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