Click here to listen to Shy Guy (from radio show #4): Mike Wallace made a brief appearance on our Oklahoma Rock and Roll radio show. It was Show #4 - the first of two shows we did on Oklahoma POP - pop music and pop culture with some sort of connection to Oklahoma. I thought I'd share this little segment that features just a tiny bit of the movie The Outsiders (filmed in Oklahoma and based on the book written by S.E. Hinton from Tulsa). That takes us in to a 'school film' about outsiders called The Shy Guy, featuring Dick York from Bewitched, and Mike Wallace as the narrator. The Shy Guy, with his "record transmitter and microphone" (and oscillator), sets the stage for the great Five Americans record, Western Union - complete with a bit of my buddy, disc jockey Ronnie Kaye from WKY (now KOMA) radio in Oklahoma City. Finishing up the segment is a commercial (Sherman Oaks and Mazeppa) for Jerry Ralph R. B. Bob Bevis Furniture Warehouse Revolution. Good times...
Bill Anderson and The Oak Ridge Boys - dressin' fancy and singing old Uncle Steve's song "Gone Away" on The Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. The original version was written by myself and my buddies, Tim Dubois and John Wooley. Whisperin' Bill added some great stuff about country legends that have gone away. Brought down the dang house, I tells ya....
Rolling Stone Interview - Bob Dylan's America by Douglas Brinkley
I ask whether, as a bandleader, Dylan had ever played a set with the perfect guitarist. Dylan jumps at the opportunity to answer rather reminiscently. "The guy that I always miss, and I think he'd still be around if he stayed with me, actually, was Mike Bloomfield," Dylan says of his collaborator on Highway 61 Revisited (who also famously played electric guitar with him at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965). "He could just flat-out play. He had so much soul. And he knew all the styles, and he could play them so incredibly well. He was an expert player and a real prodigy, too. Started playing early. But then again a lot of good guitarists have played with me. Freddy Tackett, Steve Ripley - Mick Taylor played with me for a minute." Full of memory lane, Dylan goes on to tell a story about first meeting Bloomfield in Chicago at a headhunt on the South Side. A social misfit, Bloomfield was the rare white guitarist who had recorded with the likes of Sleepy John Estes and Big Joe Williams. "He could play like Willie Brown or Charlie Patton," Dylan says. "He could play like Robert Johnson way back then in the Sixties. The only other guy who could do that in those days was Brian Jones, who played in the Rolling Stones. He could also do the same thing. Fingerpicking rhythms that hardly anyone could do. Those are the only two guys I've ever met who could...from back then...the only two guys who could play the pure style of country blues authentically."
Finally finished production on the first “episode” of the new radio show called Oklahoma Rock and Roll. It took about two weeks of long hours – by both me and Charlene. Charlene is doing the research. It would be nice to have a staff of 4 or 5 people, but for now it’s just us. I think it’s a good show. Oklahoma has a rich musical history, so there’s a nice variety.
A PARTIAL LIST (with working show or segment titles):
Leon Russell: Don’t Ever Take A Bus To California (The Wrecking Crew, Gary Lewis, Delaney and Bonnie, Joe Cocker, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton)
Jazz and Blues (Charlie Christian, Oklahoma City Blue Devils, Jay McShann, Lowell Fulson)
Made In Oklahoma (Jim Edgar and The Roadrunners, The Disciples, Jimmy Markham, etc.)
Rockabilly – Oklahoma Style (Wanda Jackson, The Collins Kids, Big Al Downing, Conway Twitty)
Lee Hazlewood: These Rebel Rouser Boots Are Made For Walking (Duane Eddy, Nancy Sinatra)
Western Swing (Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills, Spade Cooley, Speedy West)
L.A. Power Pop – Okies at Madam Wong’s (Moon Martin, 20/20, Dwight Twilley)
The Keltner Connection (Leon, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, John Lennon, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, on and on…)
To quote me:
“We’re gonna take a look at not just rock and roll in Oklahoma, but the roots of rock and roll, and we’re gonna follow those roots wherever they take us and let them tell us how we got to this place today… how we got to this thing we call Oklahoma Rock and Roll. As the weeks go by, we’re gonna try to dig deep into the details of the music, and the artists and the musicians that made that music, and how it all ties together. But for the first couple of shows, what I want to do is to try to present the overall picture. I think you’ll find some surprises, and I think at times – I hope at times – you’re gonna be stunned just like we have been each time we find that extra special thing, and that direct link to Oklahoma.”
The first two shows, “Home Sweet Oklahoma” (parts 1 and 2), are basically an Oklahoma Music Revue, with the aim of trying to paint the big picture, and also set the stage for what lies ahead in the weeks and shows to come.
Covered in the first shows, and featured in more detail on future shows, are what might seem obvious: Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, and the whole Tulsa culture of musicians with direct links to people like Dylan, Clapton, Joe Cocker and the Mad Dogs and Englishmen; Wanda Jackson, The Collins Kids, and rockabilly (Oklahoma style); Moon Martin, Dwight Twilly, and 20/20 – the LA Power Pop scene. But we’re also taking a good look (and listen) to the early roots players and bands that changed music around the world: Charlie Christian, blues man extraordinaire Lowell Fulson, the Oklahoma City Blue Devisl, and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. As with any adventure, there are surprises… like the probable first ever Rhythm and Blues record – a smash hit in 1945 by a piano player and singer from Guthrie.
The picture starts to emerge of an art form that owes its heart to a mixture of hillbilly, gospel, blues, rhythm & blues, and jazz. Intertwined with all of that are the Native American and African American cultures. This is America’s music – Oklahoma Rock and Roll.
“Don’t forget… Family is what’s important. Tell your mama you love her. Kiss your babies. We’re all in this together. Bye bye kids…”
from → Radio Show
Charlene and I have moved to the farm where I grew up in Pawnee County. This video shows the beginning of the conversion of a little “barn” to the new studio.
We finished the mixes for the new Red Dirt Rangers record today. Now, the tapes go off to mastering, and then the birth of the long awaited new Rangers CD: Ranger Motel. We've been working in a temporary space that will eventually be the guitar shop after phase one of the new studio is finished. Building progress has been slow because of the weather, but I'm optomistic about getting back at it in the next week or two. And that's something... I'm very seldom optomistic about anything! Cheers...
December 13, 2006
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Oklahoma! First of all, there's a steady stream of orders for the Tractors Christmas records. We're getting to all of them as fast as we can. If you're still thinking of ordering, please hurry. We've run out once already, but managed to get another shipment in. I'm not sure how long those will last. Also, you can download The Santa Claus Boogie music video on iTunes.
After nineteen years, we have sold The Church in Tulsa. Any sadness is more than cancelled out by the excitement about the move to "The Farm" and the new studio we're building there. I can hardly wait until new recording starts at the studio in the woods. Farm Music!
Though all projects were temporarily set aside while we concentrated on the daunting task of the sale of the building and the big move of the equipment, I'm happy to report that a new Tractors record is finished and waiting for release sometime early next year. The album features songs and performances by the two Tractors big brothers: J.J. Cale and Leon Russell. Cale keeps saying it's the best Tractors record ever.
Merry Christmas from Pawnee County!
Our good friends, The Red Dirt Rangers, are in the studio making a new record. This will likely be the last album we make here. After the Rangers record, we a pulling the plug on The Church Studio. We've been here for over eighteen years. We are selling the building and our wonderful vintage Neve console. We are going to build a studio in the woods at the farm. End of an era, but the beginning of a new one.
The legendary Augie Meyers was here for a few days as a guest of the Red Dirt Rangers to play accordion, B3, and of course, THE VOX ORGAN. Augie was a founding member of two iconic bands: The Sir Douglas Quintet and The Texas Tornados. He played great and mesmerized us all. We're having a great time making some excellent music.
THE KIDS RECORD
Hey Kids! Guess what? Big doin’s here in Tractor Land. The long-awaited, much-anticipated, Tractors kids CD is finally available!
This is something I have wanted to do ever since my own kids, Elvis and Angelene, were little 20+ years ago. As a matter of fact, the song I made up and sang to them when they were small is included on the new CD. It’s called “Spin Around When They Dance.” They ran/jumped/danced around the house in a very crazed fashion, acting out the lyrics and screaming until their faces turned red.
Also included are versions of “This Old Man,” “The Wheels On The Bus,” and “Old MacDonald Had A Farm.” Our favorite kids songs with the unmistakable, undeniable, non-duplicatable, quite-remarkable Tractors groove. And you ain’t heard nothin’ like Uncle Steve singin’ “E-I-E-I-O” and makin’ farm-animal noises! This is a limited pre-release version. Santa says this is the best thing since Yo-Yos and Hula Hoops.
Keep your chickens warm,
Uncle Steve & The Tractors
Well, it’s been over a year since last posting some news. Yikes! We’ll try to do better.
So, first things first... The new Tractors record is finally finished. We’re excited. Songwriting, playing, and singing by both Leon Russell and J.J. Cale. Official release will be February/March of 2006, but we may make some pre-release copies available through the website in October. We will let the fan club members know with a special email. If you haven’t joined the fan club, now would be a good time. Also, we are about to make the Tractors Kids Record available on a limited basis.
On a personal note, Charlene and I have moved to the farm where I grew up, by Pawnee, Oklahoma. We love it (though it takes an hour to drive to the studio).