Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More Kanesville Koolness... Record Score and Playlist Included!

Today I took a few moments out of my day to venture out across state borders to visit my favorite record shop in the States, Tim Behren's Kanesville Kollectibles in Council Bluffs, Iowa. A big part of me says, don't tell anybody else about this gem of a store because I'd like to go back there and buy everything in it. Yet another part of me says that I should tell everyone I know about this place so that they all go and support Tim's shop. I guess the latter argument wins out at the end of the day. Seriously, if you've never been, and you dig vinyl, it's well worth a road trip. There are three floors of records as well as some music books, comics, DVDs, record players, assorted audio gear, tapes, and CDs... all in all, more than a million kollectibles (though to be fair, can we really call a Dora Hall 45 a "kollectible?").

I love this store and I've posted about it before on this blog (see my Jan. 7, 2014 "Kanesville Record Heaven" entry for a picture of the main floor), but the rest of the shop is equally intriguing. Basically, the first floor is the main floor-- the 45s and LPs that are all graded, priced, and categorized. The basement floor, of which one small portion is photographed below, is dedicated to 78s...



And the second floor is the dollar floor... An entire room filled to the brim with dollar country LPs (man, I love this room!), a whole room full of dollar rock LPs, a massive room of dollar "other" LPs... and then there's this:



And no, I didn't go in that room... Today I didn't even make it out of the first floor, and I really didn't even cover more than one tiny corner of the first floor, but I did found some killer bargains. I've been excited to go to Kanesville for a little while now because I saw on Facebook last week that Tim had acquired approximately 1,000 early country and bluegrass LPs. The collection is indeed impressive and it seems like he's got just about every bluegrass LP that ever was made for sale... I pulled out a stack of about 20 that I wanted to buy... but then I found a few boxes of country 45s... Yikes! Once again I found so many great ones that I just couldn't pass up, that I had to put most of the LPs back on the shelf (lucky for all you bluegrass and early country collectors out there, particularly those who dig early King original LPs!).

In case anybody is curious about what I found today (or rather, what I could afford of the gems that I found), here's a photo of my latest haul (not including the LPs) and YouTube links so you can hear almost everything for yourself. There are some real exciting 45s in the bunch for those who dig rockabilly, honky-tonk, hillbilly bop, and western swing. I also pawed through a couple boxes of empty sleeves and managed to find about 20 Starday sleeves and about 80 others for which I've been looking. Stellar day indeed!



The Finds:
Johnny Carroll - Rock'n'Roll Ruby - Decca 29940 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JGadS6SGHo
Grady Martin - Country & Western Dance-O-Rama EP - Decca 2231 (with pic sleeve)
Bobby Roberts - I'm Gonna Comb You Outta My Hair - King 4837 (promo w/ sleeve) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdgQl7ot4Yg
Bob Wills - So Let's Rock - Decca 29909 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANv6SF_Yv1I
John D. Loudermilk - Susie's House - Columbia 41165 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaC3svY7eRg
Hank Penny - You're Bound To Look Like A Monkey - RCA 4633 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqH3lf6Y4zE
Bob Luman - Boston Rocker EP - WB 5506 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNCgM6QB0e4
Webb Pierce - Teenage Boogie - Decca 30045 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWMvxfTe7h4
T. Texas Tyler - He Done Her Wrong - Decca 28544
Merle Travis - Louisiana Boogie - Capitol 2902 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMiV-dd64bA
Bobby Lord - Sack - Columbia 41155 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmpw9rfYmuA
Johnny Horton - I Won't Forget - Mercury 70014
Wanda Jackson - Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad - Capitol 3575 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNjI1HwiXiE
Eddie Cochran - Summertime Blues - Liberty 55144 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZZD8ckwLJA
Del Reeves w/ Chester Smith - Love, Love, Love - Capitol 3819
Bob Newman - Haulin' Freight - King 5216 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRsS5IFMfU
Werly Fairburn - Baby He's A Wolf - Capitol 2770 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n69J4_Oocfg
Sheb Wooley - Humdinger - MGM 12114 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx8f6V8VaXQ
Charline Arthur - Just Look, Don't Touch, He's Mine - RCA 6428 (2 copies)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQexFqgbyys
Johnny Horton - Honky Tonk Man - Columbia 42302 (picture sleeve) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pRJ9y5n5_g
Floyd Robinson - Makin' Love - RCA 7529 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfekMAea1GU
Elvis Presley - Mystery Train - RCA 6357 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_eE0NPArEY
Red Foley - Pinball Boogie - Decca 29100 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8kfzfEkxd0
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Rock City Boogie - Capitol 1911 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIPy2aESr1o
Ernest Tubb - Thirty Days (To Come Back Home) - Decca 29731 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EyUQQs5AoM
Merle Travis - Cannon Ball Rag - Capitol 2245 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES3ZbCO_FLs
Patsy Cline - Walking Dream - Decca 30542 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sre_ZEywlhg
Johnnie and Jack - Camel Walk Stroll - RCA 7137 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4YvfiT3kI8
Wynn Stewart - Uncle Tom Got Caught - Challenge 59061 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByZRGeY3lmQ
Faron Young - Honey Stop! (And Think Of Me) - Capitol 3805 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HT9d-EoLGo
Carl Belew - Cool Gator Shoes - Decca 30947 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lEAkVIqoKc
Elvis Presley - My Baby Left Me - RCA 6540 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR8sxX0GoFo
Hank Thompson - Rockin' In the Congo - Capitol 3623 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DE8CCpeghEU
Red Foley - The Hoot Owl Boogie - Decca 29894 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xol-Dnx2OPQ
Lefty Frizzell - You're Humbuggin' Me - Columbia 41268 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN0Ij1S79_0
The Louvin Brothers - Cash on the Barrel Head - Capitol 3523 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tFrPWNU08Q

Also included in the haul were the 100+ sleeves (including 20 Starday sleeves!), the record case, and 4 LPs  including a clean copy of Faron Young's The Cold Hard Facts of Life and a couple Starday LPs I didn't have. And just in case anybody is afraid that I bought up all the goodies, know that I didn't even have a chance to paw through 99% of the first floor... And as much as I'd like to keep this place a well-known secret for me and me alone, I'd also love to help Tim out and see my friends rake some similar hauls. I also believe in record karma, so if you know any good places like this that I should be checking out, please do let me know! So that said... if you dig records, go to Kanesville Kollectibles in Council Bluffs, IA. You will definitely be glad you did. And I'd be mighty appreciative if you let 'em know how you heard about it!

Dig!
-Nate

Monday, July 28, 2014

Global Business Institute 2014

Well friends, the 2014 Global Business Institute is now officially in the books and I want to take a moment to publicly thank the wonderful staff of the Institute for International Business (specifically, Sara Reeves for hiring me), the Program Assistant staff (Andrew Davis, Patrick Ferguson, Sara Nehring, and Lindsey Pullum) for doing such an extraordinary job this summer, and all of the students who participated in GBI this year. 


For those of you not yet in the know, the Global Business Institute is an academically-rigorous, competitive business program that culls together approximately 100 students (from many thousands of applicants) from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, and Tunisia. Students submit a business plan that they believe will help their country and they are selected based on the originality and feasibility of their project ideas (among other considerations). The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Coca-Cola Company, and Indiana University, brings the students to IU where they spend one month learning about American business and entrepreneurship from a wonderful group of coaches and faculty at the Kelley School of Business, and then compete against each other in teams to find out which country can put together the best business proposal that will make a positive change in their homeland. The Top Ten (out of 18) teams then present their ideas in Washington D.C. to the U.S. Department of State before heading to Atlanta to meet with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and other Coke leaders.


It was a fantastic program and I am incredibly thankful for the experience. I was hired as the Lead Program Assistant which meant that I spent the month prior to the program working in the IIB office organizing GBI social events, piecing together countless program details, and planning ways to acclimate students to life in the United States, life in Bloomington, Indiana, and life on campus at Indiana University. Once the program began, I moved into Eigenmann Residence Hall to live with the students, manage my staff of four Program Assistants, and foster a structured, supportive, and fun learning environment for all. While I had previously studied abroad, worked at the Global Village Living-Learning Center, and taught IU courses in International Studies, this was my first time working directly with students from the Middle East and Northern Africa and I am so grateful for the learning opportunity! It was also refreshing to work with so many students outside of the classroom, but still be very much a part of their learning experience at IU.
Because the program coincided with Ramadan, there were many opportunities for discussions about culture, religion, and politics and it was cool to see that so many students were willing and interested in engaging in such dialogue. I was even invited by my Pakistani friends to try fasting… which was then followed by my first Iftar (my Roza Kushai, if you will). Thanks are due again to Ovais and Zarmina Raza and their family for welcoming me and all of the Pakistani students into their beautiful home to break fast together.  If I learned one thing from the experience, it’s that I should not have overslept Suhoor (yikes, 26 hours with no food or water). If I learned two things, it is that Pakistani food is delicious and well worth the wait! 


There were, of course, many other highlights from the experience... I can’t possibly name them all, but one was hearing Egypt’s Karim Yehia, who had competed on several TV singing competitions including Arab Idol, tell me that he had never sung in English in front of anybody, and then letting me play guitar while he belted out fantastic versions of Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and Josh Turner’s ‘Your Man’ at Culture Night. 


Another was the pomade/art supply trip in the Galaxie with El-Mehdi Iraqi, Amine Bouhaji, Salma El Gamal, and Sara Hasnawi and then giving Mehdi a pompadour just before the Farewell Awards Dinner (his hair even stood up to his celebratory bounds and leaps after his Moroccan team had won first place in the competition #scholarswithgreathair). 


Listening to and talking about our hip-hop record collections in the dorm with Hamza Cranky, Tunisia’s breakdancing champion, was also a real good time...


As was pedal boating in the Indiana Central Canal with my Algerian friends Ayoub Hedjouli, Yasser Belouadah, and Nina Laribi (though that is some seriously hard work and I’m so glad I didn’t fall in like one particular unfortunate individual…;). 


There were many killer ping pong matches throughout the month and a lot of memorable iftars as well. Truly, there were so many wonderful encounters with brilliant students… I can’t possibly mention them all here, but as a group we went to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game and shouted well-known soccer chants, we went bowling at the IMU, we went romping in Bradford Woods, we frolicked and Frisbeed around Brown County State Park, we heard some great country music by Lexi Minnich and ate some great food at the Taste of Bloomington festival, we watched a lot of World Cup (1-2-3, viva l’Algerie!), we ate goodbye cake together, and so much more. We also went to classes, studied, and put in a lot of team work time in the evenings. 


Then, of course, there were the fantastic final presentations which I found very promising. I sure hope that some of these business plans get funded because they were addressing some very important social needs in every country. It was indeed a wonderful month!


What I remember most though is the conversations about life in each country (and about students’ experiences in this country), about  differences (and similarities) in education, about dating (ok, mostly differences here), about employment opportunities, about music around the world (thanks again to Tinhinane AitHamouda for all the insights on Berber music and culture!), about cultural difference (Indiana had just legalized gay marriage while the students were here which opened up some interesting and charged conversations), about the Muslim way of life (both in theory and in practice), similarities and differences in the Quran and the Bible, about national conflicts, about peace, about humanitarianism, and about stand-up comedy (Omer Rizwan, you know your funny stuff!) among many topics. Somewhere between the role of policy enforcer for RPS (Residential Programs and Services), Indiana University, and GBI, as well as LPA and manager of the PA staff, I managed to foster many friendships with students and staffers that I hope will continue for many years into the future.


GBIers, you guys were awesome and I’m mighty glad that I could be a part of your experience. Y'all are incredibly talented and inspiring students and I can’t wait to see how y'all build upon the skills learned here at IU and use them to give back to your own communities. And I can’t wait to visit those communities sometime in the future! I really appreciate all the generous invitations to visit y’all in your home countries and I seriously hope I can make such visits happen over time. Thanks to Zakaria Alami and Hejer Baalouch, I’ve already got an outfit that’ll help me fit right in so now I’ve just got to go and make it happen (seriously, many thanks again to both of you for the wonderful gifts)! The outpouring of support and appreciation in everybody’s comments, notes, and emails during the last week has been immensely gratifying and I can’t thank you all enough for the kind words and gifts. Know that they are treasured and if I am able to help any of you in the future please don’t hesitate to contact me.


The LPA job was certainly not short on challenges (which I shall not care to revisit here), but the positives FAR outweighed the challenges, which in the end weren’t so much negatives, but instead opportunities for discussion, problem-solving skill enhancement, working together as a team, and multicultural understanding. To say the least, I learned a LOT this summer. I send my hearty congratulations to all of the GBIers and wish you all continued success in all that you do!

#kelleygbi #cokescholars #algeria #egypt #jordan #morocco #pakistan #palestine #tunis #iub

Country Musically,
Nate Gibson
Ph.D. Candidate and Lead Program Assistant,

Global Business Institute, Kelley School of Business
Indiana University

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Top Ten Reasons Why Baseball Is the Single Greatest Sport in the World

Now that the USA is out of the World Cup it looks like we can all finally re-shift our attention back to the single greatest sport in the world... BASEBALL! Well, maybe there is no such thing as "single greatest sport in the world," but in just a few days I'll be leading a group of 100 Middle Eastern, North African, and Near Asian students from the Global Business Institute to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game to introduce them to our national pastime and watch fireworks. I'm real excited about it. To bolster excitement for the trip I've tried to come up with my Top 10 reasons why baseball is great. Here's what I've come up with so far but I'd be real curious to hear from others about why they love baseball... What'cha got?

1. Well, for personal reasons, baseball is my childhood… It represents everything I cared about for every summer of my life from age 7 to 17.


2. It is America’s national pastime. As a kid it was my game. It was also my father’s game. It was his father’s game too and so on. Nostalgia plays a big part in all of this.

3. A stolen base in the Fall of 2004 is still among the most exciting things that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I'll never get sick of watching this Dave Roberts highlight...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ-VM4UDq-E


4. Group Singing… Who doesn’t love singing along with 35,000 strangers? Sure, I might pass on singing 'Sweet Caroline,' but I'll always partake in the singing of this little gem:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4-gsdLSSQ0


5. There are good guys and there are bad guys. In this case, the Boston Red Sox are the good guys and the New York Yankees represent everything that is evil and wrong in the world.


6. Free Souvenirs… beyond the souvenirs found in the gift shop, approximately 120 baseballs (aka: free souvenirs) are hit into the stands during the average professional baseball game. Sure, there’s the risk of injury involved, but this only ensures that more people pay attention to the game so as to not get hit in the head by a foul ball. In all my years of going to baseball games, I’ve only caught a foul ball once. It’s rare, but extremely exciting when it happens.

7. I’m no fan of brawling in sports, but the single greatest move I’ve ever seen by a player who is upset came from Izzy Alcantara in a 2001 baseball game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2uGROwr-rY


8. A baseball field is a work of art. The crack of a bat, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the sight of beautifully groomed infields are among of the most pleasing sensations my ears, eyes, and nose have beheld.


9. Most stadiums, Indianapolis included, have a section of the stadium where fans can see how fast they can throw a baseball… After watching a game, it always looks so easy. During almost every game I start to feel like I too can throw a baseball 100 mph… Inevitably I pay a couple dollars to play the Speed Pitch game and throw my arm out on the first pitch. That sore, achy feeling in my elbow is a reminder of the great time I had at the baseball game and it lasts for WEEKS!


10. In the end, I love baseball because it is a commitment to relaxing with friends. Every game takes roughly three hours, often more, and going to one with friends means that I am dedicating a significant portion of my day to just hanging out with friends in a beautiful park, enjoying the thrills of the crowd, and soaking up a family-friendly atmosphere in which I love to be immersed. I love seeing kids learning how to keep score of a game or trying to meet with players in between innings or run for foul balls… It’s how the game was passed down to me and I’m always happy to see the cycle continue and even help when I can.


I think the trip has potential to be somewhat challenging because the game has a lot of rules and it can be real confusing for people who have never seen baseball before. I certainly understand that. It’s how I felt when I went to Brazil a few years back and for the first time I began to appreciate soccer. It’s how I felt when I went to Finland and watched pes├Ąpallo for the first time too. It’s new and weird, for sure, but I'm optimistic that we're going to have a GREAT time at the ol' ball game! And even if things don't go our way (Go Indians!), at least we still get fireworks after the game!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Photos & Videos from Pickin' & Grinnin' Alongside Betty Amos w/ Judy & Jean

As many friends know, I was in Nashville just a short while ago and while I was there I got to see a lot of friends do some pretty amazing things. One of my biggest thrills was dining with my good friends Betty Amos and Judy Lee, followed by a whole afternoon of pickin’ and grinnin’ with Betty Amos w/ Judy and Jean!


Many country music fans know Betty from her early ‘50s stellar solo outings for Mercury Records ("Gotta Have Some Lovin’" being a personal favorite of mine) and by the mid-50s she was recording and performing with Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles. In the 1960s she went to record for Starday Records alongside her sister Jean (aka Stick) and best friend Judy where they made eight incredible singles including some of the earliest all-female bluegrass cuts ("Franklin County Moonshine") and were among the first women to sing about the truckin’ lifestyle ("18 Wheels A-Rollin’") to name just a few ("Cat and the Rat" is another personal fave). Many years ago I interviewed the gals about these recordings forThe Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. Nowadays, whenever I’m in Nashville I love to meet up with them and last week was no different.


Over dinner we talked about all sorts of good stuff—marriage and country music (and how they can or can’t work), Betty’s brother-like relationship with Elvis Presley while they were on the Louisiana Hayride together, Betty’s expert marksmanship and hunting prowess, how Judy got her start making music with Tex Ritter, Judy's time playing doubleneck guitar alongside Joe Maphis, how all three gals survived their plane crash in Baffin Island (I knew bits and pieces of this story before, but I never knew that Judy’s Gretsch survived the crash as well!), how amazed people would get when they would see Betty singing and playing banjo at the same time (seriously, banjo rolls and singing don’t mix!), how Betty Amos with Judy & Jean got their Gretsch and Sho-Bud endorsements, how difficult it was at times being a touring woman in country music in the 1950s (and fending off unwanted advances from the likes of Werly FairburnJimmy Martin, and others—but how many of the men in country music, such as Bill Carlisle and Josh Graves, always took on a protective role and looked out for Betty—it also helps that one of Betty’s five siblings taught her karate at an early age!), how one of Betty’s brothers played with Mac Wiseman for years, how Judy later got into softball and ended up in the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame, how Betty was inspired to write "Second Fiddle (To An Old Guitar)," the time they shared the Grand Ole Opry stage with Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe, how Judy came into owning Chet Atkins' old Viking guitar, and so much more… And of course I can’t retell these stories with any justice, as I can’t remember even half of the jokes and one-liners… I just know that they were hilarious (though I do recall asking Betty at one serious point in our conversation, ‘Man, didn’t you ever have fun?’ and she responded, ‘Well, I did, but I divorced him!’ Ha!) I just love hanging out with these incredible ladies!

After dinner we decided to head over to Judy’s house and bust out the instruments.

Judy with Chet Atkins' old Viking:

Betty Amos with my Harptone:

We were joined by Betty’s sister, Stick, and little did I know that we’d be pickin’ and grinnin’ for the next four hours! We played both kinds of music—country and western— and after a couple hours I couldn’t let the opportunity pass… I asked the ladies if I could record a couple songs and to my surprise, they said sure! Even more surprising, they were OK if I posted ‘em on the interwebs to share with y'all… I just love the results—informal pickin’ and grinnin’ at its best by three of my favorite ladies singing some of my favorite songs. And they still sound great together 50 years later (their first Starday recordings were in ’64)! Sadly, I had to put the guitar down to do the recording, but I had a blast pickin’ all day long and I can’t wait to do it again! Thanks again to Betty, Judy, and Jean (and also Sandy for taking some photos and hanging out with us all afternoon)! Hopefully y’all enjoy these videos as much as I do…

18 Wheels A-Rolling - In this clip they are recreating one of my Starday favorites, 18 Wheels A-Rollin' (originally done as a bluegrass tune). 45-692 (originally rec. December 1964) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe114ndb5hI

Second Fiddle (To An Old Guitar) - In this clip Betty sings her song Second Fiddle (To An Old Guitar), which became a big hit for Jean Shepard. Judy and Betty even take turns yodeling at the end! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5jgApey4n0

Franklin County Moonshine - In this clip they are recreating a snippet of another of my Starday favorites, Franklin County Moonshine (also originally done as a bluegrass tune). 45-735 (originally rec. October 1965) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtrlNTIbK4U

Fair and Tender Ladies - In this clip they are performing Fair and Tender Ladies with beautiful three-part harmonies. I know they had cut a demo of this back in the day, but I'm not sure if it was ever released... Beautiful song!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMPgmLcVmB8

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Full Year of Country Music and the World Is In the Books! (...Almost)



Well friends, my second semester of teaching at the Global Village is just about in the books and I can honestly say that I absolutely loved it. There was certainly a learning curve involved with the course this second time around (particularly regarding how to adjust a 16-week course to fit into an eight-weeks only schedule), but somehow it all worked out. Once again 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!

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 once again 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, the inspiration to always improve myself as an instructor, and for sharing his wisdom and experience to continually improve the course. Sincere thanks are also due to new GV coordinator Andy Fak who assisted me throughout the semester with many mini course-related crises.

Even though I felt as though last semester’s course went well, I was excited to incorporate several of the student’s suggestions into improving the course for this second time around. Fewer papers were assigned, more listening exercises were done in class, a lot of new information on international country music was researched and presented, and a whole new group of distinguished guest speakers lined up to meet and/or speak with our class. 

Much like last semester, our lineup of guest speakers was truly spectacular. We kicked off our series by Skyping with the always affable and legendary rockabilly singer on Starday, Sun, and Capitol Records (and one of Elvis Presley’s first touring mates), Rudy “Tutti” Grayzell. We were then joined in class by Australian country music songwriter and performer Al Backstrom, who not only presented a stellar lecture on the history of country music in Australia, but also performed his own version of Australiana music for the class! (The Wild Colonial Boy!!!) We then phoned in Maine’s main country music attraction, bluegrass legend and Event Records founder, Al Hawkes. All three of these speakers were fantastic and raised some very interesting points about country music in all parts of the world (including Mexico, Australia, and Libya in particular) and provided some great material for later class discussions. In addition to our speakers, it was also a thrill to once again screen Beth Harrington’s 2003 Grammy-nominated documentary, Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly, as well as Lee Bidgood’s excellent documentary, Banjo Romantika, about bluegrass music in the Czech Republic. Words don’t seem to do justice in expressing my gratitude to these fine folks, but Rudy, Al, Al, Beth, and Lee, thank you all so much for your contributions!

Last but not least I’d like to thank the fifteen brave student souls who enrolled in my class and stuck around until the end. It’s been tough to keep up with all the work at times (not only do the students have half the time to do all their work, but I also have half the time to grade all their papers), but I greatly appreciate all of 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. I always love reading the final papers for this class because each student is assigned a different country to research and I love finding out which aspects of country music they discovered and explored. This semester’s locales included Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden.

As I mentioned last semester, 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 be continuing my development as an instructor with 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 just help with future classes, or if you just want to go have lunch at Gresham, please do drop me a line and say, ‘Howdy!’

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!! 

18+

$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.

http://youtu.be/VQmVSa7xXVU

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!