The latest UK Rock N Roll Magazine includes my regular Psychobilly Corner column. This month features an interview with Billy Oxley of The Epileptic Hillbillys. There’s also a Psychobilly Corner extra with four ‘Wreckord Reviews’ including The Zipheads, Luna Vegas, X Ray Cat Trio & The Astro Zombies. Get it now at all good newsagents.
Sad news from our friend Tad Pierson in Memphis. Jimmy Denson, brother of Lee aka Jesse James passed away on Feb 2nd. Lee Petherick and I visited Memphis back in 2003. We met Tad when we hired him to drive us round the city in his pink Cadillac (what else!) and show us the sights less seen. He was playing some great music as we drove, I commented that I loved this one, ‘The South’s Gonna Rise Again’ by Jesse James. Tad looked a little surprised I knew it, not as surprised as I was when he got his phone out and dialed Jimmy Denson and passed him over. Jimmy had written the song that his brother recorded. He had stories (not always complimentary) about Elvis, Johhny and Dorsey Burnette and a whole host of 1950’s rockabilly legends he grew up with. On our last day in Memphis we hired Tad again to take us to the airport in style. On the way there we dropped in to visit Jimmy in his home. There he sat, smoking his cigarette and sipping on his whiskey regaling us with more stories and showing us photos of those early days. One of the magic moments was showing us his school boxing trophies with his and brother Lee’s names on them as well as Johnny and Dorsey Burnette’s (whom he told us was the meanest and you wouldn’t want to fight). I’m very sad to learn of Jimmy’s death but glad to learn he spat in life’e eye for another decade. R.I.P, on your way Jimmy, oh and when you get there, don’t go punching Elvis too hard, your Mom wouldn’t like it!
Here’s his brother Lee, aka Jesse James with ‘The South’s Gonna Rise Again’
I had the great pleasure of talking to legendary Sun Records and Sonny Burgess and the Pacers pianist Kern Kennedy a coupe of years ago. This interview was published in UK Rock N Roll magazine, I thought it should be made available to a wider audience. Kern is still going strong and playing with The Legendary Pacers. Comments and shares appreciated.
(c) Simon Nott
The Internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to connecting people. When I first discovered rockabilly music very much of it was still shrouded in mystery. I was fascinated to read the little snippets that were available on sleeve notes and in magazines like New Kommotion and Now Dig This. The music that pumped out through my cheap club-book record player from those vinyl groves that I so loved was often performed not by people and faces but just names on the record label. I wanted to know about Sonny Burgess with his red hair that pre-dated punk by 20 years and Billy Lee Riley and his fabulous Little Green Men. Luckily since those early days those guys have been well documented. I’m still keen to know the stories behind the songs I have loved and put faces to the names.
One song I have always really enjoyed was ‘I Fell In Love’ by a mysterious artist called Ken Cook. It was recorded at Sun Records but never released at the time. One of many gems that lay hidden for years, a victim of Sam Phillips’ glut of talent. Not only did the song have great lyrics that just ooze the sort of 1950’s which involved drive-ins, drug stores and rockin’ chicks, but that guitar. Now I am no musician so have no idea if that guitar riff that runs through the song is hard to play, but it is one that simply rocks. I loved it then and I love it now, a real ear worm which so compliments the lyrics and the images they conjure up. it’s on YouTube, have a listen
On this particular post of the tune, someone mentioned that they had heard that the vocal was actually Roy Orbison. A guy named Carl Watson replied that no, it was Ken Cook, he was there. I replied ‘You were there?’. Now for what ever reason, I’m at a loss now, I didn’t go back to that track for another five months. Carl had replied to me that he had played guitar on all Ken’s Sun recordings. Yes that guitar I have loved for 30 years. The guy that played on it had actually spoken to me via the Internet. I was gutted that I’d not seen it until now. I have been lucky enough to have interviewed several of my heroes in the past year or so. Either through contacts made through Vive Le Rock and Big Cheese magazines for whom I write on a freelance basis. Heads up given by psychobilly band leader Bernie Bilko or just via the Internet. Now I had a contact with Carl I really wanted to talk to him about that Sun session that produced a great song but didn’t result in a release. Ken and the guys must have entered that studio in awe and in the knowledge that they were treading the path once and indeed at the time still trod by rockabilly legends. There was the real chance this could be the big time if they nailed it. Like so many others at Sun they did nail it, but for some inexplicable reason the fantastic music they made never surfaced until the 1970’s. By which time Ken and the guys had no doubt gotten over the disappointment. Carl obviously remembered the session with some pride. I’d love to hear his story, and these days due to the Internet he could well be a few clicks of a keyboard and a phone call away.
I set to work on Google looked for Texan Carl. It didn’t take me long to find him, though when I did my heart sank.
I was too late to talk to Carl. I felt a lump in my throat, I was in mourning for a guy who hadn’t even been a name in my mind for those 30 odd years, just a riff. But what a riff. I’m glad that Carl was able to tell me who he was personally, it’s still there in the comments on the first video. I’m so sad I never got to speak to Carl in person, but now for ever more I know, and thanks to you for kindly reading this, so do you. That guitar riff on Ken Cook’s ‘I Fell In Love’ was played by Carl Watson. Thanks Carl and R.I.P.
(c) Simon Nott
A Date With Paul Ansell’s No9
(I Sold My Soul Media)
Release Date August 16th 2013
Exceptional singer, song-writer and performer Paul Ansell, front man of the Rock ‘n’ Roll band Number Nine, is an authentic figurehead of the genre. He is considered one of the top rock n roll acts on the planet and has seen his fan base constantly grow. Ansell and his band have nearly two decades in the business under their belts, releasing eleven albums in that time. His music has absorbed numerous influences along the way. Hardly surprising as Paul has worked with many Rock ‘n’ Roll originals including Elvis’s Sun guitarist, who really was there when it happened, the legendary Scotty Moore, with whom he has shared a stage several times.
Other big names Paul has worked with include Bob Moore, Reggie Young, David Briggs, Jerry Carrigan, Billy Swan, Mac Curtis, Jesse Young, Robert Gordon and the late, great Billy Lee Riley. Paul Ansell’s musical spectrum is unique, it encompasses Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues as well as Country. With his emotive voice Ansell arranges all his songs in a style which fits him perfectly. The master of diversity does not only work at the highest level as a performer but also as a songwriter. His self-composed songs exude a singular magic, which is unmistakable and overwhelming. When Ansell performs people are immediately reminded of voices like Elvis and Charlie Rich but cannot mistake the unique touch of Paul Ansell.
Over the years No9 has been made up of a plethora of top musicians from the rock and roll rockin’ scene. From there humble beginnings in 1992 were they played as a trio featuring Matt Jackson on guitar and Nick Gilroy on bass. Drummer Ritchie Taylor was the line up on the first album, Gwyn Griffiths took over the sticks on the second and third albums. Cem Baykara was 2nd guitar for a while. Then guitarist Malcom Chapman took over on Mood Swings album along with new bassist Micky Wigfall. This line-up also played on the Countrified album. Then Ricky Hughes took over on drums, Mark Pennington of Caravans fame on bass and Tony Coni on guitar. This line up stayed the same up to the Live at Sun album. Now with a brand new line up, No9 is still a swinging little combo of hand-picked musicians that gives Paul Ansell his sound. The current line-up of No9 is….
Paul Ansell – voice and acoustic guitar
Paul Atkinson – drums
Guy Trigg – doublebass
James Compton – Piano and guitar
Jeffery Mead – Pedal Steel
Things are taking off in 2013, Paul has contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the movie ‘Mr. Morgans Last Love’, produced by Hans Zimmer and set for release in August featuring actors Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy and Gillian Anderson. The soundtrack songs are ‘Jump In’ and ‘Walking Back To Baby´s Arms” will also be available on Paul Ansell’s this brand new album ‘A date with Paul Ansell´s Number Nine’. Check out the trailer for the film here.
More info on Paul and No9 visit their website
For all UK press enquiries please contact, me, Simon Nott.
WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING
UK Rock n Roll Magazine
I recently had the honour of interviewing original Sun Records legend W.S. Holland. It was published in UK Rock N Roll magazine (available at all good newsagents). Here is the interview in full.
The reason I am posting it now. There is a campaign to raise money to make a documentary on WS, pledges in support are asked. It is sadly looking like the funds will not be found in time. I feel that is a tragedy. If every Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins fan donated a tenner the project would be subscribed 100 x over. But it’s not too late. Here’s the link to Kickstarter where you can show your support and pledge to help make it happen.
There is something of a breath of fresh air taking place in March over the pond in Los Angeles. The Fonda Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard is playing host to an ambitious project, Klub Foot USA. I had a long chat with the guy who is running the event and to say he is passionate about it is an understatement.
Of Irish origin he is now based in LA working as a film director working on big-budget music promos and the like. He may be basking in sunshine and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous now, but back in the 1980’s he was a regular at The Clarendon wrecking in the pit fuelled by amphetamine and snakebite.
His dream is to bring that Klub Foot feeling forward 30 years and export it to the USA. No easy task, but as he explained the kids in the States that are keeping the psychobilly scene alive over there are every bit as rabid for the music as the original psychos were in London back in the day. The name of the Klub Foot is legendary to them, and unlike many of people still active in the UK they have of course no memories of the place or really any conception of what it was really like.
The plan is to duplicate it as much as possible, the best way to do that is bring the bands that were there over. King Kurt, The Coffin Nails, The Frantic Flintstones, The Klingonz are on the for real authenticity. While Mad Sin, Spellbound and a whole host of home-grown American talent will ensure the place rocks to the rafters. I’m told that King Kurt’s ‘Wheel Of Misfortune’ is going to make a comeback, quite what the US kids are going to make of being force-fed cider and spun vertically on stage is going to be a treat, and also filmed.
Here’s hoping people support the event and that it can grow as the promoter hopes it will. It will go some way to erasing the reputation and bad feeling that many UK bands have had with dealings with (other) promoters – and I use the word loosely, in the States.
As a footnote he tells me that all the bands are being flown out on the same British Airways flight, they serve free booze don’t they? Man oh man that would be one flight I’d like to be on, as an observer!
It is worth mentioning that for anyone who was a veteran of the Klub Foot, wished they had been there but never did, are far too young to have darkened its doors or just plain curious. The definitive record of the music that was created there is now available as a five-album boxset, ‘Dragged From The Wreckage Of The Klub Foot’ The tapes having been lovingly and painstakingly restored by Sharks founder-member Alan Wilson and packaged with extensive notes. For details click the link below.
(c) Simon Nott