Friday, November 30, 2012

Guitar great Mickey Baker passed away

Mickey Baker passed away earlier this week on November 27th at the age of 87.  He was born on October 15, 1925 in Louisville, KY.  He's best remembered for his duo with Sylvia Vanderpool and their big hit "Love Is Strange".  He's also known for his incredible studio work as he can be heard on such songs as "Shake, Rattle & Roll"- Big Joe Turner, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On- "Big Maybelle", "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean"- Ruth Brown, "It's Gonna Work Out Fine"- Ike & Tina Turner and others.

Mickey & Silvia- "Love Is Strange"

Big Joe Turner- "Shake, Rattle & Roll"

Big Maybelle- "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (produced by Quincy Jones in 1955...
2 years before Jerry Lee Lewis)

Ruth Brown- "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean"

Mickey Baker- "Whistle Stop"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Remembering George Harrison

George Harrison passed away this day in 2001.  The "quiet Beatle" will long be remembered for his great contributions both solo and with The Beatles.  In addition to the great songs he wrote, his guitar playing has long been studied.  Harrison joined The Quarrymen after Paul McCartney told John Lennon about a friend of his named George that could play the hit instrumental "Raunchy" note for note.  Here's a look back at his stellar career:

"Roll Over Beethoven"

"Don't Bother Me" (first song he wrote to be recorded by The Beatles)

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (acoustic version)

"My Sweet Lord" (live)

"All Those Years Ago"

"Got My Mind Set On You"

Traveling Wilburys- "Handle With Care"

"Any Road"

New Christmas single and Attic Sessions video from JD McPherson

JD McPherson gets set to release his first Christmas track "Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)" digitally on December 11th.  Rolling Stone is letting you preview it HERE.  Also, at a recent tour stop in Nashville, JD, Jimmy Sutton and the band did a segment for The Attic Sessions (  The Attic Sessions feature artists in a cool and eclectic setting from a room at the top of The War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN.  Check it out here and don't forget to purchase JD's Christmas tune on December 11th!

"Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)" Lyric video

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chris Isaak concert review- 11-17-12 Lexington, KY

Our friend Jen caught Chris Isaak's show in Lexington, KY recently and we asked for a full report.  There's still time to catch Chris on his current tour.  If you're trying to decide whether to go, Jen's account will help convince you to get out to see a show.  Here's her review of the night:

17 years. That’s how long it had been since I last saw Chris Isaak in concert. He took me by total surprise then – that was a free concert in the park hosted by a local radio station, and featuring Human League, Chris Isaak and Duran Duran. I came to see Duran Duran…but Chris Isaak stole the show and my heart! I never forgot the fun of that night, the great music, and the stage full of girls brought up from the audience to dance to “Diddley Daddy”.

So here I am, 2012, ticket in hand to see Chris Isaak perform at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts. He’s still touring his 13th album, Beyond the Sun (released in 2011), a loving tribute to the rockabilly artists of Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, who have influenced him since he was a kid listening to his parents’ record collection while growing up in Stockton, California.

I was excited to have a 5th row seat, but even more so when I actually found my seat and saw how close I was to the stage! The opening act was a local group from Lexington, Coralee and the Townies, whose self-described “honky-tonk soul” sound was a perfect compliment to the night ahead. Coralee was adorable and animated as she belted out song after song with energy, backed by a tight group of talented musicians. Really a great sound to get the audience revved up!

Finally it was time. The lights lowered to blue, with intro music building to a frenzy, as the band, Silvertone (Rowland Salley, bass; Scotty Plunkett, keyboards; Kenney Dale Johnson, drums; Rafael Padilla, percussion; Hershel Yatovitz, guitar) took their positions on stage. And then… Chris Isaak – tall, lean, tanned, perfect pompadour, and looking much younger than his 56 years of age – walked onto the stage, the spotlight dancing off the sparkles of his black suit. He and his bandmates exchanged hand-slaps as the crowd leapt to their feet in wild applause. Just that quick the lights flashed bright as the band kicked into “American Boy” followed by the surf-twang of “Blue Hotel”.

When you go to a Chris Isaak show, it’s more than just a music concert. From his shining Nudie-style suits, to his banter and self-deprecating jokes with the band, to his walk-through around the theater, shaking hands and sitting on ladies’ laps (“Heavy, aren’t I?”) Chris is a true showman.

“I want to thank you all for coming out tonight to support live music,” he says, then adds, “because if you didn’t I’d be walking around Lexington in a sequined suit with nothing to do.”

“I don’t know if anyone told you not to take pictures, but go ahead and take all the pictures you want. I didn’t get dressed up like this for nothing,” he winked.

The first part of the show was all Chris Isaak, featuring favorites like “San Francisco Days”, “Somebody’s Crying”, “Dancin’” and “Notice the Ring” (one of my faves!). His 1991 breakthrough hit ”Wicked Game” still raises a collective sigh from the women in the audience with the first notes of the guitar’s longing, lusty twang. The driving bass of “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” had everyone dancing, as Chris joked about finding love for his lonely bass player, and inviting ladies from the audience on stage to dance around him.

Next was like a show within a show, as the pace slowed some with Chris singing Elvis Presley’s “Doin’ the Best I Can” and telling us of the influence the songs from Sun Studios have had on him, as the crew deftly turned the stage into a Memphis Recording Studio space, with a neon sign, Scotty Plunkett’s piano, and Rowland Salley playing upright bass. Chris kicked it up with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as the audience sang along. Then Chris told the story of Carl Perkins’ song, “Dixie Fried”:

“Kenney, tell these people here why this song was banned from the radio.”

“Well, Chris, I heard that, much like yourself, he used to wear those effeminate girly looking suits…”

“No Kenney, that’s not why it was banned… And I want you to know, there’s nothing effeminate about this suit. Your most macho athletes … you know, your figure skaters… they wear suits just like this.”

The audience roared with laughter as Chris and the band got “Dixie Fried”, then slowed things down again with a beautiful version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that rivals anything done by Elvis himself. Chris finished this part of the show with a rocking version of Jimmy Wages’ “Miss Pearl”(“This song is about a bad woman, who leaves a trail of broken hearts and hickies wherever she goes.”), then right into Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” with Scotty Plunkett’s piano erupting in ‘flames’. The crowd went wild as Chris and the band raised their arms and waved a thank you before exiting the stage.

We knew the night wasn’t over yet, though, as the stage crew, in lights lowered to blue again, whisked away the studio setting. The band entered and took their places again, as Hershel Yatovitz tore into the surf-inspired instrumental “Super Magic”. Enter Chris Isaak again, now dressed in his famous encore suit covered entirely in mirrors, stopping to give the audience an eyeful as they snapped away on their camera phones, then blowing a kiss to his fans, hamming it up for all its worth. As the drums beat, the guitars sang, and Chris began, “Pretty woman, walking down the street…” a giant inflatable pinup girl appeared in the background, bouncing to the beat of the song. They finished the night with the soulful, swinging “Big Wide Wonderful World”. As the audience cheered, Chris held his guitar high in the air with the message “Thanks A Lot” in letters on the back.

As I gathered my things, heart racing from the excitement of the evening, I knew that sometimes Chris and his band meet with fans after the show, before they leave for the next city. As I walked outside, I heard the low rumble of an idling engine of a very large vehicle… I followed the sound to find the tour bus and a handful of fans waiting. As I neared the crowd I recognized Rowland Salley first, talking, posing for photos and scribbling autographs. I then saw Kenney, Scotty and Hershel also talking with fans. I approached Rowland, who was so kind and smiled so warmly, but I was so overwhelmed I could barely utter how wonderful the show was. Next I chatted with Kenney, who was so relaxed and funny it immediately put me at ease, and I felt as if I were talking with an old friend.

with drummer Kenney Dale Johnson
Then I turned around… and there HE was: Chris Isaak, looking even more handsome up close. I almost forgot I was wearing a little jacket I’d designed, in homage to Chris himself and his sparkly suits – I lettered his name in sequins on the lapels, and across the back copied his caricature from the album “Mr. Lucky” and added a sequined guitar, hearts and scattered rhinestones. I had felt a little conspicuous in it all evening, until that moment, when Chris turned and fixed his gaze on me, and I could see his eyes curiously studying my jacket.

“I made this for you!” I beamed.

“You did??” he smiled. A HUGE smile, clearly appreciative that I would go to such effort. As I turned around so he could see the back he said, “That is so cool! I wish I had seen that – I would have brought you on stage to dance! The next show you come to, wear that and I will!” I made him promise, and he agreed.

with Chris Isaak
Chris also was just as warm and relaxed as could be, and listened intently as I told him that this show was a birthday present to myself, and how long I’d wanted to see him perform. He wished me a happy birthday, and put his arm around my shoulder for a photo.

The whole evening was fantastic – and all the months building up to that evening were well worth the wait. Never again will I let 17 years slip by before I see Chris Isaak in concert again! There are only a few shows left to this tour, so if you’ve never seen his show before and he’s coming to your area, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket! You can see the list of events at

clip of "Pretty Woman"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wanda Jackson with Justin Townes Earle- "Am I Even A Memory" music video

photo by Joshua Wilkins

Wanda Jackson's new music video for the Greg Garing penned track "Am I Even A Memory" just released this week and features Justin Townes Earle on the song and in the video.  Justin produced Jackson's latest, Unfinished Business available now.  The video was directed by Seth Graves.  See below to get this latest album for $5 via Amazon download.

Billy Burnette at Music City Roots 11-7-12

Billy Burnette did a short set last week as part of the Music City Roots weekly program that is filmed live from The Loveless Cafe (more info HERE).  In case you didn't get to see it, here's the tracks performed:

"Rock N Roll With It"

"Oh Well"

"Can't Get Over You"

"My Love Will Not Change"

"Tear It Up"

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set

Beatles and vinyl enthusiasts are celebrating the 2012 Stereo vinyl remastered box set available on Tuesday, November 13th.  Individual album remasters will also be available.  One fun they are doing to promote this in  New York and Los Angeles is a special Double Decker Bus Pop-Up Shop.  Available for sale on the shop will be vinyl, blu-ray, merch and more!  More info HERE.

"Booker T" Jones was born this day in 1944

Booker T. Jones was born this day in 1944 in Memphis, TN.  He's best known for leading Booker T. & The MG's and their monster instrumental hit "Green Onions".  They also served as the back-up band on the bulk of the Stax Records recordings.  He continues to release projects (including The Road From Memphis released last year) and tour.  Here's "Green Onions" along with a track from his new project....

"Everything Is Everything"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Limited edition 7" from JD McPherson available now

Only 500 copies of this single from JD McPherson ("North Side Gal" b/w a new recording of "Abigail Blue") were made so get your copy now!  Click HERE to order.

"Abigail Blue"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get free new single from The Explorers Club

The Explorers Club just recently covered "No Good To Cry" which was originally recorded in 1967 by The Wildweeds featuring Al Anderson.  Anderson went on to NRBQ fame as well as a successful Nashville songwriter.  Get the track free HERE.  Enjoy some past tracks for fun:

"Run Run Run"

"Do You Love Me"

"Darlin'" (live rehearsal Beach Boys cover)