Kenny Hall & the Sweets Mill Band
from Off the Wall Other
1 Page 2
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.
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
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
Comments, questions or
suggestions via Email are
Estel, February 2014
|Songs from Off the Wall
Rickett: Heaven on Earth
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.
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.
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.
Starr: Count on Me
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
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.
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
Townes Van Zandt:
Snowin' on Raton
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.
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
left behind a large legacy of recordings. His website
has lots of information, photos and videos, and you can buy CDs at Amazon.
Regimental Band of the Black Watch: Scotland the
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."
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.
Wearing of the Green
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
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
Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood
Players: She Only Loves Me
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
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
out their web page and
buy both 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."
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
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)
this 12-inch EP new and still enjoy it, and you can buy one at Discogs.
Ullman: Bobby's Girl
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
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
Woolley & the Camera Club:
Killed the Radio Star
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.
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.
can buy the vinyl album here,
and an import CD is available in limited quantities on
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.
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.
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
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
A memorial and parade was held in his honor in Fairfax on March 22, 2008.
copy of this record for sale on Discogs
for $65. Now I'm REALLY unhappy I sold mine.
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.
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
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
A CD reissue of their first album, with additional tracks, is listed
for sale on Amazon,
Hawkins: Strange Conversation
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.
first heard samples of this CD at a Tower Records "listening
station," and bought it immediately. It and other CDs are
available from Amazon.
Ringer: Good to Get Home
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.
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.
of JIm's CDs
are available on Amazon, including one with his sometime
singing (and later romantic) partner, Mary McCaslin.
& Linda Williams: Liza
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.
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
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.
good selection of their work is available on Amazon.
Russell: The Sky Above
of the San Joaquin
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.
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.
selections here barely scratch the surface of the incredible body of
work this artist has given us.
a print magazine is gone, but it lives on in an on-line
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:
--DE December 2014
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:
of Lost Jimmy Whelen
Mountain Deer Chase
--DE February 2015
the Wall Page 1
Off the Wall Page 2
the Wall Page 3
Townes Van Zandt
Robin & Linda Williams