Sunday, July 05, 2015


In the midst of all the hullabaloo over who was going to influence the musical tastes of the newly discovered teenage demographic (and grab as much of their record buying money as possible), 
up walked Ray Price. Ray was just coming into his own after shedding his earlier Hank Williams influences so he was not particularly interested in trying to be a Rock’n’roller or embracing the emerging Nashville Sound. Instead he and his musical cohorts invented a sound of their own, the “Ray Price beat.” As Bill Friskics-Warren writes in HBTN, “‘We were having trouble getting a good clean bass sound,’ Price recalled of the session [that produced “Crazy Arms”]. ‘So instead of going with the standard 2/4 beat, I said, “Let’s try a 4/4 bass and a shuffle rhythm.” And it cut—
it cut clean through.’ Indeed, Buddy Killen’s surging bassline—which Price suggested be played on both electric and acoustic bass, making it doubly rocking—cut a swath wide enough for honky-tonk to rocket straight into the modern era. . . . Price and company transformed the gutbucket country shuffle of the postwar era into a pop-wise rhythm that kicked as hard as big-beat rock & roll. Hard enough, in fact, to knock [Carl] Perkins’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ off the top of the country charts. . . .”

6.  Crazy Arms • Ray Price • 1956

Ray Price, vocal; Van Howard, guitar/harmony vocal; Jack Pruett, Pete Wade, guitars; Jimmy Day, steel guitar; Tommy Jackson, fiddle; Floyd Cramer, piano; Buddy Killen, bass. Nashville, 1 March 1956

The Essential Ray Price is a good place to hear “Crazy Arms.”

Saturday, July 04, 2015

JULY 4th

’Long about July 4, 1957 this nine-year old heard rock’n’roll broadcast on the radio for the first time due to a parental error in station selection. Well, that’s all it took for the Kid to become a lifelong music crazy person fan listener collector wanna-DJ. 

The week of July 1, 1957 started out with Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” enjoying its fifth week as the best selling single on Billboard’s Top 40 listing. Aural relief arrived a few days later when “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley knocked ol’ Pat off the number one spot and stayed put for six weeks until bested by Debbie Reynolds and “Tammy.”

Not hard to guess which record we’re spinning today. . . .

Elvis Presley • (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear • 1957

Elvis Presley, vocal/guitar; session musicians: Scotty Moore, Tiny Timbrell, guitars; Bill Black, bass; D. J. Fontana, drums; Dudley Brooks, Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, piano; The Jordanaires, vocals. Paramount Scoring Stage, Hollywood, January 1957

“Teddy Bear” can be heard on Artist of the Century.

Image: Elvis performs “Teddy Bear” in the movie Loving You, via 

Our forthcoming post-Independence Day adventures: B. B. Junior hollers out, “Hey, Earl Hooker!” and Charles Mingus gets real with himself; Aaron Neville lauds the leader of the Club; Ray Price shuffles right on through the rock’n’roll/Nashville Sound kerfuffle; Hop Wilson experiences an existential crisis as Sonny Boy Williamson checks up on his baby, find out what she’s puttin’ down. And . . . here’s Leon again!

Friday, July 03, 2015


Lucille Bogan • They Ain’t Walking No More • 1930

Lucille Bogan, vocal; Charles Avery, piano. Chicago, late March 1930

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944

Thursday, July 02, 2015


Inconsolable: decades-old war poems resonate 2015, world without end, amen. As Mingus reflects this reality from a darkened room, 1963, and Dimitur ferries teenage Stoyanova’s plaint across decades, so our local cantina is serving it up 100 proof. . . . Johnny Twovoice wails gospel-syncopated “oh baby” on out Central Avenue, across burnt out lanes, over high line poles, Plains states to Asia Minor. “Is anyone living to look for future forgiveness?” A lone mandolin trills its response from an Appalachian front porch.  —FJ

Greg Brown • Joy Tears • 2006

Greg Brown, acoustic guitar/harmonica/vocals; Bo Ramsey, electric guitar; Rico Cicalo, acoustic bass/electric bass; Steve Hayes, drums/percussion; Ricky Peterson, acoustic piano/B3. Memphis, c. 2006

“Joy Tears” is the first track on Greg Brown’s The Evening Call.

Image: Japanese women walk through Hiroshima ruins, August 1945.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015


Jimmy Smith • Back At The Chicken Shack • 1960

Jimmy Smith, organ; Stanley Turrentine, tenor sax; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Donald Bailey, drums. 25 April 1960

“Back at the Chicken Shack” is, natcherly, on Back at the Chicken Shack: The Incredible Jimmy Smith.

Photo: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and farmer Roswell Garst at Garst’s farm, Guthrie County, Iowa, 
September 23, 1959. Photo source: Bolshevik Mean Girls

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Clifton Chenier • Ain't No Need Of Crying

Clifton Chenier, vocal/accordion; Cleveland Keyes, guitar; Joe Morris, bass; Robert St. Julien, drums; Cleveland Chenier, washboard. Houston, 1 April 1969

“Ain’t No Need of Crying” is the opening track to Clifton Chenier Sings the Blues.

Photo: Mr Barbecue backyard, Lombard, Illinois. 1989. Photo copyright © 2015 by Brad Barrett. Reproduced here by permission of copyright holder.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Willie May Williams • Where the Sun Never Goes Down • 1949

Willie May Williams, vocal/guitar. Philadelphia, October 1949