Saturday, September 21, 2019

Oklahoma Mama: Interview with Wanda Jackson

Viewers of the Ken Burns "Country" documentary were no doubt startled by the incredible footage of a young Wanda Jackson tearing up the stage in a rare clip.

While there were a few standout female rockers in the 1950s (most notably Virginia's own packet of dynamite, Janis Martin) Jackson took the rockabilly music pioneered by one of her boyfriends, Elvis Presley, to a whole new level.

Jackson's work for Capitol Records and with producer Ken Nelson spawned numerous classics -- stomping anthems like “Let's Have a Party” and “Fujiyama Mama,” fueled by Jackson's untamed growl and kittenish persona (not to mention top notch guitarists such as Grady Martin and the young Roy Clark).

I'm pleased to see that my 2010 interview with the petite Oklahoma powerhouse is still online -- although wonkily formatted -- at the Style Weekly website. Read my in-depth talk with the legend by having a party right here.

And for more on the great Wanda Jackson, go here. 

A New Song: Interview with Jesse McReynolds

A few years ago, I had the honor of spending the afternoon with the legendary Jesse McReynolds for a cover feature in Virginia Living Magazine.

In a wide-ranging interview, conducted at his event space, the Pick Inn, outside of Nashville, the matchless mandolin virtuoso talked with me about how he and his brother Jim McReynolds formed Jim and Jesse, one of the greatest bluegrass acts in history, and how he became the longest-running regular on the Grand Ole Opry, among many other topics (including his relationships with the likes of Bill Monroe and the Louvin Brothers, and his work with -- yes -- The Doors).

Jesse is still going strong, performing on the Opry (at age 90), and remains one of the nicest guys in the music business. Thanks Jesse.

Read "A New Song" by going right here.

And for more on Jesse McReynolds and Jim and Jesse, get to steppin' here.


Old-Time Man: Interview with Ralph Stanley

Thanks to Ken Burns, I can shamelessly plug some of my previously-published features on the history of country and bluegrass music -- like my Virginia Living Magazine cover feature on the legendary Ralph Stanley, who passed away in 2016.

Eight years earlier, I got to spend the day with Dr. Ralph at his Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood and talk with him at length about his incredible career, including his relationship with brother Carter, his discovery of Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley, the career resurgence that followed his work in "O Brother, Where Art Thou," and his unlikely one-off collaboration with the great James Brown.

Read "Old-Time Man" by going right here.

And remember: You CAN get tired of chocolate pie!

(Photo by the mighty Robb Scharetg)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Interview with Damien Jurado

Indie folk artist Damien Jurado has released some of the finest music of his 23-year-career of late, traversing the worlds of folk, easy listening and found-sound pop.

Last year's "The Horizon Just Laughed" cast his melancholic melodies amid glorious choirs, strings and horns, resulting in memorable neo-psychedelic creations such as "Percy Faith" and "Allocate." By contrast, his new album, "In the Shape of a Storm," is stripped down and closer in tone to Jurado's intimate solo performances.

Read my Richmond Magazine interview with this unique talent by going here.

And for more on Damien Jurado and his music, click this place.

(Photo by the mighty Vikesh Kapoor)

Raw Enough: The Candy Snatchers Return

Formed in 1992, the Virginia Beach-based Candy Snatchers made quite a first impression—their unpredictable, often unhinged, stage performances frequently included pyrotechnics and blood-letting—when they played legendary Virginia clubs such as Norfolk’s Kings Head Inn and Richmond’s Twisters, and later toured the U.S. and Canada.

After 16 years, three albums, and more than a dozen singles, the Snatchers dissolved following the 2008 death of guitarist Matthew Odietus.

But a decade after disbanding,  the Snatchers have never been hotter. "Moronic Pleasures," a new release on Berlin, Germany’s Hound Gawd label featuring lost sessions from 1997, is earning raves and garnering new fans. The current interest has spurred the gang to start it all up again.

Read "Raw Enough," my Virginia Living Magazine piece on the Candy Snatchers and their unlikely resurrection, by going here.

And for more on the Candy Snatchers, go here.

(Photo by the mighty Lori Golding)

A Talk With Lydia Night of The Regrettes

When The Regrettes burst onto the scene two years ago with their debut album, "Feel Your Feelings Fool!," the high school-aged California band seemed like a breath of fresh, loud air, and not just because of its members' relative youth and fetching visual style.

Here was an enthusiastic modern rock outfit keen on incorporating, and often subverting, retro song forms — such as rockabilly ("Hey Now") and girl-group pop ("A Living Human Girl") — and recasting them with biting, socially conscious snark for a new generation.

My Richmond Magazine Q&A with Regrettes leader Lydia Night, recently hailed as "the new face of feminist punk, is now online.

Read the interview by going here. 

For more on The Regrettes, take yourself to this place.

(Photo by the mighty Claire Marie Vogel)

Frank Guida and "High School U.S.A."

Frank Guida liked to think big.

The Virginia music producer, who scored national hits with Gary “U.S. Bonds” and Jimmy Soul in the early 1960s, is known as the spark plug behind the Norfolk Sound—the rambunctious party music that influenced generations of rockers.

Old Dominion University’s Perry Library recently unveiled its new Frank and Carmela Guida Collection of rare papers, recordings, and personal items from the producer’s archives. Donated by Guida’s family, the collection includes handwritten lyrics, contracts, correspondence, photos, tapes, and original recording equipment.

Even with legal papers embargoed until 2029, the collection is filled with historical insight into the recording industry and the Norfolk music scene. One box in particular reveals behind-the-scenes details of the producer’s most audacious recording—a song, or songs, waxed 60 years ago, called “High School U.S.A.”

My look back at this unusual record -- and all of its many regional variations -- is now online at the Virginia Living Magazine website.

You can read "School is In" by going right here.

For more on the archive, read my recent Coastal Virginia Magazine article right here. 

And for more on ODU's Special Collections, click this spot.