Thursday, December 11, 2014

Another Semester Ends With A Bang

Just had a really nice end to the semester and our Music, Identity, and Social Life course. One of my students plays on the IU Women's Basketball team and the game last night vs. IPFW was also their Faculty Appreciation Night. Each member of the team got to pick their favorite instructor(s) and I was mighty honored to be among the fifteen or so faculty/employee honored at halftime. 

It was a really fun game to watch (an 80-37 blowout victory), enjoyed with fantastic company (thanks again Langston Collin Wilkins!), and it was awesome to discover that my student was the star of the team, signing autographs for all the kids after the game, and even had her picture on all the concession stand cups. 

Way to go, Taylor! Thanks again for a great semester in class and thanks also for the super nice end-of-semester shout out!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

S.E.M. Part I: My many thanks to Craig Gill & University Press of Mississippi

I had a great time in Pittsburgh last week at The Society for Ethnomusicology national conference and I plan to make a few posts about the recent trip. Consider this post here to be Part I. Beyond simply meeting with several brilliant scholars, hearing many interesting papers, and meeting lots of other talented future faculty/professionals (not to mention some real fun record hunting expeditions at Jerry's Records), I also had the privilege to meet up once again with one of the key people most responsible for making The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built a reality-- University Press of Mississippi Editor-In-Chief, Craig Gill. According to Craig, the press is very pleased with the Starday book's success and it remains one of their best sellers! Hooray!

Craig, thanks again for everything that you do on behalf of this book including promoting it at various national conferences like SEM all across the country! I am mighty proud to be associated with U. Press of Mississippi and continually thankful that they took a chance on this idea and contributed so much to making it happen!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Switchyard Comes to Indiana University!

I'd like to take a moment to publicly thank Laura Wanner and Tim Baker for coming to our Music, Identity, and Social Life class today at Indiana University to talk about their roles in creating and operating The Switchyard. You guys are awesome and it was fun to see so many students attentive and interested in alternatives to mainstream music and how these house concerts promote and sustain community. 

We've been having some great discussions in class about DIY music scenes and social action in Canada, Morocco, Brazil, and Indonesia, but it was really great to bring those concepts to a local level and focus on our own backyard Bloomington, IN gem for acoustic house concerts and potluck dinners--where Sunday night dinner meets back porch picking! As Tim says, "If you already know about the Switchyard, well then you're cool. And if you don't... then you're about to get cool." The next throwdown is Sunday Nov. 16 and I hope y'all can make it out and experience the magic for yourself. More details can be found here:

Thanks again, Tim & Laura (and thanks also to Kurt Baer for taking photos)!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy 30th Anniversary to Goofin' Records!

Today I'm wishing a HUGE Happy 30th Anniversary to Pete Hakonen and his Goofin' Records label.

[Pete Hakonen and I, August 2014]

For the past 30 years Goofin' has been releasing some of the best country, rockabilly, bluegrass, rautalanka, western swing, and rock and roll from Finland and around the world (discography here: Today is the big 3-0 celebration in Helsinki with High Noon, Wildfire Willie & the Ramblers, The Fanatic IV, Vesa snygg sekรค satelliitti-yhtye, and DJ Bill Smoker

Wish I could be there to celebrate with y'all, but instead my internet congrats from afar will have to suffice. Pete, thanks again for your friendship, your warm welcome to Finland and everything you did to help me get acclimated, as well as welcoming me into the Goofin' family. Kiitos paljon! I'm mighty proud of our last release together and I look forward to many more projects in the future.

[Goofin GRCD 6177, The Starday Sessions]

For those unfamiliar with the great Goofin' legacy, you can stream or download DJ Bill Smoker's excellent 5-part podcast exploring the label here:

I also produced one podcast all about Goofin' artists covering Starday artists and the parallels between the two labels here:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A World Series Lineup of Kansas City-Themed Country Music Songs

So, I recently got into one of those pointless online debates with a mutual friend of my pal Thomas Grant Richardson. Thomas, who works at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, solicited the advice of his Facebook friends to “help me pick a team for the World Series.” Knowing that he likes country music, I attempted to appeal to his musical taste as a way of winning over a new Royals fan. Despite the obvious food advantage (BBQ is WAY better than Rice-A-Roni!), I suggested that there were easily more country music songs about KC than there were about Frisco. Perhaps I was choosing to be willfully ignorant of the large mass of San Francisco-themed country songs, or perhaps I was just nostalgic for my days growing up in Kansas, but either way it was just one of those unresearched gut-feelings filled with “truthiness” and everything that is right in the world. Thomas's friend disagreed and suggested that I had “far overstate[d]” my assumption.

Well, as I don’t really have time to research all the country music songs that are either about or mention Kansas City, as I think that list would be HUGE, I thought I’d just go ahead and make a lineup of the strongest Kansas City-Themed Country Music Songs that I could find and see if anyone else can make a San Francisco Country Music Song lineup that matches up! Dare ye to take the challenge? I’m sure a good one can be made and I’d love to see a comparison in anticipation of Tuesday’s big Game One!

1. Lead-off tune. The Royals are known for their speed, so this one’s gotta be quick… I’ll go with Merle Travis’ “Kansas City Blues” from his Unissued Radio Shows, 1944-1948 CD. At 1 minute and 40 seconds, this tune is QUICK and to the point!
2. Batting second, I need a free-swinger to get the line-up moving… Bob Wills is about the most swinging thing in country music, so I’ll go with his rockin’ version of “Kansas City” from Bear Family's  Faded Love 1947-1973 box set [CD9]. (Though the swinging duet version by George Jones and Johnny Paycheck gets an honorable mention if a pinch-hitter is needed.)
3. Batting third, if I am to match KC’s lineup, I need a lefty in here to mix it up, so I’ll go with Flatt and Scruggs’ “Kansas City” from their A Boy Named Sue album. (In this case, “lefty” being a not-so-subtle reference to Earl Scruggs’ left-leaning politics.)
4. Batting clean-up I need a heavy hitter, and Buck Owens had a #2 Billboard smash hit with his “The Kansas City Song” on Capitol 2783.
5. And of course, every good line-up has to have a big hitter backing up the clean-up spot, so I’ll go with Roger Miller’s 1965 Top 10 hit “Kansas City Star” on Smash 1998.
6. For the 6-spot, I’ll go back to the mid-80s, the last time KC was relevant in either the baseball or country music charts, with Steve Wariner’s #15 hit “Kansas City Lights.”
7. But of course, this year’s Royals team is defined by its youth, so for the seventh spot I’ll pencil in Crazy Joe and his Mad River Outlaws. Crazy Joe was just 28 years old when he released “Kansas City Baby” on his The King of Nerd-A-Billy album, coincidentally the same age as the average of all players on the Royals’ 40-man roster. (, accessed 10-21-14)
8. At the bottom of the order there’s generally more speed, so I’ll follow Crazy Joe with the excellent speedy (read: up-tempo), swinging “Kansas City Kitty,” by Dave Stuckey and the Rhythm Gang, from their Get A Load of This CD.
9. And because the Royals have been eeking out their 1-run victories thanks to their speedy base-running, I’ll go with another speedster in the 9-hole: One of the fastest pickers in all of country music, Mr. Joe Maphis and his “Kansas City Shuffle” from his Starday LP King of the Strings.

Now that there’s a speedy, young country music lineup with some heavy-hitters thrown in for good measure. Here's hoping someone is up to the challenge of making a lineup to face-off against it. I know there are indeed a lot of good country San Francisco songs. I checked iTunes and there are roughly 120 “San Francisco” or “Frisco” songs in the country-related genres (compared to roughly 150 “Kansas City” songs in similar genres), so to all of my San Francisco fan/country music-loving friends, I’d love to see how your Lineup of Frisco-Themed Country Music Songs compares #1-9!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

High-Res Starday Album Covers Have Been Posted To the Starday Story Facebook Page

Howdy internet... I just posted some higher res versions of the first 100 Starday album covers ever made over on my The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built page. Feel free to check 'em out if you're into that sort of thing. And while you're there, please feel free to give the ol' Starday book page a 'like' if you're so inclined. It's just a wee shy of 1,000 likes milestone at the moment and I'm trying to keep it up to date with new posts once a week or so. Thanks for your continued support! - Ndg

The actual link:

SLP 101 - George Jones

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Final Kanesville Update (At Least For A Little While)...

Yesterday I took a second jaunt back over to my favorite record shop, Tim Behren’s Kanesville Kollectibles, to take just one more quick look around at everything I missed the last time. I didn’t have as much time as I did the previous go-round, but I did manage to find a few more gems in a yet undiscovered (by me) corner of the shop, including one of my all-time favorite 45s: “Rhythm and Booze” by Corky Jones (aka Buck Owens). Great stuff! One of my favorite things to collect is the one or two-off rockabilly records by strictly country singers and I was mighty happy to find a cheap copy of Buck's classic (thanks again, Tim)! Thrilled I was as well to add several more killer rockabilly, western swing, honky-tonk, and R&B platters to the collection. And in case anyone is not yet convinced that they should take a trip to western Iowa to do some record digging, here’s the short list of 45s I found today in short time and on a short budget…

Corky Jones – Rhythm and Booze / Hot Dog – Pep 45107
Ruth Brown – Hello Little Boy – Atlantic 1027
Clarence White – Tuff and Stringy – Bakersfield International 1003
Billy Gray – Country and Western Dance-O-Rama No. 7 Pt. 1 – Decca 2233 (with cover)
Spade Cooley – Country and Western Dance-O-Rama No. 3 Pt. 2 – Decca 2226 (with cover)
Elvis Presley – Milkcow Blues Boogie – RCA 6382
Dave Stogner – Western Dance in HiFi EP – Decca 2589 (with cover)
Elvis Presley – King Creole EP – RCA 4321
Kelly Gordon – A Phonograph Record – Mercury 72136
Cliffie Stone – Barracuda – Capitol 3131
Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To) – King 6229
The Olympics – Western Movies – Demon 1508
The Premiers – Farmer John – WB 5443
Barry Martin – Got A Whole Lot of Loving To Do – RCA 7834
Pearl Bailey – I Can’t Rock and Roll to Save My Soul – Mercury 70926
Faron Young – I Can’t Dance – Capitol 3898
The Treniers – Rock’n’Roll Call – Epic 5-9144
Ray Stevens – Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills – Mercury 71843
And since I didn’t post many photos of the top floor last time around, here are some recent pictures of the top floor—
another pic of the chaotic 45 room (just because it makes me smile)

the dollar country LP room...

the dollar rock LP room...

and the everything else dollar LP room (impossible to get a good angle of this room that shows everything in here)...

And I’ll add a pic of the first floor jazz section too, just to give y'all a contrast of how well this place is organized on the first floor…

OK. See y'all next time in Council Bluffs, IA!