Monthly Archives: May 2020

Memphis Mayhem: A Story of the Music That Changed the World

Memphis Mayhem weaves the tale of the racial collision that led to a cultural, sociological, and musical revolution – The definitive story of the birthplace of rock and roll. Beginning with the 1870s yellow fever epidemics that created racial imbalance as wealthy whites fled his hometown, David Less moves beyond W.C. Handy’s codification of the blues in 1909 to the mid-century advent of interracial music, the birth of punk, and finally to the growth of a music tourism industry.

The city’s musical ecosystem included studios, high school band instructors, clubs, record companies, family bands, pressing plants, and retail record outlets, and it produced a startling array of talent, including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Al Green, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carla Thomas, Booker Little, Alex Chilton, Ann Peebles, Jim Dickinson, Furry Lewis, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Justin Timberlake.

Lively and comprehensive, Memphis Mayhem is a provocative chronicle of finding common ground through music and creating a sound that would change the world.

About the author: Third-generation Memphian David Less has studied Memphis music for over 40 years, including work done for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. He has published in Rolling StoneDownBeat, and Blues Revue magazines and Society for American Music Bulletin. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Available October 6, 2020. Pre-order now!

Craft Recordings to Release 50th Anniv. 1/2 Speed Master of CCR’s ‘Cosmo’s Factory’

Craft Recordings celebrates the 50th anniversary of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s pinnacle album, Cosmo’s Factory, with the release of a half-speed master edition. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and set for an August 14th street date, the album was mastered at half speed by the award-winning engineer Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. Available for pre-order today, this audiophile edition of Cosmo’s Factory comes housed in a tip-on jacket, replicating the original packaging from 1970.

Additionally, Craft is calling on Creedence fans around the globe to be a part of a new video for Cosmo’s Factory’s closing track, a beloved fan favorite “Long as I Can See the Light.” Set to premiere in time for Father’s Day this June, the visuals will honor fathers, grandfathers, and other guiding lights in fans’ lives. The tradition of musical inheritance is strong among CCR fans—the band’s timeless songs and albums have been proudly passed down from generation to generation. And now, in the era COVID-19, it is become apparent that music is more important than ever to keep people feeling connected, even when they are physically apart.

Fans are encouraged to share videos and photos showing cherished memories with fathers, grandfathers, and other important mentors in their lives. The deadline for submissions is June 1st. For full details, visit

Released on July 16, 1970, Cosmo’s Factory remarkably stood as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fifth full-length in two-years. The album, which borrowed its name from drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford (who often referred to the band’s practice space as “The Factory”), followed a highly prolific year for CCR, in which the Berkeley, CA band released three Billboard Top Ten albums in 12 months. Cosmo’s Factory would continue the group’s momentum, taking Clifford, frontman John Fogerty, guitarist Tom Fogerty, and bassist Stu Cook to the height of their success. For the second time, Creedence topped the album chart in the US, while they scored their first No. 1 in the UK, Canada, and Australia, among other territories, firmly cementing their status as international rock stars.

The album also found CCR expanding their sonic territory, with tracks like the seven minute-long psychedelic jam, “Ramble Tamble,” a gritty, 11 minute-long rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and the twangy “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” which was a nod to the “Bakersfield Sound” of West Coast country artists like Buck Owens. The folk-tinged “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” meanwhile, harkens back to the era of the Vietnam War, as does the blues-rocker “Run Through the Jungle,” which has been used in a myriad of films, TV, and video games.

Cosmo’s Factory produced several Top Ten singles—“Travelin’ Band”/”Who’ll Stop the Rain” in January, which peaked at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Up Around the Bend”/”Run Through the Jungle” in April, which came in at No. 4, and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” in July, which peaked at No. 2.

Now, a half a century after its release, Cosmo’s Factory will gain a new vibrancy, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the mastering process involves playing back the audio at half its recorded speed, while the cutting lathe is turned at half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This special pressing was previously available only as part of CCR’s collectible, seven-LP Studio Albums Collection box set.

We’re making a music video for “Long As I Can See the Light” and want you to be a part of it! Most likely, you grew up listening to Creedence. We like to call it “musical inheritance”: music that resonates across generations, that parents “pass down” to their children. So what could be a more fitting soundtrack for a tribute to the person you celebrate on Father’s Day…?Send us videos with your father, grandfather or another guiding light in your life. Video examples may include anything from iPhone footage to old home movies…any meaningful memory that you’ve captured over the years. Deadline: June 1st at 8pm BST / 12pm PST.Let’s make this Father’s Day one to remember! Submission form and full details:

Posted by Creedence Clearwater Revival on Friday, May 22, 2020

Alan Jackson to Perform Drive-In Concerts

Alan Jackson is among a growing number of musicians utilizing the drive-in concert format. The three-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year and Opry member will host two drive-in concerts in Cullman, AL on June 5 and Fairhope, AL on June 6.

The Small Town Drive-In concerts will allow 2,000 vehicles per show and will comply with CDC’s health guidelines. At a time of grievous longing for a live experience, Jackson will bring three decades of hits to his fans in a one-of-a-kind drive-in meets concert.

The Cullman, AL show will be on the open-field site of the long-running Rock the South festival, and the Fairhope, AL show the following day will be on the grounds of Oak Hollow Farm. Attendees will be required to stay in their vehicles with concessions provided only via phone orders.

Tickets for Alan Jackson’s Small Town Drive-In concerts go on sale Wednesday, May 27 (10:00am CT). General admission price per vehicle (up to two passengers) is $99.99; additional passenger tickets may be purchased for $39.99. A limited amount of VIP parking, closest to the stage, is available starting at $199.99.

A portion of all proceeds from each Small Town Drive-In concert will go toward food relief efforts in the respective regions, which have been strained more than usual since the pandemic. Cory Farley, a frequent performer at Jackson’s AJ’s Good Time Bar in downtown Nashville, will open the shows.

Alan Jackson

More information on the designated charities

Bucky Baxter, Steve Earle’s Wingman, Dylan’s Steel Secret, a Fearless Heart Finds the Sky

If the credibility scare of the late 80s – the one swept in by Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and Neil Young’s Old Ways – had a Scarecrow, a real honest-to-goodness “Wizard of Oz” Scarecrow, it was Bucky Baxter. Tall, thin, kind-hearted, goofy smile and fingers that could do untold things… 

He was Sancho Panza to Steve Earle’s Don Quixote, riding the white lines on the far rock edge of a kind of country that was jacked up, four on the floor, pistons pumping and a burn-through-safety kind of intensity. If Dwight Yoakam was hard Bakersfield with Pete Anderson as his once-blues-rock guitar-slinging wingman, Baxter was Earle’s sound of radial tires unraveling on scorching black top. Just as importantly, that steel when grafted onto the blue collar rust-country Earle was making gave the songwriter an eau du oil rigs, pumping, drilling, driving straight into the next shift. 

There was an urgency when Earle played, a fearlessness that came from blasting out of the places you fear would hold you hostage. His records had space between the instruments, the opportunity to hear every single player and the way those sounds expanded; but Baxter, that steel when he played, spilled all over everything. And like red wine, you couldn’t wash it out, but in the “new Nashville,” why would you want to lose that sobbing twang? It was working people’s music after all.

Not that Bucky was ever a sob story, or a buzz kill. Completely the opposite. He was a Newfoundland, always ready to climb up, to look around, to find the next adventure. He had a sweet heart, and it sometimes set him for high jinks.

Yes, he knew how to play steel to pass muster in any Texas beer joint, but he also understood the way he could cut through all the guitars and slice open the emotion. The steel ride on “Someday,” from GuitarTown, held all the frustration, the yearning, the desire to move on from a nowhere town, just as the hollowed out lonesome of that album’s closing “My Old Friend the Blues” wept openly in the lost hours with no one else to call by way of the raw texture of Earle’s voice and the plangent tone of how Bucky played the steel.

Guitar Town made them a sensation. Like rock stars, they took off into the night, playing everywhere there was to play, disappearing into the morning light. They rode hard. They played harder, and the Dukes forged a reputation as a tough band to follow. No tricks, just an alignment of world class players – Mike McAdam, Harry Stinson, Reno Kling, Baxter – who wanted to play better than any time before every time they took the stage.

When the dust settled, Steve was a massive star. The band finding their way the way those kinds of bands who are integrated into the solo artist’s music do. Present, powerful, contributing. If Earle wrote with a slightly jagged straight razor, the Dukes brought it just as intensely.

Having written that first profile for Tower Records’ Pulse magazine, the one Pam Lewis seeded to The LA and New York Times, Rolling Stone and Newsweek, my star as a music critic rose just slightly behind Earle’s. And Steve Earle doesn’t forget.

When a new editor, who had zero business running an entertainment desk, fired first the classical writer, then the tv writer went to The National Enquirer because he couldn’t “work like this,” it was obvious something was amiss. Me, the 20-year old with the aversion to shoes? I was next in his crosshairs; staying until all hours or suffer the indignity of having errors edited into my pieces, because he obviously knew better, was obviously part of his end game.

I would spend hours on the phone with Steve, talking about my plight, the fact the guy didn’t get music or life or passion at all. He’d laugh a gallows laugh, and marvel how they could have a writer contributing regularly as a freelancer to Pulse, MIX, Country Song Round-Up, Song Hits, Southern, Rock & Soul and so many other late, lamented magazines – and not understand they had a nationally recognized writer on their staff.

A few days later, there was a message on my machine. That voice, all raw South Texas growl, was to the point: “Call me.”

“Okay, there’s no press in these sessions,” he began, “and I’m probably gonna get a ton of grief. But we start tracking next week. Get up here.”

The editor who didn’t get it didn’t get that, either. Follow-up to one of the biggest records of 1985… closed session… total exclusive. I took vacation time.

Emerald Recording Studios on 16th was like Oz. Painted a deep brilliant green, it was the state of the art room for making records. Tony Brown, suddenly the hip producer with Lyle Lovett and Patty Loveless also on his roster, was again teaming with fellow Hot Band alum and longtime Elvis bass player Emory Gordy, Jr, as well as Anglophile Neil Diamond vet Richard Bennett to reprise the Guitar Town magic. The buzz was palpable; literally, you could almost see it in the air.

Skulking down the stairs to the studio, I tiptoed into the control room as a song was flying by. “There’s a road in Oklahoma, straighter than a preacher, longer than a country mile…”

It was electric. 

Honed by 16 months on the road, the Dukes about melted down the gear. Sitting on a sofa in front of the console, I could watch it all go down. Bounce from isolation booth to isolation booth, smile as a player caught fire. There was a surge and a backbeat to all of it that just picked you up, almost flung you forward.

They took another take, came in to listen. High spirits, much laughter. Music when it’s molten just feels good. Yucking it up behind me, I could hear bragging about something – and the kind of laughter that suggests somebody’s gonna get it.

“Well, no, I came out of gospel…” was the protestation, “and that’s just a different world. You boys think you’re nasty, but you know, and I was a young guy.” 

There’s more talking, more white noise amongst them, then it all fell silent.

“No, you don’t get it. They all couldn’t believe I could drink that much and still get it up, and I was like, ‘Well, I got a 100 dollars says I can…’”

Raised by golf pros, I knew I was the con. Keep my head down, let this – whatever this story was – play out. But man, gospel? get it? drinking? This was gonna be good.

“So they all get their money out, lay it on the table with a buncha porno magazines, and I go to work. You know, just going after it and you know, faster and faster ‘til I splattered all those pictures…”

The assembled were howling, far too much for a story of that sort of road hijinks. “Well, they paid me,” he protested, trying to figure out the gag. And that’s when like a periscope slowly rising, the top of my head, then eyebrows, then nose came up from behind the console.

“Whatta lovely story,” I cooed. Raised by golf pros, it was just another day in the back room.

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAA…..” he howled, turning purple, then starting to run out of the room. “You guys… didn’t…” he stammered, stopping, turning back, unsure of what to do.

Everyone laughed. I laughed. It was one of those too good to be true pranks.

Bucky stood there, dripping in it. “Holly, Oh My God, I am so sorry… I would’ve never…”
“I know, Bucky, that’s what makes it so funny.”
“But, but… I would never ever ever tell a story like that in front of a girl.”

He was white now, shaking a bit, but trying to hold himself together.

“I know, Bucky. I know. That’s why I’m not offended.”
“But I’m sorry.”
“Well, you don’t have to be. You didn’t know I was here, and your friends let you walk right off the cliff.”

The boys were all still laughing, big Cheshire smiles all around. Sometimes the opportunity is just to do something unthinkable. Especially in a closed room.

“I know, but…” 
“No, no, it’s all good. Bucky, you would’ve never done that if you’d know. We all know that, and that’s what makes it funny. You don’t have to apologize. We’re good. Promise.” 
“I feel awful…” 
“Because you did it? Or your friends ‘got’ you?”
“I don’t know.” 
“Well, don’t bother. You guys are playing great, and that’s all that matters. Please get back out there and rock.”

Rock they did. The next song was a blazing bit of shredding the tread called “The Week of Living Dangerously.” The piano hurled itself forward, the drums crashed, the six string bass thum-thum-thum’d as Earle raved through the tale of a 9-to-5 married guy who – blown off by some hot chick in traffic – “throws the car seat in the dumpster and heads out into the night.”

The protagonist’s meltdown is classic Earle meets Twain and Hunter Thompson stuff, right down to the bailiff, who tells the blacked out hero, “How you got across that river alive, I don’t know/ But your wife just made your bail, so now you’re really dead for sure…” Brazen, loose, frenzied, but Baxter’s steel was a fishtailing, donut monster that lathered and lacerated the proceedings with the proper amounts of grease and pursuit.

When the final notes died, a single laugh poured from Earle. Then they all poured into the control room. Combustion it was, that take was deemed irreplaceable – and what you hear on Exit 0 is what went down on that first take.

And that was Bucky, quite possibly channeling the horror of the moment into the zeitgeist of some square’s revolt. Though Bucky could wring a steel guitar out in any state, just push those pedals with his knees, slide that metal bar and let it bleed, sob, snort or whatever else was called for.

Yet for all the brazen, he was a sweet guy. Indeed, for all the brio of Earle’s music, his bands have always been pretty great people. But when you’d run into Bucky at a gig, sometimes killing time before, or the tedium of waiting around after, he’d always have a smile and a quick catch-up. Always some kind of adventure, some kind of story, he was as busy living as he was being a Duke.

Years later, I was in New York City staying at Rhiga Royale when it was the hotel “everybody” stayed at. I’d done “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee ” with a very straight client, and we were waiting for the car to do CNN. Jockeying outside the hotel for cars could be an Olympic sport even when you knew the doormen… And this day, the cars were backed up.

I noticed Collin staring at a lanky man, dressed all in white leather, making a face like “what kind of hippie b.s. is this?” 

I looked closer, squealed like a little kid. The thin man in white rushed up, threw his arms around me and spun me like I was 6 years old.

“BUCKEEEEEE!” I howled to the psychedelic looking figure from my past.
“HOLLEEEEEE!” he echoed. “What are you doing here?”

It wasn’t a question about the purpose, but the company I was keeping. “Work, you know…,” I protested, as he eye-balled my client the way Dennis Hopper did in “Easy Rider.” 

Feeling the right wing rising behind me, I just kept talking. “And what are you doing here?” 
“Waiting for my car. We’re playing at Madison Square Garden.”
“So you love Bob Dylan?” 
“Yeah, what’s not to love?”
“Well, the songs can’t get any better, and he’s restless, so you’re always stretching out.”

Truth was the Dukes were so indelible, one wonders how a player gets beyond that. 

For Bucky, it was a recording studio, living on boats, playing with whomever got his magic, time on the water, being handy, producing incredible indie artists talking about his son. “Yeah, all those things. You wanna come to the show?”

“I have to fly home. Meetings in the morning. WAH!”
“Well, you look pretty…” “Thanks, Bucky. And you look crazy, but awesome crazy cool.”
The doorman came over and touched my elbow. “I gotta go.” 

We hugged, and it was a rib locker of life, love, fierce music, crazy adventures, heroics and childhoods that ran through each other so naturally, it seemed part of the weave. I bounced off, waving as I disappeared into the car.

“You know that guy?” the dyspeptic client asked aghast.
“I do,” I replied. “He’s Bob Dylan’s steel player, and one of the original Dukes. That guy is all soul and heart — and he can burn you with what he plays.”

The manager gave the artist a look. The artist decided not to take it. 
“And he’s your friend?”

“Yes, for years and years and years. I’ve seen him in bars and Farm Aid, theaters and the studio. We’ve shared catering and dreams, watching things go so good and bad. Do you have a problem with that?”

The manager said, “No, we were just a little surprised at your friend’s outfit.”
I looked at him. 
The manager made a joke. “And you know, if we’d needed to thump him, we had you.”

Thump him? The gentlest soul in the world? Shows how judging a cover is a bad idea. 

Mostly, though, running into Bucky wasn’t heroic. It would be at a coffee shop like Bongo Java, or Baja Burrito by the Berry Hill Studios. He’d see you and smile, sit down and start talking. All kinds of things, all kinds of dreams. Sometimes he’d talk about his son Rayland, who was a pretty good songwriter, too. You could tell he was proud, and he was also not gonna be the kind of Dad who couldn’t stay out of his kid’s affairs. He wanted his son to have every bit of integrity and awesome that he’d lived as the man who poured sterno on sad songs, churning songs, even happy songs that needed to glitter.

By the time Rayland Baxter had his first record coming, the buzz in the underground was there. Grace Potter gushed to me about him one late night, and Kacey Musgraves, too. 

Interviewing him for a Nashville magazine, you could see the dreamer, the love of life inside – and you wondered if maybe whatever’s in the blood can fill the void of a father mostly gone, because those qualities were very much what marked Bucky. Every bit the artist, living in a one room shack behind a house out by the fairgrounds, Rayland figured his music out with another group of gypsy dreamer kids…

The news Bucky was gone came to me backwards. Someone asking if it could be true. I’m supposed to be off the computer. Too many hours, burning eyes, blah blah blah. A couple calls, a couple texts. Checking with Steve, he confirmed the sad news; said he thinks it’s a stroke, Bucky’d suffered from high blood pressure.

I think about those two, the kid with the kinky hair who was so quick to laugh and the solid guy with the black hair streaming behind him always redolent with working-class brio. The trouble they got in, the music they made, the places they went.

If Steve’s first live album was Shut Up & Die Like An Aviator, then maybe Bucky engineered the perfect exit. Boom! And gone. In these terrible days of COVID-19, the encroaching sense of profits over fixing people and bleeding them dry by a healthcare system now run by insurance companies more than doctors, Bucky had a moment, then he was stars.

That’s how I want to think of it. Because anything else is just too hard.

I think, too, of Rayland, equally lanky, with a cockeyed smile and so much music running through his veins. He absolutely cut his own path, had created some of the most lovely singer/songwriter stuff of the last decade, and yet, when an artist loses a parent?

Expressing that to Steve, he texts back, “I think he’s good.” Then clarifying his meaning, he comes back, “I mean he can write.”

No higher praise.

And so, another elegy, another light snuffed out like a taper on the table. Thinking about Bucky, though, I know he lived every last drop, tasted the moments and found the beauty of so many things most of us might find tedious.

To laugh, to pour out music like that was no effort. It is a gift, and a gift he shared with so many along the way. But just as important was how that music made you feel, the way it grabbed you and pulled you straight into the whirlpool.

Up in heaven, he’s probably looking for where he can swim with some dolphins, throw a line in a quiet fly fishing stream. St. Peter may’ve even shown him to a houseboat that’s pretty sweet. No doubt there’ll be a jam, and most likely, he’ll be sitting in.

Little Richard Statue Will be Placed Outside his Childhood Home

“The Architect of Rock and Roll,” Little Richard, will be commemorated with a new statue outside his childhood home in Macon, Georgia. Richard Wayne Penniman passed away earlier this month after a private battle with bone cancer. Friends of the Little Richard House and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia have initiated a fund to pay for the statue along with a replica of the musician’s Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Representative James Beverly said the fund will also be used to support organizations that provide music education to low to moderate-income students across Bibb County and Middle Georgia. Organizers are planning to have the statue erected by December 5, on what would have been Little Richard’s 88th birthday.

“Little Richard’s contribution to music as a whole, to all the genres of music, was monumental and very instrumental in a lot of people’s careers,” Antonio Williams, a Friends of the Little Richard House board member stated.  In 2017, Little Richard celebrated his 85th birthday. To celebrate, Macon proclaimed December 5 “Little Richard Day.” And during a meeting held over Zoom, a board member read a proclamation from Macon Mayor Robert Reichert stating December 5 will be known as “Little Richard Penniman Day.”

Jimmy Buffett on That Time He Hung Out on Bob Dylan’s Boat

Well before Jimmy Buffett became king of the Parrotheads, he was a highly regarded singer-songwriter with an obvious gift for storytelling — and among his admirers was Bob Dylan. Dylan first made his fandom known in 1982, when he rendered a surprise appearance with Joan Baez even more shocking by launching into Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at 40.” Then, in a 2009 interview with Bill Flanagan, Dylan named Buffett as one of his favorite songwriters (along with Gordon Lightfoot, Warren Zevon, Randy Newman, John Prine, and Guy Clark). As Buffett discusses in the new episode of The Rolling Stone Interview: Special Edition, the two men also spent some time together — and as with most Dylan stories, there’s a twist. The meeting took place not long after Dylan’s duet with Baez, on a harbor off the island of St. Bart’s, where Dylan had a schooner named Water Pearl.

“I was walking by the marine-supply store,” Buffett recalls, “and I heard a voice say, ‘Hey, Jimmy, that’s a nice-looking pair of shoes. And it was Bob Dylan! He was seeing a girl that I knew on the island, and I knew a couple of guys that worked for him on the road. And he invited me out on the boat, and we sat there and talked. We got stoned all day long.” Buffett came away convinced he’d made a deep connection with Dylan: “I’m thinking, man, we have a bond here.”

Five years later, he went to see Dylan perform with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Paris, and a mutual friend who worked security told Buffett that Dylan would be excited to see him backstage. “And I go backstage,” says Buffett, “and Dylan was sitting there. He had these gloves on. He’s got his hoodie on. I said, ‘Bob, how doin’?’”

Dylan responded with just a grunted “eh.”  “He never said a word,” says Buffett. “I sat there, ate my meal and said, ‘Well, have a good show. See you later.’ That was it. I haven’t seen him since!”

Jimmy Buffett’s new album, Life on the Flip Side, is out now.

Joe Walsh Hosts Weekly ‘Old-Fashioned Rock n’ Roll Radio Show’

Multi-Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joe Walsh will host a radio show to a public, member-supported 88.5-FM based in Los Angeles. The hour-long Joe Walsh Old-Fashioned Rock n’ Roll Show will make its debut at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21.

The analog man suggested pulling a weekly DJ shift as a longtime listener and contributor to 88.5. “It’s flattering to have rock legends listening and financially supporting the station,” General Manager Patrick Osburn says. “Being entertainment royalty and one of the many local fixtures of the SoCal/Hollywood community, we anticipate Joe’s rolodex of potential guests runs deep, so we feel great about giving him the keys to the car.”

Not being able to tour with the Eagles currently gives him free time – and free rein – to serve KCSN, the public radio outlet that serves his community. Joe has made the refreshing decision to support the public media platform, whereas most other artists are opting for satellite radio programs.

“This public radio station serves the community I live in and is funded by listeners,” Walsh said in a statement. “I like that men with ties don’t decide what I listen to. My show will be a mixture of music I love, music I think people will want to hear and stories behind some of these songs that I’m pretty sure no one knows about. Hopefully, the show will generate some more listeners and support for the station, and we will have a lot of fun in the process.”

“While we hate seeing all the shows and festivals cancel this summer,” Osburn added. “We are thrilled to have Joe killing time on 885’s airwaves. It will be great for Joe, the station, and listeners!”

88.5’s program director Marc “Mookie” Kaczor agreed. “Joe has been a longtime contributor and friend of the radio station, but now that he has his own show, he’s truly part of the 88.5-FM family,” Kaczor said. “I can’t wait to hear his stories. Joe Walsh is rock royalty.”

The station’s live programming is available on the 88.5 app and also at 88.5.

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John Prine & Bill Murray on Life in “the Land of the Wind-Chill Factor”

Video of 2018 discussion hosted by the Recording Academy Nashville

Like other Chicagoans who left their hometown to become world-famous, both John Prine and Bill Murray remain Chicagoans at heart forever, forever imprinted by the big city where they started their careers in close-proximity to each other. So it made sense to bring these two old friends together to discuss how they went from Chicago boys to legends.

Presented by the Recording Academy Nashville Chapter and moderated by musician/author Peter Cooper, the conversation took place in front of an intimate audience at RCA’s historic Studio A in Nashville.

The old friends reminisced about their early days in “the land of the wind chill factor,” as Prine famously called it in song, where their pathways crossed those of fellow legends Steve Goodman, John Belushi and Kris Kristofferson. They also talked songwriting, improvisational comedy, record deals, friendship, and much more.

On Getting Started

John Prine: Soon as I could play one guitar chord and laid my ear upon that wood, I was gone. My soul was sold. Music was everything from then on. I’d listen to that chord as long as it would linger.

Bill Murray: First time I went to class at Second City, I was so bad that I walked out to the street, and just kept walking. Then I hitchhiked around the country. When I came back, I could do it. I had to go out and live some before I could stand in my own shoes onstage and feel confident.

John: I was 22, working as a mailman, doing the open mike night. I wrote “Souvenirs” in the car on the way.

Peter Cooper: How did you know at your age all about longing and regret?

John: Man, I’ve known about that since my first pair of shoes. You know that first love that leaves you? You never forget that, especially if you’re a songwriter. I must have gotten nine songs out of that girl.

On Steve Goodman

John: [Goodman] was 5 feet 2 of dynamite. He was a ball of energy. Also the hardest person I’ve ever followed onstage. Steve would just drain the audience. They would have no bones on them after. Then he’d walk offstage, hit me on the shoulder, and say, “They’re gonna love you, Johnny.”

Bill: Sometimes I’d be done at Second City and they’d still be going at The Earl, so I’d stumble by to hear Prine or Steve Goodman. By then they’d already manipulated the crowd. There were men that were crying, and women who were just adoring. Musicians! They work their ways.

On Struggling To Survive

Bill: I had to get out the house. We lived in the suburbs and I was not welcome in my own house, because I was a troublemaker. I had a schedule worked out where I’d get in late, sleep past when everyone would leave, wake up, eat all the eggs I could, feed the dogs, and leave before they came back. Then I’d be out all night and come back and go to sleep before they left.

I’d go to Old Town, where my brother took care of me. I watched the shows at Second City a lot. It was Belushi, John Candy, my brother [Brian Doyle Murray]. and his friends. I’d hitchhike back and forth, because I had no money. And hitchhiking in Chicago in the winter is a ridiculous proposition. Somehow I made it home.

John: My goal was getting out of the post-office. I was a mailman walking in the snow six days a week, 12-hour days. Every two weeks I’d get a check for $228. Earl of the Earl of Old Town told me, “If you sing four nights a week, I’ll give you a thousand bucks cash under the table.” I thought, this is heaven!  Once I got out, I was King of the Hill!  I slept late all week and made a thousand dollars a week! I didn’t care if I never did anything else. I was a total 100% success. That was as far as I wanted to go. I didn’t think of getting a record deal.

On Finding Success

Bill: I was onstage at Second City and I did something in a scene, and I could feel it in me; I felt it react and rebound with the audience. It hit me I could support myself by doing this.

John: Kris Kristofferson and Steve Goodman were the two most unselfish people I ever met. Kris loved Steve, and said he needed to go to Nashville to make a record.

Goodman said, “No. You think I’m good? You need to go hear my buddy, John Prine.”

So at one in the morning on a Sunday they came to the Earl and I sang. Then Kris asked me to sing them again and said I was going to New York, too. Goodman and I went to New York, straight to the Bitter End. We see Kris, who told us we were each going to sing three songs a piece. Jerry Wexler came up after and asked me to come over to Atlantic the next morning at 10 am. I did, and he had a record contract on his desk waiting for me. I hadn’t been in New York 24 hours.

Back then in Chicago, you had to leave town to get a deal. Me and Goodman left town for three days and came back with record contracts. We were like returning astronauts! I never knew that wasn’t the way it went. I wondered for years why my peers kept their distance from me. It’s cause I was the Cinderella kid. And I was lucky.

Bill: These guys are ice-breakers. Kristofferson for you. Belushi was mine. He dragged all of us to New York for the National Lampoon radio show. Belushi broke it open for a lot of people and made it possible for find the opportunities. I was lucky. The spotlight would be on them, and I’d be the spare-part, like if they needed an extra bride-groom. I was lucky all the way.

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Bill Murray on John Prine

Stax Records Kicks Off New Instagram Live Series

Join Stax Records as they kick off a new Instagram Live series, “Gospel Brunch Live Set with DJ Jared ‘Jay B.’ Boyd,” featuring music from The Gospel Truth Records catalog.

Debuting this Sunday (5/24) at 2:00 pm PT/4:00 pm CT on Stax Records on Instagram and continuing on the third Sunday of every month through August (2:00 pm PT on 6/21, 7/19, and 8/16), the new series is part of Stax’s tribute campaign to The Gospel Truth Records and leads up to the release of The Gospel Truth singles compilation in September (Gospel Heritage Month). The compilation will be available on vinyl, CD and digitally.

In addition to being a DJ and penning the liner notes for the upcoming The Gospel Truth compilation, Jared Boyd is a Memphis-based multimedia journalist with The Daily Memphian, co-host/producer of NPR’s roots music program “Beale St. Caravan,” and DJs at events throughout Memphis, including Memphis Tourism’s Music Hub events at Central Station. Jared has also reported for, It’s A Southern Thing, The Daily Mississippian, Jackson Free Press, and Commercial Appeal.

In March, Craft Recordings kicked off their campaign to honor the music of Gospel Truth Records, a subsidiary of Stax Records, with the first-ever digital release of 25 albums from the label’s catalog. Beginning with The Rance Allen Group’s 1972 self-titled debut (digitally reissued on March 13th), one title has been released in chronological order every week and will continue up until September’s Gospel Heritage Month.

From the divine gospel of Rev. T.L. Barrett and Rev. Maceo Woods to the cutting-edge message music of Louise McCord and marquee artist Rance Allen, the Gospel Truth catalog exemplifies the dynamic heritage of Stax’s influence. Reaching beyond the realms of the black American gospel tradition, the ’70s label showcased a diverse collection of talent—including the Indian meditative teachings of Blue Aquarius, the white roots music of the Commanders and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People’s Choir of Operation PUSH, who chronicle the Civil Rights struggle.

Established in 1972, Gospel Truth was conceived of by Stax executive Al Bell, who enlisted the help of radio promotions pioneer and songwriter Dave Clark and label staffer Mary Peak Patterson to oversee the formation of the imprint. With a focus on moving the good word out of the pulpit and into the hands of the masses, Gospel Truth was intended to “carry the message of today’s gospel to the people on the street,” as promotional material for the label’s launch touted. But what separated Gospel Truth from other labels in the genre was that it made its music accessible to everyone. With his sharp eye for talent, Clark paired down-home, traditional gospel musicians with raw, revolutionary artists that adopted the conventions of rock, funk and soul, creating a sound that resonated with a hip, ’70s audience.

Clark and Peak also gave Gospel Truth’s artists the same high-level promotional considerations that were given to any of the secular stars at Stax: from outfits and photoshoots to bookings. This also included special attention from Stax’s creative director Larry Shaw, who conceived of a cohesive design language for Gospel Truth—making each record have a conversation with the intended audience. That visual dialogue was a signal that the music could be enjoyed in all settings—sacred or secular.

The music, sermons and other recordings included in the Gospel Truth canon, while left for several decades as either a distant memory for many involved or a relic for collectors to behold, holds up today as a collection of enduring importance. In the age of social media, the pursuit of “truth” and the importance of the “gospel” has yet to diminish. In an effort to present both concepts to a new generation of seekers, learners and doers, this collection of releases will serve to provide context for contemporary listeners. As Stax put it in the initial press materials for the imprint, “After all, it doesn’t matter if you listen to gospel quietly…snap your fingers…sing along…or to dance to it, as long as you get the message.”

One of the most popular Soul labels of all time, Stax has become synonymous with its gritty, Southern Rhythm & Blues sounds. Originally known as Satellite Records, the Memphis imprint was founded in 1957 by Jim Stewart. Over the course of two decades, Stax released more than 800 singles and nearly 300 LPs, picking up eight GRAMMYS® and an Academy Award along the way. In all, Stax placed more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts.

Stax Records

Dr. John’s ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch’ Re-released on Vinyl

Dr. John‘s final studio release was 2014’s Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch. Released via Concord Records, the album was co-produced by Dr. John and Sarah Morrow, his long-time bandleader, producer, arranger and conductor. As one can tell from the title, the album honors another New Orleans great, Louis Armstrong, otherwise known as “Satchmo” or “Satch.” Now, it’s set for release on limited edition, vinyl format via the UK based label The Last Music Company on June 5, 2020.

But Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch is much more than just an album of cover songs. The 13 tracks that make it up are all songs that Armstrong interpreted. In return, Dr. John has reinterpreted them in his own distinct style. According to Dr. John himself, Armstrong came to him in a dream and said, “do my stuff, your way.” It’s a love letter from one Crescent City native to another.

Quintessential numbers drawn from various phases of Armstrong’s five-decade career, as well as an army of supporting musicians make it one of Dr. John’s best. At quick count Dr. John provides vocals, piano, guitar, and horn. There are 25 (yes, you read that correctly) additional horn players, 4 bassists, 2 Hammond B-3 players, 3 drummer/percussionists, 2 guitarists and a bevy of guest vocalists including Bonnie Raitt, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Shemekia Copeland, Anthony Hamilton, Mike Ladd, Ledisi, Telmary, and the McCrary Sisters.

From “What a Wonderful World,” to “When You’re Smiling,” Mr. Rebennack runs the gamut of genres from jazz, through blues, to pop and gospel, managing to update the material while maintaining the music’s timeless emotional appeal. Raitt shares the spotlight on a swinging reading of “I’ve Got the World on a String,” Ledisi and the McCrary Sisters lend gospel authority to “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” Hamilton is featured on a mournful “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” Copeland trades verses with Dr. John on a playful reworking of “Sweet Hunk O’ Trash,” and the Blind Boys of Alabama lend their powerful voices to “What a Wonderful World” and “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.”

Shortly after the original release of this album Mac was awarded both the Louie Award from the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and the Jazz Foundation of America’s Hank Jones Award.

Both Mac Rebennack and Louis Armstrong grew up in New Orleans’ 3rd Ward. Armstrong was one of the first artists that the good Doctor’s father took him to see perform when he was still a child. Armstrong died on July 6th, 1971, and Dr. John left us on June 6th, 2019. The re-release of Ske-Dat-De-Dat The Spirit of Satch will commemorate the first year of his passing.

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Dr. John

Louis Armstrong Foundation

The Last Music Company

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