Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

February 1:

Don Everly born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 75)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 75)
Del McCoury born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 73)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 44)
Scotty Wiseman died in Gainesville, Florida (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 66)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)

Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (died 2008)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died in Nashville Tennessee, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 76). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 48)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died in Memphis, Tennessee (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last member of the original legendary Southern Gospel quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 50)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 47)
Vic McAlpin born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns died in Evanston, Illinois (prostate cancer), 1989 (was 68)
Tom Brumley of Buck Owens' Buckaroos died in San Antonio, Texas (heart ailment), 2009 (was 62)

February 5:

Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1933 (now 79)

Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 41)
Shelby David "Tex" Atchison born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1982)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 51)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 50)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 45)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)

Merle Kilgore died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died in San Diego, California (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 69)
Garth Brooks born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 50)
Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (died 2011)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died in Happy Valley, California (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Molly Bee died in Oceanside, California (complications of a stroke), 2009 (was 68)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Joe South born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942 (now 70)

Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (now 64)
Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 49)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died in California (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:
Red Lane born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (now 73)
Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 65)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 49)
Ernest Tubb born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)

Arthur Satherley died in Fountain Valley, California (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died in Louisville, Kentucky (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died in White House, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)

February 11:

Wesley Rose born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 68)
Stephen Sholes born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Harley "Red" Allen born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."
Sammi Smith died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 54)
Tennessee Ernie Ford born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jessee born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings died in Chandler, Arizona (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 73)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 67)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)
Buck Griffin died in Oklahoma (heart failure), 2009 (was 85)

February 15:

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (died 2009)
Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)
Louise Scruggs born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Nat "King" Cole died in Santa Montica, California (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Great Band Just Gets Better

Category:  Concert Review

It's hard to believe that eleven-time IBMA award winners Dailey and Vincent could get any better.  They have.  Dailey and Vincent gave a capacity crowd at the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast a program filled with laughter, tears, and most of all, great music.

On a tour to promote their new CD released for Cracker Barrel stores, The Gospel Side of Dailey and Vincent, the band performed four songs from the latest release as well as an ample selection from their other four albums as well as unrecorded but familiar songs.  Before launching into "Black-Eyed Susie" Jamie Dailey introduced new fiddler B.J. Cherryholmes from the now-defunct Cherryholmes Family band, proclaiming he would perform a new song he had written, "Tattoo of a Smudge."  That brought hearty laughter from Darrin Vincent (it is almost worth the price of admission just to hear Darrin laugh) and the audience.

Dailey and Vincent onstage at the Ogle Center
Part of the fun of Dailey and Vincent is the humor, usually at the expense of other band members.  While plugging a visit to Cracker Barrel earlier in the day for an in-store promotion, Jamie asked various members what they liked to order.  Banjo player Joe Dean sheepishly replied, "A Happy Meal," while the portly mandolinist Jeff Parker ("He's been on the same diet for five years," Jamie quipped at one point, "no carb left behind") said, "I like to keep things simple, I order page two."  They also told about their Grammy nomination from 2011 (for their version of the Statler Brothers song "Elizabeth" on their first Cracker Barrel CD), losing to Lady Antebellum:  "We slashed their bus tires on the way out."

Aside from the plentiful jokes, the highlight is, as always, the music.  Jamie and Darrin teamed up to do a positively mesmerizing rendition of the Louvin Brothers' "When I Stop Dreaming."  It is scary to hear people attempt a Louvin Brothers song because most people cannot match the tenor of Ira Louvin.  Jamie Dailey, however, is not "most people."  The version was a highlight of the show, and hopefully this will show up on a Dailey and Vincent album in the near future.

Other highlights included "Family Bible" with Darrin playing the archtop guitar, the stunning "On the Other Side," and the duo taking requests from the audience that resulted in abbreviated versions of the Oak Ridge Boys' hit "Elvira," with bass singer/rhythm guitarist Christian Davis rattling the floor with his bass part, "Elizabeth," their first hit "By the Mark" (performed a cappella) and the always pleasing "Don't You Wanna Go to Heaven."

Dailey and Vincent will continue their tour with their band with a series of "classic country" concerts featuring former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune teaming up with Dailey and Vincent in the mix.  This band is not to be missed, for their high-quality shows just keep improving.

Dailey & Vincent's web site

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 16-31

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 69)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 68)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 65)

Roy Lanham of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Carl Smith died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2010 (was 82)
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

Jimmy Buffett's private plane was shot at by Jamaican authorities, 1996.  The Jamaican police mistook Buffett's plane for one belonging to a drug kingpin.  No one on board Buffett's plane was injured.

January 17:
Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 57)
Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 30)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone died in his home in Saugus, California (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died in Mechanicsburg, Ohio (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (now 86)
Hargus "Pig" Robbins born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 74)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 56)

Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Eddie Hill died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (now 93)
Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 79)
Phil Everly born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (now 73)
Dolly Parton born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 66)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 54)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 45)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)

Ralph Peer died in Los Angeles, California (unknown cause), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins died in Jackson, Tennessee (complications of stroke/throat cancer), 1998 (was 65)

James O'Gwynn died in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (long-term illness), 2011 (was 82)
George Jones has his first recording session (for Starday), 1954

January 20:

Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (now 88). In 2008 Whitman was incorrectly listed as deceased the day after his birthday.
John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 47)
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."

January 21:

Mac Davis born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 70)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 65)
Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949). The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
Cedric Rainwater died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died in Las Vegas, Nevada (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 63)

Teddy Gentry of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 60)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died in Buda, Texas (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died in Kingsport, Tennessee (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 50)
Johnny Russell born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died in Springfield, Missouri (stomach cancer), 1972 (was 55)
Art Stamper (fiddler in the Clinch Mountain Boys) died in Louisville, Kentucky (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
Johnny Carson died in Hollywood, California (emphysema), 2005 (was 79). Carson had a number of country artists on The Tonight Show, including over two dozen appearances by Homer and Jethro, who Carson considered his favorites.
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 76)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 76)
Ray Stevens born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 73)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 62)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 49)

Warren Zevon born in Chicago, Illinois, 1947 (died 2001).  The folk-rock singer wrote "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," which was a hit on the country charts by both Linda Ronstadt and Terri Clark.  Zevon also had Dwight Yoakam on two albums and appeared in South of Heaven, West of Hell, which Yoakam directed and starred in.
Shot Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died in Nashville, Tennessee (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 80)
Farrell "Rusty" Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died in Kansas City, Missouri (car wreck), 1963 (was 39).  A benefit concert for the disc jockey five weeks later would be the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

Buddy Charleton died in Austin, Texas (lung cancer), 2011 (was 72)

January 26:

Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 70)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 59)

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
Goebel Reeves died in Long Beach, California (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)

Charlie Louvin died in Wartrace, Tennessee (pancreatic cancer), 2011 (was 83)
Hillary Clinton 
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Buddy Emmons born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (now 75)
Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 59)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 57)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 57)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 44)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)
Claude Akins died in Altadena, California (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 47)
Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (died 2010)

Skeeter Willis died in Nashville, Tennessee (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter died in Lewisville, Texas (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)

Jimmy Fortune joins the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:
Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 68)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 55)

Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 1985)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 75)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 74)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 50)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Doc Williams died in Wheeling, West Virginia (natural causes), 2011 (was 96)

Burning Down the House

Category:  Concert Review

Sam Bush and his band knew exactly how to warm up a very cold Indianapolis night when they kicked off their 2012 concert tour at the Palladium in Carmel.  Bush and the band gave the crowd a healthy dose of his wonderfully eclectic music.

Bush is a masterful mandolinist, a disciple of both Bill Monroe's pure bluegrass style and Jethro Burns' hot jazz picking.  He does not, and has never, made any apologies for not being "true" to one style.  In fact, in March 2010 Bush's hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky held a "Father of Newgrass" day to honor the fusion of different genres that Bush brings to his music.  Think the entire Americana format in one person and you will get a hint of a Sam Bush show.  "For those of you who've seen us before, you know we do a wide variety of music," Bush told the audience. "And if this is your first time seeing us, we do a wide variety of music."  

Bush opened the show with two instrumentals including one he titled "The Mahavishnu Mountain Boys."  Bush explained the title came from a comment that a more traditional bluegrass fan had about their "complicated" music:  "Who do you think you are, the Mahavishnu Mountain Boys?"

The two hour-plus show contained something for everyone, from the purely bluegrass rendition of Grandpa Jones' "Eight More Miles to Louisville" to "Unconditional Love" from his Newgrass Revival days to an amazing electrified version of "Laps in Seven," the title song from his 2006 album that was inspired by listening to his dog's rhythmic water drinking.  One of the show's highlights was "The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle" from Bush's most recent (2009) album Circles Around Me.  The song is the sadly true story of the murder of Dave "Stringbean" Akeman in 1973 by two cousins who were out to rob him of his Opry pay, which he always received in cash because he (as many others from the Depression) didn't trust banks.  A very terrible piece of country music history set to music and masterfully delivered.

Before playing the encore, a smoking version of Charlie Monroe's classic "Bringing in the Georgia Mail," Bush remarked how Charlie's brother, Father of Bluegrass Bill, would always criticize Bush's long hair.  "Every time I'd walk by him he'd say, 'There goes the mother,'" Sam quipped.

Sam Bush is hardly "strictly bluegrass," and he makes no bones about it.  What he definitely is, however, is a gifted performer and musician.  A Sam Bush concert is not to be missed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Dailey and Vincent

Category:  News

The hottest thing in bluegrass the past five years has been Dailey and Vincent, the team composed of former Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver tenor singer Jamie Dailey and Kentucky Thunder (and brother of Rhonda Vincent) member Darrin Vincent.  Their first hit, a cover of Gillian Welch's "By the Mark," set the bluegrass world on its ear.  Eleven IBMA awards later, their new album is scheduled for release next week.

As with their Grammy-nominated 2010 album Dailey and Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers, their new gospel-only album, The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent, will be released in conjunction with Rounder solely for sale in Cracker Barrel stores nationwide.  Prior to the album's release Dailey & Vincent will be guests on the legendary Eddie Stubbs radio program on WSM on January 5 to debut the album.  The duo will also make in-store appearances at Cracker Barrels between concerts.

Dailey & Vincent have also been recording an album for release on their parent label, Rounder, later this year.

Cracker Barrel's press release

"I Can Still Draw a Crowd"

Category:  Tribute

On Saturday, January 3, 1998, Grandpa Jones performed as usual on the Grand Ole Opry.  He had been on the show since 1946, when he first appeared as a member of Pee Wee King's band. After he finished, he went backstage and collapsed near Porter Wagoner's dressing room.  His fellow performers gathered around him, all concerned for the 84-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member.  'Pa, as he was affectionately known, looked up and quipped, "Well, at least it's good to know that I can still draw a crowd."

Louis Marshall Jones, known since the age of thirty as "Grandpa" for his "old man of the mountains" (per Billboard) sound, had suffered a stroke.  Three days later, he would suffer a second, more debilitating, stroke that paralyzed him and, on February 19, 1998, took his life.

People of the Hee Haw generation basically know Grandpa Jones as the clawhammer banjo playing man who told everyone "what's for supper" ("Well I's gonna have beans and I's gonna have corn, and I's gonna have biscuits as sure as you're born, but I left the door open and Rattler 'n the pups snuck in the kitchen and 'et 'em all up").  As usual, when "best-known for" summarizes one's life in the obituary, there was so much more to 'Pa than that.  He began on Lum and Abner in 1933, then moved to Boston (yes, that Boston) to work with Bradley Kincaid on the radio.  He was able to support himself as "the young singer of old songs" throughout the Depression.  After World War II he landed in Cincinnati, the hotbed of country music in the immediate post-War era.  He joined WLW and secured a record deal with the first all-hillbilly record label, King.  He teamed up with Cowboy Copas and recorded "The Steppin' Out Kind" and "You'll Be Lonesome Too" under the pseudonym the Sheppard Brothers (because their other employer, WLW, would fire any act who made a record), the record that bears the distinction of being King's first release.  While on King he recorded songs that ranged from novelty ("Mountain Dew," which featured Jethro Burns playing mandolin on the original recording) to serious ("It's Raining Here This Morning," his first release under his own name).  He also teamed up with other local-based talent to create a "supergroup" for the ages.  With fellow King Records artists Alton and Rabon Delmore and a rotating bass singer of Merle Travis or Red Foley the Browns Ferry Four (named after Browns Ferry in northern Alabama that inspired the title of the classic Delmore Brothers song "Browns Ferry Blues") recorded nearly four dozen gospel songs that were, and remain, cherished in the world of country, bluegrass, and Southern gospel.  The influence of the Browns Ferry Four followed 'Pa for the rest of his life, too:  in 1994 he told me that the Hee Haw Quartet (Jones, Buck Owens, Roy Clark, and Kenny Price) was "just an attempt to imitate the Browns Ferry Four."  The individuals who comprised the group are all in the Hall of Fame.  Grandpa's honor came in 1978.

One of the worst things that ever happened to Grandpa was one of the worst things that could happen to any of us:  on Sunday, November 11, 1973, he found the bodies of his dear friends Dave "Stringbean" Akeman and wife Estelle at their home.  Stringbean, an avid fisherman (there is an etching of a fishing pole on his grave marker) and 'Pa were going fishing early Sunday morning.  Instead, when Stringbean (a gifted clawhammer banjo player himself) returned home from the Opry on Saturday night robbers were waiting for him.  Instead of just taking the money they murdered Stringbean then his wife as she tried to escape.  Grandpa was the first at the crime scene the next morning.  Although it was a targeted crime -- String was well-known to carry large sums of cash because, after suffering through the Depression he didn't trust banks -- 'Pa was scared by the murders.  In 1979 he moved away from Nashville to Arkansas in order to feel safer.  He kept an apartment in Nashville for his Opry appearances and Hee Haw tapings. 

Hee Haw airs regularly on RFD.  This week, make an effort to watch it and pay particular attention to the jocularity and musical brilliance that was Louis Jones.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?

Category:  News

One of the best-kept secrets of late 2011 was the fact that there was a movie released dealing with the final hours of Hank Williams' life.  After watching the trailer, I'm inclined to believe that's not a bad thing.

The film, The Last Ride, was given a limited release in October.  A wider release is promised for early 2012.  Maybe a better way to put it is, "A wider release is threatened for early 2012."  One of the comments about the film at the Hank Williams Journal blog site said, "This trailer appears to allude to a film that would be best served debuting on the Lifetime Channel."

We should never expect fact when dealing with a biopic.  I learned that at a very early age after seeing Houdini starring Tony Curtis:  the conclusion of the film shows Houdini drowning in an unsuccessful attempt to escape a Chinese water torture chamber, when in reality Houdini died of peritonitis.  Peritonitis apparently isn't as cinematic as drowning, so throw reality out the window.

Having said that, when a company claims a movie is "fact-based," they need to either (a) make things factual or (b) clarify with an asterisk that their definition of "fact-based" means that one character in the film actually existed.  Based on the trailer (and that is all I have to go on at the moment, I will admit) I think the latter is the case.  It has been well-documented that Hank had to be dragged out of his hotel room at the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville for the trip to Canton, Ohio for a New Year's day show with Homer & Jethro and Hawkshaw Hawkins, leading many to speculate that Williams was already dead before he left Knoxville.  (A number of friends of mine, all far more educated in all things Hiram K. Williams than I'll ever be, all dispute this fact.)  If he was in various stages of unconsciousness in Knoxville it's a safe bet he wasn't sitting in the back seat, firing guns at pick-up trucks as they passed.

The movie really seems to be more of the story of the driver (Charles Carr) than Hank Williams, and Hank is just part of the backdrop, like the car or the scenery.  And let me emphasize story, as in fiction.  Reading Charles Carr's account of the real "last ride," there were no guns being shot, no threats of violence, and definitely no time to stop and dance, drink and put in the obligatory sex scenes.  The reason Carr was hired in the first place was to get Hank to two shows, one in Charleston, West Virginia and the other in Canton, Ohio.  The weather was bad and they were on a strict deadline -- and this was before the advent of the interstate highway system that makes getting from point A to point B a breeze.

So, based on comments and the trailer, I have to say Hank Williams has yet again been dealt a dirty hand by a "biopic."  He deserves better.  So do the fans.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

January 1:

Frank Kettering of the Hoosier Hot Shots born in Monmouth, Illinois, 1909 (died 1973)
Hank Williams died in the back seat of a car between Knoxville, Tennessee and Oak Hill, West Virginia (cardiac arrest), 1953 (was 29)
Aubrey "Moon" Mullican died in Beaumont, Texas (heart attack), 1967 (was 57)
Floyd "Salty" Holmes of the Prairie Ramblers died (unknown cause), 1970 (was 60)
Townes Van Zandt died in Mount Juliet, Tennessee (heart attack), 1997 (was 52)
Del Reeves died in Nashville, Tennessee (emphysema), 2007 (was 73)

Cousin Jody (ne James Summey) quit Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys (along with two other members), 1939.  Acuff replaced Cousin Jody with Beecher Ray Kirby, who was later nicknamed "Bashful Brother Oswald."
Johnny Cash played at San Quentin prison, 1959. Among the prisoners in attendance was Merle Haggard.

The first episode of The Porter Wagoner Show aired in syndication, 1961

January 2:

Harold Bradley born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1926 (now 86)
Dick Feller born in Bronaugh, Missouri, 1943 (now 69)
Roger Miller born in Fort Worth, Texas, 1936 (died 1992)
Red Smiley died in Richmond, Virginia (complications from diabetes), 1972 (was 46)
Tex Ritter died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1974 (was 68)
Wayne Walker died (unknown causes), 1979 (was 53)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died in Nashville, Tennessee (respiratory disease), 2006 (was 78)

January 3:

Nikki Nelson of Highway 101 born in San Diego, California, 1969 (now 43)

Leon McAuliffe born in Houston, Texas, 1917 (died 1988)
Felton Jarvis died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 1981 (was 46)
Doye O'Dell died in Northridge, California (complications of a stroke), 2001 (was 88)

Quanah Talmadge Tubb (better known as Billy Talmadge Tubb) died in El Paso, Texas (unknown causes), 2007 (was 81)
Grandpa Jones suffered stroke after performing on the Grand Ole Opry, 1998
Sam Phillips opened Sun Recording Studio, 1950

January 4:

Lorene Mann born in Huntland, Tennessee, 1937 (now 75)
Mike Henderson born in Independence, Missouri, 1955 (now 57)
Kathy Forester of the Forester Sisters born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, 1955 (now 57)
Patty Loveless born in Pikeville, Kentucky, 1957 (now 55)
Deana Carter born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1966 (now 46)
Clayton McMichen died in Battletown, Kentucky (unknown causes), 1970 (was 69)
Jake Hess died in Opelika, Alabama (complications of heart attack), 2004 (was 76)
First barn dance program in America airs on WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas, 1923

January 5:

Steve Ripley of the Tractors born in Boise, Idaho, 1950 (now 62)
Iris DeMent born in Paragould, Arkansas, 1961 (now 51)

Big Bill Lister born in Kenedy, Texas, 1923 (died 2009)
Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) born in Florence, Alabama, 1923 (died 2003)
Tug McGraw, former baseball pitcher and father of Tim McGraw, died in his son's home in Nashville, Tennessee (brain cancer), 2004 (was 59)

January 6:

Earl Scruggs born in Flint Hill, North Carolina, 1924 (now 88)
Joey Miskulin ("Joey the Cow Polka King") of Riders in the Sky born in Chicago, Illinois, 1949 (now 63)
Jett Williams born in Montgomery, Alabama, 1953 (now 59)
Harry "Hap" Peebles born in Anthony, Kansas, 1913 (died 1993)

Autry Inman born in Florence, Alabama, 1929 (died 1988)
Bobby Lord born in Sanford, Florida, 1934 (died 2008)
Chubby Wise died in Bowie, Maryland (heart attack), 1996 (was 80)
Bobby Austin died in Camas, Washington (illness), 2002 (was 68)
Sneaky Pete Kleinkow died in Petaluma, California (complications of Alzheimer's disease), 2007 (was 72)
Ken Nelson died in Somis, California (natural causes), 2008 (was 96)

January 7:

Jack Greene born in Maryville, Tennessee, 1930 (now 82)
Leona Williams born in Vienna, Missouri, 1943 (now 69)
Marshall Chapman born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1949 (now 63)
David Lee Murphy born in Herrin, Illinois, 1959 (now 53)
John Rich born in Amarillo, Texas, 1974 (now 38)
Bunny Biggs (Jamup of Jamup and Honey) born, 1897 (died 1948)

Owen Bradley died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart ailment/complications of flu), 1998 (was 82)

January 8:

Christy Lane born in Peoria, Illinois, 1940 (now 72)

Holly Tashian born in New York, New York, 1946 (now 66)
Hoke Rice of the Rice Brothers born in Gainesville, Georgia, 1909 (died 1974)
Luther Perkins born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1928 (died 1968)
Elvis Presley born in Tupelo, Mississippi, 1935 (died 1977)
Randall Hylton born in Willis, Virginia, 1946 (died 2001)
Sara Carter died in Kingsport, Tennessee (natural causes), 1979 (was 79)
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, sidekick to Gene Autry, died in Los Angeles, California (kidney failure), 1994 (was 78)

The U.S. Postal Service issues a 29c postage stamp featuring Elvis Presley, 1993. The stamp is the Postal Service's best-selling commemorative stamp of all-time, with sales of over 517,000,000.
Billboard magazine publishes first "Hillbilly Records" chart, 1944. The first #1 song was "Pistol Packin' Mama" -- the Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters' version. Al Dexter's original would be the second #1 song in Billboard chart history.

January 9:

Roy Head born in Three Rivers, Texas, 1943 (now 69)
Crystal Gayle born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1951 (now 61)
Jimmy Day born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1934 (died 1999)
Big Al Downing born in Lenapah, Oklahoma, 1940 (died 2005)

Jimmy Boyd ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") born in McComb, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2009)
Richard Nixon born in Yorba Linda, California, 1913 (died 1994). Nixon was the first sitting U.S. president to attend the Grand Ole Opry (1974).
Jon Hager of the Hager Twins died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 2009 (was 67)

January 10:

Curly Ray Cline born in Braisden, West Virginia, 1923 (died 1997)
Zeb Turner died (cancer), 1978 (was 62)
Loretta Webb married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, 1948

January 11:

Naomi Judd born in Ashland, Kentucky, 1946 (now 66)
Robert Earl Keen born in Houston, Texas, 1956 (now 56)
Tommy Duncan born in Hillsboro, Texas, 1911 (died 1967)
Goldie Hill Smith born in Kanes County, Texas, 1933 (died 2005)

Max D. Barnes died in Nashville, Tennesee (pneumonia), 2004 (was 67)
Jimmy Griffin of the Remingtons died in Franklin, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 61)

Margaret Whiting died in Englewood, New Jersey (natural causes), 2011 (was 86)
Stonewall Jackson filed $10 million age discrimination lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry, 2007

January 12:

Ray Price born in Perryville, Texas, 1926 (now 86)
William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys born in Brewton, Alabama, 1939 (now 73)
Ricky Van Shelton born in Danville, Virginia, 1952 (now 60)
LaWanda Lindsey born in Tampa, Florida, 1953 (now 59)
Claudia Church Crowell born in Lenoir, North Carolina, 1962 (now 50)
Tex Ritter born in Panola County, Texas, 1905 (died 1974)
Paul Warren died in Nashville, Tennessee (illness), 1978 (was 59)
The film O Brother, Where Art Thou opened nationwide, 2001. The soundtrack won three Grammy awards: Album of the Year, Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (Dan Tyminski, "Man of Constant Sorrow"), and Best Male Country Vocal Performance (Dr. Ralph Stanley, "O Death"). It also sold over eight million copies and sparked a brief resurgence in the popularity of bluegrass and traditional country music.

January 13:

Trace Adkins born in Springhill, Louisiana, 1962 (now 50)
Jenny Lou Carson born in Decatur, Illinois, 1915 (died 1978)
Doyle Holly died in Nashville, Tennessee (prostate cancer), 2007 (was 70)

January 14:

Joseph Henry "T-Bone" Burnett born in St. Louis Missouri, 1948 (now 64).  An Americana music performer and producer (of albums by Los Lobos and the BoDeans), he was the producer of the award-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou.

Billie Jo Spears born in Beaumont, Texas, 1937 (died 2011) 

January 15:

David Lynn Jones born in Bexar, Arkansas, 1950 (now 62)
Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific born in Winter Haven, Florida, 1958 (now 54)

Billy Walker born in Ralls, Texas, 1929 (died 2006)
Jack Guthrie died in Livermore, California (tuberculosis), 1948 (was 32)
Vic Willis died in Hohenwald, Tennessee (car wreck), 1995 (was 72)