Sunday, 9 October 2011

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 105 - Rudy Thacker

Rudy Thacker And The Stringbusters - Black Train
Lucky Records 0012

According to Rockin' Country Style, Rudy Thacker was born in 1931 in Hindman, Kentucky and was a staff musician on the World's Original Jamboree (WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia). He was a highly acclaimed guitarist and soon moved from the Jamboree to form his own band, the Stringbusters which included Sam Duckett.

Black Train was his first release on the Lucky Records imprint. Lucky was a short lived label (1958-60) from Cincinati, Ohio that had releases by such underground rockabilly legends as Bill Browning and Orangie Hubbard.

Black Train was released in May 1960 with Larry Dale on vocal duties and a hot band that featured some haunting, train whistle steel and some lovely picking from Thacker. The Buckeyed Beat website says that around this time Thacker and the Stringbusters hosted a weekly show at the Dennison Theatre, a Saturday night show that included touring acts along with the Stringbusters.

Over the next couple of years he had a couple of releases on Blue Hen (Mountain Guitar) and Whirl (Stringbuster), before giving up music and moving to Texas, where he passed away in 2005.

Best place to find Black Train is on one of the two Buffalo Bop CD's, Rockabilly Rock or Choo Choo Bop.

Link Wray - The Chordfather t-shirt

Link Wray was the inventor of the Power Chord, the God of the rock 'n' roll instrumental. The power and awe of his timeless classics like Rumble and Rawhide will never deminish, and are still used throughout the Hollywood film industry.

This shirt pays homage to both the rock and film industry as it celebreates the great axemen with the great Mafia film, the Godfather.

Price inc Postage and Packing

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 104 - Delmer Spudd

Delmer Spudd & the Spuddnicks - Tom Cat Boogie
Rock-A-Billy Records

Time to fess-up here. I'd never heard of Delmer Spudd until today, when I saw a link to this song on Facebook. The Rock-A-Billy Record Company from Denver, Colorado, was founded by rockin' legend Willie Lewis and ran through most of the '80s and '90s with a roster that included among others, Go Cat Go, Ronnie Dawson, Marti Brom and High Noon.

From what I've found out, Delmer Spudd & the Spuddnicks are Willie Lewis, Mike Taveira, Ed Debord and Mike Baird. Whoever they are, the music is brilliant. It's a real slap bass rocker with great vocals, bass and guitar.

For more examples of this type of straight-up rockabilly, check out the International Rockabilly Asscociation page on Facebook. There's some crackers posted on there everyday.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Americana 2011 Review

This year's Americana Festival was my first even though the event has been going for over thirty years. It's something me and the misses have always planned to do but never quite got around to. Boy am I glad that we decided to rectify that this year. As ever with an outdoor festival in Britain, the weather was to play a major part. On the Friday we got soaked, on the Saturday we got sunburnt and on the Sunday we had a mixture of both. Such is the quality of the music on display, the rain doesn't seem to get in the way of a good time.

My first impression when we got there was the huge scale of the event. There are hundreds of American cars, bikes, campers and lorries inside the main grounds, together with thousands of tents, campers and caravans in the surrounding fields. Booking in was a breeze with the staff being helpful and on-the-ball. If only one of them could have been around when we tried to put the tent up! A sign that greeted the visitors on entrance was that there was a zero tolerance on trouble makers, and this probably resulted in there was no sign of drunken or yobbish behaviour. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was one of great camaraderie and the typical British spirit of "we're going to have a ball whatever the weather". Anyway, onto the music.

The first band I saw were Caravan of Wayne who I'd looked forward to ever since seeing them on youTube doing covers of Little Ol' Wine Drinker Me and Me And Bobby McGhee. As they're name suggests, they are heavily influenced by the great Wayne Hancock and they do there hero proud. A cracking start to the weekend despite the fact that by this time it was already lashing down. Next up were the Mee Kats who played a nice rockin' set, not surprising when you consider there pedigree.

By the time the Hicksville Bombers came on, the dark clouds had been replaced by flashes of lightning and massive rumbles of thunder and the rain had been replaced by hail. It was a biblical storm as the Bombers rocked away while the crowd stayed and danced in the rain. It was one of my favourite shows as the lightning was fierce, the hail actually hurt and band played a blasting set, appreciating the fact that their fans were carrying on regardless. They adopted a couple of heavy metal tunes into rockabilly numbers and although I've seen less than favourable reviews in Now Dig This, to me it worked really well. I loved the set and with the weather and everything, it's a gig I'll never forget.

The evening kicked off with a bang from Aynt Skynyrd. They're a fine tribute act and I really enjoyed their version of Tuesday's Gone. But the star of the show for Friday night was the newest sensation of the rockin' scene, Si Cranstoun. He was amazing, with a set full of mostly original songs including the dance-floor favourites, 50’s Pin-Up and Dynamo. The crowd were right behind him and his encore included cracking versions of Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite and Sam Cooke’s Twistin’ The Night Away. He’s obviously a big fan of Nappy Brown and did Don’t Be Angry and Little By Little. He was a quality act and has real potential to join Imelda May on the mainstream charts. It was to everyone’s good fortune that one of the following days bands had to drop out so the organisers wisely chose to get another set out of Si Cranstoun. The second show followed the same as the first, and was equally as great.

I took in a couple of indoor shows later that night and was really impressed the hillbilly sounds of Rusty Steele. I’ve been a fan since his wonderful joint tribute album to Hank Williams with the Rimshots. Final band of the evening were the mighty Jack Rabbit Slim, who played a powerhouse set of 21st Century rockabilly. It was powerful stuff and they created a great atmosphere with crowd pleasures like The Touch and Killer Dilla.

The weather on Saturday was scorching and the highlight of the day time shows were Truly Lover Trio with their Roy Orbison sound. I caught a bit of Mary Jean Lewis who seemed really good and then waited for Narvel Felts. One of my wife’s favourite songs is Kiss-A Me Baby and I’d preached to her how great he was when I’d seen him a few times at Hemsby with the Rimshots. Unfortunately, Narvel’s ill health seems to have caught up with him. His backing band, Lazy Dog provided a solid country backing and his set was of a much more country flavour than at Hemsby. Nothing wrong with that, but he struggled to reach a lot of notes, and I wonder if we’ll ever see him over here again.

I can’t describe how much I enjoyed James Intveld. I love his rockin’ country sound and with his voice and a wonderful band (the guitarist was sensational), it was the highlight of the weekend. He played tracks from his three albums and I’m hard pressed to pick some favourites. If pushed, I’d say, Somewhere Down The Road and A Woman’s Touch (Rod Pyke’s favourite). The women were swooning and my wife thought he looked like Johnny Depp. He’s phenomenal and I hope he gets called back every year.

I’ve seen Johnny Power’s a few times and his show is always packed with energy, aided in no small part by the dynamic guitar of Chris Casello. Keith and the rest of the crowd went absolutely mental when the guitar intro to Long Blonde Hair blasted through the night air. It’s a classic and Johnny, Chris and the band played it with venom - a magical moment.

I caught a couple of Alvin Stardust numbers and was baffled by some weird versions of rock 'n' roll classics. No sign of Shane Fenton in this poor performance, but I was really impressed by the country band, Two Tons of Steel. They’re the real deal and listening to them in the open air on a hot summers night is about as good as it gets. This could have been a summer fair in Alabama, which sort of sums up the name, Americana I suppose.

The evening closed with a storming set from the Revolutionnaires, who had the crowd jumping with a brilliant set of hot jumping blues. The lead singer alternated from harmonica to piano to guitar and it was high quality showmanship. It was probably the best atmosphere of the weekend with the hanger busting at the seams, including a few lads that just couldn’t resist the urge to get on stage and boogie on down.

As always when you’re having fun, the time flies by and before we knew it, it was Sunday. First up was another set from James Intveld which was pretty close to the previous day’s, although the addition of Modern Don Juan was brilliant. His voice is perfect for that West Texas rock ‘n roll, with a comforting quality along the lines of Sonny Curtis or Buddy Knox. If you’ve never seen James Intveld before, I urge you to check his tour dates and go and watch him, he’s brilliant.

Former Dr Hook front man Dennis Loccorriere gave a pleasant acoustic set but we missed most of it as we wanted to watch the doo-wopppers The Roommates. Their sound was great and despite the sore throat of one of the lead singers, they gave us a fine mixture from the likes of Dion and more surprisingly, Gene Vincent. One of the things I loved about the Americana was the laid back atmosphere and this seemed to extend to the artists as well. To me this was highlighted by Art Adams sitting in the crowd on a deck chair watching the Roommates while fans came up to him and chatted or had a photo taken.

I enjoyed the set from Some Like It Hot, a real rockabilly band that hit the spot. We all looked forward to the Kingcats but sod’s law decreed that the heaven’s would open once again. Despite the torrential rain, the crowd and the band got into the groove and Bill Crittenden treated us to his beautiful, Elvisesque vocals. The band were joined by Bill’s daughter Abbie Marie but after two songs their set was rather crudely terminated. The crowd were yelling for more but the plugged was pulled, much to the annoyance of the crowd and a very upset father and daughter. I forgot the name of the bearded guy who unceremoniously pulled the plug, but he was a bit o a pain all weekend, continually talking shouting over the mic about his sandwiches while the deejays tried to spin the wax and get the dancers going.

I've seen and been a big fan of Paul Ansell for many years and eagerly awaited his show. Even though this was far from his best performance, there was still much to enjoy. There was a lot of songs from his new album, which I've yet to really warm to. A couple more listens and I should be there! I was gutted that we had to leave before John Lewis hit the stage. His Hemsby shows with the Rimshots are amongst the best I've ever seen.

A special mention must go to the sound guys who defied the elements to keep the music coming. Sterling work in some pretty unhelpful conditions.

I can't wait for next year, with a line-up that is shaping up to be a must. Acts confirmed to date include Hayden Thompson, The Balsters, The Polecats and Confederate Railroad. Roll on next July.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Reasons to love youTube No.11 - Stray Cats - Ubangi Stomp

Here's some great clips of the Stray Cats in the early days doing Warren Smith's rockabilly classic, Ubangi Stomp.

In the first clip Brian knocks the mic stand over during the intro so he lies down on stage to sing into. Classic

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Brian Setzer t-shirt

This Brian Setzer t-shirt is available for just £9.99.

It is an original design that you won't see in shops.

ShakyShirts ship daily, and strive to have all items dispatched within 24 hours of purchase.

Price incl P&P

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Roy Orbison - 75

The great Roy Orbison would have been 75 today. What a voice - if it was good enough for Elvis, it's good enough for me.

My Big O top 5 is.

1. Blue Angel
2. Blue Bayou
3. Only The Lonely
4. Candy Man
5. Sweet And Easy To Love.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Brian Setzer returns to UK

After being denied the chance to see the Stray cats during their farewell tour, due to Slim Jim falling off the stage the previous night, I'm happy to say that two-thirds of them are back this summer.

Billed as Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot, the new tour will feature two drummers and two bass players! I'm not sure how that'll work out but hopefully it won't be a mess. Setzer is joined by Johnny Hatton and Chris D'Rozario on bass, Kevin McKendree on piano and drummers Noah Levy and the legendary Slim Jim Phantom.

Check out to see the dates and venues.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Hillbilly Hootenanny - Mid Wales, April 2011

The Hillbilly Hootenanny is a throwback to the travelling troupe shows that used to be the norm in small towns across 40s and 50s America. This particular band of hillbillies featured Ian Cal-Ford and the Railmen, Chuck Micallef and former Darts from man Bob Fish. The glue that held them all together and played with all three acts was the highly talented Dave Luke. Despite being based in mid Wales, he's the guitarist for Nashville stalwart Gail Davies, who also showed his prowess on mandolin and steel guitar. To be able to carry off those black and red cowboy boots he has to be good!

The night kicked off with a set from Canadian Micallef, who sang a mixture of some classics and a few self written tunes. He was joined throughout by Dave Luke on mandolin and duet vocals. I thought that Chuck had a Waylon Jennings feel to his voice and would have loved him to have done some Waylon. The highlight of his set for me were the one he wrote about his dad and Hank's Mind Your Own Business. Dave Luke remained on stage to back Bob Fish, whose plaintative vocals were the perfect foil for his autoharp. The crowd seemed to really enjoy his performance.

The final act was Wales' very own Man in Black Ian Cal-Ford and the Railmen. I first saw them in the 90's at an all-dayer in Bristol when Mac Curtis headed the bill, and was blown away by their authentic sound, with Sitdown Steve Tompsett playing great Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins licks. Nowadays they lean more heavily on the Johnny Cash songbook but still play the odd rockabilly track, as outlined by a stirring cover of Johnny Talley's Wild Wild Mind. The Sun classic Luther Played The Boogie was spot on and another highlight for me was I Still Miss Someone. The crowd were on their feat for a double bill of Ring of Fire and Walk The Line. Milkcow Blues Boogie complete with the "hold it fellas, that don't move me" start allowed Tompsett and Dave Grieves to show their skills. Their great set was rounded off with all the others joining them for a rousing sing-along of Hank's I Saw The Light. Somehow the night ended with Leavin' On A Jet Plane, which although at odds with the Eisenhower era feel of the night, again pleased the crowd and send everyone home in great spirits. If the Hillbilly Hootenanny comes your way, make sure you check it out. It's the real deal.

(Photo courtesy of Ian Cal-Ford).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 103 - Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton - Kiss My Country Ass

Blake Shelton isn't one of my favourite artists, but he's done a couple of things I quite like. I'm not keen on his sentimental radio friendly tack like the massive hit, Austin but like his ballsier stuff like Playboys of the Southwestern World, Hillbilly Bone and The More I Drink. For some reason I'm a sucker for the flag waving, redneck anthems country songs and I think it's fair to classify Kiss My Country Ass as such. The song was released as part of last year's EP Hillbilly Bone and went to number 2 on the country charts. The song was written by Rhett Atkins (who released a version himself), Dallas Davidson and Jon Stone.

If the title hasn't given you a clue as to the song's sentiments, the first verse should clarify. "Well I'm a front-porch sittin', Guitar pickin', moonshine sippin', Backer juice spittin' country boy from the woods, And I love fried chicken & blue gill fishin', And outlaw women, an' I wouldn't change if I could." Still not sure? "I said if you got a problem with any of that, You can kiss my natural born, Redneck to the bone, Ever-lovin' country ass." Amen.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Johnny Cash Bootleg Vol.2

Johnny Cash
Bootleg Vol.2 - From Memphis to Hollywood

From Memphis to Hollywood is the second volume in the Johnny Cash's Bootleg series. Again it's a double CD, this time focusing on the Sun Records period of 1954 to late ’57, and his first decade at Columbia Records from 1958 to 1969.
The first CD kicks off with a stunning 15-minute live May 1955 broadcast from KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas hosted by Johnny himself. A mixture of live Sun songs and sponsorship announcements, it's historic value is up there with the Hank Williams Health & Happiness shows that first emerged many moons ago. What struck me was JC's voice when publisising the Home Equipment Company's wares - it doesn't actually sound like him, and it's strange to hear his uncertain manner, compared to the confident narrator he became. There's an Irish butcher's dozen of demos with just Johnny and his acoustic guitar - essential listening for Sun and JC afficianados. The sound quality is really good except for his demo of Rock 'n' Ruby, but it's inclusion is more than justified as it's great to hear Cash in rockabilly mode.
We also seven outtakes from Sun recording sessions, commencing with a driving Wide Open Road. The fun sun of ol JC comes to the surface in Leave That Junk Alone but the pick for me is his cover of Brakeman's Blues and a magical, acoustic rehearsal of Big River, with alternate lyrics. I was really looking forward to hearing his original demo of Restless Kid, a number that I love courtesy of Ricky Nelson. I'd love to have heard him do it with Luther and Marshall, but even so, this is a great demo, with Johnny's vocal sounding so manly compared to Ricky's - they both work equally well though, as the young gun sound of Ricky also fits the lyrics.

The second disc sees the Dyess Dark Dresser move to Columbia and features 23 studio numbers, including non-album singles, outtakes and b-sides (11 tracks of which have been previously unreleased) together with a pair of demos. The sound is crisp and clear with the songs having a spit and polish that seems miles away from disc one. The early highlights are the Johnny Yuma Theme (almost Restless Kid) and The Losing Kind. The single version of Locomotive Man is as good as anything he ever did. Foolish Questions is a rare treat, a funny song that can withstand repeat plays. It's so dry and gives a small insight into a man that obviously suffers fools lightly. Being a Forestry boy I also found a lot to enjoy in The Frozen Logger.

My only critisism of the second CD is that the alternative versions don't differ much from the released takes. But that's being picky - this is a quality release that will appeal to old and new Cash fans alike.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Lee Rocker - The Cover Sessions (EP)

Lee Rocker - The Cover Sessions (EP)
Upright Records

1. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
2. Drivin’ My Life Away (Eddie Rabbit cover)
3. Honky Cat (Elton John cover)
4. City of New Orleans (Steve Goodman cover)
5. Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers cover)
6. Come Dancing (The Kinks cover)

Of all the solo work the former Stray Cats members have done since they disbanded, to me Lee Rocker has been the most rewarding, album wise. While I like most of Brian's band stuff and look fiorward to his forthcoming instrumental album, Rocker has never strayed far from his rockabilly roots. Without a doubt, his Live album is the best any of them have done as solos. This new release is a 6 song EP of songs he grew up with. He sums it up best by describing the album as “a rockabilly record, it’s not really a country record, but it’s something in between.” Whilst the new versions might not be earth-shatteringly differenent from the original, the double bass and acosutic feel, together his harmonicas, banjos and dobros gives them a real, feel good, earthy feel that make this a more than justifiable exercise.

In an interview with OC Weekly, Rocker explained how the project came about. “The story behind [the] EP is that over the past few years, I became really interested in acoustic instruments. I started collecting banjos, dobros, ukeleles, an auto harp, folk guitars, harmonicas, accordions, and all kinds of percussion stuff like a washboard and spoons… I went in the recording studio and just started messing around with all these instruments. I found myself gravitating to songs I heard on AM radio as a kid.”

I really like this collection and have to comment on how much his voice has improved since the b-side days of Cross That Bridge. If I had to choose favourites I'd have to go for Drivin’ My Life Away. A great song that I fell in love with via Sonny Fisher - which to me is still the version to beat. The only track that I wanted to be better was City of New Orleans - I just wanted wanted it to kick ass half way through - pick up a little steam so to speak! So all told, another recommended album from Lee Rocker.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bill Haley 30th Anniversary t-shirt

Why not celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Father of Rock 'n' Roll, Bill Haley with this t-shirt. Please note that if you'd prefer this t-shirt without the text, just let me know when you order on Paypal.

ShakyShirts can offer this latest design for just £9.99.

ShakyShirts ship daily, and strive to have all items dispatched within 24-48 hours of purchase. The tees are custom printed to order, using the latest printing and pressing technology. ShakyShirts only use the best quality t shirts that will not shrink in the wash.

ShakyShirts design their own t-shirts, with an original range that you won’t see elsewhere, thereby giving you a unique look.

Price inc P&P

Bill Haley - 30th Anniversary

The great Bill Haley died 30 years ago today. Much loved by many he was acknowledged as the "Father of Rock and Roll", and while there might be others who can lay euqal claim to that title, he certainly deserves any accolades he gets. When he became the first major rock star to visit Britian, his shows caused a riot and have become one of the defining moments in rock history.

His big band rock 'n' roll still stands the test today, with the Comets sound of sax, guitar, bass, drums and piano being the standard line-up for many a rockin' band. To Joe Public he's best known for his kiss curl, Rock Around The Clock and Shake Rattle & Roll, but my top 5 favourites are;

1. Skinny Minnie
2. Rock The Joint
3. Razzle Dazzle
4. Whoa Mabel!
5. Birth of the Boogie

My wife likes Bill Haley more than I do, and her favourite without a shadow of a doubt is ABC Boogie.

RIP Bill.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gene Vincent t-shirt

This latest t-shirt features the legendary Gene Vincent. To some he's the king of rock 'n' roll.

ShakyShirts can offer this latest design for just £9.99.

ShakyShirts ship daily, and strive to have all items dispatched within 24-48 hours of purchase. The tees are custom printed to order, using the latest printing and pressing technology. ShakyShirts only use the best quality t shirts that will not shrink in the wash.

ShakyShirts design their own t-shirts, with an original range that you won’t see elsewhere, thereby giving you a unique look.

Price inc P&P

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Billy Fury t-shirt

This Billy Fury classic is one of the latest designs from Julabelle Crafts. The shirt comes in black which shows off the famous Fury profile. A great shirt to wear when you go to some Wonderous Place.

We at ShakyShirts can offer this latest design for just £9.99.

ShakyShirts ship daily, and strive to have all items dispatched within 24-48 hours of purchase. The tees are custom printed to order, using the latest printing and pressing technology. ShakyShirts only use the best quality t shirts that will not shrink in the wash.

ShakyShirts design their own t-shirts, with an original range that you won’t see elsewhere, thereby giving you a unique look.

Price inc P&P

Johnny Cash t-shirt

Are you sick of seeing the same Johnny Cash t-shirt, the middle finger shot. It was great when it first came out but now that's about all you see. Here's an alternative you might like, direct from the good folks at ShakyShirts.

ShakyShirts can offer this latest design for just £9.99.

ShakyShirts ship daily, and strive to have all items dispatched within 24-48 hours of purchase. The tees are custom printed to order, using the latest printing and pressing technology. ShakyShirts only use the best quality t shirts that will not shrink in the wash.

ShakyShirts design their own t-shirts, with an original range that you won’t see elsewhere, thereby giving you a unique look.

Price inc. P&P

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Reasons to Love youTube No.10 - Johnny Cash, Big River, 1962

No need for words, just watch and enjoy some vintage Johnny Cash from 1962 - in stunning picture quality to boot.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Happy Birthday Don

Can Don Everly really be 74 today. He'll always remain one half of the baby faced teen duo, the Everly Brothers. They have the greatest harmonies in rock history. Some of their vocals are simply magical - just listen to the SOngs Our Daddy Taught Us and marvel at the beauty.

Below is a great little clip from Shindig that Phil Davies thrust in my direction. Shame about the girlie group and the dancers, but Don and Phil are cookin'.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Reasons to Love youTube No.9 - Elvis in Tupelo, 1956

Even by youTube's high standard, this video clip is stunning. Historically it's significance is impossible to describe. 13 mintues of Elvis footage, vintage 1956. To top it all, it's the legendary Tupelo Homecoming show. It's probably the most momentous show of the pre-Army Elvis legend, with the three Presley's returning to their hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. By this time Elvis had pretty much conquered the world and had become the biggest star on the planet.

This video gives us a glimpse of what an early Elvis show must have been like. I'd love to buy a shirt like the one he wears, I hear Frank Skinner has one similar for sale!