Thursday, November 30, 2006

Buck Yr Yuletide Pride

Guess it's about time to stop futzing around and get to what y'all came here for.

A little Country cheer for the Holidays.

Buck Owens died this year. But don't be sad, ole Buck left behind a big city's worth of classic tunes. Bakersfield may not look a lot like the North Pole, but Owens knows a thing or two about Santa's sinister alter ego.

Charley Pride has just about the most perfect voice in music, a soulful twang to make you dance or break your heart. Known for challenging the perceived racial divide in Country, Pride very quietly established himself as a giant in the industry. He's long been a Mountain favorite. Kiss an angle good morning, indeed.

Get your Yule on.

Buck Owens: Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (mp3)

Charley Pride: Christmas In My Hometown (mp3)

Help Santa out. Shop locally and independently.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Santa Twist


Tom Waits is on the Daily Show in an hour, as I write this.

So, what do you want from me?

Let's see. Blues, Country, Garage, or....Rockabilly!

Don't know if all y'all have checked out the great Buffalo Bop label and it's series of obscure and boppin' collections, but any fan of rockabilly or quality hillstomp Country oughta check 'em out.

One of my favorites, at least for posting purposes today, is Rockabilly Xmas. It's swell stuff, twanged and tweaked, rough and manic like reindeers in heat.

Of particular note is the appearance of Cordell Jackson, the queen of rockabilly guitar.

So whip out your Western shirts and your lariat, and wrassle yerself up some hot slices of Rockabilly Holiday to keep you warm on these approaching wintry, festive nights. A little nog probably wouldn't hurt, either.

There's 27 more classic rockabilly Holiday tunes on Rockabilly Xmas, so ask your local, independent record store if they'll order you up a copy. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poor Mr. Santa

Welcome to Big Rock Candy Mountain's annual holiday blowout. Daily(mostly) posts from now 'til December 25! Rockin' Holiday tunes! Pithy and clever commentary!
Well, maybe not so much on that last item.
I'm trying hard not to repeat any songs from the last two years of this fun experiment, but if the mood strikes me, I might. Sorry.
We'll kick this sucker off with the same gentleman we kicked last year off with, and why the hell not? Different song from last year, though.
Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams is your daddy. And if you don't know it yet, you will shortly. If you love that greasy, old timey Rythm and Blues, then you owe Mr. Williams a thank you card.
Andre's a dirty old man. Proudly so.
Andre Williams cd's and records make great stocking stuffers. Either kind of stocking.
The B-side to this single is absolutely filthy, by the way. So go hunt it down. You deserve it. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hobo Heaven

Happy Tom Waits day! I'm a couple of hours away from headin' out to my local record store to pick up my official copy of Orphans. Waits fans, we're a little special aren't we? I'll have an official review/post about the set later....oh, say, somewhere between Christmas and New Year's, when you just know it's gonna show up in my top ten list of the Mountain's fave albums of the year. How's that for a preview?

And don't forget to mark your calendars for the day after Thanksgiving when we begin our daily (dear god) Holiday posts.

For now, though.

Lecil Travis Martin was a liar, a scam artist, and a media whore. And we love him dearly. Went by the name of Boxcar Willie, and if you paid any attention to the television in the late 70's and 80's youd've seen his commercials sandwiched between Freedom Rock and K-Tel disco compilations. Yep, that's the guy who loved America, trains, and regular folk values. Surely he had a huge serving of apple pie every night, tired from riding the rails all day, singing hobo songs to the weary and disposed travellers of ice boxes and empty coal chutes. Salt of the earth, with a train whistle's yodel.

Or maybe not.

In actuality, Willie was a military man, serving in the Air Force until the 70's, music being a second job, of sorts. Upon retiring from the Force, Willie pressed full-bore into his music career, perfecting his hobo persona for mass consumption. It worked, and Willie became a star. All those TV adverts didn't hurt his career much either, though they exemplified the fake authenticism that earned him much derision amongst the purists, a derision that exists to this day, as you'll note in the rhetoric of CMT's biography of him.

What's problematic about the anti-Boxcar Willie sentiment is that it builds itself on the realness of his persona. True, he was no hobo in his adult life. But he grew up around railroads, and there is some evidence that he was prone, in his youth, to attempts at hopping freight cars. His success at this is negligible, but it certainly points to a love of train and hobo culture that he carried into his future caricature. The fact that most performers adopt some type of persona separate from their real selves is accepted in general, but it seems that we pick and choose who we'll allow this leeway based on a random set of rules that boggle in their application. Really, how much time did Johnny Cash actually spend in jail? And I do not mean to compare Boxcar Willie with Johnny Cash in terms of talent or importance.

Really, Boxcar Willie isn't that important. He set the standard for nothing, unless you count the first Country artist to perfect the art of television hawking in the modern age. 'Course, back in the day big name Country artists hawked products and their own names regularly on radio shows, and barn dance transmissions.

But here's a catch. To many not in the stable of hoity toity music critics and experts, Boxcar Willie represented a return to real Country in the decades of Nashville's demise into overproduced swill and Urban Cowboy excess and blandness. What they heard when they heard Willie sing was the sound of yesterday, a nostalgic twanged twinge in the traditional heart. How genuine it was didn't really matter. It certainly sounded more genuine than, say, Alabama. And who knows how many people who weren't really Country fans took Willie's advice and checked out Hank Williams, or Jimmie Rodgers, or Dave Dudley, or Lefty Frizzell. Boxcar Willie may fail the Greil Marcus test of importance, context, and obscurity masquerading as relevant, but he certainly made a convert of this feller as an impressionable lad listening to WWVA and dreaming of going to Jamboree in the Hills. It was also Boxcar Willie who fell me into love with the train song. To quote Mr. Westerberg out of context, "I'm in love,with that sound."

So. Boxcar Willie isn't important. He's not revolutionary. He's not genuine according according to those who are experts.

But he's one hell of a lot of fun. He's better than you think he is. He's got a Country voice that makes you want to sing along, makes you want to hop the rail. And at the end of the day, after all the term papers and doctoral theses have been written, aren't those the most important things?

Boxcar Willie: Big Freight Train Carry Me Home (mp3)

Boxcar Willie: Hobo Heaven (mp3)

Boxcar Willie: Boxcar Blues (mp3)

Please consider supporting your local, independent retailers this Holiday season.

Thursday, November 16, 2006



We're less than a week away from the release of the Tom Waits box set, Orphans. Now, I'm not saying I've heard it yet, and I'm not saying I haven't, but a little bird has told me that it's pretty damn swell. 'Course lots of the songs have been available in some form or another elsewhere on non-Tom albums (though some of them appear as re-recordings), it's pretty keen to have them all assembled in one fine and dandy package. So empty out your penny jars, head to the bank, sell your blood, trade in those Peter Frampton albums, whatever it takes. Show Tom a little love. 'Cuz Tom loves you.

Speaking of Tom, I gotta believe he's heard himself a little Blind James Campbell at some point.

After years of playing in roadhouses, jukejoints, and, yes, street corners all around his native home of Nashville, with various combos (the Nashville Washboard Band, The Friendly Five), Campbell hit what must have been (early recordings are either sketchy or non-existent, I've never heard any) his creative stride teaming with Beauford Clay, George Bell, Bell Ray and Ralph Robinson (on Tuba!!!!) to form Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.

Recorded by Arhoolie bossman, Chris Strachwitz, over a period of a couple of years in the early 60's, the appropriately titled album Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.

Now, why the hell should you care about some Blues guy among thousands recorded, revived, rediscovered, or what have you, during the heydey of the decade of folk revivals?

I'll tell you.

It's a glorious mess.


Honking, belching tuba, loose-stringed and more loosely tuned fiddles, banjos dueling guitar lines smashed long before The Clash were even born, and the voice of god when he's drunk rambling and veering all over the melody, falling and rising above the wailing din. And I think there's a tub being thumped somewhere along the way. Oh, my, this is good stuff. And chaotic. It's string band music taken to the end of the rainbow, and finding not a crock of gold, but hallelujah, and that's more than good enough. Folk, ragtime, country reels,'s all present and mashed together into a joyous mess of hill-stomp, hill-billy, street corner dance music. The Mountain was created for albums like this.

I actually considered changing the theme song of this here eternally late spot on the world wide internets from, well, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" to "I Am So Blue When It Rains". I dare you not to start dancing 'round your room with the nearest available dust mop or broom when you listen to it.

Blind James Campbell: I Am So Blue When It Rains (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Buffalo Gal (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Sittin' Here Drinkin' (mp3)

Blind James Campbell: Gambling Man (mp3)

The Holiday season is almost upon us, and that means we're coming up on the legendary daily holiday posts from the Mountain (If anyone wants to start a betting pool on how long that lasts, I'll give away a mix cd to the winner). It also means that it's time to spread the seasonal cheer and help keep your local, independent businesses afloat.