Friday, May 25, 2018

Shakin' Down with Big Mama!

~ Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton
courtesy of Yahoo Images

I know there's a bunch of you out there who like the Blues, and, I'm right there with you!  It is a known fact that many folks believe that the Blues singers and song writers from the beginning of time, paved the way for much of the rock and roll, country and folk music that has come our way.  One such singer/songwriter's name came across my desk a while back..oh, I'd say on Elvis Presley's 83rd Birthday?  And, this lady was one of Elvis's greatest influences in his younger years.

The lady I'm talking about is none other than "Big Mama" Thornton!  Big Mama started her career as an early teenager, right after her mother died.  She worked in a saloon at night, cleaning and singing  part time to fill in when a singer was needed.  Prior to her mother's passing, Willie Mae had spent most of her youth singing in the Church, where her father was a minister.  Big Mama was eventually spotted by a promoter, and, by the time she was in her early 20's, she was on her way to Atlanta. There she performed at Sammy Green's "Hot Harlem Revue", playing drums and harmonica in addition to singing.  What a treat that would have been!

~ Big Mama Thornton on drums * Yahoo Images

*  In the late 1940's and 50's, a female who was talented enough to play multiple instruments, was not likely to gain much recognition.  But in Willie Mae's case, these talents of hers were impressive, and, got her a record deal with Peacock Records.  It didn't hurt any that she possessed a robust, bluesy voice, with a knack for belting out gutsy lyrics either!

* Yahoo Images

***Speaking of "Hound Dog"!!!  In 1952, Willie Mae recorded this song, written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and released in 1953.  Subsequently, "Big Mama's" "Hound Dog" remained at #1 for 7 of the 14 weeks it spent on the R&B charts.  Well, as the story goes, "Big Mama" only received about $500.00 for her recording of the song, which was revamped a few years later by Elvis Presley, earning him a much more substantial compensation.  He, of course, was then launched into stardom, which continues to thrive today!

* collage created by Suzanne * images from Yahoo


Willie Mae ran that circuit during the mid to late 1950's, even performing at the Apollo, where she earned her name, "Big Mama" for her loud voice, size, and personality.  Apollo manager, Frank Schiffman said her voice was louder than a microphone, and he didn't want a mic to ever be as loud as Big Mama's voice was!  She could really belt those songs out!

~ How about these two 'mega-blues' gals!

I think Willie Mae and Janis Joplin, who were a generation apart, had a great deal in common!  I always liked Janis' rendition of "Ball and Chain", and since I didn't know who "Big Mama" was, I had no idea who actually penned the song!  Let's take a gander:

*** WOW!  This was "Ball and Chain" performed by Big Mama Thornton with the Buddy Guy's Blues Band, I'm thinking in 1970.  Big Mama even gives Ms. Janis Joplin credit for making her song famous.  Now that's a lady with soul!  Janis nailed this song and it happens to be my favorite Janis Joplin song!  I have tried to sing it myself, but, WOE is!  Send in the clowns!

In the later 1950's and early 60's, Willie Mae found herself heading for California and located to the San Francisco Bay area, where, she played some clubs with her old friend, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and recorded on various record labels.  Big Mama toured Europe in 1965 with the American Folk Blues Festival, enjoying some success.

*  Big Mama Thornton * Yahoo Images

Rumor has it that she was a pretty tough cookie, and sometimes dressed in men's clothing.  This female "Blues Steamroller"  was always invited to perform at the Monterrey Jazz Fest in the company of Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton, and Dr. Ross, to name a few.  Her powerhouse vocals and guileless storytelling helped bring back "Big Mama's" faltering career during this time.  However, her sexual inclinations had become questionable when "Big Mama" appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1980.  She performed in the  "Blues is a Woman" concert, sporting a man's 3-piece suit, and straw hat.

~ Big Mama * Yahoo Images

By the 1970's, it was evident that Willie Mae, "Big Mama" was drinking heavily, and her health was  suffering the debilitating effects.  She continued to tour, having performed in 1979 at the San Francisco Blues Festival with B. B. King and Muddy Waters.  In addition to writing "Ball and  Chain", Big Mama wrote at least 20 other songs:   Among her works are, "Quit Snoopin' Around My Door", "The Fish", "I Smell a Rat", and, on the flip side of "Hound Dog", was "They Call Me Big Mama."  
* Willie Mae's most successful album is "Stronger Than Dirt", which was released, I think around 1969, on Mercury Records.  The album ranked 198 in the Billboard Top 200.  One of her songs on this album, "Summertime", brought some very good reviews.  "Big Mama's" delivery of the song is said to have been:  "incredible", "This is my Big Mama, no doubt.", and "She is absolutely breaking everyone's heart on this song...fantastic!"

* I listened to Big Mama's "Summertime" performance, and totally agree.  How about you?
Have a listen!

Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton-Summertime 1970

What can I say?  Didn't that number just "rule"!    "Big Mama" said, "I didn't go to music school.  I taught myself to sing and blow harmonica, and even to play drums by watchin' other people.  I can't read music, but I know what I'm singing!"

The years of  alcohol consumption was taking its toll on "Big Mama", and by 1980, she had lost quite a lot of weight (255 pounds), due to illness.  She had to be helped onstage to perform sitting down, but still delivered magnificent performances.   I believe "Big Mama's last live performance was in April of 1984, where she performed her biggest hit, "Ball and Chain" in Los Angeles.

* Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton passed away in a Los Angeles rooming house, July 25, 1984. She was 57 years old, and died of a heart attack and liver disorder. *  

*  "Big Mama" Thornton is one of those "Unsung Heroes".  She was overshadowed by white artists, receiving very little credit and recognition for two major hits that she introduced into the  Blues, R&B/Rock and Roll community.  For her recording and work on "Hound Dog", she was quoted as saying, " I never got what I should have.  I received one check for $500.00, nothing more."  Willie Mae felt cheated out of the success she should have received.  Big Mama was never given credit or any compensation for "Ball and Chain", that was written by her., yet, praised Janis Joplin's version of the song. Big Mama's recording of the song didn't even hit the charts!  Ms. Joplin did reap rewards from the song, but frequently acknowledged Big Mama's contribution to the industry. *
* Big Mama Thornton received a San Francisco Blues Festival award in 1979 and
* She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984
* In 2004, the nonprofit Brooklyn's Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls was founded
to offer a musical education to girls ages 8 to 18 *

* I am personally so glad I came across the story of this multi-talented lady!  I have listened to more than several of her songs, and, I am hooked!  I hope you all have enjoyed this post and the messages it has brought to us all about the 'Blues'

"White, black, rich or poor.  If you ever had your heart broke, you have the right to sing the blues."
~ Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton

I know it's time to wrap this program I can go on when given the chance.  Thank you so much for coming by and paying my Rockabilly Blog a visit.  If you have time, please stop in and say hello, or check one of the reactions at the bottom of this post just to let me know how you liked the program.  I appreciate all of your visits and comments.

Now...I came across the most fascinating video of "Big Mama" that I want to share with you all.  I have to say, OMG to this one!  On this number, Big Mama really gets after it on her harmonica, and the song just continues to accelerate into dynamic excellence!!!

* (1965) Blues by Big Mama Thornton-Hound Dog and
Down Home Shakedown
with:  John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton & Dr. Ross

* Don't you just love this! *

Thanks to all of my resources...and there were plenty!
Yahoo images

Gotta go now...see you next time.  Sending love and Peace your way.
 Please have a safe Memorial Day weekend! 💖 

* photo by Suzanne

Friday, August 25, 2017

Clickin' Heels with The NGDB!

~ Emmet Otter's Jug Band * Yahoo Images

Here we are, back in Rockabilly land, where we welcome all genres of Rockabilly, Country, and Blues!  And, just to be clear, I also love a little Rock n Roll, and a lot of Soul music too!  

In July, we celebrated the 70th birthday one of our favorite American singer-songwriter's, Jeff Hanna!  Yes, that's the one, alright!  Jeff is one of the founders of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the longest surviving member of the group!  Having journeyed with his family from Detroit, Michigan to Long Beach, California when he was just a boy, Jeff formed a 'jug band' in the mid 1960's.  Hanna has done everything from writing and producing, to singing and playing a variety of instruments!

~ The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band * Jeff Hanna, sitting far left * Yahoo Images

In a 2011 interview with Paul Freeman of PopCultureClassics, Jeff states, "When we started, we were surrounded by surf bands like "The Birds", and, "The Lovin Spoonful"  He called his group, "Jug Puppies", with a blend of folk, rock and country.  The group's focus was to bring some of the earlier hit songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, Kenny Loggins, and Michael Nesmith back to the forefront.  NGDB   would hang out at McCabe's Guitar Store in Southern California, Long Beach, to be specific.
Not only could you purchase guitars and other instruments at McCabe's, there were guitar lessons available, and concerts performed!

~yahoo images

The NGDB was known to sit in recording sessions with some of the elders of Blues and Country music.  With assistance from the wonderful Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, and some really great musicians, the album Will the Circle Be Unbroken has gone GOLD.  Sounds like an odd venue, doesn't it!   In essence, the "elders" actually paved the way for up and coming artists to ease into the industry!  I, for one, am so proud to see the collaborations between different musicians who come together and give the world the best of their talents!

~Mother Maybelle Carter and Jeff Hanna * Yahoo Images

When Paul Freeman of PopCultureClassics asked how the band came across "Mr. Bojangles", Hanna explained that while flipping through radio stations, he happened to hear the last two verses of the song .  He didn't hear the title, and mentioned it the next day in rehearsal.  One of the band members had heard the song before, and "that's all she wrote"!  "Mr. Bojangles, written by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 for his own album, peaked at number 9 for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
on the US Hit 100 chart in 1971!


OK...I wasn't going to do this, but I couldn't help myself!
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, performing Mr. Bojangles in (1991, I think)

~ From Youtube
Didn't you just love it?  And, did you get that drummer...he plays the harmonica at the same time that he's drumming!  And, Hanna has said that the drummer also reads Popular Mechanics at the same time, while he's playing!  It is such a treat to watch these talented guys in action!

I have come to appreciate certain artists that I knew of, but, did not follow in my younger years.  Now, when I come by one of those artists or groups, I spend more time checking out their repertoire.  Most of the time I find that I have heard a lot of their work, but, just didn't recognize it.  I spent some time listening to a few of the NGDB's songs, and found that I really like their style!  "Catfish John" with Alison Krauss is a really good song, along with "Fishin' In The Dark".  Great music and vocals on both!  "Just a Modern Day Romance"  is also top on my list of NGDB tunes, with a really great Country dance beat.  Jeff Hannah and the NGDB have performed with Linda Ronstadt, EmmyLou Harris, the Cash's-June and Johnny, and even little Hannah Montana!

On their 50th anniversary, the Nitty Gritty Dirt band performed with Jerry Jeff Walker, and, Jackson Browne, who was an early member of the group, and, Vince Gill.  The celebration was held at the Ryman Auditorium at Nashville in July of 2015.  How exciting was that?

~50th Anniversary celebration at the Ryman Auditorium

Well, Rockabilly fans, I'm sorry to say that it is last call here at Rock A Billy Rock headquarters.
For tonite, that is! 😎

Before the finale, I would like to take this time to thank:
Wikipedia, popculture,,,
Thank you Blogger, Youtube, Yahoo Images, Google

*** And many thank yous out to my gracious readers...I love it that you stopped by for a visit.  Let's say a special prayer for the folks along the Texas coast in the path of Hurricane Harvey.  I know the authorities are working hard to get these people to safety.  Please get out of town and be safe! ♥

Stop in and say hello.  If you are too shy to speak, please give me a sign by checking one of the reactions at the bottom of this post.  No names required! The choices are:
Interesting, Funny, or Cool

Best wishes for a great school year to all students!

And, now...

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, with Bernie Leadon on lead guitar
1987 hit on live TV

***  See you next time, dear friends!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sleepy LaBeef Still Rides!

* Loading oil field supplies near Smackover, Arkansas *
Arkansas state archives, circa 1920's

How many of you have been to Smackover, Arkansas?  Don't all jump up at once, lol!  Well, I haven't been there either!  Looks like it may have been a pretty prosperous town back in the day.  This town's dramatic oil discovery in the 1920's led the nation's oil output. Up to this time, Smackover's economy depended primarily on cotton and the timber industry.

So, you're wondering how this city got its name?  Well, it seems as though early on, French trappers settled here, just a couple of hours from Little Rock along the Ouachita River.  Legend has it that the oil blowing "smack over the derrick", or a pioneer jumping "smack over the creek", could be the origin of Smackover's name.  Another legend claims that the name came from the French term, "Chemin Couvert", or the "Covered Way".

Every year, Smackover hosts an Oil Town Festival, so, if any of you get a hankerin' to make your way there June 15-17th, be sure to stop in and enjoy the eats, car show and free concerts.  I wasn't able to find out who will be performing at the concerts this year.

Could it be this guy?

  Sleepy LaBeef

Now here's a guy who was actually born in Smackover, Arkansas, and is still around to talk about it.  Let me introduce Mr. Thomas Paulsley LaBeff, nicknamed "Sleepy" as a youngster because of his droopy eyes!  He is the youngest of 10 children, born in June of 1935, just six months younger than Elvis.  At the age of 81, and, standing about 6'5", he is still 'wowing' audiences with his 'beefy' voice.
Thus, another name change to "LaBeef"!

* Sleepy LaBeef

Well, folks, they say that young Sleepy quit school at the age of 14, sold his .22 rifle, and bought a guitar.  He mostly played at the church during that time, and worked at various jobs as a grocery clerk, truck driver, lumberjack, and, even a swamp monster in a horror movie!  Yikes!  At 18, Sleepy took a highway job, building roads in Houston and left Smackover.  There, he jumped into the frying pan, so to speak, (keeping his highway job), and started singing gospel on the radio and playing in clubs for $8 or $9 a night.

* Sleepy LaBeef * Yahoo images
Not a bad lookin' guy, eh?

Sleepy performs a lot of medleys in his concerts featuring various artists.  He cruises through Merle Haggard tunes, dances a waltz with Ernest Tubb, and sails into a Jimmy Reed blues number.  Having co-written very few songs himself, Sleepy explains, "Why should I write songs when there's already so many good ones?"  He covers songs about things he has witnessed, even if he hasn't lived them himself.  Sleepy and his band might 'roar' through 70-72 songs by night's end.  LaBeef can rock through Chuck Berry and even Duane Eddy-without planning it first.

* Sleepy sits with "Time Jumpers", featuring Vince Gill

Just to name a few Sleepy Songs:
"Rock and Roll Ruby"
"Strange Things Happening"
"Mistery Train"
"Every Day"
"Ain't Got No Home"

In 1964, Sleepy was invited to Nashville by Don Law, to record for Columbia records.  But after 6 years of no-hits, Sleepy signed with Sun Records.  A couple of years later, Sleepy was with Rounder records,

 Here's Sleepy now with a powerful cut of  "Turn Me Loose" on the Rounder label!

That was a Rockabilly special, if I ever heard one...don't you agree?  Man, what a fast moving song, with fabulous guitar work and piano!  Sleepy could really pump out those beefy tunes!


You know, Sleepy said, "You're singing about life.  If I sing a drinking or cheating song, it's not because I like the lifestyle, and, I'm not judging these people.  I'm just an interpreter sending the message that you cannot drink your problems away, because it's still there when you sober up."

* Sleepy LaBeef performing in Memphis, Tennessee
 August 2015 * International Rockabilly Festival
* Yahoo Images

Sleepy is well known as a first generation rocker.  None of it's planned.  He always wants the freedom to play the crowd and change direction whenever the spirit moves him.   Below is one of the medleys Mr. LaBeef has performed live.

I LOVE this guy!  What do you think?  He can really pump that guitar.  Well, as I said earlier, he is a self-taught guitarist.  At the at of 14 he was playing in the church, and, he learned by watching other musicians play.  This is a real treat!  I would really like to see Sleepy in concert!

Ok!  Time for my thanks to:
Yahoo Images
* Please accept apologies if I left anyone out

Thank you so much for coming by.  Now that we're in the midst of our Spring weather (unless, of course, your country is in its winter season), I hope you all are experiencing the grandest weather you could possibly have!  Actually, here in the Lone Star state, we're running the air conditioner one day, and the furnace the next!

Please step in and say hello if you get the chance.  I always appreciate your comments and hellos!  I know the Easter holiday is approaching within just days, so, please be safe if you're on the road!

Happy Easter, with love!  ♥

"We've got so many songs to do, so we'll keep 'em short, get more of 'em in."
~Sleepy LaBeef

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Northbound...Alaska Gold!

~ Johnny Horton

Who remembers the Klondike, or Alaskan Gold Rush of 1896-1899?  Good show of hands!  I knew you all would remember that sooooo, co-o-o-old  time when some local miners discovered gold in them thar mountains, inciting a major stampede!  An estimated 100,000 prospectors migrated to the Klondike region of the Yukon, with only about 30,000 arriving.  Together, with mountainous terrain and cold climate, this meant that those who persisted did not arrive until the summer of 1898.   Once there, they found few opportunities and many left poor and disappointed.

Avalanches were common in the mountains and, on April 3, 1898, one claimed the lives of more than 60 people travelling over Chilkoot Pass.

Needless to say, due to destruction of the wooden structures from fires, high prices and unsanitary conditions, many prospectors left the Klondike for new oilfields that were popping up.  News had it that gold was discovered during that summer of 1899, elsewhere in Canada and Alaska.   Some of the Boomtowns either declined, or became more sedate and conservative with expensive updates not affordable to the wildlife prospectors.  Alas, the Klondike gold rush came to an end!

So, how does Johnny Horton fit into this history of the gold rush?  Are you askin' me?

Well, young Johnny Horton graduated from high school in 1944.  After obtaining some higher education, and even attending a Methodist seminary, Horton headed to Alaska to become a fisherman, and, maybe find some gold.  His mother had taught him to play the guitar at age 11, and, he began writing songs while in Alaska.  He had always loved fishing, and, in his early singing days, Johnny Horton was known as "The Singing Fisherman".  Within a year, however, he moved back to East Texas where he had grown up to pursue his singing career.

* Johnny Horton and Johnny Cash posing with their catch of the day *

In 1951, after winning a few talent contests, and performing on some TV shows and radio shows, Horton became a regular on the Louisiana Hayride, and, made good friends with Johnny Cash as well as many others on the circuit.  The Hayride is the first place Horton got to see and meet Elvis.  He really liked Elvis' style, and the newer rockabilly music that was becoming popular on the Hayride.  Johnny Horton was anxious to 'step up his game'!

**** And, he did! ***

* Elvis Presley and Johnny Horton on the Louisiana Hayride *

After many ups and downs, disappointments and short-lived recording companys, Columbia Records eventually signed Johnny Horton to their label.  Within months, his first single on this label,  "Honky Tonk Man",  featuring Elvis' bassist on the record, was in the Country Top 10!

Billboard reviewed "Honky Tonk Man", and admitted, "The wine, women and song attractions exert a powerful hold on the singer.  A very good jukebox song." * 1956

I checked this song out myself, and found it to be exactly as described by Billboard 100.  It has the distinct sound of a honky tonk, and Horton's voice makes it clear as mud!
Let's have a listen! 🎸

*  Moving right along now!  Must we?  Ah yes...we need to fast forward up North!

Throughout the early, mid, and late 1950's, Johnny Horton was on a great ride!  He was so talented, and, had become a household name.  I was pretty young in 1956, mostly listening to Elvis, and Rick Nelson.  By 1959, I guess I was somewhere near 10 years old, and I was becoming more attuned to various other artists!   "The Battle of New Orleans" is the first Johnny Horton song I remember.  This song topped the pop charts as well as maintaining 10 weeks at the top of the Country charts!  The Western Writers of America reviewed this song and rated it as one of the top 100 Western songs of all time!  And, I concur!!!  We sang this song, each one of us trying to outsing the other.  The song brought about many fun times for a lot of folks!

Another hit that grabbed my attention is the song "I Got A Hole In My Pirogue".  "What in the world", you ask?  I had no idea what this was either, so I looked it up!
Turns out, a pirogue is a small fishing boat!  LOL!  Who knew?

* The two Johnny's (Horton and Cash) on a dual Pirogue!
...just kidding!  I'm not sure if a Pirogue is for two!

From Billboard; "Pirogue" is a Rockabilly novelty song of great appeal.  Horton's vocals against this twangy backing makes a terrific impression.  It's hard to see how this can miss becoming a gold mine!"

Well, you know...I did listen to this song, and, honestly-it is a pretty good fishin' song!  If you get the chance, mosey on over to You Tube and hear it for yourselves!

And, that brings us to one of the greatest western hits of all time!  "North To Alaska"!  This song ranked #1 on the US Country chart, and #4, on the Billboard Hot 100!  Additionally, the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time!

1960 we know that this song is the featured song played during the opening titles to John Wayne's movie, also named "North To Alaska".  What I found confusing, is, did the song come first, or, was the movie first?  Of course, I did a lot of reading back and forth to try to determine how both song and movie got together!  Please humor me some more!  Haha!  I mean, Alaska became our 49th state in 1959, and, presto...we're making a movie soon thereafter!

What I found out is that, originally the movie was titled "The Alaskans".  However, I could not determine when it changed to "North To Alaska".  After delays resulting in director conflicts, writers strikes, and John  Wayne's movie commitments during that time, "North To Alaska" didn't start filming until May of 1960.

*  Johnny Horton's recording "North To Alaska" was released August 22, 1960, and the movie of the same name released November 13, 1960.  Sadly, by that time, Johnny Horton has died as a result of a head-on auto collision, at the young age of 35.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:
North To Alaska!

* I do so appreciate you coming by Rock A Billy and checking out my post!  I hope I have found you to be feeling great, and having a wonderful January (half over, lol!).  Stop in and say hello-I hope I didn't ramble on too long.  Sometimes, the information is so great that it takes a while to spit it all out!  I mean to say, I had no idea Johnny Horton had accomplished so much in the small amount of years he was with us!  I admire his talents and work greatly!

And, I must definitely thank:
Yahoo Images
You Tube
US Billboard Hot 100
US Billboard Hot C & W

In Remembrance

~Johnny Horton * April 30, 1925 * November 5, 1960

Please be safe, and kind to all!  Have a great week...see you soon ♥

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

James Brown at Gilley's? Really!!!

~ Branson, Missouri * November 14, 2016 * photo by Suzanne

Welcome back Rockabilly fans!  Hey, I haven't been gone too long, have I?  Well, I hope I have found you all doing well, and practicing up on your "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" moves!  Oh no you don' cannot get away with telling me you're too old to rock around that tree!  I don't think we ever feel too old, once the spirit of Christmas starts to set in, am I right?

Just kidding, lol!

The week before Thanksgiving was a fast and busy week for me.  I made a quick trip to Kansas City to visit my mom and sister, and, we jumped on a cool bus to Branson, Missouri.  It was just a few hour's drive, and the weather was perfectly Autumn!  We had the best hostess and host, who put together a great itinerary for the trip, that had something for everyone to enjoy.  

One such venue was "Christmas with George Dyer" at the Mickey Gilley Theatre.  George Dyer is a fabulous tenor, who has been dubbed "Branson's  Vocalist of the Year".  He and his lovely family perform an exciting variety of songs, adding comedy, and, always bringing us to our feet with applause and cheering!  George Dyer began his exciting career in New York City, during the late 1990's.  Aside from performances at the New York City Opera, Mr. Dyer has appeared with various symphony orchestras as a soloist.

 * Well, here's the man of the hour now!  George actually stepped aboard our bus before we unloaded to file into the theatre!
   (we all became friends on a first name basis, at that point)

~photo by Suzanne * Branson, Missouri * November 14, 2016

Just a few of the highlights of the George Dyer show include a spellbinding performance by Mr. Dyer of  "Music of The Night", from "Phantom of The Opera", and "Mary Did You Know",  with George's beautiful daughter, Kendra.  This show was so amazing with its bright, colorful costumes, and, breathtaking performances by George Dyer and his family.  The band was fantastic, just rolling into song after song, effortlessly, and with professionalism!  They were good!!!
* Here they are now!  What a beautiful family...and, all are wonderful singers, dancers.  They also jump in with great comedy, engaging audience members to participate.  We got to visit with the family for a few minutes after the show, and, praise them for a most enjoyable array of performances!

George Dyer, and family * Branson, Missouri * photo by Suzanne 11-14-16

 Oh, how I want to share one of the numbers from this show, if you have the time to watch and listen!  As I said earlier, Dyer's band is incredible.  One breathtaking performance was brilliantly executed by the bass guitar player, Shaun Munday, and George Dyer in 
James Brown's "This is a Man's World".

* Now, wasn't that great!  A little bit of soul, and a little bit of opera! 
  My sister and I were on our feet, with tears in our eyes...what a performance! 
Even though it is not exactly a Rockabilly song, I hope you all enjoyed this performance as much as we did!


Well, my dearest rockabillies, and's getting late, and I guess it's time for me to sashay on out of here, and, start checking off other fun items on my "to do" list!  

As we all know, it's the time of year that we scramble around, and fight the crowds to shop for our favorite folks at Christmas!  But, what we really believe, is, that this is a time to spread Joy and Love throughout the world, and, rejoice in the birth of our Saviour, Jesus.

Let me take a moment to thank each one of you for coming by.  I appreciate you all, and would love to hear from you anytime!  If I don't see you before Christmas, please be safe in your travels.  
Be kind and charitable whenever you can! 

I also want to thank:
Mickey Gilley Theatre
George Dyer and family
Mom and Leta
*** All photos, where specified, were taken by Suzanne * 
* unlabeled photos are courtesy of Yahoo images

* Branson Express, Branson, MO *
~photo by Suzanne * 11-15-16

*** My earliest memory is of the best Christmas gift ever, a toy train.
  I remember riding that thing all through our house."
~Coco Jones

for you, Dad

Merry Christmas to you all!  See you next time! ♫

P.S.  What's going on with my font size?  It keeps changing! 😕

Thursday, October 13, 2016

'Rockin' Them Blue Shoes'!

Carl Perkins

Here we are, finally hitting the beautiful Autumn season, with pretty, earthy colors, and, hopefully cooler weather for most of us.  I hear it's pretty muggy out Florida way though!  I feel for you folks, and, I'm  trying to send some relief your way! 

I guess you're wondering why Carl's picture is headlining this post.  Well, Karo used to talk about Carl Perkins a lot.  He dearly loved Elvis, but, swore that Mr. Perkins probably set the stage for Rockabilly, and Rock n Roll music, as early as the mid 1940's.  Carl and Elvis did collaborate some, and, enjoyed 'jammin' with good ole Jerry Lee and, sometimes Johnny Cash.

Here is one such event...Million Dollar Quartet-I Shall Not Be Moved
Recorded at Sun Studio on December 4, 1956

Wasn't that cool?  Growing up, I never figured that great artists such as these guys could get together as friends and send out amazing music and song like this!  I mean, this could have been a sold out concert, if only...

Carl Perkins grew up in Tennessee, under pretty poor conditions. His father was the only white sharecropper on a cotton plantation, and, for a time, the family lived in a one room storehouse,   Carl listened to gospel, country and blues music every chance he got, and, mastered the guitar at the age of thirteen.  Well then, he and his two brothers formed a group, and performed a song that Carl himself wrote, at a local talent show.  They won the show, and, here is that song!

"Movie Magg"
written by Carl Perkins, released on Flip Records in 1955

In the late 1940's, the Perkins Brothers had added a drummer to their group.  They began performing at the El Rancho Club in Jackson,Tennessee, and,  on WDXT radio in Jackson.  Carl's brothers also worked in the cotton mills, and Carl worked as a baker for the Colonial Baking Company.

In 1953, Carl got married, moved to a Government housing project in Jackson, and began his family.  He and his wife, Valda, had three children, and were married until Carl's death in 1998.

Movie Magg, which was released on Flip Records was slow to sell.  Sam Phillips with Sun Records was very interested in Carl Perkins, but, he was reluctant to sign with him while he had his hands full with Elvis (I'm sure that was a job!).   Although the song Movie Magg was lagging in sales, it did help Carl score some bookings, and he even opened for Elvis and Johnny Cash.  Once Elvis left the Sun label, Sam Phillips focused on Carl Perkins as the major Rock and Roll & pop artist on the label.

~Sun Studio * Memphis, Tennessee
photo taken by Suzanne on location in 1999


One night in Parkin, Arkansas, oh, I'd say around 1955,  after a show, Carl Perkins overheard a guy on the dance floor telling his date to stay away from his new blue suede shoes!
Let's take a listen!

Wow!  I don't know about y'all, but I loved this!  I didn't know Carl was quite the dancer, did you?  Well, that's what the internet gives us now...the pleasure of seeing our favorite artists actually perform!  I was 7 or 8 years old when he was on this show.  If my parents watched it, I'll bet they were pretty impressed!

Within about a month after Carl recorded Blue Suede Shoes, it was released on the Sun label.  And, it put Carl Perkins on the map!  Well, then, Elvis came along, recorded the song, and, it became his third song to hit the top 40!  I think Carl was a bit knocked back about it, but, he did reap rewards, and, gently rocked over to the country side of music!

I could go on and on about Carl Perkins-I certainly wasn't aware of his accomplishments and popularity in my younger years.  And, I find that he had quite a following!  I believe it was John Lennon who said, "Without Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles!"  One such example is the song Carl wrote and recorded in 1956 called "Matchbox".  Wow!  Perkins recorded this one on the Sun label in 1956, and it was released on the B side of  'Your True Love'.  Matchbox became very well known, and was recorded by the Beatles, and performed by the likes of Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and, Johnny Rivers!  That's just naming a few!  Next to Blue Suede Shoes, this song is my favorite Carl Perkins song.  I watched a performance of Matchbox on YouTube with Carl, Duane Eddy, and the Mavericks in 1994, and loved it!  Below we have a photo of Bob Dylan and Carl Perkins performing together-Dylan was a real fan of the song Matchbox.

~Bob Dylan and Carl Perkins

The  following are some accomplishments and credits awarded to Carl Perkins:
Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Memphis Music Hall of Fame
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
Grammy Hall of Fame
* Carl Perkins helped establish the first center for
The Prevention of Child Abuse in Tennessee

Carl Perkins passed away in 1998 at the age of 65.

Thank you so much dear readers for stopping by.  There is so much more to Carl Perkins than what I was able to touch on.  I now know why my husband Karo admired him so.

Thank you, Google, Yahoo, Blogger
Wikipedia,,, Youtube

Step in and say hello if you get the chance.  I will be out of pocket until sometime early next week.  Computers are in need of medical attention, lol!

* Be safe this weekend,  hugs to you all!  ♫

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Way Back To Rockin' Autos!

~1924 Buick Roadster * photo taken in Bridgeport, TX around 1957

Old cars and old songs just kinda walk, or drive, hand in hand, don't they?  I'm the tow-headed kid sitting to your right on the fender, my leg hanging over the tire.  My brother Danny is sitting on the other side, and my late cousin Butch is the cool guy sporting the flat top hair cut.

Daddy was a jack-of-all trades!  He was an entrepreneur, being the owner and chief cook of a cafe, a farmer, auto mechanic, and, he dearly loved to deal in antiques.  We would take road trips to states in the Midwest, looking for good deals on old cars, guns and furniture. 
One such venture netted the automobile you see above.

Old Aubrey Gordon from Decatur, Texas, a truck driver who hauled grain and feed to and from the Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska states, would come into the cafe on Saturday nights with his friend, Sam Green, the school bus driver.  They would have dinner, and talk about Aubrey's travels on the road, and how he would come across old cars from time to time.  He was friends with the grain broker who knew everyone in the town of Concordia, Kansas, near the Nebraska line, and mentioned an old car that had been sitting in a shed since 1934.  Daddy was all ears on this one, for he just loved to work on, and restore old cars.  Before we knew it, we were on the road, heading for Concordia, Kansas to see about that Roadster!  Did I mention that I was about 6 years old then?  Well, there we found that old Buick, that had been sitting in a dilapidated shed for a bit over 20 years.  The roof of the shed had caved in on top of the car and crushed the rag top on it.  I don't know what the owner was asking for the car, but Daddy paid him $100.00 and his friends told him he had been shafted.  For another $100 dollar bill, I don't know how he got that dang thing loaded, but Aubrey picked that car up, and hauled it from Kansas to Bridgeport, Texas.

Daddy restored the car, had it re-upholstered in red leather, and had a new top made for it.  This vehicle had an electric starter, which was also the generator .  It stayed engaged in the flywheel, thus keeping the battery charged.  And, a new one for you car buffs who are familiar with the gear pattern of a 3-speed transmission...this car's shift pattern was backwards!  Go figure!  Then, a few years down the road, daddy traded that car for a very large antique gun collection!  And, that, my friends will be a totally different story!


Well, I guess you've noticed I haven't posted anything in a while.  You see, I've been ill, and, it's hard to get a story out of me if I'm not feeling well.  Thank you so much for coming by.  I hope you all are doing very well.  Bless you all!


Regretfully, I must say that Karo passed away in January 2016 after a long illness.  However, if you don't mind, I hope to continue sending old stories your way in my husband's honor!  Believe me, he had plenty of them!

Stop by and say hello if you get the chance, and, I happen to know a lady over at KardKornerKrib, who would like to start writing again.  I think she just needs a little push from some old friends!

Be safe, laugh and love ♥

Karo and I previously agreed that this fun automobile song is appropriate in closing!