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Sean Mencher

Marti Brom (reviews)

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Marti Brom Midnight BusMarti Brom & Her Rancho Notorious – Midnight Bus

Enviken ENREC177 [2019]
Come Destroy Me – Lasso Mr Moon – Belly Of The Beast – Loveaholic – Push Me Till I’m Gone – Last Ten Years With You – Lies Of A Promise – Ambush – Little Ole Wine Drinker Me – Stiletto In Black – If ‘If’ Was A Fifth – Drivin’ Me Crazy – Slippin’ And Slidin’ – Mamas Little Babies Was A Rockin’ – Midnight Bus – Damn Those Little Deamons (vinyl only)

Marti Brom is by far one of the finest singers on the roots music scene, and I said singer, not “female singer.” She seems to be able to do whatever she wants with her voice, and it even seems easy.
That said, I was slightly disappointed with “Not for Nothing,” her 2010 release. Marti’s performance was, as usual, top-notch but I found the production uneven.
Nothing like this here. Recorded in Sweden with a gang of talented Swedish guys (and a couple of guests like Rosie Flores and Chris Ruest), Midnight Bus is perfect from start to finish.
Nine out of the sixteen tracks are from Marti’s pen; the others are covers. But cleverly, next to classics like Slippin’ and Slidin’, Little Ole Wine Drinker Me or the title track, Marti had an excellent idea to include songs from today’s artist. Thus you can finds songs from Crazy Joe (Last Ten Years With You), Kathy and the Kilowatts (Loveaholic) or the late great Nick Curran (Drivin’ Me Crazy.)
From Damn Those Little Demons, a bluegrass tune only available on the vinyl version, on one end to Ambush, a sixties soul number with organ, on the other, “Midnight Bus” covers a broad range of styles. But thanks to the production, it manages to remain coherent and sounds like a whole.
There is a good dose of solid rockers like “Come Destroy Me,” “Last Ten Years With You” or “Mama’s Little Baby Was A Rockin’” which features a solid rockin’ piano.
Album after album, Brom proved she was more than at ease to sing country songs. This one makes no exception. “Lie of a promise” is a traditional honky-tonk with fiddle and steel. As I said before, she makes it sound so easy, and I thought how great it would be to have her cut a single with the Country Side of Harmonica Sam. Labels if you read this. “Push Me Till I’m Gone” is more in the Cash vein and “Lasso Mr. Moon” is a superb country shuffle with a cracking guitar solo.
Talking about guitar, Chris Ruest provides a mean guitar on Curran’s It’ Drivin’ Me Crazy while Mattias Bruhn hypnotically tickles the ivory. “If If Was A Fifth” brings a welcome touch of Jump and West coast blues.
Tunes like “Midnight Bus,” “Stilleto in Black,” and “Belly of the Beast” are the perfect vehicles to hear the intensity and emotivity of her voice. The latter is a mean and menacing rocker that sounds like a cross between Johnny Horton’s “Lover’s Rock” and “Funnel of Love.”
With that album, Brom really reached a new level with her songwriting. Combined that with her always-spectacular voice and a stellar backing band and the result is one of Brom’s very best platter.

Available at Enviken , Raucous, Tessy or other fine dealers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Marti Brom - Not for nothin'
Marti Brom – Not for nothin’

Marti Brom – Not For Nothin’

Ripsaw / Goofin GRACD 6705 [2010]
Finders Keepers / Get A Little Goner / Mascara Tears / Not For Nothin’ / Forbidden Fruit / Something Blue / Never No More / Sweet Baby of Mine / Blues Keep Calling / Sweet Thang / Write Me In Care of the Blues / Feelin’ Right Tonight / I Get the Blues When It Rains / A Fool Such As I / Spook House

“Not For Nothing” is not only the return of Marti Brom but it’s also the return to life of a legendary label: Ripsaw. For this album, the rockin’ brunette gathered a cast of musicians of the Washington DC scene.
The opening track – Finders keepers – is a cover of Wynona Carr on which she’s appropriately backed Del Pushert (who toured with Elvis) on sax. The singer does a great job, and it’s good to hear her on this genre of tune. Get A Little Goner, the following number finds her in familiar territories. It’s a twangy honky-tonk number featuring Bill Kirchen. It’s by far the best track of the album with Arty and Linda Hill’s Mascara Tears a straight honky-tonk on which her Patsy Clyne’s voice does wonders. In the same vein, you’ll find Something Blue from the pen of Teri Joyce. The Austin songwriter wrote some of the best songs ever sang by Brom and this song makes no exception. The title track, penned by Sean Mencher, features an organ. The arrangement is perfect until a weak, distorted guitar solo ruins the song.
Pat Brown’s Forbidden Fruit is way better and the solo more inspired.
Bobby Sharp’s Sweet Baby Of Mine could have been excellent. It’s a groovy number in a similar vein than Hit the Road Jack with saxes but once again the guitar could be a little bit more subtle. Globally, one can say that the weak point of this album lies in the rockin’ numbers on which the guitarist can’t help but over playing, and to make things worse, with a bad sound. Strangely, for a singer that delivered some outstanding rockabilly numbers this album works better on the country or blues-inspired numbers. But as they say, every rule has its exception and “I Get the Blues When It Rains” is the perfect demonstration of that. They try to give it a western swing touch but end sounding more than Asleep At The Wheel rather than Bob Wills. In the end “Not For Nothin’” is only half convincing, but I wouldn’t say that Brom is to blame, but the problem comes from the band. You can only regret her previous albums on which she was backed by members of High Noon or the excellent Barnshakers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Marti Brom plays Heartache Numbers
Marti Brom sings Heartache Numbers

Marti Brom – Sings heartache numbers

Goofin’ Records
One Way Ticket To The Blues – Alone At A Table For Two – Three Hearts Later – Four Walls – Five Fingers To Spare – Whiskey Six Years Ago – Seven Lonely Days – Eight Weeks In A Barroom – Apartment No 9 – Ten Minutes Till Heartaches – A-11 – The Twelfth Of Never – Thirteen Steps Away

I heard about this “Heartache Numbers” project a couple of years ago, and was very interested in the concept. Each track is a song containing the number of it’s track listing on the CD. (for example: Track #7- «7 Lonely Days», Track #9- «Apartment #9», etc.) HOW CLEVER!!! And it ends with the unlisted track- «Heartache By the Numbers». Okay- so Marti’ gets kudos for the concept of the record alone. Even though I usually have gripes with records that are all covers, this is an exception because of the clever concept and the fact that it is Marti’ Brom and she can pull it off. I was thrilled to find it was no longer just a «concept», and that the recordings were finally finished and released in time for the Oneida 50’s Fest. I had to get a copy. I have always been a Marti’ Brom fan, no matter what she does. Every record is different for her, but she has such an impressive range, she can master a multitude of musical styles. Still my favorite Marti’ recordings are her country ballads. Imagine- a whole record of country ballads by Marti’! The emotion of these songs perfectly showcases her ability as a singer. I don’t know much about 60’s Country, but I was turned on to the genre when I lived in Austin, TX, where it is a staple. I miss the honky-tonks where I could have a tear in my beer, but this CD brings it all back to me. My only warning to listeners is that, if you are drinking while you are playing the CD, you will probably be crying by the end. Remember that the title is «Heartache Numbers».There is only one Patsy Cline cover on the record, but the obvious comparison to her vocal stylings is still evident. Like Patsy, Marti can yank at those heartstrings with her dynamic range and emotional vocal manipulation. (Marti- don’t get offended about another Patsy comparison. It is definitely a compliment from me.) Vocally, this record is flawless. It is, in my opinion, Marti’s best vocal performance on a recording-and all of her recordings are superb. And, as always, she has selected the best backing musicians for the genre. (Bobby Flores- fiddle, Justin Trevino and Kevin Smith- bass, Debra Hurd- piano, Levi Mullen- guitar, Dickie Overby- steel, Buck Johnson and Lisa Pankratz- drums) If you like 60’s country, it doesn’t get any better than this! When I am drinking alone, I am going directly to this CD for company.To top it off, the «Maven of Style» models a «Cari Lee» original creation on the cover- a saloon-girl style satin/fringe dress! (I thought Cari Lee was a singer- how did she have time to become a kick-ass seamstress as well? I want my own «Cari Lee» dress!). Plus, the liner notes are by the one and only Wanda Jackson! You know it must be good if the «legends» are raving about it.

In conclusion, Marti’ is still my idol. Buy all of her records!

Little Rachel

Sean Mencher

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews
Sean Mencher

Sean Mencher – Sean mencher Plays Guitar

Swelltune Records – SRCD-002
Mystery Train – Saturday Night Shuffle – Sing Me Back Home – Someone To Watch Over Me – The Mensch – Mister Sandman – Comanche Moon – Your New Flame (Is Burning Me) – Stagecoach Comin’ – How High the Moon – Betina – Buckaroo – Hey Good Lookin’ – Sir Swish – Walkin’ the Strings – America the Beautiful

Sean Mencher is well known for being the lead guitarist of High Noon, the Rockabilly trio. With his style, a mix of Merle Travis and Scotty Moore with some jazz thrown in for good measure, and with his sure taste he gained a well deserved reputation on the scene. He also played with Wayne Hancock and Dig Wayne (Buzz and the Flyers) and with his deep knowledge of Rockabilly and other related genres, he also produced bands like Croonin’ Kurt, the Gin Palace Jesters, the Starline Rhythm Boys and the Twilite Ranchers. And of course he recorded a couple of records under his own name (see below).
His new album, recorded for Swelltune records, is an instrumental one, featuring just Sean and his guitar. No effects, no tricks, no heavy production… just one man, his guitar, a microphone, his fingers and most of all, his soul.
I don’t play guitar so don’t expect me to tell you things like “Oh that E9b5 chord is amazing”. I can’t and if I could I wouldn’t. It would miss the point. Of course I bet that guitar players will freak out when they hear Sean’s skills, but the beauty of the thing is that regular guys like me will also enjoy it because this music speaks directly to your heart.
The songs come from guitar greats like Merle Travis (of course), Chet Atkins, Les Paul as well as Junior Parker, Hank Williams, Buck Owens and some jazz standard like Someone to Watch Over Me. I particularly enjoyed this one on which his guitar softly sings, almost like a lullaby.
Also included are four Mencher’s original like Comanche Moon (previously released on a solo single and also with High Noon), Your new Flame, Betina and Sir Wish.
A truly great and sensitive album.


Sean Mencher
Sean Mencher

Sean Mencher – self titled

Goofin Records GRCD6136
Rock Rock Jump And Jive – Settin’ The Woods On Fire – Right Or Wrong – Crying The Blues Over You – Bayou Beauty – All The Time – Tummat Silmät (Dark Eyes) – Don’t Big Shot Me – Hot Rod Man – Vamos A La Playa – Down The Line – Little Baby Doll – Honky Tonk Gal – Hit Git And Split
After two singles – one on Deke Dickerson’s Eccofonic and one on Goofin, it’s good to finally see a long player from High Noon’s ace guitar player : Sean Mencher. It’s a solid rockin’ album mainly made of classic covers which is a bit odd when you know Sean’s ability to write songs. This album sounds like Mencher wanted to play every genre he likes and sometimes mixing them together. You’ve got plenty of rockabilly of course (Rock’n’Roll Jump And Jive, Hot Rod Man, Go Cat Go’s Little Baby Doll) with Zach Ovingtons’ fiddle giving an original and nice country flavour. Some other songs are plain country like Hank Williams’ Settin The Wood On Fire or jazz / western swing Right Or Wrong, one of the highlight of this album, with a great swingin’ fiddle and as usual Sean guitar play is superb. You’ll also find a beautiful blues, Bill Neely’s “Crying The Blues Over You”, with just Sean’s fingerpicking and a harmonica. Mencher’s self penned “Bayou Beauty”, previously played by Ronnie Dawson and High Noon, is done this time with a full Cajun instrumentation with accordion, triangle and Matthew Doucet a native of South Louisiana on fiddle. A trumpet player is present on Link Davis’ Dong Big Shot Me, a not so different from the original version that suits Mencher’s vocal very well and also on the Mexican flavoured “Vamos A La Playa” provided by ex-Asylum Street Spankers Josh Arnson. The musicians show their skills on their interpretation of the classic instrumental Dark Eyes which sounds like a mix between jazz and rockabilly. This very good and versatile album shows all of Sean Mencher’s influences and is a pleasure from start to finish.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Sean MencherSean Mencher

Ecco-Fonic EF1007 [1996]
Jumpin’ Track – Your New Flame (Is Burnin’ Me)

Once again Mencher nails it with two brilliant instrumentals recorded in Maine.
Side one features a band (Cartwright Thompson on rhythm guitar, Lesie Freda on string bass and Mark Cousins on drums) and is a rocka-boogie that comes complete with train sounds while the flip side sees Sean going solo for a Travis thumb-picking rendition of High Noon’s Your New Flame.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


sean mencherSean Mencher and his Rockin’ Guitar

Goofin Records GOOFY554 [1995]
When You Smile/Comanche Moon

Side one is a superb rock’n’roll song, highly melodic. Side Two allows Mencher to show all his skills on guitar with a amazing instrumental with Travis and Atkins influences.
Must have single.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our interview with Sean Mencher here.

High Noon the Rockabilly trio

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews

High Noon - Flatland Saturday Night
High Noon – Flatland Saturday Night

High Noon – Flatland Saturday Night

Bear Family
Glorybound – Stranger Things – She Forgot Her Memory – When She’s Good – Let’s Go Daddy-O – Long Empty Stretch Of Highway – My Ex Is Why – Beautiful – Rock Too Slow – Rockin’ Wildcat – Rockin’ Beauty – Old Habits – Flatland Saturday Night – Bluebonnet Boogie – Not For Nothin’ – Rattlesnake Man – Mixed Signal Mama – Fishing Hole Boogie – I’m Not Blue – Gotta Lotta That – Doggone That Cat – Now You’re Gonna Be Loved – Comanche Moon – Kiss And Tell Baby – Slow Down Baby – It’s The Beat – High On A Hill – Hanging From The Old Oak Tree – My Little Thrill – Call Of The Honky-Tonk – Quick Hand (demo) – My Heart Cries Yes (demo)

If you’re familiar with the Rockabilly genre, High Noon needs no introduction. But just in case… They were with Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Trio and the Dave and deke Combo, one of the bands that led the revival of American Rockabilly and among the first in the USA to play this music as if it came straigth from the fifties.

For any true Rockabilly lovers, High Noon almost sounded too good to be true: Shaun Young’s voice conjured the memories of the great Texas Rockabilly singers (among them a certain guy from Lubbock). Sean Mencher’s bag of riffs seemed bottomless. Unlike too many Rockabilly guitar player who were happy to copy Hank Garland or Scotty Moore, Mencher developped his style by listening to the generation that came before like Merle Travis but also Oscar Moore or Charlie Christian. And there was Kevin Smith who showed everybody what “slapping a doghouse bass” really meant (and he was more than able to sing harmonies too.)

Like an aknowledgement to their contribution to this music, High Noon now receives the Bear Family treatment, a well deserved treatment to the legends they are.

Except for the two demos (Quick Hand and My Heart Cries Yes) all songs (32 !) here are lifted from their Goofin’ records. So don’t expect to find songs recorded for Willie Lewis’Rock-A-Billy records or songs from their mini-album Texas style that saw High Noon playing with steel, fiddle, banjo and accordion (maybe for volume 2, who knows?)

Anyway if you don’t own anything from this great band, this is the best introduction you’ll find with a thick 40-page booklet (though the interview with shaun Young looks exactly like the interview I did with him a couple of years ago).
Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/high-noon-flatland-saturday-night.html


High Noon - Texas Style
High Noon – Texas Style

High Noon – Texas Style

 Exile Records ‎– EX10EP09 [1994]
Crazy Mixed Up World – He Won I Lost,  She’s Found – Across the River – My Heart Cries Yes (but my mind whispers no) – Movie Magg – Red Barn Boogie

The Texas Rockabilly trio released this 10″ mini album in 1994. First, look at that cover! It’s perfect! Congratulations to Carlos Fernandez who captured the band in action. Then the music… For this one, High Noon took a slight departure from their usual brand of stripped down rockabilly and brought some guests to the party.
The opener is a cover of the Willie Dixon song made popular by Little Walter. The trio with the help of Alvin Crow on fiddle and John Ely on steel turns it into a superb hillbilly bop with Shaun Young yelling the name of the musicians in the great Bob Wills tradition. As usual Shaun’s vocals are superb, Sean Mencher’s guitar inventive and Kevin Smith provides the perfect backbone with his slap.
Next is He Won, I Lost, She’s Found, penned by Mencher. This Honky Tonk with steel, fiddle and harmony vocals (provided by Brent wilson of the Wagoneers) is sure to make you cry in you beer. The side A closes with Across the River, another Mencher original. It’s another fine ballad enlightened by Mike Maddux on accordion.
Side B opens with My Heart Cries Yes. Can these boys play bluegrass. You bet they can! With the help of Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo. Perkins’ Movie Magg is here to remind you that High Noon is one of the very best (if not the best) Rockabilly band of the late 80’s/early 90’s. Finally the steel and the fiddle return for Hank Harral’s Red Barn Boogie to conclude this mini album in beauty.

Shaun Young (High Noon, Thunderchiefs…)

in Interviews

This interview with Shaun Young was made in two sessions. The first part took place sometime at the end of 2001. This was before the release of “What Are You Waiting For” and the conversation turned around Shaun’s past band and influences. The second took place in 2006 after the release of “Wiggle Walk”, Shaun’s solo album and the succesful gigs of High Noon at Green bay and the Rockabilly Rave.

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Part 1 : Shaun Young, the 2001 interview

Shaun Young
Shaun Young

I’d like to know how you became involved in rockabilly etc. Is it something that comes from your parents or are you a «self made» rockabilly boy?
Shaun Young: My parents did have allot to do with it. My Dad is a big Buddy Holly fan and both of my parents love the Everly Brothers. They would sing Everly songs in harmony together when I was young. They also sang tunes like Frauline by Bobby Helms, Mom liked Ray Price , George Jones and Elvis. After digging into their records I started to search out stuff myself and found out about Gene Vincent, Johnny Burnette, Sid King and all the classic rockabilly.

You played in the Shifters before High Noon. Could you tell more about this band?
Shaun Young: The Shifters was a teenage rockabilly band (not real good ) but it was a way to start to learn how to «play it right». I formed the band with some guys from school.

Is there a connection with the Jinns?
Shaun Young: After graduation we found out about a band in Denver called Bop Street. The Naulty brothers, Pete and Brian, were the core of the group who later formed the Jinns. They were a big influence, they were older and knew allot more about the music than us. Pete turned me on to Ronnie Self and Ronnie Dawson to name a few. It was through them I met Todd Wulfmeyer (guitarist for the Jinns and Marti Brom) and Kevin. They both joined the Shifters soon after.

Now let’s talk about High Noon. How did you get together?
Shaun Young: Sean Mencher was playing with a country band called Chapperal and they opened for the Shifters. Kevin and I were very impressed by his playing and song writing. He dug the Shifters energy, so we started talking about rockabilly and how we thought a band should sound. Soon after that and though a long series of events the three of us ended up jamming in Seans garage. We had so much fun playing Elvis Sun tunes and such we all decided this was the band we had all dreamed of.

Did you find your sound immediately?
Shaun Young: Yes and no. When I see old video of High Noon I’m surprised at how much we sound the same now as then. We did how ever evolve and refine the sound as we went along with becoming better players and song writers. I think we all had a certain individual style that just messed real well and produced a strong combined result.

How did you meet Willie Lewis?
Shaun Young: Kevin and I had heard his first record in Denver. We were saying «Who is this guy?» Then our old friend Todd Wulfmeyer found him and introduced us. Willie came out to some shows we did up in Colorado. We told him how cool it would be to have a 45 rpm record out on Rockabilly records, and he agreed. He was the only record company crazy enough to put out a 78 rpm disc.

High Noon, Sean Mencher, Kevin Smith, Shaun Young
High Noon, Sean Mencher, Kevin Smith, Shaun Young

There was this record with Beverley Stauber, wich came after your first release but it wasn’t exactly your sound. Could you tell me more about these session?
Shaun Young: Man, what can I say about that mess. We were hired to back her up. I hate the way that thing was recorded. It was a huge studio with mikes everywhere. We were just warming up and goofing around when they recorded the songs I was singing. I didn’t know they would put them on the record. Beverley was a friend of ours and we were trying to help her out.

Then High Noon stopped. Why?
Shaun Young: We had been on the road for years, making no money, sleeping on floors, riding trains, and missing our family. Don’t get me wrong we loved to play music for every one who would listen and getting to see the world is something not every one gets to do. But it starts to wear on you when your always worried about paying the bills. Remember this was before the scene was as organized as it is today. We had to do every thing our selves. Seans wife Leslie booked and managed the band, with out her and Sean busting there humps we would have gone no where. Sean and Leslie then decided to move their Family up to Portland Maine. It was an chance for their three kids to go to good schools and be close to there Grandparents. So we just had to slow down. I don’t think any of us really look at High Noon as ever being broken up. We have way to much fun together to ever say the last show was the last. We just have differn’t prioritys and responsabilites to take care of. We will continue to make music together when ever the right opportunity presents it’s self.

Could you name some of your major influences as a singer?
Shaun Young: Buddy Holly, for both singing and writing, Gene Vincent, Tommy Duncan (with Bob Wills band) Tony Williams (from the Platters) are some favorite singers of mine.

And some songwriter…
Shaun Young: For writing Hank Williams, and Harland Howard.

After the High Noon days, we discovered Shaun Young the drummer. When did you start drumming?
Shaun Young: I started drumming when I found some vintage drums at a local flee market. I got a great deal on them so I thought I’d better learn to play them. I always dug the drums and drummers like Gene Krupa and Dickie Harrel. So I would get a lesson from Bobby Trimble every time Big Sandy was in Austin and I picked up a gig playing with Marti Brom. It was trial by fire, either learn to play decent or look like a fool. That was in 93 or 94.

It seems, especially on the Jive Bombers recordings, that you work hard to get the good sound and the way you beat the skins. Do you play on vintage drumkit?
Shaun Young: I Have or have had three vintage kits I’ve recorded with. 1940 Ludwigs, 1949 Leedys and 1938 Slingerland Radio Kings. It is very important to me to have a good sound when I drum. I studied old records magazine articles and such to try to find out how the old guys tuned there drums. Then I tried to play with in that style.

Who are your favorite drummers?
Shaun Young: Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, J.I. Allison, Jo Jones, Sid Catlett, Bobby Trimble is the best on the modern scene, too many to list!
Let’s talk about the Jet Tone Studio. Is it true that this name comes from an airport wich was near the studio, and sometimes you had to stop recording while the plane were flying?
Shaun Young: Jet Tone Studios was my extra bedroom. My wife Kristi and I lived right be the Airport and yes we did have trouble with low flying planes ruining recordings.

Would you like to produce artists like Sean Mencher do?
Shaun Young: Yes, I love to. Any body need a producer?

Jet Tone Studio/Jet Tone Boys : how did you meet Marti Brom?
Shaun Young: We met Marti at the local flee market. Her husband Bob just walk over cause he saw a greaser looking guy. I told him I had a band and Marti should come and sit in with us so people would find out about her.

The Jive Bombers (Shaun Young, Dana Dattalo, Bobby Horton, Derek Peterson, Vance Hazen, Murph Motycka)
The Jive Bombers (Shaun Young, Dana Dattalo, Bobby Horton, Derek Peterson, Vance Hazen, Murph Motycka)

You also played with the excellent Jive Bombers?
Shaun Young: The Jive Bombers came to be out of a band I played drums with called the Big Town Swingtet. It was a Swing combo (Two trumpets, trumbone, tenor sax, guitar, stand up bass, drums and a great female vocalist named Dana Dattalo.) We played gigs just for fun and had a good following. After Sean moved, High Noon wasn’t playing locally much any more so some of us decided to become more serious. We formed the Jive Bombers and then the swing craze hit. We played all the time and made good money while having a lot of fun. We weren’t really a swing band but more of a Jump blues band. Then Dana got a good job offer in Hawaii and left the band. I didn’t think it was worth it to replace her so we split up.

As a member of a Jump Blues/Swing/ Jive band, what do you think about those so-called Swing band that jumped on the success of the Swing revival?
Shaun Young: There wasn’t to many good ones. I dig swing and when I say swing I mean Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, and Count Basie. I never head any new bands that sounded like them.

Do you still play rockabilly as a singer/guitarist ?
Shaun Young: I still gig as Shaun Young with The Horton Brothers and drummer Buck Johnson backing me up along with guys like Leroy Biller on guitar and T Bonnta on piano when ever they’re available. We play rockabilly and country tunes, a few new songs I’ve written, but mostly covers. We hardly ever rehearse and play purely for the fun of it.

What about Shaun Young and the New Blue Moon Boys ?
Shaun Youngg: The New Blue Moon Boys is a group that gets together twice a year to play an Elvis tribute show at the Continental club. The band includes: Bobby Horton on guitar with brother Billy on up right bass, Lisa Pankratz on drums, T Bonnta on piano, and the Lowels (Bill Bailey, Mike Heil, and Roger Wallace) singing back ups We start as a trio doing Sun stuff and then add drums and piano to play early RCA tunes. We end up with the Three backing vocalist singing the Jordanaires parts. Its a fun show to do.

What are your projects ?
Shaun Young: My main projects of late have been building cars. I just finished a 31 ford model a Hot Rod and a buddy of mine in my car club, the Kontinentals, is customizing my 51 chevy. I’m having fun taking a break from playing music and mess with cars. It’s something I Haven’t had time to do for a while. I do have a new solo record in the can and almost ready for release. Look for it on Goofin’ records soon.

A last word?
Shaun Young: Just want to say what a thrill it is to be part of something like High Noon! Thanks to everyone out there! See ya down the road.

Part 2 : Shaun Young, the 2006 interview

The last time we talked, you ended the interview saying “I’m having fun taking a break from music and mess with cars”. It seems that things have changed this last few years…
Shaun Young: Yes, Ive become very busy with music again and it feels great after a bit of a break. Ive been doing some different things, playing electric guitar, writing new instrumental tunes as well as new vocal songs. Playing a bit more with the Horton Brothers backing me around Austin and having a blast with the new Surf band The Thunderchiefs!

You’ve played some gigs with High Noon. How was it to play together again?
Shaun Young: It is always great to play with High Noon, its heaven! Its kind of like riding a bike; we played for so long together that you just kind up pick up right where you left off. I just get swept away by the feel of that band. With just the three instruments it seems the music has a rhythm all it own.
The other great thing about getting to play with High Noon is just getting to sing those songs. I think weve really written some nice songs through the years and I wish I got to sing them more often.

High Noon’s return at Green Bay coincided with the release of “What are you waiting for?” your first release together for years. Was it important for you to come with new material?
Shaun Young: Yes very important. The last thing any of us want High Noon to turn into is a reunion band playing all the old hits from the early nineties. You have to have fresh stuff, new songs, and new challenges. If youre going to do it, do it right. Thats the motto we try to live by.

You did a great show at the 10th Rockabilly Rave. Sadly Kevin couldn’t make it and was (greatly) replaced by Jimmy Sutton. A word about him…
Shaun Young: Most folks probably all ready know about Kevin getting hired by Dwight Yoakam. Its a great opportunity for him, the big time and he deserves it! Sean and I are so proud of him. Well when Kevin got the call from Dwight we were all ready booked at the Rave so we had two choices. Either cancel or play with a fill in bass player. Playing with a fill in player isnt something we would normally even consider but when Jimmy Sutton said hed play my mind was at ease.
High Noon is its own weird special thing and its hard for anyone to step in and play. Not that the music is complicated or no once else out there is good enough to fill our shoes or something, Im defiantly not saying that! Its more like the three of us have been screwing it up for so many years together it makes it difficult for some one to step in and groove like the band normally does. Does that make sense? Any way, weve know Jimmy for all most as long as High Noon has existed and of course we are BIG Jimmy Sutton fans so I felt like yeah, we can pull this off. Well Jimmy did more that just fill in and pull it off. He took it over and made it his own! That set wasnt High Noon with Jimmy Sutton filling in on bass it was High Noon period.

Do you plan to record new stuff with High Noon?
Shaun Young: You know, we do have some tentative plans that Im trying to sort out.
I wish I could tell yall more than that cause there may be some exiting things in the near future for High Noon. Is that big enough of a tease? Ha ha.

2005 saw the release of your newest solo output “Wiggle Walk”. A word about the “genesis” of this record.
Shaun Young: Wiggle Walk! That was a fun record to make! It was great to finally record a record with the Horton brothers, Dave Leroy Biller Buck Johnson and T Jarrod Bonta, the band that Ive been playing gigs with in Texas for ten years. Weve been gigging with that lineup ever since Billy and Bobby moved to Austin but other commitments have kept us form doing a record until now.

Shaun Young, with Dave Biller, Billy Horton, Bobby Horton and Buck Johnson.
Shaun Young, with Dave Biller, Billy Horton, Bobby Horton and Buck Johnson.

I had a bunch of songs written that Bobby and I had been getting together and arranging. Bobby is my right hand man when it comes to fleshing out my song Ideas and Billy is a great producer and engineer in the studio. How can you go wrong with a line up like that? I cant say enough good things about all those guys and I have for pinch myself to make sure its real when Im singing in front of that group of top notch musicians!
People seem to really like that album and we really appreciate all the great things folks have said about that one.

One of the band you’re involved with are the Thunderchiefs. How did you come with the idea of a surf band?
Shaun Young: Its a funny story. I used to play lead electric guitar when I was a teenager back in Colorado. Kevin and I had a band called the Shifters. We were a typical teenage rockabilly band, loud fast and not that good! Ha ha ha.
Well I had to play lead because we didnt know any other rockabilly guitar players.I was an ok guitar player but when we met Sean Mencher I thought heck I dont need to mess with this anymore, hes got it down! So its been like 15 or 16 years since Ive tried to play any electric lead guitar. Well about six months ago I bought a Fender Stratocaster and started to relearn a bunch of old instrumental guitar tunes I used to play as a kid. Typical stuff like Walk Dont Run and Pipeline.Well I was telling my buddy Joe Emrey I thought it would be fun to start a Surf band and play some of these tunes just for fun.
Joe I a great Surf guitar player who had a band called Death Valley here in Austin back in the early 90s. High Noon used to play show with them quite a bit back then. He is now the singer and guitarist for a KILLER garage rock band called the Ugly Beats. Any one who digs 60s garage rock needs to check out the Ugly Beats! Well Joe says that sounds like fun, I want to play bass!
I thought that would be great since Joe has never played bass in a band before and Im not the worlds greatest guitar picker so this will work well. I figured If I just found a group of guys that wanted to mess around and learn as we went I wouldnt make any good players bored with my screw ups.
Well, that whole plan went out the window when Bobby Trimble heard about it.
Bobby is one of my closest friends and we always wanted to play in a band together. Were both big Surf music fans. Bobby just moved to Austin from California this past year and its great to have him living in Texas! Any way when Bobby got wind of or little plan he told me DUDE, Im playing drums!!! I thought well heck if Bobby is going to play the drums Id better get good fast or Im going to start to stick out! So we got together over at Joes house for our first rehearsal and had a ball. We new we need to find a second guitar player to fill things out.
Well, thats when Mike Guerreo called Joe. Mike Is well known to Surf music fans as the incredible lead guitar player of the Austin Surf trio The Sir Finks. Their Boss Guitars of the Sir Finks album is one of the best modern surf records ever! Mike hadnt been playing much since the Sir Finks, spending time raising his family and such. Mike tells Joe he wants to play guitar with us. When Joe Told me that I about fell on the floor! Thats like starting your first rockabilly band and having Cliff Gallup call and say he wants in the band.
So suddenly we had a very good Surf band put together. All of us have been writing original songs for the group and we start recording our first album next month. It will be out on Wormtone Records This summer. Any one whos interested can check the band out on myspace.

You also play with the Limelights…
Shaun Young: The Limelight guys have been busy with other things so I havent been playing with that band for quite some time now
It was a fun band to play drums in, very Bill Haley and the Comets type of feel.

With all those bands, do you still find to build cars?
Shaun Young: Not as much as Id like! I still take time to mess with my cars any chance I get.
I love my hot rods. Working on them, driving them, taking the roadster and racing at the drag strip are my big escapes from the stress of life!

A last word?
Shaun Young: Thunderbird um I mean Thunderchiefs!
Just a thank you to all the fans who like what I do. Im still in shock that any one even cares about my little music projects and I really appreciate all the support.

Reviews on this site: Shaun Young (solo); the Jive Bombers

Sean Mencher (High Noon)

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!!!

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