Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Friday, October 8th at Beauty Bar Chicago!

I'm pleased to announce a gig in the city that city that I schooled me musically, Chicago! October the 8th, 7PM-9PM at Beauty Bar! Sweet home Chicago, here I come!

The Facebook invite can be found here:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gene Vincent - "Be-Bop-A-Lula" - Capital, 1956

Gene Vincent! You can't start talking about Rockabilly without mentioning Gene Vincent.  A true legend, and one of the pioneers of the Rockabilly movement.  Vincent Eugene Craddock was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1935.  Gene showed an interest in music early and got his first guitar at age 12.  He decided to pursue a career in the Navy instead, but luckily for music lovers, his miltary career was cut short and he never saw combat.  One thing Gene and I have in common - we both got into accidents on our Triumph motorcycles.  But his accident in 1955 was quite serious, and his leg was damaged so much that doctors wanted to amputate it.  He kept the leg, but walked with a limp and suffered chronic pain after that.

From Wikipedia:
"Craddock became involved in the local music scene in Norfolk. He changed his name to Gene Vincent, and formed a rockabilly band called the Blue Caps (a term used in reference to enlisted sailors in the U.S. Navy). The band included Willie Williams on rhythm guitar, Jack Neal on upright bass, Dickie Harrell on drums, and the innovative and influential lead guitarist, Cliff Gallup. "
Cliff rockin' in the studio
Cliff Gallup (June 17, 1930 - October 9, 1988) was an incredible guitarist who was a huge influence on many guitarists after him.  When I started to learn to play guitar, one of the first things I did was sit down and try to figure out the solo to Vincent's "Race With The Devil".  Cliff never understood all the fuss about his playing, and when he died had worked a long career as a school janitor.  His wife even requested the obituary not mention his time with the Blue Caps! Gallup was ranked 79th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and is a Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee.
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" was Gene's first big hit and it launched his career. Oddly, Capital didn't immediately recognize it as such and released it as a B-side.  This song was No. 102 on Rolling Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time" list.
An ad from Captial. Gene in the right-corner,  in the good company of Wanda Jackson and Ernie Ford.
After Gene's career began to slow in the States, he started to tour Europe and found an appreciative audience.  In 1959 while touring England, he was involved in a taxi accident which left him with a broken collarbone and ribs.  The same accident left legend Eddie Cochran dead, many years before his time.

Gene Vincent died on October 12, 1971 from a ruptured stomach ulcer while visiting his father in California. He was the first inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame upon its formation in 1997. The following year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Vincent also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And now, the clip!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jimmy Forrest - "Night Train" - United Records, 1952

We're going way back to 1952 for this huge RnB tune that spawned about a million cover versions. Many of you my age or younger may recognize this song as the one being performed at the dance scene in the movie "Back To Thie Future".
Jimmy Forrest (January 24, 1920 - August 26, 1980) was a Jazz musician born in St. Louis, Missouri. From Wikipedia:
"(Jimmy Forrest) played alongside Fate Marable as a young man. He was with Jay McShann in 1940-42 and with Andy Kirk from 1942-48, when he joined Duke Ellington. During the early 1950s, he led his own combos. He also played with Miles Davis, in the Spring of 1952 at The Barrel Club. After his solo career, he played in small combos with Harry "Sweets" Edison and Al Grey as well as appearing with Count Basie."
"Night Train" was Jimmy's smash hit. It reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart in March 1952 and stayed at the top for seven weeks. For many white kids, this was their first introduction to "race music".
Now "Night Train" had it's influences: the opening riff can be found in Duke Ellington's "That's the Blues, Old Man" and "Happy-Go-Lucky Local", and Forrest was part of Ellington's band during the period in which this song was performed. But Forrest's own solo and a new stop-time rhythm is what really made this song. Before we start discussing some of the covers, let's listen to the original:

Now some of the many, many covers. First, Louis Prima's 1957 version - a real scorcher!

And during the 60's somewhere, legendary California surfer rockers The Rumblers released this version on Dot (from my collection, off the "Boss" LP).

Or how about some mid-60's Ska flavor - get skanking with Danny Davis and Byron Lee!

And let's not forget James Browns' hopped up funk masterpeice of a version!

I could go on, but I think you get the point: this tune has become a standard and has inspired countless musicians.
Jimmy blowing minds back inna day
United was formed in July of 1951, and May 1952 the company added a second imprint, States (how patrotic!). United/States recorded the whole gamut of African-American popular music styles of the day: blues, jazz, vocal groups, rhythm and blues jumps, and gospel. By the end of the 50s, the labels had fallen into decline and went under. But they had a terrific run for those 10 years.
Here's a great resource for info on the United/States record labels, I recommend it for those of you deep history buffs:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Link Wray "Rumble Mambo"/Red Saunders "Hambone" - OKeh, 1963

It was just too difficult to pick one side of this 45! So we'll have a listen to both.

Theodore Dudley "Red" Saunders was a Jazz drummer and bandleader born in Memphis, Tennesee. Over the course of his long career he worked with such notables as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Woody Herman, and recorded with Big Joe Turner. There is an amazing write-up on Red and his discography here that I won't even try to touch:
Promo for the original Hambone release
"Hambone" was originally released in 1952, and went #20 on the R&B charts for one week. The Hambone Kids' contribution of rhythmic practice is "hamboning" or "patting juba": slapping various body parts as a substitute for drumming and utilizing a traditional West African beat.
"More correctly, it's the 'patted juba' rhythm, which got it's first airing in this country as the popular "shave and a haircut, two bits" beat when it was popularized by black shoeshine boys. Kids would slap the rhythm, using their legs, stomachs and chests as drums. Because the hambone off the hog was a popular item in poor Southern households for flavoring and thickening a pot of greens, the name somehow got attached to the juba rhythm by the time it reached Southside Chicago's schoolyards."
- "What Was The First Rock N' Roll Record?", Jim Dawson and Steve Propes
By the way, What Was the First Rock 'N' Roll Record? is a great book and I highly recommend it for those you you looking to learn more about early Rock. Spoiler alert: there is no first Rock N' Roll record! Now back to Hambone..
After "Hambone" popularized the juba rhythm, it was famously used by Bo Diddley in 1955 for his "Bo Diddley" on Checker - openning the floodgates for juba-based Rock songs. To name a few: Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", Johnny Otis's "Willie and The Hand Jive", the Strageloves' "I Want Candy", and The Stooges "1969". And the kids still love that crazy beat!
The Hambone Kids with Red on the drums
This version of "Hambone" is actually a sparse, alternate take of the original version, in which the Hambone Kids and Dolores Hawkins are accompanied throughout by guitar, bass, and drums only; the rest of the band contributes nothing, except shouts of "Hambone!" at the beginning and end of the piece.

The other side of this record is a rather odd pairing - a version of Link Wray's "Rumble" titled "Rumble Mambo".  Since we already talked about Link a bit here, I'll skip the biographical info. Link Wray released a few versions of "Rumble" over his career in an attempt to capitalize on it's popularity.  This particular version has a great flavor that sets it apart from the others.
Flier for one of Link Wray's last gigs
Okeh (pronounced 'okay') was started by by Otto K. E. Heinemann in 1918, making it one of the oldest labels we've ever talked about. Okeh jumped in the "race" music market early, and released loads of Jazz from the classic era. Here's another interesting bit from Wikipedia: "Okeh Records pioneered the practice of "location recording" in 1922. Starting in 1924, Okeh also sent mobile recording trucks to tour other parts of the country to record performers not heard in New York or Chicago. Regular return trips were made once or twice a year to New Orleans, Louisiana, Atlanta, Georgia, San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, and Detroit, Michigan, recording a wealth of jazz and early country music artists." Columbia bought a controlling interest in Okeh in the mid-20s, but after the early 30s production began to slow. Okeh went through several small starts and stops before finally being deactivated by Columbia in the 70s.
And now, the clips!
Hambone (Alternate Take)

Rumble Mambo

Friday, September 10, 2010

My monthly at Huckleberry Bar! The next one is 9/30.

Where Y'at?

Here's the new poster for my monthly at The Charleston. Cajun food and spicy tunes!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clarence "Frogman" Henry - Ain't Got No Home - Argo, 1956

The Frogman Cometh! I play this one all the time, and it always gets a good crowd response, as it is still well known and loved. Clarence's trademark croak, used to great effect in this song, is one of the things that makes it memorable and so much fun. That, and this song's use more recently in favorites like "The Lost Boys".

"Ain't Got No Home" was a novelty hit that vaulted to the number 3 position on the R&B charts and to number 20 on the pop charts. It also served to give the nineteen-year-old the nickname that would stick with him for life, "Frogman." In a falsetto voice he screams he can "sing like a girl" and in a silly croak he says he can "sing like a frog." How can you not dance to this?

Clarence Henry was born March 19, 1937 in New Orleans, Louisiana. From his website,
Frogman played the trombone in high school and snuck into bars where Professor Longhair played to listen. He wrote the "Frog song" (Ain't Got No Home) 1956 after a late gig at The Joy Lounge. He was tired and the owner wasn't too interested in letting the musicians off - so he slammed the keys down and howled "Oooh oh oh oh oh oh oh!". And the rest is history.

"(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love", both from 1961, were his other big hits. But after some heavy touring the the early 60's, including a few gigs openning for The Beatles, Clarence came back to New Orleans to stay, performing primarily on Bourbon Street.

Clarence Henry was inducted to both the Rockabilly and Louisiana Music Halls of Fame.

Argo Records was an offshoot of Chess Records started in late 1955.  Today's song by "Frogman" was Argo's first big hit and helped launch the label. Argo eventually became a predominately Jazz label associated with such performaers as Ahmad Jamal, James Moody, King Fleming, and Ramsey Lewis Trio. Major rhythm and blues performers on the label were Etta James and The Dells. Argo changed its name in 1965 to Cadet Records when the company discovered that an Argo Records already existed in the UK.
And finally, the clip! I selected the "frogman" verse:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weds, September 8th, it's time for another Graveyard Rock at Trophy Bar!