Hillbilly

Willie Barry

willie barry

Willie Barry & the California Hot Shots – The Wallyphonic Sessions

Self Released [2020]

Hillbilly Fever – What Am I Worth – Mean Mama Boogie – Who Shot Sam – One Wheel Draggin – A Night For Love – Kiss Me Sweet – You Better Treat Your Man Right – Three’s a Crowd – Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own – One Minute To One – Island of Love – Last Town I Painted – Milkshake Mademoiselle – Don’t Go Baby – Sweet Sweet Girl

Willie Barry is the singer of the Rock-A-Sonics, an excellent band from the Washington, DC area. Last year he crossed the country and went to Wally Hersom’s Wallyphonic Studios in Pasadena, California. There, he recorded his debut solo album with the cream of the crop of the Californian rockabilly scene, namely Ashley Kingman and Deke Dickerson on guitars, Dave Berzanski on steel guitar, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, Wally Hersom on bass, and Dave Stuckey on drums. How can you go wrong with such a team behind you? Well, Barry indeed didn’t, and these 16 tracks are one of the very best slices of rockabilly/boppin’ hillbilly I’ve heard in ages.
The young singer is gifted with an excellent, subtle, and confident voice. He can easily switch from Ricky Nelson’s softness to Jerry Lee Lewis’s wildness, with some early Geoge Jones and Johnny Horton in between. Not surprisingly, the band does a terrific job. Special mention to Carl Leyland, who seems on fire, playing his best Rockabilly/Rock’n’Roll piano.
The songs, all covers, cover the whole gamut of the genre. Hillbilly Bop, Rockabilly, Rock’n’Roll, whatever the style, the young boy seems perfectly at ease. Icing on the cake, there’s a superb duet with Dani Haberman (Crown City Bombers) on Nobody’s Business But My Own, initially done by Kay Starr and Tennessee Ernie Ford and another one with Leyland on Milkshake Mademoiselle.
As usual, Hersom does a terrific job capturing the live sound and the emergency of the performance.
I couldn’t recommend this album enough.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Lucky Stars

The Lucky Stars - Go to Town
The Lucky Stars – Go to Town

The Lucky Stars – Go to Town

Fate Records 5004
Go to Town – $100 and no sense – Whose hat Is That – Rye Whiskey Baby – Feelin’ It – The Way You Walk – Glycerin Tears – Right By Me – Watch Your Step – Lie, Lie Again – If I Were Me – I’ll Go the Extra Mile – The Last Call Blues

To my great shame I recently realised that I still hadn’t reviewed the Lucky Stars’ third album “Go to Town” and felt a bit guilty about that. But the feeling almost vanished when I remembered that these guys made us wait nearly eight years between this one and “Stay out Late” their previous output. It’s a bit too long don’t you think? Especially if you, like me, consider that the Lucky Stars are, with Dave Stuckey’s Rhythm Gang, the best western swing band since the golden age of the genre (and if you thought “What about Asleep at the Wheel?”, please leave the room quietly.)
The Lucky Stars are a hot combination of influences and talents. Leading the band is Sage Guyton, the crooner with the moustache, the man with the smooth voice, strong melodies and clever lyrics. All songs here are originals from his pen and if sometimes you hear a bit of Wills here (one time Billy Jack, the other Bob), a little Tex Williams there and the spirit of Merle Travis, they all have that unmistakable Lucky Stars signature. It’s in the songs, but it’s also due to the band. With a hot rhythm section like Wally Hersom (bass) and Dave Stuckey (drums and lead vocals on The Way You Walk) and Jeremy Wakefield, Rusty Blake and Dan Wenstein trading solos respectively on steel, guitar, fiddle and cornet you can’t go wrong. Add a couple of guest on piano and accordion, and you’re there Pierre,

A Lucky Stars album is like a party. It opens with “Go to Town” a joyful and exuberant invitation to the fest and ends with “Last Call Blues” when the bar closes its doors . In between, there was room for dance, laugh, tears, swing and, yes, a lot of alcohol.
See ya next decade for the next album guys!


The Lucky Stars - Stay out late with
The Lucky Stars – Stay out late with

The Lucky Stars – Stay out late with

Fate LP5002
Rarin’ To Go – Real Good Lookin’ – Teacher’s Pet – Am I In Love (Or Am I Just Hungover)? – Out Of Your Mind – The Tattooed Lady – (Mama’s Got) The Rundown Daddy Blues – Used To Be – My Poor Old Haunted Heart – Don’t Count Your Chickens – One Man’s Blues – One Of These Days – Stay Out Late
This new album was highly anticipated. Imagine Sage Guyton’s hability to sing and write songs combined with Jeremy Wakefield on steel and the support of Dave Stuckey on drums, Wally Hersom on bass and Russ Blake on guitar. Well, if you’re into western swing this is the combination that would make your heart flip?!
And it does. The album opens with «Rarin’ to Go», the kind of song that takes no prisoner and you know you’re not just listenin’ to another album but a recording that could stand proudly near Hank Penny, Tex Williams or Bob Wills in your collection. This band swings, I mean REALLY swings, they don’t play country songs with steel on a rock beat, you see what I mean? Next song «Real Good Lookin’» gives us the occasion to salute the work done by guest musician Mike Bolger on trumpet, accordion and piano on this album. While we’re talking about the musicians I must praise the quality of guitar player Russ Blake and his jazzy licks. A few month ago this guy was totally unknown to me (shame on me) and in the same time I got 3 fantastic records where his talent shines : this one, Jeremy Wakefield’s Steel Guitar Caviar and the latest Janet Klein. All this album is a proof that Sage Guyton is not only a fantastic singer but a genius in term of writing songs. Of course you can expect clever lyrics (Teacher’s pet, Mama’s got the rundown dady blues to name but two) but Sage is more than a guy who writes funny tunes. Just listen to «Out of your mind» and «My poor old haunted heart» (and if you don’t cry on these one, you’re not realy human). JW sings the two covers of this album «the Tattooed lady» and Cindy Walker’s «Don’t count your chicken» and the records ends on the instrumental «Stay out late» that could have been recorded by the Western Caravan. But enough said, this record is an absolute must! I just hope we won’t have to wait 5 years to hear the next one.


The Lucky Stars – The Lucky Stars

Bucket-Lid BL 502 [1996]
Look Wath The Cat Dragged In – No More Nothin’ – Do Me A Favor (Tell Me A Lie) – Anything But You

Dave Stuckey produced and released on his label this EP, and Deke Dickerson, Wally Hersom, and Tim Maag recorded it.
When the band recorded it, the line-up was Sage Guyton on vocals, Brent Harding on double-bass, Jeremy Wakefield on steel guitar, Chris “Whitey” Anderson on accordion and piano, Tim Maag on drums, and James Gilliam on lead guitar.
The opener is a hot western swing tune with an infectious groove embellished with Spike Jones effect. Zeb Turner’s No More Nothin’ is more swingin’ than the original, with Guyton singing it with his unmistakable laid back style. Do Me A Favor is more on the hillbilly side, featuring some great crooning and steel guitar. Anything But You with its accordion is a rompin’ Western Swing tune reminiscent of Pee Wee King.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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

Glenn Doran & The Prairie Echoes

Glenn Doran & The Prairie Echoes ‎– When I’m A Dollar Down (It’s Dangerous) / Wild About Your Lovin’

Rockin’ Shelby Records ‎– 45-RS-04 [2016]
Another smash hit from Rockin’ Shelby Records. With two original songs, this single features a solid slice of pure hillbilly bliss. “When I’m A Dollar Down” leaves plenty of room for solos (guitar, steel, and fiddle) and reminds of Gene O’Quinn. More in the vein of Hank Williams, “Wild About Your Lovin” is equally excellent.

Glenn Doran & The Prairie Echoes ‎– Walking The Floor / Alone And Blue

Rockin’ Shelby Records ‎– 45-RS-07 [2017]
Glenn Doran and the Prairie Echoes return with another superb single, once again featuring two originals from the pen of Mr. Doran.
With its harmony vocals, Alone and Blue reminds of the great brothers’ acts of the fifties while Walkin’ the Floor, in a similar vein than That’s All Right, is more in the Rockabilly vein (though in their case rural bop would be more appropriate.)
With the Doel Brothers, Charlie Thompson, or the Riverside Trio, Great Britain can take great pride in having some of the best Hillbilly acts. Glenn Doran and his band can stand proudly next to them

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Rossella Scarlet

Rossella Scarlet & the Cold Cold Hearts – The Day Will Come

Rossella Scarlet

El Toro Records ET-15.128 [2019]
You Were So Blind – A Painting On the Wall – The Day Will Come – Wondering

Rossella Scarlet comes from Italy and is now living in London. She just released her debut ep on El Toro backed by the Cold Cold Hearts (I suspect the young lady to be a Hank Williams fan.) This terrific musical aggregation consists of Graham Murphy (Jump Cat Jump, Frantix) on guitar, Phil Morgan (Lynette Morgan & The Blackwater Valley Boys, Doel Brothers) on steel guitar, and Emma Goss (Sara Vista, Something Shocking) on double bass.
If you like classic country music straight from the late 40s/ early ’50s look no further, this ep is for you. Three songs are from the pen of Miss Scarlett, and Frankie Riedel wrote the fourth one (Wondering). So not only we have a pretty good singer with a vibrant voice but also a solid songwriter.
“You Were so Blind” is a superb hillbilly that has nothing to envy to Wayne Hancock. “A Painting on the Wall” is a soulful ballad with a haunting steel guitar. Though good, it could easily be one minute shorter to be more efficient.
B-side kicks off with “The Day Will Come,” another tune strongly-led by the double bass. Supported by a delicate guitar picking, “Wondering,” a duet with Phil Morgan, closes the set in beauty.



Lynette Morgan And The Blackwater Valley Boys

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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

 

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