How rockabilly made me proud of where I’m from

In 1983 yours truly was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. I lived there for the first 21 years of my life. Now all of this happened before I got into the rockin world. That unfortunately came a little after I had moved to southern California. So during the first twenty-one years of my life I was totally clueless to the rockabilly world. Had no idea any of it existed. As far as i knew no human being listened to anything more than 10 years old. As an Arkansan (yes that’s the term!) I was not only lost on that concept but I didn’t think anything musically came from the Natural State (also what it’s called). Outside of christian nu metal hit machine Evanescence.

I assure you it hurt to post that pic but I felt it was needed. In the 2000s christian metal such as Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced were the only thing I thought had ever came from there. In early 2005 I left Little Rock under this impression to the sunny beach town that I now crap on at every opportunity. Fast forward a few months later I started learning about BILLY bands(the psychobilly stuff I got into will be for a future post right now we’ll focus on rockabilly). Fell in love with a Johnny Cash “best of Sun” as well as a compilation album of sun records artists. And just like I did with the history of Doritos I decided to go on Wikipedia to learn more than anyone should. What I read blew my newly pompadoured head!

Johnny Cash (though country but still amazing!) is from Arkansas. It’s an absolute shame since I grew up there and can’t recall (outside of maybe one or two myspace friends) meeting a single Johnny Cash fan. Nor have I ever once recalled anyone ever mentioning such a fact. I’ve met more Cash fans here in So Cal than I ever did there. Then I looked deeper and…

One of my favorite songs I had discovered on that comp was by a man named Billy Lee Riley. Another fellow Arkansan! Then I did even more looking up. Turns out Sun Records (factoid Tennessee is right next to Arkansassy….no one calls it that, just me) had a lot of my people on their label. Sonny Burgess, Sleepy Labeef, Conway Twitty (Harold Jenkins), Charlie Rich, Mack Self, Jimmy Evans (ok he wasn’t actually signed to sun). This was major news to me. Music that had an actual impact on rock n roll came from my home state. All of a sudden the place I was raised. The same place I felt was the most insignificant state in the USA was no longer so insignificant. I had home town (or state but feel like I’ve typed “state” one too many times) pride for the first time ever.

Not just Sun Records artists but also various other artists like Pat Cupp. Who years after his initial recordings had recorded for Rollin Rock records during the rockabilly revival in the 70s and 80s. A time when alot of guys got the recognition they deserved thanks to rockabilly rebels in Europe (god bless them!). Legend Skeets McDonald is also from there.  I discovered a double 45 for record store day by Andy Starr and discovered….oh you get it.

Now once I finally calmed myself down upon these discoveries a few things made sense. The rockabilly sound originally came from the south. “Are Can Saw” is the south (YES IT IS!!). The sound is a combination of hillbilly music and the mostly black rock n roll of the time. Nothing screams Arkansas to me more than white teenagers thinking they are black. Unfortunately the tradition is not having such great appeal as it once did.

And none of these guys would be rocking if it was for Sister Rosetta Tharpe! From Cotton Plant, Arkansas.

Finally after being in the rockin world for the past decade I went to VIVA for the first time this year. Got to see Sleepy Labeef for the first time. It was also the first time I had gotten the chance to see an original rocker from Arky perform live. I was nearly in tears.

Come back next time where we’ll pick the best way to use “stray cat” and “13” as a twitter handle.

p.s. If you wanna read up some more HERE is a link on Arkansan Rockabilly that I did my best not to copy off of.




My fantasy weekender band list

After the end of that one awesome weekender in Vegas I started to think. “Are my shorts too short for this pool party?” OK I didn’t go to the pool party. What I really thought was “who should be at next years event?”. But this isn’t just about who I’d wanna see at viva.  This is more like what would cause me to go equally crazy like I did at this years vegas event. Who would i book if i could get my greedy hands on some awesome bands and have them at the same show. If it was a perfect world. Who would I get? Without further ado here are 5 bands I’d kill to see share the same stage in the United States of America!

1. Marcel Bontempi 

Who didn’t hear at least one Marcel Bontempi song while everyone was dancing last week (or the week before, Vegas trip really messed with my head)? Since going on his own Mr Bontempi has made some of the best 45s the last couple of years. I think I speak for everyone when I say my heart sunk a little bit when I read his only US appearance was gonna be at the Nashville Boogie. Heres hoping that he comes over to the west coast (and everywhere else cause I’m not selfish) next year.

2. Shakin Pyramids

Now this is a little far-fetched. They’ve been broken up since 83. But members do tour in other bands. So why not come together since…you know they’re not the Smiths. Seeing Restless, Jets, Brian Setzer, and The Polecats really got me wanting to see some 80s English acts. To quote Tim Polecat “it used to be you had to be from the 50s to play viva, now you have to be in your 50s”.

3. Savage Breed

Yes they did play a few days ago in the city of sin. But it was in Brandon’s pub and that line was sooooo loooooong. It was so long the owner of their label look like he had trouble getting in! I gave up. Fortunately I’ve seen them about 3 times before (awesome and energetic live show) and got a hold of their debut album on wild records(eargasmic by the way). I feel more folks should have a chance to see this new breed of american rockabilly up close.And buy their lead singer a drink!

4. The Blue Cats

Yes MORE 80s bands!!!! MORE 80s BANDS WITH THE WORD “CATS IN THEIR NAMES”. I have no idea if they’re ever played in the u.s. before. I only recently gotten into these guys. Mostly from their recent(ish) live album.This was a good case of “HOW IN THE HELL DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS!?!”. I definitely wanna see these before the inevitable zombie apocalypse .

5. Frantic Flattops

We covered 80s and we covered current acts. Lets try to reunite my favorite 90s rockabilly act from the East coast The Frantic Flattops. I hardly know anything about these guys other than they’ve been broken up for a good ten years. I had sent someone to get me a Frantic Flintstones cd at amoeba but they came back with this band album by accident. Talk about a happy accident! Hi Fi Honey turned into one of my top favorite rockabilly albums of all time. I selfishly would get these guys back together just for MYSELF!!!

Like my list? Got anyone else you’d like to see? Got a fantasy list of your own? Think this list is stupid? Let me know!

Next blog post is friday where ill give pointers on making the perfect pin curls and how to shave your legs using a carburetor.

p.s. honorable mention The Sirocca Bros as a hologram!