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."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Rock-A-Billy, Honky-Tonk, & Western Swing Extravaganza next Friday (Oct. 18) in Bloomington, IN

A Rock-A-Billy, Honky-Tonk, and Western Swing Extravaganza!

Signature Sounds Recording Artist Jerry Miller and Goofin' Records Recording Artist Nate Gibson.

We'll do a set of swingin' instrumentals from Jerry's new record, New Road Under My Wheels, as well as a rockin' set of tunes from Nate's latest records with Jerry on guitar, The Starday Sessions and GO!GO!GO! We'll be joined by phenomenal musicians and all around good peoples, Mike Lee (on guitar and upright bass) and Tim Moore on drums and maybe even a few special guests. Hope to see you there!

$3 Cover, Cheap Brews, Good Foods, Great peoples, Great music.
Max's Place
108 W. 6th St.
Bloomington, IN 
Friday, Oct. 18
10 pm sharp

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Article Out in the Current Issue of Bluegrass Unlimited

For all y'all out there who like bluegrass, you may want to check out the latest issue of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine which features my story, "From Helsinki's Chilly Sidewalks to the Red Hot Georgia Clay with Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers." As an added bonus for all my Starday-loving friends, Jussi's latest album, The Old Home Place Ain't the Same Anymore, features four stellar Starday covers of tunes originally done by Bill Browning, Jim Eanes, Ted Lundy, and Carl Story! Visit to order the latest copy of Bluegrass Unlimited, or to order Syren's latest LP/CD from the man himself.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One week only: FREE SHIPPING on all Nate Gibson CDs/LPs

Howdy friends. I've had a bunch of expenses come up, so I thought I'd offer for one week only FREE SHIPPING on all Nate Gibson + Co. albums. If there's any gaps in your Nate Gibson CD/LP collection, now's a great time to stock up (and just in time for Halloween too!). Plus, there'll be a bonus FREE rocker patch for all multiple CD orders. Maybe some other goodies too...

Nate Gibson & Friends (w/ the Barnshakers, Deke Dickerson, Hi-Fly Rangers, KK, Wyatt Maxwell, Sean Mencher, Jerry Miller, Lester Peabody, & more) - The Starday Sessions (Goofin' Records) - $15
GO! GO! GO! (w/ Jerry Miller) - $10 CD/$18 LP (limited ed. colored vinyl)
All the Way Home (Cow Island Music) - $15
Grass House Gang (5-track bluegrass EP rec. at Event Records) - $5
Self-titled first release (with Rex Trailer and Kenny Roberts - only a few copies left) - $10

Payments can be made to via paypal. Flyer says free shipping only applies to U.S. shipping, but if you paypal me as a gift I'll cover international shipping on all non-Goofin' releases as well. If you don't have Paypal, PM me and we can work out other arrangements. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hoosier Honky-Tonk Heaven

Well, today's the first day of my Country Music and the World course here at IU, so what could be a better time to post a country song about Indiana University? 'Rootin for EURDUP' was recorded at the Starday Sound Studios by Tommy Hill back in '81, the same year Indiana won the NCAA basketball championship (note the glowing reference to Coach Bobby Knight, as he was still in favor with IU at this point). Crooned out by former Starday artist Bobby Harden, also of the famed Harden Trio, I now present you with some seriously cool Hoosier Honky-Tonk from the Ode to the Hoosiers LP (All-Pro Records AP 1031, regionally distributed through local NAPA Auto Parts stores). Now DIG!!!


When the Hoosiers run out onto the court
All the fans can tell they're so high.
Coach Knight must have given quite a pep talk
'Cause our neighbors from Purdue are dropping by.

I was raised not to fear the Wildcats.
The Irish never scared me none at all.
We never even think about the Gophers
And rootin' for Purdue's against the law.

Last year Bobby Knight showed all the nation
What practicin' hard and workin' hard can mean.
In '82 we'll still be celebratin'
'Cause the Hoosiers will have another championship team.

I was raised not to fear the Wildcats.
The Irish never scared me none at all.
Northwestern has always been a breather
And the Boilermakers play NERF basketball.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back in the U.S. of A.

Well, I knew the day would come, and sure enough, on Wednesday I left Helsinki and I headed back to the good ol’ U.S. of A., land of the free and home of the hospital from which I was brought into this world. I’m very excited to see again my friends and family in Bloomington and surrounding areas, and of course I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to teach about Country Music and the World at Indiana University this fall (woo-hoo, and not a single open seat left in the class!). Even so, I’m going to seriously miss Finland and its inhabitants.

I moved to Finland exactly one year ago and it’s been an absolutely incredible year. I've made lots of friends, met all sorts of interesting people, and was warmly welcomed into both a close-knit academic community as well as a vibrant music scene. I gave lectures on American music, began a new research project on American roots music in Finland, played a lot of music with some truly talented musicians, released one record and recorded a second, traveled all over Finland and its neighboring countries, and have been fulfilled both personally and professionally throughout the past year. Hell, I even lost 20 pounds because Finland still doesn’t have a single Steak’n’Shake or Sonic… and I survived the Finnish winter!!! I couldn't have made it without help from so many good folks and y'all will always have my loving gratitude and sincere appreciation.

While I don’t know yet when I will next return to Finland, I do know that it won’t be long. I still have yet to see a live moose (hirvi, älä tule tielle, mutta sinä voit tulla minun puistolle ja pelata!), experience the northern lights, hit myself with a birch branch while nearly dying in sauna, participate in the nokia cell phone throwing competition, go to a Finnish hockey game (I can’t believe this never happened!), visit the Helsinki zoo, go ice fishing, request ‘Rockabilly Paukkuu’ at a Tapani Kanssa concert, and so much more. Until I next return, I’ll look forward to all the updates on everything I am missing via Facebook, email, Skype, twitter, and however else we have connected over the years.

For now, I send my best wishes and many Kiitos to all of my friends in Funland. I’ll look forward to seein’ y’all as soon as I can make it back in 2014!! And to my friends in B-town, I can't wait to see y’all in just a matter of days! Please do leave the light on for me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Buck Owens and his Starday LPs

Happy Birthday Buck Owens and cheers to one of the worst album Starday covers of all-time! Sometime between 1959 and 1960, Don Pierce purchased the international rights to Buck's catalog for only $500, as well as the rights to the Pep masters. It turned out to be a pretty wise investment and years later, when Buck tried to get the rights back, Don just handed them over for free. Don later told me that he figured he had already made enough money off of them after Ray Charles and the Beatles had had some hits for him, and he was more interested in keeping a friendly relationship with Buck. After this LP came out (SLP 172), Buck asked his mother to send Don a better photo for future LP issues.

And even though only half or so of the songs on those future LPs (SLP 324, with two different covers, and SLP 446) were by Buck (the other were soundalikes by Tommy Hill, Eddie Wilson, and others at done at the Starday Sound Studio), he still came by the Starday Studios and picked up handfuls at a time to sell at his concerts. Apparently Capitol wouldn't supply Buck with his own LPs to sell at his shows, whereas Starday sold Buck (or any recording artist) Starday LPs for only a buck a piece. I guess it is for this reason that it is far more common to find an autographed Buck Owens Starday LP by the whole band than it is to find a Capitol LP signed by the band. I always thought it was somewhat odd that Buck was selling LPs at his shows with other people covering his hits, but I guess it makes sense... A buck is a buck. Cheers to all of you who kept your signed Buck Owens Starday LPs. And Happy Birthday to a legend!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Great Couple Weeks For Music: Pix and Thanks!

Wow, what a great couple weeks it’s been for music! Just thought I’d write a quick post to share some pictures from the past two weeks and to thank many of the kind folks who made it all possible…

Last weekend started with a bang at the the 11th Hepcat’s Hop at Ruuhijärvi. This festival was the first rockabilly show I attended in Finland when I came to visit two years ago and it was a lot of fun. It takes place in the middle of the Finnish countryside, next to a lake (or järvi in Finnish), in the middle of the summer when the sun never sets, and always includes a big party in a field, great food, great people, lots of old American cars, rockabilly cats and dolls dressed to the nines, and great music. I’ve been looking forward to this festival for a long time and I was excited this year to not only come back, but to perform as well.

With thanks to Tomi Valasvuo for the photos and the last minute sound set-up!

Due to a schedule conflict, the Hi-Fly Rangers were not able to attend the festival, but this created an opportunity to play some new songs with some new folks. Joining me for the gig were my pals Mika Liikari (from the Barnshakers) on upright bass and Eino Rastas (from the Hal Peters Trio) on guitar. Both are great musicians and I had a grand ol’ time rehearsing, traveling, and performing with them. Eino was one of the first Finnish thumb-picking guit-pickers and we injected a whole lot of swinging hillbilly jazz into our Ruuhijärvi set. And of course, we also did some rockin’ stuff too… 

With many thanks to Roi Hohenthal, here’s a video of us doing Floyd Tillman’s ‘Daisy May’:

I had been wondering for months about what I would tell my friends when they saw pictures of me performing in front of the venue’s massive and storied Confederate flag (formerly used by Finnish rockabilly legends Teddy & the Tigers on their tours in the late ‘70s), but in the end I didn’t need to worry. For the first time in the event’s history, the organizers decided to have one of the bands play outside in the field. They tell me it had nothing to do with me starting a near riot (OK, a passionate debate may be a better term) among festival goers over the use of the Confederate flag in the main hall, but I still wonder…

The rest of the night was just as fun as the set with Eino and Mika. With the exception of me, all of the bands were from Finland and I greatly enjoyed catching two of the Finnish rockabilly performers from the late’ 70s/early ‘80s rockabilly revival: Jussi Syren and Mystery Train.

Jussi is primarily doing bluegrass these days, so the rockabilly show was a rare treat (even if he denied my request for ‘Steady with Betty.’ Ha!), and I’ve seen Mystery Train perform a few times with Kitty Lee, but this was my first time seeing them with their former singer, Petri Mäntysalo , who now lives in Spain.   

Rounding out the evenings performances were Bettie & the Handsome Trio, a stellar father-daughter family blues band backed by some real good musicians, and the T-Bird Gang, one of Finland’s best rockabilly bands today.

Just as it was two years ago, it turned out to be a great party with great friends—I had a very enjoyable dinner with Mika and Roi and Teija Hohenthal (and thanks to DJ Boogie Chiller for the awesome BBQ!); I got to sit down and do some interviews with Eddie Laakso as well as Ode and Albert Hallikainen; had some great road tripping and pulla-snacking with Mika and Saana Syrjäläinen; got some nice press from Uusi Kesä newspaper in their article “Gibson tähdittää Hep Cat´s Hopia” (or, Gibson stars in Hep Cat’s Hop); caught up with many old friends and made several new friends as well. Tis all one can ask for in a gig and I send my many thanks to Albert and Ode for inviting me to be a part of it this year!

Sunday was a recovery day, but Monday picked up right where Saturday left off…
My pal Deke Dickerson came to Helsinki to finish up his European summer tour. It was a last-minute show at Lepakkomies, but it ended up selling out sometime around noon. Deke came by the Goofin’ shop around 6:00 and along with Pete Hakonen, Mack, and Merene Hovilainen, we went out for dinner at my favorite kebab and pizza joint, Ravintola Leijona.

The show itself was highly entertaining. Deke’s backing band of Jussi Huhtakangas, Lasse Sirko, and Juha Litmanen was stellar and the packed crowd, super low ceilings, extremely hot temperatures, and rockin’ music all combined to create a super Finnish sauna-like experience.  It was also a nice surprise to be called up on stage to do some singing and we banged out a rockin’ hillbilly version of Arlie Duff’s ‘Y’all Come,’ which we recently recorded together for the Starday Sessions tribute CD on Goofin.

It was once again a great night, with great friends, and I really enjoyed catching up with my American hillbilly buddy over here in Finland and hearing about his recent book success, his upcoming tour with the Rev. Horton Heat, and all the cool projects happening in his world.

Thanks to Nisse Kärkkäinen for the on-stage pic of Deke and I and to Rami Poutiainen for the other pic of us. Not sure who took the pic of Tuomas Metsberg, Lasse, Jussi and I, but thanks to them too!

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing interviews in Helsinki for my project on American Roots Music in Finland, but on Thursday I was off to Jokela for some Hi-Fly rehearsing and ’48 Chevy cruising.

All tuned up and ready to go!

Sweet! I can’t believe Jake let me drive! Well, open container laws are different in Finland so I guess I can actually believe it… Photo by KK.

Some of the songs which we initially rehearsed as a joke, turned out to be some of my favorite songs we put together for the gigs. These included a minor key version of ‘Sittin’ On Top of the World’ as well as a rock and roll version of Roy Head’s ‘Treat Her Right.’
On Friday afternoon KK and I headed up to Hämeenlinna where we met up with Jake at our hotel. I suppose I really should have Googled the gig or something beforehand, but all I knew was that we had a gig and that we would be featuring our friend Pete Lapintie on piano for a few songs. As it turned out, we were one of the town’s featured after-parties for the Wanhaja Music Fest. This is one of Finland’s biggest rock festivals and included a lot of big names in the Finnish music scene including some roots guys like J. Karjalainen, M.A. Numminen, Tokela (with Latebird’s All Stars), as well as PMMP, Apulanta, Klamydia, and many other  mainstream popular Finnish bands. When we arrived in town I was pleased to find several posters around town for our gig promising an “Amazing Rockabilly Show” as well as an article about me in the Hämeen Sanomat. The title in particular made me smile: “Jenkkirokkari puhuu suomea ja rakastaa merirosvovitsejä,” or in English, “Yankee rocker speaks Finnish and Loves Pirate Jokes.” It’s funny because it’s true! For those of you who read Finnish, you can check it out here.

Many thanks to AP Sarjanto for writing the kind words, which is probably the first press the pirate joke book has received in the last ten years. And of course, thanks especially to Pete Lapintie for booking us, seeking out some great promotion, and then rockin’ the piano like a mad man for a dozen or so honky-tonkers and all-out rockers!

The gig itself was pretty awesome. Even though Samantha Fox, of ‘Touch Me’ fame, was playing next door to us at another of the festival’s after-parties, the venue still managed to pack the joint with folks eager for the promised “Amazing Rockabilly Show.” Before we took the stage around midnight the place was filled to near capacity and we ended up having lots of people dancing, lots of kind folks to chat with between sets, lots of new songs to play, lots of CD sales, lots of good food the next morning… just good times.

As it turned out, there were lots of broken guitar strings as well and KK took a photo of me changing my strings in the parking garage in between sets. Unfortunately, I have yet to find any video that has surfaced from this gig. So, instead of posting a link to our own video, I’ll post a link to Samantha Fox’s gig from next door. This way, all of y’all who came to see us and danced your tails off can see what you missed next door…

Touch Me (Hämeenlinna version 2013):

After a mighty fine breakfast and a little record diggin’ in Hämeenlinna, with my major scores being Buck Jones’s Bad LP on Rebel Records and a Finnish version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’), KK and I headed north to Pieksämäki for the Big Wheels festival.

On the drive up I was excited to finally meet this friendly beast… After seeing signs every 100 yards or so warning of moose crossings, and hearing stories about moose sightings being as common in Finland as 101 Strings LPs in a Salvation Army record box, I was starting to get real down because we hadn’t yet seen one. Even three and half or four hours north of Helsinki and still not a moose to be seen… Fortunately, this guy jumped out of the woodwork to save the day just as we were stopping to get our fill of coffee and pulla.

As we arrived in Pieksämäki, we were just in time to catch the Big Wheels cruising parade—hundreds of vintage American cars and trucks cruising the narrow, two-way streets of the little town and thousands of people standing on the streets to watch. In a word, it was beautiful. It was also captured on video by about a dozen different YouTube users. You can check it out here if you like, the cruising starts at around the 19:30 mark of the video:

After we settled into our swank hotel, which looked like it hadn’t seen a single update since the 1960s (awesome!), we headed over to the venue for the sound check. The venue was the old, abandoned railway station, Vanha Veturitallit, but instead of actually sound checking we spent about two hours playing with Jake and Taina’s kids and looking at old cars. When we finally did get around to the sound checking, everything looked and sounded great…

First up was the Shoebox Revue. I have dug Ari Sjöblom and Henri Pirttimäki’s music with the Flatbroke Trio for a long time and it was a real treat hearing them with drums and Elli Maple on vocals. Their rockin’ cover of Nick Curran’s ‘Kill My Baby’ was a highlight and a great start to the night.  

The Soil Senders rock’n’roll trio followed with a high-energy set of rockabilly tunes and sweet harmonies.

We took the stage around midnight and it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a show in Finland. KK was rockin’ out on his knees mid-way through the first song, the dance floor was packed the whole night, we had great sound, great stage set-up, great lights, great fog machines (!!), and about 750 people asking for more after each song. After the second encore I was definitely done and I couldn’t possibly play another song even if I had wanted to… By that end of our last song I was shirtless, breathless, laid out on the floor, and utterly exhausted!

Many, many thanks are due to Maxi Mikkola for bringing us there, to his lady Piia for selling some of our merch during the show, to Anna Halonen for taking some stellar photos of our set, to the sound and lights crew for a job very well done, to everyone who came to talk to us after the show and buy records and/or CDs, and to everybody who came out to rock with us in Pieksämäki. I sure hope we can come back and do it again another time!

And that’s about the whole of it. The Hi-Fly Guys and myself are presently finishing up a new full-length record and it’s been real fun. I love the process of writing a new song, teaching it to the band, and then recording it the next day. I often dig the songs I write for at least a day or two, but almost always I change my mind after a couple days and throw them away to the scrap mp3-demo bin. The nice part about this process has been that I don’t have time to question my own songs for very long. It’s been fun and I think we’ve been getting some real good results. And of course we’ve been recording several of our favorite songs which we’ve been playing for the last two years at shows. It’s a good mix and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the finished results with people as soon as it is ready (but now, what do to about album art?!?!).

This weekend we’ll be playing at a dear friend’s wedding, and after that we’ve only got one more gig in Finland this year. It sure would be great to see some of our friends out at theReal Gone Records Rock and Roll Weekender on August 15th in Sastamala. It's going to be a great festival with lots of friends and a lot of great bands including Cliff Edmonds and the TelstarsWhistlebaitthe Cosh Boysthe Truly Lover TrioFoggy Mountain Rockersthe Lo-Lites, and many more! I am most certainly looking forward to leaving everything out there on the stage once again and catching all the great acts from around the world. Until then, Rockin’ Regards!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

NEW PODCAST: A Tribute to Goofin' Records Paying Tribute to Starday Records

Well friends, I've finally done gone and started my own podcast. [Ooh... Awww...] The first episode is A Tribute to Goofin' Records Paying Tribute to Starday Records. If you'd like to hear some great Goofin' bands playing some great Starday tunes (including rockabilly, country, bluegrass, western swing, and more!), read up on the similarities between Goofin' and Starday, or see my pictorial discography of every 7" release on the Goofin' label, just follow the link.

To read the post but skip the music (I don't know why somebody might do this, but I'm giving you options), read on:

When I first came to Finland two years ago, I brought with me a handful of my new Starday books. I had no idea at that time if there were many Starday fans in Finland, or if there were many people who wanted to read about American roots music in English, but I was eager to find out. Sure, I knew that Tapio Väisänen, a renowned record collector who helped me with my early Starday discography research, lived near Helsinki. And the man who calls himself Starday on his YouTube channel, Pasi Koskela, lived in Finland as well. But beyond them, I had not a clue.
My first order of business in Finland was to visit the Goofin’ Records shop in Helsinki. I had first heard of Goofin’ in the early 2000s when my friend Sean Mencher gave me his High Noon CD released on the Goofin’ Records label. In the years that followed I came across the Goofin’ name several times over while picking up CDs or 45s by American touring acts such as Deke Dickerson, Martí Brom, Carl Sonny Leyland, Cave Catt Sammy, and others. Then, after performing at the Green Bay Rockin’ ‘50s Fest in 2005, I actually met Pete Hakonen, Goofin’s owner and founder. At the time, my friend Bill Hunt had just started his Cow Island Music label and Pete spent a lot of time talking to us about the pros and cons of running a roots record label.
Six years later I arrived in the Goofin’ shop and was happy to see Pete again. I was also happy to see an entire store in the middle of Helsinki, Finland dedicated to American roots music. Sure, there were a couple hard rock LPs from the ‘70s, maybe 30 or so, and a small section of Finnish music from the 1920s-‘60s, but everything else in the shop was related to 1940s-‘60s American roots music—blues, country, doo-wop, rockabilly, soul, rhythm and blues, Cajun, teen pop, Elvis, western swing, garage, surf, and everything in between. Hundreds of thousands of 45s, LPs, CDs, books, and anything else related to roots music. Before I could even soak it all in, Pete had called his friend Lester Peabody who lived just a few minutes from the shop. Within the hour the three of us had set up a recording session and even booked a performance at the upcoming Helsinki Rockabilly Week festival.
During my six weeks in Finland that summer the Goofin’ shop became sort of a home away from home. If I wasn’t in Vaasa taking Finnish language classes, I was probably in the shop meeting new folks, talking about music, and buying records. It certainly didn’t hurt that I was living just one block away at the time either. I was mesmerized by the scores of out-of-print 45s and CDs I was finding—stuff you just can’t find in the States (go ahead doubters, try to find a store selling stock copies of Go Cat Go’s ‘Please Mama Please’ or their Rock-A-Billy Record Co. 10”). I could go on forever about some of the amazing things I found in the shop, but perhaps most intriguing to me at that time was a giant wall of Goofin’ Records releases. I had already known about the Dave and Deke Combo, High Noon, the Frantic Flattops, Los Straitjackets, and a lot of the other American roots acts. I knew of Ray Campi, Huelyn Duvall, Jack Scott, Dale Hawkins, Narvel Felts, Jimmy Lee Fautheree, and some of the original ‘50s rockers as well, but now I was seeing their music on the Goofin’ label. I had even heard many of the International groups like the Go-Getters, Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers, Ray Collins’ Hot Club, Wildfire Willie & the Ramblers, as well as Finland’s own Barnshakers, but I didn’t realize that Goofin’ had been releasing records by all these different bands. The rest of the releases on the wall, however, were pretty much a mystery to me.
It was then that I decided that I would try to collect every vinyl release Goofin’ had issued. After all, what I already knew I really liked and what I didn’t know, I couldn’t wait to discover. I was particularly excited about finding new Finnish bands, as I always try to buy local music wherever and whenever I travel. The task, however, proved to be somewhat challenging for several reasons. In addition to financial restraints, I really had no idea just how much Goofin’ product was out there in the world. As it turns out, there are presently 90 different 45s, with twelve of them appearing on Gas—Goofin’s subsidiary label reserved for surf music. There are nine further releases on 10”, twenty-three 12” releases, and two 78s. I soon discovered that many of the releases were extremely limited runs back in the ‘80s but miraculously, and with the help of Pete and several generous collectors and friends in Finland, I completed the run. And while I can’t even begin to start collecting every CD on the Goofin’ label (there are well over 100), I also made a habit of picking up a few favorites each time I went to the store.
For a complete pictorial discography of every 7” Goofin’ release, see my flickr page:
This means that my Goofin’ song collection now totals 1,749 songs. While it’s nowhere near everything Goofin’ has released, just as I had hoped, I discovered some INCREDIBLE new music. Since buying these records I’ve gone to see a lot of the bands perform here in Finland and I’ve left concerts with a new favorite band on more occasions that I care to remember—the Hi-Fly Rangers, the Rockin’ 8-Balls, Dr. Snout & his Hogs of Rhythm, Lester Peabody Quartet, Whistlebait, Uncle John Trio, Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers, Spud’n’Nick & the Roughshods, Mike Bell & the Belltones, and so many more. Needless to say, I’ve been really impressed by the music Goofin’ has been putting into the world. It was therefore a huge honor for me when just a few months back, Goofin’ Records chose to release the Nate Gibson & Friends Starday Sessions tribute album.
I really can’t think of a more fitting label to release a Starday tribute. Not only had several of the contributing artists (Deke Dickerson, Sean Mencher, the Barnshakers, and the Hi-Fly Rangers) already recorded for Goofin’, I’ve come to notice a lot more similarities between Goofin’ and Starday. Most obviously, they are both record labels interested in promoting and preserving American roots music—traditional country, rockabilly, western swing, bluegrass, and much more. Both also emphasized instrumental music, with Goofin’ even operating its own instrumental subsidiary label. Furthermore, each label owned a physical shop. This, to me, is one of the main reasons independent labels can be successful. Not only are they able to distribute their own music, store owners also have first-hand knowledge about what is selling and what is not. Furthermore, the shop serves as a great meeting point for local musicians and fans of the music and it also keeps people updated on the latest developments in the worldwide scene (Goofin’ always stocks the latest releases from Bluelight, Jungle, Wild, Sleazy, Cow Island, El Toro, Vintjärn, Ventrella, Rock-A-Billy Record Co. and Tail back in the day, and so many more great roots labels).
Just like Starday did back in the Texas/California days, I also love that Goofin’ actively promotes the local music scene. The overall output of Goofin’ is overwhelmingly Finnish and more than half of the Goofin’ releases this year and all of the releases last year have been by Finnish bands. A further connection between the two labels is that they both issue(d) a lot of music! There are several other wonderful independent labels in Finland promoting roots music (Jungle, Bluelight, Jupiter Stroll, and Snowflake come to mind), but Goofin’s total recorded output since its founding in 1984 exceeds them all. I should also note that of the 1,749 Goofin’ songs that I own, 34 of them (roughly 2%) are Starday covers. This is, of course, not including the most recent Starday Sessions tribute, which bumps Goofin’s percentage of Starday covers up to 2.8% of their entire recorded catalog (at least that which is in my collection). How about that! It can most certainly be ascertained that I am not the first Starday fan in Finland (and hopefully not the last!).
After realizing this, I got the idea to put together a podcast spotlighting some of the Goofin’ artists covering Starday artists. With the kind permission of Goofin’ Records owner Pete Hakonen, I am now able to present some of these Starday gems from the Goofin’ catalog. In doing so, I hope that you’ll discover some new bands that you dig and maybe even hear a couple new songs from bands you already knew. I give a hearty cheers to Goofin’ for releasing all of this great music and an extra hearty cheers to all the bands and performers for keeping the Starday catalog alive and well—from George “Thumper” Jones to Sonny Fisher, Link Davis to Ken Clark, even Rudy “Tutti” Grayzell all the way down to Stringbean (David Akeman), and so much more. We’ve got bluegrass, traditional country, rockabilly, honky-tonk, western swing, and swingin’ instrumentals— just a whole lot of good stuff! It should also be noted that with the exception of High Noon (Texas), Darrel Higham (England), Rusti Steel & the Tintax (England), the Dave & Deke Combo (California), the Go-Getters (Sweden), and myself (I still have a hard time answering where I’m from), all of these bands are from Finland. Here’s hopin’ y’all dig it… Y’all come!
*Note: Every effort was made to avoid playing the same song twice, even if recorded by multiple bands for Goofin’, though I did break this rule just once.
*Another Note: I apologize for the sound quality on some of the vinyl transfers. I do not have my normal digitizing set-up with me here in Finland, but this is something I hope to correct for future podcasts.
*Another Note: This here is my first ever attempt at a podcast but eventually I plan to incorporate this podcast into both my blog (Starday, Finland, Rockabilly, Country Music, Records, Cars, Guitars, and Whatever Else Comes Up and my website ( For now you can visit each site fore more information on my music, my research, and other assorted projects.
* Final Note: To purchase any of these fine recordings, as well as all other Goofin' releases, please
Track Listing:
High Noon – How Come It from GRLP 6074, Live in Texas and Japan LP
The Slippers – Rockin’ Daddy from GRCD 6049, Chance to Dance CD
Uncle John Trio – Tall Tall Trees from GRCD 6170, For Your Pleasure CD
Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival – Steady With Betty from GRCD 6137, Stayin’ On Top Of the Beat CD
High Noon – Feelin’ No Pain from GRCD 6039, Glory Bound CD
Ellis & the Angry Teens – Half My Fault from GRCD 6094, Put the Blame on Alcohol CD
The Barnshakers – Fast Jivin’ from GRCD 6048, A Honky Tonk Session with the Barnshakers CD
Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers – Lost from GRCD 6168, Shave and Haircut CD
The Rockin’ 8-Balls – All the Time from GRCD 6108, Eight Balls O’ Fire! CD
Darrel Higham with the Barnshakers – Don’t Be Gone Long from GOOFY 570, Pretty Little Devil 45 EP
The Rhythm Hogs – Don’t Big Shot Me from GOOFY 514, Real Rock Drive 45 EP
Hal Peters and his Trio – You’re Gone from GRCD 6038, Fireball Mail CD
Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers – Down at the Opry from GRCD 6169, Shave and Haircut CD
Rusti Steel & the Tintax – Kitty Kat from GOOFY 6012, Rock’n’Roll Call LP
The Ballroomers – Sittin’ On Top from GOOFY 504, Sway with the Ballroomers 45 EP
The Dave & Deke Combo – Tally Ho GRCL 61209, Moonshine Melodies LP
Hal Peters and his Trio – Down In the Holler from GOOFY 6015, Rockin’ the Country LP
Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers – Walk Slowly Darling from GRCD 6168, Shave and Haircut CD
Lester Peabody – Sweet Rosie from GRCD 6072, Focus on Guitars CD
The Slippers – I Can’t Loose from GRCD 6048, Chance to Dance CD
The Hi-Fly Rangers – I’m Through from GRCD 6135, Hot Ride Ride To the Moon CD
Hal Peters and his Trio – Too Much Water from GOOFY 6015, Rockin’ the Country LP
Shaun Young – Move Around from GRCD 6127, Wiggle Walk CD
Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers – Big Man from GRCD 6168, Shave and Haircut CD
High Noon – Hold Me Baby from GRCD 6039, Glory Bound CD
The Barnshakers – Maybe Little Baby from GRCD 6118, Five Minutes To Live CD
The Go-Getters – All the Time from GRCD 6065, Hotter Than A Pepper CD
Nate Gibson with Deke Dickerson – Y’all Come from GRCD 6177, The Starday Sessions CD