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Doug Phelps talks about Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and the late Johnnie Johnson.

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me In Bluesland

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me In Bluesland

“We dead stopped right out on there in the middle of recording Soul and basically spent three days writing in the studio as we went. It was all off the cuff, spur of the moment stuff and we came up with Meet Me In Bluesland. It was so organic…”Doug Phelps

Country rebels, The Kentucky Headhunters are set to release Meet Me in Bluesland [Alligator Records] on June 2nd, a recording made with late pianist Johnnie Johnson, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, known for his work with Chuck Berry, not long before his passing.

The Kentucky Headhunters met Johnnie Johnson at a Grammy after party in 1989 after they had won the Grammy for best Country performance by a group or duo for Pickin’ On Nashville.

Their name would be brought up by Keith Richards when Johnnie was getting ready to record his second solo album. A friendship both personal and professional endured through recordings, jam sessions and live gigs until Johnnie’s passing in 2005.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How did you work with Johnnie Johnson in the first place?

Doug Phelps / Kentucky Headhunters: Keith, Eric Clapton and NRBQ got on the project with Johnnie for his first solo record. That would have been, I guess that was the early nineties when that came out. They wanted to do another album and Keith recommended The Kentucky Headhunters, because he couldn’t do it at the time.

TNB: So, Keith recommended you guys. I guess that was really an honor. Most people are still not aware how important Johnnie Johnson was to Chuck Berry’s songwriting and recordings as well as some of the other things he did.

DP: Let’s go all the way back to the beginning. Johnnie hired Chuck Berry in 1955 to be his guitar player. He had a sax player that couldn’t make it to a gig and he knew about Chuck. Of course, you know, Chuck ended up taking over. Anyways, Johnnie was the initial person that hired Chuck and that’s how he got that ball rollin’ in the first place. So, Johnnie sang on all the early hits and played with him for years. Chuck at one point in time decided he just wanted to start playing with the local band and he let everybody go. So, Johnnie played with Albert King for a while and recorded with him and toured with others.

TNB: I never heard much about him after that.

DP: Johnnie got off the road and became a bus driver in St. Louis. He was a city bus driver.

TNB: The realization of how important he was to Chuck Berry’s style as well as the way Chuck would do two string leads didn’t really come to my attention until the film Hail Hail Rock and Roll and Johnnie Johnson was up there playing and Chuck’s music sounded like it was supposed to.

Kentucky Headhunters Live

Kentucky Headhunters Live

DP: Yeah, Keith Richards kind of brought that out and got them playing together for the first time in quite a while. When they chose Keith to be the director, he said “I’ll do this on one condition, I’ve got to find Johnnie Johnson and put Johnny and Chuck together. “

TNB: Keith knew how important that original partnership was to the integrity of those songs. Chuck and Johnnie were really partners at one time.

DP: When you think of Johnnie and Chuck back in the day, you think so much of the teams like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page or Keith and Mick. They were the first rock and roll team if you can call it that.

TNB: What period of time was the band in when you got approached to work with Johnnie?

DP: We were approached to do the second Johnnie record.

TNB: Didn’t you meet Johnnie Johnson at the Grammys before that?

DP: I wasn’t there at the Grammys. At that time, they had just brought the Johnnie record over there to the Grammys. The first thing they ran into at this Grammy after party was Johnnie Johnson. He was over there by himself. So, they immediately went over to him and hung out with him all night. And that’s really where they first met him and they became friends with Johnnie. Then they got approached to do the second project with Johnnie which was called That’ll Work and that was in 93. So, that’ll fix you up on how they met.

TNB: So what was that first session like?

DP: Johnnie walked into the practice house and said, “Play a song and if I like it great and if I don’t, I’m out.” They tore into something and Johnnie loved it. Johnnie said, “Alright, I’m in the Headhunters!”

TNB: It sounds kind of like it gelled from the first time the band jammed with Johnnie.

DP: We really just love Johnnie. I came back in the band in 95. So, when I met Jonnie we did some shows together. We` would bring him out and use him on some of his recordings.

TNB: So, how did Meet Me In Bluesland come about?

DP: It came time for us to do our next project for Audium during 2003 and so we were recording Soul and on that particular album we were going to do the Freddie King song, “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and we wanted Johnnie to play on it so we got in touch with him. The night before he was in Houston and sat in with The [Rolling] Stones. He is a heavy heavyweight in music. He had hung out with The Stones all night., In the meantime, Francis, Johnnie’s wife, called Richard and said “I know you have him coming into record this one song for this project but you are going to have him for two or three days there. He’s not getting any younger.” I think he was seventy eight at the time. She basically said she would love us to record and write with him, do some stuff and record with Johnnie because who knows how much longer he is going be around, so that is basically what we did.

TNB: You’re in the middle of recording Soul and the project stops?

DP: We dead stopped right out on there in the middle of recording Soul and basically spent three days writing in the studio as we went. It was all off the cuff, spur of the moment stuff and we came up with Meet Me In Bluesland. It was so organic and Johnnie made you play like men. He made you grow up in your playing. We got the project finished and just basically put it under the bed. Richard literally put it under his bed at the house. We figured there would be some point when we would take a look at it and see what we could do with it.

TNB: It’s been over a decade since it was recorded. The public never knew about it. Why didn’t this come out earlier?

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

DP: Now, we have been asked this question already. Johnnie passed away in April 2005 so it wasn’t much beyond this project that he passed. You know, we were asked the question, why didn’t you release it at that point? It just seemed like we didn’t want to misconstrue the fact that we were taking advantage of his death. We had the highest regard for Johnnie as well so we just we said we will just wait until Francis says what about the project or what are you gonna do with it?

TNB: So, ten years passes.

DP: It’s October of last year and we get the call from Francis, “I’m not getting any younger myself. Now, I know you got the project and I’d love to hear it.” And we said okay that’s our sign that it’s time for us to do something. Ironically, we were in the middle of writing for a new Headhunter record. We weren’t in the studio yet but kind of like that same thing like when he came in we just stopped Soul in the middle of recording.

TNB: You dropped everything again.

DP: We stopped our writing and then went full force, full speed on getting this project back out. We knew we’d done it. We were really under the gun and in a hurry. We knew it was good when we did it but it had been a long time since we had heard it so we didn’t know what we were going to get into when we pulled the tracks back up and to our surprise it was all there. I re-sang two songs. Richard re-sang two songs. Greg wanted to re-do one of the guitar parts. It was just little bits here and there and that was it. It was all there.

TNB: It was only a few days but the magic was there. Johnnie had really fit in with the band or vice versa.

DP: It was one of those magical things that just happened in the studio with Johnnie.

TNB: Yeah, then you had to figure out distribution and all that.

DP: The first thing we did was go to Alligator Records and wanted Bruce Iglauer to hear it. We figured that would be a great blues label home for it. He loved it and we started negotiating immediately with Alligator Records. We wanna make sure it gets its due. There is a lot of historical value with this project that we did with Johnnie. Johnnie brings a lot to the table and we just happened to be along for the ride. We want to be good stewards of what we do with the project. We thought that if anybody could pull that off, Alligator Records could.

TNB: It’s good to see that The Kentucky Headhunters are still around. A lot of the big rock sound in Country today can trace back to what you started back then.

DP: We were ahead of our time. Yet, we still somehow or another broke through and you know it was just such a crazy time that we were just fortunate that it turned out like it did. Well we’re all the way back to where we started with just the four of us. That’s how we started.

TNB: What about the new Headhunters album you were working on?

DP: We were about seven songs into our writing process when Francis called. We waited too long. We should have had a Headhunters project out last year or even at the end of the year before last because Dixie came out in 2010. We knew were a little behind and coming out with something new helps our tour dates. It kind of goes hand in hand. When this came up, we knew this was the project that we need to work on right now. Once it gets past the bulk of this, we are going to get back into writing and finishing up the record ahead of us. So there will be another one of them sooner than later.

TNB: This is a cool project.

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

photo courtesy The Kentucky Headhunters

DP: I still get chills when I talk about it. That’s how special it was for us and how much respect we had for Johnnie and how close we became over the years. We’re very excited about it.

  •  Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

KC talks about new album and the new fan base at Pandora

Harry Wayne "KC" Casey photo - A. Streiber

Harry Wayne “KC” Casey photo – A. Streiber

The iconic KC and The Sunshine Band rolled out their newest release, Feeling You!, a collection of TOP 40 Hits from the 60’s that takes on the decade that shaped America during the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and the landing on the moon.

AM Radio’s Top 40 format featured everything from Swamp Pop to Motown to the British invasion and this was during the formative years of Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. KC would go on to forge a change in the musical landscape.

Feeling You! features songs by sixties legends like Ben E. King, The Righteous Brothers, Jackie DeShannon, Aaron Neville and others. KC says this new album stems from an inspiration to pay tribute to those songs who helped shape him into the revolutionary artist he is today.

BMI recently honored KC and The Sunshine band with a coveted Million Airplay Award, as well as an outstanding 2014 Urban Pop Award, recognizing their revolutionary impact on modern pop music since the 70s. The presentation took placed just before the March release date of their latest album.

KC & The Sunshine Band were in preparations for an upcoming tour when KC sat down with The Nashville Bridge to talk about the new album and how to get music out into the public conscience both digitally as well as a future vinyl release.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: On the new album, how was it to record the songs that were part of your formative times?

KC: I feel right now the way I felt about them then over the last 60 some odd years, some of them were done because they were fun songs and they were good positive energy and I thought it would be great to have them on the album, not just on the album but, to do live. Other songs have a more personal connection to me. There are a couple on there, that I did, that have a slight political undertone on them.

TNB: Okay, you did Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and that was a protest song back in the Sixties.

KC: Correct, it is so appropriate for what is going on right now.

TNB: You got some good reviews on “Stand By Me.” What was your favorite track to work on?

KC: They were all fun to work on. I don’t know if I have a favorite. I do “Stand By Me” and “Bring It On Home” is definitely the Sam Cooke song. It was my favorite song to do. I love really doing “You Really Got A Hold On Me” also.

TNB: What do you think is the difference between now and then to get a hit? Is it just money?

KC: I think there is a lot more money behind records today. First of all [back then] you had to be able to sing on key. It had to be a great song. I don’t know if it is easier now. It was easier to know if you had a great song back then. Now, you have so many more opportunities to get your music out. You don’t have to depend on one person deciding your future.

TNB: Back then you had been working as a session guy and eventually got the opportunity to take a chance on your own ideas.

KC & The Sunshine Band photo - Jeremy Westby

KC & The Sunshine Band photo – Jeremy Westby

KC: Yes. I didn’t really have anybody telling me yay or nay. You are absolutely right. I set out to change things. I set out to put out a different kind of music. I just wanted to put out an album with high energy and something that people could just enjoy at a party or feel good about playing the entire side A to side B and that is kind of how it all really started. You know, the only master plan that I had was to create this high energy up tempo music, you know, the groove.

TNB: I know you are getting ready to tour. How big of a band do you tour with? The Sunshine Band used to be 11 members.

KC: There are 15 of us on the stage at all times. There are 20 of us that travel together.

TNB: That’s fantastic and you said you are doing “Stand By Me” in the new set?

KC: I do “Stand By Me” and “Bring It On Home To Me” live now. We just went into rehearsals and will add a few more songs.

TNB: I’d love to hear you do “Tell It Like It Is.”

KC: Oh yeah, it sounds great live.

TNB: Are you releasing this worldwide or just in the U.S.?

KC: It’s worldwide.

TNB: So by the time you get to like China I guess they have it available through like Amazon or would that be digital distribution at that point?

KC: It’s mostly digital. We will have hard copies at the show. A record [vinyl] version will be coming out.

TNB: I was going to ask you about the vinyl because it would be fun to even put out a seven inch.

KC: Sure. I know that “You Keep Me Hanging On” on this album is #17 on the Dance Charts. It came in at #24 and then it went to number 17 so we are getting some dance play off of this album. I am speaking to management and stuff today. We need to get a single off of this and get it on the radio stations.

TNB: It would be cool to see a limited release on Record Store Day.

KC: Yeah. I wish that was happening. That would be awesome.

TNB: Nowadays, getting music out and getting paid for it presents a lot of opportunities.

KC: I think there are some opportunities for soundtracks, motion pictures. There is still a chance that somebody might want to use the songs that I have done in a commercial. Of course, I didn’t write the songs on this project but there is still a lot of opportunity with even the music of this album for sync licenses and stuff. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

TNB: Everything goes in cycles and performers like Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones highlight music right before you originally hit.

KC: I know. I feel like I’m on the verge of that cycle. I was just at Pandora music and learned that 71% of our listeners in the last 30 days were in the 18-24 age demographic and 11% were between ages 8-18. My percentage was way above the average Pandora percentage which was 63%.

TNB: I think it’s cool that they are searching and finding KC & The Sunshine Band.

KC: Yeah.

kc and the sunshine band feel youKC and The Sunshine Band On Tour:

03.20 Hard Rock Hotel and Casino / Hollywood, FL

03.21 Seminole Casino Immokalee / Immokalee, FL

03.26 Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino / Lemoore, CA

04.11 Busch Gardens / Tampa, FL

04.18 Seven Feathers Casino – Grand Ballroom / Canyonville, OR

04.19 Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom / Snoqualmie, WA

07.04 A Capitol Fourth Independence Day / Washington, DC

07.11 Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheatre / Peachtree City, GA

07.17 Three Rivers Festival / Ft. Wayne, IN

07.25 Burton Chace Park / Marina Del Rey, CA

08.08 Tropicana / Atlantic City, NJ

08.20 Indiana State Fairgrounds / Indianapolis, IN

08.22 Delta Downs – Delta Center / Vinton, LA

08.28 Monticello Grand Casino / Santiago, Chile

08.29 Monticello Grand Casino / Santiago, Chile

10.03 University of Buffalo Stadium / Buffalo, NY

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmailddotcom

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

Dead Fingers, photo courtesy Jonathan Purvis

This year saw the further disintegration of album sales and disgruntled musicians receiving a pittance from Spotify or other streaming services. Okay, on the bright side there were still great albums to be heard and musicians kept up the pace like the scene with the shrimp boat in Forrest Gump. “Storm?” “What storm?”

Taylor Swift made a home base move from Nashville to New York City and went from making Country Music that was really crossover to making a complete crossover to Pop Music. Albeit, the songs are catchy and she has become the reigning sales queen by CD through placement that saw 1989 on Diet Coca Cola pop up displays in every major supermarket in the United States plus a lot of hard touring and tabloid press.

Scott Borchetta is still on my amazing label head list. If it takes every supermarket in the United States to make Taylor’s new album a million seller, he’s going to do it. Scott shows sheer tenacity and anybody who has heard him talk about the original Taylor Swift launch will realize that if he has the right thing to work with, he will not be denied.

One bright spot on the sales horizon was hearing that United Record Pressing was moving to bigger digs due to the ever increasing demand for vinyl. The craziest part about vinyl is that we all bought into the X and O bits as music for so long that when you hear real music frequencies on vinyl, it’s hard to believe how real it sounds.

Nashville continues to diversify as Country Music starts to sound more like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue starts to sound more Country. What’s interesting is just as Country was starting to hedge the crossover bet towards EDM, the big money making songs had guitar tones from REM to Malcom Young.

Just when you thought all was lost to what classic country sounded like, Ray Price delivers an instant Countrypolitan classic and Sturgill Simpson shows a path to the future for real Country. There are many performers who would like to see “Real” Country make a comeback by Artists like JP Harris and Joe Fletcher.

Jack White continued his Nashville years as the hardest working rocker in the business. Next up, Bridgestone Arena just blocks from Third Man Records. Neil Young became not only the first person to record straight to vinyl in the refurbished 1947 Voice-O-Graph booth at the initial unveiling on Record Store Day 2013, he also recorded an entire album in the time machine, releasing A Letter Home on Third Man Records.

The Black Keys kept pretty busy not just by touring arenas but producing solid efforts by Lana Del Rey [Ultraviolence] and Nikki Lane [All Or Nothin’].

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond & The TruDats and The Cotton Blossom Band at CD Release Party, photo- Brad Hardisty

If Nashville is not collecting the creative spark of the world like an ACME magnet in a Roadrunner cartoon than I don’t know how one can explain the laundry list of musicians of every genre moving here by the droves. There are so many more professional musicians than what you read about in the local rags.

East Nashville is becoming “gentrified” with its traditions like The Tomato Festival and The Hot Chicken Festival and has a laundry list of musicians living in the vicinity. The area is becoming much more expensive so there are other neighborhoods starting to become better known for musicians such as more affordable Riverside and Berry Hill.

The list of venues and bands that travel through town continues to grow. Nashville marches on as a Mecca for all things music as Nashville’s New Years Eve became only second in attendance to New York City in only four years of promoting headlining acts. Last year the show featured Blackberry Smoke, Brent Eldridge and headliner Hank Williams Jr.. This year it will be called Jack Daniels Bash on Broadway and feature a star-packed lineup that includes Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw, The Apache Relay, and Kristen Capolino. The crowds have surpassed projected numbers in years past. Last year down on Broadway had near 90,000 party goers. This year will probably top 100,000 + for the free show.

Here are my Top Ten from Nashville and a couple of Alabamans and a Texan thrown into the mix.

debbie bond cbb_soulshiningcdcov_med_hr-210 [tie] – The Cotton Blossom Band – Soulshining [Self release]

Tony Gerber put together the truest Alternative project heard all year in Nashville. The Cotton Blossom Band features members of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones [Roy Wooten aka Futureman] and BB King’s [Michael Doster] rhythm section and they manage to blend Mississippi Hill Country Blues with Space Music and other assorted world tones. Imagine Junior Kimbrough backed by Tangerine Dream and you might be close but, no banana. I know there are other projects in town that are somewhere in this realm but Tony Gerber’s realization turned every live gig [which were almost invitation only events] into meditation on another plane without the need for Meds.

“See My Jumper Hangin’ Out On The Line”

justin townes earle single mothers10 [tie] –Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers [Vagrant Records]

Justin is back in town! Well, after the New York sojourn, it was great to hear a great Nashville lineup playing some Southern inflected bluesy Muscle Shoals soul. Simple arrangements and to the point, this could have been a writer’s night at The Commodore Grill with a minimalist four piece band. The lyrics are important, timely and reflect more facets of his life, especially “Single Mothers” and his own feeling of being raised by a single mother. Justin changes it up again and always manages to upset somebody. This time, it’s “where is Justin’s finger style in the mix?” If you don’t know by now, Justin has made a stretch assignment on every album since Yuma. The predictable quality with the unpredictable line-up or mix is what keeps one looking forward to seeing what he is up to next.

“Single Mothers” “Picture In A Drawer”

debbie bond that thing called love9 –Debbie Bond & The TruDats – That Thing Called Love [Blues Root Productions]

Although completed in 2013, the official release date was in 2014 for the first Live recording to come from Radio Free Nashville’s Mando Blues Show as an official release. Much of the songs played by Alabama’s Queen of The Blues, Debbie Bond, that quintessential night were meant for a future project. After hearing the playback of the recordings done deep in the Tennessee woods in a MASH style tent, Debbie and her band decided it was a great sound and ready for release after some solid mixing. The album features an eclectic mix of tributes to the fans in Tarragona, Spain, New Orleans as well as the influence of Alabama Blues and Soul.

“Tarragona Blues” “Steady Rolling Man”

st paul8 – St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half The City [Single Lock Records]

You could say this is Eddie Hinton 2.0 or maybe Alabama FAME soul was bubbling under the surface just waiting to get out. What is true is when you take away Country Music, Birmingham and the surrounding areas have an Indie Scene that rivals Nashville. You could file this under The Daptones and the G.E.D. Soul catalog and it fits really well but with something really special with great vocals by Paul Janeway and instrumentation that kept the band busy all year long.

“Call Me”, “Grass Is Greener”

dead fingers big black dog7 – Dead Fingers – Big Black Dog [PIPEANDGUN / Communicating Vessels]

Alabama’s Dead Fingers have developed a copacetic duality in their harmonies and their approach. Taylor Hollingsworth [Conor Oberst, The Spider Eaters] is a monster on the guitar and is able to approach the instrument in whatever way the song needs to be tickled. His wife Kate Taylor steps it up this time and her vocals are stronger than ever. You could call this a Southern She & Him but their pedigree goes even deeper into the history of Birmingham music. The Taylor family is involved in more projects than can be named while Taylor Hollingsworth’s brother has his own stuff going on. This couple represents the bread and butter of the modern day Birmingham scene from The Nick to over the mountain.

“Big Black Dog” “Shoom Doom Babba Labba”

jack white lazaretto6 – Jack White – Lazaretto [Third Man Records]

The depth to where Jack White takes his muse never ceases to amaze. The second solo release shows him in top form and now he is ready to take on Bridgestone Arena from his own backyard, which is no small feat as any Nashvillian will attest. Jack takes the James Brown motto of “the hardest working man in show business” to a third power.

“Lazaretto”, “Would You Fight For My Love”

ricky skaggs sharn white5 –Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White –Hearts Like Ours [Skaggs Family Records]

Long time happily married Ricky and Sharon decide to change it up from their day jobs with Kentucky Thunder and The Whites and make a great duet album with a classic Country almost Americana edge. Although this is their first, hopefully it will not be their last. Ricky is always up for a challenge and has worked with everybody from Bruce Hornsby, Jack White and Barry Gibb over the last few years. Sharon White is the real surprise stretching beyond traditional Bluegrass to be a real charmer in almost a Steve Earle Texan Country meets Blues type way as well as some sweet Christian couple stories of faith that would have been commonplace in Country of the 50’s and 60’s. If one had lost faith that marriage could be a faith building partnership this might bring the possibilities that can exist.

“I Run To You”, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better”

sturgill simpson metamodern4 – Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music [High Top Mountain / Thirty Tigers]

Sturgill Simpson reminds one how cool stripped down Country Music like the Bakersfield sound is. It’s like the third coming of Buck Owens. I think he has a little more Texas in his groove. Dwight Yoakum was kind of the same thing back when “Guitars & Cadillacs” hit MTV instead of Great American Country. Dwight made it with the LA Punk Rock crowd and Sturgill is hitting it big with the Alternative Festival scene. The great thing is Nashville likes Sturgill too. So, maybe this kind of Country does have a chance in this Twisted Sister era of Country Radio.   A great voice, great songs and a cracker jack band will not be denied.

“Turtles All The Way Down”, “Living The Dream”

steelisn  615 to fame3 –Steelism – 615 to Fame [Single Lock Records]

Okay, this may not be number one on the list, maybe because you can’t put an instrumental album there? This has got to be the coolest album on the list. I first heard Spencer Cullum [Jr.] and his brother after I found out that The Deadstring Brothers were playing at The Basement a half dozen years ago. Their album Sao Paulo had just come out and it was the best thing this side of Exile On Main Street. I figured not many people had heard of The Deadstring Brothers but The Basement was packed. I talked to Spencer at that show and found out the band had moved to Nashville. After seeing Spencer craft about any tone on his pedal steel into liquid gold, I thought they better never let this guy leave for Britain. We need him here. What a great band! What a great musician! Watching this band on YouTube play “Linus & Lucy” like a countrified Ventures project is pure Nirvana. I want to hear Steelism plays Zappa. I want to hear Steelism play Ventures. I want to hear them any chance I get.

“The Landlocked Surfer”, “Marfa Lights”

derobert and the half truths im tryin2 –DeRobert & The Half Truths – I’m Tryin, [G.E.D. Soul Records]

This GED Soul gem came out early in the year and may be a little lost in the shuffle as we tend to remember summer through fall as new releases. This album solidifies GED Soul as a major player in the retro Soul stack that includes Broken Bones, Daptones and even Back to Black Winehouse. DeRobert proves to have great vocal chops and solid pitch. There is something soulful but very sunny about DeRobert’s grooves. GED Soul gets together solid engineering and mixing that sounds great on the turntable. I personally like this over the much more publicized and still great St. Paul & The Broken Bones material. Just keep pouring on great arrangements and songs and DeRobert will not be denied.‏ Bonus- The Batman Building featured prominently on the cover.

“Ooo Wee”, “Get On It”, “I’m Tryin’”

???????????????????????????????????????1 –Ray Price – Beauty is…The Final Sessions [Amerimonte LLC]

Ray Price worked with studio veteran Producer Fred Foster to put forth true blood, sweat, tears, money, guts, glory…I could go on. This was a love letter mostly to his wife, but, it was the final effort of a man in his 80’s with cancer known as one of the greatest voices ever laboriously getting the best take and building a Countrypolitan opus with strings and everything great about the Country crossover hits that come out in the 60’s. Ray may have been honored by Oxford American in their Texas issue this year, but this album is pure Nashville as Ray made several trips to Tennessee to complete Beauty is… Ray was a man on a mission to make one great final album and he succeeded.

“An Affair To Remember”, “I Wish I was 18 Again”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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Keith Richards really put together a great tribute to Bobby Keys about all he did over the years for The Rolling Stones playing on “Sweet Virginia”, “Live With Me” and “Brown Sugar.”

Bobby was a part of the whole Exile On Main Street phase that was featured in a recent documentary and was one of the greatest Rock and Roll sax players ever having played with Delaney & Bonnie as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Who, Harry Nilsson, Delaney Bramlett, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, among others.

Bobby was there at the beginning of the whole Buddy Holly phenomena having lived down the street from where he practiced and literally joining Buddy Holly from Texas garage days.

Michael Des Barres and Brad Hardisty at Americana Festival 2010, Exile on Main Street Tribute

Michael Des Barres and Brad Hardisty at Americana Festival 2010, Exile on Main Street Tribute

I had a Rolling Stones experience when the only opportunity I had to hear Bobby Keys was when he played here in Nashville a few years past during The Americana Music Festival 2010 at The Cannery Ballroom with an all-star tribute to The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street that featured Grace Potter, Michael Des Barres and Dan Baird among others.

It was a strange thing to see Bobby playing in the back line horn section and to realize he was there for the whole French affair.

Bobby Keys was one of the greatest sidemen there ever was and he will be missed.

Robert Henry “Bobby” Keys (December 18, 1943 – December 2, 2014)

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN   thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

LOCASH Signs to Label; Key Team Members Announced

Pictured: (L-R back row) Sony Red's Dewayne Brown, Webster PR's Kirt Webster, Paradigm's Brian Hill, Butch Waugh, Star Farm's Matt Corbin, Conway Ent. Group's Tony Conway, Paradigm's Bob Kinkead and Star Farm's Michael Powers.  (L-R front row): Chris Lucas, Reviver President/CEO David Ross, Preston Brust

Pictured: (L-R back row) Sony Red’s Dewayne Brown, Webster PR’s Kirt Webster, Paradigm’s Brian Hill, Butch Waugh, Star Farm’s Matt Corbin, Conway Ent. Group’s Tony Conway, Paradigm’s Bob Kinkead and Star Farm’s Michael Powers.
(L-R front row): Chris Lucas, Reviver President/CEO David Ross, Preston Brust

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 1, 2014) – What do you get when you take one of Nashville’s biggest all-star lineups of music professionals and partner them up with one of the hardest working acts in the business? You call that Reviver Records, which opens up its’ Nashville operation today.

Longtime music industry executive David Ross will lead the team at Reviver as President/CEO. With a career history that began at Alpha Distributors and has flourished over the years with stops at S* Management, College Music Journal, and Vertis, Ross has helped add pages to the legendary careers of such acts as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Alabama and The Judds.

Ross leads a team that includes some of the most successful members of the Nashville music community. Butch Waugh – who built his name during a decades-long run at Sony, will serve as strategic advisor to Reviver. Waugh has been a key player in the career story of such country acts as Carrie Underwood, Alabama, Kenny Chesney, and Martina McBride as well as Bruce Hornsby and The Dave Matthews Band. Longtime promotion veterans Michael Powers and Matt Corbin (from Star Farm Nashville) will lead Reviver’s charge at radio, while Kirt Webster (from Webster Public Relations) currently handles publicity for LOCASH.

Industry favorites LOCASH (formerly known as The LoCash Cowboys), who have already gained airplay with singles such as “Here Comes Summer,” “Keep In Mind,” “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.,” and “Best Seat In The House,” are among the initial artists signed to the Reviver roster. Their most recent album, a self-titled effort, made it to the top half of the genre-encompassing Billboard 200 album chart. Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, who comprise the duo, have also written chart hits for Tim McGraw (“Truck Yeah”) and Keith Urban (“You Gonna Fly”). Working with LOCASH will be Nashville power manager Tony Conway and Paradigm Talent Agency’s Bob Kinkead will handle booking for the duo. Distribution for the label will be handled through Dewayne Brown at Sony RED.

Ross says that he is passionate about the music that LOCASH will soon be releasing through the Reviver label, as well as the team he has assembled. “I feel that we have put together a group of people that have the experience and the success stories to lead this team all the way into the stratosphere,” he said. “And, I think that the industry is going to be blown away by what Chris and Preston have coming down the line. We’re ready to take this town by storm.”

Reviver Records, LLC is based in New Jersey and is comprised of the record label, Reviver Music, and a Production and Management Company.

Resource Reviver Records: http://www.revivermusic.com

Resource LOCASH: http://www.locashmusic.com

Two children left to their own devices shun all the millions spent on lobbing them current cheap artificial commercial culture for thirty to forty year old vinyl artifacts.

henry mancini classicI recently got married and went from a household of one to four. My new bride has two children that are developing their own musical tastes at the age of four and nine.

The nine year old has some highbrow tastes already since his autistic focus has gravitated towards movie soundtracks favoring composer Henry Mancini as well as James Bond Soundtracks.

The four year old daughter was into the current millions spent on films like the Lego Movie and Tegan and Sara’sEverything Is Awesome” as well as her older brother’s favorite, Pharrell William’sHappy” that had both of them bouncing along to YouTube.

When we were dating, the four year old became intrigued with my vinyl collection and started asking me to play stuff, especially 80’s dance music. The nine year old autistic spectrum boy was not at all amused, his comment was, “I hate your music!”

pink pantherMany autistic children have a main focus and his are movies and memorizing all the vital statistics off of the DVD and Blue-Ray clamshells. He can tell you what year the first Pink Panther movie was made. He can tell you all about Esther Williams or Katherine Hepburn much to the shock of people decades older. Henry Mancini is Paul McCartney and John Lennon all rolled into one. He can do no wrong.

jack white another way to dieOne time, I said, “I have something you might like. I have a James Bond theme.” His eyes lit up as I pulled out the Jack WhiteAlicia Keys seven inch, “Another Way To Die” on Third Man Records in gold vinyl. He had to hear it. I gave it a spin on the Audio Technica turntable blasting through a pristine Sherwood receiver and a pair of JBL monitors with twin subs. He was all ears.

After we were married, the two kids took their respective rooms upstairs and started migrating to the living room going through my vinyl collection.

herbie hancock rockitThe four year old picked out her first record at The Groove: Herbie HancockRockit” virgin vinyl on Columbia. Herbie Hancock is still her favorite when her teachers ask about her favorite it ignites a littler laughter and surprise at her Pre-School mainly because it’s not Katy Perry or Taylor Swift.

janet jackson controlHe likes it a lot too. They found the “Rockit – dancing pants” video on YouTube and they watch it almost every morning to wake up during breakfast time. Other times, it’s Janet Jackson or C&C Music Factory. Most often the four year old is practicing her dance moves while her older brother has his arm doing Pete Townshend style “windmills”.

cc music factoryThe nine year old has now gone through all 300 seven inch records and has memorized names, logos, labels, dates, artists and knows the difference between radio copies, promotional copies and limited editions.

frank zappa im the slimeHe has a new favorite artist outside of his beloved Henry Mancini: Frank Zappa. I think that has started some interesting conversations in his 4th grade class when he tells them about “I’m The Slime” on limited edition green vinyl on Barking Pumpkin Records. He sings along and adds all the music parts with his vocal impersonations.

greenhornesSo, here are his current top three favorite artists in order, Frank Zappa, Jack White and The Greenhornes. Third Man Records is one of his main searches as he locates all things Jack White as well as any Columbia Records because he knows Columbia from all of his movie memorization.

deep purpleSpeaking of movies, Warner Brothers, Deep Purple Highway Star” on a limited edition Record Store Day pressing was an instant hit.

Okay, the four year old is becoming very opinionated and 80’s dance music seems to really get her bouncing off the walls especially “Rockit” at number one. C&C Music Factory is a close second.

run dmc its trickyThe four year old is even more opinionated than the nine year old. She really liked Run DMC, “It’s Tricky” so I flipped it to MC Hammer, “You Can’t Touch This” figuring it would be the right transition and she gave Hammer a thumbs down.

I’m sure that as they transition into their teens and start to pay attention to what everybody else is doing they will start to become the by-product of current ad campaigns, but for now we celebrate their discovery and enjoyment.

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom

justin townes earle single mothersJustin Townes Earle continues a musical dialog between his fans and his Book of Life with his most recent venture Single Mothers.

Enough has been said in interviews about the influence on songs like “Single Mothers” which talks about absent fathers and what he had to deal with on a personal basis.

Rather than do a track by track analysis, let’s just get down to what I see flipping through this new deck of cards.

Justin has had a love/ hate relationship with Nashville going back to The Good Life when I met him after the release at The Basement when Justin was doing one of those small gigs right before things really took off. It looks like Nashville is back on deck for this one and is not found lacking what it did before.

Recorded at extremely yellow Quad Studios, Single Mothers screams Nashville, particularly East Nashville with its vibe and current subject matter. This album spotlights what makes Nashville such a cool place right now; Something old, something new, something borrowed (not sure about this one other than maybe a little Jonathan Richman vocal motif), something blue.

While it sounds like a stripped down Nashville Skyline, dripping with Paul Niehaus’ pedal steel and sounding like right before closing time at Robert’s Western World after the last call, much of the actual song structure is very classic Muscle Shoals era Alabama soul ballads.

Justin seems to have found that the Nashville era of 2007 has changed for the better and is now flexible enough to become his playground again.

I have enjoyed the changes that have gone into all of his catalog as the last several years have gone by. Single Mothers seems to flow right off Midnight At The Movies in a very de-structured way. The tracks almost sound like clean demos with the lyrics loud enough to decide how the actual music will feel later. It reminds me of how Keith Richards described in his autobiography, Life, about The Rolling Stones recording process. Keith said that much of what was released in at least the middle period with Mick Taylor were actually demos and they would always talk about recording a proper version of the song later. In the end, they would decide they couldn’t improve upon the original jam and they would release it as is.

Everything about this represents the best of Nashville even down to the photos by Nashville’s very own music photographer, Joshua Black Wilkins.

There was a time when music was a true reflection of the guy who put the album on the turntable. Somehow, multitudes of people found a connection in what certain artists were saying and felt a certain rhythm in their life that flowed between their clothes, car, friends, hanging out and music. Justin Townes Earle is one of the few that really makes that happen now in the same way Bob Dylan and Neil Young did back when.

Justin Townes Earle, The State Room, Salt Lake City, 2009 - opening for Jason Isbell  Photo / Brad Hardisty

Justin Townes Earle, The State Room, Salt Lake City, 2009 – opening for Jason Isbell Photo / Brad Hardisty

There is a small circle of current musicians that have been able to transcend all the volleys and Justin Townes Earle and Ryan Bingham are at the forefront for the same reasons that come with life experience and a fine tuned sense of balance between pessimism and optimism reflecting on what is life and what makes it worthwhile and real.

Favorites: “My Baby Drives”, “Picture In A Drawer”, “Burning Pictures”

  • Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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