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Hopped Up!

in Reviews
hopped up!

Hopped Up! – Get Gone

Straight 8 Records – S8-101 [2004]
Get Gone – Rock & Roll Rocket
Hopped Up was a Rockabilly quintet with Scotty Shanks-Bruemmer on vocals, Shawn Burrell on slap bass, Justin Barr and Ralph Rodriguez on guitar and Gary Daly on drums.
A-side is a traditional jumping rockabilly number sung by Scotty who has a pretty good voice. The flip side is more on the frantic side and is sung by Ralph. Both songs are originals.
Good single.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Josie Kreuzer

in Interviews/Stories

Josie Kreuzer

Josie Kreuzer
Josie Kreuzer

Josie Kreuzer appeared on the rock’n’roll scene around 1992 with the all female rockabilly band Whistle Bait. They soon estabished a name as a solid live act. Sadly, Whistle Bait never released anything (but they recorded some tunes with Wally Hersom at his Wallyphonic studios) and eventually broke up in 1996. Josie then started her own label (She-Devil) and 1997 saw the release of her first solo album “Hot Rod Girl” with Hot Rod Lincoln providing her back-up band. Two years later, she gave us “As Is” a great album with some honky tonk influences, and in 2002 followed “Beggin’ me back” her best record to date and the perfect mix of all her influences. Produced by Mark Neill, with Craig Pacham on drums and Rip Carson on bass, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Note to the reader : this interview has been conducted a few years ago (sometimes between As Is and Beggin’ Me Back) but I thought it was worth publishing as more of the infos are about Josie’s influences and things like that.

by Fred “Virgil” turgis

Can you tell us how you became involved into rockabilly ? Who (or what) was the shock that decided you to become a singer?
Josie Kreuzer I grew up in a very musical household. There seemed to be some kind of music playing most of the time. My mother’s record collection was huge–chock full of blues, jazz and rock n roll. It was hillbilly & rockabilly that struck the strongest chord with me, moved me the most. I started writing songs when I was eleven, really with no intentional goals that I can think of. It wasn’t until I started working at a record store as a teen, that I discovered the more obscure rockabilly music which made me even love it more, and that was when I decided to get a guitar and eventually start a band.
Nowadays what are you influences and what are you listening to ?
My influences are always expanding. They’ve always spanned across many genres of music, not just rockabilly. Lately I’ve been listening to alot of old western swing, mariachi and Hawaiian 78’s, plus a lot of Jazz & vocals like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Kay Starr. I just got back from playing a festival in Australia where I picked up a few CDs from some of the current rockabilly bands out there, so I’ve been listening to those lately as well–The Satellites and The Satellite V are two bands to look out for… really good stuff.

Whistle Bait (Josie Kreuzer, Cleo Ramone, Jennifer Quinn, Teri Tom)
Whistle Bait (Josie Kreuzer, Cleo Ramone, Jennifer Quinn, Teri Tom)

Reading an article about Whistle Bait, it seems you had a wide range of influences (from Wanda Jackson to the Ramones).
Josie Kreuzer Hmm, where’d you find that article ? Yes, if I tried to list all of my influences it would take months and scrolls of paper! I have shelves & shelves of records & CDs and I’m continually buying new stuff all the time.

Could you tell more about this band and how did it sound?
Josie Kreuzer Whistle Bait was my very first band. It was actually all of the members’ first band as well. I started it when I moved to LA in 1992. It was an all-girl rockabilly band, and believe it or not I hadn’t had the intention of starting an all-girl band…it just sort of happened that way. It was a four piece–lead guitar, upright bass,drums & myself on Rhythm guitar & vocals. We were extremely raw sounding –as first bands usually are.

Any chance to see an official release of the demos recorded by Wally Hersom?
Josie Kreuzer That’s a frequently asked question…still, after all of these years… But honestly, I really don’t know if those recordings will ever be released—I can’t foresee putting them out in the near future…. Maybe after I’m dead or something?! I guess I probably shouldn’t mention this, but there are live videos of us too.

Why did Whistle Bait break up?
Josie Kreuzer Mainly because we wanted to go in different directions musically. I wanted to stay traditional rockabilly, I think the others were aiming more towards a harder edge/alternative sound. We also had some disagreements on the business side of things which I won’t go into.

Is it true that it was just before you were due to play Hemsby?
Josie Kreuzer Gosh, you know everything, don’t you ? It’s a classic story. Our last show ever was at The House of Blues in LA on Elvis’ birthday for their annual benefit. Unfortunately we didn’t know it was our last show when we were playing it! Soon after, we had a band meeting or fallout–whatever you want to call it… I had been unhappy for a long time with the music situation, and at that meeting a lot of «certain» business issues came up…we all left pretty pissed off. I decided that it was best if the band didn’t continue… I wasn’t even sure what the hell I was going to do. I had absolutely no plans of doing a solo thing–probably just starting a new band. Whistle Bait had one final gig to do–we were committed, the contract was signed, it was Hemsby 16. Unfortunately the rest of the girls refused to follow through on the booking commitment. I told them that we should at least do this last gig, but they wouldn’t budge (cause they were still angry with my decision to quit the band)… so I called the promoter of Hemsby and told him that the band broke up, but if he wanted, I would still come over and do the show alone. I’ve been a solo artist ever since.

Your first album is straight (and first class) rockabilly. On the second we can hear a touch of country with the presence of the steel. Does it something you did consciously ? Would you like to go more in that style (with fiddle etc.)?
Josie Kreuzer Now that I look back, I realize «As is» was just myself coming full circle. In my earlier years, I was really more hillbilly sounding, but no one really knows this because the first recording that everyone has heard is ‘Hot Rod Girl’… I never «consciously» plan the songs I write, they just come out. «As Is» was just a product of the songs that came out of me at that period of my life. You see, for me, I can’t just sit down and say «well gee, I think. I’m gonna write a rockabilly song today’, my songwriting goes much deeper than that….it’s influenced by what’s going on around me. The arrangements (e.g. steel guitar) just come to fruition as I get together with my band. I happened to have a steel player there at the time, and I just liked the way it sounded. I have a hard time with genres. Unfortunately they have to categorize us somehow. I really just play the music that is deep in my heart, and that just so happens to be categorized by people as rockabilly…so when I slightly stray from that it worries some people–I don’t know why–hillbilly rockabilly–honky–tonk–whatever you want to call it–it all has soul, and that’s what I like creating—music with soul.

Josie kreuzer - Beggin' Me Back
Josie kreuzer – Beggin’ Me Back

Being a rockabilly artist is surely not easy, I guess. But is it more difficult to be a woman on that scene?
Josie Kreuzer It’s both– Working with a band, club bookers and sound guys is more difficult in that males tend to hate being told what to do by a woman..in the end we are always considered a ‘bitch’ where as if I were a man, I’d be considered assertive and be respected to a greater extent. But it’s also easier being a woman in that we have higher recognition on the scene because there aren’t as many doing it. So, lot’s more press and photo ops!

You produce your records and you run your own label. Is it to have more control over your recordings ?
Josie Kreuzer It’s entirely to have total control over my recordings. I have total accountability for everything. I know exactly how much and where every last cent is going from my CD sales earnings. Ask any artist who is with an Indie label, and they probably haven’t even seen $10,000 bucks so far…. and if they have, they are probably wondering if they’ll ever get anything else. Ask any artist who is on a major label and they probably haven’t even seen one penny because they are still paying off their massive debt to the label. It’s sad but true.

Would you like to produce other artists on She-Devil ?
Josie Kreuzer I don’t think I would ever have enough time! Plus I don’t think I’d like to be responsible for other band’s income… Too much of a pain and too much work!

Did you play with rockabilly singer of the first generation as Wanda Jackson or Janis Martin ?
Josie Kreuzer Oh yes, I’ve played with Wanda before – she is still just as rockin as ever – and what a voice?!

The Garnet Hearts (rockabilly band)

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews

The Garnet Hearts - Cupid
The Garnet Hearts – Cupid

The Garnet Hearts – Cupid

Another Mile Records [2010]
This Lonely Bed – Carry On Renee – Cupid – Thistle In Your Garden – All The Time In The Worlds – Medusa – If She’s Pretty – Broken Arrow – Every Good Love Story – Can’t Be Loved – Bonfire – Thistle In Your Garden (alt.) – Every Good Love Story (alt) – Bonfire (alt.)

The excellent rockabilly combo the Garnet Heart returns with a new guitarist, a new label and a brand new and hot platter. Eddie Macintosh (formerly of the Boom Boom Cats – try to get their album on Vinylux) is one hell of a rockabilly singer with a mean voice and a sense for writing songs that grab you (wether it’s to move your soul or your feet). The core of this album is made of hot and wild rockabilly and rock’n’roll numbers that already sound like classics. The recording/production work suits them perfectly and is not that far from the Wild Hare label sound. I mean it’s roots and sounds “authentic” but it’s never to the detriment of the quality of the sound (many band should learn that). You’ll also find a bit of hillbilly (Right Here with You, All This Time In the World) and a superb Arthur Crudup type of rockin’ blues (Medusa). Still on the blues side, “Every Good Love Story” sounds like a cross between Howlin’ Wolf, Charlie Feathers and Dale Hawkins, man, can you imagine how good it sounds (don’t imagine, buy the record). One of the highlight of the album is Can’t Be Loved” a latin lament with a beautiful Spanish guitar I could listen over and over again. Last (but surely not least as they say) is a cover of Jimmie Piper’s Bonfire, a awesome murder ballad that confirms three things: the Garnet Hearts is a highly talented band with impeccable taste, Andrew Ladson is the perfect addition on guitar and Mark Pettijohn has to be one of the best drummer in the land. Included are 3 alternate takes/mixes.
The choice is yours: buy it or… buy it.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Hamburger James

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews

Hamburger James - Watch That Cadillac Burn
Hamburger James – Watch That Cadillac Burn

Hamburger James – Watch That Cadillac Burn

 (2011)
Watch That Cadillac Burn – Town I Can’t Call Home – Reaching For The Ring – Berryville – best Thing I’ve Ever Had – Hillbilly Angel – I Don’t Need To Have A Reason – Queen Of Broken Hearts – The Devils Bad In Bed – Scar Tissue and Surgical Steel – Cheatin’ Side Of Town – Heartache Waiting To Happen – Bad Bad Man – Boom Chicka Boom – Rock And Bowl – Woody On The Beach

Hot! Hot! Hot! I can’t believe it. I just received the latest Hamburger James and it’s one of the rocking-est piece of shiny silver I’ve heard in ages. I can’t believe these guys dont top the bill of European festivals. Recorded at Sun studios (where else?) it contains 16 originals tracks written by the different members of the band.
It opens with the title track, inspired by Elvis’Cadillac. And right from the start they grab you. It starts with a doo-wop arrangement then explodes into a hot rocker that would make Brian Setzer red with envy before returning to a more melodic/doo-wop style on the bridge. Superb arrangement and even better guitar solo. “Town I Can’t Call Home” is a solid country rock with steel guitar and harmony vocals, sounding as if “Six Days On the Road” had merged with Brian Setzer’s (again!) “Drive Like Lightnin’,Crash Like Thunder”. The tradition of talkin’ blues is now rich and it seems difficult to bring something new after songs like Smoke, Smoke, Smoke, A Boy Named Sue and Hot Rod Lincoln, but with “Reaching For the Ring” and its Jordanaires-like backing vocals, Hamburger Jame can add its name to the list. Next is “Berryville”. Need I say more? Well imagine Chuck Berry meets the Fabulous Thunderbirds. “Best Thing I Ever Had” is a stripped down rockabilly, mostly acoustic with just a light electric guitar. “Hillbilly Angel” shows influences of the Bakersfield sound with a bit of rock’n’roll and a superb solo that sounds like a mix between Dave Edmunds and Pete Anderson. The ballad “I Don’t Need To Have A Reason” also shows some Bakersfield/Yoakam influence. Still on the slow pace, the instrumental “Queen Of the Broken Heart” develops a melancholic mood with a slight Santo and Johnny feel in the sound. Threatening i the word that comes to mind for “The Devil’s bad in Bed”, a superb medium rockabilly number. The following number, “Scar Tissue & Surgical Steel”, is a hot rockin’ number played at a demonic pace, quite similar is “Heartache Waiting To Happen”. “Cheatin’ Side Of Town” is a pure Honky Tonk while “Bad Bad Man” is a Soul number featuring a complete horn section and sounds more like Stax than Sun. “Boom Chicka Boom” is not a tribute to the Man in Black as the title could indicate, but a mean number halway between rockabilly and Howlin’ Wolf (and a bit of Dale Hawkins too). “Rock And Bowl” is a classic Rock’n’roll with a tip of the hat to Danny Cedrone on the solo and the surf instrumental “Woody On The Beach” full of twangy guitar closes the set with class. An album that is brilliant from start to finish on which it’s almost impossible to find a weak track.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Hamburger James - Last Plane To Memphis
Hamburger James – Last Plane To Memphis

Hamburger James – Last Plane To Memphis

This quator from Richmond, Virginia takes his name from one member of the Memphis Mafia, whose job was to bring burgers to Elvis whenever he needed it. With such a name it’s no surprise to hear the influence of the King all along this album (that comes in a well designed digipack by the way). But influence doesn’t mean copy. They just take some elements, from the Sun days (That’s Allright) to the 60’s (Little Sister) via the classic RCA 50’s sound (Red Dress features some fine Scotty Moore licks), assimilate them and turn them their own to give their brand of rockabilly/rock’n’roll, a music with roots but not dated, with a majority of self penned songs.
Andy Vaughan, the lead singer, has a great voice that finds him equally at ease with straight rockabilly, wild rock àla Little Richard (“Rumble Tonight”) or the soulfull “Are You One?” that features an Hammond B3, I bet those who like The Paladins’ “You & I” will love this one too.
Country music is well represented too with notably “Ounces At A Time”, a solid honky tonk with piano and the Cash-esque “The Story Of Hamburger James”. “Wait For The Morning” is one of my very fave, a beautiful ballad with Roy Orbison’s accents that wouldn’t be out of plave in Chris Isaak’s set. A female guest singer, Jennifer Vaughan, is present on Janis Martin’s Bang Bang, a way to pay hommage to the rockabilly queen the band backed as one of their first gig.
Plenty of styles for a solid and original debut album.
Available at cdbaby.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Straight 8’s – Girl Trouble

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

straight8s1[2013]
F-Hole – Rock Me – First One Standing in Line – Why Can’t You Love Me Like I Am – Slowly Lose My Mind – Porter Wagoner Suit – Interlude – Help Me Save My Life – El Mirage – You’re Always Gone – Two Stubborn Fools – You’ll Never Get Away – Summer Set

The Straight 8’s are a high-octane rockabilly trio from North Carolina (Chapel Hill to be precise, like Southern Culture On The Skids). “Girl Trouble”, their third album, opens with a powerful instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on Brian Setzer’s Ignition. The rest of the album varies styles from rockabilly to country stuff (with trumpet), jazz with vibraphone, surf (El Mirage), rockin’ gospel (Help Me Save My Life), 80’s neo rockabilly with a haunting guitar riff evoking Restless (You’re Always Gone), a country duet with Sarah Shook featuring a lapsteel and Summer Set an instrumental in the style of Sleepwalk to close the set.

Good collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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