Archives for category: Guitar

Infinity Cat 10th Anniversary, Night 2 at The Zombie Shop – all photos / Brad Hardisty

At Exit/In, the night before, night one of the Infinity Cat Records 10th  Anniversary celebration , it was announced that things would start at The Zombie Shop,  Saturday night at 5PM. When I got there, some of the crew was heading out to eat instead of loading in. I stopped them and asked if it was still on. They said it would definitely start by 9 because there were several bands lined up.

This was definitely a casual 5PM start.  I headed over to Panera near Vanderbilt to check my email and chill for a while. I took them at their word and didn’t get back till after 10PM.

I didn’t get home till 3PM from the Exit/In show and I was low on body and mind fuel. This was not going to be an all-nighter when I got back to The Zombie Shop.  The Zombie Shop sits in an area where any pre-2011 buildings’ days are numbered. Just ask the Musicians Hall of Fame (or once was but now is not).

The Zombie Shop, Mopeds all over the back

The Zombie Shop sits directly south of the new Music City Center, with all its curves and gargantuan size, looking somewhat like a super- sized version of the Experience Music Project (home of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia). In the renderings of the new center, the area that comprises the Zombie Shop, looks like it is either new “swanky” office and mixed use (outrageously expensive) space or a new tree-lined boulevard.

One can only hope that the owners of the Zombie Shop get what this large warehouse style workshop with enough open area outside for about 50 cars get what it’s worth and not the shaft like the Musicians Hall of Fame.

To give you an idea, this area of town sits between the homeless shelter (a converted Sears store), Third Man Records on the backside of that and what used to be older cheap use industrial buildings slinking north towards the bright lights, big city of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena and Lower Broad Honky-Tonks.

This has been essentially no-man’s land where homeless, vagabonds of the western world and punk and metal bands attracting local non-tourists who dare to venture. It was an area where you could be left alone.

Now, the city fathers have decided all things must be come new. So, like the Station Inn that now sits like an old RCA Victrola squashed by all the new zippity doo dah Gulch pricy lofts and swanky shops, this area is quickly being lost to development.

The Zombie Shop has been an all ages venue/hang out for a while and this was perfect for Infinity Cat.  This lineup included the more fast, loud, punk rock side of the label, like Cy Barkley and Heavy Cream along with Breast Massage, Slammers, Denney and The Jets, No Regrets Coyote and Dirty Dreams.

It was an all ages celebration with skateboards, broke down mopeds in the back, young kids, older punk mainstays and label supporters from all over the country.  Saturday saw an even larger crowd than at the Exit/In show.  This is the future of the label. There are a lot of kids buying Infinity Cat stuff that were not old enough to make it into the Exit/In 18+ show.

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders

Cy Barkley & The Wayoutsiders were finishing their set when I got there.

Taking a look at the T-Shirts, I really wanted one of the sky blue T’s with a print of a cat with JEFF The Brotherhood underneath, but none in 2X. In fact, no 2X T’s! Man I can’t help it. I know I need to lose some weight, but, can’t get a 2X? There are more of us than just me.

Thinking about the Skyblazer album, I thought, I want it on CD so I can listen to the long jams while cruising along 65 at night when I head to Birmingham or Florida. It’s only on vinyl for now. Hey, I totally understand. Maybe, I’ll just have to get the vinyl. I still think MP3’s are wannabes. The only time I get MP3’s are when friends send them to me. I like my music to not sound like a BLT without the bacon and extra lettuce.

I ran into a lot of the Infinity Cat strays from Exit/In plus another 200 friends in one of the best house party style gatherings. Enjoy it while it lasts. This type of party might end up having to move out near Little Hamilton or something within five years.  I guess progress means jobs and I can’t fault that part of the equation.

Heavy Cream load in time!

The last time I saw Heavy Cream was almost two years ago, Jessica was in the catsuit and they played at Third Man during Next Big Nashville. That was almost a manic call during those times. The future of Nashville is anybody’s guess with all the “for sale” signs going up on Music Row. Alternative and Punk may not fully take the place of what the music business is losing, but, it makes the Nashville Music Scene more balanced where everybody is welcome.

Heavy Cream kick out the jams at The Zombie Shop, 7/21/2012

This may be Heavy Cream Mach II or III, with a new bass player and drummer, Tiffany Minton, providing a solid ticking away of the timing, not missing a beat. They were locked perfectly. I noticed I’m not the only one who thinks that. I read some reviews online from other shows this morning and they give the same green light. It seemed like the early Heavy Cream version was a group fighting against itself, timing and rhythm wise, which is an easy mistake playing very fast straightforward punk.

Underneath the Infinity Cat banner!

Heavy Cream reminds me of the loud raw energy of Raw Power era Iggy Pop & The Stooges with the comedic lyrical bent of really early Donnas or even pre-Donnas’ Ragady Anne.

Hit the floor!

Jessica has got that “Iggy Pop glare” going on where you don’t know what she is going to do next. If the crowd aint doing enough, Jessica gets in the crowd and starts egging them on. She wants a reaction. I can’t see her smearing peanut butter all over herself, but, she has that “Iggy style front girl bully pulpit” thing better than anybody else in town. Watch out, she can stare you down without blinking.

Everybody was in the cavernous garage when the girls hit the stage. Heavy Cream ripped through a lot of new material from Super Treatment, like “Louise,”recorded in San Francisco with Producer, Ty Segall. The new songs have that raw, loud tightness of other bay area punkers like the Dead Kennedys– “California Uber Alles” and the original MX-80 SoundSomeday You’ll Be King “ that was on The Residents, Ralph Records back in 1979.

Jessica McFarland / Heavy Cream / The Zombie Shop 7/12/2012

Super Treatment, with its almost other worldliness relation to the cover of The CrampsBad Music for Bad People may be the defining Nashville Punk album, much in the same way as Justin Townes Earle’s, The Good Life when it set off true Nashville Americana edge. Super Treatment fits within the true family tree bridging the Nashville Punk scene with West Coast and East Coast Bad Brains grit and swagger.

Jessica

Heavy Cream closed their set with Alice Cooper’s, “Is It My Body” done more in a “what-are-you-staring-at-leave-me-alone” kind of way and finally their biggest song to date, “Watusi” which got the frontline in a friendly Nashville style  slam dance frenzy.

Heavy Cream do the Watusi!

Infinity Cat hung on the back wall, overseeing the crowd as they exited into the dark streets with the new Gotham City Music Center hanging like a dark cloud over the night.

Infinity and beyond!

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

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

Jim Fitzpatrick – Celtic Artist

Irish Artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, who designed the Thin Lizzy logo, was responsible for the album covers of most of the classic Thin Lizzy era.

Arturo Vega working on Ramones backdrop

When I think of artists being a part of defining a bands look, there are only a few who come to mind, Arturo Vega, who took on The Ramones logo and artwork, developing almost a militaristic approach to the bands look, which in turn had an effect on the artwork of future punk bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

Tales From The Topographical Ocean/ Artwork – Roger Dean

 Roger Dean, who designed the classic Yes logo and many of the bands album covers such as Fragile and Tales From The Topographical Ocean, creating an almost Lord of The Rings landscape feel to the bands look.

Pink Floyd – Animals, Artwork – Hipgnosis

While many bands turned to design houses like Hipgnosis in the 70’s, Thin Lizzy, had one of the greatest Celtic Artists of all time, Jim Fitzpatrick, painting album covers starting with Vagabonds of The Western World.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jailbreak cover insert – Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim’s artwork was eclectic with the band fitting whatever the title of the album was such as Nightlife, to the comic book looking bestseller, Jailbreak. The Jailbreak album cover has the American comic book style of Stan Lee or Jack Kirby of Marvel fame.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatick

Yet, Jim did this work as well as the Celtic influenced intricate design of Johnny The Fox. Johnny The Fox may be the closest to his traditional Celtic Art, yet, he went onto design future totally different designs for Black Rose and Chinatown.

Jim had a break with Bad Reputation, which may have been a response to Phil’s punk rock friends, in some kind of solidarity, with nothing more than a simple gritty black and white, silkscreen style print photo of the band, with the same flavor of The Ramones, Rocket To Russia cover as well as the band shot of The Clash on the back of their first album.

Che Guevara , Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

It is interesting that Jim Fitzpatrick’s most famous work was his simple two tone portrait of Che Guevara. The famous photo taken by Alberto Korda on March 5th, 1960 in Havana, Cuba was known as “Guerrillero Heroico” or “Heroic Guerilla Fighter.” Jim turned this into a poster in 1968 and this probably became the most copied artwork in the world, with silkscreen street artist painting this all over South America and many parts of the free world on many walls long before Banksy.

Celtic Art – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim’s portrait of Che is now a part of the fashion industry much like Bob Marley or Jerry Garcia. I would like to know how many design houses pay Jim Fitzpatick a royalty.

Phil Lynott Family Portrait – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim Fitzpatrick remained friends with Phil Lynott his entire life, painting even personal portraits of Phil’s family and members of the band.

Black Rose rough sketch – Jim Fitzpatrick

I provided a link to his website which has a lot of his Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott work.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

U2 may be the most famous Irish band, but, from my perspective, Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy always portrayed Irish life accurately both in art and music. Thin Lizzy was a link to Irish history and sonics in a modern context.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

It would be great if bands went through the thought process of what image they wanted visually and worked with the right artist to help develop that context.

By the way, last night’s Thin Lizzy tribute was a winner!  The opening act, an original Nashville hard rock, The Eastside Gamblers, played a solid set that featured a straight up rocking cover of “Living Loving Maid” as well as a new song that had some decent AC/DC style riffage.

The second band, Blockhead, seemed to be a quick throw together that featured a couple of the guys that would play in Jimmy The Weed.  They started off with three Sweet numbers, “Action,” “Little Willy” and “Fox On The Run.” I was having a blast, I never heard somebody cover Sweet for at least two decades. If you hear Sweet live, you’ll see where Motley Crue came from, especially “Kickstart My Heart.”

Jimmy The Weed, Mercy Lounge, June 2012, Hottest month on record

Jimmy The Weed, was a group of Nashville musicians that play in different combinations in original bands as well as Metal tributes and full on Kiss makeup shows. There are a lot of great guitarists in Nashville and last night was no exception where they took on two of the Black Rose songs, “Waiting for An Alibi” and “Do Anything You Want To” which Gary Moore played on and were some of the most difficult twin lead passage recorded by the band as Gary Moore had a big influence on them with some of the twin note modals as well as the matching vibrato. Scott Gorham has written about how difficult that was, yet produced some of the most technically proficient patterns that Thin Lizzy ever did.

Paul Simmons with Reverend Horton Heat

Drummer, Paul Simmons, who plays in the legendary Nashville hard rock band, Simmonz, as well as The Reverend Horton Heat, Petra and projects too numerous to mention anchored the Brian Downey chair and did justice on “Bad Reputation.”

Paul is arguably the best rock drummer in town. He always reminds me of Denny Carmassi. Denny hit hard and had impeccable tone when I saw him with Sammy Hagar and Heart. Paul is the same. His drums sound the same, quintessentially perfect whether he has one mic on the snare or a full consortium of microphones. This skill is lost on a lot of modern drummers, because they play to the microphones or to the compressors.

Old school drummers like Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham and Bill Ward had to play their drums as if they had to be heard over stacks of amplifiers without the possibility of great microphones picking up every nuance.

Jimmy The Weed, Philip Shouse, foreground.Mercy Lounge

Guitarist, Philip Shouse, truly had the Johnny The Fox, Brian “Robbo” Robertson tone down playing through a mid-70’s non-Master Volume Marshall MKII with the four input front like the old JTM 45’s.  The tone was heavenly to these ears. There are certain Holy Grail Marshall Amps and this is one of them. I won’t get too technical, but, let’s just say they had transformers big enough to break your back! If you want a Marshall, you should go old school. Forget all the bells and whistles and scooped tones, even the JCM800 which  tries to emulate Michael Schenker before putting any pedals on it.

Get an old school Marshall, open up the back and have the tech look and see if any of the parts have been messed with. If not, you are on the right path, Grasshopper!

Jimmy The Weed did play “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.” Not only that, they got into “Warrior,” “Emerald,” as well as crowd favorites, “The Cowboy Song” and the closer “The Boys Are Back In Town.”

I know my Thin Lizzy and satisfied my hungry soul as well as that of a hardcore Lizzy fan from Europe who was wearing his Brian Robertston T-shirt and bouncing up and down on the front row.

I wish that they would make this at least an annual event, let’s say, on St. Patrick’s Day?  The only non-plus was the round robin singers. While they had a lot of fun and kept the rest of the band going, it would have been better if they found Justin Taylor, who not only played bass, but, did the best job at singing Thin Lizzy I have heard yet.

I don’t know if he is still in town and I realize that his friends had to talk him into doing the Black Rose show telling him how much he looked, acted and sounded like Phil Lynott.  Justin plays in other projects and it was not his idea to pull together that show.  When other people tell you that they remind you of Phil that is huge.

Get Justin next year, make it a four piece and make it a true pint of Guinness.

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

On an unusually hot June night, Dead Fingers from Birmingham, Alabama, played the Basement underneath Grimeys New and Preloved Music, in a stripped down Trio with “really married” Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor backed by minimalist drums of Alan Rosser, as part of their mini-tour last Sunday the 24th.

Dead Fingers Opened up with the classic Taylor song, “Bonnie and Clyde” from his 2005 Brash Music release, Tragic City,  before going into the line up from the first Dead Fingers – Fat Possum release.

Playing to an intimate crowd including some friends who made the drive from Birmingham, Kate and Taylor matched song for song on “Closet Full Of Bones”, “Another Planet” with the different blend of almost Spanky & Our Gang meets southern Americana, Dead Fingers managed to break down a lot of barriers between styles and periods to create their own matchbox of sound.

Taylor stuck mainly to finger picking almost Piedmont style most of the night going from the bluesy slide of “Lost In Mississippi” to primitive western a la Rose Maddox and The Maddox Brothers rather than the current Fleetwood Mac radio country for “On My Way.”

There was a hint of classic Taylor Hollingsworth writing when going into “Against The River” riffing.

Kate and Taylor looked real comfortable together as well as baby bump makes three, Taylor and Kate, who have been married for a while now, are expecting a girl towards the end of the year.

It looks like the child will have music in her DNA taking in the tour from the stage, listening to musical vibrations.

Kate comes from a big Birmingham musical family, with sister Maria Taylor , an artist on Conor Oberst’s  Saddle Creek Records , as well as brother Macey Taylor who has played Bass for Maria, Taylor, Conor Oberst and several other bands and music projects.

Kate is no stranger to the stage, having played in Maria Taylor’s touring band on drums as well as other instruments and supporting vocals.   

Mystic Valley Band at Coachella 2009, Macey on bass, Taylor on Acoustic

Macey and Taylor both played in the two album project that Conor Oberst ended up putting together, The Mystic Valley Band where Taylor sang at least one of his own originals at every tour stop.  They ended up playing some big shows in 2009 including Coachella. Following that project, Taylor released the acoustic project, Life With A Slow Ear, Team Love Records in 2009.

Dead Fingers became the project as Kate and Taylor started taking life on together as a couple.

Kate’s brother Macey at Coachella / Photo- Brad Hardisty

Taylor, even in the stripped down mode, showed plenty of flash, using a harmonizer pedal to get some cool neo-pedal steel type leads going on the country material, and some intense slide work through the night.

Taylor Hollingsworth singing “Air Mattress” at Coachella 2009 / Photo – Brad Hardisty

Dead Fingers included a new song in the set that will be on the next release which they are scheduled to begin recording in the near future.

The duo shows great depth and versatility in their songwriting able to take off in different ways which especially works well in Nashville where, cult classic country, blues and roots rock are part of the whole Indie scene.

Dead Fingers will be back in Nashville on July 12th at The Mercy Lounge opening up for Jason Isbell (formerly of  The Drive-By Truckers) & The 400 Unit. Definitely a lot of Alabama in that show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blues Brothers Band, Duck with pipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duck with Neil Young onstage in 1993

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dunn received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2007.

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

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

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

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

King Records Warehouse

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

King Records / James Brown Production logos

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

King Records Biography, James Brown on cover

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

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

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

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

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

It has been 31 years since I last saw David Lee Roth front Van Halen on the Women and Children First Tour, when Valerie Bertinelli was sitting with the front of house sound guy and we were wondering who she was with, when Van Halen hit the stage at Bridgestone Arena Friday night at about 9 PM.

Kicking it off with a hard core Van Halen fan favorite, “Unchained,” it was definitely an interesting ride that really showed Eddie back on top of his game while David Lee Roth seemed to do a little soft shoe a la Gene Kelly meets Jaco Pastorius.

Wolfgang was wearing the stripes on his bass while Eddie was showing off his latest Ebony neck Stealth Wolfgang. Alex Van Halen sat behind a very classic Van Halen Ludwig kit with the four double deep bass drums in holographic silver. The only thing missing was the fire extinguishers.

It’s kind of a strange ride to see Van Halen come out as the elder statesmen of guitar pyro technic rock when it doesn’t seem that long ago that I saw them burst out as true revolutionaries on their own tour at Utah State University in 1979 the day Van Halen II came out. Back then, my jaw hit the floor as they started into “Light Up The Sky.” David Lee Roth came running off the drum riser at least 10 feet in the air and landed in front of the mic stand just in time to deliver the first line. Even today, that stands as a mark in time like the moon landing or the day the wall came down in Germany.

The things that I found interesting in this set was, that they didn’t shy from playing their Roth era radio hits, “You Really Got Me” and “Pretty Woman.”  The first original song to do moderately well on radio back then was “Dance The Night Away,” but, when Fair Warning failed to produce a hit and didn’t sell as well as Women and Children First, it was back to cover Halen, “Pretty Woman,” that turned things around.

Wynona Judd at The VH Show

Okay, impressions on Wolfgang, I had seen clips from the last tour, and seeing him now I thought, how cool is that? He gets to tour with his Dad who just happens to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time and he is only 18 or so. What he brings to the band, is his knowledge of what the fans want to hear and act as a balancing act between his Dad and Roth, who seem to play very well together in the sandbox nowadays. I think their egos are in some kind of balance now.

Eddie and Wolfgang did fine on backup vocals, but, Michael Anthony’s high as Frank DiMino background vocals were a part of the classic sound. Wolfgang doesn’t seem intent to do what Michael did on the bass. Michael was old school in that his bass propelled Alex’s bass drum and was so much in the same frequencies as the kick drum that it was hard to distinguish Michael, like where did the bass go? But, that was because he wasn’t sloppy. He was totally in sync with Alex.  What Wolfgang did show off was guitaresque Billy Sheehan harmonies on the new stuff, like”Chinatown.”  If I had to try to mind read Wolfgang, it would seem that he is itching to come out on guitar, but, the bass gig with Dad and Uncle Alex is a great place to be.

Alex had a somewhat brief solo, with pseudo big band tracks that reminded me a lot of Neil Peart solos over the last few years.  Alex is extremely underrated. He has what a lot of drummers lack now and that is the bridge between the original jazz drummers that is the core of rock drummers back then which was Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Louie Bellson then mixed with what he grew up with, Ginger Baker and Keith Moon and then throw in early 70’s contemporaries that had that swing groove, Brian Downey from Thin Lizzy and Frank Beard from ZZ Top.  Although it was a good solo, Alex’s high point for me was the Balance (Hospital) Tour.  It amazed me when Alex was wearing a collar brace and was literally not suppose to move his neck and I watched his hands snake all over the drums with no neck movement playing like a demented Gene Krupa – Billy Cobham. The Balance Tour is when my respect for Alex was cemented into my brain.

Of the new songs, “Tattoo,” did become somewhat of a sing along and people got it. There were plenty of 40 something Dads with 14 year old sons wearing matching Van Halen Concert T’s.  I had a couple of them with Dad in the row in front of me and when Eddie would take off on a solo, they would point and gawk much like I did in 1979.  Excellence never grows old. Speaking of excellence, last time I saw Eddie live was the Balance tour and I did enjoy it, but, Eddie was steeped in the Steve Lukather wet-dry-wet-, digital delay and processing and a lot of the edge was gone. For me, the highlight of the Balance Tour was the song “Amsterdam.” Now, Eddie is all about his signature stomp boxes, EVH Amps, his own guitars and the dynamics and definition were there. It sounded phenomenal, very tube old school, loved it.  There was only one step better and that was Van Halen II when Eddie toured with the 100 Watt Gazarri’s House Amp Marshall that he recorded the brown sound on.  But, this was fantastic.

Back during Van Hagar, Sammy had a clip when he played guitar alone on “When Eagles Fly,” on this tour we get to see Diamond Dave’s champion cattle and sheep dogs in black and white film as they compete and Dave talks about what the dogs could do before going into “Ice Cream Man.” Dave has always been larger than life on and off the road and this was about the most human I had ever seen Dave. It was very cool.

As far as Dave banter, he didn’t say he forgot the words, because he didn’t, but, he did say some great lines like,”A kid asked me if I had ever seen a screen as big as the one in the backdrop of the band?” to which Dave said “Oh yeah, we had one of those in Indiana out in a field, we called it a Drive In Movie.” One of my favorites was an old school reference when Alex kicked in the drum intro to “Everybody Wants Some,” and Dave started singing, “From the land of sky blue waters…” I think that was Hamm’s Beer.

There were definitely some songs I missed like “Light Up The Sky,” “I’m The One,” “On Fire” and “Top Jimmy,” but, “Hear About It Later” and “Romeos Delight” were great deep track shredders.

Eddie was not slacking at all, his solo which was kind of a “Variations on Eruption” thing, showed him spotlighted in front of the amps and then perching in his surfer kid hair cut on one of the drum riser stair steps. It had more the feel of seeing Eddie practicing on the end of his bed as a kid then a rock star running all over the stage. The camera was right on the neck in total focus showing what his fingers were doing on a giant back screen.

This tour has less set design and was more stripped down like the Balance Tour. It’s hard to express this, but, it felt like an intimate post card to true Van Halen fans in a big arena setting. In fact, it didn’t feel like an arena until the last song, ”Jump,” with confetti dropping out of the ceiling and Dave waving an oversized checkered flag. With Dave, there always needs to be something Texas sized about the show.

The band more than made up for Bridgestone Arena’s very poor acoustics. In this town, T-Pac or The Ryman is the place to really “hear” a band, but, if Van Halen did that, they would have been here all week long. The arena was definitely a near sell out.

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

Darrell Scott at Grimey's, Jan. 31, 2012

Darrell Scott celebrated the release of Long Ride Home, what he describes as his most Country album to date with an in-store appearance at Grimey’s on January 31st. Darrell Scott  who has been nominated for a Grammy three times as well as collaborating with writers such as Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Guy Clark, was enjoying a rocking duet in the rear of the store.

Darrell reminisced about working with his father in his teens back in California saying that two of the songs on the CD were written on a retreat to Big Bear in The San Bernardino Mountains with his Dad when he was sixteen. The two tracks, “The Country Boy” and “You’re Everything I Wanted Love to Be,” have that pure California Country swagger having been written before mechanical bulls and Urban Cowboy.

On a personal note, this work could not have come at a more important time. After the completion of the project, Wayne Scott was the victim of a car accident in Corbin, Kentucky on November 25th, 2011. The project became a loving tribute to his father and the musical heritage that has been passed on from father to son.

Having been able to hear the new songs with a full band at Station Inn a few months back, it was exciting to hear the final work, probable his most collaborative yet, working with his long time percussionist Kenny Malone as well as Patty Griffin and Guy Clark to name a few.

In the midst of The Band of Joy tour, I had the opportunity to interview Darrell, not wanting to go after the obvious, “How is it working with Robert Plant?” question, I decided to look at where Darrell was at working as a “utility” player, a man with all kinds of string instruments, a gun slinger.  It reminded him of how it was playing in his Dad, Wayne Scott’s band back in the Inland Empire of California.

That interview turned out to be a harbinger of his next album, returning to his roots, turning full circle. The article was set to publish in a national publication but was cut before publication at the end of 2010.  In a way, the article fits more what Darrell did with this project even more than what he did with Robert Plant.

I now present the never before published work.

Darrell Scott: From California Honky Tonks to Band of Joy

            Darrell Scott was back in Nashville for some down time from touring with the Robert Plant project Band of Joy named after the band Robert and John Bonham were a part of before starting Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page.

Brad Hardisty: Are you working on some song demos since you’re back at home?

Darrell Scott: I should be but with the tour and everything, I just can’t think about it right now.

BH: You don’t get much of a chance to be the sideman?

DS: I am so busy with my own songs that I’ll play for friends but that is about it.

Darrell had been touring solo in support of his recent release A Crooked Road, a collection of personal post cards about family, his children, and relationships. It was a personal effort by a well known Nashville songwriter that has written songs that have been recorded by a diverse roster of performers.

BH: Your songwriting has that real depth to it, reminds me of Jimmy Webb (“Galveston”, “Wichita Lineman”)

DS: Oh definitely, my two favorite writers are Jimmy Webb and Guy Clark, but I like all kinds of well written Country, Pop, whatever.

Darrell has had dozens of songs recorded by Major Artists. In fact the song “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” a tribute to songwriter, Harlan Howard was recorded by several different artists including Brad Paisley, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Red Molly and even former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Zakk Wylde.

Darrell was born on a Tobacco Farm in London, Kentucky, the son of Wayne Scott who passed down a love of Country Music. After a few economic based moves Darrell’s family settled down in an area known as “The Inland Empire”, San Bernardino County just 60 miles east of Los Angeles but a world away from the Sunset Strip and glitz of Hollywood where back in the day there were still remnants of Nashville West.

DS: I played Honky Tonks, Bowling Alleys whatever in my teens. A lot of times we were the backing band for Country Artists that were traveling the circuit like Ernest Tubb (The Texas Troubador) or we were the headlining band.

BH: A lot of people don’t realize all the Country Music that came out of California.

DS: Yeah, I mean all those people that came out from Oklahoma and the south for work brought the music with them.

BH: So you were gigging a lot?

DS: I would end up sitting at the Pedal Steel with a Telecaster in my lap.

BH: A lot of music gear in Country music came out of California.

DS: Leo Fender, the Telecaster and his Electric Steel Guitars. Then there was Paul Bigsby (The Bigsby Vibrato), Mosrite (guitar builder for Joe Maphis) and even the Dobro Company was out in California, Guy Clark worked for Dobro.

Darrell was a “Nashville Triple Threat” before he moved to Tennessee, developing his skills as a Performer, Musician and Songwriter. He had an unreleased New York Singer/Songwriter album done that his label never released before deciding to move to Nashville

BH: So how did you end up in Nashville?

DS: My wife was as a school teacher, I figured I could keep the music going and housing was cheap. I really didn’t want to move here at the time, but, it was the logical decision.

Darrell brought a lot to the table when he moved to Nashville in 1991, becoming a go to session musician and stellar songwriting. Eventually he was able to re-record the never released New York album thirteen years later. Theater of the Unheard garnered Album of the Year at the 2005 Independent Music Awards.

B H: I know Robert Plant spends a lot of time in Nashville. Did you know him before joining the Band of Joy project?

D S: No I didn’t. In fact he had never heard of me. Buddy Miller made the recommendation and Robert wanted to hear me play before making a decision. They flew out to San Francisco to see my set at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (Oct 4, 2009 at 11AM on the Banjo Stage).

BH: On Band of Joy you’re kind of like Dave Lindsey “the utility guy” that can play anything with strings.

DS: I didn’t know what to bring, so I brought everything including my fretless Banjo and Accordion. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. We just had a short time booked over at Woodland Studios (in East Nashville) to see what would happen.

BH: A couple of the tracks especially “House of Cards” and “Central Two-O-Nine” remind me of Led Zeppelin III.

DS: I wouldn’t know. I don’t know much about Led Zeppelin. When I play it’s my own interpretation. It is what I would do.

BH: That reminds me of when Jerry Lee Lewis was recording “Rock and Roll” for Last Man Standing, Jimmy Page tried to tell Jerry Lee he was playing the rhythm wrong and he said this is the way I play it. He had never heard the Lep Zeppelin song before.  The band is playing some Led Zeppelin on this tour; I always loved “Tangerine”

DS: Yes, we’re playing “Tangerine” and “Misty Mountain Hop”. But, we are playing a lot of different things live. We really are becoming a band out on the road. I mean the album experience was phenomenal, but, we are really becoming a great band.

BH: It reminds me of how Led Zeppelin really gelled on the road and you can tell the difference between the first two Led Zeppelin albums. Are there any plans for another album?

DS: No, no plans. It could happen but who knows. Robert is a moving target; he doesn’t like to look back. He is always thinking forward.

Darrell seemed excited to get back out on the road with Robert Plant/Band of Joy, having gone full circle he is back at the pedal steel with a Telecaster cradled in his lap just like playing with his Dad and his brothers back in California. The only difference is that he is touring the world with Robert Plant and the cream of the crop of current Songwriter/Musicians from Nashville, Tennessee.

BH: So when you’re done what’s next?

DS: I have been working on a couple of projects and it could go either way. I have wanted to do a classic country album pre-70’s style, but, I also have a songwriter album done.

BH: If you had to describe Band of Joy what would that be?

DS: Two words, Buddy Miller and organic. The thing was totally organic. If it had not come together it would not have happened. There was no strategy. We had such a short window and it was incredible.

Buddy Miller put together a band to support Robert Plant in his current musical path. Darrell is leaving this weekend for another six weeks of touring with a planned stateside return of Band of Joy next year. Darrell enjoys being a part of such an original sounding band, a master musician, songwriter and performer in his own right, the future is wide open and full of promise.

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