Archives for category: The Beatles
Daniel Frazier and Frank Fairfield at Grimey’s

 

A quick check of my email yesterday on my EVO phone found a note from Grimey’s that Frank Fairfield was doing an in-store appearance a couple of days after his Music City Roots set at The Loveless Barn at 6 pm. There is a lot of “roots” music lately but only a chance now and then to catch a true purist player.

Doyle and Mike and the rest of the Grimey’s crew were on hand offering Fat Tire brew to those over twenty one and a weird flavored water that tasted like Hot Buttered Popcorn, a free sample remnant from Record Store Day for those with a brave palate.

Frank was in no hurry prepping his violin, conjuring squeaks with a stroke of the cleaning cloth. Frank said he finds himself “talking to birds”. It was loud enough to conjure a dry track version of Paul’s “seagulls” from “Tomorrow Never Knows” in my brain.

Frank Fairfield’s one and only recording was released in 2009 on Tompkins Square Records out of New York City, a collection of songs older than my Grandparents with enough references to “John Hardy” and “John Henry” to find him bookended by Uncle Dave Macon and The Carter Family.

My new friendship with Blind Boy Paxton at the Folk Alliance prepared me for Frank’s mindset. You can’t really just call him an archivist, Frank dresses the part, talks the part and walks the walk as he resurrects long buried treasures performed on Banjo, Violin (Fiddle, whatever), and Guitar, a little gut box similar to Willie Nelson’s trigger. The instruments themselves were artifacts. In fact, Frank and the aforementioned Blind Boy Paxton are both a player’s player where everything needs to come from that era and bring it out live, unplugged.

The guys from Peelander-Z  were busy rummaging through Used CD’s just prior to sound check for their show at Exit/In as Frank started a duet with music partner Daniel Frazier of Memphis, Tennessee’s Daniel Frazier & The Outlaws. Frank started out on Fiddle but moved to solo Banjo, Guitar and back to Fiddle. At one point, he put on a thumb pick and hit a couple of notes and said “no” to himself and put it back in his pocket. This was all done with hands showing deft tenacity, dynamics and finesse.

His voice would fit what you would expect on an old Carter Family record and more or less is an accompaniment to his playing much in the same way as Jimi Hendrix was, it does not detract but adds to the mood.   

Frank often explained where the piece came from referring more than once to East Texas “where his people are from” especially an odd triplet rarity called a “Mazurka” that had come from the Spaniards that settled there probably in the 1800’s or before.

Frank called them popular pieces or dance pieces as he launched into “Poor Benny” and “Sally Goodin” punctuated by jokes from a pre-film era like “Why is kissing a girl like a dog sitting on a cake of ice?…Because kissing a girl is so dog-gone nice.”

Although many of the sets at Grimey’s are usually abbreviated to five songs or so, Frank came ready to do an hour or so.  I picked up his CD and through it in the car stereo and heard what I expected to hear. A  modern day field recording, not much different than what Robert Johnson sounded like recording in a Houston, Texas Hotel Room almost a hundred years ago.  Although Frank is from Texas, he fits well with East Nashville’s Americana Scene or the Brooklyn, New York roots scene that has developed over the last few years.

Like Blind Boy Paxton, Frank knows his stuff both visually and sonically as he stomped his feet and moved to the beat in his chair, but the question still arises with me. Can you branch the tree out from a pre-rock period of time and deliver something new?  A fresh take on a tribute to the past, before the term bluegrass or Chicago Blues, offers a lot for me, but, I would like to see a new song come out of this. Bob Dylan took an early Thirties and Forties feel on Modern Times and spun in it an up to date verbal onslaught. It can be done.

Frank Fairfield as well as Blind Boy Paxton, who runs with Hubby Jenkins and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, are a must see if you are a guitar or string player whether you are a Dimebag Darrell or Leo Kottke Disciple.  Frank and Blind Boy both prefer guitars that you practically have to pull the strings into tune. There must be something about having a guitar that is hard to play like Jack White says.

Pick up the CD and take a listen to “Call Me a Dog When I’m Gone” and “Cumberland Gap”. In fact crank it up while you are driving down Lower Broad and really mess with people.

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

The Beatles / Ed Sullivan Show / 1964

This Saturday at Noon, 3rd and Lindsley plays host to The Nashville Beatles Kids Concert  which will  feature 15  students of Suzahn Fiering who is a guest instructor at The Liverpool Institute for The Performing Arts (LIPA) a University founded by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir George Martin.

The students are between the ages of 7 and 16. Suzahn states” The Beatles catalog is a great way to tune kids onto popular music, good lyric writing, cool harmonic structure and lots of chords and harmonies.  The songs speak for themselves whether they are played simply (as they are with the younger students) or with complicated arrangements.  The Beatles catalog offers such a wide variety of challenges ranging from easy to difficult.”

Suzahn Fiering

The Beatles song catalog is so diverse and is a great way to raise the bar for young musicians. “There couldn’t be a better educational tool for pop songwriters, singers and instrumentalists. My students get the confidence they need playing these songs and that makes it easier for me to teach them how to read and write music and make the transition into Classical and Jazz music as well. “

The students will be joined by Fred Lawrence (former pianist for Waylon Jennings and also the father of student Eric Lawrence) and local session drummer Larry Murov. It will be a great opportunity for some of Nashville’s youngest future musicians and songwriters to showcase at one of Nashville’s finest clubs.

Suzahn Fiering will be returning to Britain in March 2010 to teach Songwriting at LIPA’s Paul McCartney Auditorium.  This performance coincides with the announcement that the entire Beatles catalog will now be available on I Tunes. The Beatles music continues to inspire future generations by transitioning into new current music delivery formats.

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

American Bang at The Nick, Birmingham

It’s no wonder that the major labels are in a quandery and end up making bad calls like an investor who rode his stocks all the way to the beginning of 2009 instead of selling in mid 2007. First off, if a label like Maverick or Reprise feels the need to change a bands name they should have pushed the release date way to the front of the line.

American Bang, who cut their teeth in the Nashville scene as Bang Bang Bang back in 2006-2007, were a part of a thread of bands from American Minor (who got “Jive”d) to my band Furthermore doing our Humble Pie-est in Birmingham.  A major could have exploited a scene quickly the way they used to during the L.A. and Seattle things while it was fresh and make it roll out across the airwaves.

American Minor/photo-Josh Victor Rothstein

But no, let’s wait till all things change as they do in a three year period and quietly release product while College Radio is playing Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend.  American Bang is a great band with a great album.  A great write up in the local Metromix was a prelude to their CD Release party at Mercy Lounge last Thursday.  Rolling Stone or whatever  is nowhere to be seen.

A quick glance around town at the generics,  Borders and FYE find no copies of a great local band finally getting their day. No doubt, Grimeys will do their best. If you can’t find the CD locally what does that mean nationally? It appears that now that the product is available it’s back to the road.

Major labels need to move a little faster and get back to making rock and roll records. If I had to take a guess, American Bang will get a big welcome in England. England seems to get what we aren’t spoon fed here. The Ramones went there in 1976 and started a revolution. The Stray Cats left New York and did what Robert Gordon couldn’t do by staying here.  The Drive-By Truckers are The Rolling Stones in England. England has been building a caudre of I guess one could call Hard Rock Roots bands for several years that get featured along the original genre heroes such as Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep in Classic Rock magazines. England has the scene.

The best examples of getting it out while its hot right now are labels like Bloodshot Records that have released a great album the last three years by Justin Townes Earle, along with some real gems in their catalog.

Real Rock and Roll is not Rocket Science. A Neve Console, An Ampex 2 inch 16 Track Reel to Reel and a pile of Neumann and Shure Microphones. Write songs on the road and get it recorded well and quickly with few over dubs, then put it out every 8-12 months. I guess I didn’t mention Pro Tools and for good reason. That is how you build a Rock Bands history. The releases keep the momentum building while a band is on the road.

Van Halen, Texas Jam, 1979

Van Halen, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and just about every band did that when Rock was fresh. Gee, a 3 year development deal with an album every 2-3 years doesn’t seem to work. No kidding. Is anybody listening at Warner Brothers or Sony? I didn’t think so. Go buy American Bang.

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

Tim on guitar with The Lola-2002-Tokyo

Tim Boykin’s guitar playing and songwriting are ingrained in the history of the Birmingham Alabama music scene for the last 29 years.  The average Joe on the street may not have any idea who he is, but, if you had stepped into The Nick some night and heard Carnival Season in the mid 80’s or went to see Topper Price & The Upsetters in the 90’s, you would have seen one of the Incredibles.  A guitarists’ Guitarist.   Birmingham’s “Alex Chilton”.  A chameleon with a wide musical palette and the ability to execute any direction he wants to go.

Recently, with the release of Carnival Season “The Complete Recordings 1984-89”, he has now gone full circle. This was the beginning. I was able to find a copy at Charlemagne Records last weekend.  The music was easy to access because it immediately reminded me of The Replacements. Carnival Season was one of the first Indie Rock acts to travel in the 80’s to the outside world from Birmingham going as far as the West Coast and showing that Alabama had its own thing brewing.

I met Tim at The Nick sometime early in 2005 at one of the reunion gigs for one of his bands and I mean just one of his bands, The Shame Idols. I was totally impressed with his delivery and the music (think Big Star, The Byrds, the Beatles, The Replacements). The conversation developed into what bands we liked and I found out there was a lot of stuff that we both liked. One of which was The Flamin’ Groovies, of which Tim had done a Japanese only release of “Shake Some Action” with another band he had called The Lolas.

Lolas Something You Oughta Know Japanese Import

This is one busy musician with a history I probably would not have stumbled onto had I not lived in Birmingham at the time. Danny Everitt, local musician and front of house engineer at The Nick said Tim was his favorite guitarist and I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see him play. This was a local legend and more importantly it was music with influences from bands in my own collection of The Replacements, Big Star, Raspberries, The Kinks,  Flamin’ Groovies or The Sweet.

Shame Idols, 2 original CD’s in the 90′s, new 2007 reunion disc

I was able to find a used copy of The Shame Idols, “I Got Time “at Charlemagne Records. Charlemagne Records in the Five Points area,  Southside of Birmingham is a little independent store where you could find local music and also ask questions when you were looking for stuff by locals. Luckily, Tim’s music was there.

The Lolas “Something You Oughta Know” was also there and it was a new copy.  Now this one really brought up the British Kinks thing. But, it was also its own thing. The music was stellar and the lyrics were written about anything you could imagine including “Tim’s Mom”, which I would take to be a tribute to his mother.

 I finally saw a version of The Lolas play on pure accident. My band had a practice space at a place called “The HOTel” pronounced “The Hot-L” in Birmingham. In the main area of this old industrial building just north of UAB was a wooden stage and open room. Local bands in Birmingham have spaces of all sizes on two levels rented out to practice at full volume night and day without any hassle from the Police or nosey neighbors. The stage also allows bands to either practice for a gig coming up, record with a large room to get a decent rock and roll recording or put on a show for some friends or a private party.

It was place known by even fewer people, mainly musicians and a few of their friends. Here was Tim all set up for a Lolas gig. The only one I got to hear, on The HOTel stage after band practice. He launched into a full set with a 3 piece version of The Lolas with about 30 of us in attendance. Incredible music that should be on The Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Best Albums of All Time” as well as “200 Best Guitarist of All Time” and “200 Best Rock Songwriters of All Time”.

Tim’s writing never disappoints.  Tim has MySpace pages for each of the bands and his own personal page of whatever he is brewing at his own studio. You can find Vinyl and CD’s of Carnival Season, The Shame Idols and The Lolas, but, it is not easy. I still need to find a copy of The Lolas “Silver Dollar Sunday”. I should have bought the copy at a now defunct CD Store in Homewood, Alabama while I had the chance.

The best starting point is Charlemagne Records in Birmingham, Alabama. Beyond that, you might find a used copy on Amazon.com,  Grimey’s in Nashville, Tennessee or Criminal Records in Atlanta, Georgia if you are lucky.

Tim has been involved with a shelf full of other projects in the last couple of years beyond the reunion gig of Carnival Season in 2007. Tim has been involved with both reunion gigs of Carnival Season, Lolas, Shame Idols as well as with other bands such as The Tim Boykin Blues Band, Slang, Annexed Asylum, Drivin and Cryin as well as some death metal projects flown in there. It is hard to pinpoint Tim because his influence and abilities are endless.  He can out do any power pop, indie rock, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Satriani or Randy Rhoads wanna be. There is an upcoming show with Carnival Season at The Bottletree in Birmingham if you want to check it out.

Carnival Season, 1980′s Tim Boykin on Les Paul, cool Dean ML Bass

Model Citizen, Tim Boykin Produced “The Inner Fool” CD

Tim’s blues playing  can be heard on both of the Topper Price and The Upsetters recordings, “Nature” and “Long Way From Home” that can be found exclusively at Charlemagne Records. These are well worth the purchase. These are great recordings of the late Topper Price, one of the best examples of what Birmingham’s greatness is all about. Also, he currently jams with The Tim Boykin Blues Band that also features Matt Kimbrell on drums.

Tim also produced one of the best Indie CD’s to come out of the Birmingham scene, Model Citizen “The Inner Fool”. Good luck finding this recording. If you are like me and will hunt around for stuff that is worth the effort, you will not be disappointed.

Timmeh with Matt Kimbrell, Tim Boykin Blues Band

You can usually find Tim with his Blue Les Paul somewhere playing in Birmingham, but then again it could be any variety of guitar or amp depending on the tone needed for the night. If you want to improve your chops and live in the Birmingham area I recommend you take some lessons which he luckily does give at a reasonable rate.

Tim also owns Bushido Sound recording studio in Birmingham, Alabama and is available, to record or even Produce projects.

Tim has a full multiple careers worth of music that is worth searching out. Tim has managed to stay true to whatever limb he wants to go out on. He is indie to the core.

Discography:

Carnival Season                                                Misguided Promise Carnival Season Complete (1984-89) (2010)

The Barking Tribe. Serpent Go Home.(1991)

 Shame Idols                                      I Got Time (1995)

                                                                Rocket Cat (1998)

                                                                The Light Is Always On (2007)

(Recent search, all available at Amazon.com)

Jerry Guitar demo with Topper Price (1996)

 Lolas                                                     Shake Some Action (Japanese 7 inch 45 rpm vinyl only)

                                                                Silver Dollar Sunday

                                                                Something You Oughta Know

                                                                Ballerina Breakout (2006)

                                                                Let’s Rock, Rave and Shout with The Lolas! (Featuring a shot of Timmeh playing at The Nick with star spangled flag in the background)

(Recent search, found on Amazon, Something You Oughta Know, Ballerina Breakout and Let’s Rock, Rave and Shout with The Lolas! Japanese Import only and very expensive, but, well worth every penny)

Topper Price & The Upsetters    Nature

                                                                Long Way From Home

(Both are exclusively available at Charlemagne Records, Birmingham, Alabama)

Annexed Asylum                             Combustion (speed, death and other subgenre metal)

(Available on cdbaby.com)

Recommended cuts:

Carnival Season                                                Please Don’t Send Me To Heaven

                                                                                 Seems Alright

Shame Idols                                       I Got Time

                                                                Rocket Cat

                                                                My Star

Lolas                                                      Tim’s Mom

                                                                Dana The Chromium Girl

                                                                Plenty of Dogs                                  

Links:

www.myspace.com/timboykinbluesband

www.timmehworld.com

Timmeh World is the best place to go to link with all of his current projects.

www.myspace.com/annexedasylum

www.timmehworld.com/etherdogs/mp3/ether_dogs.html

www.myspace.com/shameidolsrock

www.myspace.com/lolasm18

On you tube:

Most videos uploaded by either reaperpro or wilsonbpw

Shame Idols – The Light is Always On (filmed at Cave 9 in Birmingham in 2007)

Carnival  Season – Feb 1989 – 01 – “Please Don’t  Send Me To Heaven”

Topper Price and The Upsetters at Sloss Furnace (1993)

Carnival Season:  Black Velvet Elvis

Tim Boykin Blues Band – Reconsider Baby (live) Featuring great shots of Sloss Furnace venue

and various photos of the band and historic Birmingham, Alabama.

Crazy Train – Slang live at AJs (Tim Boykin on guitar) Recorded May 14, 2010

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

Categories Alternative Music, Annexed Asylum, Big Star, Birmngham Alabama, Bushido Sound, Carnival Season, Flamin Groovies, Indie Rock, Lolas, Model Citizen, Music, Rock, Shame Idols, The Beatles, The Nick, The Replacements, Tim Boykin, Timmeh, Trash Metal

The Other Side of “Act Naturally”

John Russell - Voni Morrison

The flip side of “Yesterday”

Walking into the Family Room at Dennis Morrison’s house in Fresno, California to practice a little guitar, I saw gold records on the wall.  Not just any gold records.  These were records by The Beatles and Buck Owens. It was 1975 and people didn’t have gold records on their wall unless they earned them.

Beatles-singles-yesterdayI asked why he had gold records on his wall? Dennis just replied by pointing to the little print of the songwriters below the title “Act Naturally” on the orange and yellow Capitol label. It read John Russell and Voni Morrison. He told me that Voni Morrison was his mother.

At that age I could only stare for probably 5 - 10 minutes. I knew it was Buck Owen’s first number one single. It was also the only country song The Beatles covered. Ringo Starr sang and it was featured as the A side wile the flip side was “Yesterday.” The song was  also featured on The Beatles album Yesterday and Today.

Ringo singing "Act naturally" at Shea Stadium

Ringo singing “Act naturally” at Shea Stadium

Many record collectors know about the infamous “baby butcher” cover that was replaced by The Beatles standing around with some vintage trunks. The album was never released on CD . The songs that were featured on that album were listed on the Past Masters CD since the band opted to use the English releases as the CD releases of the band.

The-Beatles-Yesterday-And-TodI was astonished, here was the best guitarist in my Junior High School in Fresno, California, Dennis Morrison, and his Mother was a famous songwriter. I couldn’t play very well at that point but I managed to be around the best and learned what I could. Dennis had mastered a lot of Jimi Hendrix among other things and he was an inspiration in the ninth and tenth grade.

Voni wasn’t around that much. She enjoyed being around friends and her favorite hang out was The Lounge at Blackstone Bowl. Dennis and I would ditch school and eat some food on her tab at The Blackstone Bowl plotting how we were going to make it in the music business.   

If she did come home while we were practicing she would stop in the den and offer words of encouragement. Dennis would encourage her to sing with us and we would play while she sang “Kansas City”, “Route 66″ or “Act Naturally”. She had a great voice and a warm personality.

Buck owens act naturallyI couldn’t help but notice the BMI royalty checks coming in every month. It was my first introduction to songwriting royalties.  Hee Haw was a huge success and every time Buck Owens sang that song or it was played on the radio or another record was printed by The Beatles or Buck Owens with “Act Naturally”, Voni’s check would get bigger for that month.

We lived in a typical middle class neighborhood in Fresno, California. Voni’s lifestyle was different though. The songwriting royalties allowed her to determine her own hours and they drove a Cadillac which was a big deal then.

Voni would introduce us to her friends when they dropped by. We went to tapings of “Nashville West” which was a radio show taped in Fresno that went out on country music stations all over the United States. I remember being introduced to “Red”. Everybody called him “Red” but I later found out he was Red Simpson that was part of the Buck Owens circle.

When Terry Bradshaw decided to do a country album, Voni had a couple of cuts on the album. Voni gave me a thick 45 radio station  single on the Warner Brothers label with her song to give to my parents. I was really proud to give that to my Uncle Clyde who raised me. He was from Kentucky and enjoyed Country Music. He was a little concerned about their freewheeling lifestyle. He knew I spent a lot of time over there. He knew there was drinking and some cigarettes involved but it wasn’t me. He knew I enjoyed going over there and telling him the tales of going to the recording studio and such.

Dennis quit High School mid way through tenth grade and I lost track of him. I always wondered if he would be a great guitarist in a rock band or with a Country act with his Mom’s connections. The couple of years I was around Dennis and his family would stick with me on my quest to play guitar and write music for the rest of my life.

When I moved to Nashville, I found that the songwriting community had given full ownership to Johnny Russell for that song and that he had basically written it himself. I figured if that were true and she was given songwriting credit, it was because she could plug the song to Buck Owens since she was in the Nashville West-Bakersfield Sound circle that was so popular in the early sixties.

buck-owens bioA recent biography written by Eileen Sisk about Buck Owens kind of cleared the air. They were listed as songwriting partners whether or not most of the song was written by one or the other. That was no different then some other partnerships at the time. One in particular, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were a songwriting team and always listed as partners although many times the songs were fully finished by one or the other when they were brought to record by The Beatles.

Voni Morrison's own single release

Voni Morrison’s own single release

Voni had a big impact on me at the time. I wanted to be a great guitarist but more than anything I aspired to be a songwriter. It helped me to realize that you don’t have to be in some building in L.A. or New York working for a conglomerate to be a songwriter. If  a great songwriter could live  two blocks away from where I grew up, I could be one too.

I would recommend Buck Owens: The Biography by Eileen Sisk. It would have been more appropriately titled “The Tale of The Buckaroos” because it goes into great detail from interviews what The Buckaroos made for wages, what their lifestyle was like and more than anything gave a feel what it would have been like to work Buck Owens. One of the great finds for me was not only her thorough take on the story of how “Act Naturally” came about ending up on vinyl with Buck Owens, but also a picture of a beautiful Voni Morrison standing between the wives of Don Rich and Buck Owens in front of The Fresno Barn in 1962 when it was the venue for Country music in Fresno, California.

Last but not least, Dennis, if you are out there, I would sure love to hear from you.

- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN

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Categories Buck Owens, Country, Music, The Beatles, Uncategorized
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