and made an appointment to come see what this was all about. He showed up, and saw the Crystalume on the stage, and his response was that Lightolier had a piece of lighting equipment that was about 12 inches square and about 6 inches thick, that would do what the Crystalume did.
He had one of these wondrous units in his station wagon and wanted to demonstrate it. He brought it in, and set it up, told Allison to put on some music, and he turned on the device. It projected a slide image that would rotate, and change color.
After the demonstration, Allison made sure that Gerry was sitting comfortably, and did a performance to a Moody Blues album. When he finished, he turned off the Crystalume, and sound system, and turned on the lights.
Gerry was sitting there entranced! He was nonplussed. He had been zapped! He recovered from the synaesthetic magic spell, and his first words were: You're the Messiah! Allison assured him that he wasn't, but was rather an artist who used light as his artistic medium. Gerry replied: You can't tell me who my Messiah is!
The next day, about mid-morning, there came a knock on the door. Allison answered, and there stood a lady with a toddler in diapers. This lady asked: Who is Allison? Allison replied that he was Allison. The lady asked: What have you done to my husband?
That toddler was Jeane Z Champion.
Allison remembers meeting Jeane Z Champion for the first time. Jeane doesn't remember meeting Allison, and doesn't remember a time when there was not a Crystalume in her life. She and Allison are life long friends.
A note about the AllisonWonderland Logo/Trademark : It is a synaesthetic symbol. It is a stylized A (for Allison) and a stylized W (for Wonderland) and is pronounced Awe, or Ahhh.
Now for the synaesthetic part:
Submitted by Jim C Allison - August 2020
Sensatiation Television show that
was done in 1972 in Houston, Texas. It was a simulcast that linked
These Videos were made on the Crystalume, which I invented in 1967, and uses the aforementioned Spindler Sauppe Selectroslide Ultra Bright Projector.
Nothing was automatic or electronic.
The Crystalume is a Vusic (Visual Music) Instrument that has to be "played" as a Guitar, or a Piano is "played".
Jeane Z Champion and JC Allison
Spindler Sauppe SLR1200 UltraBright SelectroSlide
Spindler Sauppe SLR1200 UltraBright SelectroSlide
Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, July 25th 1970
Thanks to Rob Frith at Neptoon Records for Image Use