Who played Speedy West in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”?

Interesting bit of trivia, eh? He died Wednesday in Franklin, TN at 81. Need some hints? He recorded with Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole and the Beach Boys, wrote a No. 1 single for Chubby Checker and arranged Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”. He played on the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and arranged and played on Nat King Cole’s hit “Ramblin’ Rose” and acted in an episode of “Rawhide”. This guy really got around. Give up? Here’s the answer.

1 of 5 country music fans don’t listen to country stations

What a shock, eh? We all know country radio sucks, because they don’t play country music. Duh.

One in five country music fans never tune in to country radio stations, according to a research study released Wednesday afternoon at Country Radio Seminar, a four-day national gathering of music makers, players and radio industry executives in downtown Nashville.

Instead, self-described country music fans get their music from websites, their own collections stored on iPods or listening to other types of radio stations, the annual report on industry trends found.

When I want to listen to country music I get it from my own collection, certainly not from the radio. Unless it’s an internet station, like Shufflemainia.

Read the rest of the story on The Tennessean.

Dead Steel Guitar Players

It was a dark and stormy night and I was on a long road trip with Faron, and RIchard and I were the last ones still up, drinking one more beer (apiece) and discussing life in general.

“Can you think of a dead steel guitar player?” one of us asked. “I mean a famous one, a well-known one, who worked with big artists and was on some hit records?”

Another swallow of beer, and the other one of us said, “Hmm, no.”

We considered that for a few moments as the dark Texas landscape whizzed by at 70mph. Oh, wait, the bus was going 70mph. Neither one of us could think of a dead steel guitar player.

Pete Drake died not too long after that, in 1988, and AFAWK he was the first one to go to the big recording studio in the sky. Jimmy Day went in 1999 and Jimmy Crawford in 2005. You can look up other dead musicians here.

Some not so well known steel guitar players, guys that I hung around with in Nashville and traded licks with, died some time after that late-night bus conversation.

Chuck BartlettChuck Bartlett was a fine player, from Ohio, who worked with John Conlee and Kitty Wells and who played every club in Nashville at one time or another, night after night, when he wasn’t on the road. He had a beautiful Sho~Bud that I sat in on many times. I followed him on the Red Sovine gig. Cancer got him.

I met Wayne Kincaid at a club on Lower Broad in 1972 when I bought my first steel guitar at the Sho~Bud store. I’d hang out in Merchant’s and watch him play, and on the breaks I’d bug him, asking what this or that knee lever did or something. He was an old West Virginia coal miner, and a crotchety bastard whom everybody didn’t get along with, but we were great friends. He minded my drink for me one time at Gabe’s when I had to go knock some smart-ass out the door. He was at Gabe’s for many years, and toward the end the cancer was really getting to him and he’d call me at the last minute some nights to sub for him when the pain was too bad. I went to his funeral, in Fairview, where Billy Walker presided over the proceedings from the pulpit and LaDonna Capps sang, and I inherited his gig at Gabe’s.
Wayne Kincaid on steel guitar
There’s been a bunch of other pickers pass on since I’ve been in town. Guys I’ve worked with, roomed on the road with, learned music from, drank with, loaned money to… If you have a musician friend, cherish him or her. At 2AM after the gig when you’re packing up your axe you never can be sure that you’ll ever pick together again.

Name That Tune

When you work with the same bunch of musicians for a while, or even the same kind of musicians, you develop nicknames or introductions for oft-played songs. I worked with Faron Young for a long time, and when he said “Here’s Cal’s favorite song” I knew we were going to do “Country Girl”. Didn’t matter if I hated that song, which I didn’t, but it was our cue to kick it off. Just part of the show.

I worked with a bass player who, when he said “Here’s my favorite George Jones song” I knew to kick off “She Thinks I Still Care”. Which goes by a lot of other nicknames, like “She Stinks But I Still Care”, “She Thinks I Steal Cars” and “She Thinks I’m Still Queer” to name a few.

“The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Swingin’ Doors” are often confused, which wouldn’t be a big deal if they weren’t in such disparate keys, “Bottle” usually being in “D” and “Doors” usually being in “G”. So we developed a mnemonic to help us remember their respective keys, and we ever after called “The Bottle Let Me Down” “D Bottle Let Me Down”. “Swingin’ Doors” has also been known as “Closin’ Time”.

So the chick singer wants to do “Crazy”? Holler “Nuts” across the bandstand and we all know we have to play “Crazy” yet again.

I do an instrumental rendition of Gene Watson’s version of “No One Will Ever Know” and I call it “No One Will Ever Suspect”. Which isn’t far from the truth most of the time. And “Steel Guitar Rag” is “The Rag’.

One band I worked with did “When Two Worlds Collide” and we called it “Clyde”. Roger MIller, who wrote it, called it the same thing, or so we later heard.

“The Other Woman’’ is “The Udder Woman” or “the Other Mother”, “Last Date” is “Lost Date”, “Statue of A Fool” is “Statutory Fool” and “From the Window Up Above” is “From the Window of A Bus”.

There’s also some yet un-written songs, like “I Miss You More Every Day, But My Aim’s Getting Better”.

But our favorite song is “Here’s our favorite song, and we hope it’s one of yours”, Kenny Price’s “The Shortest Song in the World”, the break song.