Archives for category: Topper Price

Tristan Dunn, Nashville, TN

From the very first time Tristan Dunn played at Sharky’s, a memorial night for Topper Price [ the famed Gravel voiced Birmingham native that  could blow Blues Harp like nobody business], Tristan realized that he was not only stepping out in the late night Alabama air, but that it was time to start to realize his ambitions to play Southern Rock, with his early roots in the family favorite traditional Country, Tristan wanted to play Southern rock, the road travelled by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Molly Hatchet.

“My Great Grandmother’s favorite was Hank Williams Sr., but, when I was Fifteen I picked up on an album called Skynyrd Friends where different Country Artists were playing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Alabama played “Sweet Home Alabama” and I started learning Southern Rock on the Squire Telecaster my parents got me when I was thirteen. Fifteen was the year when I decided this is what I wanted to do.”

Tristan with Rollin Roger

Tristan has a strong voice that can carry a Merle Haggard tune just as strong as Merle himself.  Even more than the voice, Tristan went from guitar to learning the fiddle when he wanted to master Charlie Daniel’s “ South’s Gonna Do It Again”. The song has become a showstopper for his band, Rollin Roger who play regularly in Alabama playing all things Classic Southern Rock.

“South was the first song of the second set when we were playing a show at The Central Club, one of our favorite venues in Leeds, Alabama, and there were these three College age Guys. I realized if I could do something to remember us we could get some Frat gigs. I was laid out on the table wailing away when one of the guys started pouring Beer into my mouth and I knew we had a hit then.”

Rollin Roger started in 2006 with Forrest, Roger the Soundman and Mike the drummer who had played in several bands over the years.

“I was checking want ads at Bailey Brothers down in the Southside (Birmingham) in November 2006. We were on the same musical page but it took us until 2008 to get the right people in the band.”

Tristan was born in 1984, he jokes,”…and the world went to hell the next day”.  Tristan was diagnosed with a form of Autism known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder. “It shows up when you’re younger but as you get older you learn how to communicate better. A lot of the Obsessive Compulsive tendencies go away as I get older. The hardest thing growing up was dealing with kids my own age.  I moved to Vestavia, (A Birmingham suburb) when I was eight years old from Hueytown. Vestavia kids were such that if you were different in any sort of way you were an outcast, got picked on, and exploited, that sort of stuff. I used to come home crying just about every day when I was young.”

Tristan with The Purple Fiddle

Tristan was asked by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council to be a Consultant. He regularly travels down to Montgomery representing as a Functioning Adult with ASD to give input on whatever programs they plan to put into effect for the State of Alabama.

Music helped Tristan deal with his differences and gave somewhere to focus the anger and negative energy and turn it into something good. “I did a show called “Vestapalooza” in 10th grade. There were bands and I was the only solo act playing Fiddle, Guitar and Singing. “

In the last couple of years Tristan has become a “go to” Harmonica man and has sit in with several Birmingham artists such as Todd Simpson & Mojo Child, Adam Guthrie, Chris Porter and Stuart McNair. In a way he has picked up where Topper Price left off but doing it his own way.

Tristan has also been on stage in Nashville with Tyler Dickerson at Tootsie’s and Jake Bowry at The Broken Wagon Wheel. “Garth Brooks’ Harmonica man, Terry McMillan was the most sought after Harmonica player in Nashville and he played on “Aint Goin’ Down Till The Sun Comes Up”.” Whenever he heads out into the night, he wears a custom fitted shirt with three or four harmonicas ready to join in on the Blues, Country and Rock and Roll. Tristan feels “In Color” by Jamey Johnson should have had his Harp playing on it.

In the last couple of years Tristan has been an extra in a couple of Indie films, October Baby with John Schneider was a lot of fun being a fan of The Dukes of Hazard, also “Company M Mob of Soldiers” where he was featured in three scenes as well as playing a juror. “I was kind of found by ACT (Americas Choice Talent) Models and Talent Rep. Sativa “Andy” Banks.  Andy has been a big supporter of Tristan who he said originally pointed out his hair and thought he would be great for hair care product promotions.

One of Tristan’s favorite hobbies is getting involved in Civil War re-enactments. “When I am running around in a color guard I forget I am in 2011 and begin to think I am in a combat zone in 1861. When I  put on my clothes I am a whole other person. I feel like I am in an actual battle and could actually be killed and it makes my body react better on a subconscious level.” Tristan was told this was a mark of a true professional and he feels it has helped him with his acting.

Tristan can be found in and around Birmingham with Rollin’ Roger or sitting in at Metro Bistro and other venues as he develops his playing and writing with an eye towards the future.

Tristan, Birmingham, Alabama 2007

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tennessee

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