Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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June 2015

Sean Mencher (High Noon, Wayne Hancock, Sean Mencher Combo…)

in Interviews

An interview with Sean Mencher

To celebrate the soon to be released High Noon’s collection on Bear Family titled Flatland Saturday Night (August 2015), I dug into my archives and found this 2006 interview with the band’s lead guitar player who also works as a producer (Two Timin’ Three, Jessie Lee Miler, The Starline Rhythm Boys, Croonin’ Kurt…) and leads his own combo.

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis
I believe you’re from Washington, did Washington artists such as Billy Hancock or Tex Rubinovitz have something to do in your discovery of rockabilly ?
Sean Mencher: Yes, I was born in Washington DC, and Tex Rubinowitz and The Bad Boys are the first live rockabilly band I saw and, well, pretty much changed my life.  I saw Tex perform live at an outdoor free concert series at Fort Reno Park, and man, they were rockin’ like crazy and brilliant! I mean Hot Rod Man, Ain’t It Wrong, Feelin’ Right Tonight! Great songs, and excellent rockabilly music! Also, there was a blues quartet called The NightHawks, who influenced my musical direction a great deal too! A brilliant band who, in my opinion, deserved much greater recognition! Also, others in the area were Robert Gordon, Johnny Seaton, Danny Gatton, Evan Johns, as well as Billy Hancock… and also, all the great bluegrass music, like The Seldom Scene, and the Johnson Mountain Boys.  Plus, the brilliant jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd lived in the area.  My Dad, who is an excellent piano player, took me to see Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis, twice!!! We had a ball. Plus, we went to see the greatest, Andres Segovia.  We also went to see the greatest, Chet Atkins!!!  So, yes, Washington artists, like Tex Rubinowitz did have something to do with my discovery of rockabilly music.

SeanMencher_480

Was there a lot of music around you as a kid? You said your father plays piano…
Sean Mencher: Yes, my Dad plays piano, and his Mom, my grandmother, played piano, both very, very well. As far as guitar, not really, except that my Dad does play a few chords and some folk songs like “Froggie Went A-Coutin’.”  However, everyone in my family loves music. My Mom remembers seeing Louis Armstrong in New York City, at The Blue Angel nightclub, and what a brilliant show it was.

Do you remember the first record you bought by yourself?
Sean Mencher: I actually don’t…  I remember listening to a lot of Ted Nugent in High School, though. Actually, the first record may have been a Tex Rubinowitz  12″ EP on B-Sharp records, that I still have, called Hot Rod Man!

How and when did you start the guitar?
Sean Mencher: I started on the guitar when I was around 18 years old…  my Dad had an old acoustic harmony guitar that my younger brother, Marc, was taking lessons on… and he did not go to a lesson and asked if I wanted to go instead, so I did… and then just kind of kept on going with it.

Which guitarist made the biggest impact on you? Of course, one can hear a lot of Merle Travis and a lot rockabilly/country guitar players in you style. But there’s a lot of jazz too like Oscar Moore or Charlie Christian…
Sean Mencher: Yes, Merle Travis, is the one who has made the biggest impact on me.  For several reasons, not only is he a brilliant guitarist, with a whole guitar style named after him “Travis Picking,”   he was an incredible songwriter.  I mean, all you have to do is a little research on him and you realize what a giant he was, creatively. Absolutely brilliant. I could go on and on, however, anyone who is interested can look into the Merle Travis phenomenon on there own.  Yes, of course, I love Oscar Moore and Charlie Christian’s guitar playing, how can you not?!  Brilliant innovators on the instrument.  In fact the ending chord in Shaun Young’s/High Noon’s song “Stranger Things” is an E9b5 chord that I learned off an Oscar Moore recording.  Furthermore the riff on Shaun’s song “Rocks Me Right” is a variation on the Charlie Christian “A Smooth One” lick!  Anyway, you have great ears to pick that influence up!

Let’s talk about High Noon now. How did you meet Kevin and Shaun?
High Noon card 1990Sean Mencher: I met Shaun Young and Kevin Smith in Austin, Texas on 6th Street in 1988.  They were playing in Shaun’s Rock-a-billy band called The Shifters, and I was working with a country band called Chaparral.   …and we just got to talking and hanging out through a mutual love of the traditional, true rockabilly music sound.  We got together one day and in my garage on Ave. C, and just played for hours, song after song, Sun Sessions, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, etc…  just all stuff we knew in common that we had always wanted to realize, but did not have the right musicians, and instruments!   After that, we just played as much as we could, anywhere, anytime, all the time… 25 gigs a month in and around Central Texas was not unusual for High Noon, at that time!

Three bands changed the rockabilly as we know it today. Big Sandy, Dave & Deke Combo and High Noon. You proved that with an “authentic” sound rockabilly was a today’s thing by writing solid originals. Was it something you wanted to do from the beginning with High Noon?
Sean Mencher: Yes, I have always been a fan of great songwriting… and I know that Shaun Young, Kevin Smith, and I have always aspired to high quality songwriting, as well as rockin’ rhythm, and pickin’!

You made some great recordings with Willie Lewis of Rock-A-Billy reco. Was he easy to work with?
Sean Mencher: As far as I remember, he was easy to work with.

When the band went on hiatus, each of you worked on his own project. Tell us about the Sean Mencher Combo. What kind of style do you play?
Sean Mencher: The Sean Mencher Combo is similar in sound to High Noon at times, however, there are drums, and usually another soloist, like a fiddle or trumpet.  The style we play is truly a combination of influences filtered through slap bass, acoustic rhythm guitar, electric thumb-picked lead guitar, fiddle, and drums.

During this period you’ve also played and recorded with Wayne Hancock. He seems to ask a lot from his musicians. Some kind of Bob Wills’ attitude like “Look at me or you won’t get any solo”
Sean Mencher: Yes, Wayne Hancock does have that kind of attitude, in that he wants to feel  the musical solo as well as hear it, it’s not about what you play, so much, as how you play it.  With conviction, guts, and pride!!!  Wayne is one of the best songwriters I have ever had the pleasure to work with, and a truly one of the greats.

Youre also known for your activity as a producer. Tell us about the band you produced (Jessie Lee Miller, Croonin’ Kurt, The Gin Palace Jesters, The Twilight Ranchers etc.)
Sean Mencher: I am glad that I am known for mt activity as a producer.  I enjoy working with artists/songwriters/bands to help them realize their music in a recording.  Let’s see, regarding telling you about the bands I produced, I would rather just let the recordings speak for themselves…  also, there is probably too much detail to go into to answer this question, as each band is different, with a unique set of circumstances surrounding the recordings I have been involved with.

As a producer what is your point of view about recording on vintage equipment?
Sean Mencher: My view on vintage equipment is this, I want the recording to sound good to as many people as possible.   In other words, I think that Ken Nelson, Capitol Records producer, got excellent sound, and I strive for that sort of sonic quality.  I mean I could go on and on… there is a friend of mine in Berlin, Germany, who will not even consider digital cds… he says that as soon as you put the material on cd, it does not matter what you recorded on because it has been converted to digital to reproduce… so, you could record on all this pristine vintage recording equipment and release it on cd and he would argue that it makes no difference because it’s not on vinyl!   So, I mean, you can go to either extreme, I am sure there are others who record on the computer… all digital, all the time…  the way I work is by trusting my heart and my ears…  I focus and listen and try to get the best sound I can for each recording.  So far, it has been a combination… usually recording to tape, and then mixing analog, and mastering on computer, and then onto cd.  Each situation is different.  I remember High Noon released a 78rpm at one point.

Who would you like to produce?
Sean Mencher: I always thought it would be cool to record Hank III and Chris Scruggs, together,  since they are Nashville country music superstar grandsons.

What kind of music do you listen at home? What is the last record you bought?
Sean Mencher: The last cd I bought is Chet Atkins Solo Sessions.  I listen to all types of music at home.  I listen to Jessie Lee Miller a lot at home, also, The Starline Rhythm Boys.  I have also been listening to Deke Dickerson’s The Melody.  Deke never ceases to entertain, impress, and inspire me to get the guitar out!!!  He is awesome.  Also, I enjoy Jimmy Sutton’s Four Charms new cd, which I will not try to spell out here. Dwight Yoakam’s new Blame The Vain is very good.  Dwight is fortunate to have such a brilliant bassman,  Kevin Smith, in his band now.

You’ve played with High Noon at the 10th Rockabilly Rave. Another highlight was the more than welcome come-back of Dig Wayne (Buzz & The Flyers) with you on lead guitar. How did you get in touch with him?
Sean Mencher: Well, I have been a fan of his since I first bought his EP with Buzz and The Flyers. My brother, Marc, located him in Los Angeles to book him at the second Green Bay Rockin’ 50s Fest, and I asked if I could play lead guitar for him, and be the band leader, and it worked out well there. Jerry Chatabox was at Green Bay, and asked if we could perform at The Rockabilly Rave too, and of course, we said yes!

A last word?
Sean Mencher: Trust your ears, and your heart!!!   Thanks and all the best!!!  Love, Peace and Hairgrease!!!

Marti Brom

in Interviews

Singin’ and Satan:  Marti Brom Gives the Devil’s Music a Heavenly TwistMarti 1

 

By Denise Daliege-Pierce

Satan,” Marti Brom quipped when asked why she had chosen to take her eclectic blend of rockabilly, rhythm and blues, swanky pop standards and anything in between to the stage. That one word response, derived from a 2011 interview conducted via e-mail, was an indication of Brom’s charm and tongue-in-cheek humor, traits that—along with her fiery vocals—have served the songstress well.

While frequently uttered in the same breath as such modern rockabilly notables as Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys and Kim Lenz, Brom’s catalog, like those of her associates’, is as varied as the locales that she has called home. Early exposure to such musical and topographical diversity did more than just mold the singer’s harmonic style. “I grew up in St. Louis and spent many of my summers in Baton Rouge with my grandmother and her country doctor husband,” she recalled in 2011. “Many of his patients paid for his services with live crabs and shrimp and oysters, so I would say that my summers in Louisiana did more to shape my tastes in tastes than in music. Of course, the great music and shows such as ‘Hee Haw’ were definitely part of the background.
More important to shaping my style on stage was my access to my grandmother’s grand trunks filled with fabulous outfits and jewelry,” Brom continued. “When I wasn’t in the pasture squishing my toes in cow poop, I was pretty much spending all of my time plundering and playing dress-up with my grandmother’s things.

It was around the age of 13, while living in Italy, that Marti Brom received an introduction to the music of Suzi Quatro. Although Quatro would become primarily known throughout the United States for her recurring role as Leather Tuscadero, the tough talking, leather-clad guitarist of the popular television sitcom, Happy Days, in Europe, she was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest acts. Quatro’s edgy sound—think Joan Jett and the Runaways—stirred the musical yearnings within Brom and, a few years later, she decided to fly to England in hopes of stoking her own fledgling singing career. The decision, however, was not a fruitful one. “I wasn’t hoping to be discovered, exactly; I had simply read about Chrissie Hynde’s adventures in England and decided to follow suit,” she explained. “Unfortunately, I truthfully answered the customs agent that I did not yet know how long I intended to visit the country. My honesty cost me a year’s worth of the money I had saved for the trip—airline tickets cost much more back then—and a night in jail. I can say that the officials were not pleasant—not to me, and especially not to the African families who were my cellmates. Oddly, as an adult, I’ve never been asked that question again. I think England, at the time, had its fill of punk rockers and wasn’t looking for more.

marti bromFate, destiny, chance—call it what you will—oftentimes dons the guise of practical joker. Hampered by stage fright, it would be several years before Brom would finally make her singing debut, performing in the Officers’ Wives Club-produced musical, “The 1940s Radio Show”, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Along the way, she became acquainted with budding musician Michael Stipe, who would achieve renown as frontman for the popular alternative rock group, R.E.M. “I was the poster girl for a band that my guitarist boyfriend, Joe, led back around 1978, Bad Habits,” began Brom. “Joe placed an ad for [a] vocalist, and Michael Stipe answered the call. I never did see the band perform because, at the time, I was between fake IDs, so I mainly knew Michael from our trips to ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I would go as Magenta and Michael, of course, was Frank-N-Furter. He was an Army brat; a high school student living near Scott Air Force Base, the same base where I, much later, kicked off my own music career after marrying my own military man.” Brom later added, “But I can thank Mr. Stipe for first suggesting to me that I might like the music of one Patsy Cline. He thought my voice suited her style. My path did not cross with Mike’s again until I ran into him at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas, almost 25 years later. Austin is one of those towns where celebrities can just hang out without everyone around them acting like a fan.

It was in Austin that Marti Brom began to earn her reputation as a versatile performer, drawing material—and inspiration—from numerous sources, from Martha Carson and pop balladeer Connie Francis to Charlie Feathers and “The Queen of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson. “I guess some of the biggest would have to be Mama Cass and Big Mama Thornton; the smallest would have to include Little Jimmy Dickens and, of course, Little Brenda Lee,” she joked. “But seriously, my influences are too many to mention. I’ve worn out the grooves on artists ranging from Dolly Parton to Doris Day. I pretty much absorb music and song from every performer and musical style—well, except rap, but that is really poetry, not song; usually very bad poetry.
Unbeknownst to Brom, rockabilly’s raw energy and rebellious sound had long ago seduced her into its fold. “I think like, as with most Americans, it was just part of the fabric of rock ‘n’ roll,” she related. “I grew up on Elvis Presley movies, but I never thought of there being a separate sound called ‘rockabilly’. That was more of a British thing. Even around 1980, when I had seen such acts in clubs as The Rockats and Chris Isaak and Carl Perkins, I did not think of those acts as being anything other than being normal rock ‘n’ roll music like other acts I saw, such as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or The Ramones. I don’t really recall even using or hearing the word ‘rockabilly’ in a conversation, until one day, a guy I was dating came over to my apartment while I was playing one of my favorite albums, a collection of George Jones tunes called ‘Rockin’ the Country’, and he called it ‘rockabilly’. Of course, that guy, who proposed to me five months later in New Orleans, was a rockabilly fan who, on one of our first dates, took me to Memphis to hang out with Tav Falco and Panther Burns and, of course, The Cramps were the ultimate experience as far as being a rockabilly revelation. So, in other words, I was [a] rockabilly fan all my life without ever knowing it.

From its infancy during the mid-1950s to the early 1980s renaissance that made the Stray Cats the darlings of MTV and its current incarnation of hip subculture, the genre continues to resonate with music aficionados. “It may just be because it is the last man standing; the least diluted term,” Brom remarked. “If you put on a rockabilly record, you know, at the very least, it will be a rock ‘n’ roll tune. If someone says they are going to play a rock ‘n’ roll song for you, it is very likely to be a whiny white folk song. And country music, of course, is even worse. That term does not mean anything at all anymore—well, it does mean that the song you are about to hear on the ‘country’ radio station is guaranteed to not be country music.”

In the USA,” Brom elaborated, “rockabilly music seems to be currently kept alive and young by the Hispanic population, especially in Texas and out west. I do not know why, exactly. I think, maybe, the imagery and the hot rods draw them in at first, and then they discover that the music is a real hot alternative to the boring radio rap. When I or Wanda Jackson play on the West Coast, our audience is mainly young Hispanics. On the East Coast, it is a smaller audience of older white folks. The sad thing is that the music is probably least popular among the descendants of the rural white hillbillies who started it all! Of course, a lot of them just don’t know it is still around. It hasn’t helped that trappings of southern heritage are now often suspected as being vaguely racist by polite, ignorant society.

Brom would perform with a variety of groups throughout her lengthy career, belting out rockabilly numbers with the Jet-Tone Boys and western swing rompers alongside the Cornell Hurd Band with similar ease. Though her leanings toward the oeuvre entrenched her within the nouveau rockabilly niche, Brom’s musical cornucopia contains much more than a cover of Joyce Green’s “Black Cadillac” or another Wanda Jackson rocker. Brom’s ability to seamlessly segue from rockabilly to country to pop has groomed her into a multi-faceted singer, a far cry from the convenient one-size-fits-all labels frequently attached to artists of varied styles. “Well, when I decided to get on stage, I was attracted to the idea of singing music along the lines of the George Jones ‘Rockin’ the Country’ LP and my Patsy Cline records, so my image was, naturally, rockabilly, but I have simply never thought in terms of genres. I am just attracted to good songs, great performances and, of course, fabulous outfits,” the vocalist explained. “Probably the genre that I have the hardest time paying attention to is that of modern folk music, and that is partly because most of those performers do not seem to have a sense of style. They look like they just stepped up from the audience—well, kind of like new ‘country music’. Who wants to see that? The old country singers had a lot of great style, which is one reason I do like to perform country music on stage. They also had songs [with] real heart and soul.
That abundance of music styles fueled a string of songs and albums, including 2000’s “Feudin’ and Fightin’”, a Dorothy Shay-inspired collaboration with the Cornell Hurd Band, and “Sings Heartache Numbers”, a 2005 ode to Patsy Cline and other vintage country queens. “‘Heartache Numbers’ is for people who love real country music and ‘Feudin’ and Fightin’’ is for people who don’t,” Brom stated. “Actually, in the 1940s and thereabouts, there was a genre of music that was popular in the North, where singers lampooned their idea of Southern white music. It fit in with their Li’l Abner visions of the great unknown South. The hillbilly lampoons, such as Lum ‘n’ Abner, went hand in hand with the lampoons of Southern black culture, such as Amos ‘n’ Andy; all of it a neglected art form.”

Brom’s pairing with Finnish roots band, The Barnshakers, resulted in some of her most recognizable material, including the albums “Snake Ranch”, released in 1999, and 2003’s “Wise to You!”. One might suspect that working with such a diverse triumvirate of groups would pose problems or result in favoring one more than the others but, for the musically flexible Brom, it’s been a blessing. “Ain’t no comparing! What are you trying to do, start a feud?” she teased. “Actually, what they all have in common is they all represent the top practitioners of their art forms: the best of the best. I have said, many times, that I have been unbelievably fortunate in the caliber of musicians and human beings with whom I have worked. They are all friends, as well as partners. I think I am also attracted to musicians who are both outstanding and giving. All of the Jet-Tone Boys, The Barnshakers and all of the Cornell Hurd Band were fully dedicated to supporting other musicians and the art forms that they love. I can tell you all of them have given more than they have received. They deserve far more than they could ever receive.

Brom’s twentysomething years in music have afforded her the opportunity to share the stage with a number of her heroes, including rockabilly artist Robert Gordon, “The Female Elvis” Janis Martin and Wanda Jackson. “I especially enjoyed the first time I got on stage with Wanda at her first birthday bash in Austin that my friend, Rosie Flores, hosted,” she shared. “I did not sing; rather, I played finger cymbals while Wanda sang ‘Funnel of Love’.

Breathing new life into the works of some of her favorite artists has its advantages, too. “Check out my new release, ‘Not for Nothin’’, and you will see a photo of me and Pat Brown, the original singer of ‘Forbidden Fruit’. Daryl Davis, East Coast pianist extraordinaire, pitched a 45 for me recorded by a teenager in 1961 and, a few months later, Daryl brought that teenager over to my house!
Meeting these folks has been one of the greatest fringe benefits of my singing hobby,” Brom went on. “I became close to Janis Martin before she passed away so suddenly and have remained close to her family. And, as you probably know, Kathy Cranston, the wonderful grandniece of Dorothy Shay, ended up flying to Austin to be in the audience for the ‘Feudin’ and Fightin’’ record release show—and she lent me Dorothy Shay’s dress to wear for the occasion! It fit perfectly.

Marti brom

Marti Brom’s desire to spend time with her family, to the dismay of her fans, frequently resulted in a lighter touring schedule. With “Not for Nothin’”, Marti Brom ’s datebook has rapidly filled. “This is a very cool project, and it was released jointly by Goofin’ Records and by the old D.C. rockabilly label, Ripsaw Records,” she commented.
Grammy award-winning producer Peter Bonta lent his expertise to the record, an homage to Washington, D.C.’s rich musical heritage. “We tried to include as many connection[s] to the greater D.C. area that we could: local musicians, studios, songs and, of course, the label itself,” Marti Brom explained. “D.C.-based Bill Kirchen supplies a song and accompanies me on a duet that I let him pick out.
The aforementioned Davis, guitarist Pedro Sera, bassist Louie Newmyer and Saul T. McCormack on drums were amongst those to flesh out the disc’s something for everybody tone. “By the way, the fact that Peter Bonta is first cousin to Mr. T [Jarrod] Bonta from our ‘Snake Ranch’ record was a pleasant surprise to us,” Brom noted.

As technology progresses, so do the formats through which audiophiles consume and purchase music. Thanks to the internet, the days of popping into your area record store for that sought after album are rapidly being relegated to the endangered species list. YouTube has superseded the once domineering MTV for video availability, while digital downloads have made the recorded output of acts from across the musical spectrum readily— and cheaply—available. It’s a change that, for Marti Brom, has its benefits, as well as drawbacks. “Well, unheard music is unbought [sic] music,” she observed. “Many people, such as myself, listen to downloaded music much as we used to listen to the radio. We find things we like from the dross, and it creates an itch to actually own the artifact—especially if that artifact is made of virgin vinyl and comes with a full-sized LP cover and the complete analog recordings—not digitally sampled where my brain has to connect all the aural dots. I have no idea if that holds true for the youngest generations. My guess is that, overall, it has helped independent artists and done more harm than good for major music companies.

Two years following the release of “Not for Nothin’”, Marti Brom remains an in-demand commodity. She continues to perform—the Teri Joyce-penned “Blue Tattoo” remains a fan favorite—and, in late 2012, she joined fellow rockabilly songbird Rosie Flores on tour in support of Janis Martin’s posthumous effort, “The Blanco Sessions”. It’s a seemingly perfect fit: the catalog of the pioneering “Female Elvis” living on through the vocal skills of Brom: country crooner, western swing singer and—perhaps—the ideal candidate to introduce rockabilly music to another generation willing to throw caution to the wind…and a decent record on the jukebox.

Nina and the Hot Spots

in MN/Reviews/Singles
ninahotspots
Nina and the Hot Spots

Nina and the Hot Spots – Cha-Ching!

Part records [2015]
Get Up – Rock Me Crazy –  Schwing Dich –  Farmer Girl – I’m In Love

A good and varied five songs ep by this German combo. Get Up and Rock Me Crazy are two Rock’n’Roll and Jive tunes with solid saxophone with a touch of Jazz that are sure to please fans of the Stargazers. Schwing Dich is sung in German and leans more toward German Rock’n’Roll singers like Conny Froboess or Peter Krauss.
Farmer Girl is a duet with a strong hillbilly flair, with nice finger picking guitar and harmonica. The last song is a slow blues-jazz number that sounds as if it had been recorded in the wee hours of the morning in a small and smoky jazz club.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Caravans

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews
The Caravans - Easy Money
The Caravans – Easy Money

The Caravans – Easy Money

Nervous Records – NERD 036 [1988]
Rough Diamond – Sneakin` Out – I`ve Lost , You Win – Cryin’ – I Ain’t Got No Excuses – Easy Money – A Better Place – Blues Train – Stranded – Good Bye, Good Bye – In The Heat Of The Day – Sometimes I Wish – Stoned Tired & Cryin` – (Be My) Heart`s Desire – Love Me Like You Do

The Caravans formed in 1983 and after a few contributions to various compilation albums they finally released ther debut album on Nervous records in 1988. The line-up for this album was Mark Pennington (double bass/lead vocals), Rich Caso (lead guitar who replaced former lead guitarist Rob taylor), Darren Francis and Brian Gillman (rhythm guitars) and Lee Barnett on drums.
The result is very good melodic but hard hitting neo-rockabilly. All the songs are originals mostly from the pen of Pennington. Some songs are very good (Easy Money, Goodbye Goodbye, Sneakin’ Out, A Better Place, Cryin’ in a neo-Gene Vincent style or the hillbilly skiffle of In the Heat of the Day with accordion) still, some are more average and break the dynamic and the homogeneity of the records . And on some songs the two rhythm guitars add more confusion than power.
A good album but had it been limited to 6/7 tracks it could have been a killer.
Later reissues on cd include four unreleased songs from the same sessions.

the Caravans


Caravans - No Excuses
Caravans – No Excuses

The Caravans – No Excuses

Chuckeedee Records – CHUC 001 [1991]
After the release of their debut album (Easy Money) the Caravans saw some line up changes. Brian Gillman, Darren Frances and Lee Barnett had left . Mark Pennington (vocals and double bass) and Rich Caso (lead guitar) then recruited Johnny Bowler (who played bass with Caso in Get Smart) to play drums and this three piece band recorded No Excuses for Chuck Harvey (Frantic Flintstones) short lived label.

Though Easy Money was good, it contained a few fillers that broke the dynamic of the album and were a bit monotonous on long distance. This is not the case here. No Excuses is simply perfect. It’s exactly what one can expect from a neo-rockabilly album with powerful slap bass, syncopated drums (with breaks and rolls), light guitar. The absence of the two rhythm guitar doesn’t affect the sound of the band, far from that. It’s clearer and Caso’s solos are more in evidence rather than drawned in the rhythm section like on Easy Money. The better mix also helps alot to achieve that.

The reissue features the three tracks of the « On The Rocks » Ep.


The Caravans - Straightside
The Caravans – Straightside

The Caravans – Straightside

Rockout [1994] Crazy Love [reissue 2001]
Sure Miss You – Hobo Baby – Rockin’ Tonight – Baby Blue Eyes – Sunset Blues – She’s Just Rockin’ – Baby that’s Where You’re Wrong – Mean & Cruel – Lost Love Blues – Do Without You – That’s What It’s Meant Tobe – Freight Train – That Gal Of Mine – That’s My Belief – Gonna Love Ya – Ole River Blue – Want U Back

New album and new line-up for the Caravans. On Straightside Sean Goan arrived on drums, Jonny Bowler switched to doublebass and leader Mark Pennington ended on… guitar.
But this is the main change to be noted for the music remains more or less the same than on the previous albums.
Good originals and tailored made covers to suit the brand of neo-rockabilly that became the Caravans’ trademark.
Originally released on orange vinyl on Gaz Day’s Rockout records and later reissued on cd on Crazy Love with five bonus tracks.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Duetones (the)

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews
The Duetones - Just In Time - CHerokeee
The Duetones – Just In Time – CHerokeee

The Duetones – Just In Time

Cherokee [1998]
My Seach – Ela – This Is The Night – Slow Down – She Driver Me Insane –  Shake ‘Em Up Rock – Riddin’ The Hightway Along – Sweet Sweet Girl – Hipster Baby – I’ll Be Damned  – I’ll Be Damned  – You Can Do No Wrong – Brand New Cadillac  – Tears Of Happiness – Twang of Mr. Moore

The Duetones were a German quartet formed in 1992. In 1998 they released “Just In Time” their debut album. It’s a good and varied album. Half of the songs are classic rockabilly with some slight detour by neo-rockabilly. On this side the singer sounds a bit like Mark Pennington of the Caravans and some songs are not dissimalar to what one can find on the Caravans’ No Excuse.The other half is more desperate rock’n’roll oriented with heavier guitar sound, the bass player on lead vocals and a screamin’ saxophone for some. The set is made of band’s originals and classic covers like This is the Night, Brand New Cadillac, Sweet Sweet Girl and Slow Down.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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