The Dave and Deke Combo – Moonshine Melodies
No Hit Records – HITCD09 
Tally Ho – I’m Just Too Lazy – Maybe Baby – You Ain’t As Dumb As You Look – Flipped! – Didn’t It Rock – Salty Boogie – Two Guitars, No Waitin’ – Go Ahead On – Strange Woman’s Love – Warm Lips (Big Trouble) – Show-Me Boogie
Released in 1992, Moonshine Melodies marks the thunderous, smashing debut on long-distance of the Dave and Deke Combo. The group had previously released an eight-track cassette and a highly acclaimed EP (Hey Cuzzin’, already on No Hit Records).
The Dave and Deke Combo formed around Deke Dickerson and Dave Stuckey, joined by Lucky Martin on double bass and initially Bobby Trimble (Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio) on drums. The line-up stabilized when Lance Ray Soliday replaced Trimble on drums. Like their EP, this fabulous first album was recorded under the leadership of Wally Hersom, whose work on the first Big Sandy was already exemplary. At less than 28 minutes, with the longest track barely reaching three minutes, it’s a well-executed affair.
The Dave and Deke Combo plays Hillbilly with a strong Rockabilly tinge, with a few boogies (talkin’ or not) thrown in for good measure and a good dose of novelty. The combo maintains the tradition of hillbilly groups such as Rusty and Doug, Jimmie & Johnny, the Farmer Boys (of which they cover I’m Just Too Lazy), etc. Even if Stuckey or Dickerson sing solo on some tracks, the emphasis is on harmonies. Perhaps less evident on record, the Dave and Deke Combo also poses as an heir to artists such as Homer and Jethro, Lonzo and Oscar, or Cousin Jody, bringing a touch of humour to a scene which sometimes tended to take it a little too seriously. And like their illustrious predecessors, this apparent relaxation and humorous approach hides a high level from both a musical and artistic point of view. Even if the album contains a majority of covers (Sparkletones, Tommy Cassell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jim & Rod), Stuckey and Dickerson prove that they are excellent songwriters whose original songs have no reason to be ashamed of the company of their illustrious elders. Better still, they give the impression of being period pieces because they blend in so well with the selection. We will particularly mention You AIn’t As Dumb As You Look (Dickerson) or Warm Lips (Big Trouble) (Stuckey).
Added to this are their qualities as singers, alone or in harmonies, and musicians. With this album, Dickerson established himself as the heir of the great guitarists of the fifties, Joe Maphis being an obvious inspiration. Stuckey, however, is not to be outdone, as shown in the instrumental Two Guitars No Waitin, on which we hear him strumming on the acoustic guitar opposite Dickerson. The rhythm is also impeccable. Let’s mention Soliday, whose drumming knows how to be discreet. He supports the group subtly and uses his cymbals sparingly, a quality that is too rare among drummers.
With this record, as well as albums by Ronnie Dawson, Big Sandy and the Planet Rockers, No-Hit Records was, for a brief period in music history, the best Rock’n’Roll label in the world.
The Dave and Deke Combo – Hollywood Barn Dance
Heyday Records 
Let’s Flat Get On It – Snatchin’ And Grabbin’ – Right Behind Me – Let Go Of Louie – El Cumbanchero – Cut Out That Boogie – Did Anybody Mention My Name? – No Good Woman – Hitch In My Get-A-Long – Two Timin’ Mama – Slippin’ And Slidin’ (And Scootin’ Around) – Henpecked Peckerwood – Goin’ Steady With The Blues – Deke’s Hot Guitar – Half Shot Boogie – Baby’s Hot Rod – Wild Woman – Chrome Dome
Three years after their remarkable debut album, the Dave & Deke Combo returns with a new double bassist (Shorty Poole) and a new album on a new label (Heyday Records, responsible for the compilation Pushin’ the Norton on which we find, in addition to Dave and Deke Combo, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, Jeff Bright, Russell Scott, etc.).
Tim Maag, who briefly played in the Cramps under the name Touch Hazard, came to lend a hand to Wally Hersom for the recording. The album sounds more like an extension than a companion to Moonshine Melodies. The sound is slightly cleaner (I said slightly). One can feel that the group has evolved. Artistically, Deke has progressed further (if that were even possible). This is obvious in the instrumental El Cumbachero or on Deke’s Hot Guitar, which sees him imitating the different guitarists at Stuckey’s call. But even more, his style has freed itself, and his inventive riffs are more present.
Furthermore, the group dynamic seems different. It’s almost invisible at times, but if Moonshine Melodies gave the impression of a collective effort, the differences leading the group to separate shortly after begin to appear on Hollywood Barn Dance. In other words, although the album includes moments of symbiosis like on Moonshine Melodies (Let’s Flat Get On It, Going Steady With The Blues, Deke’s Hot Guitar, or the Ray Campi cover Let Go Of Louie), the personalities of the two leaders assert themselves. Stuckey, who takes the lion’s share in terms of songwriting, tries to keep the group in a traditional line, while Dickerson leads the group towards Rock’n’roll with his guitar and some of his compositions (No God Woman) and relative modernity.
I don’t mean Hollywood Barn Dance is less good than Moonshine Melodies; it’s just partially different. If it weren’t so cliché, I would say it is more mature, and each of the two singers has found their way. The group broke up shortly after. Dickerson continued to explore a more Rock’n’roll vein, and Stuckey recorded a Western Swing album that remains to this day unmatched by any contemporary group (apart perhaps from the Lucky Stars, for whom he plays drums). Then, he formed his own traditional Jazz group. In the end, we can say that this separation will have been more than positive.
The Dave and Deke Combo – There’s Nothing Like An Old Hillbilly
Bucket Lid Records BL503
No More Cryin’ the Blues – Hey Mae Laurie Ann – Red Headed Woman – Moonshine – This Is It – Let’s Rock Tonight – Hey Baby – Alamo – Love Me – Let’s Take a Little Ride Sweet Rockin’ Mama – Lookin’ for Money – I’m Gonna Tell – Laughin’ and Jokin’ – Carryin’ On – Real Cool Rocket – The Stranger Walks – Chew Tobacco Rag – Twin Guitar Twist – Muskrat – In the Meadow
Although the Dave & Deke Combo split gave us two great solo artists (as a bonus, it also gave us a fantastic drummer), sometimes we missed the Combo, its harmonies, and its humour. So when reunion gigs were announced, everyone knew it would be one of the major events of 2005. The first gigs in Vegas and Oneida were a huge success. To celebrate this reunion, the band released a rarities CD.
Tracks 1 to 6 allow us to hear the Combo with Bobby Trimble on drums. These tunes come from their first 8 track demo. One can find the other two songs on the CD version of Hollywood Barn Dance. You’ll also find live cuts, unreleased songs from the Moonshine Melodies and Toerag studios sessions, and rare-to-find songs recorded for Roger Corman. I won’t go into more detail as the liner notes explain everything. It’s interesting to see that a lot of these songs are still in Deke Dickerson’s repertoire today, like “Red Headed Woman”, “Love Me” (not The Phantom’s One) or “Lookin’ for Money”. And the icing on the cake is that you’ve got a brand new recording by the band. Elvis’ In the Ghetto is given the Homer & Jethro treatment and renamed “In the Meadow”. It’s probably one of the best songs the Combo ever produced.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Dave Stuckey’s website
Dave Stuckey and the Dave and Deke Combo on bandcamp
Deke Dickerson’s website