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Colton Turner

in Interviews/Stories
Last year, I stumbled upon a brand new artist who sang Rockabilly and hillbilly bop just the way I like it (understand: with a strong will to write melodies and a good dose of Buddy Holly in it).
Once I received his debut album, it stayed in my player for weeks. That was exactly what I was expecting from a band: superb voice, excellent musicianship and a batch of original songs that didn’t sound like you’ve already heard them 100 times before.
When I was thinking about removing the album from my player, Colton Turner (that’s the name of the artist by the way in case you’d wonder) and his band (Zane Turner, Yari Bolanos and Alberto Tello) released a second album that was even better.
Suddenly, I heard in my head a little voice that said “Virgil, if you doen’t write an article about this band, what the use of this website?”
So here it is (and don’t forget to buy their albums).
Colton Turner
Colton Turner

Colton Turner and his brother Zane ­ who plays guitar in the band ­ grew up in Carlsbad, California. In High School the two brothers got into the Beatles and other sixties Rock’n’roll artists. With the Beatles covering artists like Carl Perkins, it didn’t take long before they discovered the first generation of Rock’n’roll musicians. “It was pretty over once we got hold of a Buddy Holly cd.” says the singer.
They quickly decided to form a band. The first line-up of the Senders, as they were called, was Colton and his brother Zane and a drummer called Jack. They were soon joined in 2015 by Yari Bolanos (“Jerry as we call him”) on bass. The bass player remembers how he heard about the band “(Jack) told me about a band he was in that played 1950’s Rock’n’roll exclusively and I asked if I could maybe rehearse with them so that next day I came over to their garage to try out and it took off from here.”Colton adds “We practised a couple of times and it just seemed like a real natural fit. (…) We had a lot of fun playing around and just hanging out.
Yari has found memories about this formative years “The Senders was a pretty fun band, we were all electric, besides drums. Colton and Zane had matching electric guitars and I played a P bass at the time. We would practice in this tiny garage everyday for hours on end, which I think really helped us really fine tune our sound. Our gigs were mostly bars and restaurants, and occasionaly a bigger gig like the county fair. We had a few recording sessions at Paladins’ bass player Thomas Yearsley’s studio in Oceanside, Ca. To be honest we didn’t really know who he was at the time but he treated us like he’s known us for years and we are very thankful for his hospitality and his patience while recording us!

Moving to Austin, Texas

The Senders stopped when Zane and Colton Turner decided to relocate to Austin, Texas. But the Colton brothers eventually persuaded Yari to join them “The two brothers had called me out of nowhere after about a year since they had moved to tell me that they bought me a greyhound ticket bus to Austin. They were planning on recording again and wanted me to play bass on the recordings, I didnt really have anything going on so I decided to just go for it and visit for a couple of weeks.” Little did he know that he would stay a little lot longer.
This time also saw Yari switch from electric bass to double bass full time. One of the reason being none other than the great Kevin Smith of High Noon fame (now with Willie Nelson) “After I heard him play in High Noon it really motivated me to get serious about trying to improve my Upright Bass playing. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him live and chat with him for a bit.

The trio was soon completed by the missing piece of their rockin’ puzzle: Alberto Tello, an Italian drummer who lived in Austin. In his country, Alberto played ten years with Tribal Bops as well as Marco di Maggio then moved to Austin in 1996 where he played with Shaun Young and the Horton Brothers when they were still called the Fender Benders. He returned to Italy but was back for good in 2001where he played with Nick Curran (though he never recorded with him he can be seen on a semi-bootleg dvd that I highly recommend, if you can put your hand on a copy), Shaun Young and the Texas Blue Dots, Barbara Lynn. He then crossed path with Colton, Zane and Jake. According to Colton Turner they met when “The three of us saw a man with a Vespa (actually a Lambretta – ed.) take a nasty fall around a turn. We went to see if he was O.K. and began talking, he was alright and it just so happened he played drums.” Alberto’s version is more prosaic “I meet the Turner gang during SXSW, I saw them play on trio without drum, on one show case. They sounded really good. So we start to talk, and they ask me if I was interested to play a gig with them” Anyway the trio was now a quartet.

Recording at Fort Horton

It didn’t take long for them to be ready to record and they soon got in touch with Billy Horton of the famous Fort Horton studio where were recorded albums by High Noon, Dave Stuckey, Nick Curran, the Bellfuries, Cave Catt Sammy, Nikki Hill and of course the Horton brothers. “We came in contact with Billy Horton after seeing him play live a few times around town.” says Colton “We were unaware that Fort Horton studios existed prior to our move to Austin but we are certainly glad it does.” Alberto pursues “I pushed for recording at Billy studio, but just a little bit, because I know Colton would be perfect for the quality of Forth Horton recording.” And he was right. Fort Horton sure was the right place and Billy Horton managed to capture the band’s energy on tape using vintage material (two 1954/1955 Ampex 350 reel to reel, 1/4″ mono.) with the band recording live (“ if you don’t want any mistake in the recording, don’t make them” says Billy Horton)

All involved really enjoyed the session. For Colton “The recording of our first record was an all day affair but we managed to record the entire thing in one session. Fort Horton is a fantastic studio and we always enjoy our time while we are there.” Yari agrees “It was awesome! Billy really knows what he’s doing and has a very good sense of capturing the best of each band he records.

Their self released debut album came like a breath of fresh air on the rockin’ scene. As I wrote earlier in my review, it made me feel like the late 80’s/early 90’s again, when bands like High Noon, Big Sandy, Go Cat Go were appearing.

The Rockabilly Rave

It wasn’t long before the promoters heard of the band and soon Colton, Zane, Yari and Alberto were playing the 2018 edition of the Rockabilly Rave. “ The Rockabilly Rave was our first time over seas and it was fantastic! Aside from hearing all the great music we really enjoyed seeing new places and most importantly meeting great people and making new friends!” remembers the singer. For Yari it was “absolutley incredble! I have never experienced such appreciation for newer rockabilly music ever. The people were very friendly and all of the bands that played were amazing. I enjoyed every moment of that trip and hope to play again in 2019! (since this interview took place the band annouced that they were booked for 2019 – ed.) I never would have imagined playing all the way in London!

The newest album

Before playing the Rockabilly Rave, Colton Turner and his band had recorded a second album, still at Fort Horton. The same ingredients that made the success of their first are still here with the addition of a lap steel played by Bobby Horton of a couple of tracks thus expanding the sound of the album. Once again all songs are originals “ My song writing varies a lot and I enjoy writing in different styles. I listen to all genres of music from country and rock ‘n’ roll to doo wop and swing so all the different moods of the album come naturally.” He cites Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley but also Frank Sinatra and country artist like Jim Reeves.

Colton Turner
Yari Bolanos, Colton Turner, Zane Turner and Alberto Tello

Asked about how the band works on the songs, Alberto explains “Most of the time Colton has already develop the song in his mind, he has 90% of the song already lay down, we add rhythm and embellishment.” Yari completes “Colton usually has it all planned out in his head already. He will play the songs then we slowly start joining in. Its a very straight forward process since he pretty much knows what direction he wants to go. From there we play the song until it feels like its right.

The result in an excellent album mixing soft rockabilly/rock’n’roll reminiscent of Ricky Nelson or Buddy Knox with hillbilly boogie, some Diddley beat, straight rockabilly and mean rock’n’roll. It’s available on El Toro‘s website or directly from the band.

Now I’m sure that Colton Turner will confirm in the future all the good things that his first two albums and his recent stage appearences announced and that this is only the first chapter of a long story.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Thanks to Colton Turner, Yari Bolanos and Alberto Tello for their help and their time.

The Horton Brothers

in Interviews

The Horton Brothers
The Horton Brothers

The Horton Brothers

[Archive from 2001]

Brothers duets have a long tradition in country music (Louvin, Monroe, Kershaw to name a few) but there wasn’t many of them (and there are still not many) in the late nineties when the Horton Brothers appeared on the scene with their debut album «Hey It’s Bobby & Billy».
In 1997 Billy (upright bass) and Bobby (guitar) – both sing harmonies or lead – started a band with Derek Peterson (from Kidd Pharaoh, one album on Rock-a-billy records) on rhythm guitar and Alberto Tello on drums. But Alberto had to go back to Italy, so he was replaced by Shaun Young. They soon added a piano to their line-up with the talended T. Jarrod Bonta.
It was time for them to record their first album (vinyl only, hope it will be reissued soon on cd) for Crazy Love (a german label). The Horton Brothers then recorded an EP on Ecco-fonic more representative of their taste. Two albums followed, where they defined their style made of a mix of hillbilly harmonies, rockabilly, texas swing. But this boys doesn’t limit their talent to the Horton Brothers. Billy played with The Asylum Street Spankers, The Hot Club Of Cowtown and produced and recorded many good albums at the now famous Fort Horton Studio. Bobby lent his talent to the Jive Bombers, Deke Dickerson and made an instrumental album with Dave Biller.
After a relativly long period without any release, the Horton Brothers released «Tempo for two» on Texas Jamboree in 2005.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

First let’s talk about you. Where do you come from ?
Billy Horton: We were born and raised in Beaumont, TX

When did you start playing music and what is your musical background?
Billy Horton: I started playing electric bass when I was 14 and upright when I was 16. I’m self taught.

Bobby Horton: I got my first guitar around the age of 13 or 14 and struggled with it for about three years. That’s when Billy finally got a bass and I had someone to play with.

Did you begin whith honky tonk/western swing/rockabilly or have you been in movements like punk/garage or things like that?
Billy Horton: I was never into punk or garage at all, which is unusual. My first record I bought was a Buddy Holly record. I played in a lot of blues bands in my teens.

Bobby Horton: I was never into punk or garage. My neighbor loaned me a Stray Cats record and Elvis’ Sun Sessions and all I can remember is thinkin’ «Man, I like Elvis a lot better than I like the Stray Cats». Then my neighbor bought the complete Buddy Holly box set on MCA and I was WAY into that for the longest time because he wrote some fantastic songs. I was also listening to Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

Who (or what) was the shock that decided you to pick an instrument?
Billy Horton: My brother needed a bass player and I really liked the bass, so it was a natural fit.

Bobby Horton: I’m not sure–maybe it was because I saw a blues band at a picnic for my dad’s job and I just thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. That was probably the first time I had seen a live band.

Nowadays what are your main influences (past and present), your «masters»?
Billy Horton: As far as harmony singing goes, the Louvin Brothers are my absolute favorites. I’m also a huge fan of Jimmy and Johnny and the Kershaw Brothers.

Bobby Horton: As far as pickin’ goes, I love Grady Martin, Chet Atkins and Jimmy Lee Fautheree. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of the Mills Brothers, Tommy Duncan and the Everly Brothers.

You approach many styles Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Rockabilly, Jazz stuff, Swing and even a touch of Blues. Where does this eclectism come from?
Billy Horton: I listen to all that sort of stuff. I think all that music has a lot in common. I like everything from Roy Smeck to Count Basie to Bob Wills to Lefty Frizzell to Gene Vincent to Johnny Guitar Watson to Johnny Paycheck.

Bobby Horton: To me, it all shares a common feeling. Listen to Benny Goodman’s version of «Air Mail Special» with Charlie Christian then listen to Jimmie Rivers’ version. One’s jazz…and I’m not sure that the other one isn’t, too! It’s good music, ya know? Western Swing seems to attract jazz pickers–guys like Jimmy Wyble, and even Tiny Moore’s mandolin pickin’ (or Jethro Burns’ for that matter!)- they were awesome improvisors. So I think it comes down to the fact that we like good music played with feeling.You can’t fake that.

Are you tempted by other style (like Deke Dickerson when he plays surf instrumental and rockabilly on the same album)
Billy Horton: Has he done that? I like other stuff, but I like when all the influences are absorbed as a whole( like Big Sandy).

Bobby Horton: I agree with Billy on this one–I like it when you incorporate it all in to your own style. I don’t feel the need to think «ok, now I’m gonna play blues or now I’m gonna play a 50’s honky tonk song». We try to play naturally and a lot of those things come out

About your recordings, I’d like to know what happened between the first Horton brothers album (It’s Bobby and Billy) and «Roll Back the Rug». It seems that you found your sound, the good way to sing together and even your lyrics changed (with more humour). Is there a link with the fact you moved to Austin TX?
Billy Horton: Absolutely. We made that first one when we were still living in Beaumont and didn’t really know what we wanted to do. Our vision really came together in Austin thanks to Shaun Young. He’s the one who convinced us to move here. He also told us we should concentrate on the harmony thing. He’s been probably the biggest influence on us and our direction. I can’t say enough good things about him.

Bobby Horton: That first record was the end of our Beaumont days. We went ahead and released it under the Horton Brothers ’ name so we could get things goin’ for us. It should of been released under the Fender Benders’ moniker. But, like I say, we were aware that if we did that no one would know who the Horton Brothers were. Shaun Young took us under his wing when we decided to move up to Austin and I can’t thank him for it enough. He has been quite a help to us. He’s always steered us in the right direction and we still do shows with him. He was an influence before and continues to be an influence on us to this day.

Did you work hard to get that authentic sound or was it natural ?
Billy Horton: Hmmm. We worked hard to learn how to play our instruments. We just wanted to sound like the records we listened to, so in that way it was very natural.
Bobby : Like Billy says, we just work hard at playing well

Now could you tell us more about the musical scene in Austin?
Billy Horton: Austin has always been a roots music mecca. In the 70’s it was bands like Asleep at the Wheel and Willie Nelson. In the 80’s, the blues scene was big with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Now there’s definitely a big roots country scene going on here. It’s reputation attracts even more players to our little scene.

Bobby Horton: There’s definitely an accepting attitude here in Austin. You can play original music and nobody gets bummed out if you’re not playing «Blue Suede Shoes». We are all striving to write better songs and I think it’s a big inspiration to be here. There’s a lot of comradere.

Is Austin the anti-Nashville?
Billy Horton:Well, we’ve got Willie Nelson, and he’s pretty anti-Nashville.

Bobby Horton: Probably so–but not intentionally. While some guys are always bad mouthing Nashville (Wayne Hancock) the rest of us don’t really give much thought about what’s goin’ on up there!

Are there old people who knew the «original» artist in your audience ?
Billy Horton: Bob Wills’ daughter Rosetta shows up at our shows from time to time. Herb Remington just payed steel with Wayne Hancock the other night. I saw Johnny Gimble playing with Hot Club of Cowtown a month ago. James Cotton lives in town. So basically, not just people who knew the original artists, but the original artists themselves are still goin’.

Bobby Horton: When I used to play with Deke we would run into guys who used to be friends with Joe Maphis and Merle Travis. But, like Billy says, there’s a lot of the old timers who are still around–blending in with the current scene. The Lucky Stars backed up Glynn Duncan (Tommy’s brother) a few weeks ago, we get to see Herb Remington play steel with Wayne Hancock, Johnny Gimble fiddles with Hot Club of Cowtown every now and then, Claude Trenier got on stage with Deke to sing «Poontang»…you get the picture

While opening for «alternative» artists such as Mike Ness and Cake, Deke Dickerson proved that you could please a punk/rock/pop audience with good old recipes. What is your reaction. Is this a third way between Nashville pop and authentic circuit ?
Billy Horton: I think that a lot of that audience hasn’t been exposed to this sort of stuff, so it is definitely a novelty to them. Certainly someone like Deke would be the guy to pull it off because he is extremely talented and puts on a great show.

Bobby Horton: Deke puts on a good show that appeals to a lot of folks. I did a show with him in a small, neighborhood bar in Jacksonville, Florida, and the locals loved it. He’s really good at what he does. I know that Big Sandy has opened for the Mavericks and the Reverend Horton Heat. I think it comes down to the fact that Big Sandy and Deke play good music and people pick up on that and respond to that.

Talking about Nashville, do you know what does the establishment think about bands like yours ? Are they interested in young blood since the success of BR5-49?
Billy Horton: No. They don’t really care. BR549 was more of a novelty than anything else. They don’t seem to think that they could promote a band who does authentic stuff because it would be so different from what is out there now.

Bobby Horton: Nah, I think BR5-49 was their one attempt at the «retro» scene. They think the rest of us are backwards hillbillies! I don’t know what they think and I don’t really care. I have never strived to make it in Nashville

I’ve heard that Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys and The Hot Club Of Cowtown played the Grand Ole Opry. Is this the beginning of something ?
Billy Horton: Nope. I think they have a good publicist and are a novel concept for the Opry.

Bobby Horton: We’ll see–I know they want to get those guys back on there. But you still run into problems like Dale Watson not making the televised portion because they want to put Billy Gilman (some 10 year old kid–who, oddly enough, sounds like any 10 year old kid singin’!) on TV.

Do you think what happened for swing could happen to authentic country?
Billy Horton: I hope not. The «swing» movement was terrible and I think turned off a lot of people from real swing. None of the bands which claimed to be swing were swing. They were merely rock bands with horns. Maybe that’s why it connected with a mass audience. They could identify with the rock sound but it was a little different so it was novel. No authentic music could ever achieve that sort of success because it would be too different for most people. People are used to hearing rock, and when you introduce music where the drums aren’t the main rhythm instrument, they don’t quite know what to think of it.

Bobby Horton: The ‘swing scene’ was a big cartoon over here. Regular folks got to smoke cigars and play ‘dress up’ while they went to see a punk band sing about zoot suit riots and drinking martinis. It was pretty bogus.

Do you know what bands of the generation before you (like Commander Cody, Asleep at the Wheel think about the new scene ? And what do you think about them ?)
Billy Horton: I think they did a lot for the music at a time when no one cared. On the other side of the coin, I don’t think they played it particularly well. I’m not sure what they think about the new scene, but I’m sure it’s very removed and foreign to them.

Bobby Horton: I’m not sure they’re in touch with what’s goin’ on. I think they did their thing and kept the music going but it wasn’t played that well until three bands came along–Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio, the Dave and Deke Combo and High Noon. I believe those bands have really spearheaded this current scene and deserve a lot of the credit. They were writing original music and had great musicians in their bands.

If you had the chance who would you like to record and produce ?
Billy Horton: As far as people I would like to work with…hmmm… I would love to record Jimmie Vaughan. He’s fabulous. Other than that probably Big Sandy I think I could do a good job with them.

The Four Charms

in Contemporary artists/EF/Reviews
The Four Charms -  Triskaidekaphobia
The Four Charms – Triskaidekaphobia

The Four Charms – Triskaidekaphobia!

Hi-Style HSD82696
Don’t Make Me Beg – Triskaidekaphobia – I Gotta Get Another Girl – 6 String Boogie – Lonesome Tears In My Eyes – Up Jumped The Devil – She Likes To Boogie Real Low – Quiet Whiskey – Drops Of Rain -Cubano Jump – Scotchin’ With The Soda – On The Sunny Side Of The Street Thats’ A Plenty


At long last, The Four Charms offer a follow up to their astounding debut album «Flatland Boogie». Ok, I must admit that the first time I saw the name of this album I thought “What’s this?”. Then, I took my dictionary and learned that Triskaidekaphobia means something like the fear of number 13. That’s why if you look at the track listing there’s no track 13, just a soundless blank.

What about the music? This album covers a wider range of style than the the first one. You’ll find here, top notch boogie blues instrumental like «6 string boogie», rockabilly jive (a great cover of Burnette’s Lonesome Tears in my Eyes with sax), “Scotchin’ with the Soda” with a very King Cole Trio/Slim Gaillard feel and “That’s a Plenty” that starts like a real jazz tune and suddenly goes into a Merle Travis style showing the musicianship of Joel Paterson, and as usual the overall influence of Illinois Jacquet, The Treniers and Nat “King” Cole Trio, especially in their cover of “The Sunny Side Of The Street”. I almost forgot to mention the amazing skill of Jimmy Sutton and his slap bass, not only when he plays solo but he’s really the driving force behind this band.

The production and recording works (done at Fort Horton studio) are worth to be mentionned too because it makes that four members combo sound like a ten piece orchestra. Take a cure of Triskaidekaphobia it’s good for your health.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

four charms
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