Archives for category: Jimi Hendrix

photo – Brad Hardisty

After much thought, I really wanted to salute a few key individuals for perpetuating Nashville as Music City. I could have written about 100 individuals both musicians and business people that make things happen and gone into Classical Music, Christian Music and Gospel Music, but, in the end, I needed to break this down to four people from different directions musically that make NashvilleMusic City” and give way more than they take from the community.

For those that live here, you may understand what I am talking about, but, for those from all over the world, maybe I will open a few eyes and ears.

For any number of reasons, I could have written about Little Jimmy Dickens, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton,  Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Little Richard, Elizabeth Cook, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, okay I could go on. You may agree with my list or you may not. These are whom I call four essential pillars that hold up through thick and thin and inspire others to create and grow in the Nashville community.

Marty Stuart supporting band member Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb’s Music Store CD Release Party, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marty Stuart, born September 30, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA, has been one of country music‘s most eclectic artists, performing and recording diverse types of country music.

He is of French, English, Choctaw, and Colombian descent.

In 1979, when Lester Flatt died. Stuart pushed forward and worked with fiddler Vassar Clements. He also worked with guitarist Doc Watson. In 1980, he joined Johnny Cash‘s backing band. The previous year, Stuart made his first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends, on Ridge Runner Records

In 1985, Stuart accompanied Johnny Cash to Memphis and played on the “Class of ’55” album that also featured Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. At the end of the session Perkins presented him with his guitar.

When does Marty become a Patron Saint? I believe it started when he had a heated run-in with Columbia Records when they dropped Johnny Cash from their roster. When he stuck up for the “Man in Black” it cost Marty his own album, Let There Be Country which Columbia decided not to release at that point. With Marty, principal comes before dollar signs.

Marty has performed with the best of the best, Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Travis Tritt to name a few. Marty saw his first solo success with Hillbilly Rock on MCA Records.

Marty contributed to the AIDS benefit album, Red Hot + County.

Marty’s interest in the heritage of Country Music lead to the showing of his private collection of music memorabilia at the Tennessee State Museum in 2007 as “ Sparkle & Twang : Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey” in 2008.

Marty Stuart has published two books of photographs he has taken of some of Country Music’s  most historic Artists including, “Country Music: The Masters” with some of the final photos of Johnny Cash.

Lately, Marty has been the touchstone to Neo-Country proudly wearing the badge of Nashville past bringing classic country into the future with his last two recordings, Ghost Train (The Studio B Sessions) and Nashville Vol. 1: Tear The Woodpile Down.

Marty’s vast knowledge of the history of Country Music and support of classic artists such as Porter Wagoner despite the lack of Nashville label interest has helped to perpetuate what the outside world considers to be true blue Nashville Country.

Buddy Miller stands at the crossroads of the past and the future as the Godfather of what is now known as Americana, which encompasses everything from old time gospel music to red dirt Country.

Buddy has managed to put a canons worth of Gospel, Country tinged rock, and the most original of tracks out of his own living room with his wife, Julie Miller.  Buddy is a great musician, songwriter, producer and collaborator. I believe that last skill is what makes Buddy one of the four patron saints. A great collaborator where all are welcome under his tent that bring something to this new idiom described as Americana.

Buddy is the house band leader for The Americana Music Awards every year, able to play with just about every artist including Robert Plant who when he decided to put together his Band of Joy project, Buddy Miller was his only choice for bandleader. Buddy put together a band of Nashville all-stars that included Darrell Scott as the utility man on everything from fretless banjo to pedal steel.

Last year’s Majestic Silver Strings featured guitarists Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz, with guest vocalists including Emmylou Harris.

To top that, Buddy is releasing on Black Friday, a new album with Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim.

Buddy’s ability to reinterpret with a working knowledge all things country, rock, old time gospel and folk has singularly help to build a new arm of music radio and business with a firm avenue for those outside the box.

Artists such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons in some way owe some credit to Buddy Miller in helping to define a way to market this new indie branch of the music tree.

Marion James

Marion James may be the most constant and longest lasting member of the Music City Patron Saints. Marion has been a longtime performer and resident living nearby what used to be the hot bed of Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues on Jefferson Street. Marion’s biggest hit was The Top 10 Billboard Hit, “That’s My Man.”

Marion James at 30th Annual Musicians Reunion and Benefit, photo- Brad Hardisty

Marion James, known as Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” was playing on Jefferson Street back in the day with a young Jimi Hendrix who had just gotten out of the military. As a former member of Fort Campbell’s Screaming Eagles, Jimi Hendrix and his new best friend Billy Cox had their own band The King Kasuals but also played with Marion James and others.

The musicians on Jefferson Street, Johnny Jones, Christine  Kittrell, Little Richard, Ray Charles and many others were featured on one of the biggest Rhythm and Blues stations of the day, Nashville’s own WLAC.

Marion was featured prominently in The Country Music Hall of Fame’s exhibit Night Train To Nashville.  A photo of one of her live performances with Billy Cox on bass is featured on Volume Two of the Night Train To Nashville Collection.

Several years ago, Marion James started the Musician’s Reunion shows that featured the stars from back in the day on Nashville’s Northside to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society, that she started to help aging musicians with medical costs as well as support the American Cancer Society and the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Marion James continues to perform today. Marion James recorded in the 80’s a blues landmark album with The Hypnotics that lead to sold out shows in Europe and also released a solo album called Essence that featured Nashville guitarist Jack Pearson as well as session bassist Bob Babbitt.

Recently, Marion released Northside Soul on Ellersoul Records which reached #10 on the Living Blues Charts.

Marion James, not only is an accomplished vocalist, but, writes many of her owns songs. Marion James is The Queen of The South when it comes to the Blues.

Marion continues to support the North Nashville community through her organization as well as efforts to get out the history of Jefferson Street to the rest of the world.

Jack White is probably the newest patron saint as one of the four cornerstones of the Nashville Music Community.  I’m not sure what the tipping point was when Jack decided to move to Nashville, but, I imagine meeting Loretta Lynn and asking if he could produce her must have been a big nod in that direction.

The White Stripes started performing “ Jolene” long before Jack moved to Nashville, but, Van Lear Rose, the album that brought a Grammy nod as well as new ears to listen to Loretta Lynn was a huge milestone.

Wanda Jackson and Jack White (Associated Press Photo)

Since working with Loretta Lynn, Jack has gone onto record with Ricky Skaggs, Produce “The Queen of Rockabilly”, Wanda Jackson, invite Porter Wagoner to open for The White Stripes at Madison Square Garden shortly before his passing and worked with many of Nashville’s Rock and Roll Community while spotlighting its heritage.

Jack represents what Rock and Roll is all about with a balance between the blues, rock and roll and country. Jack and his record company, Third Man Records solidify Music City’s Rock and Roll Community which has seen tremendous growth in the last three to four years.

Nashville, whose first real travelling stars, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, has seen a lot of changes over the years. Lower Broad almost turned into a dangerous ghost town when Opryland took over the Grand Ole Opry and most of what downtown had left musically in the late 70’s.

It took many starts and stops before seeing a permanent positive growth record with the opening of today’s Country Music Hall of Fame and numerous new projects downtown.

Nashville is about to see a new golden age for the “Athens of the South.” Nashville has probably one of the biggest collections of colleges and universities in America. Now, just about every genre of American music has a piece of the pie and venues grow by leaps and bounds.

Peter Frampton may have moved here to early, it definitely spurred him on to return to the guitar in a big way, but, sadly he decided to move before Nashville really started to realize its potential as one of the coolest cities in America.

If you are a musician, especially a guitarist or a songwriter, there is no better place to be in the world today no matter what style you play.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Marion James at Jefferson Street Sound B-Day Party, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marion James, Nashville’s “Queen of The Blues” celebrated her birthday at Jefferson Street Sound during what has been a busy year, with the release of Northside Soul on Ellersoul Records as well as the 30th Annual Musicians Reunion at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar to benefit The Marion James Musicians Aid Society.

A group of friends enjoyed the music of The John Richards Trio while enjoying Fried Chicken, Shrimp Gumbo and a special cake for the occasion.

Marion let the group know that the discussion has begun to erect two statues on Jefferson Street of Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard where it all began. It was important to get the support of the music community as benefits may be needed in the future to help raise the funds for the commemorative statues that will further enhance the heritage of Music City.

John Richards and Jerry Stockard at Marion James Birthday Party 2012, photo – Brad Hardisty

Marion James  finally, thrilled friends as she joined John Richards on guitar and Jerry Stockard on drums, singing “Candy” from her recent release as well as a “you-had-to-be-there” performance of “Someday.” It was a special night for a special lady.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

photo – Brad Hardisty

Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, Marion James, who had a Top 10 hit in 1966 with “That’s My Man” on Excello Records whom also once had a young Jimi Hendrix in her band at Club Del Morocco, presided over the proceedings of the 30th Anniversary of The Jefferson Street Musicians Reunion & Benefit which celebrated the Rhythm and Blues era of 1950-1970 that was Nashville on Jefferson Street, 4th Avenue and even a part of the Printers Alley where the event took place last Sunday, Oct. 7th, starting at 2Pm at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar.

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, photo – Brad Hardisty

A great collectible program was available that had the lineup of bands as well as a comprehensive piece on the importance and history of the people and places that made up the great Rhythm & Blues era in Nashville.

There are mentions of Johnny Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Earl Gaines, Little Willie John, Gene Allison, and Christine Kittrell. The included story entitled; “Scuffling: The Lost History of Nashville Rhythm & Blues” was written by Daniel Cooper in 1996 and is one of the most comprehensive articles written about the scene that was played out at The Baron, Club Del Morocco, The New Era, The Club Revillot, Maceo’s (a great photo of Ray Charles playing at Maceo’s is featured in the program), Sugar Hill, Deborah’s Casino Royale, Ebony Circle, Pee Wee’s, even a beer joint called Behind The Green Door (Marion claims to have came up with the name of this joint).

Nashville had its own R&B imprints back in the day, Bullet, Tennessee Republic, Excello, Calvert, Cherokee as well as Athens, Sims, and Sound Stage 7.

The importance of Music City’s R&B, was just as huge as Memphis, although not as well known to the rest of the world. The music of Nashville was in thousands of southern state jukeboxes and being played on the mega powered Nashville pride WLAC back in the day.

Jimi Hendrix with The King Kasuals, Club Del Morocco, early 60′s

There are discussions right now to start a fund to erect a statue of Jimi Hendrix near where the Club Del Morocco once stood on Jefferson Street. While Seattle has every right to claim Jimi as their own, it was here along with best friend and brother in arms, Billy Cox, that Jimi spent his time honing his skills and developing his songwriting craft (building riffs with Billy that would show in later compositions) in probably the most demanding city then and now for a guitarist to prove his worth.

Jimi may have lost out a guitar dual to Nashville’s great and gracious Johnny Jones, but, performing in Nashville only strengthened his resolve and allowed Jimi the opportunity to tour with the powerhouse performers of the day like Little Richard & The Isley Brothers. Johnny later paid tribute to Jimi by releasing his own version of “Purple Haze” with Jimi’s former band, The King Casuals in 1969 on the Brunswick label for all you collectors out there.

John Richards, photo – Brad Hardisty

Starting at 2PM, the New Orleans feel of the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, began to heat up with local favorites John Richards, Miranda Louise and Delicious Blues Stew getting the party started.  The stage announcer, Peter Burger, plays saxophone with Stacy Mitchhart  and also got to play in Marion James during her “burn- the- house- down” set!

There was a great silent auction to benefit the Marion James Musicians Aid Society that helps to support the musicians that made the scene happen between 1950-1970; especially with medical costs. As you all know, being a musician means forgoing a lot of insurance benefits. It was a chance to give back to the community that gave us so much.

Classic Cropper by Michael Patrick Maness, photo – Brad Hardisty

I myself eyed a print of Steve Cropper signed by the artist Michael P. Maness, after a few bids, one very close to the cut off time, it is all mine! While there were several other great pieces of art of BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and an autographed Buddy Guy gig poster, it is rare to come across an art piece of Steve Cropper, my personal icon for what he has been able to achieve in his life, that so captured the essence, Hawaiian shirt, custom orange Fender Telecaster and all.  It will go on the wall next to my art print of another Memphis legend, Furry Lewis.

Those in attendance included Baton Rouge Bluesman Larry Garner, as well as current King of The blues in Nashville, Nick Nixon.  I had heard Steve Cropper was out of town, but, I did hope to see Billy Cox at the event with no such luck. I did catch him once hanging out with old friends at a Sunday night Blues Jam at Carol Ann’s, so; he is seen around town now and then. It would have been great to see Larry Carlton or Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys show up at one of these events, maybe, down the road apiece.

Tom Cat of Bad Moon Blues Band, photo – Brad Hardisty

The Bad Moon Blues Band featuring Tom “Tom Cat” Whisenhunt, who has won a pair of Blues Guitarist awards, did some Strat-o-castin’ which started turn the heat up in the joint.

Regi Wooten, photo – Brad Hardisty

As the afternoon settled early evening, it was Carissia and Company that set the bar featuring Regi Wooten on Guitar. Although his brother, Victor Wooten, may be more well known, it was Regi’s guitar style that inspired Victor to go for some of the things he is known for on the bass.

Carissia, photo – Brad Hardisty

Playing of “Taps” to honor those Nashville blues musicians who have passed on. photo – Brad Hardisty

Carissia and Marion James look on as candlelight procession starts, photo – Brad Hardisty

Before Marion James’ set, there was a candlelight procession honoring passed Jefferson street artists such as Earl Gaines and Jimi Hendrix, before making mention of those who have passed on recently such as Nashville’s Donna Summers and Bob Babbit. Finally, after a moment of silence, “Taps” was played by a lone trumpet.

Lola Brown (daughter of Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, the first black female surgeon in the south) performed a stirring Gospel rendition of “I’m Goin’ Way Over Yonder” and Carissia took a turn on the classic Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., photo – Brad Hardisty

When Marion James took center stage with “The Queen’s Band,” the tiny stage was covered with some of Nashville’s finest performers on everything from horns, guitar to Hammond B3. Marion had three backup singers, including Lola Brown. There were at least 10 musicians, including Samuel L Dismuke jr. Jr. on trombone, who Marion said she considered to be one of her sons onstage. There was no denying why Marion James is the current “Queen of the Blues.”

Everybody stopped for about 30-40 minutes. Nobody was eating their Cajun burgers or swallowing down a couple of fries. There was no talking or chitchatting or wandering around. Time stood still as Marion cut through like a hot knife in a stick of butter.

Marion James, “The Queen of the Blues”, photo – Brad Hardisty

It was an electrified performance that was not to be missed. Marion not only sang some of her classics, but, some of her new songs from the new release on Ellersoul Records, Northside Soul with the attack of Sister Rosetta Tharp in a street fight with James Brown. Marion won!

This was the main event, although, a great late night jam featuring the Andy T Band and Nick Nixon was still in the wings.  After several hours, the night built to a crescendo and I left with my Steve Cropper print rolled carefully.

photo – Brad Hardisty

It was the end to another successful year for The Jefferson Street Musicians Benefit sponsored by Jefferson Street Sound.

-   Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

The 4th Annual Blues Spring Festival sponsored by New Hope Foundation took place at Centennial Park in West End on Memorial Day under record setting mid-90 temperatures that got almost as hot as the afternoon jam session.

Nick Nixon in 2PM Heat!

By 2Pm things were in full swing with veteran Nashville Blues singer, James “Nick” Nixon kicking into high gear performing, “No End To The Blues,” co-written by Scotty Moore in the middle of a scorching soulful set that even brought a little church to the afternoon proceedings.

Plenty of room on the skillet in the front row!

The Festival was not all inclusive to Blues, which also included Country singer Verlan Brock as well as  T.J. Hooker-Taylor doing a tribute to his father, R&B Vocal Legend, Johnny Taylor.

Blues from down under!

Musicians from both the Nashville Blues Society as well as The Tennessee Rhythm and Blues Society did their own jamming as well as supporting the solid line-up.

Mojo Workin’ 95 degrees in the shade!

Many of the local artists can be caught at Carol Ann’s weekly Sunday night blues jams as well as Tuesday night Rhythm and Blues.

Bobby Blue Bland and Elvis, Dec. 7th, 1956

The main-headliner, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Bobby “Blue”Bland, did not disappoint. For most of the show, due to the heat, most all the seats at the front of the stage were free for the taking to watch your favorite artist. Nashville was not ready for late August heat in May. It took a strong will and plenty of water to last a few hours out by the shell at Centennial Park.

Howard Hewett

Next up; The 12th Jefferson Street Jazz and Blues Festival on June 16th starting at 12 noon at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall Amphitheatre featuring headliner, Howard Hewett of Shalamar fame.

1963 dated photo, Jimmy (Jimi Hendrix) 3rd person – Billy Cox on Bass in Nashville.

For those outside Music City, Jefferson Street was Nashville’s Beale Street where even Jimi Hendrix played with Army buddy, Billy Cox after leaving Ft. Campbell Kentucky in 1962 in The King Kasuals. Jimi once even challenged local guitar hero, Johnny Jones, to a guitar dual back in those days.

Stretching out in the shade with some Carol Ann’s BBQ

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN      thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

News came fast and furious over the web of the passing of Donald “Duck” Dunn, a cornerstone of Memphis Soul and Blues.  Steve Cropper posted a message to his Facebook page, saying, “Today I lost my best friend; the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live. Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo Japan after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club.”

Al Jackson, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Steve Cropper

Dunn’s other surviving MG’s bandmate, keyboard player Booker T. Jones responded to his friend’s death on his official website, saying “I am struck deeply by Duck’s death… God is calling names in the music world. He gave us these treasures and now he is taking them back. Duck was too close to me for me to at this point realize the full implications of his passing… I can’t imagine not being able to hear Duck laugh and curse, but I’m thankful I got to spend time and make music with him. His intensity was incomparable. Everyone loved him. None more than Otis Redding.”

Another legendary bassist – Bootsy Collins – took to his Facebook page to post a message about Dunn: “Yesterday, We Lost Another Brick in our Musical Foundation. ‘Donald Duck Dunn’ has Joined that Musical Stax Soul Orchestra in the Sky. Send out prayers & love vibes to his Family & Friends.”

Dunn was born in the city that changed the world of music, Memphis, Tennessee on November 24th, 1941. His father nicknamed him “Duck” while watching Disney cartoons with him one day. Dunn grew up playing sports and riding his bike with fellow future professional musician Steve Cropper. After Cropper began playing guitar with mutual friend Charlie Freeman, Dunn decided to pick up the bass guitar. Eventually, along with drummer Terry Johnson, the four became “The Royal Spades”. The Messick High School group picked up keyboardist Jerry “Smoochy” Smith, singer Ronnie Angel (also known as Stoots), and a budding young horn section in baritone saxophone player Don Nix, tenor saxophone player Charles “Packy” Axton, and trumpeter (and future co-founder of The Memphis Horns) Wayne Jackson.

Duck would be a part of the second wave of the Memphis music explosion. The first being the triumvirate of cutting edge rock and roll, blues and country by the likes of Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash.

As the sixties began, Rhythm and Blues began a soulful turn as the first recognizable integrated group, Booker T. & The MG’s, not shy on group photos, started a stretch of hit soul instrumentals beginning with “Green Onions.” This was long before Sly & The Family Stone, with Steve Cropper’s songwriting chops and guitar playing locked in arms length with the tight-in-the-pocket bass playing of Donald “Duck” Dunn.

“I would have liked to have been on the road more, but the record company wanted us in the studio. Man, we were recording almost a hit a day for a while there,” Dunn said.

Dunn may be best known for his role in The Blues Brothers as the pipe smoking quiet bassist, but, in reality he was one of a handful of bassists to define popular music of the Sixties.

The Blues Brothers Band, Duck with pipe

Speaking about The Blues Brothers Band, “How could anybody not want to work with John and Dan? I was really kind of hesitant to do that show, but my wife talked me into it,” Dunn said in a 2007 interview with Vintage Guitar magazine, “and other than Booker’s band, that’s the most fun band I’ve ever been in.”

Cropper has noted how the self-taught Dunn started out playing along with records; filling in what he thought should be there. “That’s why Duck Dunn’s bass lines are very unique”, Cropper said, “They’re not locked into somebody’s schoolbook somewhere”. Axton’s mother Estelle and her brother Jim Stewart owned Satellite Records , where Steve Cropper worked in High School, and signed the band, who had a national hit with “Last Night” in 1961 under their new name “The Mar-Keys“.[3] The bassist on “Last Night” was Donald “Duck” Dunn, but he left the Mar-Keys in 1962 to join Ben Branch‘s big band.

From there it was with Booker T. & The MG’s, featuring Steve Cropper on guitar, a band that even once had Isaac Hayes fill in on Keyboards while Booker T. went to college. Dunn once said that he and Cropper were “like married people.” “I can look at him and know what he’ll order for dinner,” he said. “When we play music together we both know where we’re going.”

Probably one of the most noteworthy gigs was with Otis Redding. Steve Cropper wrote several songs for Redding on which Duck played. Otis Redding and Booker T. & The MG’s toured Europe and got a reception similar to what The Beatles got when they came here.

There were two acts at the famous Monterey Pop Festival that blew everybody else away and that was Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, with Booker T. & The MG’s playing in Mohair Suits in contrast to Jimi’s flamboyant English rocker duds that he had taken on from swinging London. In fact, to the new hippie generation of the bay area, Otis and the band looked downright square, but, the minute Otis with Duck on a solid rhythm section kicked in, they mesmerized the crowd and were considered the best performance of the prototype early rock festival.

The twin performances were the first to be released as a live recording from that night as a back-to-back live album entitled Otis Redding / The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival released by Reprise Records on August 26, 1970. Otis Redding was at the pinnacle of his career at that time. He was booked as the closing act on the Saturday night of the festival, June 17, 1967. Otis came to the stage following a set by his backup band, Booker T. & the MG’s. However, Otis’ high charged performance ran into a time limit under the festival’s permit, resulting in his having time to perform only 5 short songs.  The performance came on the end of a successful European tour. Otis died less than 6 months later, but not before writing and recording his biggest song ever, “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay,” with Steve Cropper listed as co-writer.

As the bands’ career started to wind down, Duck became a go-to session man in the 70’s, especially after the demise of Stax Records.

Duck with Neil Young onstage in 1993

Dunn went on to play for Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. He was the featured bass player for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty‘s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” single from Nicks’ 1981 debut solo album Bella Donna, as well as other Petty tracks between 1976 and 1981. While not credited as playing on any Elvis Presley Memphis tracks, I have reliable sources that in fact, Duck, was called into “fix” the bass parts or rather replace what was recorded earlier on some of Elvis’ biggest Memphis tracks. Due to Duck’s contracts or business relationships at the time, it would not have been proper for Duck to be listed in the credits, such was the music business in Memphis in the Sixties and Seventies. He reunited with Cropper as a member of Levon Helm’s RCO All Stars and also displayed his quirky Southern humor making two movies with Cropper, former Stax drummer Willie Hall, and Dan Aykroyd, as a member of The Blues Brothers band.

Dunn played himself in the 1980 feature The Blues Brothers, where he famously uttered the line, “We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!” He appeared in the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000, once again playing himself. Dunn supported Neil Young live and in the studio and continued to play with Cropper and Jones, usually with the late Al Jackson, Jr.‘s cousin Steve Potts on drums, as Booker T. & the MGs.

While The Blues Brothers film took place in the north, the music was more than enough pure Stax and featured many of the songs that Duck originally played on.  In fact, John Belushi stayed at the home of Duck’s brother in Memphis while working out the music and script for The Blues Brothers movie. In a way, it would have been more accurate if the film had taken place in Memphis.

In 1992, Duck was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Member of Booker T. & The MG’s.

His legacy is carried on by the next generation that listens to Memphis soul and especially his original bass lines. U2 Bassist, Adam Clayton, as well as other current players have mentioned Duck as an inspiration.

For the last several years, Duck was still sought out for endorsement deals, musicians wanted Duck on sessions willing to pay whatever it would take, but, it was not about the money, it was whether or not he believed in the music enough to leave some quiet time with family and maybe some deep sea fishing with neighbor and friend, Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

Dunn received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2007.

He is survived by his wife, June; a son, Jeff; and a grandchild, Michael, said Michael Leahy, Dunn’s agent.

Robert Dunn, Duck’s brother, King Records Memphis Office Manager, Passed away four days after Duck.

Update: Duck’s brother, Robert “Bobby” Dunn, who was 2 years older died the Thursday after Duck’s Passing. There was a possibility of a double funeral, but, the family decided to keep things separate.

The brothers who were close, sharing the same bed until they were 12 years old, growing up in Memphis, were actually reunited in their passing as they were both at the same funeral home for a few days before arriving at their final resting place.

King Records Warehouse

Robert was an avid fan of Rythm and Blues and was responsible for introducing Duck as well as Steve Cropper to the music of The 5 Royales as well as other great music like Hank Ballard that lead to their interest and development in the Satellite, Volt and Stax Records scene starting with their first single as The Mar-Keys while still in their teens.

King Records / James Brown Production logos

Robert ran the King Records office in Memphis until 1968. This was in a time when there were still a lot of problems in the south. Robert would stay with the musicians in “colored” hotels during those times. On one occasion when he was with James Brown, the Hotel desk clerk was not going to  let Robert stay there because he was not “colored”. James Brown said that if he goes the whole band goes and he backed down and Robert stayed along with James Brown and the rest of the band as usual.

King Records Biography, James Brown on cover

James Brown was involved with King Records at the time, which released singles with a James Brown Production stamp on the opposite side of the King Records logo on the label. Robert had a big influence on what became the Stax sound inadvertently being the brother of Duck and having an influence on him and the younger Steve Cropper.

Beale Street Parade for Duck on Wednesday afternoon.Photo – Mike Brown, The Commercial Appeal

Robert’s funeral took place on Monday with most of the same family and friends that attended Duck’s funeral and Beale Street Parade on Wednesday.

They are survived by their older brother Charlie who spoke at both funerals. 

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe, 1929, she wrote Led Zep’s “When The Levee Breaks”

The Line- up for the 27th Annual King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, will take place this Wednesday May 9th, 2012 at 5:30 PM at the Cherry Street Pavilion.  There will be free food, beverages and music for those of you able to be there. The concert is scheduled for June 8th, Live on the Levee.

This door is at a secret location in Memphis.

We will keep you posted.

 - Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

My endorsement shot for Violet Moon Guitar Strap Ons

In Nashville, there is so much music press; it’s hard to know what people really like to read about. In having my own site, I’ve noticed I get readers from all over the world. I do get to write for other publications, such as Performer, Shake and Sleaze Roxx, but, on my own site, many times I just get to write what is on my mind.

Here are a few of the top articles this year, if you didn’t get a chance to read what others are reading.

Parrish with sister Stacy

I felt it was really up to me to write the tribute piece about guitarist Parrish Hultquist. The Utah rock scene, although very insular, had a lot of local bands in the 80’s. I met Parrish while we were still in high school and he is still considered the greatest guitarist to ever come out of that state. I not only wrote this piece for my site, but, another one that went out to Sleaze Roxx and was republished throughout the world on several Rock music sites including Hungary. His band Megattack, at the time was considered a supergroup by creating a band from members of The Jack, Mannequin and other well know Utah rock groups, their first shows were at the Utah Fairgrounds with capacity crowds of close to two thousand people before signing a record deal and releasing Raw Delivery on Dream Records in France. They got together for a reunion album Save The Nations in 2006 and two reunion shows before drummer Brian Sorenson went into a coma and Parrish returned to Spokane with health issues, which eventually took his life early this year.

The radio show on PureRockRadio.net in tribute to Parrish after his death was the biggest in Pure Rock Radio based out of Las Vegas, Nevada history. I was able to get in contact with former band members, who reminisced, while tracks from three bands he was a member of, Moviescreen, Megattack and Wolfgang played.

This is not only the biggest read article this year, but the most read all time, other than those who regularly go to my front page to see what is new. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here is the quick link: Parrish Hultquist, Utah’s Greatest Guitarist Gone at 48

Evanescence Guitar rig at War Memorial show

In August I was invited to cover local band Fools For Rowan opening for Evanescence at the War Memorial. Armed with just my Smartphone, not able to locate a photographer in time, this article was linked to multiple Evanescence fan bulletin boards and was the most read show revue of the year. I’m sure it got interest in Fools For Rowan while giving Evanescence fans worldwide a little taste of the War Memorial gig, The funniest thing; I never know how shots from my phone are going to work. The best shot was the stage left shot of the guitarist rig before the Evanescence set.

Enjoy:  Fools For Rowan Open Evanescence Nashville Show

Jimi in Kentucky, Screaming Eagles

Jimi Hendrix will never cease to amaze people. I read a local interview that Bassist Billy Cox did about Jimi Hendrix time after being in the military in Kentucky. He was down in Nashville, playing on Jefferson Street, Nashville’s Beale Street, long before he went to New York City. I started doing Jimi citings, finding the places he stayed and where he used to play. In the late last year release, West Coast Seattle Boy, a DVD was part of the package that talked more about his time in Nashville.

 Although written late last year, I included this, because it is the second all time read article.  Brad Schreiber wrote an incredible book entitled Becoming Jimi Hendrix that really explained what Jimi was doing before going to England.  Jimi left his mark here. After talking to Civil Rights Photographer, Ernest Wither’s daughter, I was invited to speak in Memphis earlier this year about Jimi’s time in Tennessee. I did want to research more on the subject, but, I felt the one person who could really talk about those times would be Billy Cox, who still lives in Nashville. I spoke to Billy briefly about the invitation to speak in Memphis and invited him to speak about Jimi. Billy was not able to do that with the upcoming commitments of the Experience Tour this year. I eventually decided to leave the invitation to rest. Hopefully, Billy can speak about those early days, pre-New York in the future.

Jimi Hendrix in Nashville: Jimi Hendrix: The Nashville Connection

The August at Douglas Corner Cafe

I don’t write a lot about Country music since it is so well covered here in Nashville. I do like to write about breaking artists though. Especially when they are “that” good. One such group is The August who moved down here from Chicago. This article was the biggest read Country music article for the year.

The August with Jacky Dustin Sweet Emotion at Douglas

Eddie Hinton and Muscle Shoals nuff said

I picked up a copy of The Oxford American issue on Alabama Music. I was a part of the Alabama scene for several years playing not only with my band Furthermore, but with other local songwriters like Nathan Whitmore and Adam Guthrie. I consider those years in Birmingham to be some of my favorite times. I was shocked when I didn’t see word one about Eddie Hinton. Most of the musicians in Alabama would vote him numero uno when you talk about Alabama Music. This open letter was a huge read.

An Open Bama Letter to Oxford American

Anthony Corder, Tora Tora Live at Snowden Glen 2011

Last but not least, the most read interview here on this site was with Anthony Corder after the release of Tora Tora’s Revolution Day. This was an album recorded almost two decades ago, but, was never released until this year on Nashville’s FnA Records.  Tora Tora was the 80’s band that made it out of Memphis. They recorded all three albums at Ardent Studios in Memphis and always have a little bit of the soul and blues in the mix.

Anthony Corder on Tora Tora’s Revolution Day

One thing is for sure, there is no way to plan out what article is going to be big. It could go big because I wrote from the heart or because the band is bigger overseas. It could be for any reason and none in particular, but, music is still important to all of us and reading about the things that matter still has a place in Nashville.

As for next year, the biggest thing on my plate is my first band biography that I am writing under contract. It should be completed next year. That is about all I can reveal about that right now.

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

The Jeff Beck stop in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium last night brought more thunder in-doors than the storm that was encircling Nashville.

 Tyler Bryant, a promising young guitarist with a Texas lineage, who played at the 2007 Crossroads Festival at Eric Clapton’s invitation, warmed up the sold out crowd with some sonically altered Acoustic Guitar and Vocals.

When Jeff Beck took the stage, the biggest change this tour was hearing Narada Michael Walden devastating a double bass kit, a blast from the past, who did tracks with Jeff back in the Wired days during the Jan Hammer era.  There are only two drummers that play with that kind of power and style, Narada Michael Walden and Billy Cobham.

 A couple of great tracks from Wired, “Led Boots” and “Blue Wind”, gave him a chance to tear it up like he did back in the Seventies. If Tal Wilkenfeld was the added bonus last go-around, Narada Michael Walden more than made up for that.

Rhonda Smith, Bassist-Singer, most known for gigging with Prince, offered some flexibility to do his version of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” as well as Sly & The Family Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher” during the encore set.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t read previous reviews because I had no idea he was going to tribute Hendrix with “Little Wing”. If there was a “close- to- God” moment it was during “Little Wing”. It was so sublime, if Jimi is an angel, I’m sure he was smiling.

Jeff nailed material from Emotion & Commotion like Jeff Buckley’s take on “Corpus Christi Carol” as well as one of his standards over the last few years, The Beatles’ “A Day in The Life”.

It is amazing what Jeff can get out of his fingers with a Fender Stratocaster. I have seen some players take Jeff Beck’s approach to solo lines but the tone and the in-between note stretches have never been duplicated in over four decades of guitar majesty.

Jeff stretched from the Les Paul track “How High the Moon” to the Puccini Aria “Nessun Dorma” before disappearing into the tour bus in the alley at The Ryman.  Tyler Bryant did an 11PM set at The Rutledge at an after-show with his full band.

If you enjoyed any of the recent Jeff Beck live DVD releases, hearing him live takes it to the next level.  If you get the chance, go see Jeff on this round with Narada Michael Walden demolishing the drums in the most extreme Jazz-Rock fusion style imaginable.

***Update**Received a copy of the set list, sharing via photo, note Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” leading into “Led Boots”

  - Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

 

Jimi Hendrix in Nashville

Word hit the street over the last two weeks like a brush fire in New Mexico: Rolling Stone wrote in print and on the net, Nashville has the best music scene in the country. I haven’t even read it yet because it is in the subscriber content on the web, but, I believe it to be true.

What was the turning point? The Kings of Leon? I don’t really think so.  The Kings of Leon had to go over to England to become big  in the U.S., kind of like Jimi Hendrix, in fact Jimi was gigging up on Jefferson Street with Billy Cox  and The King Kasuals for just a little scratch and room and board just a couple of years before he went to the U.K.

Paramore? Well, giving a little credit to a younger scene was a good thing when they were signed to Fueled by Ramen (sort of) yet there is no scene of bands trying to sound like Paramore around Nashville so it is its own thing.

Just a couple of years ago, Nashville was licking its wounds when Be Your Own Pet and The Pink Spiders, especially The Pink Spiders who went in with guns loaded and a Ric Okasek Produced album and an Artist Relations war chest were unable to break big.

Was it when Jack White moved Third Man Records down to Nashville, that is definitely a key piece to being Rolling Stone cool, with new 45’s by regionals being released almost on a Sam Phillip’s Sun Records schedule along with concert events that are showstoppers like the Record Store Day plus one Jerry Lee Lewis concert featuring Steve Cropper and Jim Keltner.

Okay, Jack White has given it the one two punch by introducing past icons to new generations  like Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose Grammy award winning album with Loretta standing in front of the East Nashville house where it was recorded.  How about when Porter Wagoner opened for The White Stripes at Madison Square Garden?  Who would have known that Porter’s final call would be an outstanding album, The Wagonmaster and a gig opening for The White Stripes?

Maybe, that was key in making sure that real icons are represented like Wanda Jackson’s great new album on Third Man Records. Jack is definitely not just looking behind but is really tuned into the ether. I was excited to see Dan Sartain, a part of the same Birmingham scene I was in for a number of years cut some vinyl on Third Man Records. Dan opened up for The White Stripes on several dates a few years ago and my friend Emanuel Elinas who made some guitar pedals for me down at Highland Music in Birmingham talked about playing Bass with Dan Sartain and going bowling with Jack and his Mom. How cool is that?

In fact, when I saw the band on the flip side of the Dan Sartain 45 and Matt Patton was there, I was really happy about what was happening. Matt and a few others had put out some of the best Indie music in Birmingham that I have ever heard. Matt had this band called Model Citizen and their CD, The Inner Fool, produced by Tim Boykin (The Lolas, The Shame Idols, Carnival Season) on Bent Rail Foundation is one of my all time favorites. Matt is getting recognition with Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s The Dexateens now.

I tell you what; let’s get down to ground zero. When we talk about Todd Snider and the East Nashville scene we are getting close, but, let’s get down to one album and one artist.  Okay, I am going to say the transition came when Nashville got behind one of its own in 2008. When Justin Townes Earle got signed to Bloodshot Records and released The Good Life both weekly music papers got behind with big in depth articles about how Justin got to that point. The Good Life is a classic album out of left field but it really represented what Nashville was known for, good songwriting, a little rock and roll, a little country with a nod to the past and to the future of Americana.

At that time, you could hang with Justin over at The Basement, but with extensive touring and a prolific three years, Justin is well established and still with indie cred enough where I can still turn people onto his music as something new.

Justin was recognized at The Americana Music Awards in Nashville in 2009 the year before Rolling Stone called the Americana Music Festival the coolest festival in the U.S. In fact 2010 would be the no holds barred year when Warner Brothers would finally release American Bang’s CD. Robert Plant would record Band of Joy in East Nashville with an Americana  A-List including Buddy Miller and Darrell Scott and be the surprise guest at The Americana Music Awards.

The 2010 Americana Music Festival was a real eye opener when you had The Long Players, Bobby Keyes, Dan Baird and a laundry list doing Exile on Main Street at The Cannery Ballroom, Hayes Carll at The Basement, with people coming from Australia just to see him play and a festival closer with Todd Snider and an all-star band featuring Don Was on Bass, with a grin and looking somewhat like Slash’s older brother.

Don Was got in the game this year when he produced Lucinda Williams (a Nashville alumnus) new Cd, Blessed. Did it start at The Americana Music Festival with an exchange of phone numbers backstage at The Rhyman? Only they know for sure, but Nashville is becoming a ground zero magnet for much more than Popular Country Music Radio songs and Christian Music.

There had to be a change. The music business had changed and Nashville has changed along with that. Instead of twenty major labels in town, there are now five. The rest are Indie Country, Rock, whatever.

Coming to Nashville to be a hit songwriter may be a goal for a lot of people, but, getting a staff writing gig is becoming really difficult and less lucrative. Back in 2007-2008, we talked about how a songwriter with good songs getting signed to a publisher with maybe a 25-35k draw now going for 18-24k and the need for a day job for many.  Also, one of the larger publishers had in the past as many as 135 staff writers and was then down to Thirty five.

I know for a fact things are much worse for that dream with less staff writers, less money and less records being sold. The dream is still there, but, now you need to get lucky and find a new face with a great voice and the potential to get signed and start co-writing before some money starts flowing.

In early 2008, I could go to The Commodore Grill and see an endless supply of new songwriting talent for the Country Music Industry, but, with less staff gigs and the economy in the tank, less people are rolling into Nashville with an acoustic guitar and lyrics in the guitar case. In fact, it really is a trickle compared to just three years ago. Also, many of the writers that are coming into town have Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson chops and are not really what the Country Music Industry is looking for.

On the other hand, the Indie Rock and Americana scenes are ripe for development.  Vinyl is making a comeback with this crowd and United Record Pressing is right here where it always was. Colored vinyl, short runs, whatever you need with local labels like Third Man Records and Nashville’s Dead Records, United Pressing is back to increasing production and essentially back in the game.

The song publishing and royalty distribution infrastructure is realigning in Nashville with changes in staff announced publicly last year at ASCAP and I am sure accommodations are coming with a paradigm shift to handle multiple styles now in the pipeline.

Grimey’s New and Pre-Loved Music is probably the most famous record store in the country now, maybe second to Amoeba’s out on the West Coast. It’s not enough that Indie bands make in-store appearances. Metallica made a little short announced gig for fans at The Basement below Grimey’s in 2008 before their Bonnaroo appearance and released the whole experience as Live at Grimey’s worldwide in 2010. Now all the gloves are off.

If you are a music lover, archivist, etc. in a world with disappearing Record stores, Nashville not only has Grimey’s, but  also, Phonoluxe Records, The Great Escape, The Groove and plenty of other outlets for local as well as rare Cd’s and vinyl.

Look what is going on at Thirty Tigers Indie Distribution and their great success over the last couple of years.

Belmont University is turning out Music and Music Business degrees every year and a lot of students want to stay here and not necessarily go into the Country Music Machine. They have their own ideas from the scenes they came from whether it was in California or New York.

Bands like The Black Keys and The Deadstring Brothers are migrating here.  Even though Music Row still has a big chunk of the day to day business great records are being made in East Nashville, Blackbird Studio and Buddy Miller’s living room.

With the advent of a studio in a gig bag, Indie artists can make records anywhere and with cheap housing and a plethora of like minded musicians gathering in what really is now becoming truly Music City it only makes sense to live and work here, especially when gas is going for near $5 a gallon. Why not be close to all the blessings that come with a great music talent smorgasbord.

Speaking of food, you don’t want to leave Austin because of Texas Barbecue? Okay at least try Jack’s and Rooster’s Texas Style BBQ and Steak House on 12th. I promise you won’t be disappointed. You want California style Mexican Food? Go to Oscar’s Taco Shop on Nolensville and in Franklin. Thai? Thai Star. Vietnamese? Far East Nashville. Indian? Tamarind. New York Style Italian? Are you kidding? Maffiozas or the place at the Arcade. Okay, so you can’t get Hawaiian Plate BBQ here yet, but, there is plenty to explore. We could still use an In and Out Burger.

Okay, back to music.  Country is going through a lot of changes. The ripple of the Taylor Swift explosion that Big Machine Records put into motion are still being felt, being one of the only Platinum Recording Artists in the new digital era, as well as outside pressures from Texas Charts, the Red Dirt scene and T-Bone Burnett Produced masterpieces that can’t be denied.

Country even has its own street cred in Nashville with bands like Kort who are local but signed over in England as well as Indie Singer / Songwriter Caitlin Rose and Country spun  Those Darlins. Even Charlie Louvin, who as part of The Louvin Brothers can take some credit for inspiring The Everly Brothers and therefore The Beatles harmonies, got his Indie cred with The Battle Rages On that was released on Austin’s Chicken Ranch Records. I can say I got to see two Midnight Jamboree tapings and get his autograph on an early Louvin Brothers recording before he passed into immortality.

So what about Nashville’s own Indie scene? Heypenny, Jeff The Brotherhood, Cheer Up Charlie Daniels,  Uncle Skeleton, Pujol, Heavy Cream (kind of Karen-O fronting a better looking MC5), Todd Snider, John Carter Cash, The Coolin System, The Deep Fried 5 and a laundry list playing at places like The Basement, The End, Danzig’s House, Exit/In, The Rutledge, Mercy Lounge and a house party near you.

How could Rolling Stone not call Nashville the best Music Scene in the country? It is a multi pronged Country, Alt-Country, Americana, Bluegrass, Newgrass, Folk, roots, rock, funkified attack on your senses.

It’s one of those places you could actually plan a week of your life to check out bands as well as pick up a new Nudie or Katy K suit. A place where you might find Joe Maphis’ old Mosrite double neck or the Bass player from Cinderella’s vintage Precision Bass on sale on Craigslist.

You may never win over Nashville, but, it’s a good place to write, do your business and go to the Third Sunday at Third pot luck at Doak Turner’s house in Nashville. Maybe it doesn’t have a burgeoning Death Metal scene but it does have The Billy Block Show. When the sun is out you can’t deny how beautiful Nashville is. Where else can “Bless Your Little Heart” actually mean, I don’t give a ****.

Nashville is a great place to throw your guitar case in the corner and call home.

There are several trackbacks links for your viewing pleasure.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN    thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

A year in Exile

If there was any kind of recurrent theme this year, The Rolling Stones kept popping up on the radar. It started when I bought the Deadstring Brothers album Sao Paulo an obvious well done Stones influenced work of art. It would be in my Top Ten if it had come out in 2010 but it actually was released in 2009. It is a great album and when I saw them live at The Basement it came across really well.

It didn’t stop there; Exile on Main Street had been remastered with bonus tracks where The Stones actually brought in Mick Taylor to play his parts on some unfinished tracks. The Rolling Stones released a new single “Plundered My Soul” from the found tracks and released several versions of the album.

Grimey’s did a midnight screening of the Documentary Stones in Exile that took photographs, film, new interviews with the band as well as Bobby Keyes and others about recording Exile on Main Street in the south of France way back when at The Belcourt Theatre. “Exile” is now considered a pivotal record but at the time “Tumbling Dice” was considered a difficult single on a rather un-commercial record.

During the Americana Conference the Long Players augmented with Stones Sax Player Bobby Keyes, Dan Baird and several singers like Mike Farris, Grace Potter and others did the entire album live at The Cannery Ballroom. 

The Theatre release Ladies and Gentlemen The Rolling Stones which was filmed during the Exile promotional tour in the States was remastered and released on DVD in the fall. The set featured many of the songs from Exile that are not played much by latter day Stones such as “Sweet Virginia”. The sound and film looked phenomenal and it was good to see Mick Taylor at his best, an integral part of The Stones during that period and in truth is really missed nowadays.

Finally, to finish off the year of The Stones, Keith Richard’s Autobiography Life was released in November along with a compilation of his X-Pensive Winos recordings from the late Eighties.  The Rolling Stones managed to keep in the music news almost as much as Taylor Swift.

Original cover for Straight Up

It also seemed to be the year for catalog re-releases as Apple Records remastered most of the Apple back catalog of non-Beatles recordings by Badfinger, Mary Hopkins, James Taylor and released all of them at the same time.

FnA Records continued to not only re-release 80’s metal catalog but also unearthed several recordings that were set to release but never were by labels such as A&M and Geffen when the Seattle scene took over.  There were several recordings by different artists from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators 45’s to Carnival Season vinyl that saw their material released on CD for the first time.

Janie Hendrix continues exquisite releases of all things Jimi Hendrix with the release of West Coast Seattle Boy that not only has yet another Bob Dylan song done by Hendrix but goes back to the background of what he was doing before going to England with expanded packages that include a disc full of Isley Brothers and other nuggets, pre-Experience as well as a DVD Voodoo Child that even talks about his Nashville days.

Country continues to sell big, but real, traditional or Texas Country has been swallowed up by the Americana scene. At least it has found a home. As far as innovation in current pop country the last leap forward was Miranda Lambert’s Revolution and that was released last year.

Here are few honorable no less worthy than the list:

Ratt – Infestation

Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am

Kort – Invariable Heartache

Charlie Louvin – The Battles Rage On

Marty Stuart – Ghost Train

Jim Lauderdale – Patchwork River

Crazy Heart – (Soundtrack) Various Artists

Okay, now for my Top Ten. In making my choices, I not only looked at material, but innovation and game changers, records that made things interesting.

10- Carnival Season / Misguided Promises / ARRCO

This represents not only a re-issue on CD for the first time of regional Birmingham band Carnival Season that features local legend Tim Boykin, but, painstakingly includes every recording the band made during their short time together as well as extensive liner notes that tell the whole story of the late 80’s rockers. It sits well on the shelf with bands like Redd Kross as well as The Replacements. The band has been doing occasional reunion gigs playing not only this set but some new stuff as well over the last couple of years. This was one of the first alternative rock bands out of Birmingham, Alabama.

Featured tracks: “Misguided Promises”, “Please Don’t Send me to Heaven”

9- Robert Plant / Band of Joy / Rounder –Esparanza

Robert was in the middle of recording the follow up to Raising Sand with Allison Krauss when he pulled the plug when he felt the magic wasn’t there. He retreated to Nashville and entrusted Buddy Miller to put together a band that features Darrell Scott, Byron House, Marco Giovino and Patty Griffin and secluded into Woodland Studio to see what they would come up with. The result is obscure covers as well as a Plant-Page piece from Walking into Clarksdale that shows some Zeppelin flavor with uncharted Americana territory which sonically could have only happened with Nashville session players in such a short time. The band gelled in the studio and continues to roll across Europe and Stateside. This is probably Buddy Miller’s best Production effort yet.

Featured tracks:  “Angel Dance”, “You Can’t Buy My Love”, “House of Cards”

8 – Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses / Junky Star / Lost Highway

Ryan tends to write like a modern day Dylan but his voice is more like John Kay from Steppenwolf. Ryan who comes from the red dirt scene of West Texas and now lives in so-L.A. got national notice with the Grammy winning “The Weary Kind” from the Crazy Heart soundtrack defiantly writes about a drifter leaving behind a dead end life to go to California only to end up sleeping on the Santa Monica pier.

Featured tracks: “The Wandering”, “Junky Star”

7- Sweet Apple / Love & Desperation / Tee Pee

Put together by members of Dinosaur Jr. and Witch, this little known defiantly Hard Rock and other worldly idea collection of songs with its Roxy Music rip off style album cover is actually closer to something between an early Alice Cooper (when they were a band) and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. The album kicks off like a Raspberries send off with Guidedbyvoices production and then the desperation begins with some morbid love lost desperation with a chugging Alice Cooper band style with lyrics like ”Looking out the window, watching people fall, how I wish I could fall to death”. It’s a rock and roll gem this year.

Featured tracks: “Do You Remember”, “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change)”

6 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band / Preservation / Preservation Hall Recordings

What a fantastic album. A collection of well-known New Orleans Ragtime with this important Horn based band where the tuba still carries much of the bass part, mashes PHJB with an all-star cast of vocalists such as Andrew Bird, Pete Seeger, Ani DiFranco, Ritchie Havens, Steve Earle as well as the sultry vocals of Memphis’ Amy LaVere.  The band ended up on tour with Maroon 5 this year.

Featured tracks: “Blue Skies”, “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home”

5- John Mellencamp / No Better Than This / Rounder

Recorded for the most part at Sun Studios with one RCA 44 ribbon mic into vintage Ampex Analog gear, John not only sounds like the old Sun recordings, this sounds like old tape that had to be baked in a microwave to finally put it on digital media. It was not only a great idea with equal parts Cash country, Rockabilly and blues but probably his best album since Scarecrow. The T Bone Burnett produced masterpiece even got airtime on WSM.

Featured tracks: “No Better Than This”, “Coming Down the Road”

4- Justin Townes Earle / Harlem River Blues / Bloodshot

If you missed it, Justin just rolled a third strike in three years. Every album has been decidedly Justin with marked differences and excellent songwriting. This would be his “Ode to New York City” where he now calls his second home.  Jason Isbell (Drive by Truckers, The 400 Unit) puts in guitar duties and gives this more of an edgy guitar feel as well as some straight up Rockabilly. It really would be cool to see a pure Rockabilly album in the future.

Featured tracks: “Move Over Mama”, “Workin’ for the MTA”, “Christchurch Woman”

3- Black Mountain / Wilderness Heart / Jagjaguwar

This album sometimes feels like Led Zep III and Deep Purple Fireball at the same time. The duality vocals of Stephen and Amber still remind me of a haunting Jefferson Airplane with the production sounding very early 70’s analog, sometimes acoustic but when they rock it’s got Jon Lord style Hammond B3 all over the place. Although the first album by this Vancouver band may have been a defining moment this is the one that makes me wants to crank the stereo full blast on road trips.

Featured tracks:  “The Hair Song”, “Old Fangs”, “Let Spirits Ride”

2- Mike Farris and The Cumberland Saints / The Night The Cumberland Came Alive / Entertainment One

Recorded in just six hours just two weeks after the Nashville Flood in a downtown Nashville church just blocks from the flooding, Mike shows that his bluesy/gospel voice can sound fantastic over anywhere he wants to go. Mike has been everywhere from Indie Rock, Blues, Gospel, working with Double Trouble to now this pre-war Gospel Blues style gem working with The McCrary Sisters, Sam Bush, Byron House and members of The Old Crow Medicine Show, his originals mesh well with the rare covers. He showcased the album at Cannery Ballroom during the Americana Music Festival and it was electrifying.

Featured tracks: “Wrapped Up, Tangled Up”, “Down on Me”

1-She & Him /Volume Two / Merge

Zooey Deschannel & M. Ward are some kind of modern Indie Captain and Tennille and somehow it works. Zooey has a sunny California breeze running through her muse that translates into a digital era take on The Beach Boys versus Phil Spector. Even though the material is fresh it makes me daydream of being back on the beach in Santa Cruz when I was six with my Mom and little sister.

Featured tracks: “In The Sun”, “Don’t Look Back”,”Lingering Still”

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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