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6th Street Cowboy

Samuel Grey Horse was the 6th Street Cowboy

The Past

Many people who have heard of Sam Olivo, Jr. know him as the “drunken” 6th Street Cowboy. In early January of 2011, Olivo and a friend traveled on horseback through downtown Austin, celebrating Olivo’s acceptance into Virginia College’s to study in a surgical tech program.

They were arrested for “driving while intoxicated,” but the Austin Police Department ultimately released Olivo because neither Mula (the mule) nor Texas (the horse), were motorized vehicles.” In the City of Austin it is legal to ride a horse [or mule] on a public street,” stated APD Commander Dusterhoft.

The Turning Point

But that’s all in the past, and in fact, Olivo has formed a friendship with APD Chief of Police Art Acevedo, along with other politicians and community leaders in town. Although some may say the legend of Sam Olivo begins the day he was born, the heart of the story begins in June of 2010.

Olivo had been breaking a horse, as he’d done all his life, when the saddle accidentally slipped out from underneath him. He was dragged and near-fatally injured with broken ribs, collapsed lungs, and head trauma – he flat-lined on the helicopter and once again in the hospital. After three weeks in a coma, he came back to life.

“I woke up from a coma, and there was nothing there,” says Olivo. “The people you know are gone, the person you’re with is gone. It doesn’t work that way for everybody, but it worked that way for me for a reason.”

He’d been told he’d never be able to walk again, let alone ride a horse. As a result of his arrest in January 2011 and nearly losing Texas and Mula when they were impounded, he vowed to turn his life around and dig deeper to find his true calling. After a semester at Virginia College, Olivo discovered music and decided to follow his heart – to sing, play music, and help others in the community through the joy of horses.

Read more in a published article – www.latinometro.com/sam-olivo-sixth-street-cowboy-returns-life-voice

A New Chapter

“I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” says Olivo. “After my, I call it my ‘death experience,’ I went to Sun Dance in Nebraska. I saw things in my vision quest – everything I’m doing, like sitting right here talking to y’all, I’ve seen this already. I didn’t know exactly the faces, but I knew the people.”

Although he is on disability and earns a humble living, mostly through his work with horses, Olivo gives as much of his time as he can to work with the disabled, and with children and the elderly in need in the community. He makes frequent visits to the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center on Lady Bird Lake, an affordable retirement community for the elderly.

“Anything I do, I do it 100%, whether it be plumbing or fixing a car – but I don’t want to do that anymore,” says Olivo. “Music is what I want to do now, I’ve made my mind up. And I want to do stuff for the kids and disabled, and for the elderly – they seem a bit forgotten.”

Seasoned singer-songwriter and music instructor, AlanRoy Wilhite, met Sam Olivo through a mutual friend. In the two years they have been working together, Olivo has gone from knowing two songs to forty-four songs. Although he’s lost hearing in one ear, and he is still suffering health issues from the collapsed lungs, Olivo is determined to sing and record.

“Music is a funny, funny thing,” says Olivo. “You have to be at the right place, and it’s gotta be your turn. I guess being the cowboy downtown really helps sometimes. I’m a real cowboy, and I sing country music, because I sing about what I believe in and what I’ve lived through.”

Sam hopes to record an album, featuring songs written by Austin singer-songwriters Connor Forsyth, Marshall Hood, Dickie Lee Erwin, Rosie Flores, Jacob Jaeger, Kirk MacMahan, Ian Newhart, Charlie Pierce, and AlanRoy Wilhite. Each of the artists will also sit in on their song, to produce an all-star feature of some of the most talented Austin’s musicians.

Update

In July 2016 Sam recorded his first full length album entitled Grey Horse, available from CD Baby.