Kool Kat of the Week: Shake, Rattle & Spring Roll – Spike Fullerton, Guitarist, Ghost Riders Car Club

Ghost Riders Car Club guitarist Spike Fullerton agrees that Pho Truc, a Vietnamese restaurant in Clarkston, may seem like an unlikely place to find live rockabilly and honkytonk, but don’t let appearance deceive you Thursday nights this month. With their characteristic sense of humor, the band, which features some of Atlanta’s top professional musicians, has dubbed these gigs “Tet 2011: A Guaranteed Nguyen,” a pun on the common Vietnamese surname which is pronounced “win.”

The unlikely venue became a regular stage for Ghost Riders Car Club after they got called in as a last-minute replacement for a friend’s tiki band. “The owners said after the show that we made everybody so happy, why don’t we come back?” Fullerton says, adding that as a foodie who loves Vietnamese cuisine above all, he couldn’t be more excited.

Indeed, bringing the spirit of 1940s, and even 1930s, country and swing music back to life for a live audience is what attracted Fullerton, a lifetime musician whose day job is in software sales, to join the Car Club. One of the founding members of Kingsized, his favorite early acts include country-Western pioneers Bob Wills and Roy Lanham, as well as African-American swing and jazz guitarist Charlie Christian.

Ghost Riders Car Club at the Star Bar for a 2010 Toys For Tots Benefit; L-R: Page Waldrop, Joe Hamm, Spike Fullerton, Rick Price, Frank Jimenez

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, the Ghost Riders Car Club proudly proclaims it serves up “Authentic Country Music from the Redneck Underground,” and Fullerton enjoys playing rockabilly, a mainstay for many of his bandmates, too. The group also delivers far more than music, modeling itself after the GRAND OLE OPRY radio shows of the 1950s, featuring commercials and fan letters and hosted by Frank Jimenez, sound engineer of 688, and veteran of Washington Squares, Jason and the Scorchers, Drivin’ N Cryin’ and the Georgia Satellites. Other current members include Mighty Joe Hamm (Truckadelic, Kingsized) on drums; Page Waldrop (Vidalias, Miss Margie & The Tall Boys), pedal steel guitar; James St. James (Zenith Nadir, Right as Rain), bass; Ted Weldon (Truckadelic), vocals; country artist Ernie Dale (THE POINT CD), guitar and vocals; and Rick Price (Georgia Satellites) playing mandolin.

“To work with professional musicians who know what they are doing and really work on their craft is a real pleasure for me,” Fullerton says. “I’m just happy to be along for the ride.”

The Pho Truc shows are looser affairs, a grab bag of country standards, swing, Johnny Paycheck songs and whatever else comes to mind, he adds. “It’s so low key. We may have guests or invite people up. To me, it’s more fun than just going to see a show because you get to interact with us. If you ask us to play a song, we’ll either play it or make you sing it.”

Or for the full Ghost Riders Car Club experience, head to The Star Bar this Friday night (Feb. 5). That gig, which also features Ocha La Rocha and two other acts, will take on a special meaning, Fullerton says, as a de facto tribute show to Charlie Louvin, half of the legendary Louvin Brothers who influenced such alt-country artists as Elvis Costello and The Byrds and, up until his death due to pancreatic cancer on Jan. 26, the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry. Louvin had originally been booked to play the Star Bar on that date.

“That’s the kind of music I like,” Fullerton says. “Charlie and Ira Louvin were the first of the big city harmonizers that had a national appeal. Without them, we would never have gotten the Hank Williamses and the Elvises.”

As for what’s next up for the Car Club, Fullerton says the group will open for Kim Lenz and the Jaguars at the Star Bar on Feb. 23 and for Southern Culture on the Skids in late April. And of course, they’ll be playing at Pho Truc every Thursday in February from 8-10 p.m. Catch Fullerton on his own at the open mike night at The Glenwood on Sundays.

Fun Fact: Ghost Riders Car Club doesn’t get its name from the fiery skeletal motorcycling Marvel Comics antihero nor from the Doors song, but rather the iconic painting by David Mann of an outlaw biker shadowed by an old West outlaw on a horse riding side by side through a Western vista of cliffs and desert, Fullerton says. “It’s supposed to embody the spirit of freedom,” he adds. “The Ghost Riders Car Club is a fictional car club obviously, a car club being a group of like-minded soils interested in old iron.”

Playing Thurs. Feb. 4, 8-10 PM, at Pho Truc, 926 Montreal Road, Clarkston, GA 30021 & Fri. Feb. Feb. 5 at The Star Bar.

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10 Responses to “Kool Kat of the Week: Shake, Rattle & Spring Roll – Spike Fullerton, Guitarist, Ghost Riders Car Club”

  1. This Week in ATLRetro, March 5-11, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on Mar 4th, 2018
    @ 7:33 pm

    […] bluegrass ‘n’ reggae at City Winery!  Rev on down to the Clermont Lounge for a night with Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and the Ghost Riders Car Club! Folk it up with Trout Steak Revival and Billy Strings at Eddie’s […]

  2. This Week in ATLRetro, May 21-27, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on May 20th, 2018
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    […] Revue deliver their Led Zeppelin vs. The Who Rock Fight at Venkman’s! Nitty gritty it up with Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and Ghost Rider’s Car Club at the Clermont Lounge! Get some soul and spend the night with Jeff […]

  3. This Week in ATLRetro, June 11-17, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on Jun 10th, 2018
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    […] June 14 Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and the Ghost Riders Car Club dish out a hot night at the Clermont Lounge! A night of hilarity […]

  4. This Week in ATLRetro, September 10-16, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on Sep 9th, 2018
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    […] Callers and Evan Stepp & the Piners! Honky tonk on down to the Clermont Lounge for a night with Kool Kat Spike Fullerton with the Ghost Riders Car Club! Or spend the night with Chris Isaak at Atlanta Symphony Hall! Rock […]

  5. This Week in ATLRetro, October 8-14, 2018 « ATLRetro
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    […] their production of WAITING FOR GODOT, through Oct. 14! The Fall Kavalkade O’Kountry starring Kook Kat Spike Fullerton and the Ghost Riders Car Club gets down at the Clermont Lounge! Day 2 of Hell on Wheels brings you […]

  6. This Week in ATLRetro, November 5-11, 2018 « ATLRetro
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    […] November 8 Honky-tonk on down to the Clermont Lounge for a night with Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and Ghost Riders Car Club! Or spend the night with Brian Wilson at the Fox Theatre! Celebrate 20 […]

  7. This Week in ATLRetro, December 10-16, 2018 « ATLRetro
    on Dec 9th, 2018
    @ 5:56 pm

    […] Plaza Theater at 9:30pm! Or stomp on down to the Clermont Lounge for the Ghost Riders Car Club’s (Kool Kat Spike Fullerton) Honky-Tonk Holiday Hoedown! Get the rockin’ blues with The Marcus King Band at the Variety […]

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    on Feb 11th, 2019
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    […] just some plain ‘ol foot stompin’ tunes, make your way to the Clermont Lounge for a night with Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and the Ghost Riders Car Club (Feb. 14)! Stomp on down to the Red Clay Theatre for a folksy night […]

  9. This Week in ATLRetro, March 11-17, 2019 « ATLRetro
    on Mar 12th, 2019
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    […] the Historic Oakland Cemetery’s Grave Diggers event! Stomp on down to the Clermont Lounge for Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and Ghost Riders Car Club’s St. Paddy’s Pre-Party! It’s Mai Tai Thursday at Trader Vic’s so get down with some island […]

  10. This Week in ATLRetro, April 8-14, 2019 « ATLRetro
    on Apr 7th, 2019
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    […] April 11 The Clermont Lounge raises a ruckus with their  Spring Winding! featuring Kool Kat Spike Fullerton and the Ghost Riders Car Club! Get rocked for a second night with Todd Rundgren at the Buckhead […]

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