Carl Perkins is the most underrated, underappreciated hero of RocknRoll and the uncredited King of Rockabilly. Sun Records’ finest artist in my opinion. Boppin’ the Blues, Dixie Fried, Honey Don’t, Blue Suede Shoes, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Tennessee–all written by Perkins. The records all jump off the turntable. Fluke Holland’s propulsive drumming is spectacularly enhanced by Carl Perkins’ guitar–rhythm, fills, lead all at once. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley and later Jimi Hendrix are on the same Picker/Songwriter Rushmore.
There’s another Rushmore for sidemen. Danny Gatton, Cliff Gallup, Jimmy Bryant, Chet Atkins, TK Smith, Amos Garrett, Joe Maphis, Wayne Moss, Grady Martin, Steve Cropper, Jerry McGee, Scotty Moore, Roy Nichols, Roy Buchanan, James Burton, Tony Gilkyson are all monumental.
I was taking guitar lessons with Bill Collins in Berkeley around 1981-82. In his early 20s, Bill was in several bands–punk, rockabilly, country–and I was lucky enough to see his bulletin board post in Leo’s music advertising lessons. Bill’s tab lesson, Cliff Gallup’s solo on Gene Vincent’s “Race With the Devil.” in photo below cassette, a dupe from the original sound board transcription of Robert Gordon with Danny Gatton at Berkeley Square. Now known as “The Humbler,” it is one of several cassette copies Bill Collins gave me in the early 80s. The track is “There Stands the Glass” and Gatton’s playing is otherworldly great. Another great guitar player, Amos Garrett was at Berkeley Square and paid tribute after the show, laying the monicker “The Humbler” on Gatton. There’s a new documentary about Danny Gatton, called “The Humbler.” This recording is now out on CD. Fabo!
A year or two after Bill Collins laid The Humbler on me, I got to see Gatton with Robert Gordon (band also included Tony Garnier on bass and Lee Allen on tenor sax.) The opening act at San Jose Saddle Rack was Carl Perkins&Sons. The photos above were taken that night. Gordon,Gatton were so great! But so was Carl Perkins.
This show happened at the tail end of my Rockabilly days in San Francisco. Next installment of Butter Fanzine: The Bobbie Jo and the Twins Story.
The first annual Rancho Mantequilla Music Award was announced today. The winner is Ramsay Midwood. Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant, Vanguard, 2002 is a jewel of laid back funky blues, hysterically funny songs played by seriously great musicians. Standouts on this album: Don Heffington’s brilliant, spare traps; Randy Weeks’ wicked thumb picking; Danny McGough on keys; Kip Boardman on bass and keys; Josh Grange, guitar; Brantley Kearns, fiddle.
This has become my go-to practice album. As in–fun to play along with. If I could choose a band, I’d pick these guys, with one addition: Tony Gilkyson on Kay guitar.
Tony Gilkyson, left, with Ramsay Midwood band, Evangelo’s, Santa Fe, 2015.
Shootout was recorded in Hollywood before Midwood and several primo SoCal musicos split for Texas. Most of the LA–Texas ex-pats are doing well with regular local work in places like Sam’s Town Point, The Mucky Duck and, in Midwood’s case, constant touring. The band that I saw in Santa Fe, 2015, (with Tony Gilkyson sitting in) has been on the road forever. The epitome of precision in the service of laid-back, sparely arranged blues. Sing alongs like Monster Truck are icing on a very rich cake.
The simplicity of Midwood’s songs is genius. I’d just about kill to write one as good. Congratulations Ramsay!
Big River with DJ Butter–Maiden Voyage–One-hour podcast.
Premiere episode aired on Radio Free Joshua Tree in 2013.
Podcast theme: A musical trip down the mighty Mississippi River, up Highway 61, Minneapolis to New Orleans. Jazz, blues, r&b, country, folk, rock n roll, boogie, cajun, zydeco, pop, funk,–all roots, routes, bayous, trains, hopped up hot rods, cities, hamlets, and mud, the essence of great American music. Host, DJ Butter, spins mostly vinyl and a few historical yarns between classic tracks and stuff you probably never heard before. Picking up followers like hitch hikers on Highway 61. Take a cruise on the riverboat.