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Show Calendar

October 2014
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The Twilight Zone- The Ventures

venturers-halloween's gravest hits

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Not the first but definitely the most popular rock instrumental combo, the Ventures scored several hit singles during the 1960s — most notably “Walk-Don’t Run” and “Hawaii Five-O” — but made their name in the growing album market, covering hits of the day and organizing thematically linked LPs. Almost 40 Ventures’ albums charted, and 17 hit the Top 40. And though the group’s popularity in America virtually disappeared by the 1970s, their enormous contribution to pop culture was far from over; the Ventures soon became one of the most popular world-wide groups, with dozens of albums recorded especially for the Japanese and European markets. They toured continually throughout the 1970s and ’80s — influencing Japanese pop music of the time more than they had American music during the ’60s.

the Ventures’ origins lie in a Tacoma, Washington group called the Impacts. Around 1959, construction workers and hobby guitarists Bob Bogle and Don Wilson formed the group, gigging around Washington state and Idaho with various rhythm sections as backup. They recorded a demo tape, but after it was rejected by the Liberty Records subsidiary Dolton, the duo founded their own label, Blue Horizon. They released one vocal single (“Cookies and Coke”), then recruited bassist Nokie Edwards and drummer Skip Moore and decided to instead become an instrumental group.


>> Read more…


-John Bush,


Hillbillies In A Haunted House- The Austin Lounge Lizards

austin lounge lizards- never and adult moment

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Regarding their name, Austin Lounge Lizards guitarist and founding member Conrad Deisler said: “I think it was a slang term I’d heard my grandmother use to describe gentlemen of easy virtue who hung around in bars. When we started out, that’s just what we were doing — hanging out and playing for beer and tips and stuff like that.” The Lounge Lizards trace their origins back to the late ’70s, when Deisler, then a Princeton student, hooked up with Hank Card to indulge their shared interest in folk and country by playing in progressive folk bands. The two landed in Austin in 1980, where they met Tom Pittman, a banjo and pedal-steel player who’d just moved to town from Georgia. They combined the sounds of Pittman’s bluegrass heritage with the folk and country forms from Deisler and Card’s college-band days up north. Unsatisfied with playing bluegrass and traditional country covers, the Lizards found they had a knack for writing bizarro social and politically themed songs, overflowing with tongue-in-cheek twang.

The band has gone through its share of mandolin players, bassists, and fiddlers, but the core of the group has remained Pittman, Deisler, and Card, with long stints from bassist Boo Resnick, drummer Paul Pearcy, and multi-instrumentalist Richard Bowden. Whatever its lineup, the Austin Lounge Lizards have long been known for their Texas-sized twisted tales and humorous songs, charming their fans for over twenty years. In their own words, “Our accents are the drawliest, our howdies are the y’alliest/Our Lone Star flag’s the waviest, our fried steak’s the cream graviest.”


>> Read more…


-Zac Johnson,





Larry McMurtry once noted, “Being a writer and a Texan is an amusing fate,
one that gets funnier as one’s sense of humor darkens. In times like these,
it borders on the macabre.”



McMurtry wrote those words in the late Sixties, but he could have been speaking for the Austin Lounge Lizards decades later. Based in Austin, Texas, the Lizards have delighted audiences from California to Canada to the United Kingdom with their original style of satirical folk, country and bluegrass. Trademarks of a Lizards song are highly literate, sharply pointed lyrics that poke fun at politics, love, religion and the culture in general. Combined with precise four-part vocal harmonies and instrumental mastery, the band’s songs are melodically infectious and inventive.


Given their eclecticism and natural irreverence, it’s no surprise that the group counts among its influences Frank Zappa, George Jones, Spike Jones (no relation), Flatt & Scruggs, Tom Lehrer and Steve Goodman. Album, song, and DVD titles such as “Creatures from the Black Saloon,” “Paint Me on Velvet,” “Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers On Drugs,” “Jesus Loves Me (But He Can’t Stand You)” and “Thirty Years of Lost Luggage” illustrate the Lizards’ love of wordplay and social commentary.

>> Read more…

austin lounge lizards-reverbnation

Photo by Georg  Brainard

Haunted House- Jumpin’ Gene Simmons

jumpin' gene simmons- haunted house

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Gene Simmons is remembered for his 1964 novelty hit “Haunted House,” but his career was longer and more varied than the term one-hit wonder suggests. He had only one other hit, “The Dodo,” which peaked at number 83 in the wake of “Haunted House,” but he recorded an entire album and numerous singles for Hi Records in the ’60s. The era covered by this collection, 1959-1965, found Simmons abandoning the rockabilly of his Sun years in favor of a straight rock & roll sound that edged toward soul as the ’60s wore on, with practically no hint of his former hillbilly vocal mannerisms. Simmons fell in line with other old-school rock & rollers of the early to mid-’60s who tried to stick with ’50s rock formulae (Ronnie Hawkins and Jimmy Gilmer, for example), and consequently his music was a little retrograde in the face of the British Invasion. But fans of old-fashioned rock & roll who appreciate Simmons’ history and “Haunted House” enough to splurge on this comprehensive two-disc set won’t be disappointed.

-Greg Adams,

jumpin' gene simmons

Swamp Dogg’s Hot Spot- Andre Williams

andre williams-hoods and shades-show106

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Multi-talented Zephire “Andre” Williams has worn many musical hats during his long career: recording artist, songwriter, producer, road manager, and so on. The Father of Rap was born November 1, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in a housing project by his mother, who died when Williams was six years old. Thereafter, Williams’ aunts raised the precocious lad, who had already become quite the character. The R&B legend is best known for co-writing and producing “Twine Time” for Alvin Cash & the Crawlers, “Shake a Tailfeather” by the Five Dutones, and a greasy solo recording, “Bacon Fat,” where Williams talked over a funky, crude rhythm.

A slick, street-smart, dapper Dan, music was one of Williams’ hustles. He ventured to Detroit in his late teens and befriended Jack and Devora Brown, the owners of Fortune Records. He started singing with the Don Juans, a group in which the Browns titled their 45s according to who sang lead, something Gwen Gordy and Billy Davis later did with the Voicemasters. At Fortune, Williams became adept at putting songs together. To date he has more than 230 compositions registered with BMI.


>> Read more…

-Andrew Hamilton,






“Andre Williams, ladies and gentlemen: one of the last living links to the heyday of dirty R&B, super-soul and first generation booty funk. And certainly one of the few left who still brings it like he means it, every time. He’s as real as it gets.” – Blurt


“Williams has twice the swagger and three times the guts of almost anyone a third of his age.” —Tucson Weekly


“A long, long time ago — before most of us were even alive to remember — blues,R&B and rock’n’roll were dangerous, dirty and off-limits to anyone with hopes of fitting into proper society, flitting out of the windows of skeezy juke joints and bars on the outskirts of town. It was primal. It was honest. Mostly, it was fun. Thank God Williams is around to remind us of that halcyon era.” —



Andre “Mr. Rhythm” Williams is a R&B legend, and you may not even know it. He wrote “Shake A Tail Feather,” and sang such uber-raunch cult classics as “Bacon Fat” (covered by the Cramps), “Greasy Chicken,” and the epitome of songs about little girls, “Jail Bait.” He worked at seminal labels such as Motown, Chess, and Fortune. He wrote songs for, or produced folks Ike Turner, Parliament/Funkadelic, Edwin Starr and Stevie Wonder. The guy is like music’s version of Zelig; he’s been everywhere, man. Yeah, baby.


After a few hard years in… er… retirement, he stormed back in the late 90’s with a record of smutty garage punk called Silky recorded with members of the Demolition Doll Rods and the Dirt-Bombs. Since then he has recorded with the Sadies, Jon Spencer, Two-Star Tabernacle (which included a very young Jack White) and many others. His resurgence of popularity (and notoriety) continues as he tours the world.

>> Read more…

andre williams

Zombie Attack- Eddie Martin With His Big Blues Band

eddie martin and his big blues band-looking forward looking back

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“Phenomenal..surely his time has come..A live act not to be missed” Blues Revue USA,”A Blues Master” New Jersey Times, “a wonderful musician, the most remarkable bluesman of his generation” Blues in Britain”


A roller-coaster year for Eddie Martin has seen him win Blues Act of the Year in the South West Blues Awards as well as Acoustic Artist of the Year Nomination and repeat nominations for Guitar and Harmonica Player of the Year in the British Blues Awards. His 2012 cd release has been rave-reviewed internationally (“Superb” Roots, Masterpiece” Blues in Britain, “Truly blistering guitar player” Guitarist).


Charismatic multi-instrumentalist,singer-songwriter,one man band and band leader. Martin is touring internationally in 2012/13 with his Big Band with special guest Pee Wee Ellis(ex James Brown, Etta James, Buddy Guy) promoting the new CD “Looking Forward Looking Back”, and his BIG SOUND TRIO (Jean Paul Gard hammond and bass pedals)


Martin’s constant globe-trotting and international releases over 25 years have led him to be described as “the Ambassador of British Blues”. The most prolofic UK blues artist of his generation according to the Penguin Book Of Blues Recordings he is “a master of acoustic and electric blues”.


Lovers of Rocking Dance Grooves and fans of BB King Buddy Guy and Big Band Blues will relish in particular his new “Looking Forward Looking Back” CD and its launch tour.

>> Read more…







With 12 rave-reviewed albums down, Martin has a reputation now for updating blues traditions with wit, skill and energy. “Looking Forward Looking Back” goes back further than Blues-Rock with its Hendrix/ Ray Vaughn starting points to the Electric Blues Guitar Pioneers for its inspiration.


He studied the old masters, and with new songs, arrangements and adrenalin-pumped charisma has succeeded in breathing new life into the Big Band Blues genre.


“I love the humour and stinging guitar of Johnny Guitar Watson, the guitar innovation and suave sophistication of Big Band T Bone Walker and the spontaneity and blistering slide of Elmore James. And I love the fantastic horn arrangements of all three” said Eddie in a recent interview about the album.


This is exactly what this all-original 14-track release conjures up. The sounds of the pioneers come alive again in Eddie’s skilful playing, song-writing, arranging and production work. Moving his studio into a Bristol dance hall, the band played live-to-tape on vintage and state-of-the-art gear, evoking the “space” and energy of those inspirational recordings.

>> Read more…

eddie martin-press kit(2)

Spooky- Dusty Springfield

dusty springfield-definitely

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Britain’s greatest pop diva, Dusty Springfield was also the finest white soul singer of her era, a performer of remarkable emotional resonance whose body of work spans the decades and their attendant musical transformations with a consistency and purity unmatched by any of her contemporaries; though a camp icon of glamorous excess in her towering beehive hairdo and panda-eye black mascara, the sultry intimacy and heartbreaking urgency of Springfield’s voice transcended image and fashion, embracing everything from lushly orchestrated pop to gritty R&B to disco with unparalleled sophistication and depth. She was born Mary O’Brien on April 16, 1939, and raised on an eclectic diet of classical music and jazz, coming to worship Peggy Lee; after completing her schooling she joined the Lana Sisters, a pop vocal trio which issued a few singles on Fontana before dissolving. In 1960, upon teaming with her brother Dion O’ Brien and his friend Tim Feild in the folk trio the Springfields, O’Brien adopted the stage name Dusty Springfield; thanks to a series of hits including “Breakaway,” “Bambino,” and “Say I Won’t Be There,” the group was soon the U.K.’s best-selling act.

After the Springfields cracked the U.S. Top 20 in 1962 with “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” the group traveled stateside to record in Nashville, where exposure to the emerging American girl-group and Motown sounds impacted Dusty so profoundly that in 1963 she left the Springfields at the peak of their fame to pursue a solo career.


>> Read more…


-Jason Ankeny,

dusty springfield-show106

Voodoo Woman- Koko Taylor

koko taylor-deluxe edition

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Accurately dubbed “the Queen of Chicago blues” (and sometimes just the blues in general), Koko Taylor helped keep the tradition of big-voiced, brassy female blues belters alive, recasting the spirits of early legends like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton, and Memphis Minnie for the modern age. Taylor’s rough, raw vocals were perfect for the swaggering new electrified era of the blues, and her massive hit “Wang Dang Doodle” served notice that male dominance in the blues wasn’t as exclusive as it seemed. After a productive initial stint on Chess, Taylor spent several decades on the prominent contemporary blues label Alligator, going on to win more W.C. Handy Awards than any other female performer in history, and establishing herself as far and away the greatest female blues singer of her time.

Koko was born Cora Walton on September 28, 1928, on a sharecropper’s farm in Memphis, TN. Her mother died in 1939, and she and her siblings grew up helping their father in the fields; she got the nickname “Koko” because of her love of chocolate. Koko began singing gospel music in a local Baptist church; inspired by the music they heard on the radio, she and her siblings also played blues on makeshift instruments. In 1953, Koko married truck driver Robert “Pops” Taylor and moved with him to Chicago to look for work; settling on the South Side, Pops worked in a slaughterhouse and Koko got a job as a housemaid. The Taylors often played blues songs together at night, and frequented the bustling South Side blues clubs whenever they could; Pops encouraged Koko to sit in with some of the bands, and her singing — which reflected not only the classic female blues shouters, but contemporaries Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf — quickly made a name for her.

>> Read more…


-Steve Huey,

koko taylor-show106

Monsters And Giants- Greg Brown

greg brown-bathtub blues

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Critic Josh Kun once described singer and songwriter Greg Brown as “a Midwestern existentialist hobo with a quick-draw mouth, a bloodied heart, and bourbon on his breath.” One of the leading contemporary folk artists of the American Midwest, Brown’s music reflects a poetic spirit while also sounding thoroughly down to Earth; his deep, craggy voice expresses quirky humor and the mysteries of life and love with equal skill, and over the course of a career that’s spanned more than five decades, he’s earned a passionate following for his heartfelt and uncompromising music.

Brown was born on July 2, 1949 in the Hacklebarney section of Southeastern Iowa. His mother was an English teacher who played guitar, and taught her son about both books and music; his father earned his living as an electrician and scrap metal dealer, but also preached in a Pentecostal church on Sundays. As his family traveled throughout the Midwest, Brown soaked up a broad range of musical influences: gospel, blues, country, bluegrass, classical, and rock & roll. At the age of six, he learned to play the pump organ, and soon picked up the guitar from his mother. After graduating from high school, Brown enrolled at the University of Iowa; he signed up for a talent competition and won first prize, an opening spot at a campus concert by singer/songwriter Eric Andersen.


Andersen liked Brown’s performance and told the teenager he should consider moving East and trying his hand at a career in music. Brown needed no further encouragement, and soon quit school and headed to New York, where he found a steady gig at Gerde’s Folk City, performing and running the weekly Hootenanny night.


>> Read more…


-Mark Deming,

greg brown-show69

The Witch Queen of New Orleans- Redbone

redbone- the witch queen of new orleans

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Redbone was a Los Angeles-based group led by Native American Pat and Lolly Vegas. They hit paydirt in 1974 with the million-seller “Come and Get Your Love.” Lead singers Pat and Lolly Vegas had previously worked under their own names, appearing in the 1965 film It’s a Bikini World prior to forming Redbone. Their first success as Redbone came in 1970 with “Maggie” on Epic. “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” did somewhat better the next year, and “Come and Get Your Love” gave them their largest and last hit in 1974.

-Bill Dahl,

redbone-the essential

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)- The Jimi Hendrix Experience

jimi hendrix experience- electric ladyland

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In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship — he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set his guitar on fire — has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.

When Hendrix became an international superstar in 1967, it seemed as if he’d dropped out of a Martian spaceship, but in fact he’d served his apprenticeship the long, mundane way in numerous R&B acts on the chitlin circuit. During the early and mid-’60s, he worked with such R&B/soul greats as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis as a backup guitarist. Occasionally he recorded as a session man (the Isley Brothers’ 1964 single “Testify” is the only one of these early tracks that offers even a glimpse of his future genius). But the stars didn’t appreciate his show-stealing showmanship, and Hendrix was straight-jacketed by sideman roles that didn’t allow him to develop as a soloist. The logical step was for Hendrix to go out on his own, which he did in New York in the mid-’60s, playing with various musicians in local clubs, and joining white blues-rock singer John Hammond, Jr.’s band for a while.



It was in a New York club that Hendrix was spotted by Animals bassist Chas Chandler. The first lineup of the Animals was about to split, and Chandler, looking to move into management, convinced Hendrix to move to London and record as a solo act in England. There a group was built around Jimi, also featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, that was dubbed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The trio became stars with astonishing speed in the U.K., where “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary” all made the Top Ten in the first half of 1967. These tracks were also featured on their debut album, Are You Experienced, a psychedelic meisterwerk that became a huge hit in the U.S. after Hendrix created a sensation at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967.

Are You Experienced was an astonishing debut, particularly from a young R&B veteran who had rarely sung, and apparently never written his own material, before the Experience formed. What caught most people’s attention at first was his virtuosic guitar playing, which employed an arsenal of devices, including wah-wah pedals, buzzing feedback solos, crunching distorted riffs, and lightning, liquid runs up and down the scales. But Hendrix was also a first-rate songwriter, melding cosmic imagery with some surprisingly pop-savvy hooks and tender sentiments. He was also an excellent blues interpreter and passionate, engaging singer…

>> Read more…


-Richie Unterberger,

jimi hendrix experience- electric ladyland(2)

Monster Mash- Bobby “Boris” Pickett

bobby boris pickett- the original monster mash

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Pickett is, of course, the man doing the Boris Karloff impression on the Halloween hit “Monster Mash.” He moved to L.A. in 1961 following his discharge from the army, hoping to become an actor. He joined a singing group called The Cordials, and after perfecting his Karloff voice, co-wrote “Monster Mash” with Cordials member Leonard Capizzi to take advantage of the Mashed Potato dance craze. The Crypt-Kickers were comprised of Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae, Rickie Page, and producer Gary Paxton. Pickett had a few other minor chart singles, but he will forever be known for his one massive hit.

-Steve Huey,

bobby boris pickett

Voodoo Doll- Son Of Dave

son of dave- shake a bone

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Son of Dave makes music that fuses the past and the present, as a man in a vintage suit with a harmonica shouts, stomps, and howls the blues but uses a sampler to loop human beatbox-style rhythm patterns that give his country blues-influenced tunes the gritty groove of contemporary funk and hip-hop. Son of Dave is a one-man band starring Benjamin Darvill, who had previously won an international following playing guitar and mandolin with the Canadian alternative pop band Crash Test Dummies. When Crash Test Dummies briefly relocated from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to London, England, Darvill found himself in a new city with some time on his hands, and he began working up a solo project. Darvill had frequently played harmonica with Crash Test Dummies and decided to explore his interest in blues; looking for a way to make a solo vocal/harmonica performance more interesting, he discovered the Akai Headrush, an effects pedal that made it easy to loop bits of sound on the spot. Using the Headrush, Darvill would create funk-influenced vocal patterns and use them as a backing track as he sang and blew harp over them, with an amplified stomp board added to help him keep rhythm with his feet. Taking up the stage name Son of Dave (because his father was named, you guessed it, Dave), Darvill developed a following for his frantic one-man shows, and when Crash Test Dummies’ leader Brad Roberts announced the band would abandon touring in 2006, Son of Dave became Darvill’s main project

>> Read more…


-Mark Deming,







“Chicago is famous for its dark, dangerous out-of-the-way blues dungeons, where the music invokes a synesthesia hologram of funky despair and the air is hot with excitement and the scent of Japanese businessmen. It was in just such a dive, a little hole-in-the-wall called Electrical Audio Studio B where I first encountered Son of Dave, blowing a hot electric harp and keeping time with a back porch digital looping delay…” Steve Albini (December 2009)

Following on from Son of Dave’s critically acclaimed 2008 album ‘03’, the notorious genre-alchemist returns with his latest offering ‘Shake A Bone’ recorded and mixed by Steve Albini in Chicago.  Due for UK release on March 22nd 2010 via Kartel on CD, vinyl and download.


The celebrated fusion of funk vocal-patterns with divergent rhythm-and-blues riffs and New Orleans atmosphere are relit for a fourth time under Benjamin Darvill’s moniker Son of Dave. The conspicuous songs of Darvill stem from a real ache to conquer a guitar dominated world of music with his raucous harmonica playing. Fuelled along by vocal beat-boxing, foot stomping and a medley of improvised percussion. The Son of Dave imagination concocts a wholly modern yet timeless sound reminiscent only of Son of Dave

>> Read more…

son of dave-webpage

Swamp Thing- Southern Culture On The Skids

southern culture on the skids- zombified

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True to their name, North Carolina’s Southern Culture on the Skids offers an affectionate parody of local white-trash trailer-park culture, matching their skewed outlook with a wild, careening brand of rock & roll. SCOTS’ music is a quintessentially Southern-fried amalgam of rockabilly, boogie, country, blues, swamp pop, and chitlin circuit R&B, plus a liberal dose of California surf guitar, a hint of punk attitude, and the occasional mariachi horns. Following an early incarnation as a relatively straightforward roots rock outfit, they morphed into a raucous, sleazy, tongue-in-cheek party band obsessed with sex and food; in fact, fried chicken became a crucial part of their live performances, whether it was used in eating contests or tossed into the audience. Southern Culture may play chiefly to an underground rock audience, but their gonzo tributes to the South aren’t as smug as some of their peers working similar territory, since the band has genuine roots in the area.

Southern Culture on the Skids was founded by guitarist/singer Rick Miller in the college town of Chapel Hill, NC, in 1985. Growing up, Miller had split time between Henderson, NC, where his father ran a mobile-home factory, and Southern California, where his mother lived, and where he first discovered surf and rockabilly.


>> Read more…


-Steve Huey,







Southern Culture on the Skids pay enthusiastic homage to zombies, vampires, swamp monsters, and other assorted beasties known to haunt rural drive-ins and the shelves of cut-rate video stores on Zombified, a collection of horror-themed tunes which adds a tone of tongue-in-cheek menace to the band’s trademark, twangy thunder. Musically, Zombified plays to SCOTS’ strengths, with the emphasis on Rick Miller’s fleet-fingered guitar work, as bassist Mary Huff and drummer Dave Hartman lay down a solid beat behind him, but with an extra portion of minor-key menace in the melodies, and the spook show thematics that dominate the lyrics make for a nice change of pace from the band’s usual obsession with the seedy side of Southern life. SCOTS also dip their toes into West Indian sounds on “Bloodsucker,” and they tighten up with an inspired instrumental cover of Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Sinister Purpose,” which proves to be a great showcase for Miller’s guitar work and Chris Bess’ keyboards (SCOTS version of Kip Tyler’s “She’s My Witch” is similarly impressive).


Coming from a band that often seems likely to turn into a novelty act, Zombified doesn’t exactly take this band in a more serious direction, but it is a genuine change of pace and the band takes to these songs like an undead duck to brackish water; if you’re looking for the right sounds for your next Halloween party, this should fill the bill with screams to spare.

-Mark Deming,


southern culture on the skids-show106

I Put A Spell On You- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

screamin' jay hawkins- i put a spell on you and other favorites

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Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was the most outrageous performer extant during rock’s dawn. Prone to emerging out of coffins on-stage, a flaming skull named Henry his constant companion, Screamin’ Jay was an insanely theatrical figure long before it was even remotely acceptable.

Hawkins’ life story is almost as bizarre as his on-stage schtick. Originally inspired by the booming baritone of Paul Robeson, Hawkins was unable to break through as an opera singer. His boxing prowess was every bit as lethal as his vocal cords; many of his most hilarious tales revolve around Jay beating the hell out of a musical rival.

Hawkins caught his first musical break in 1951 as pianist/valet to veteran jazz guitarist Tiny Grimes. He debuted on wax for Gotham the following year with “Why Did You Waste My Time,” backed by Grimes & His Rockin’ Highlanders (they donned kilts and tam o’ shanters on-stage). Singles for Timely (“Baptize Me in Wine”) and Mercury’s Wing subsidiary (1955’s otherworldly “[She Put The] Wamee [On Me],” a harbinger of things to come) preceded Hawkins’ immortal 1956 rendering of “I Put a Spell on You” for Columbia’s OKeh imprint.

Hawkins originally envisioned the tune as a refined ballad. After he and his New York session aces (notably guitarist Mickey Baker and saxist Sam “The Man” Taylor) had imbibed to the point of no return, Hawkins screamed, grunted, and gurgled his way through the tune with utter drunken abandon. A resultant success despite the protests of uptight suits-in-power, “I Put a Spell on You” became Screamin’ Jay’s biggest seller (“Little Demon,” its rocking flip, is a minor classic itself).

Hawkins cut several amazing 1957-1958 follow-ups in the same crazed vein — “Hong Kong,” a surreal “Yellow Coat,” the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller-penned “Alligator Wine” — but none of them clicked the way “Spell” had. DJ Alan Freed convinced Screamin’ Jay that popping out of a coffin might be a show-stopping gimmick by handing him a $300 bonus (long after Freed’s demise, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was still benefiting from his crass brainstorm)


>> Read more…


-Bill Dahl,

screamin' jay hawkins- i put a spell on you(2)

Louisiana Voodoo Queen- Back Porch Boogie Band

back porch boogie band- blue moon shine

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Born of the 70’s, on abutting back porches of the duplexes rented by Rick Hagler and Lightning Rod Nichols, The Back Porch Boogie Band cut it’s teeth on the notorious Bossier Strip in clubs like Blues Lounge, Kim’s, and The Gay 90’s. These were formative, innocent days when no one looked at you funny for playing at a club called The Gay 90’s. This was a raw, raucous band that played steady for a couple years before fading away. No one remembers why. This first BPBB break was on the backside of the 70’s.


Somewhere in south Shreveport, while Kerry Hunter ran from his mama to keep from taking a nap, friends Rick Hagler and Roland Hall formed a two piece acoustic act imaginatively called “ Hagler And Hall“. These are remembered as the dark years from which nothing good came except maybe a few good blues songs. The two played until they weren’t needed and then somehow, by some fateful coincidence, Hagler, Hall, and Nichols ended up living within a few doors of each other. Picking resumed in earnest and with Roland on the porch, a better more distinctive sound began to develop. The music was maturing. It was getting good. It wasn’t long before the boys were not content playing on the back porch. The music needed a stage. The band needed a drummer. Kerry Hunter had made it to 17 by now and was playing in places in which he wasn’t old enough to be. He was already earning his reputation as a solid drummer and a remarkable vocalist. The conversation from the first meeting of the four on a break at one such gig resulted in a session for the following week. Thirty minutes and six songs into that session all four knew there was something special afoot. The Back Porch Boogie Band was born again.


The band quickly found it’s stage with one club hiring the band away from the other. It was this period that produced “Cranking Up”, the band’s first album of originals. Great songs, sold well at shows, and almost went aluminum.  A lot of good times and great music flowed from this period creating a close bond between the boogie men, a bond that time wouldn’t fade. Looking back, the band realizes they had missed some opportunities to get on the national stage, but that’s another story. The band played constantly and built a strong, loyal fan base. This was a good run for the band. It lasted nearly four years. Then the band took it’s next break. This was 1982. It would be a long break. Everyone kept playing, separately, in top notch bands, and the years snuck by and rolled over into decades. From time to time there was talk of getting the band back together but it always just seemed like wishful thinking.


FAST FORWARD – FALL 2008: Hagler and Nichols are writing and recording and missing the old band more than ever. At the same time, just 20 miles south, Roland Hall is doing the same with performing and recording partner Rick McLaurin, keyboardist extraordinaire. Roland, as though he was waiting for the call, immediately and enthusiastically signed on to the project. A visit with Kerry Hunter ensued, on a break at a gig, of course, (we’ve got to quit meeting like this). The Back Porch Boogie Band lives .


>> Read more…

back porch boogie band

Big Joe And Phantom 309- Tom Waits

tom waits-nighthawks at the diner

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In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice. From the ’80s on, his work became increasingly theatrical as he moved into acting and composing. Growing up in Southern California, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and was signed by him at the beginning of the 1970s, resulting in the material later released as The Early Years and The Early Years, Vol. 2. His formal recording debut came with Closing Time (1973) on Asylum Records, an album that contained “Ol’ 55,” which was covered by labelmates the Eagles for their On the Border album. Waits attracted critical acclaim and a cult audience for his subsequent albums, The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), the two-LP live set Nighthawks at the Diner (1975), Small Change (1976), Foreign Affairs (1977), Blue Valentine (1978), and Heart Attack and Vine (1980). His music and persona proved highly cinematic, and, starting in 1978, he launched parallel careers as an actor and as a composer of movie music.

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-William Ruhlmann,







For his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits set up a nightclub in the studio, invited an audience, and cut a 70-minute, two-LP set of new songs. It’s an appropriate format for compositions that deal even more graphically and, for the first time, humorously with Waits’ late-night world of bars and diners. The love lyrics of his debut album had long since given way to a comic lonely-guy stance glimpsed in “Emotional Weather Report” and “Better Off Without a Wife.” But what really matters is the elaborate scene-setting of songs like the six-and-a-half-minute “Spare Parts,” the seven-and-a-half-minute “Putnam County,” and especially the 11-and-a-half-minute “Nighthawk Postcards” that are essentially poetry recitations with jazz backing. Waits is a colorful tour guide of midnight L.A., raving over a swinging rhythm section of Jim Hughart (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums), with Pete Christlieb wailing away on tenor sax between paragraphs and Mike Melvoin trading off with Waits on piano runs. You could call it overdone, but then, this kind of material made its impact through an accumulation of miscellaneous detail, and who’s to say how much is too much?

-William Ruhlmann,

tom waits

Eye Of The Zombie- John Fogerty

john fogerty-eye of the zombie

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John Cameron Fogerty achieved fame as the lead singer/songwriter and guitarist in Creedence Clearwater Revival and has since gone on to a chart-topping solo career. Born in Berkeley, California, Fogerty and his brother Tom organized the group that would become Creedence as the Golliwogs in the late ’50s. As Creedence, they released nine Top Ten singles, all written by Fogerty, between 1969 and 1971, starting with the standard “Proud Mary.” They also scored eight gold albums between 1968 and 1972, all fueled by Fogerty’s simple, driving rock songs and his burly baritone, intoning deceptively poetic (“Bad Moon Rising”) and even political (“Fortunate Son”) lyrics.


Creedence split up in 1972. Fogerty at first confused his considerable following by releasing an album of covers, on which he played all the instruments, under the name the Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973. This was followed by a formal solo album, John Fogerty, in 1975, and then silence for more than nine years while the artist worked out business problems with Creedence’s old label. But Fogerty returned at the end of 1984 with a Top Ten single, “The Old Man Down the Road,” and a number one album, Centerfield. Eye of the Zombie was a less successful follow-up in 1986. Following the failure of Eye of the Zombie, Fogerty went into seclusion. For the next 11 years he remained quiet, finally resurfacing in 1997 with Blue Moon Swamp; the live Premonition appeared just a year later.

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-William Ruhlmann,

john fogerty-show106

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