Carl Perkins, whose story is fabled in rock n roll lore, was born on this day in 1932 in Tiptonville, TN. Perkins, perhaps more than any other, has come to be the symbol of "rockabilly" music. And I will admit, I was in aw when visiting Sun Studios a couple of years ago and standing in the very room in which he laid down the tracks for records that would define American music for the latter half of the 20th century. Like everyone else on the studio tour, I couldn't help but "dork out" with the famed original microphone into which Carl reportedly sang "one for the money, two for the show."
He would ride the wave of his seminal record "Blue Suede Shoes" for decades. In fact many of his post-Sun releases would riff off of it with other clothing-themed titles like "Pink Pedal Pushers," "Pointed Toe Shoes", "Levi Jacket (And a Long Tail Shirt)" and so on. Although, I love songs about shoes just as much as the next guy, one of my favorite Carl Perkins songs is the gospabilly FLIP side of "Pointed Toe Shoes." I'm a sucker for a danceable tune with an uplifting message, what can I say. This is a lovely representation of all things I love in Southern music: the melding of influences, a determination to overcome adversity, and a celebration of a brighter tomorrow.
Country Music Hall of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens turns 94 today. At 4' 11" he may be little, but he sure was loud! He's also the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.
I always thought of Jimmy as a novelty song artist. I mean, as a record digger I had come across "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" hundreds of times. As a result, I never really paid much attention to him until recently. It wasn't until I gave this 45 a listen purely on a whim that I realized his early records were absolutely KILLER rockabilly floor-fillers. Consequently, this is currently my favorite male vocal country dance record right now. Thanks Golden Oldies!
My motives for choosing today's Record of the Day are embarrassingly transparent. Tonight is Queer Country Junction, so I chose a record to rev you up for the party.
Maybe it's because I'm a giant record nerd, but I find it interesting that two of the finest female vocal groups of the 1950s were called "The Davis Sisters" and that they were so very different. The Davis Sisters of the Golden Age of Gospel differentiated themselves by adding "The Famous" to their name. I'm sure I'll feature them on this blog eventually given how amazing they were, but today we're listening to the Davis Sisters of country.
Betty Jack Davis and Mary Frances Penick were high school friends out of Kentucky who teamed up to form a singing duo in the late 1940s. Sister acts were a hot commodity in those days, so Mary Frances changed her name to "Skeeter Davis" and the girls billed themselves as the Davis Sisters. They recorded for Fortune Records out of Detroit and then were signed to RCA. Sadly, they were only able to knock out one RCA recording session before they were involved in a tragic car accident. Betty Jack was killed. Skeeter lived on to become one of the brightest genre-busting stars of the 1960s.
However, before she pursued her glorious solo career, Skeeter persuaded Betty Jack's sister Georgia to replace her sister in the Davis Sisters. They went on to record a number of proto-rockabilly tracks. The Record of the Day is a fine example.
Fiddle in the middle of this little fiddle diddle boogie woogie and join your friends on the dance floor tonight at the World Famous Kenton club.
As a party producer I've been gearing up for Halloween for 3 months. Sometimes I forget that it hasn't already happened for everyone else. So, in honor of the approaching holiday which is sometimes called "Gay Christmas", I have this incredible record by Canadian rockabilly singer Jack Scott.
This record has it all! Clever lyrics dramatically delivered by a master vocalist, a genius arrangement with creative instrumentation (listen to those frenzied strings playing the part of the witch), and a wild, driving danceable beat! There's a monster dance party in those grooves!
Finding out that Wanda Jackson released a version of "Candy Man" on 45 was just about the best thing to ever happen to my country DJ life. One of my favorite singers doing one of my favorite songs?! It's a dream come true.
Today Wanda Jackson turns 77! I met her briefly when a bunch of us brought her to Olympia to play Ladyfest 2005. I will say, she seemed a little detached from the situation, but I guess I can hardly blame her. And really, who cares?! It's WANDA friggin' JACKSON! I shook the hand of Wanda Jackson, "THE First Lady of Rock 'n' Roll"! Well, it was more like she put out her hand and I touched it, and she seemed a bit put off by it. But whatever. It happened. Surely some of her magic must have rubbed off on me a little bit.
I think her legacy can be summed up in what I witnessed during my visit to the Country Music Hall of fame last year. The museum was packed with artifacts from dozens and dozens of country music legends from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift. What artifact attracted the most enthusiasm? WANDA JACKSON'S GUITAR! People were huddled all around and standing in line, waiting to marvel at it and take a photo with it. There was a video of her performing "Hard Headed Woman" playing above it. From behind me I could hear an older couple reacting to the video. The man said to his wife with a chuckle, "She was a REAL wildcat, wasn't she?!" Yes, sir. Yes, sir she was!
Thank you Wanda! Thank you for your enormous contribution to popular music. Thank you for taking chances. Thank you for putting something brave out into the world. Thank you for busting open doors. Thank you for bringing down the houses. Happy birthday to you <3
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!