George Strait, Discusses His Upcoming Release, ‘Twang’

Posted in Upcoming Release on August 6, 2009 by takecountryback

RIP Billy Lee Riley passes at age 75

Posted in RIP on August 5, 2009 by takecountryback

Billy Lee Riley, a rambunctious performer who helped develop the Sun Records sound as a studio musician for other headliners, has died. He was 75.

Riley’s singles included “Red Hot” and “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll,” the latter of which led him to call his band “The Little Green Men” for a time. Riley died Sunday in Jonesboro, according to Dillinger Funeral Home in Newport, which is handling arrangements. He had been suffering from colon cancer, and it had moved to his bones, his wife, Joyce, told The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, Tenn.

“He was actually feeling better lately. So the very end was unexpected. But, he went peacefully,” Joyce Riley said.

Riley was one of the early performers who recorded at Memphis’ legendary Sun Records, but he was overshadowed by his cohorts, including Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Among many other songs, Riley and his band played on the original Sun recording of Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”

Riley’s voice at times had a cadence similar to Presley’s but early on he sang with more of a growl. His voice softened in his later recordings, which focused more on blues. A 22-song compilation, “Red Hot: The Best of Billy Lee Riley,” is among records still available.

Born in the town of Pocahontas, Riley grew up in a sharecropper family in northeast Arkansas and learned guitar and harmonica from other families.

In the early 1960s, Riley took his talents to California, where he worked as a studio musician for The Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. He also played bass, drums and sang.

Riley continued to perform, touring in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s to receptive rockabilly audiences. He kept performing late in life, including a June gig in Memphis with Sonny Burgess, another northeast Arkansas native and Sun performer.

The funeral home said there would be no visitation, and that a graveside service is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Newport.

© Copyright 2009 CSC Holdings, Inc.

Life Is Still `A Party’ For Rockabilly Queen

Posted in News on July 31, 2009 by takecountryback

It took Wanda Jackson a long time to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but now that she’s there, the 71-year-old Queen of Rockabilly and her uninhibited voice are busier than ever.
“My name is bigger than it’s ever been before,” she said in her Oklahoma City home during a recent break from touring. “My crowds are bigger. I’m just floored by all this.”

Selling records and filling venues haven’t been a problem for the chameleonic musician with the trademark growl. Her career began 50 years ago with country, then moved to rock ‘n’ roll, to gospel and back. But she says her April 4 induction into the hall as given her some newfound popularity. Since then her engagements have included a two-week stint in Europe and a fundraiser for the Woody Guthrie folk festival.

Terry Stewart, the CEO of the Rock Hall, said Jackson, who was inducted in the early influence category, was unique in music.

“There are a number of others of more obscure fame who sang in that vein,” including Janis Martin, who died earlier this year, Stewart said by telephone from Ohio. “There were girl singers in the area of rhythm and blues that have been inducted, like Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker.

“Wanda was certainly a stand alone in what she did.”

What she did was help spawn rockabilly, a combination of the terms rock n’ roll and hillbilly. Musically, it’s an uptempo blend of blues, country and western swing that emerged during the 1950s when rock and roll was in its infancy.

She was 14 when she won a chance to perform on an Oklahoma radio station in 1952. Country singer Hank Thompson tuned in and was so impressed, he invited her to sing with him and his band and helped her get her first music contract with Decca Records when she was in high school.

Later, when she switched to Capitol Records, she was booked with an up-and-coming singer named Elvis Presley.

“Oklahoma City wasn’t playing his records yet. My cousins down in Texas, I corresponded with them and told them I was working with this guy I’d never heard of, Elvis Presley,” Jackson said. “They said he’s the best singer in the world, sexiest, best-looking guy. Just wait. After I met him I knew what they were talking about.”

Presley encouraged her to try rock ‘n’ roll and the pair worked together from 1955 to 1957.

“He gave me his ring that I wore around my neck, we became boyfriend and girlfriend for a little while there,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s career and persona transformed from a country darling in long-sleeved shirts, a hat and cowboy boots to rock ‘n’ roll singer decked out in formfitting, fringed dresses and skirts her mother made for her.

Her “Let’s Have a Party” peaked at No. 37 in 1960. Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama,” about a woman who compares herself to a volcano and “Rock Your Baby” proliferated the new sound, but it didn’t translate into big record sales.

“I got to where I’d put a rock song on one side and a country on the other side of my releases to keep my country audiences with the country song but try to gain a foothold in rock and roll,” she said.

Country music won out. Jackson had 30 hits over 20 years and received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female.


On the Net:

© Copyright 2009 CSC Holdings, Inc.

Play Guitar? In Texas Aug 23? Luckenbach is the place to be…

Posted in News on July 31, 2009 by takecountryback

We need 2,000 Guitar Players/Pickers to join together August 23rd in Luckenbach, Texas to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the LARGEST GUITAR ENSEMBLE! The current record is held by the country of Germany with 1,802 guitarists…..COME ON OUT TO LUCKENBACH TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT AND GIVE TEXAS THE TITLE!!!

Hosted By:
Voices of a Grateful Nation

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Luckenbach, Texas

“Pickin’ For The Record” Register NOW at: This is a great event and a unique opportunity for guitarists from all walks of life…..from experts/legends to students/beginners….from tall to short….from young to old. If you can play the guitar…..DO COME TO LUCKENBACH ON 8/23/09 AND COME TO PLAY. Two songs have been chosen for the event: “Back to the Basics of Love (Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas)”, originally record by the late, great Waylon Jennings and “This Land is Your Land”, a classic American song, written by the folk legend, Woody Guthrie. We want anyone and EVERYONE to join us in Luckenbach to attempt to break the WORLD RECORD!! Sign up early at the Voices of a Grateful Nation website (see above). The registration fee of $10.00 will go into an endowment fund to provide assistance and therapy to our returning military suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A GREAT EVENT AND FOR A GREAT CAUSE!

Pete Seeger Birthday Concert to Air

Posted in News, Television appearances on July 31, 2009 by takecountryback

Begining Thursday July 29, PBS will begin to air the Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Concert which took place earlier this year at Madison Square Garden as part of the Great Performances series. The broadcast will feature many unique and amazing collaborations amongst the artists who came together to celebrate the life and music of Pete Seeger…including Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens, Roger McGuinn, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, and many others who performed songs inspired by Seeger’s music and activism. The broadcast will feature Patterson Hood and Michael Franti’s performance of “Dear Mr President” as well as many other unique and amazing collaborations. Be sure to tune in. Check your local PBS listing for air times, and look out for the DVD release coming soon.

Tommy Castro: Free Download

Posted in Blues, mp3, Upcoming Release on July 31, 2009 by takecountryback

tommycastro_hardbeliever_400 Download “Monkey’s Paradise” from Tommy’s forthcoming Alligator release “HARD BELIEVER”

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF THE NEW Tommy Castro Band CD, “HARD BELIEVER”! All pre-order CDs will be signed and shipped on the CD release date, August 11.

MySpace Folk Playlist for July/August 2009

Posted in TCB MySpace Playlists on July 31, 2009 by takecountryback


My Side by Molly Thomas
Good Time Gone by Shawn Byrne
I Cannot Settle Down by Peter Bradley Adams
I Walk by Blue Eyed Grass
Ghostdance by Bill Miller
Butterfly by Cary Hudson
Wreck by The Bittersweets
Hope Rains by Brian Ritchey
Forever Just Walked Out The Door by Rose And Ben
Strong by John Henry Trinko
Highway Killer by Devil Dust
Give It On Back by Angie Stevens & The Beautiful Wreck
In Your Faith by Mike Blackwell
The Other Side by Salter Cane
Pollyanna by Laurie McClain