I was first turned on to great music at about eight or nine years old when a wonderful woman gave me a 45 by Little Richard, and I’ve been collecting records ever since. In the 1960s, I encountered my second major influence, The Kingston Trio and dug deeply into the folk revival. I picked up the guitar and began playing in small groups or solo at parties. Of course when it came time to dance with girls, I gravitated to the style of r&b that become known in the Carolinas as “beach music” as well as to Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Motown soul music. I thought country music was hokey until I discovered Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Flatt & Scruggs. Then in the 1970’s another wonderful woman gave me a copy of Jerry Jeff Walker’s album, “Viva Terlingua,” and a whole new world opened up – the Texas based singers and songwriters who deliciously merged country, folk and rock ‘n’ roll into their own fresh, literate, kick ass fun genre.
During all this time, I lived in a home that was filled with music. My parents seemed to always be playing the stereo listening to jazz icons such as Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald. As a teen, this seemed like “old peoples’ music until I started really listening and seeing some of the greats in person.
In college, I was social chairman for my fraternity responsible for booking only the best “beach music” and soul oriented bands. As an adult, my brothers and I produced an annual music fest to raise money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. For over twenty years we showcased terrific performers of Texas style outlaw country, folk rock, western swing and r&b. What a lucky way to round out my music background.
Given that my musical heroes include artists like the early Elvis, Ray, Smokey, Otis, Aretha, the Temps and Tops, Dylan, Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, Willie, Lyle, Merle, Jones, Loretta, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster along with those mentioned earlier, you won’t be surprised that I love the classic forms of the genres they inhabit. Unfortunately, many of the records I collected in the fifties, sixties and seventies did not survive late night parties, beer spills and needle wear and tear. With the advent of CD’s and later digital downloads, I’ve been able to both rebuild and add to my collection. My iTunes library numbers over 12,000 tunes, each personally screened before adding. Very few CD’s or new albums make the grade in total. Obsessive? Perhaps. But I never want to have a song come up for play that I don’t like.
Thank goodness I’m retired from my day job because I spend inordinate chunks of time looking for music my ears and heart want to hear. My favorite part is sharing these tunes with my friends, sometimes at a party, other times late at night on the porch sipping whiskey. They’ve encouraged me to launch this blog. Like me, they love not only the old hits, but also new artists I’ve found working with the classic forms, as well as under appreciated and often unheard singers or songs from “back in the day.” And they say they enjoy my background “BS” about the tunes and artists. They think I’m qualified to write this blog, so I’ll give it my best shot. I hope they – and you – have as much fun with it as I do.