Last weekend I took my very first ever trip down to Mississippi, home to two of my old friends in the music business Mr. Tim and Miss Jean Ledford. They run The Ledford House, a beautiful place for touring musicians to stop and play, and rest. They are loved on, supported, fed, accommodated and fixed from road wear.
There are many little nooks and crannies all across America I know about where many genres of music are celebrated from many different communities, and Mr. Tim and his wife Miss Jean are no exception here. To omit them from this equation would be absolutely wrong. Many of these artists need places to play and stay along the road while traveling to other cities to play gigs, or fix mechanical problems, even laundry while on the road.
I have said this many many times over, I NEVER fully grasped how difficult the road life was until I myself began following these people around like clockwork. I have seen firsthand how much of a toll it takes on these folks, both male and female. I have witnessed the pain and hurt they have for missing their babies at home to pursue their chosen craft of music.
Initially I had some trouble finding this one, but with major help from my friend Mr. Tim I found it and got settled into the swing of things. I was not dealing with any internet here, so this one was done with old school pen and paper folks. And you know what…I didn’t mind it one damn bit, I had an amazing time there. I mean, you don’t understand how truly invigorating it was to see some of these men and women again for the first time in years. Literally YEARS.
The Betty Davis Ponderosa was a VERY nice venue, complete with ample parking and a nice stage area, that provided a merchandise area ( that kind of got taken over), ample amounts of porta potties, and their own food vending facility. I’m kind of skipping around here at this juncture, but I did have some pulled pork nachos there, in order to try the food for you. I got a PILE of food for 7 bucks!
The amount of meat I got was unbelievable, the only way to improve on it would’ve been fresh chips. BUT HEY store chips were totally fine here, this food was GREAT, and I highly recommend stopping at Betty Davis for food if you are near Hwy 7. The sauce was perfectly balanced with cheese and other toppings, and for the price it was ample portion to even carry around.
The backstage area was VERY spacious and it gave us all ample room to move about and fraternize while the show was going on, because there was so much catching up to do here. I had so much to notice and absorb. So much to learn from people like Mr. Jeff Hopson and our friend Mr. Billy Don Burns, who is a walking storybook. He is a walking, talking history page of Country Music greatness that I cannot see often enough. Some of them like Mr. Dallas Moore I get the pleasure to see more often, but some of them like the second man here Mr. Rowdy Johnson I haven’t been around for many many years.
Mr. Todd Perkins is a singer and picker that started out the show today,whom I remembered from a benefit show many moons ago. He played in his set a great cover of the 1987 song ‘Rose In Paradise” written by Mr. Jim Mcbride and made popular by Mr. Waylon Jennings. He did a pretty good job of singing cover songs, but I was here to hear original music, and when he did play one written by his friend it was indeed enjoyable.
You know my research of Country Music is indeed extensive in many ways, and I LOVED two distinct eras. One was the Outlaw era and the other was the pop country side of that time period, the Nashville Sound. BOTH had top notch producers working in their own rights to contribute for dominance of the national market. Mr. Todd played the 1979 song “Outlaw Women” from the album Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound, produced by the great Mr. Jimmy Bowen.
One of my older songwriting friends named Mr. Steve Young whom influenced Mr. Shooter Jennings on a major scale and he was playing the Wanted Saloon the night that Mr. Steve Young died. He wrote the next song “Lonesome Onry And Mean” which Mr. Todd played which was an album title from 1973, and was Waylon’s third album that established him as an Outlaw. See, Good Hearted Woman and Ladies Love Outlaws were the turn around albums direction wise for Waylon.
“Whiskey On Ice, Women On Fire” was his next song from the 1982 High Notes album. That was written by my buddy Mr. Bobby Keel and Mr. Tony Stampley and he did a pretty good job playing it for us tonight. His next song was a great selection from the new Steel Woods album called Old News, and the song was called “The Rock That Says My Name”. That is a killer song about a keeper of a graveyard and his story.
The Rowdy Johnson Band hails from the West Coast, and I haven’t had the opportunity to cover him for many years now. Back when we had the Wayne Mills Weekend, I went down to see him play at the Wanted Saloon. This time around it was just him as a sole act, without his band. But despite his band not being there, his act was still pretty solid and his new songs were quite well crafted in his own right.
His first two songs were basically his signature Outlaw type structured songs, which are fine but they don’t speak to me as a fan the way some of his more crafty ones do like the song “Never Met A Beer”. Now me personally I have met a few beers I didn’t like, but this song from his 2013 album America’s Best was one of my favorites.
He has an album from 2015 called Hillbilly Rock Star, which contained a song called “Gray Beards” that was quite possibly his finest song to date. It touched on the fact that Nashville has forgotten about the older Legends of our beloved genre, even though here lately I kind of digress if you follow what producer Mr. Dave Cobb is doing with folks like Mr. John Anderson.
Speaking of Mr. John Anderson, I spoke with Mr. Rowdy during the show and he told me the story of his mother whom the song “Swinging” was written about. It was released on his album called Wild And Blue in 1983, also was written by Mr. Lionel Delmore who wrote a long list of hits with Mr. John and was instrumental in his rise to fame.
“America’s Best” was next from his album of the same name, and as he came to a close he played a few I remembered and loved years ago. One of them was the great “Elly May’s Biscuits” and the other one was called ” Church Of Hank Williams”. Also during our conversation we had, he informed me that he will be recording an acoustic album very soon. Any further details I receive or learn will be posted on here further.
He brought his wife up on stage this time to sing with him on a lovely duet called “I’ll Go First”, which was a story of young love. It truly was a pure and innocent type of love that was being referred to, budding and youthful it painted a vivid picture in the listener’s mind.
Mr. Jeff Hopson is a Texas local music hero that many people hold in high regard for his knowledge and love for Country Music history. I got to talk with him for several brief occasions, and it was amazing. We talked about George Morgan and Shot Jackson, I could have sat there all day with him.
Another amusing thing I learned about him was we are both left handed guitarists, and I wanted to talk guitars with him but I was so busy absorbing all of the other music here. We picked such a beautiful day to do this festival, and we’re blessed with good food, and sunshine all day. The first song that Mr. Jeff played was called “So Far So Good” and he followed that up with the song I have been wanting to hear called “If Jesus Was A Texan”.
That is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word, from the visual pictures it generates to the lyrical craftsmanship and structure. Mr. Jeff Hopson truly is a well tuned Titan of his craft, and in songs like If Jesus Was A Texan, that statement is evident in the first few lines. It grabs you by the heart and holds it in his hands, and amuses your imagination.
“Make The Words Rhyme” was another good song that required attention to him. His songs are ones that you cannot talk to people and listen to second hand…no…you must LISTEN and dwell upon what he is singing because there are messages within the lines of the songs themselves. He treats his songs like they are his children, and you can easily tell he created each one with special care.
“Little Bit Right” was a great argument song regarding marriage and many things in between in life. Much like the man that followed him Mr. Billy Don Burns you can tell Mr. Jeff has been through some amusing life occurnaces through the content of his songs. “Bein Billy The Kid” was amazing in itself because Fort Sumner and William Bonney has always infatuated my mind. It didn’t contain any history I didn’t already know, however it was an enjoyable song.
He closed his set with a song called “Walk-in Talkin Highway Stalkin Blues” and another called “Escalator”. He sings inventive lines like her and that little bitty dog have left new scars, and they’re the last two bitches that are ever gonna piss on me. Trust me you will enjoy his show so very much and thank me for it.
Mr.Billy Don Burns mesmerized us last weekend with an eccentric charm only he possesses, and an infallible demeanor. As he began with songs from his Nights When I’m Sober album called “That’s Alright” and “Stranger” , he wove a web of stories upon us from years of living hard and playing clubs long forgotten deep within the annals of time.
He played the song from the album he produced for Johnny Paycheck Outlaw At The Cross, although this song wasn’t on the album it stemmed from that 1988 album he made possible. One of my favorite songs he plays was called “Lonesome 77203”, however the next song was “Graveyard In Montgomery” which was the title song from his latest album on Rusty Knuckles, that drew much attention from many music websites.
“I Was Playing Hank” was a true story about how he was playing Hank Williams at Opryland back in 1973 when in September the great Gram Parsons died in a hotel in California. Much like Mr. Jeff, Ol Mr. Billy has a Billy The Kid song too called “Dead Or Alive” he also had on his A Night In Room 8 album that Mr. Shooter recorded. He played his new song he just wrote called “I Like Trains”, and the last two I remembered were “Desperate Men” and the song that opened his Night In Room 8 album “Outskirts Of Desperate”.
The Wilson Brothers continued to display spot on harmonies tonight, and impeccable timing on their swapping of lead vocal duties. It always seems one brother knows exactly where the other brother is on the song, and when to add input. I covered their set at the Nashville Palace some time ago and you read that HERE.
They played “The Coast Is Clear” and another called “Permission To Believe” before they played a really good song called “It All Looks Good From Here”. This is one of those songs that have the good harmonies and even has a little commercial appeal while maintaining a traditional format to it.
“Everybody Knows My Name” is a song about small town life, and how things change. Everybody knowing each other and how one remains to carry a reputation even with leaving. Their song called “Honky Tonk Song” was next that contains some soulful references as to how their influences live within the old Country songs. The line Her Memory Is Like The Smoke From A Spent Cigarette is an awesome visual to me. It lingers and lingers all night long, living a Honky tonk song.
“Firewater” was next follwed by “Brand New Goodbye Song” which was on the 1977 album Ol Waylon. Their next song “Place In Alabama” was another one of their more commercial songs that remained flavored with traditional flavor, and can still entice a more finicky crowd. They way it is presented and played makes it a little different than normal mainstream music. They closed their set with the song “Love You Loving On Me”, which once again has their wonderful lead vocal trades and once again moved me to enjoy their music even more.
Mr. Casper McWade And The Honky Tonk Rebels…..WOW…What can I say about these five folks? I mean Mr. David Short on fiddle, and a TON of other instruments. This man just blows your face off, while wailing out the words to Mr Billy Joe Shavers “Georgia On A Fast Train”. Every member of this band gets a chance to bring forth energy to this already rambunctious ambiance that Mr.Casper has on stage, and he frequently mentions and showcases each of them.
The rest of the band is Mr. Grant McCray on drums, Mr. Aaron Failes on lead guitars, and Miss Kat Irons on the bass guitar. They played a song called “Long Way From Home” from his album called Didn’t Used To Be This Way, which contains some really good songs on it. He played a Defeater song called “I Don’t Mind” from the Empty Days And Sleepless Nights album, and one called “That’s Alright”.
He has a new album out now called Hello Lonesome, and he played some off of that album as well, and off his album called Honky Tonks And broken Hearts he played one called “I’ll Try”. They played one hell of a wicked set here tonight, and in my opinion it was one of the best of the evening, choked full of guitar fury and various instrumentals. Their cover of the 1985 Mel McDaniel classic song “Stand Up”, was equally amazing and threw me for a loop because I don’t believe I have ever heard a band cover that song.
Of the many bands I met at Altamont in 2013 that was there last weekend, Mr.Dallas Moore was one of them. I knew about his music before I came, but never got to witness his insane stage madness or lengthy instrumentals like “This Old Cowboy”. Mr. Dallas is one of those I have gotten the chance to see in twelve states perform his Outlaw Country Music. From the recent Mr. Honky Tonk album they played “Shoot Out The Lights”, and that album ranked high on my TOP 50 OF 2018.
Included in his set was the 1973 Mr. Tony Rice original “Freeborn Man” followed by one off the Blessed Be The Bad Ones album called “Texas Tornado”, which is pretty much what this band does. Mr. Dallas and his four compadres play 327 days a year, and release every album independently. Folks, this ain’t no big corporate bullshit here, you buy his album from a cardboard box in a tour van. This man drives 36 hours from California to Ohio and then takes his little girl to her dance lessons, HE IS THE AMERICAN DREAM.
“Bottle And A Bible” and the rowdy assed song called “Raising Hell And Slinging Gravel” were next from the Dark Horse Rider album. I spoke with him later on that night, and he told me all about his new album that will soon be available for pre order on SOL RECORDS. It will be called Tryin To Be A Blessing and will have three of the songs he played tonight on it. He will be covering the Hoyt Axton classic song “Della And The Dealer” ( AKA Cat Named Kalamazoo) along with one called “Momma Was A God Fearing Woman”.
He played quite a few from the Mr. Honky Tonk album like “Home Is Where The Highway Is”, which talks about his eternal life on the road. As I previously stated he pretty much stays on the road, along with his band. I don’t see exactly how they roll that hard. Along with the title track to the album, they also played “Somewhere Between Bridges”.
After playing “Up On That Mountain” he covered many classic Country songs like Merle Haggards hit “Mama Tried”, as well as the 1966 hit “Lodi” which was written by John Fogerty and performed by CCR in their prime. He played the 1980 Curly Putman hit called “He Stopped Loving Her Today” , made popular by George Jones.
I would like to acknowledge the sound and stage engineer tonight, Mr. Matt Uecker from Denver Colorado. He represents a company called MDU Productions with Mr. Matt Uecker, whom I thought did a TRULY wonderful job running the sound and the lights for us tonight. Much too often I see the stage hands go HOURS without eating or using the bathroom. I would also like to thank and give recognition to my old friend Mr. Mudbone, whom did all of the emcee duties for us last weekend. everyone did such a wonderful job taking care of the patrons, Miss Angie Erwin from Lone Star Music Promotions and the Diamondbacks MC who helped do all kinds of things.