Big thanks to brother Gary Hayes of Gary Hayes Country for this report. I was originally slated to cover the event alongside Gary for Joe, but 24 hours before the show I fell ill and Gary stepped up and offered to share his coverage for us right here at the Armadillo and we love him for all he does!
I made a short drive today up to Cincinnati and the Newport Kentucky area to one of America’s most iconic venues the Southgate House Revival. On my weekly list of concerts, I always include their show roster for the bands I like to cover. When you get into this business a four hour ride isn’t bad at all, and this lineup here was one that I couldn’t pass up. I missed last year’s because it coincided with W.B. Walker’s anniversary party in West Virginia. For a current list and ALWAYS kept up on weekly happenings go HERE.
I got to eat with some friends of mine I know from the Muddy Roots community, and got settled into a corner in the Sanctuary where I enjoyed the Comet Bluegrass All Stars, whom are local to the area. All of these fine artists play this venue quite often and play the Cincinnati area often as well. They played a ton of great Merle Haggard tunes for us, including the 1966 song “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” from the Swinging Doors album. “Silver Wings” was from the 1969 Okie From Muskogee album, and the song “Working Man’s Blues” was off the 1985 album called Amber Waves Of Grain.
I got to hear them play the traditional song called “In The Pines”, which is a very old Appalachian folk number and a vivid Bluegrass tune as well. They played the song “Lonesome Fugitive” and also a very good version of the “Orange Blossom Special”. This Bluegrass band was formed in 1996, and became the house band for the Ohio based neighborhood bar called The Comet, thusly the name.
We had several cancellation here because of illness, and Mr. Joe did a wonderful job of filling in the spots with people. I have three rooms of music going on simultaneously, so I have my work cut out for me tonight as I type I got two rooms I can hear. I’m about to wander into the Lounge room to catch up with Mr. Joey Allcorn, a young man I haven’t forgotten about but he took a short break.
Many of the acts tonight are all having fun celebrating the life and mourning the death of Country Music Icon Mr. Merle Haggard, so Mr. Joey was playing “Swinging Doors” when I got to see him first, and he followed that up with the Hank Williams classic “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It’. He played a wonderful version of Cocaine Blues and also covered the classic “Sing Me Back Home” from the 1967 album of the same name. He and my other buddy Mr. W.D. Miller were truly enjoying the ambiance of the venue tonight.
It was equally truly enjoyable to once again get to see Mr Joey perform again, and although I didn’t get to see him play any originals it was still a good set. Mr. Joey appears on many early roots albums like the classic Fifth On The Floor album called Ashes And Angels, and a few Hank III albums. He does some damn fine suit and tie Country Music, and like me he has a superb knack for history and runs a Facebook group that I thoroughly enjoy learning from.
The Brown County Indiana area is one I am well familiar with from a festival point of view. If you mention it to me I think of one thing….Bean Blossom. But also my beloved John Hartford crowd that I call my friends. This duo hails from that region, in the form of Mr John Bowyer and Miss Jayme Hood. I have been a big fan of what they do for a while now, and finally got to catch up with their set. This my friends, is the Hammer And The Hatchet.
Now one thing I want to point out here are how enjoyable all the covers were, and how they connected to Merle Haggard, whom was being remembered and celebrated here today. See folks April 6th is and will always be a hallowed and revered day, as the day Merle Haggard was born….and died. The song “I Always Get Lucky” was one George Jones recorded in 1983, but was Co wrote by Merle Haggard and one of my personal favorite people….Mr. Freddy Powers. I could ramble on for weeks about the significance of Mr. Freddy Powers in the spectrum of Country Music. The other Co writers were Mr Gary Church and Mr. Tex Whitson on that song.
“Insomnia Song” was next followed by a song from their Winter Fires album called Kentucky Anna Blues. This folk based duo really reminded me of Shovels And Rope, not only in style but their songs speak to me as an individual. They just have that intense chemistry in their ambiance, and it’s difficult to grasp that they have only been together a short time.
Mr. Sean Geil of the Tillers was there in the Lounge filling in for Mr. Billie Gant whom was Ill and had to cancel. I am sorry I missed his smiling face. Mr. Sean played a very nice set which included an old Doc Watson tune. After that I meandered upstairs to see a band I have covered many times called Luna And The Mountain Jets.
This band had a strong presence on my website for the 2018 festival season with both of their projects going strong within the Ohio, East Kentucky and West Virginia music communities. As I walked into their set upstairs they were already into the song “Thanksgiving Day”.
Mr. David Prince on lead guitar is always a strong presence with this band, and he makes his presence known with blazing guitar solos on songs like “Lies And Envy”. I have heard some news that they are playing a few new songs, but I did not catch any tonight here. I did get to catch them play “Pepsi Girl”, before moving on to take some more pictures and doing some research on the Appalachian Prison Book Project. Now I am going to tell you all more about this movement.
The Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP)—a grassroots, all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization—challenges mass incarceration by providing books and education to incarcerated people and by creating opportunities for volunteers and community groups to learn more about the legal and prison systems.
Closely affiliated with West Virginia University, a land-grant research institution, APBP also provides internships and service-learning opportunities to undergraduates, graduate students, and law students, and encourages interdisciplinary research. APBP sponsors lectures, conferences, performances, and other educational events related to mass incarceration.
Our work emanates from two interconnected premises: education is a basic human right, and engaging the community in educational justice efforts is a requisite component to building sustainable restorative justice models.
Since our founding in 2004, APBP has evolved into a dynamic community that is responsive to the social crisis and economic costs of mass incarceration.
Mass incarceration divides our society into two worlds: inside and outside. APBP works against this division by providing books and educational opportunities to incarcerated people while also generating ways for volunteers and community groups to learn more about the legal and prison systems. We are convinced that education is essential to creating a culture that neither criminalizes people nor looks to a cage as a solution to social problems.
By mailing books, facilitating prison book clubs, and offering college courses in prison, APBP celebrates creative expression and defends the liberties that make it possible; champions the freedom to read and write, recognizing the power of literature to transform individuals and societies; and supports educational, vocational, and personal development for people who are locked up. For our volunteers, the work of responding to letters and facilitating prison education programs grounds national debate on mass incarceration in the lived experiences of those who know prison best.
Our organization envisions a future society in which we understand our interconnectedness and better perceive our mutual stakes in creating fair and just systems, and each facet of our work moves us towards this future by encouraging collaboration and dialogue across barriers and through walls.
This man here I truly admire his music, and his versatile vocal style he so prominently displays. And in my opinion he is vastly overlooked even by the local music community, his name is Mr. Adam Lee. His latest album called Sincerely Me was a little bit different direction than his other more Honky Tonk albums, but still awesome nonetheless.
The Merle Haggard song “Rambling Fever” opened his set, which in 1977 was indeed his 22nd studio album recorded at the very zenith of his MCA tenure. I particularly love this album because it was one of the few that producer Mr Ken Nelson enlisted the production help of Hank Cochran. That album also boasts the song called “I Think It’s Gone Forever” which Haggard wrote with then wife Miss Leona Williams the year after it’s release in 1978.
He displayed that low growl on an old song from 2010 called “When The Spirit Moves Me” back when his band was called The Dead Horse Sound Company. Another song from that album was called “Holy Roller”. This man was truly a smart addition to today’s lineup here, given his unique ability to bend genres while maintaining his Roots sound. He holds dear to those wonderful traditional foundations like the rest of us as well, you can tell that in his demeanor.
He did play one from the Sincerely Me album called “Show Folks You Mean It”. I moved upstairs to the Revival room to see my buddy Mr Nathan Kahlish. I got to see him play “Bullies Win Again”. That song is a political song by him, now listen folks, most people go around saying that artists need to shut up and sing and leave politics out of music. I disagree. Do I agree with Liberal or Conservative music…no but I DO appreciate it. I listen, and I do analyze it. See I AM an adult, and I can make my own conclusions instead of being mean to others that see things differently.
I respect Mr Nathan and let me tell you why. He has many of his own opinions that he vividly displays in his music, but he was raised in a home very different from what he believes in. He knows both sides of the issues he has opinions on, he is INFORMED and like me, he gets along with EVERYONE. I have many friends that I don’t agree with politically or religiously but we remain the best of friends. I wrote up some news on his latest album and you can find that right HERE.
Miss Chelsea Nolan is one of my wonderful West Virginia community friends, and she agreed to come play for us in the Lounge. I got to see her play “Build A Fire” from her EP she released last year, and she also played a song called the “Serious Song”.
She told us tonight that she sometimes thinks she doesn’t write the greatest of songs but she does a pretty damn good job singing them. I’m not so sure I agreed with that statement I think she writes wonderfully and I always enjoy seeing her play.
I enjoyed her version of “Rock Candy Mountain” as I moved into the main Sanctuary to see the history being made by two giant Legends of Country Music ( and other genres ) Mr. Bill Kirchen and the man that was unanimously picked by the rest of the strangers to take the lead guitar duties after Mr. Roy Nichols did Mr. Redd Volkaert.
Mr. Bill Kirchen began a band called Commander Cody And The Lost Planet Airmen in 1969 where their peers described them as outlaws for breaking barriers with their creative style. They did things their way like production and recording, on labels like Hightone Records. Miss Kim Lenz spoke highly of him in our interview not long ago, and I have high regard for his influences.
Both of these men are respected Legends of the Telecaster guitar and their styles are well molded in the days of old and the anals of history. Some of his best work was featured on the live album “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”, which is a Holy Grail find for vinyl collectors. Another classic record that Mr. Bill made was called “King Of Diesel billy” in 2005, and is a prized piece of my collection.
Mr. Redd Volkaert played the 1967 “All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers” which actually was cut first by Mr Roy Drusky, but became Mr. Merle Haggards very first top ten record, and he named his band the Strangers due to it’s success. He played a song called “Don’t Wanna Brag Here Comes The Hag”. Mr. Bill Kirchen played some awesome nostalgic songs like “Truck Stop At The End Of The World” which was released in 2001 on the Tied To The Wheel album. Also included in his set was the song called ” Mamma Hated Diesels” which was a Commander Cody song .
He played the song called “Wine Wine Wine Do Your Stuff” which I wanted to ask him more about, and didn’t have time to stop. I’ll have to email him later on this because I had a LOT OF running around to do. I had to run across the hall and catch my brother from another mother, my buddy Mr Josh Morningstar.
He started out with his song that got cut by Mr. Cody Jinks on his latest album called Lifers called “Must Be The Whiskey”, and he followed that up with a song he wrote about drug dealers called “Damn These Birds”. He wasn’t feeling well tonight but he didn’t fail to entertain us with a rousing rendition of Mr. Roger Miller’s “Dang Me”.
Much like Mr. Joey Allcorn and I, Mr. Josh has a knack for Country Music History too. He reads and he studies many of the books and websites that enrich our minds with all that wonderful information of days of old. And he molded his new hit single called “Jerry Lee” after the great Legend Jerry Lee Lewis. There have been many books and movies done about this man and his lifetime of antics, and this song touches on many of them in Grand fashion.
I truly think that the spirit of Merle Haggard was with us tonight as the many acts played many of his songs here. Right now I am in between sets for two of the rooms about to catch Miss Jaime Wyatt in the Sanctuary room, while Mr. Nathan Kahlish is upstairs.
Miss Jaime Wyatt is in the process of recording a new album and she played two songs from that upcoming project. One called “By Your Side” , and another I did not catch the name of about Whiskey and Coke. But in the meantime, she played a terrific set tonight full of songs from her Felony Blues album.
She started out with “Wishing Well” and went into a good performance of “Stone Hotel” which chronicles her unwanted tenure in prison. Her music speaks to me in many ways because like her, I too had my share of demons with narcotic use back in the day. However I never had any run ins with prison time as her album and title song “Felony Blues” suggests.
She played her own version of the Merle Haggard classic “Misery And Gin” from the 1980 album called Back To The Barrooms that Mr. Snuff Garrett wrote. “From Outer Space” was next right as I began to switch rooms to see other sets tonight. I went upstairs in the Sanctuary to catch a band that was introduced to me by Miss Kim Grant called 500 Miles To Memphis, and I will tell you about their new album on here called Blessed Be The Damned.
Their new 11 track record was just recently released, and was in my TO DO stack for some time now. That’s NOT a bad thing folks, I get SO MUCH music that I LOVE and it’s just basically me doing mail in submissions. Mr. Joshua Wallace does most of our album reviews, but some get sent directly to me.
The album opens with a revival type song called “The River” which breaks right up into their classic punk influenced steing band music. This band would be a perfect fit for Muddy Roots and other festivals, so many bands have played I missed they may already have and I missed it. This is basically just rowdy genre bending good music.
“Hold On Tight”, was another good song that had a punk taste to it, but maintained almost a thrash metal break for a few moments, and then goes into a Roots music sound as well. It’s just a different approach to Roots music that I truly enjoyed live. I defiantly enjoyed this band live more than the recording..not that the album was bad at all.
Mr. Joe Macharet played tonight with his side band called Joe’s Truck Stop. He is a current active member of the Tillers another Ohio based outfit that recorded an iconic live album here at the Southgate House Revival in 2012. They played one of my favorite songs “Tobacco Spitting Gal”, and took turns blazing solos all over the stage. “Hearts Made Of Stone” was next, and another song I caught was called “Back In Time”.
Hey look my old friend Laid Back Country Picker is here to close out the show in the Sanctuary. He started out with a cover of “Are You Ready For The Country”, and went into his hilarious song called “Party Line”. Miss Honey was shopping for merch earlier and I caught her in the act of buying some of Miss Jaime Wyatt’s stuff.
He played a BRAND NEW song tonight called “Playing Country Music And Treating People Right”. It’s pretty much a self explanatory song about being good to your fellow man. I have always admired Laid Back for his pleasant demeanor, and his classic Country sound. He told us all about “Kathy With An 8 Ball” and the last song I got see him play was “Truck Stop Sam”.
Mr. Laid back Country Picker stopped by my inbox this morning and he had THIS to say: I hope to record this new record in July. I am taking the hillbillies to Nashville to do it, and we are going to lay it on them! So folks when the time comes for him to elaborate on his new project we will be watching him close.
A FEW ACTS I MISSED:
A songwriter looks through a different lens when he looks at the world around him. At any second a flicker of light, a statement in a passing conversation, or the deafening intensity of silence can become the catalyst for the chance to write the next song. The race to put on paper the fleeting thought. One that won’t take long before it vanishes.
That craft has been in the life of Michael Moeller ever since he picked up an instrument and knew he had something to say. Referred to as an “Old Soul”, Michael writes the songs he sees around him, writes the songs he feels, and writes the songs he experiences: life, loss, love, joy, and faith.
Slippery Creek is a group of young pickers from the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. Focusing on the deep traditional roots, Slippery Creek brings that old time style of hard drivin’ bluegrass to today’s audience. With lonesome vocal harmonies and solid instrumental arrangements, they will take you back to the early days of the Grand Ole Opry.
The Tammy Whynots:
This was a local band that is regarded VERY highly by the people in this area, that included some clever puns into their music. I’m not sure if they were indeed originals or not, and didn’t have really find any way to contact the band at all. I did get to hear some of their setlist tonight as they played some covers. They played “Fist City” and the Webb Pierce classic “There Stands The Glass”. Also included in their set was a song called “Smokin Something” which I’m not truly sure if that was an original or not. However I do remember hearing “Harper Valley PTA”.
In closing I wanted to send out my most HEARTFELT THANKS to Miss Morella Raleigh and her wonderful and freindly staff. Even though I only drink cokes and water they were kind and accepted my tips for cokes with just as much kindness as the ones drinking alcohol. I really cannot drink much anymore, and never did while working a job anyways, I have to remember EVERY detail of the job. You’ll never see many GOOD photographers drunk!