Browse Tag

hillbilly bop

Ria and the Hi-Binders

Ria and the Hi-Binders – Memory Mountain

Moondog Music MOONS2201 [2022]
Memory Mountain / Sinful Man

This Finish band was formed in 2020 and features Ria Korhola on vocals and guitar, Timo Kalijärvi on lead guitar; Jussi Huhtakangas on pedal steel; Jani Ahtiainen on drums and Lasse Sirkko on bass.
I guess you’re familiar with the rich Finish scene. In that case, those names aren’t unknown to you: Jussi Huhtakangas (aka Lester Peabody) is well-known for his work with the Barnshakers and Hal Peters Trio, Jani Ahtiainen plays with Mystery Train, Lasse Sirkko played with Whistle Bait and Uncle John Trio, and Timo Kalijärvi is well-known for his work with Mike Bell & the Belltones.
iss Korhola appeared on the excellent Fly Now! by Gona Lehtinen, showing a strong ability to go from mellow Jazz tune to jump blues.
Ria and the Hi-Binder are a Honky Tonk band aiming at an early/mid-sixties sound. The A-side is a cover of Wanda Jackson’s Memory Mountain. Of course, Wanda’s original was great but a tad overproduced with choir and violins. Ria’s version is more stripped-down, more rocking’ too, led by her confident voice, ideally supported by the steel which with the piano drives the song.
They adapt Bill Browning’s Sinful Woman into Sinful Man for the B-side. Once again, the singer is very at ease while Huhtakangas and Kalijärvi trade hot licks supported by an impressive rhythm section.
Good news, I’ve heard that the band is in the studio to record their debut album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Al Willis

Al Willis and the New Swingsters – Girl Trouble

al willis

Crazy Times Records CTR10-02 / CTR-CD 122
Lock and chain – Hot property – Have a tear on me – Back of my head – Enemy at the gate – The apologist – You don’t turn me on – Little black book – I believe you’re doing me wrong – Baddest kind of blues – Ya, yap yappin’ – Dee dat dee dum dum – Cold dark night – Long black train – Rocking the blues – I’m a little mixed up – I’m that fool – Revenge of the dodo

I plead guilty! I didn’t really know Al Willis before this album. Of course, I heard and watched a couple of videos on youtube, but for a reason unknown to me, I never bought any of his releases. And I don’t thank my friends who never told me, “You should listen to this guy!”
And suddenly, out of nowhere (but most probably from Willis’ ranch), Girl Trouble materialized in my mailbox.
What a shock! This guy understood it all. He counts among these players who don’t only play this music but live and breathe it. I mean, it seems natural. You’d never believed that not only Willis recorded this album in 2019 but that he is French.
Vocally speaking, Willis is not a wild man, or on the hiccupy side of Rockabilly, his growl is deep and steady. It evokes the voices of early Elvis, Warren Smith with some country twang a la Dale Watson (what a combination!) And if that wasn’t enough, he’s a darn good guitar player too.
He is ably backed by two veterans of the French scene, namely Pascal Albrecht (Southerners, Mystery Train) on double-bass and Red Dennis (Sprites) on drums. Together they build a solid rhythm that is always supportive and never pervasive. Many double-bass players should take example on Albrecht, who doesn’t slap his bass when it’s unnecessary, especially when you have a drummer like Red Dennis.
The styles range from traditional Rockabilly to hillbilly bop, with some country and western and a touch of blues.
Half of the songs are originals, either penned by Willis, alone or with the help of Paul Sheahan (Bopshack Stompers), or by the talented duo of Geoff Taggart and Jim Newcombe (who also penned songs for Rayburn Anthony and Hayden Thompson.) A bunch of rather obscure covers from Terry Dene, Jim Wilson, Roy Gaines, Geo Lester, Larry Green, Leon Bowman, Betty James, and closer to us, the Zazou Cowboys, completes the set.
One last thing, I usually believe that Rockabilly records should be short, twelve songs, and if there are ten, it’s even better. But this 18 song album (12 on the 10”) never loses steam. The trio keeps this high-quality level all along this album.
Buy it, you won’t regret it!
Support the label and order it here:

Radio Ramblers (the)

The Radio Ramblers ‎– Cryin’ Blues / The Devil’s Gonna Get You

radio ramblers

Rockin’ Shelby Records ‎– 45-RS-06
The Radio Ramblers are an excellent trio consisting of David Madgwick, Willy Briggs and Gary Boller, former members of the Ricardos and the Tennessee Rhythm Riders.
Cryin’ Blues is a hillbilly number, mostly acoustic, with a light steel guitar while The Devil’s Gonna Get You brings is a hillbilly bop/rockabilly reminiscent of Buddy and Bob. Both sides are originals written by Willy Briggs.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Doel Brothers

Doel BrothersThe Doel Brothers – There’s a bottle on the table

El Toro Records – ETCD7027 [2019]

Bottle On the Table – Beer Bucket Boogie – Thanks A Lot – Baby I’m Ready – Love Letter – Distance Between You And Me – Welcome To My Heart – Just Say You Don’t Know – Jealousy – New England In The Fall – Country Bum – Hole In My Shoe – Viva Las Vegas – How High The Moon

Our favourite hillbillies, the Doel Brothers (Gordon on vocals and rhythm guitar, David on vocals and lead guitar Tom or Curtis on drums with Steve Whitworth on double bass and Phil Morgan on steel guitar) are back and they did it again! Can you believe it, it’s already their fourth album and it seems that each of their album is better than the previous one. I don’t write that lightly, considering that I already placed their debut effort as one of the best contemporary hillbilly platter, able to stand proudly near another of my favourite combo, namely the Dave and Deke Combo.

With five covers and nine originals penned by David and Gordon Doel who also share vocal duties, “There’s a Bottle On the Table” is a hillbilly / rockabilly / western bop rollercoaster from start to finish with top musicianship, solid songwriting and perfect production. It also comes with a superb cover illustrated by Garry Boller which gives you another reason to jump on that little jewel!
The repertoire ranges from straight Rockabilly like Bottle on the Table and Love Letter (the latter having a strong Sun flair) to country boogie with Beer Bucket Boogie, an original that sounds like an unissued Tennessee Ernie Ford tune. Phil Morgan’s steel guitar part with ricochets à la Speedy West adds to this feeling.

Other than those song you’ll find a bit of bluegrass with their cover of Dwight Yoakam’s The Distance Between You and Me with harmony vocals and dobro as well as some western swing influenced stuff (New England In the Fall), shades of Johnny Horton (Welcome to My Heart) and Little Jimmy Dickens (Hole In My Shoe) and lot of plain old hillbilly and Honky Tonk.

The bonus track is a cover of How High the Moon, dedicated to the memory of their dad that would make both Les Paul and Rhubarb Red proud.

Grab your moonshine, take a sip, roll back the rug, put the record in the player and enjoy the sweet sound of the Doel Brothers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Doel Brothers - Oh Brother... It's The Doel Brothers
The Doel Brothers – Oh Brother… It’s The Doel Brothers

The Doel Brothers – Oh Brother… It’s The Doel Brothers

El Toro {2013}
Educated Mind – Goin’ Away – Kissin’ Bug Boogie – I’ll Do It Everytime – Sure You Won’t – I Need Your Lovin’ – Pick You Up – Whiskey Lovin’ Fool – Nothin’ ’bout Love – Tell Me You’re Mine – Rockin’ Shoes – Hey Baby

The Doel Brothers come from England and are David, Gordon and Tom Doel plus Gary Boller. They previously played with the Western Aces, the Radio Ramblers, the Westernaires so these four guys are not exactly newcommers but this is their first one under this name. And what a record! I hadn’t heard such a good hillbilly tinged platter since the heyday of the Dave and Deke Combo (or at least the Horton Brothers) and that was not a surprise to see that Dave “Pappy” Stuckey wrote the laudatory liner notes.
This record is simply amazing with superb originals (and I mean REAL originals, not old melodies quickly rearranged with new lyrics as it’s too often the case), beautiful harmonies reminiscent of the Farmer Boys or Rusty and Doug and top notch musicianship. There’s also a bit of Tennessee Two in Sure You Won’t (the influence of Cash can also be heard on Rockin’ Shoes) and Rockabilly too (I Need Your Lovin’). The whole set is completed by three excellent cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Horton and Tom James.
Cuzzins, believe me, I strongly advice you to get this record, this is hillbilly bop as it should be played.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lynette Morgan And The Blackwater Valley Boys

Lynette MorganLynette Morgan And The Blackwater Valley Boys – Step Back Brother

Dog House Records [2016]
Roadside Diner – Wolf Talk – Let’s Stay Together – Yodel Song – Step Back Brother – Avalon – Dear Mother – Were Gonna Rock – Portobello Fellow

Since the Tennessee Rhythm Riders appeared on the rockin’ scene, we all know that Lynette Morgan is one talented lady when it comes to sing Hillbilly music.
Her latest album, recorded by Pat reyford at Sugar Ray’s vintage studio, with Willy Briggs on steel guitar, Gary Boller on double bass and Chris Wilkinson on guitar and drums (being a man of many talents he’s also in charge of the beautiful graphic design) definitely proves it.

Step Back Brothers” is, with Charlie Thompson’s Foothill Sessions and the Doel Brothers’ recent releases, one of the very best Hillbilly bop/western swing  influenced album to come from Great Britain.

It features two covers – Avalon, the old jazz standard also covered by Milton Brown and the Light Crust Doughboys, and Jimmy Newman/Rusty and Doug’s Let’s Stay Together – and seven originals penned by Briggs (Roadside Dinner), Briggs and Boller (Portobello Fellow also sung by Boller) and Morgan (the remaining five.)
As I said, this is super fine Hillbilly bop with plenty of Maddox Brothers and Rose influences but also shades of Johnny Horton (Wolf Talk), early western swing reminiscent of Patsy Montana’s band the Sweet Violet Boys (reinforced by the presence of a clarinet on three tunes), a waltz (the touching Dear Mother) and a bit of yodel madness (who doesn’t like some yodel ?)

Do not miss this perfect album and grab a copy while you can!

Lynette Morgan
Lynette Morgan © RK Studio

The Horton Brothers

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.

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