Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nate Gibson & Jerry Miller's Country Song Roundup 3-12-14

Yee-Haw! It looks like I get to take break from writing in just about a month. Jerry Miller and I are gonna have us a party at the Players Pub (424 S. Walnut Ave, Bloomington, IN), Wednesday March 12th from 6:30-9:30 pm [Early Show]... Hope to see some of y'all there!! 


$5 cover gets you entertained! Sweet, tasty jams... Western Swing, Honky-Tonk, Rockabilly, Instrumental, Classic Country, Country & Western, Hillbilly, Lonesome Bop, Twist Music, Rhythm & Blues, Rock'n'Roll, Surf, Bakersfield, Cat Music, A-Go-Go, Exotica, and more!!

Plus, you could win a date with ELVIS PRESLEY!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from Hoss Allen and Myself

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to everyone. I thought this might be a good day to share with everyone "He Went to the Mountain Top," an extremely rare Starday tribute to MLK by famed WLAC disc jockey Bill "Hoss" Allen. Allen, widely known in the '60s for creating and hosting the legendary The !!!! Beat TV show (one of my favorite shows!!) and DJing at the highest wattage clear channel R&B radio station (WLAC, Nashville), recorded this tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Starday Sound Studios in Nashville, TN. Most of the releases of this record were white-label promos with the flipside Earl Gaines track released on both sides. After looking for it for nearly 10 years, I finally tracked down a copy with the Allen track on the flip and just today uploaded it to YouTube.

Recorded in early '68, shortly after King's assassination in April of that year, by Hoss Allen with Billy Cox on bass and possibly Skippy Brooks or Ray Valentine on piano and/or organ.

During the mid to late '60s Allen was recording and producing R&B, blues, and soul sessions at the Starday Sound Studio nearly every weekend, as well as renting out office space at the Starday offices for his Rogana production company. The Allen-produced recordings were made at the Starday Studios (as well as a few others) and then leased to a slew of other independent labels including Excello, Copa, Bragg, Rich, Hit Sound, Chess, Sound Stage 7, and later Allen's own Hermitage label to name just a few. Allen's presence around the Starday offices even convinced Don Pierce to revive his Hollywood R&B label.

Just prior to his involvement with Starday, Pierce bought the Hollywood label from R&B mogul John Dolphin in L.A. (for more on this, check out Chapter One in the Starday Story). Though Pierce wasn't really personally invested in the label (he just funded it), the early R&B hits on this label helped to keep Starday afloat during the very early years ('53-54). John Dolphin continued to produce most of the Hollywood recording sessions until he was murdered in 1958. As a side note, I remember Don telling me how shook up he was about this because a.) John was his friend and b.) it was just a year or so after he had moved to Nashville from L.A. and he had given his old office space, desk, and chair to John Dolphin and it was while he was sitting at in Don's old office and at his old desk that John was murdered by Percy Ivy, a songwriter upset by the lack of royalties he had received.

After 1958, the Hollywood label became mostly dormant. It wasn't until the mid '60s, when Allen began renting office space in the Starday offices, that Pierce decided to revive the label and with a new look (the rainbow logo). Twenty-four outstanding soul and blues singles were released on the Hollywood label before Pierce merged his Starday label with the King label and sold them as a package deal. This particular MLK tribute, like many of the Rogana productions, was released on the new-look Hollywood label, which clearly stated at the bottom of the label that it was a product of Starday Records. The flip side was another tribute to MLK, 'Our Friend Is Gone,' written by Allen and performed by Allen's close friend and R&B legend Earl Gaines. Allen's vocal side, a rarity in his long career in the music business, was written by Jim Thomas and credited to "A. Friend" for the release.

Enjoy, and Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, all!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kanesville Record Heaven and a Sweet Larry Edwards 45 Find

On my drive home today I decided to stop by and visit the Kanesville Used Records shop in Council Bluffs, IA. I've been told by dozens of people over the years to go and check this place out and, lo and behold, it did not disappoint! If anybody is within driving distance of Omaha/Council Bluffs, I highly recommend this record heaven and can't wait to go back. Right when I walked in I met with the owner, Tim Behrens, who was proudly wearing his snazzy Starday western shirt. I knew right then that it was going to be a good place. Then he offered me some home baked pumpkin bread. That's when I knew it was going to be a great place.

Though I could only stay for a short time (I never even had a chance to see the second floor or the basement-- one could literally spend weeks here and not see it all), I did manage to find, scattered among the million plus items in stock, several incredible and cheap records including one rare Starday 45 I had never seen before.

Ohio-born Larry Edwards recorded two 45s for the Nashville subsidiary label in 1965 before seeing his 3rd Tommy Hill-produced single released on the Starday main label in 1966 (and included on a few Starday compilation LPs as well). I've had the other two 45s for years but could never seem to track down his elusive "Making the Rounds" disc, which was my favorite of the three. Fortunately for me, I found it buried in one of the first stacks I picked up at Kanesville-- and it was only $0.80! Great tune, great price, great find!

Check it out here:

Whilst trying to find out a little more about Larry online, I discovered that he has two albums up on CD Universe ( The Greatest Hits album includes all six of his original Starday sides and he even wrote his own artist bio to go with them. For those of you interested in Larry's music and story, I'll leave it up to him to tell the rest of the story:

"Born March 26, 1931. Parents William and Minnie (Bernice) Edwards. Birthplace - Delaware, Ohio. Moved to Marion, Ohio at age of four. Started singing at four and a half. First song - "Old Shep" - sang at school functions and family gatherings. I learned to play guitar in my teens. My first professional job was in a bar, at age fifteen, which meant one of my parents had to be with me at all times. Joined U.S. Navy in 1951- spent four years as a Naval Aviation Metalsmith, attaining the rank of Second Class Petty Officer in November, 1955, shortly before leaving the service. After returning to Marion, I formed a band, "The Dude Ranch Boys" which consisted of my brother Chilly, who played steel guitar, and a distant cousin, Jack Kerwood, who played fiddle. A few months later we added bass to our group, played by my older brother, Foryst, who used the name "Rosebud" on stage. We played for various amateur shows, radio gigs for the fair, and at dances. In the spring of 1959, I took a tape of one of our performances to an audition for the Ohio Jamboree, which had recently started under the management of Clay Eager. He was a former member of the Midwestern Hayride, and then a D.J. on WMNI Radio in Columbus, Ohio. We became regulars on the show. I cut my first record soon after, a song called "World of Make Believe" (included in my 2007 Album "Greatest Hits"). We then moved to a similar show in Marion, Ohio called the Marion County Jamboree. Through the 1960's I made several more records for various labels. I recorded eight songs in 1964 and 1966, two of which were released, under Starday Record label. The songs were "Over the Wall" and "The Thirteenth Month of Next Year", the latter song I wrote hit national charts. Some of the others became hits in different local spots throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan. In 1974, due to the ill health of my daughter, we moved to Phoenix. i was out of the music business for a few years but returned as a bass player and band leader. My band has had various names throughout the years, mostly back east as The Dude Ranch Boys and locally in Phoenix as "The Country Tradition". In 1978 I returned to recording doing, "Twice the Woman You Are", b/w "I Can't Stop Crying Long Enough to Laugh" for a Nashville Recording Studio, under the name of Rocky Roads. In 1986 I returned to Columbus, Ohio for a four song recording session at Rome records. These were the last recordings until the fall of 2007 when I cut a 24 song album, 12 old songs - 12 new. Nineteen songs were written by me, one by my brother Chilly, "I Walk the Streets In Darkness". Chilly had retired from the music profession, but came out of retirement to do the excellent steel guitar work on my new album. I am the father of four fine daughters; Eileen, Elaine, Annette, Arlene, and two sons, Roger and Rick, all of whom I am extremely proud. Unfortunately, I lost Rick due to an accident and Annette of cancer. The others are all happily married and I am a proud grandpa and great grandpa. The love of my life is Louise (Lou) Myers, also my Business Manager."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wa-hoo! The first course is officially in the books!

Well friends, my first semester of teaching is officially in the books and I can honestly say that I absolutely loved it. There was certainly a learning curve involved with the job (particularly in terms of how much time goes in to preparing and executing a brand new course), but the semester was filled with incredible guest speakers and interesting student papers and I still can’t believe that I got paid to teach about country music around the world. It’s been a sweet gig and I am happy to announce that I have been invited me back to teach the same course again this spring!

I’d like to take just a moment to sincerely thank both Indiana University and the Global Village Living-Learning Center for providing me with this opportunity. Specifically, I’d like to thank Dr. Jeff Holdeman, director of the Global Village, for his tireless work promoting the course to new students and student-advisors, his always creative pedagogy tips, and for sharing his wisdom and experience to help make this course be the best that it can be. Similarly, I’d like to thank Dr. James Akenson and Dr. David McDonald for their encouraging and thoughtful feedback during the early stages of the course design.

Despite my nervousness about returning from Finland just days before the semester began, it all seemed to come together in the end. Our course met twice a week, focusing on country music in the United States one day, then looking at international influences and global permutations of country music (in the broadest sense of the word) the next. This structure made for some excellent in-class discussions and we even had a chance to talk with our primary text’s author, Dr. Jocelyn Neal. As fortune would have it, she was a visiting scholar at IU's Jacobs School of Music for one week this semester and I was overjoyed when she accepted my invitation to come and meet with our class to discuss her chapter on bluegrass music. Thank you again Professor Neal. Your teaching style is incredibly inspirational and I took a lot of great tips from that lecture and our after-class milkshake!

Country Music & the World students with Patterson Hood

From a guest speaker standpoint, it really was a magical semester. I’m indebted to so many friends who took time out of their busy schedules to come and talk with our class about their craft and country music. In addition to Professor Neal’s surprise lecture, we had the opportunity to Skype with world-class Finnish bluegrass musician Jussi Syren and discuss many of the differences between bluegrass music in the United States and bluegrass music in Finland. Then we watched the 2003 Grammy-nominated documentary, ‘Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly,’ and followed it up with a fun Q&A with the film’s producer and director, Beth Harrington (who is also a fantastic singer and former member of one of my all-time favorite bands—Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers). We were then joined in the classroom by Indiana rockabilly legend (and all-around fantastic person) Art Adams to talk about all things rockabilly, rebellion, and European revival. Shortly thereafter we were joined in class by Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, who was passing through town on a busy tour schedule. In between the bus arriving and the band’s soundcheck, Patterson took time out of his day to talk with us about all things southern rock (and Southern Rock Opera), alt-country, socially conscious songwriting, country-soul music, as well as just plain ol’ rock and roll. Then finally we capped off our movie series watching Dr. Lee Bidgood’s Banjo Romantika, a really great film about bluegrass music in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Words don’t seem to do justice in expressing my gratitude to these fine folks, but Professor Neal, Jussi, Beth, Art, Patterson, and Lee: Thank you kindly from the bottom of my heart!

Art Adams lecturing in the classroom

Last but not least I’d like to thank the fifteen brave student souls who enrolled in my class. I greatly appreciate all the energy and thought they put into our discussions and readings and I am mighty proud of their work, especially on their final research papers which addressed different aspects of country music in various countries. Those papers were phenomenal and I loved reading about their country music discoveries in Vietnam, Australia, Italy, Mexico, Korea, England, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Japan.

These kinds of courses don’t happen without the help and encouragement from a lot of different people and I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my academic career to have people in my corner rooting for me along the way. I’m excited now to finally be making the switch to teaching my own classes where I can now be in a position to help students by being that person in their corner. And in that spirit, if any of my students ever need any recommendations or seek advice about future projects or classes, please do drop me a line and say, ‘Howdy!’ And to the University: Bring on round two!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hyvää Itsenäisyyspäivää minun suomalaiselle ystäviälle! / Happy Independence Day to my Finnish Friends!

A poem for my Finnish friends on Finnish Independence Day: 

(kuva on Vaasasta kun mä asuin siellä 2011:n kesänä)

oh finland.
i am glad you are free.
hooray for finland.
strong finland.
mighty finland.
triumphant finland.
not boastful finland.
finland of joy.
but finland of not overly celebrating said joy.
but still happy.
for the most part.
most of the time.
certainly the summertime.
but free year round.
most importantly, free.
from russia.
not part of russia.
not anymore.
just finland.
all by itself.
well, part of europe.
and the eu.
and scandinavia.
but mostly by itself.
and yeah,
some of it went to russia.
but it had to be.
and so finland exists.
as finland.
so, celebration.
but reserved celebration.
maybe some candles.
and solemn songs sung in unison in public squares.
but its cold outside
so not for long.
best to head home
to watch the party at the president's house.
no fireworks.
not a lot of flag waving.
no suomi flag sunglasses or bikinis.
just elegant parties.
occasionally with angry birds dresses.
and class acts.
and celebrities
whom people hope will do something outrageous
but they usually don't
because its finnish independence day
and finnish independence is reserved
and not outlandish.
but simple.
because freedom.
is to be celebrated.
within reason.
and long live

Saturday, October 26, 2013

And A Grand Ole Time Was Had By All...

Howdy friends...

Just though I'd make a quick post to spread the YouTube love and thank everyone who came out last week to hear Jerry Miller and I pick through some of our favorite tunes. Joined on stage by Mike Lee and Tim Moore, as well as special guests Leon Chance and Betsy Shepard, we picked through some tasty rockabilly, honky-tonk, and western swing favorites. In time, I'm sure more videos will appear but for now I can provide links to at least two vids... Thanks to Meghan Smith and Erin Lee for taking the time to make the vids and pass them along to me. Enjoy!

How Come You Do Me (Like You Do Do Do) - from our latest CD, The Starday Sessions, on Goofin' Records (available here:


Remington Ride - this one's not on it, but Jerry does have a brand new solo CD, New Road Under My Wheels, from Signature Sounds (available here:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don Pierce and T. Tex Tyler in 1966

Well, I'm currently going through old magazines to research international country music and I just stumbled across this cool pic of Starday chief Don Pierce and T. Tex Tyler from the '67 issue of Billboard's World of Country Music. Don had produced many of Tyler's early hits for 4 Star Records back in the '40s and later signed Tyler to record one album for Starday in '66. I remember Don telling me about first trying to sell records by Tyler (and also the Maddox Brothers and Rose) around Bakersfield in the late '40s and that's what got him forever hooked on country music. In this particular article Pierce says, "Both Pappy [Daily] and I got a lesson--we decided to devote our careers to the country field, and this never would have happened were it not for Tyler."