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.
Amos Milburn was born on this day in 1927. He was a part of a movement of Texas-born R&B musicians who migrated to Los Angeles to take part in the port-WWII West Coast R&B scene. His piano-based, Jump Blues party records are some of the best ever made!
Like this one! Milburn recorded this song a few times and I was originally only familiar with an earlier, slower version. But then, via a collection of recordings featuring the legendary drummer Earl Palmer, I was introduced to this 1950s version. It ROCKED MY SOCKS OFF! So good! This is no-holds-barred, rock-em sock-em, barrelhouse/roadhouse rhythm n blues! Give this one a listen if you want to ramp up your day!
This weekend I kicked the prep for the upcoming Sugar Town into high gear and getting so excited to celebrate the ladies of classic soul and r&b as we launch into Women's History Month. I've been gathering all kinds of fresh 45s for this event and I can't wait to share them with you!
This will be the 4th edition of the Ladies of Classic Soul version of Sugar Town, but I've been throwing versions of this party since 1996. The record of the day is one of the recordings that's been a go-to for me since the early years. It lives up to it's name as a real scorcher written and performed by Varetta Dillard on this day in 1959.
Varetta was born in Harlem in 1933. She enjoyed moderate success in the mid-1950s, and from the beginning was promoted as a "rock n roll" artist by the legendary DJ Alan Freed (who coined the term "rock n roll"). In fact, Freed included Ms. Dillard in his very first presentation of a rock n roll revue concert in 1952.
Though Varetta's name had largely been missing in the pages of rock 'n' roll and r&b history, today her music is finding a wider audience and a handful of her records are highly sought after by DJs of vintage soul.
Join me at The Spare Room on March 7th to celebrate the music and lives of more ladies of vintage soul and R&B. AND get warmed up for the event by listening to this red hot R&B!
On this day in 1953 one of the great R&B songs of the early 1950s was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, further solidifying their reign as the KINGS of vocal group R&B. The song was the first hit written by Lincoln Chase who is best remembered for his musical partnership with Shirley Ellis in the early 60s.
Some radio stations considered it too suggestive for airplay and banned it. Just a few months after the Drifters release, the song would be whitewashed by Johnny Ray who would have a #18 hit with it. But as with all of Georgia Gibbs whitewashed records, nobody remembers the Johnny Ray version. The Drifters record is pure gold in our hearts!
After a disappointing election, it seems like a good idea to turn my thoughts to something a little more uplifting. I'm getting all kinds of happy thinking about the upcoming Sugar Town Sno-Ball! In fact, I can't seem to get this tune out of my head, so I thought I'd make it the Record of the Day.
The Titans were an LA-based doo wop group who recorded just a handful of singles for a variety of labels in the late 50s. They disbanded in the early 60s. One group member went on the become Curtis Knight, famous for being the band leader of one of Jimi Hendrix's pre-psychedelic bands.
I love the uniqueness of this record. It's what I look for when choosing songs for my set. I'm not just looking for a beat. I want something that stands out, grabs people and commands attention. The raw production, weird lyrics, and of course the handclaps work together to make this one a real crowd-pleaser.
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
Happy 88th birthday to one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. In Chuck Berry, music defined as "white" and music defined as "Black" collided in an electrifying explosion that sent shock waves across the world! When Chuck mixed country and blues, it was the BIG BANG that shook the framework of American society and we're still reelin' and rockin' as a result.
If there was ever any doubt that music has the power to change the world, one needs only to look at the effect of Chuck Berry.
Today's Record of the Day is Chuck's message song "Brown Eyed Handsome Man". It was indeed a brown-eyed handsome man with a guitar who knocked down the racial walls of Jericho.
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!