Monday, January 30, 2012

Swamp Rock by Jerry W. Henry

In 1969 I heard Tony Joe White sing “Polk Salad Annie” at the Red Rooster in Panama City Beach, Florida. He told us that night that he had recorded the song in Muscle Shoals the year before. I went to the record store the next day. They did not have it in stock. I ordered a 45 on the Monument record label and it arrived the next week. How times have changed.
In a few weeks “Polk Salad Annie” was a radio hit. The song was written by Tony Joe White and was produced by Billy Swan.  The music has a distinctive sound; a “swampy” sound. The song tells of a Southern white girl’s childhood living in the swamp. Swamps are a part of the landscape from Louisiana through Florida. The song is Southern roots music, so much so, that you can almost smell the rich wet soil. The sound is not blues or Southern soul, nor is it country. It has a touch of Cajun music and a rock beat on the rockabilly side.  That “swamp” sound is a mixture of all of these.
Several, including Elvis and Tom Jones, have recorded the song since. The music is close, but with more R&B funk that they thought was needed in those disco days. Other songs have expanded the genre. That genre would now be known as “swamp rock.” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born On The Bayou” and Joe South’s “Hush” are perfect examples. “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed, "Niki Hoeky" by Redbone and Dale Hawkins version of “Suzie Q” were all swamp rock songs.
One version of “Big Boss Man” by Elvis was swamp heavy. JJ Cale, John Fogerty, The Radiators, The Tail Gators, Ronnie Hawkins, Ed Volker and Boss Hog have all contributed their efforts. Dr. John’s “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” and "Struttin' My Stuff" by Elvin Bishop both are swamp rock gems with a bit more funk, which fits extremely well. I count the stuff Excello label did in the ‘50’s as “swamp blues” with artists like Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo.
The guitar part in swamp rock is lowdown, dirty with lots of reverb and a wah-wah pedal to produce that just right funky feel. My favorite is the tone of a resonator guitar played through a Pignose amp. Yes, I have loved that swamp rock sound ever since that night at the Red Rooster.
Delta Swamp Rock: Sounds from the South is an import that has Duane and Gregg Allman on the album cover with a lot of hanging Spanish moss was released in 2011. The album was promoted as the real deal in swamp rock. In my opinion it was a hit-and-miss effort at best. Many of today’s jam bands and JJ Grey & Mofro are taking swamp rock into the future.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dollars or Fans? by Jerry W. Henry

During the SOPA/PIPA uprising, I was asked, by a big time blogger, if I thought piracy was taking monies out of the pockets of do-it-yourself music artists? I avoided the question then. After much thought, I will answer your question now. I am going to answer that question with a question. Assuming you have released your music in physical and/or digital where it is available to the world. Would you rather have the dollars pirated or have millions know you exist? (Paraphrasing Tim O’Reilly.)
Internet and college radio stations open their doors wide for independent music artists. There are stations for your niche. If your music is great, the world will find you. Great music has viral built in. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Singers' Security by Jerry W. Henry

Today was spent in Birmingham. I ran into a singer who I had not seen for a couple of years. We had coffee together. After some time she looked at her cell phone and said, "Oh No! I'm late at the studio. We're recording." I told her it would be fine with me if she had to go. She replied, "It's not like they can replace me. I'm the vocalist." We talked a few more minutes before she left. I got to thinking about her statement and she is right. Every other instrument can be replicated. Even the engineer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Video taken at 2011 Chicken & Egg Festival by Jerry W. Henry

My latest and greatest iMovie is now available on YouTube. You can view it at: Webb Wilder plays Alabama Year in Music Guitar on our AMO You Tube Channel. Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

East Alabama chiropractor to release album. by Jerry W. Henry

Local musician and chiropractor Boyce Callahan will digitally release his third album, ‘Movin’ On,’ Jan. 24.
Read interview: Anniston Star - Local chiropractor releases third album

The Tuscaloosa Get Up Tornado Benefit by Jerry W. Henry

"The Tuscaloosa Get Up will take place at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa on Friday March 23rd at 8pm. The event is a partnership between us, the Tuscaloosa Arts Council and Tuscaloosa’s own Dexateens. It will showcase the music of the Alabama Shakes, The Dexateens and Lee III and the Glory Fires.  The event is all ages and will be $15 for general admission with a limited amount of VIP tickets for $50. The VIP tickets will entitle attendees to early entry to a preparty at the Bama featuring light food, free local beer and limited edition poster and a short acoustic set from the some of the bands."
More at: Well That's Cool » Music

The music section of this blog is really good. Check them out.

Local Music being reported in Tuscaloosa by Jerry W. Henry

The local music news in the Tusk and on the Tuscaloosa News website is actually local music news these days. I don’t know what prompted the changes but thank goodness for them.  It might be because the Tuscaloosa News is being bought out. Regardless we music lovers appreciate it.
Cory Pennington is our go to man there. Cory loves music, especially original T-Town music. His editor is Mark Hughes Cobb who happens to be a musician. Remember the Crying Jags? Mark was their lead vocalist and plays guitar. These days he is gigging solo.
Checking out their slow loading website, I found out that there is going to be a Waffle House in the Dixie on the Strip and
GETLOCAL: The year the music dies?
Meet the band: 2G
Local music store (OZ Music) finds more customers clamoring for records:
Meet the band: James Blankenship:
MEET THE BAND: Joshua Morgan Folmar (There is videos also):
MEET THE BAND: Disco Tabauco:
New record due from Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More Alabama: Heart of Original Music Jerry W. Henry

Many of you sent me the names of notable Alabama songwriters that you feel should be included in my article “Alabama: Heart of Original Music.” I have included them here: Milton Brown, Lisa Zanghi, Lula Mae Hardaway, Jabo Williams, Jimmie Spheeris, Johnny Barbato, Jimmy Jones, Hugh Martin, Walter Roland, Brenda Lee Eager, Coot Grant, J.J. Malone, The Two Trey’s, Ralph Willis, Billy Hogan, Louis “Cowboy” Johnson, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmy Hughes, J. R. Cobb, Daddy Stovepipe, Samm Bennett, Bobby Tomberlin, James Ervan Parker, Mervyn Warren, Eddie King, Anthony Crawford, Ezekiel Lewis, Ronnie McNeir, Gregory Slay, Sam Taylor, Stan E. Munsey, Beth Thornley, Phillip Michael Pacetti, Little Sonny, Reverend Fred Lane, Bobo Jenkins, Big Joe Duskin and Good Rockin' Charles.

Thanks for your feedback. The more information that you provide the stronger the music community becomes. It is our intention to gather information on all the songwriters listed and provide each a page in Alabama Music Office’s Artists A-Z. Many are already included. We want to give these songwriters publicity to carry the legacy of Alabama’s original music into the future. The only way the rest of the world will know about Alabama music is when you & I tell them.  

More on the ‘60’s by Jerry W. Henry

I don’t understand why folks email me rather than comment on my Alabama Music Office blog. I guess old habits are hard to break. Regardless, I appreciate your feedback.
Many of you reminded me of the times we would slip off to the state line clubs in Columbus, Mississippi. Here in Tuscaloosa we could go to several bootleggers who would charge us three times the regular price for beer. The state line clubs only doubled the price for us underagers.
The two most popular bootleggers were the cinder block store down highway 82 where you turned to go to Flatwoods. The building is still there. The other was Sally Sexton’s store that is now part of North River Country Club on Old Watermelon Road.
The state line clubs I remember best was the Southernaire, Playmore, Lakeside and Dew Drop Inn. There was a club across the highway from Lakeview but I can’t remember what it was called that we frequented. I got to hear some of the best in R & B at the Southernaire. I said hear rather than see because they sold us beer out the back door, but us high schoolers were not allowed inside. The University students got to go inside. If memory serves me, Southernaire was the place where Big Ben and the Nomads played regularly. We would park as close as we could and listen to the music while we drank our beer. There was also a killer drive in restaurant that had great hamburgers over there amongst those clubs.
We didn’t spend all our time driving back and forth to the state line. Back then drive-in movie theaters were part of our lives. There were times when the Dale Drive-in Theater, which was on Greensboro Ave., would let you in for soft drink bottle caps. Other times we would sneak in inside the trunk of the car. I can still hear the gravel crunching underneath the tires as we wondered around trying to find our friends or that perfect parking place. Drive-in movies were so much of the culture of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. The drive-in was a perfect date location with the parking for steamy windshields
I remember one night in Tuscaloosa when we decided to buy some moonshine to take with us to the drive-in movie in Cottondale. I was the one that went into Mr. Walker’s house to make the buy. I will never forget The Louvin Brothers song “Satin Is Real” was playing on his radio. I got the message but still bought the moonshine. We mixed the moonshine with the beverages that were sold at the drive-in. I think I mixed mine with Coke; others used Dr. Pepper or Royal Crown Cola. Needless to say there was a car full of sick teenagers before the night was over. I still remember what it looked like after throwing up that spiked Coke mixed with popcorn. Just like “The Toad” in the movie American Graffiti. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Alabama: Heart of Original Music by Jerry W. Henry

A songwriter is a person of conviction and inventive capacity. When we speak of original music we use the words: create, new, novel and fresh among others. In other words, original music is opposed to any copy or imitation. Songwriters draw on their deepest emotions associated with their personal experience to create their songs.

Personally I truly believe Alabama songwriters are the world's best. Songwriters such as; W.C. Handy, Jimmie Rodgers, Erskine Hawkins, Nat “King” Cole, Zeke Clements, Lionel Hampton, Delmore Brothers, Hank Williams, Louvin Brothers, Hank Ballard, Sonny James, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, Billy Sherrill, Curly Putman, Tammy Wynette, Bobby Goldsboro, Baker Knight, Freddie Hart, Earl “Peanut” Montgomery, Lionel Richie, Charles Hayward, Toni Tennille, Buddy Killen, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Hank Williams Jr., Mac McAnally, Walt Aldridge, Vern Gosdin, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Marty Raybon, just to name those most recognizable names that have had #1 Songs on Billboard Magazine's Charts.

Other names less recognizable that have had #1 Songs on Billboard Magazine's Charts: Cow Cow Davenport, Earl Nunn, Sidney Gunter, “Curley” Williams, Billy Wallace, Joseph Morris, Autry Inman, Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright, Carmol Taylor, Fred Wesley, Lamar Morris, Fred Wesley, Al Turney, Jimmy Jones, Milton Brown, Frederick Knight, Randy McCormick, Sam Dees, Jim McBride, Jerry Gillespie, Tommy Brasfield, Sonny Limbo, Donnie Lowery, Roger Murrah, Terry Skinner, J.L. “Jerry” Wallace, Ken Bell, Stewart Harris, Latham Hudson, Mickey Buckins, Barbara Wyrick, Terry Skinner, Richard Page, Randy McCormick, Robert Byrne, Jim McBride, Greg Fowler, Gene Griffin, Danny Mayo, Anna Lisa Graham, Gary Baker, Mike McGuire, Craig Wiseman, Tommy Barnes, Steve Dukes, Mark Hall, John Calvert, Aaron Sain, Debi Cochran, Kim Tribble, Aimee Mayo, Anthony Smith, S.D. Jones and B. Toberlin.

Songwriters that have charted are much, much too long to list here. But I do want to mention a few: Jimmy Buffett, Steven Dale Jones, Bobby Tomberlin, Neil Thrasher, Phillip White, Brad Crisler, James LeBlanc, Mark Pyle, Billy Maddox, Jeff Cook, Mark Herndon, Jimi Westbrook, Mark Naramore, Billy Lawson, Allison Moorer, Shelby Lynn, Donnie Fritts, Spooner Oldham, Johnny Wyker, Buddy Buie, A.A. Bondy, James Harman, Melba Montgomery, Dan Penn, Butler Twins, Grayson Capps and Paul Thorn.

I asked my Facebook friends to give me their feedback on this subject. I received 36 comments on Facebook and 21 replies by email. Some went into what constitutes original music? To me original music is not something that has never been said or done before, as much as it is a matter of being ‘authentic’ in the songwriting. There’s not much that hasn’t been done before. Music as we know it isn’t supposed to be completely original. People respond to familiarity. Think about this: The Beatles produced sounds that were original, but nothing was entirely unique. Some of their music and lyrics were new, but not entirely unique.

I remember interviewing a music lawyer that made a statement that I have never forgotten, “Serious songwriters don’t worry about plagiarism. It’s really a matter of somebody thought enough of an idea to borrow it.” We then had a discussion about how people will over protect their works to the degree that their songs are never released. Songs can be different in many ways. After all, there are only 12 notes that are used in different variations of time, interval and harmonic combinations. Using the same chord progression as another song has nothing to do with whether or not a song is original. There are only so many scales and techniques. Songs are the sum of all their parts. Carl Gore wrote, “There are an infinite combination of chords and progressions as there are dimensions to feelings, moods, and passions. But what one truly feels is always original.”

One reason I think Alabama is the Heart of Original Music is our music community. Peggy Chambers said it best, “...I don't know of anyone in my family tree that doesn't sing! And to tell you the truth, I don't know that many people from here that can't either.” Joseph Winsett added, “…I can count 7 folks as songwriters who have had hits played in the past 3 years that have major impact on Country Music. That's not counting all those that won the Idol thing and all the pickers that are playing for everybody or on albums.... Alabama is a very artistic state and that (is) a big fact. We Rock…”

Steve Gaither tells us, “ I've given it a lot of thought. I think the reasons are many. I've taught music in Alabama for 43 years and I think many musicians are genetically inclined to be good songwriters. We've had our share of pain and heart ache and have the literary skills to put those experiences into interesting songs. For every published songwriter there are many more unpublished who are just as good. The day of being famous means you are the best is over. Fame is not everyone's goal…. Singers, pickers, musicians (are) under every rock. I'm all about helping and encouraging others to write their own songs.”
Georgiana Thrasher tells us, “I was named after that town in Butler County, Alabama...I have lived in many different towns/cities in Alabama and I agree there is Much Talent in Alabama...Muscle Shoals is the Mother of it ALL...Music is ALL Around us and I LOVE it!”

Donnie Garvich provided us with more or less scientific proof of Alabama’s original music roots and if migration through out the world. Donnie provided us with a link to an infographic that offers a view of the journey different genres of music have made throughout history in a nice timeline format. Do yourself a favor and check this one out: Donnie also said, “…It's an awesome info graphic which attempts to show where all popular genres of music "came from". According to it, Alabama has been highly influential if nothing else. I agree with it but feel as if we are losing our musical heritage every day.” Donnie that is one of the main reason’s for Alabama Music being, to preserve our musical heritage and let the world know about Alabama music.
That infographic supports Dana Tatums comments, “ I don't know if its the "Heart" of Original music but out of much talent and original musical style from many southeast regions, I’d say Alabama, specifically the Shoals, Mobile and Birmingham, would definitely be a main chamber or artery in the heart of the musical originality of the southern rock and delta blues style of music.”

Tommy Graham contributed, “Alabama has certainly been a hotbed of original music through the years. I visited the Hank Williams home site in Georgiana and was blown away at the amount of songs he had written. There were hundreds of them. If you look through the Alabama Music Hall of Fame you will see multitudes of successful songwriters. Even our old friends from Georgia decided to label their song “Sweet Home Alabama”…”

Jilda Watson adds, “I believe that there is a wellspring of incredible original music here in Alabama. That talent and creative energy flows from the Shoals to the Gulf of Mexico, and sadly much of it will never be recognized. It is as much a part of who we are as the heat and humidity. I think religion, politics, and our culture is a breeding ground, or maybe it's just the red clay and cotton.”

Pamela Mays Decker contributes, “W.C. Handy - Father of The Blues... Jimmie Rodgers & Hank Williams - fathers of country music... That list goes on & on (and on and on, etc.). When it comes to music, inspiration, talent and real, authentic, homegrown soul, there is a real magic here that can't really be explained; it can only be felt. I know that I am very proud to tout my state's musical heritage to those from outside the state... and they are always VERY surprised when I explain just how much music either originated here or the artists who hail(ed) from our great state. The music is what I am most proud of when it comes to Alabama.” Check out Pamela’s wonderful article, “Why Southerners Love Elvis” at: “…insights about why folks from the rural South connect so deeply with music and how/why we are inspired by music and to make music. It is not only a way to rejoice, but also a way to express our emotions about our hardships.”

Mick Moore sums it up with, “You look into who wrote what and you will find that Alabama offers more to the world of music than any other state. Some might live in Nashville but are from Alabama. It’s just like you say Jerry, Alabama music is everywhere.”

I have been all over God’s green earth and have found Alabama music and Alabama musicians virtually everywhere. From opera to the Grand Ole Opry and all genres in between, Alabama is well represented.

I want to thank all of you for your feedback.