Kenny Hall & the Sweets Mill Band

 

Rockats

 

Roman Holiday

 

Tom Russell

 

Tarriers

 

Regimental Band of the Black Watch

 

Ted Hawkins

 

Bruce Woolley


Page 4

  

Artist Index     Songs from Off the Wall     Other Music Links     Page 1     Page 2     Page 3

  

Some people, mainly me, thought  I was never going to finish this page, since I last worked on it in February, 2011. Life intervened, but here I am now, three years later, with a long list of "off the wall" possibilities ready to go.

The purpose of this site is to share some musical oddities and rarities, records that I've acquired over the past half century and more. There were so many songs, I needed several pages, so click on Page 1, Page 2, and Page 3 to make sure you access the entire Off the Wall collection.

Click on the artist name below the pictures in the left and right frames to go that artist's section on this page. The artist name and song title are at the top of each section. There are additional links to other information about the artist in some sections.

Clicking on the artist name and song title opens a new window. Click on the play button to hear the song; near the top there's an option to download it.

Click on any picture for a larger image. Pictures open in a new window. To view photo in Full Screen mode, press F11 to enter and exit Full Screen mode.

Since I am getting old and lazy, it seems likely that this will be the last page in this series, though I may add a few more items here. Certainly I have not run out of eligible songs and artists, but doing it right is very time consuming, and there are plenty of other resources for terrific stuff that you might have missed, not the least of which is You Tube. For roots music, there's No Depression; Vinyl Beat has prices, photos of album covers, and tons of other information, including music samples. The International Bluegrass Music Association site is a good jumping off point for all things bluegrass, while the National Traditional Country Music Association site helps keep the good old stuff alive. It goes without saying that any genre you can think of is represented somewhere.

Oodles of Internet radio stations, as well as multi-station services like Pandora, offer other paths to discovery. And of course, my other music pages are legendary, especially in the room where I'm now sitting, and are linked below.

Comments, questions or suggestions via Email are welcome.

--Dick Estel, February 2014

 

Artists

Bing Day

Kenny Hall

Ted Hawkins

Snap Jackson

Regimental Band of the Black Watch

Nooney Rickett

Jim Ringer

Rockats

Randy Starr

Roman Holiday

Tom Russell

Tarriers

Townes Van Zandt

Tracey Ullman

Robin & Linda Williams

Bruce Woolley

The Last Word

 
Songs from Off the Wall  

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Nooney Rickett: Heaven on Earth

Although there were songs released by the artist with his group the Nooney Ricket 4 (sometimes IV), none have the power and drama of this recording, which sort of defies categorization.

There is limited information available on Rickett, but two sources say he was born in 1941 in Kentucky as Everett Rickett. He appeared as an actor in at least two movies Pajama Party (1964) and Winter a-Go-Go (1965). His group was included in the latter, and maybe in the other one too.

I had the record for quite a while, and eventually sold it to his niece, who recalled via Email that Nooney would sing lullabies to her when she was a little girl.

You can see the group's appearance on Shindig on You Tube, and there are some items available from Amazon.

 

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Randy Starr: Count on Me

Although I knew nothing about this artist during most of the years I owned this record, a few years ago I was lucky enough to receive an Email from  him, hoping I had a record by his well-known group, the Islanders, who had a hit with "The Enchanted Sea," the 15th most popular hit of 1959.

He was born Warren Nadel in New York 1930, and received a dental degree from Columbia College of Dental Medicine in 1954.

He wrote the music and lyrics, along with Dick Wolf, and performed the 1957 hit song "After School," which you can listen to here on You Tube.

The tiny, obscure Dale Records existed from 1957 to 1959 and produced just 17 singles before folding. "After School" made it to number 32 on the Billboard Pop Top 100 in 1957. In 1959 Randy and accordionist Frank Metis formed the Islanders, recording for another small operation, Mayflower 16.

Starr/Nadel is also  noted for the music and lyrics he wrote for Elvis Presley, including the title song for the film Kissin' Cousins, written with Fred Wise. His compositions were also recorded by such artists as Teresa Brewer, Connie Francis, Kay Starr, Jackie Wilson, and The Kingston Trio

You can buy one of his records here.

     

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Townes Van Zandt: Snowin' on Raton
Tecumseh Valley

A lot of people would not consider Townes "off the wall," but there are also surely a lot of people like me who had heard of him for a long time before checking out his music.

As it turned out, I WAS familiar with some of his songs, I just didn't know they were his - the most notable one being "Pancho and Lefty," which was made familiar by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

One listen to a CD by Van Zandt made me a life-long long fan, and I did get to see him live on TV. Born in Texas in 1944, the bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins, and on friends' couches, and he never found commercial success. His itinerant lifestyle and substance abuse contributed to an early death on New Year's Day 1997.

However, he left behind a large legacy of recordings. His website has lots of information, photos and videos, and you can buy CDs at Amazon.

 

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Regimental Band of the Black Watch: Scotland the Brave

Bagpipe music is an acquired taste, one that many people seem never to acquire. To me the sound of the pipes harks back to our wild ancestors who ruled Europe in the earliest days of civilization. In fact, the album's liner notes warn, "This album is not recommended for soothing the savage beast."

The Black Watch was organized in Scotland in the early 18th century and fought in Britain's wars through the next three centuries. Some may recognize the melody of "Scotland the Brave" as having been adapted for the Ames Brothers hit, "My Bonnie Lassie." It's considerably more stirring in this version.

 

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Kenny Hall: Wearing of the Green

Kenny Hall, who lived much of his life in Fresno CA and died in 2013, was called "the most famous unknown old-time musician in America." Said to know well over a thousand songs, Kenny overcame blindness to perform for decades, accompanying himself on banjo, mandolin and fiddle. He attracted other musicians like a magnet, and his Wednesday night jams at a local Basque restaurant were legendary, and notable for the fact that you could hardly see Kenny, surrounded as he was by admirers who enjoyed learning from the master.

The song and album featured here are from 1972, and feature another "off the wall" musician, Jim Ringer, when both were part of the Sweets Mill String Band. The CD version is available on Amazon.

 

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Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players: She Only Loves Me
Knock on Wood

I first saw this group live at a small bluegrass festival in San Martin, CA, and was immediately hooked. They have a unique approach, with some songs that sound like they came from the 1920s, and others that go a step or two beyond modern bluegrass. Leader Snap Jackson told of hanging out as a teenager with a friend whose grandmother was from the southeast, which explains "how a Mexican kid from Stockton became a bluegrass musician."

He earned the nickname in his days as a freelance photographer, and spices things up with a ukulele, as well as clawhammer and three-finger banjo styles. The rest of the band is outstanding, but bassist Brian Clark gets a special shout-out for playing that sounds more like jazz. I told him that with his 5-string bass, he works 25% harder than any other bass player.

Check out their web page and buy all their CDs...you don't have to be a bluegrass fan to enjoy this group. If you want to sample just a single MP3, my favorite is "A Thousand Words."

 

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Rockats: Make That Move

The Rockats were a British rockabilly revival band, and are recognized as one of the pioneering neo-rockabilly groups of the 1980s. They were founded by Levi Dexter, a Teddy Boy whose main influences included Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley, musicians popular among the 1960s British rocker subculture.

This band is notable as one of the first rockabilly groups to incorporate punk rock and New Wave influences to appeal to both punks and Teds, influencing later groups like Brian Setzer's Stray Cats and Dave Alvin's Blasters, while retaining the raw authenticity of pre-British invasion rock & roll. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

I bought this 12-inch EP new and still enjoy it, and you can buy one at Discogs.

 

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Tracey Ullman: Bobby's Girl

Tracey Ullman was a fairly well known British performer whose multiple talents included comedy,  music and dancing. The Tracey Ullman Show, which aired from 1987 to 1990, is famous for a series of short cartoons which introduced The Simpsons to the world. One of the regular performers on the show was Julie Kavner, who portrayed Rhoda's sister on Valerie Harper's spinoff sitcom, and who landed what seems to be a lifetime gig as the voice of Marge Simpson.

"You Broke My Heart in 17 Places," the title song from the album shown, hit number 34 on the US pop charts in 1983, and everything on the album is equally good. The album is for sale on my web site, and there are a number of items available on Amazon.

 

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Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club: Clean, Clean
Video Killed the Radio Star

If someone asks what The Buggles and Bruce Woolley have in common, the answer is that both recorded "Video Killed the Radio Star." Of course, it was the Buggles' version that is famous for being the first video played on MTV, but Bruce does a good job with the song, and the rest of this album has some nice cuts.

The English-born singer worked as a song writer for ten years before enjoying his first big success, "Dancing With Dr. Bop," a number one hit for the Australian group The Studs. He and the two members of the Buggles co-wrote their shared hit.

You can buy the vinyl album here, and an import CD is available in limited quantities on Amazon.

 

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Roman Holiday: Motor Mania

I don't remember where, when or why I acquired this album, but most likely I read about it in a music magazine and was intrigued. Roman Holiday is pretty obscure today, but there is one CD available on Amazon, new or used, and I have the vinyl album for sale on my Vinyl Yard Sale web page.

Their music has been described as a mixture of swing and pop, and the best song on this album swings pretty hard. The group is no more, and its members have gone on to other things - one of them is a history professor, who nonetheless has a website referencing his brief moment of musical glory.

 

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Bing Day: Mama's Place

This is a truly "off the wall" record, and in retrospect, I'm kind of sorry I sold my copy. But I'm charging through my 70s, and can't keep everything. Of course, I have it on my iPod and can listen to it any time by clicking on the link above.

Charles Wayne "Chuck" Day was born in 1942 and developed his talents as a guitarist and bluesman on  Chicago's south side. He recorded his first single at age 15 under the name Bing Day. Moving to Los Angeles in 1965, he began "a career as one of the most listened to 'unknown' artists in rock & roll." He was the bassist with Johnny Rivers' Band and originated the riff in "Secret Agent Man."

He also worked with The Mamas & the Papas playing on their hits "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'."

He fell ill in January 2007, and was hospitalized until his death 15 months later. A memorial and parade was held in his honor in Fairfax on March 22, 2008.

There's a copy of this record for sale on Discogs for $65. Now I'm REALLY unhappy I sold mine.

 

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The Tarriers: Banana Boat Song

The Tarriers version of the "Banana Boat Song" came out before Harry Belafonte's bigger hit version (titled "Day-O"), and reached the top ten.

The group consisted of Erik Darling, Alan Arkin, and Bob Carey, who also had a hit with "Cindy, Oh Cindy" during 1956-57.

Arkin left the group to pursue acting, where he had significant success, and Darling departed to join The Weavers. Other members came and went, but further hits proved elusive, and The Tarriers disbanded in 1965. Darling went on to found the Rooftop Singers, who scored a hit with "Walk Right In."

I've had the 45 of Banana Boat Songs since the 1950s, and it's in my box of "keepers," both as a rarity and as a great song from the folk era.

A CD reissue of their first album, with additional tracks, is listed for sale on Amazon,

 

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Ted Hawkins: Strange Conversation

Ted Hawkins' story is one of those happy/sad sagas. Born into a poor family in Mississippi, he spent much of his life as an anonymous street performer in Venice Beach, CA, although he had some success as a live performer in Europe.

A series of record producers and promoters would "discover" Hawkins over the years, only to be thwarted by periods of drug use and prison terms.

In the 1990s he agreed to record a full album for Geffen Records. For this first major-label release, titled The Next Hundred Years, the producer added session musicians to Hawkins' typical solo guitar-and-vocal arrangements, and brought national attention and respectable sales to Hawkins for the first time. He began to tour on the basis of this success, commenting that he had finally reached an age where he was glad to be able to sing indoors, out of the weather, and for an appreciative crowd. However, he died of a stroke at the age of 58, just a few months after the release of his breakthrough recording.

I first heard samples of this CD at a Tower Records "listening station," and bought it immediately. It and other CDs are available from Amazon.

 

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Jim Ringer: Good to Get Home
Tramps and Hawkers

I curse the fact that I was unaware of this artist until long after his untimely death. He lived and performed in the town where I live, and appeared at the nearby Sweets Mill Folk Festivals, which I never attended.

I read about his compilation reissue CD in No Depression magazine; it sounded good, I ordered it, and loved every note. A number of years later I was lucky enough to find an LP in a local antique shop featuring him as a backing singer/musician with the legendary Kenny Hall, who is also saluted on this page.

Several of JIm's CDs are available on Amazon, including one with his sometime singing (and later romantic) partner, Mary McCaslin.

 

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Robin & Linda Williams: Liza
Famous in Missouri

Fans of Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion will not think of Robin and Linda Williams as obscure, but they are probably not known to as wide an audience as many performers of lesser ability. I became aware of them while listing to PHC decades ago, bought a couple of vinyl LPs, and followed up with a bunch of CDs.

Their music would probably be described as "Americana," with elements of folk, country and bluegrass, but the best way to describe it is "simply fabulous." I've had the privilege of seeing them live a couple of times, and look forward to the next opportunity.

Based in Virginia, they began their musical partnership a short time before becoming husband and wife, and they've been delighting audiences for close to 40 years.

A good selection of their work is available on Amazon.

 

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Tom Russell: The Sky Above
Rose of the San Joaquin

After reading a write-up in Tower Records' Pulse magazine, I subscribed to No Depression, "the journal of Alt Country (whatever that is"). I could do a whole OTW page just with artists that came to my attention through ND, and Tom Russell is one of the best.

When I listened to my first Tom Russell CD, I thought every cut was a jewel, and I've added another half dozen of his albums to my collection. Do yourself a favor and check him out - there's a good selection of his music available on Amazon

The two selections here barely scratch the surface of the incredible body of work this artist has given us.

(ND as a print magazine is gone, but it lives on in an on-line version.)

    

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The Last Word

This will be the final page in this project, but there are plenty more "off the wall" songs waiting to be discovered. I recently listened on You Tube to several dozen rockabilly, honky tonk and doo wop songs I'd never heard of. Spend an hour browsing - you're sure to find something  you like. Here are a few starting points:

Wash Machine Boogie

Texas Dancehall Girl

My Jelly Bean

--DE December 2014

Also, when I run across deserving songs in my collection, I'll add links here with no biographical or other data.

You Tube is nearly bereft of the little-known artist Walter Forbes, so I made two songs from a 45 rpm record available:  

Ballad of Lost Jimmy Whelen

Cumberland Mountain Deer Chase

--DE February 2015

Off the Wall Page 1          Off the Wall Page 2          Off the Wall Page 3

Nooney Rickett

 

Randy Starr

 

Snap Jackson

 

Tracey Ullman

 

Townes Van Zandt

 

Jim Ringer

 

Robin & Linda Williams

 

Bing Day

 

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Updated July 15, 2017