Category Archives: Country Music

Is Kat Edmonson the next Cole Porter?

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My Wife’s birthday resulted in the discovery of an amazing new musican. My wife wanted to get out of town for her birthday so we planned a weekend trip to Fort Worth. It just so happened that a new live music venue was opening up that weekend and my wife found an article in the weekend guide of The Dallas Morning News promoting a concert there the same weekend. The performer was a singer/songwriter from Austin named Kat Edmonson.  We had never heard of her, but the article described her as follows:  “that beautifully gray area that separates Americana from Jazz, country from folk”. Well that was enough for me.  We bought tickets.   She was performing at a new venue in Fort Worth called The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge.  This is a great new place on the south side of Fort Worth.  It has an outstanding restaurant, a rooftop bar with an incredible view of Forth Worth, and a Music Hall that seats a little over 200 people.  The entire menu in the Lounge is also available in the Music Hall.  Pretty cool!

Our experience at the Lounge was first class.  The food and wine selection was excellent.  After dinner we went into the music hall and enjoyed the concert.  The opening act was Luke Wade.  He is a local artist from Fort Worth.  He was late because he had just played a private fundraiser for President Obama that was hosted by Bill Clinton.  The guy came in through the main entrance for the public, ran up on stage, and asked for two minutes to get ready. He performed on guitar with a fiddle player.  He put on a very enjoyable show.  He sounded too much like John Mayer to me.  That should tell you that he could sing and play at a very high level.

After a brief intermission Kat Edmonson sang and was accompanied by a acoustic guitar player.  Her guitar player was a French Canadian and he was a spactacular musicain.  She performed every song from her latest album and covered a song by Ella Fitzgerald (Champagne) and also Brian Wilson (I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.)  Her cover of the Brian Wilson song was easily one of the highlights of a very magical night.  She infused the song with a pathos that exceeded the brilliant original song by The Beach Boys

Kat Edmonson was raised in Houston by her Mother and Grandmother.  She grew up listening to their LP records. (This is this story’s link to my blog..)  She especially loved her Grandmothers LP’s.  She grew up listening and loving The Great American Song Book.  Her songs are full of amazing lyrics.  She is also a very effective and interesting live performer.  She understands subtlety and technique like very few performers I have seen recently.  I picked up her latest CD “Way Down Low” and I cannot stop listening to it.  The CD features a duet with Lyle Lovett.  The lyrics are a great example of her work:

The Long Way Home

I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright Going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, before I call it a day I’m making stops along the way Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thinking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright, going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, first, before this day is through I’ve got some things I’ve gotta do Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thanking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight Well I’ll be winking to the (? wise one?) who always knew And babbling with the brook about my love for you
When I, take the long way home tonight, tonight When I, take the long way home tonight.

If you can’t hear the Soul of Cole Porter in those lyrics then you must not have ever heard a song by him…

Check out Kat Edmonson.  She just recorded an episode of Austin City Limits with Willie Nelson.  Here is the link to her site:  Kat Edmonson.  Her music and lyrics are fantastic.  The ghost of Cole Porter lives!

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Posted in CD Picks, Country Music, Jazz Music, Life Events, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is it Rock? Country? Blues? Folk? Maybe all of the above…

Album Cover for "The Cream of Country" by Jerry Lee Lewis

Album cover of "The Cream of Country"

Sun Record Label

One of the most famous record labels in History "Sun Records"

This record came to me through one of my friends who asked me to record it for him.  The story of how he came to own this record is worth telling because those times are long, long, gone…

So his story is this:  My friend grew up in Wichita, Kansas in the 1950’s.  Not much went on in Wichita in the ’50s and ’60’s.  Not much goes on there today, come to think about it.  But when my friend was a junior in College, Jerry Lee Lewis was going to come through town and play a concert.  My friend didn’t even really know who Jerry Lee Lewis was.  One afternoon, a flat bed truck came through the campus grounds with a bull horn announcing a rock and roll show and where to get tickets.  As  a crowd began to gather, the promoters just started throwing copies of Jerry Lee Lewis albums out into the crowd.  My friend is a tall gentleman now, and he was tall back then too.  He easily caught one of the records.  So here it is “The Golden Cream of Country” by Jerry Lee Lewis. This record was released in 1969.

This record is on Sun Records.  The famous studio of the producer, Sam Phillips.  Sun records is hallowed ground.  It is one of the birthplaces of Rock and Roll.  Take a look at this photo:

 

The Million Dollar Quartet

Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley at Sun Records

At sun records in the 1950’s Rock, Country, Blues, and Folk music collided all at the same time. The results changed music forever.  Sam Phillips was the baby Doctor that assisted in it birth.  This record is a great example of what was going on at the time.  The tittle states it’s a “Country” record, but I would guess that when you listen to some of the songs you may think differently.

 

 

Side 1

Invitation To Your Party

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 A country song but with a honky tonk Rockabilly piano sound going on too.  Hmmm….

Jambalaya

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 This is such a famous song and it has been recorded by “everyone and their dog!”  I bet there are a lot of people that would be stunned to know that it was written by Hank Williams.  Here we have a Louisiana man singing about the bayou.  This is a great version and “The Killer” nails it!

Ramblin’ Rose

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When I saw this song title I thought it was going to be the “Ramblin’ Rose” of Nat King Cole.  This is a different song.  By the way, this song doesn’t sound anything like country and western music to me.  This is very Rhythm and Blues with it’s boogie beat and the style of singing it is really a very cool song.  This could have just as easily been Ray Charles.

Cold, Cold, Heart

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Another song by Hank Williams. When you call an album “The Golden Cream of Country” , you have to include some Hank Williams, Right?  There is a great new CD out that is a collection of unfinished songs of Hank Williams.  The CD was put together by Bob Dylan and a who’s who of great singer/song writers.  I haven’t heard it yet, but initial reviews have been very positive.  Jerry Lee definitely gives this song the country effect.  I especially like the gospel roll he uses in this arrangement.  The piano solo in the break is classic Jerry Lee Lewis.

As Long As I Live

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This song is much more Rock n Roll than country. The lead guitar sound is definitely more Rock sounding than country.  Once again The Killer tears up the piano with a great solo.

Seasons Of My Heart

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I don’t know who the woman singer is. She is not credited on the album anywhere. It’s interesting how they purposefully sing slightly out of sync with each other. It gives an edge of emotion to this song it wouldn’t otherwise have.

Side 2
One Minute Past Eternity

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This song is the most country song on the LP. This is in the style of old country like Patsey Cline.

I Can’t Trust You In My Arms Anymore

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This sounds more like Fats Domino than Willy Nelson.

Frankie and Johnny

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This is the only song on the LP that Jerry Lee Lewis wrote. This is straight ahead rock and roll. Not any country going on here. This is a great little rock and roll ditty.

Home

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A twangy guitar and a singing style like Roger Miller. A very country sounding song, with a slight blues edge to it.

How’s My Ex Treating You?

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Once again the walking blues bass appears. I like the fuzzy sound of the bass in this song. It’s a great tittle for a country song. It just sounds like rock and roll more than country. The Hammond Organ is not a typical C & W instrument ether.

And with that, “The Golden Cream of Country” comes to an end.  It’s Not the greatest album I ever heard.  It is interesting that a record like this was released with a tittle like this in 1969.  Consider what other albums were released in 1969.  The Beatles released Abbey Road, the Rolling Stones released Let it Bleed,  Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin I and II, The Who released “Tommy”.  There were also classic albums released that year by bands like The Velvet Underground, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, and Nick Drake.  That is a very diverse group of musicians.  Music was going in a million directions in 1969.  Maybe the competition for Jerry Lee was so intense he felt he had to call it a country album to sell any copies.

So the point to me is that it is dumb to label music.  Country?  Rock?  Jazz?  Classical?  Then you get really silly with labels like:  Fusion, Alternative, Dubb step, Heavy Metal, Punk, Indie, etc…  On and on it goes, till nobody know what it really means anymore.  I don’t know.  I could be wrong.  What do you think?

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Posted in Blues Music, Country Music, Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Johnny Cash, Folsom Prision, And The Story Of Glen Sherley


This is a follow up to the blog about the greatest live recordings of all time. I really wanted to share the Johnny Cash recording. So here it is in it’s entirety. Each side will be presented as one track. This will allow you to hear all of the banter between songs In the words of Johnny Cash: “Listen closely to this album and you hear in the background the clanging of the doors, the shrill of the whistle, the shout of the men – even laughter from men who had forgotten how to laugh.”


This record was made on Johnny’s fourth trip to Folsom prison.  It was Johnny’s idea to do a live album from prison.  It took him six years to convince Columbia records to allow him to record the album in Folsom.

Side one begins with the song you would expect:  “Folsom Prison Blues”.  The crowd erupts accordingly.   Other highlights are “Cocaine Blues ” and “The Long Black Veil”.  This last song is covered on Roseanne Cash’s album “The List”.  “The List” is a recording that Roseanne made after her father died.  Before his death he gave her a list of 10 songs that he felt she should record.  Both Johnny’s version and Roseanne’s versions are riveting.  Forgive the long pauses before the music starts.  I forgot to edit the tracks before I uploaded them.

Side 1:


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The tracks are as follows:

Folsom Prison Blues

Dark As The Dungeon, I Still Miss Someone, Cocaine Blues, 25 Minutes To Go, Orange Blossom Special, The Long Black Veil

Side 2:

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The Tracks are as follows:

Send A picture Of Mother, The Wall, Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart, Jackson (Sung with his wife, June Carter), give My Love To Rose (Also with June Carter), I Got Stripes, Green, Green Grass Of Home, and Greystone Chapel.

The set list is not an escape from a prison life but a confrontation of prison life.  It seems that Johnny Cash wants the concert to be a catharsis of the audiences suppressed emotions.  He forces them to feel what they don’t want to remember: like how much they miss home or their mother, what the crimes were that got them into prison in the first place, the shame and loneliness of prison life.  The performances are raw and emotional.  The song “Greystone Chapel” was written by a prisoner at Folsom named Glen Sherley.  I’ll let Johnny tell you in his own words how this song came to be on the album:

“The night before I was going to record at Folsom prison, I got to the motel and a preacher friend of mine brought me a tape of a song called “Greystone Chapel.” He said a convict had written it about the chapel at Folsom. I listened to it one time and I said, “I’ve got to do this in the show tomorrow.” So I stayed up and learned it, and the next day the preacher had him in the front row. I announced, “This song was written by Glen Sherley.” It was a terrible, terrible thing to point him out among all those cons, but I didn’t think about that then. Everybody just had a fit, screaming and carrying on.”

Johnny Cash helped Glen become a country music star.  Glen had success at first, but had a terrible time trying to cope with stardom.  As his fame faded he ended up homeless, living out of his truck, and helping to feed cattle.  On May 11, 1978 he took his own life by shooting himself in the head.  All this underscores what was at the heart of Johnny Cash doing this album. Johnny Cash had a deep belief that Prison does not rehabilitate people.  Johnny Cash was just like the rest of us.  He was unable to help save a man from himself.  Who really can?  What is great is that Johnny Cash tried so hard to make a difference in the lives of so many men that the rest of the world had already tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage.  God bless Johnny Cash and God bless all of the other Glen Sherley’s of the world…

 

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Posted in Country Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Rescuing Vinyl…

My wife went to several garage sales Friday while I was at work.  When I got home she told me about one place she went that had a large number of LP records.

“How many do you think they have?”, I asked.

“I don’t know, but there were about 4 or 5 medium sized boxes’, she says.

“Like what?”  I ask.

“Well, like Buckingham – Nicks, The Rolling Stones, Genesis…  You know, some pretty good rock -n -roll…”

We change the subject and life goes on until the next morning.  I wake up and the conversation from Friday is still rolling around in my brain.  I have to see what records these people have in their garage.   We decide to go back and see how many LP’s are left.

When we get there I see seven boxes are still left.  The people say that they want  50 cents per disc.  I pick out 22 that I can’t live without.  There were many that I wanted to buy.  It’s a garage sale so I negotiate.  “Since I’m buying 22 how about $8.00?”

“No, I really need 50 cents a record, sorry…”

I was really worried about all that vinyl.  It’s out in the Texas heat.  It’s over 100 degrees.  The records are barely in the shade.  It’s probably 100 degrees in the shade too.  I couldn’t stand to leave all that great music out in the heat.  What would happen to all that vinyl if I didn’t take it with me?  I don’t know what came over me but I blurted out “What if I give you $50 for all of them?”

The lady was stunned.  So was my wife!  The lady says “Sorry I can’t do that.”

“Well” I said, “if you don’t sell them here’s my number.”

I thought that was the end of it.  Pam and I go have lunch.  We are about to go home when the garage sale family calls me back.

“Does your offer still stand?”

“Sure, I’ll be there in 20 minutes.

We dr0ve back and loaded them in the SUV.  I had no idea how many LP’s there were.  When I got back home we counted them. 513!  Basically, I  bought them for 10 cents a piece.  Unbelievable!

There is much more to tell but suffice to let the picture speak for itself for now.  I rescued a lot of vinyl this weekend!

"The Mother Lode!"

LP Record haul from Garage Sale

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Posted in Blues Music, Country Music, Jazz Music, Life Events, Vinyl | Leave a comment