CARL PERKINS — success & choices

Patching It Together

Livin’ Life Big

Not so long ago I watched a video with Carl Perkins and Paul McCartney.  They were talking about their own lives and Carl was talking about the fateful car wreck that changed his life.  He and his band were on their way to New York City (I believe) to play on the Perry Como Show.  Their car crossed over the center line and hit another car head-on.  That crash put the breaks on his rise to stardom, and he watched Elvis Presley, as well as a host of others, soar to stardom, playing his songs.

In the video Carl said that he was lying in his hospital bed, and and had the thought that he could not hang onto what he had lost, but only to what he still had.  WOW!!!  He also said that for many years he was never on stage, but always behind the scenes.  Then he looked at the camera and thanked us who bought his records for the birthday parties, vacations, bicycles and for the lifestyle he was able to have because of the success of the songs he wrote.  This one quote is worth the 45 minutes of time I spent watching an already great video.  What a lesson!

It’s a lesson too many of us learn either too late, or we don’t learn at all.  I know so many really great musicians with really bad attitudes.  Never willing to work gratefully with what fate dishes out, but ready to carp, complain, and whine about everything from the people who give them work, to all the other lousy musicians who have made it big, because the industry wouldn’t know a good sound (such as theirs) if it bit them in the ass.  Whoa cowboys, ease up on the two-gun nastiness!

We all know someone (maybe ourselves), who has used their bad attitude to burn all their bridges, lose jobs, stifle their chances at even a modicum of success.  I used to work at a drug and alcohol rehab center where I heard many such stories.  One stands out.  One of the men I counseled had been in the really bad-ass Cell Block “D” of Leavenworth Federal Prison.  After getting out he began using drugs, and selling.  He told me that at one time he carried something like four Glocks and six hunting knives on his person at all times.  Through his violence, he also took a fix-it ticket and worked it into a prison term at a maximum security prison.  There is no end to what a bad attitude and a depressed state of mind can accomplish.

BUT on the other side of the attitude coin there is true success.  I was there on that bad attitude side of the coin, and it took me from being a nationally known photographer to losing business, my car, my house, also my mind and close to my family.  I discovered some self motivational materials and gave them a try.  Well not the first time.

The first time I gave them to a friend who was losing everything, and they turned him totally around.  But while he was turning around, I was spinning in a free fall to the bottom of the tank.  Once I hit, I was re-introduced to similar materials as I gave my friend, and this time I was ready to believe it.  So don’t say that I know not of what I write.

I should say here that whatever it is you believe is absolutely correct.  So if you believe everyone is out to get you, they probably are.  If you believe that all the good musicians are broke and won’t make it because the industry only wants to produce trash, you are right.  If you have convinced yourself that you have to sell your ass and your principles and your art to get anyone to listen to you, bang on the spot.

Paul Quinnett writes in his book, Pavlov’s Trout: The Incomplete Psychology of Everyday Fishing, that he understands two approaches to life.  The first he terms, The Depressive’s Reality; the other, The Delusional Fisher’s Reality.  And of course as I am writing this I cannot find the damn book to get an accurate quote, but here, in my own words, is what I remember him writing.

Quinnett claims that the Depressive will make absolutely logical (for them) claims of why things will not work.  These claims sound completely rational and will bring failure every time because what they predict sounds so right.  The Delusional Fisher, on a other side of reality, just sort of believes that the next cast will catch the illusive fish sought after all day.  The motto for the Delusional Fisher is, “Just one more cast!”  If that fisher is a Depressive, when darkness settles in they are already washed up, well fed, and in front of the TV, while the Delusional is still making that one more cast and waiting for that fish.  Eventually the Delusional, if no fish are caught, will need to be dragged from the stream or lake by well-meaning friends who will end up enduring a tide of vitriol until some fish, on maybe another day, is actually caught.

A Depressive not only understands the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Entropy, but believes in it.  The Delusional Fisher won’t even consider such a theory.  The theory of Entropy holds that all energy seeks a common ground or state of being.  That common state is always cooler, slower, lower, calmer, less, but stable and constant.  And, there ya go!  And yes, we all will dissolve into paste; and yes, probably no one will even remember us in one hundred years; and yes, it is probably good enough for government work and the women we hang with; and yes, so what, so who gives a shit; and, yes that is possible, but it ain’t very probable; and yes, and yes, and yes…  We’ve all heard ’em, and we’ve probably all used a few of them never realizing just how devastating statements like those are to our success.

Years ago, when I was trying desperately to get something to work for me, and I was starting to consider the possibility of songwriting, I was bar-tending in a little dive down on the waterfront side of Sacramento, California.  Sometimes business was non-existent so I would take my guitar down there and leave it out so I could practice it when no one was there.  One night this kat strolls in, order a beer and sits off to himself and sips on it.  Pretty soon he comes over to the bar and asks me if that was my guitar.  I said that it was.  He asks me if he played it gently, could he play it a little.  I said he could.  Well he starts doing some intricate finger-picking runs and he started really getting my attention.  I start watching his left hand, and I notice a pleat-like pattern that goes all around his wrist, and I realize it is a scar.  I asked him about it, and he informs me that he had been in a car wreck some years prior, and his hand was cut off.  He said that he was told that he would never use that hand again.  He also said that he figured if that was true, that it was time for him to learn how to play guitar.  I knew right then and there that some of us say “can’t,” some of us say “maybe,” and some of us actually commit to “yes.”

I have made some really bad decisions in my life.  I have made some really great ones.  The most powerful one I have ever made was to step past all my manufactured fears and to yell, “yes,” at my life.  Life is worth living with as many yeses as possible.

At this point I can almost hear you asking, So, what does the term, “success” mean to you? For me it means finding joy in what you are doing.  It is important to make a living at what we love most, so we can continue doing it.  But success is not determined by any outside force, it is determined by our own inner source.  My advice is to set your goal as high as you can, and never be satisfied with less, and like a true Delusional, settle nothing less than the big one.  Yet, to also find meaning and hope and joy in whatever level of success you have attained.  It is at this point many get confused, lose focus, and turn on the self-destruct mode.  Never confuse true success with outward achievements.

Learn to adjust and adapt.  If I am not catching fish, I try another fly.  I anticipate what flies I will use during the Winter when I am tying them, but I also take a portable fly-tying kit with me to the stream where I can tie what might be hatching that I don’t have.  The same is true with pitching songs I have written.  I have learned that a rejection will probable be an acceptance somewhere else.  I find places where I can conform my art to the needs of the industry, and I hold some areas back just for me and my art and style.  It is fun.  I find joy.  I do not make a whole bunch of money but every day I am thankful for the successes, and failures, I have had and will have.  My name is Hilary and I am a Delusional!

The video is about 45 minutes long, but if you wish to watch it here is is —



June and Hester -- ca 1925

June (on left) and Hester (on right) at a happy time in their lives — ca 1920-1924

There is a picture of my mother and her sister, from a long past time that just stops my heart.  They are happy, carefree, full of life, and beautiful.

This posting is the result of my looking through some photographs and having memories dredged up from years gone by.

I inherited a box of photographs from my parents.  In it were several photographs of my Mother, Nellie June, and her sister, Esther.  In the photographs they were laughing and smiling, having fun.  My father was in a few.  They were all young, full of life and the excitement of youth.  In those photographs, I saw my parents before life wore them down and sadness set in.  But sadness was just around the corner.  I know there was music in their lives and that they went to dances.  It was at a dance where my mother and father met.

My parents had been married 17 years when I was born.  My mother had survived breast cancer by the time I was born.  My Father was 40 and my mother was 34.  They had full lives.  My father had logged, hunted, bootlegged, worked in a coal mine, farmed, raised chickens, and done a whole bunch of things I will never find out about.  My mother was an artist and a musician and followed my father around through thick and thin all the while keeping her sense of humor honed sharp.   But by the time I was aware of them they were already on the down side of their years.  Yet in those photographs in that box, they are wrinkle-free, and they have the hope of their future glowing in their eyes.

My father, Hilary, and my mother, June, on his parents' homestead around 1926, two years before they married.

My father, Hilary, and my mother, June, on his parents’ homestead around 1926, two years before they married.

Within several years of when the photographs were taken, my aunt Hester was dead.  There is some evidence that she committed suicide.  It turns out that some of the photographs were taken before and during a vacation they all took up in Montana at a place called, Rock Creek Lodge or Rock Creek Ranch that may have been owned by friends of my mother’s family.  The purpose of the trip was to try and get Hester out of a funk she was in over a marriage gone awry.  It appears that something occurred between Hester and her husband, Robert, that ripped her up.  Their efforts at diverting her self destruction did not work and she committed suicide shortly after this trip.

Hester and her husband, Robert, somewhere around 1927

Hester and her husband, Robert, somewhere around 1927

I have been able to piece this all together over many years of talking with various relatives. Neither my mother nor my father had said anything about it, except that she had been sick, and had died.  This all happened in the early 1930’s, but even into the late 1980’s my mother still grieved her sister’s loss.  In the box of photographs there was also an epitaph, but it says nothing about anything that actually counts.  Mushy, syrupy, sentiment consistent with the times, yet true to the expression of the pain of loss for people who do not have an emotional vocabulary to express the level of betrayal survivors feel after a suicide –if anyone actually has such a vocabulary.

Hilary Sr and Epiphone Recording A -- ca 1929

Hilary Sr and Epiphone Recording A — ca 1929

In the same box is a photograph of my father playing a guitar on his lap, which does not match my memories of him, which were that he was one who did not especially like music. For their first Christmas in 1928, my mother bought him an Epiphone Recording “A” guitar that was a 12-fret and could be converted into a Hawaiian-style guitar and played with a slide.  It is interesting that while I do have a photograph of him playing it, he never followed through with learning to actually play it, and it got passed down to me and became my first guitar. Except for a few hymns, my father wasn’t very much interested in music.  I joke about his canon of 12 hymns out of the old Baptist hymnal, but it is not really a joke.  We were not allowed music in the house when he was present.  He said it made him nervous–“jangles my nerves,” he would say.  But the rhythms and tempos in that old Baptist hymnal, and those 12 or so songs are at the heart of my Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk songwriting today.  They reminded me of the early, fast-tempoed Rockabilly/Rock ‘N’ Roll that was being played at the time, which were manifestations of the influence out of that old hymnal on the Rockabillies.

But it is through music that I remember my mother best.  She sang me her favorite songs when she rocked me and taught them to me when I got older.  My mother had a deep love for  music, and she passed that love on to me.  For her, music was fun, something to make us laugh and dance and get out of our humdrum life, even if for a little while.  Questions remain.  Why do some marriages fail while others do not?  Why do some people love and learn to make music, while others can get along just fine without it?  Why does life seem lovely and exciting no matter how hard the struggle for some, and for others seems to be too heavy a burden to bear.  I keep asking, Why?, and it seems to be a question I have asked a lot when it comes to my family, and I just do not get the answers I would like to have.  But back to my mother and her music.

My mother had a large collection of RCA Red Dot albums of all the classics, but she could only listen to them when he was gone.  Rock ‘N’ Roll was an abomination to him, but not to my mother.  She thought it was “cute,” which drove me crazy.  When I was around three years old,around 1946, my father started doing tent revivals in the Ozark Mountains.  Mother would lead the revival songs on a Montgomery Wards mandolin she had been given when she was around 14 years of age, around 1918.  While I was with them in those mountains, I was only three years old, but I can vaguely remember her playing and singing at the Tent Meetings, I also remember her playing in the churches where my father was minister.  I sang those old gospel hymns as she accompanied me on that old mandolin.  I still have it and I play it, as I do my father’s old Epiphone guitar.  Mother loved music and passed that love on to me.

Her favorite Pop songs were: Jim Reeves’ “New Moon Over My Shoulder,” “Ka-Ka-Ka Katie,”  George Henry Powell’s “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag,”  by Gus Edwards and Vincent P. Bryan’s “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” and Woody Gutherie’s “Oklahoma Hills,” to name a few.

It is interesting that while my father never learned to play guitar, and I have a photograph of him with his guitar, I have no photograph of my mother, to whom music was so much a part of her life, with her mandolin.  Well, that is how it was in my family, just a pack  of incongruities all stacked up in the most confusing way possible.  But as opposed to Hester and Robert, my parents never lost that glow of hope that I saw in those earlier pictures.  Time wore them down–so did I, but somehow, in the midst of it all they had each other and they each had their own music, she her old popular songs, and he his white gospel. d I was immersed in both and I am grateful.


More Pedals and Swirly Fuzzy Stuff

Once again I’ve been approached by a producer from Los Angeles who wants to talk music and bands and gigs and touring on a large scale.  AND, once again I’m faced with a house full of musicians, crazies and the like–people running around acting nuts because they actually are nuts.  So far all my Los Angeles connections have given me are some really funny stories.  The experience, so far has been fun but, up to now, mostly non-productive.

I actually can’t say totally non-productive, because I have gotten some public service announcement gigs, and worked on a sound track for a screen play/docudrama.  So the connection is interesting, zoo-like, and challenging.

I say it is challenging because I keep getting ideas and possibilities thrown at me that I just would not have considered.  The most challenging of these is simply that I write and play Honky-Tonk/Rockabilly and they know nothing about it.  This group seems only to know about Psychedelic Rock, and a little Punk, which proves interesting when we are trying to communicate musically.  I am being challenged to add a layer of Psychedelic Rock to the honky-Tonk.  I am considering doing just this.  I am not sure how it will end up, but it has an exciting element.

There is some precedent for doing something like this.  The early Yardbirds, the Seeds who blended Surf with Rockabilly and Rock “N” Roll, and the Cramps who were the best at the blending of Rockabilly and the Psychedelic sound.  I think another great example of this is Reverand Horton Heat.  I mean, like, wow, he has a blend that includes everything from surf to jazz and all parts between.

So it’s more pedals, more electric, more swirl, but not too heavy-handed and underlying the Honky-Tonk/Rockabilly lyrics and swing of my songs.  Actually at one time I have been experimenting with having the drummer shuffle while the bass played swing.  We went back to swing and straight eventually, simply because the music really demands the swing.  However, putting swing against strait, might be an interesting experiment.

This whole meeting of North and South (California) that will happen on Wednesday comes at a time when 45-90 was beginning to look for another drummer and thinking about shaking up our sound somewhat.  ANNNNNNNNND, the bass player and I have been considering what it would be like to lay more, are you ready for this?, of a Psychedelic sound to what we are doing.  What a quinkydink!

So, I’m wondering if what’s coming in on Wednesday is just going to be more LA jabber, or if there’ll be some action as well.  I’ll keep you posted.

Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and Being Accountable To My History

Felice and Boudleaux Bryant--Courtesy of the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Felice (8/7/1925 – 4/22/2003) and Boudleaux (2/13/1920 – 6/25/1987) Bryant are two of my favorite songwriters.   They wrote some of the biggest hits of my youth.  I loved them them, I love them now.  Their writing excited me, inspired me and it certainly defined me.  I mean, I sang  “Bird Dog” non-stop and ad nauseum–at the top of my lungs.  I just wanted to get a kiss from Little Susie, and for sure, I have sung “Devoted to You” at more weddings than I can count.

In an obit presented by music institution, BMI, in the News of their April 21, 2003 bulletin, they state ” the 800 recorded titles written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant have sold more than a half billion copies worldwide. Among their hits are “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Bye Bye Love” recorded by the Everly Brothers, “Raining In My Heart” recorded by Buddy Holly, and the Tennessee state song “Rocky Top.”  BMI further states, “From their first hit in 1948 throughout the next four decades, the Bryants proved themselves to be among the most pioneering and influential music creators of the 20th century. They supplied songs to an astounding variety of voices — Eddy Arnold, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Tony Bennett, Simon & Garfunkel, Sarah Vaughan, the Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Count Basie, Dean Martin, Ruth Brown, Cher, R.E.M. and Ray Charles, among dozens – and launched the career of the Everly Brothers with several signature records.”

They accomplished what most songwriters only dream of doing, and they did it their way.  According to Wikipedia, “During the first years of their marriage, the Bryants struggled financially, living in a mobile home, where they wrote upwards of 80 songs. They solicited a number of country music artists in an attempt to sell their compositions but were either ignored or politely rejected until singer Little Jimmy Dickens recorded their “Country Boy”. The song went to No. 7 on the 1948 country charts and opened the door to a working relationship with Fred Rose at Acuff-Rose Music in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1950, the Bryants moved to Nashville to work full time at songwriting. Some of their compositions from the early 1950s included the swinging “Sugar Beet” (recorded by Moon Mullican) and the bluesy “Midnight” (recorded by Red Foley).”

This is all good news for the struggling songwriter.  They not only pulled the elusive “it” off, but they did it really big!  And yet, I was talking to a songwriter who is successful in his own right and others who have told me that no matter how great they were, they would not have made it in today’s songwriting scene.  How very sad.  Not just that they wouldn’t make it, but that they wouldn’t even be heard by the so-called and self-appointed “Music Industry Professionals.”  Why not?  Here’s what I think.

I remember watching an interview with Felice and Boudleaux in the ’60s or ’70s, and (now, this is a close as I can remember this scene) he said that if someone was interested in something out of his catalog he would invite them over to his house.  They would then sit on his room where he would sing them songs out of his “Book,” and hear what he had.  He said that he counted on the fact that his voice and guitar playing were so bad that they would just know that they could do better, and take the song.  I know, it’s just crazy.  Yet that’s what he did.

The thinking today is that the songwriter must spend thousands of dollars on demos for each individual pitch so the A & R Folk and the Talent, can hear what they would sound like if they sang the song.  Whoa, what’s up with that?  Well my suspicion is that the A & R Folk and the Talent don’t, on fact, have any talent.  They all have a wily sense of making money, but they do not have any real sense of their own music.  If they did they would be able to interpolate.  Yes interpolate!  Having the “talent” to listen to a song and project what they hear into their own product and style.  But they don’t have it.   They also are terrified of taking a risk, so they force songwriters to spend needless money on demos so that they can pretend they can hear themselves singing a hit.  What they are actually doing it shutting the doors on real talent and real songs through their inability to be creative.

Felice and Boudleaux, you two are still the best writers this old Rockabilly ever heard!!

The Rays: An Early Influence of Kool

"Daddy Cool" on Cameo

I’ve always claimed that the strongest and earliest influence in my musical life was my 1956 encounter with Rockabilly, and it was.  However where were other, non-Rockabilly influences that had a strong affect on me.  Really early on were Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Woody Guthrie, but in 1959-1960 no group had a greater influence on me than a Blues/Doo Wop group called the Rays and their hit, “Daddy Cool,”

The Rays were originally a Chess group, but “Daddy Cool” was originally released on XYZ Records and then picked up by Cameo Records. “Daddy Cool” was the B-side of their 1957 single hit, “Silhouettes which became a #3 hit on the Billboard Pop singles chart (Wikipedia).

But, with all this said, “Daddy Cool” was a super big hit with me.  My other favorite single out of that year was “Party Doll”  by Buddy Knox  I sang both of them loud, long and often.  Both songs spoke to

Buddy Knox in a Rare Clip of "Party Doll"

something deep inside of me and made me feel things that my ordinary, dull, square-parent-controlled, teenage life never quite did.  These songs made me feel real, important, tough, and truly Kool!  However, it was “Daddy Cool” that was on the jukebox in the old Student Union at Los Gatos High School in my freshman year.  And it was “Daddy Cool” I punched up every time I got in there (I learned that if I slugged it just right, it would play for free!).  My song, “Dance Floor of Time” is really about me during that tme, you know.  I wore Levis, with a 3/8″ white belt with two opposing buckles, a DA, shirt or jacket collar turned up, and I wore black shoes with buckle-clips for fasteners, AND I had steel cleats on my heels plus two more on the each side and one on each of the toes of my shoes, cruised with guys that drove ’56 Chevys and ’50 Fords on 1st and 2nd Streets in San Jose, grabbed burgers at John’s Drive In–I was kool!  And “Daddy Cool” truly reinforced that notion.  That was the year I learned about, the important stuff of life, girls, drag racing, girls, reefer, girls, Pall Malls, girls, and dynamite (I won’t expand on this one!)–I was sixteen.

If I were to write about my”Halcyon Days, ” these would be them.  I was in a couple of fights, I ran from the cops, I was in a gang fight, I carried a forever unused condom in my wallet, brass knuckles in my hip pocket, but above all, I was kool and “Daddy Cool” was my anthem.

Disturbing as it may seem to you, I still hum both “Daddy Cool,” and “Party Doll” to myself at odd moments—not because I am in some way trying to recapture my sense of sixteen-year-old-koolness (I honestly don’t believe I have ever lost it), but because both of those songs, AND my sense of kool, are going to be with me until I get to “Rockabilly Heaven, with Carl and Eddie and the crowd…”

Rockabilly And A Room Full of High School Seniors, YIKES!!!

The Girls Liked the Harps

I recently bought a 1970 Harmony acoustic guitar, and fixed it up.  It needed tuners, pick-guard, saddle, and a pick-up, plus cleaning and a lot of scraping to get off excess glue and gook.  I got it fixed up and decided to take it to a local open mic to try it out.  If you haven’t figured this out, I really like open mics.  This one is in a town close by and the owner really supports local talent and especially young and beginning musicians.  The talent-quotient is low and so are expectations put on those who find the courage to perform.  I do not usually go here simply because I get more attention than I need, and I feel it takes away from those who are sprouting their musical wings.  In any case I showed up with my brand new piece-of-crap guitar to see if it would work in public.  It did!

In the course of events, a group of high school seniors showed up to try out their ability to perform as a band.  They had practiced, and they felt it was not time to try their luck in public.  They were nervous, it seemed that they would never get their guitars in tune, they hemmed and hawed, but by damn, when they got around to the music part they were good.  Actually, they were a helluva lot better than some of the adults who had proceeded them.  I was impressed.  I mean really impressed.

I had done a three-song set earlier, and figured I was done for the night, but this club thinks I’m the cat’s pajamas, so they asked me back for an encore.  Wow, right after those kids, who had filled the room with their friends and family and teachers.  I had been meditating on the fact that when I was in high school all my teacher seemed to be my parents age, and now these teachers seem to be the age of my own kids, and the young performers were younger that my oldest granddaughter—YIKES!

I was also thinking that it might be a really bad idea for me to follow these kids, with half a senior class in the room who had come out to see their friends play, but there was no saying, “no.”  So I bit the bullet (a 45-90) and went up to face my doom.  What happened next just stunned me.  The kids loved it!

I had a room full of high school seniors clapping in time to the music, and screaming right along with me.  There were two little girls (I think 17 or 18), who stood out in front and kept asking me to play more songs that featured my harmonica–holy crap!!!

I played some of my songs, some Carl Perkins, a number that Jimmy Logston and Vic McAlpin wrote and these kids ate it up!  In the end I was truly blessed.  I realized that Rockabilly lives on.  Rockabilly was in the hearts of kids when it began, and regardless of the music kids in our own time like, love and listen too, it seems that there is still an explosion deep in their hearts when they hear the melodies and feel the rockin’ beat of Rockabilly.

I left Friday night thinking, “Rockabilly is here to stay,” and damn but that feels good to me!

AT THE HUB of Americana

Me, Singing and Pickin'

I have begun hosting an open mic in Geyserville, the little town I live in.  Someone asked last why and how I could fit this one-more-thing into my already jam-packed life.  I answered that this was fun, and that I’d do it until I couldn’t.  Fun is important and not overrated.   Fun is the breath of life, and those who are not working at something that makes them feel as if they are breathing in this breath of life, are people who are just biding their time on this planet.

My idea is to sing a few songs, to get things started, and then let the other performers get their time to share their stuff, let that morph into a jam-session, and then, if there’s time, to close out the gig.  So far folks seem to like the format.  It’s strictly acoustic/electric with no drums so the volume is down and tolerable. which opens it up to folks who like music but don’t like the volume of heavy rock.

Anyway, last night there was a young woman there who I had not seen before.  She yelled and hollered after each song I sang, and if it was an old song, shouted out the songwriter/performer of the original hit.  WOW! I was impressed, I’ll tell you.  That sort of thing just doesn’t happen to me that often.

We got to talking after the show, and she told me that she was brought up on Country Music, then as she got older, she gravitated to the music of her age, but as she has grown up she has gone back to the music of her childhood–old time country.  She said that she discovered that Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Horton were at the hub of most all Rockabilly, Modern Country, and Americana.  She’s right!

I would, however add a few more names for those of my readers who would like to hear some really great, really old music.  I’ll begin with Jimmy Rogers, the Singing Brakeman.  Rogers wrote the music many early performers such as Gene Autry, and Bill Boyd performed.  While you’re at it try finding some early Gene AutryCharlie Musselwhite gave me a CD of Autry’s Cowboy Blues tunes that were recorded in 1929.

Last year I shared the stage with Patrick Skiffleton, and to our great surprise, we discovered that we both had a Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers fixation.  Which, I might add, is not a bad fixation.  Bill Boyd‘s rendition of Rogers’ “Desert Blues,” which he called “Windswept Desert“, was one of the first songs I learned.  After, Woody Guthrie‘s, “Oklahoma Hills,” of course.  Third was Guthrie’s “Ramblin’ Round,” the tune he stole from Huddy Ledbetter.

Hmmm!  This hub is strong, well greased, and is the center for every song that I sing–or write for that matter.