Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mayf Nutter, Environmental Awareness, and Starday Records

After teaching a whole semester of Socially Conscious Songwriting at Indiana University and helping students to write about important social matters in song, I've developed a soft spot for all the Starday artists who tackled important social issues. One of them was Bakersfield artist (via West Virginia), Mayf Nutter, who recorded his anti-pollution number, "Simpson Creek (Won't Ever Run Clear Again)," back in 1970 (Starday 45-910). 

This was after his stint as Del Shannon's lead guitar player, around the same time that he was fronting the New Christy Minstrels on Columbia, and just before his Capitol sessions with Merle Haggard's Strangers and Buck Owens' Buckeroos. Apparently there were two seperate releases of this single and the flipside of Starday 45-9101 is a series of anti-pollution public service announcements (among the earliest environmental awareness recordings--I'm looking at you Joni Mitchell). 


But just recently I discovered that the promo came with the PSAs for radio use, but that the stock copy actually had a little stand-up joke-ish bit on the flip called "The Other Side." It's less than a minute, but it's pretty funny stuff to hear on a record. Last week Mayf celebrated a birthday (Oct. 19), so Happy Birthday, Mayf! Thanks for the great tunes and thanks for taking a stand on important social issues! In case y'all want to hear it, I made a YouTube video with "Simpson Creek," "The Other Side," and the three alternate PSAs on environmental awareness. Three Cheers for the environment!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ridin' The Bull In the Baby Department of Wal-Mart

It's 2 a.m. I went to Wal-Mart for light bulbs, ended up ridin' the bull in the baby department...

So, I had a pretty surreal experience at Wal-Mart last week and I thought I’d share some of my amusing photos… It was close to 2 a.m. and I needed some light bulbs for my laundry room. I drove to Wal-Mart and as I was walking into the store, I heard a live rock band blaring away. I asked the people greeter, 'Y'all booking live music now?' She replied, 'We are tonight. It's Midnight Madness to welcome college students back [to Indiana University]. Free food is over there...' I asked if the event was strictly for undergraduates or for all students [since I am still registered as a graduate student] and she said it was open not just to students, but to anybody who happened to be at Wal-Mart. I got there just towards the tail end of the event, so there weren't a whole lot of people left, but the food was still fresh, the band was still playing, and the rides were still riding. First, I checked out the band in the ladies department for a while and chomped on some of the free pizza from the nearby food stands...

The second abnormality I encountered was this bull in the baby department and there is no way I could just walk past it and not give it a go. I don't think I even lasted nine seconds, so I have no idea how I ended up with more than four photos from the ride, but the experience made me laugh for days and days afterwards. 

Basically, the event was structured so that people could go on any ride or game, get tickets for doing the ride or winning the game, then exchange the tickets for prizes at the front of the store near the karaoke station in the eye glass department. Some people got free skateboards or even Fender guitars (!) with the Monster or Mountain Dew logos (or another beverage, I got there too late to see them). Sweet! 

As I walked around the store I saw people playing volleyball in the toy isles, doin’ American Gladiator combat stuff in the lingerie, playing inflatable twister among the sneakers, racing through inflatable obstacle courses in the parking lot, and all sorts of awesome stuff including people sumo wrestling in fat suits in the girls wear...

They also tried to load me up with free whole pizzas, bags of chips, soda, and pies (whole pecan and apple pies!) on my way out, but in the end I just bought my light bulbs, exchanged my ride tickets for three free t-shirts, and laughed a bunch. 

Oh, and I also flipped a bunch in the parking lot!

If only this kind of thing had been around when my buddy Travis and I started our first band together, The Wal-Mart Three-- a band which sang songs exclusively about Wal-Mart (our then employer). We could have easily written another 10-20 songs alone about the bull in the baby department!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nashville Label Update for Your Starday Story Record Listing! - Williams Brothers NV-5079

Exciting times... I found another Starday record not in The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built's record listing! I believe there were seven blank spots left in the Nashville record listing (so long as you've been writing in 45s as I add them to this page), but as of today there are only six! Break out the pencils, folks! The latest addition is #5079 - Williams Brothers - 'Don't Wait To Long' [sic] / 'I Want's My Lou.' I think it's a pretty exciting find 1.) Because it's a great 45 and 2.) Because the Williams Brothers also had a sought after rockabilly/instrumental 45 on the Dixie label from around the same time [#873 'Ali Baba' / 'Whatcha Gonna Do Now']. I'm not 100% certain if it's the same Williams Brothers though. Both Bob Williams and Max Williams each had two other solo releases on the Nashville label around the same time and they may be the Williams Brothers from this previously unknown 45. Were they also the Dixie label Williams Brothers? Does anybody out there have any more info on these guys? I also wonder if this could be the same Bob Williams who recorded 'Pabst Blue Ribbon' and 'Hot Rod Race' for the Tennessee label in the early '50s? There seems to be some evidence that he was still recording in Nashville in the early '60s, so there seems to be a good possibility. But Tennessee-label Bob Williams is from KY, and some info on the net suggests that maybe the Starday custom Williams Brothers were from North Carolina... Oh, the mystery!

Lots of possibilities out there... Could it be the same Williams Brothers who recorded for Del-Mar in the '60s? Or the ones who recorded for Barnaby in the '70s? And could the Williams Brothers include the Bob Williams from The Rockin' Cyclones records in the '50s, or the rockers on BLEND, the early '50s stuff on RCA, or most likely the Bob Williams of the '60s country records on CUMBERLAND and BARDS (But wasn't that the same Bob Williams who recorded for Tennessee in the '50s? And did he have a brother named Max?). And how many cousins were they removed from Hank?

Or could it be the Bob Williams from these fantastic album covers with Lynda Standell? Does anybody out there in internet-land have any answers?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

78 Spinout: Hillbilly Boogie, Western Swing, & Guitar Pickers Pickin'

Hey there, friends. So I finally made another podcast last night. I'm not likely to make another one for some time as I'm in full-time dissertation mode, but I thought maybe some friends would enjoy seeing the basement of my favorite record shop (all 78s) and hearing some of the fun hillbilly boogie, western swing, and guitar pickin 78s I found on my way home this week. This show's dedicated to Pop and with many thanks again to the fine folks at Kanesville KollectiblesCheck it out here:

Last week I was again on the road between Lincoln, NE and Bloomington, IN. It’s a trip with which I’ve become quite familiar these past six years. This time I returned for my worst nightmare—my father’s memorial and celebration of life service. I was tabbed as a speaker at the service. I thought I could get through it, no problem. Turns out, it was a lot harder than I imagined. I did get through it and I did pay tribute to my pop the best I could, but it’s been a tough couple weeks to say the least. On the way home I drove my aunt to the Omaha airport. I then realized that I had left my new computer mouse back in Lincoln so I stopped at the nearest Salvation Army thrift store to find a replacement. Mission accomplished. As I was getting ready to get back on Highway 80, I realized that I was only a few blocks from my favorite record store. Perhaps saying “Hello” to my buddies at the shop and diggin’ up some new tunage could cheer me up, I thought. 

What I had thought would be a 5-10 minute stop at Kanesville Kollectibles in Council Bluffs, Iowa turned out to be a couple hours. It is a never-ending treasure trove for vinyl lovers. Folks who read my blog ( know how much I love this place, as I’ve posted about it several times before. In years past I had spent days exploring the first and second floors, but I’ve never really stopped in the basement for anything more than a photo op. When Tim, the owner, told me that they had begun filling the basement with more 45s, I decided to change my tune. After looking through a dozen or so boxes of 45s and finding nothing great, however, I got distracted by the towering stacks of 78s covering the entire basement. I decided to change my tune, or at least my format.

78s are clunky. They are fragile. They are often scratched, cracked, hissy, or worse… They are a beast to move or ship, and I don’t even have a proper shelf to store them on at home. I strongly dislike them as a format. They are, however, filled with GREAT music and most often cheaper than their 45 counterparts. So… I dug. In short time I discovered hundreds of fantastic hillbilly boogie, western swing, and guitar records—my favorite stuff! Most were $1 each. I think I paid $3 for one (Colorado Boogie), but I also paid less for some.

I have a number of friends who are into the same kind of music as I, so I thought maybe I would make a podcast and share some of my new finds with the masses. It turns out that this was a little harder than I expected. I don’t have a 78 cartridge for my turntable, and I’m not really sure how to properly clean 78s either. They’re not my bag. But the music most certainly is, even if it is a little scratchier that it could be had I used the proper equipment.

While I may never get over the recent loss of my pop, one of the things I loved most about him was his extremely positive attitude—he was one who loved life, who loved music, and who found immense joy in the small discoveries of everyday life (and he also loved a bargain!). I too try to always be positive and one of the ways I find my joy in everyday life is seeking out new music—as well as bargains! After checking out these tunes, I think you’ll agree that I found some goodies! And there was even a surprise gift in there which I’ll tell you about in the podcast (Thanks again, Tim!). I spent less than $20 total on every record in this hour-long episode and if you ask me, it was worth that alone just for the experience of finding a minty copy of “Oakie Boogie” in a dollar bin! Big thanks to Kanesville Kollectibles for all the great finds and friendship and thanks to Pop for showing me how to love life and love music.

78 Spinout: Hillbilly Boogie, Western Swing, & Guitar Pickers Pickin'

1 – Jack Guthrie and his Oklahomans - Oakie Boogie (Capitol 341)

2 – Rocky Rauch and his Western Serenaders - Colorado Boogie (Mutual 207)

3 – Johnny Bond and his Red River Valley Boys - Baby You Gotta Quit That Noise (Columbia 36876)

4 – Joe Nelson and His Nashville boys – T-V Blues (Capitol 1414)

5 – Jesse Ashlock - Knuckle Head (Columbia 20510)

6 – The Hi-Flyers - Blonde-Headed Woman (Okeh 06183)

7 – Grady Martin - When My Dream Boat Comes Home (Decca 30022)

8 – Tennessee Ernie with Cliffie Stone’s Band - Kiss Me Big (Capitol 2602)

9 – Merle Travis - I'm Sick and Tired of You, Little Darlin’ (Capitol 40006)

10 – Hank Garland - Seventh and Union (Decca 46368)

11 – Tibby Edwards - Come On Chere (Let’s Have Fun) (Mercury 70189)

12 – Curly Williams and the Georgia Peach Pickers - Just A-Pickin’ and A-Singin’ (Columbia 38133)

13 – Terry Fell - I've Done All I Know To Do (Memo 3001)

14 – Riley Crabtree - You're Wasting Your Time (Columbia 20803)

15 – Jim Boyd and his Men of the West - Mule Boogie (RCA 21-0301)

16 – Merle Travis - Merle's Boogie Woogie (Capitol 40026)

17 – Jimmy Bryant with Cliffie Stone’s Band - Bryant's Boogie (Capitol 1275)

18 – Al Dexter and his Troopers - New Broom Boogie (Columbia 20194)

19 – Patsy Elshire - You Can't Play In My Play House (Starday 115)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Updates to the Starday Record Listing in the Back of Your Starday Book

Exciting news I have for all y'all record collectors out there: I recently got to spend an afternoon with one of the premier '50s record collectors in the U.S., Mr. Ned Walters (from pg. 228 fame). Ned let me look through his entire Starday record collection and in doing so, we were able to fill in several missing gaps in the book's record listing section (particularly in the Nashville Singles and the Starday Custom Series (Dixie) Singles). For all those who want the most complete record listing available, grab yourself a pen or pencil and feel free to make the following updates to your book. And just because they're fun to look at, I'll go ahead and upload scans of all the previously unknown labels too~ now, good luck tracking down your own copies!

Nashville Singles

5164 – Dwight & Cathy Moody – Throw Out the Lifeline / I Hear the Church Bell
5266 – Bill Pierce – Remind Me To Cry Tomorrow / Fool That I Am
5472 – Billy Kent – Country Music Star / Tender Moments
5502 – Arnold McKinney – If I Had You (To Hold On To) / I’ll Take You To My World
5503 – Bill Kohlmeyer – Corn Squeezin’ / To Say Goodby

185 – Georgene and the Song Rustlers – Do You Still Believe / The Grass Is Turning Brown


Starday Custom Series (Dixie) Singles

1142 – Jack Thompson – Kisses In the Wind / Tear Up the License (Dixie)
1178 – Slone Brothers [incorrectly spelled in the book as ‘The Sloane Brothers’]
1024 – Wayne Johnson & the Brushy Mountain Boys, “Lost” John Ray, Mikey Johnson, Gary Johnson, Rocky Johnson, Wayne and Ruth Johnson – Hitch Hikers Blues / Brushy Mountain Hoedown b/w The Song of the Union Grave Fiddler’s Convention / Mother and Dad Are Waiting (Dixie)
767 – Glenna Dene Case with Ray Guyce and his Lonesome Valley Boys – Thank You So Much / Broken Hearted (Brite Star) [much like the previous release, #766, I believe there may be two different Starday customs with the 767 number designation]
771 – Ray Guyce and his Lonesome Valley Boys – Rattle Your Rockets / I’m Dark As A Raven (You’re whiter Than Snow) (Brite Star) [much like the previous releases, #766 and #767, I believe there may be two different Starday customs with the 771 number designation]

And many thanks again, Ned. I'll see ya again real soon!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Country Boy Rock and Roll and a Rock-Boppin' Birthday Blowout

Well, it's been a fun week of music here in Bloomington, IN and it's going to continue on through the weekend. Early in the week our TV segment on The Weekly Special, produced by William Keuchenberg for WTIU, aired and it yielded some real fun YouTube videos. The first of which is our tribute to Rex Trailer, my late friend, mentor, and undergraduate advisor. Many New England fans know Rex from his highly successful television show Boomtown (1956-1974), but I met Rex as a student at Emerson College where Rex was then teaching. We became good friends, wrote and recorded a country music album together (the result being my first CD, on which Rex also sang with me on two songs-- the original version of "An Immaculate Confection (The Necco Song)" and "The Remote to the TV"), and my band even got to back Rex at many of his public appearances over the years. Unfortunately, I never could get Rex to play his TV hit "Hoofbeats" at any of his live shows. The original version, recorded and released on ABC-Paramount in 1956, included a 32-piece orchestra directed by Sid Feller and Rex felt like he wouldn't be able to match that epic sound with just a small combo. Well, I'm not sure I matched it either, but back in the mid-2000s Tony Savarino and I worked up an arrangement and I've been playing it in my sets ever since. Just this November I finally got a chance to go into the TV studios and make a recording of it with the current band: Jerry Miller (guitar), Mike Lee (upright bass), and Tim Moore (drums).

I always consider it a real privilege to share the stage with Jerry, and no show is complete without featuring Jerry's crazy-good guitar skills on an instrumental or two. With that in mind, here's another video of us pickin' through one of Jerry's original tunes, "Slaughter on Roosevelt Blvd." I'm told that more videos will be released in the coming days so STAY TUNED for that!

Last night we were also featured on local radio station WFHB's Local Live show and played a very enjoyable half hour set of country boy rock and roll which included both originals and tributes to Little Jimmy Dickens, Hoagy Carmichael, Herb Remington, the Virtues, and Leon Bass. Soon soon the entire show should be available for stream or download via the WFHB Local Live website:

A lot of the late TV and radio promotion has been in anticipation of this Saturday's big birthday throwdown gig which we are sharing with Rockabilly Hall of Famer and 1950s Cherry Records recording artist Art Adams and the Art Adams Band as well as the U.S. debut performance of Al Backstrom (country music from and about Australia). It's both Al's and my own birthday party, it's also the WFHB show of the month for January, and WFHB's own DJ Angela Backstrom-- an expert on all things country music, local, and good-- will be spinning tunes before, after, and in between sets. We have moved the venue from the recently closed Max's Place (RIP Max's Place) to Serendipity Martini Bar and Restaurant and look forward to filling one of the nicest dance floors around tomorrow night! Doors at 9:30 pm, music starts at 10:00 pm, $5 cover, and pints of beer are as cheap as $2! Hope to see some friends out on the town!