Archives for category: Eddie Hinton

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Mercy Lounge – Photo/ Brad Hardisty

Thursday night would mark three years since the first time I saw Jason Isbell (former Drive-By Truckers) and his then “new” band, The 400 Unit in 2009.  Jason was at Mercy Lounge last night at what he called his first “hometown” gig, I might be wrong, but, I think he said since he moved here.

Whether or not that is correct, Jason was playing a Nashville “insider” guitar, a session guy’s new secret weapon, a Duesenberg Gold Top with the futuristic looking German engineered vibrato arm. The retro looking euro-high tech guitars were first popularized by Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) but are making their way into Nashville via Rock Block Guitars in a big way.

Jason has always been known for tasty guitar licks, but, he has really developed some deft country licks without going pure Brent Mason. It still has that Muscle Shoals “where Soul meets Country thang” going on.

I was excited to see where he was at since hearing his new project back in 2009. Back then, it was like he was excited to kind of graft in the family tree of Muscle Shoals legends with something akin to The Band or The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty not Johnny Thunders) but now, three albums in and four years on the road, The 400 Unit (named after the former Psychiatric Ward at Florence, Alabama’s Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital) is a crackerjack five piece band, tight and lucid like the heir apparent to The Decoys, that features classic Muscle Shoals players, David Hood, Scott Boyer, Kelvin Holly and sometimes even Spooner Oldham on keys.

Jason has put a lot of weight on his shoulders by putting himself squarely in the middle of a heavy tradition with writers and players like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts. I have to say it is working out much better than the first time I heard him.  The set was great, the tone, the crowd and the band. I’m glad that he is doing what he is doing. He has refined the dynamics and is now digging a little deeper than the Gibson Les Paul into a Fender thing.

In fact, he pulled a 1970’s era classic Muscle Shoals tune out of his hat as well as a little “Stone Free” on the bridge of the last song before the encores. There was even an ounce of continuity or deja vu for me between that 2009 set at The State Room in Salt Lake City and the one in Nashville the other night.

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

Justin Townes Earle opened for Jason Isbell back on that tour as he was taking off with The Good Life   then Jason Isbell played on Justin’s Harlem River Blues and  Justin was their last night for Jason’s set just catching it from the back.  It’s hard to miss Justin, he’s a tall presence, back then, he had a little Hank Williams style going on, now, it was an overcoat and fedora flair.

Hey, but, let’s get back to Jason. The Country music business is going about creating their own brand of country while there is this parallel universe where most of the Country Artists out of Texas, as well as newcomers, the august, and independent folks like Adam Hood and Jason Isbell pack them in when they come to Nashville.

Jason is some country, some soul and some heart wrenching lyrics, in reality, it’s all about Alabama, with a nod to Hank Williams-style sad lyrics, Duane Allman style ( Jason rocked on this, sometimes with a slide on two different fingers)slide guitar and a country boy from Greenhill, Alabama telling life stories that makes this worth listening too.  He has some solid fans in Nashville.

Dead Fingers, Mercy Lounge, 2012 – Photo / Brad Hardisty

Openers, Dead Fingers, Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor from Birmingham, Alabama got the invite and as Taylor said, “Alabama, represent!” Taylor has some of his own style going on, incorporating some Mississippi Hill Country Blues and rawhide Country into some Indie folk goings on.

Kate sang probably the strongest set I have heard her do so far; a real standout and an accomplishment at six months pregnant.  Kate has a great mix of Emmylou Harris and sixties vibe queens like Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane of Spank & Our Gang somewhere in that voce bella.

Dead Fingers were just at The Basement two weeks ago. Nashville is looking forward to hearing some more tracks in the future. You could say they are Birmingham’s Civil Wars, but, that would put them too much into a box after all the true Mississippi connections Taylor has made as well as his work with Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band.

Taylor’s slide playing was a standout last night. One of the fun things about Taylor’s playing is when you know his songs, you know when he is experimenting or seeing if the band will go wherever he wanders off too. He didn’t too much of that last night, but, he still looked like he was having fun and there were plenty of Nashvillians and probably some Bowling Green patrons wandering south for the night in the audience when they went on at 9 PM. 

Great Alabama-centric night at Mercy Lounge!

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

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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

Eddie Hinton,white shirt w/ Wayne Perkins

Before heading down to Helena, Alabama to visit my sister and pickup my Soldano speaker cabinet, I picked up the latest Oxford American Magazine, their annual music issue because it was all about Alabama music not only in written word but featured a CD with 27 tracks, some of them extremely rare all telling different stories from different times and different parts of the state, not just regional but a mix of Blues, Rock, Gospel and even Zappa label material.

I threw in the CD as I headed down 65 towards Birmingham and took the ride through the Birmingham soul of Ralph “Soul” Jackson to Curley Money out of Dothan, Alabama. It was a wonderful ride and I learned things I didn’t even know being in the Birmingham Scene for a few years. I was happy to see the story told about how the Indie Rock Scene started with Jim Bob and The Leisure Suits with drummer, Matt Kimbrell (RIP). I saw his brother, Mark Kimbrell play  in 2007 at a Sunday night Jazz Jam with Chris Fryar (then of The Allman Brothers Band now The Zac Brown Band) at Marty’s in the Five Points area.

 Blues cannot be any rarer than Dan Pickett and Country more honest than Charlie Louvin and they all are here. Well at least for what one can do on a single CD without going to the obvious such as Brother Kane or The Commodores.

Eddie Hinton ID shot

As the music went on and I read the great essays, I kept asking myself where is Eddie Hinton? Obscure or not, the story of Muscle Shoals or the heart and soul of what is Alabama cannot be told without Tuscaloosa bred Eddie Hinton.  It is possible for somebody looking at Alabama from the outside to miss the mark but if somebody is a serious Muscle Shoals or Alabama music fan or musician you cannot escape learning the story of Eddie Hinton.

“When I first came to Muscle Shoals it didn’t take very long before I became aware of Eddie’s singular talents- as a composer, lyricist and gifted Composer- and was touched by his original, offbeat and engaging personality…When the greatest artists came to Muscle Shoals they would hone in on Eddie – Aretha, Cher, Lulu, Bob Dylan would end up on the back porch of the Jackson Highway Studio with Eddie, pickin’ guitars and communing quietly in the Alabama evening. To this day I still play his records with great enjoyment. He remains unique – a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated. With Eddie, it wasn’t imitation; it was totally created, with a fire and fury that was as real as Otis Redding’s and Wilson Pickett’s.”- Jerry Wexler, Producer with Atlantic Records.

Where’s Eddie? Can you find him?

I had heard, in reverence, several times about Eddie Hinton. Local Musicians in Birmingham would say “He was the greatest.” The most important revelation was when I talked to the “Swampers”, the Musicians that knew and worked with him at Muscle Shoals Sound.

On April 18th 2007, there was a benefit for Scott Boyer, who was a songwriter and played in Cowboy on Capricorn Records back in the Seventies. I had the opportunity to be part of the stage crew where a Muscle Shoals all star line up with everybody from David Hood, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and a cast of characters played with Bonnie Bramlett and Gregg Allman headlining.

I caught story after story from a time going back thirty plus years. I got into conversations and often asked who the most important player was during the Muscle Shoals era and over and over again the name Eddie Hinton came up. His story is one of triumph, tragedy and post mortem glory. In the last few years his recordings have been gathered from out of print Capricorn Records to rare self released material and put onto a collection of CD’s.  They are not easy to find but one can start with Anthology-1969-1998 A Mighty Field of Vision.

Marian McKay

Late last Saturday I went and saw Charlemagne Records’  Marian McKay singing jazz standards at Crestwood Coffee Company with The Mood Swings.  Charlemagne Records is the one of last independent record stores in Birmingham not unlike Grimey’s  it has a long rich history when Marian, her brother  and a best  friend started the shop in 1977 and it has remained at the same location in the Five Points area since then. The shop has lately seen a resurgence as vinyl is becoming increasingly popular among collectors.

We talked about the Alabama issue of Oxford American and how fantastic it was and the people they didn’t forget but when I brought up the fact that Eddie Hinton was not included there was nothing but silence. Eddie was the elephant in the room. Obviously, there were others left out but he was the one who sat in the doorway of Muscle Shoals Sound trading licks and stories, had Duane Allman crashing on his floor when he came to do session work and had style and songs that only fit in Muscle Shoals, where when he ended up moving because of a small marijuana bust in the seventies that forced him to leave town kind of lost his stride and place in the world. He remained an Alabaman to the core even if it meant living in his van in Birmingham in later years before he passed away in 1995.

Eddie with his trusted Tele

There are so many tracks not known by most the world but worthy to wave the Muscle Shoals flag such as “Concept World”, “Sad and Lonesome” or “Heavy Makes You Happy.” It is singular talents such as Eddie Hinton that I discovered while living in Alabama that make me proud that I was a part of that scene for some years.

The State of Alabama has gotten behind this presentation and declared 2011 “The Year of Alabama Music”. I am going to do my part by spotlighting at least one artist a month with roots in Alabama past and present.  I may have been born in California but Alabama is where I met Gregg Allman, Willie King, Tim Boykin, Mark Kimbrell, Chris Fryar, Adam Guthrie, Mandi Rae, Ian, Rick Carter, Kendra Sutton, Topper Price, Rickie Castrillo, Marty, Nathan Whitmore, Rick Kurtz, Rooster, Perch, Billy, Heath Green, David Hood, Kelvin Holly, Jesse Payne and Taylor Hollingsworth.  Alabama, the beautiful, where I got my “Mojo”.

Marian McKay & Her Mood Swings/ Live/ Birmingham,AL 1/8/2011

I may call Tennessee home but my heart is in Alabama.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tennessee     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

New Jersey Cat, , Sam Cooper, has been busy criss-crossing Nashville, splitting time producing, co-writing, hosting or playing songwriter rounds at The Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Grill and Douglas Corner, where he gets nuttin’ but the best entertaining songwriters on his tilt-a-whirl sets as well as gigging with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes.

Sam with Jamey Johnson on "Orange Man" Set

Things are getting interesting on this side of The Cumberland River, Sam may get his first official Nashville cut with his co-writing partners-in-crime Chris Gantry, Alex King, Brenda Enderson and Kate McCoy’s Dark Horse Hip Hop Country flavored “Orange Man” which features cameos by Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and others may see the light of day with recording artist, Alex King.

Getting a significant cut in four years is a big accomplishment, but, the coffee percolates when he talks about playing with Mary Hartman and The Mistakes. “Billy Block posted a mention on his Facebook page to play drums. I called him up and he didn‘t hesitate to join. We are really excited to work with Billy. He does so much for musicians with The Billy Block Show and he was Lucinda Williams’ (Back in her Nashville days) drummer”. “I can’t say enough about Mary Hartman she oozes personality and sexuality, she is magnetic, a great performer.”

Billy Block

Being a performer comes from what he learned watching acts like The Bruce Springsteen Band opening for Cactus before they became The E Street Band. “One of the things missing here sometimes is presentation. I’m use to a song being a performance. A lot of songwriters just sit and play and could use some vocal coaching but they don’t bother.” Performance of the song is as integral as the lyrics to Sam. 

In fact, Sam comes with a background touring that includes the Northeast chitlin’ circuit soon after he and his father had an argument.  Dad told him to pack his bags back in 1971. He left Virginia not long after starting his sophomore year of college in Richmond with nothing but the clothes on his back and headed to New Jersey where he found a room to rent with some friends for $100 a month.  He eventually settled near the ocean in the Asbury Park area where he remained until 2006, when he discovered “home”–Nashville.

Sam had a background as a radio DJ, concert security, announcing bands and even started playing guitar and trumpet in the fourth grade but he never thought about actually being in the music business professionally and writing songs regularly until that move to New Jersey. He joined a bar band and hit the road. He got the bug performing many genres, but especially “soul” music.  “The Beatles were a huge influence on me especially when “A Hard Day’s Night” came out, but soul music is something that you just can’t fake.  My biggest influences are Ray Charles, Delbert McClinton, Stevie Wonder, Dan Penn, Isaac Hayes and a lot of horn-flavored desert island soul. I was really upset when I heard that Solomon Burke had died”.

Sam brings his own Jersey Shore rock and soul roots to songs like “East Nashville Girls”. Many of his songs are a celebration, a party; in fact he has a song called “Time to Party”. He has a wide palette that comes from his formative radio listening days. “The first three songs that I got hooked on were Ray Stevens’ “Ahab the Arab”, “Speedy Gonzalez” by Pat Boone and Bobby Darin singing “Dream Lover”. Anybody who has worked with Sam can’t help but laugh about that.

It makes sense since Sam can go from the romantic cinema “You Bring the Sunshine”, where one can envision sharing smiles and kisses with a sun tanned babe in the Florida Keys and then turns around and writes “Lee Ann Womack Truck” which he affectionately calls his “Bless your little heart” song to Music Row.

In a town where you get what you bring to the table; Sam is a Muscle Shoals laden Beatle beat master. One of his strongest songs “Red Bulls and Caffeine Pills”, an ode to the modern trucker or just commentary on a late night ride back to see his wife, Dawn,  in New Jersey veers with bounce- in- your- car seat rhythm ala “Get Back” to Preston Starr-ing in a McCartney Bass boogie thriller of a hook.

When Sam works, which is almost all the time, it’s like he is running his own club house, signing up memberships on his mailing list and getting friends out to shows like it was Madison Square Garden or at least CBGB’s when Blondie, The Ramones and The Talking Heads were breaking and making new rules. He always thinks about presentation whether it is a song sampler or sitting on a stool playing at The Bluebird Café. 

Sam not only thinks of himself, but those he admires, keeping everybody in touch with up and coming news through his website and social networking pages.  The most important thing is he can sing his songs breaking bread with an Eddie Hinton– Dan Penn- Donnie Fritts kind of gravel and whiskey excess and turn around and deliver what the song asks for, whether it is Tom Waits or Peter Tosh.

This year seems to be playing out like so many well-placed notes in a melody, a culmination of years of bar band covers and the last few putting pen to paper where songwriting and publishing are an art. If there have been any setbacks for Sam in his Nashville life, he has taken them like the Pinball Wizard getting a match for an extra game on a Kiss Pinball Machine.

Mary Hartman

Sam has a couple of upcoming gigs; John Carter Cash will warm up for Mary Hartman and The Mistakes at The Rutledge on Oct. 26th, followed by a show at Douglas Corner Cafe on November 20th.

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