News From The Woods - November, 1990


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published November, 1990

"Studio Session Notes"

Talk about your deadline! It's 11:00 on Monday night, Nightflying goes to press on Friday, and I was just reminded that I haven't written anything. I shouldn't be surprised as that's the way life has been lately. As for missing deadlines THAT's why my comments about the upcoming WHIPLASH GUMBO gig in Fayetteville on August 23 was about a month late in print. Because BOB missed the deadline! The gig, by the way, went well. So well in fact, that Randy set up two more performances of GUMBO. We played at Winfest, September 9, and again at George's on September 20. Susan and I had a blast all three times and would do it again with those guys at the drop of a beat. We don't get to do that much live playing of late. I feel like I'm complaining because business is so good.

We HAVE been very busy here at Cedar Crest this past summer. We went to Little Rock to visit Steve and Bonnie Turner and do some jamming and recording with some new friends. That's one of the great things about music. It's another language to communicate with. And you get to meet new friends along the way just by jamming with them. It could be dulcimers or drums, flutes or fiddles, John Prine, John Lee Hooker, or Johnny B. Goode. We all had a laugh or two and exchanged some musical ideas. Music always makes me feel good. I can't imagine what life would be like without it.

We ran into Jimmie Vaughan at the Hanging Dice Nationals Classic Car Show in Fort Smith August 18. We were shooting footage to use in a commercial. Jimmie had driven his '52 Chevy Fleetline to the show from Texas. There were some really nice cars there and it brought back fond memories of a few of my old cars. I didn't see my red 1964 Barracuda (273 V8/four-barrel Holley/Hurst four-speed mystery shifter/etc.). WAIT! BOB!! This is a music column! (Whew! Sorry I always do that when I start talking classic cars.)

Other sessions during August included HAMILTON/LAMBERT and SHYNI. With "Ham 'n' Lamb" we recorded the last two tracks to complete Letters From The Earth, which is due to be released on CD and cassette before Christmas. More later on Jai & Joe (aka Ham 'n' Lamb). Jamie Holt brought his group "SHYNI" over from Harrison to do some original material. We also slated several industrial video projects during August and September.

The EUREKA STREET BUSKERS visited September 12 with a special appearance by Washboard Leo. The Buskers' session went very well and plan to release a tape as you read this column. While here at the studio, Leo gave me a copy of his new tape and I would recommend it to anyone. It's recorded well, played well, and the songs are a lot of fun.

On September 18, we had a marathon 15-hour session with the CATE BROTHERS. I must say, it was one of those charmed sessions where we all lost track of time. We never left the studio. I think somebody ordered out for pizza to be delivered, but I don't remember eating any. We did two songs from scratch in 15 hours from the drum track up. The first tune, "Can't Keep Up With You", was a funky thang where Porky Hill and John Davies got to thump and slap. Ernie whipped out his six-shot clavinet and Earl's guitar just wailed on top of David Renko's sax. The latest lineup of the Cates is COOKIN' folks! The second song, "Hurry Sundown", is a beautiful R&B ballad with a lot of space to it. It has kind of a Hornsby-like feel to it and really showcases Ernie's seasoned voice. It sure feels good to be a part of a session like that. The Cates will return to the studio before the next issue of Nightflying, so there will be more to report on this great Arkansas band.

Local songwriter Jeb Edwards was in the studio last month, cutting four original songs with intentions of shopping them to artists and publishers. Jeb's writing style is somewhere to the left of country and right of Creedence. And speaking of almost country, the JESS McENTIRE sessions are now complete and mixing will begin soon, bringing yet another four-year production project to a close. Jess is one of the best songwriters (and singers) I know and, if he isn't "discovered" soon, it will be country music's loss. I watched the CMA awards and I don't hesitate to say that Jess and his music stand right up there with those winners!! Sorry, Jessie I had to brag on you a little.

And the last but certainly not least event in our lives was our visit to Branson, Missouri ("Nashville West"). The occasion was an invitation by JIM STAFFORD to see his new show. I met Jim while judging a True Value Talent Contest in Harrison. Jim is the official host of the national finals. He certainly is a hard-working professional on stage - but he makes it look SO easy. I remember him on a Smothers Brothers Thanksgiving Special, dressed in a turkey suit and playing "blues banjo". It still remains as one of the funniest bits I have ever seen. I made a copy of the skit and gave it to him in Branson last week. He told me that the reason he was wearing the turkey suit is that it was from a previous sketch, and during a break he was asked to fill a couple of minutes, as the show was running short. So out on stage he goes, dressed in his turkey suit to face the cameras. Totally spontaneous. Maybe that's why it was SO funny!! And yes, he does his hits - "Spiders & Snakes," "Wildwood Weed," et cetera, but just different enough to make the live performance fresh. His interaction with the audience is sheer poetry to watch and he is supported on stage by a very tight backing band. But before the show, at his house, he played some new ideas for me. Jim has always been a storyteller of sorts and this new collection of songs promises to show and tell some interesting and beautiful slices of life. He and his lovely wife Ann were the perfect hosts during our visit and I can tell you that when he is not on stage is about as "regular" a guy as you would ever want to go fishin' with.

Well, it's 1AM now and maybe I WILL make that deadline. Until next time - don't turn it up TOO loud - you'll need those ears later on!

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