Kool Kats of the Week: Nashville’s Blackfoot Gypsies Are Out to Prove Rock’s Not Dead by Blastin’ Out Their Raw and Modern Twist on ‘60s and ‘70s-style Rock, Country ‘n’ Delta Blues at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall

Posted on: Feb 17th, 2015 By:

by Melanie CrewBFG logo2
Managing Editor

Nashvilles’s Blackfoot Gypsies will make a rockin’ pit stop in Atlanta during their Winter 2015 Tour, opening for old-school folk, rock ‘n’ alt-country punkers, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and fellow Nashville rocker, Warner E. Hodges of Jason & the Scorchers at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall in Marietta, this Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 pm! If you’re looking for a fresh sound harkening back to the days of classic rock ‘n’ blues, come on down for the ruckus that will being goin’ down this Saturday night at The 120 Tavern & Music Hall!

Blackfoot Gypsies, hailing from Music City USA and formed by Matthew Paige (vocals/guitar) and Zack Murphy (drums) in 2010 have expanded into the rock outfit they are today with the addition of Dylan Whitlow (vocals/bass) and Ollie Dogg (harmonica). The band’s just a few short months shy of releasing their new LP, HANDLE IT (April 2015), put out by Nashville’s famed genre-bending, Plowboy Records! “Under My Skin,” their first single from HANDLE IT was released Jan. 2015 and will soon be made into their first music video for the LP. And if that wasn’t enough, after delving into their deep grooves and rockin’ riffs, you’ll just have to get your grimy little hands on the band’s earlier releases [2010’s EP BLACK GYPSIES – self-released; 2011’s EP DANDEE CHEESEBALL – self-released; 2012’s LP ON THE LOOSE– self-released; and 2013’s Limited 7” “The New Sounds of TransWestern” – released by Fat Elvis Records). Blackfoot Gypsies headlined the Muddy Roots Music Festival in 2013 and have shared bills with Alabama Shakes, Trampled by Turtles and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Catch ‘em while you can, because these fellas are on a rockin’ voyage with no end in sight!

ATLRetro caught up with Paige and Murphy for a quick interview about the band’s retro rock influences; their upcoming LP “Handle It”; Nashville’s music scene; and their take on the current state of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

And while you’re takin’ a gander at our little Q&A with Paige and Murphy, why not take a peek at the Blackfoot Gypsies and their Jan. 9, 2014 live recording on Nashville’s The Written Record: Sessions at Electric Kite Studio <here> and get an earful of their news single off their soon-to-be released LP, “Under My Skin.

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

L-R: Matthew Paige, Dylan Whitlow, Zack Murphy, Ollie Dogg

ATLRetro: So what’s the secret origin story of the Blackfoot Gypsies and how did you get your name?

Paige: The secret is a secret, so I’ll tell you a lie that may be the truth. When you’re from nowhere and you’re headed to the same place, you grab hold of all the resources you can. You hold onto your friends until they become family — generating a channel of common earthly vibrations that are streamed into a concentrated beam that transforms your world, if even for a minute, to a plane of love and understanding within our hilarious existence. The Blackfoot Gypsies are a distraction for your distractions that are distracting you from your passion. We’ve developed a unique walk as we tread down many over-walked paths, garnering us blackfeet, while our gypsy eyes are transfixed on the present. Travel till you die. Home is for the birds. Smoke on that for a while.

Murphy: We got our name from the cosmos. There are no secrets within the cosmos, only our naked truths of the origin of all nature.

You’ve listed the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Faces and MC5 among your top influences. All of these were founded in the ’60s, which it’s hard to believe is 50 years ago. Why do you think these acts and musicians have stayed relevant for so long? Are they the Beethovens of the 20th century?

Paige: They had a similar approach to living the music, not just playing it, that we do. It feels so pure. They were pushing their limits to reach the world — expressing their lives and having people connect over it. That’s all we’re really looking for after all, a genuine connection. It’s magic when it happens, and it happens around magic. Real, live music is magic.

Murphy: There’s only one Beethoven. There’s no need for any more Beethovens. The Stones, Dylan, Faces & MC5 are definitely all influences. They’ve stayed relevant because of their uniqueness. There’s no need to have another Stones, Dylan, Faces, MC5, etc… They did it right the first time. You can’t top the original. So, while they’re our influences, we aim to keep our music unique to us. There’s only one Blackfoot Gypsies, the world only needs one because nobody does us better than we do.

Dylan really evolved throughout his long career from folk to rock. His 70s work, especially “Blood on the Tracks,” is seminal to us. What’s his

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

L-R: Ollie Dogg, Dylan Whitlow, Matthew Paige, Zack Murphy

key period (or album/song) for you and why?

Paige: The period where he transformed from trying to be someone else into just being as radically himself as he could be. He lived how we should all live our lives: copy the masters that teach you your art and then harness the power that is you, and let yourself explode.

Murphy: I don’t have a favorite. All of it is amazing, but most of all I love that he is still doin’ it and keepin’ it fresh. There’s no reason to stop, and because he hasn’t stop he’s stayed relevant; and is not a throwback act. Bob Dylan is still exciting.

We’ve talked about influences, but you also have a very fresh sound which merges roots, blues and we’ve even heard “Zeppelin.” Who else is on your key “retro” listening list? Do you think rock music still has some places to go and how do you keep your sound fresh and vibrant?

Paige: Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter. People with soul. Real rock n’ roll is just a code for truly visceral music. Soul doesn’t go out of style, and when you put a fat slab of soul on something real, and then you have it IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE! That’s as fresh as it gets. Yesterday, today AND tomorrow. I’m not sure music goes anywhere; it’s just a part of us. And, it’s fun to get excited about it.

Murphy: Anything visceral is on my listening list. It doesn’t have to be retro. It could be new hip hop. Rock music can always go new places. The best way to sound fresh and vibrant is to be you and not worry about the rules.

ZM, DW, DO, MP

Zack Murphy, Dylan Whitlow, Ollie Dogg, Matthew Paige

You’re touring in support of your latest album, “On the Loose.” What would you like people to know about it?

Paige: It’s a fun record, capturing a great place and time. We did all of it on 2-inch tape, so the vinyl sounds especially tasty. It’s got a good vibe and the songs lay a good base for where we plan on visiting with our next records. I’m proud of it still, and I wouldn’t change a thing on it.

Murphy: “On the Loose” is an album that I’m very proud of. Matthew and I were just gettin’ our sound and new line-up together. I think it was a great first step out into the world of album-making for us. We love playin’ these songs, but “On the Loose” has become part of the template for the live show. Come see a show. Buy an album. Get in our van…

And you’ve just scored a deal with Plowboy Records for your next LP, HANDLE IT. Tell us about that.

Paige: Plowboy Records honors the past, but in a relevant way. It was a no-brainer to go with them. Everything they stand for. I find myself saying, “Yeah, that’s right! Me too!” They’ll be putting out our next album HANDLE IT (out Apr. 14) on vinyl record and CD. We’re really excited for the world to hear it. I know a guy who makes fake platinum records, and I’m going to send one to my mom. I’m pretty sure she’ll fall for it.

Murphy: Plowboy Records are a natural fit for us. They are based in Nashville and are very much into the same stuff we are. HANDLE IT is the BFG logonext step. I’m also very proud of this album. It is a total natural evolution from our previous releases and I can’t wait to get this album out into the world. We’re playin’ the songs out live too. So, once again, come out and see the show.

Nashville is Music City and many folks think about country, but plenty of great rock bands have emerged from it. What’s it like to be a rock band in a country town right now? Any other Nashville bands we should be looking out for?

Paige: Nashville’s been the host to great musicians of all genres for a long time, although country is the popular one here. But, the cool thing about the “rock” bands here is that if you slowed them down, and mellowed them out, more often than not it’s basically country music, and I love it! I like to think of ourselves as more of an energetic, eclectic band of stray dog people. Bands I like to see in town are Margo Price, Justin Collins, Ranch Ghost; any band with soul. There’s a lot going on around here.

Murphy: Nashville has always had good rock ‘n’ roll; people are just now talking about it. Outside of the Music Row modern bro-country stuff, REAL country music is actually pretty damn similar to REAL rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know how or why people always forget that, but we’re happy to remind them that good music is just good music, no need to read between the lines.

Show PosterDo you have anything special planned for the Atlanta stop on your tour?

Paige: We’ll be shooting a music video, for the first single off HANDLE IT. We have some of our Atlanta friends coming out to be in it with us. I’m predicting lots of fun and nudity, but who knows. I’d really like to go to Manuel’s and get glared at over a beer. We’re also looking for the best donut in town. You know the place? Let’s do it!

Murphy: We’re gonna shoot that video and tear up the town. We haven’t played with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, but we’re pretty damn stoked to be doin’ that. I’m sure something special will happen. The most special things are rarely planned.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you in an interview but they never do and what’s the answer?

Paige: Interviewer: “Can I please buy you dinner and our new, soon-to-be, matching big bird tattoos?” Me: “Yes.”

Murphy: Interviewer: “Would you like a drink?”  Me – “Yes.”

All photos courtesy of Blackfoot Gypsies and used with permission.

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tell It Like It Is: Ray Dafrico Remembers a Special Time in the Atlanta Music Scene and a Band Named the Nightporters

Posted on: Jun 11th, 2013 By:

In late April, when THE NIGHTPORTERS: TELL IT LIKE IT IS premiered at The Plaza Theatre, it wasn’t your typical movie screening but a reunion. The crowd was mostly in their 40s and 50s. Many of these folks had families and didn’t stay out late any more. But that didn’t mean they never did and some still had the leather jackets to show for it. When they come out in Atlanta, you know you’re in for a special evening.

If you are old enough to have been part of the early ’80s nascent punk/new wave scene that revolved around the now-legendary 688 Club, you remember a handful of local bands that stood out. You never missed any of their shows, and they played all the time. Perhaps the coolest and most memorable of these bands was The Nightporters. That’s not to say they never had any crappy drunken gigs. They had plenty, but when they were at their best, they were as good as any band that topped the college alternative charts and many that made it big when real punk had faded into a careless memory.

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Ray Dafrico started with some raw found footage of the Nightporters performing, mostly at the Blue Rat Gallery, a notorious art space in the now-demolished Pershing Point Apartments which was ground zero for housing starving punk rockers back in the day. To that, he added interviews with band members and other key members of the scene such as Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Rick Richards (Georgia Satellites). The end result is a time capsule not just of a band but of the clubs and people that made that period in Atlanta rock history so unique and a frozen moment in time when it seemed like music not just mattered but meant…well…everything.

With the movie now available on DVD, ATLRetro recently sat down with Ray to find out more about the genesis of this home-grown rockumentary, as well as what was so special, as the subtitle states, about “a time, a place and a band.”

ATLRetro: How did the idea of a Nightporters documentary get started?

Ray Dafrico: I got hold of some early footage a couple of years ago by a guy named James Farmer, who was one of the Blue Rat’s artists. There was footage of us that I had never seen. I thought it was really amazing and somebody should make a film and add some interviews. I didn’t know anyone else that would do it so I took it upon myself to start making it.

There really seemed to be a special quality about the early ‘80s music scene in Atlanta. What do you think made that time so special?

I just think it was creative and kind of more innocent in a way. Maybe it was because we were so young that it all seemed new and fresh. Punk rock was fairly new. I was into music, but it seemed inaccessible. With punk rock, you could prove you could do stuff yourself. Once we started doing that, we had a small circle of people that just started growing. Atlanta was really small at the time. There were maybe 10 bands and everyone knew each other. Everybody pulled for each other for the most part and would come to each other’s shows. There was some competition between bands that played in midtown and bands that mostly played like in Buckhead, but eventually we got friendly with most of the bands in town. Nowadays it seems so competitive. There are so many bands. It seems like everybody’s out for themselves.

The Nightporters definitely had that punk rock spirit, but you had other influences, too. 

We were influenced by punk rock, and we kind of sounded like punk rock, but the Sex Pistols just proved that you could go against the system and the corporate  music of the 1970s. But the thing that brought the Nightporters together was more the ‘60s punk bands. Originally the Rolling Stones, but we really liked the more obscure bands that had one-hit wonders like The Count Five. So you’re right, we weren’t directly the late ‘70s kind of punk rock. We were sort influenced by it, but it was an enabling thing than anything else. Our sound was sort of garage mod rock with elements of glam, folk, country, ska and reggae.

How important was 688?

Very important at the time. They just booked some amazing bands. At first, we were underage and we couldn’t get in. It was the same with the Agora Ballroom. It was like we would go down there every weekend and try to get in. There was this long-haired guy at the door. He would call us “weekend anarchists” and kick us out. We tried to see the Plasmatics and all these bands. Finally he let us in to see the Ramones. We had borrowed fake IDs from Marines that didn’t look anything like us. By coming down and trying to get in there for six months, we earned our way in. But yeah, there were [a few] other clubs to go to, like The Bistro, Moonshadow, Metroplex and Rumors, but 688 had the great bands, $1.50 beer  and a lot of cool diverse people would go there. We used to go to this place every Sunday called Margaritaville on Spring and 14th St. We were there so much we talked them into letting us play and turned it into our own club. It soon turned into its own little scene.

Part of it was the clubs, like 688, were more into promoting local music. They were as creative as the bands and at least more willing to experiment. I know [clubs] are about making money because they took a lot of ours, but it just seemed more laidback. They were having fun just like the bands were. It seemed that way anyway.

When did the Nightporters first get together and perform?

We were still in high school, I think, in 1981-82. I was going to say this in the movie, but it was a big deal for us to get from the suburbs to downtown Atlanta. We thought playing Tuesday nights at the Bistro was success. We had started at high school parties playing our punk rock/’60s songs. We would play to rednecks and jocks, and they were always trying to beat us up. Tim [Neilson] and Andy [Browne] and I were all transplanted Yankees, and there was still a lot of hostility towards outsiders in Atlanta especially in the suburbs.We got really tough because we were always having to mentally and physically fight with these people. We thought by the time we got to the cool new wave/punk clubs that we had made it. Anything beyond that was easy for us. I think that kind of shows because we were a really rough band. We earned that.

Can you talk a little about the Blue Rat?

Well, we all lived in the Pershing Point Apartments at 17th and Peachtree Street, that are all torn down now. Andy and I had an apartment there. We didn’t know anybody initially. It was across from the art school I was going to. I dropped out of art school like every good rock guitarist and pursue the Nightporters full time. We were so poor we lived off of hefty bags of popcorn because we knew someone that worked at a movie theatre. It was that and egg rolls from the Chinese grocery on the corner. We rehearsed in our kitchen which we didn’t dare eat in as there were giant cockroaches everywhere! It wasn’t a matter of time before we met two guys named Clark Brown and Chick Lockerman. They were the artists who set up the Blue Rat Gallery in their apartment. They asked us to play one of their openings. A huge crowd came out to see us of really crazy and eclectic people. Like Andy said in the movie, it was like Andy Warhol’s Factory. There were tons of drugs and everyone was just crazy and doing whatever they wanted.

So we became kind of the house band at the Blue Rat. We would rather play there than a club because it was more fun. We didn’t even charge any money.

How well, or should we say “shitty,” were you paid back in those days?

Once we got better known, we started playing colleges. That’s where the money was. We actually had contracts, not that that means a whole lot. Sometimes people would stiff us even with a contract, but we could get $1000 to play a college frat or something. Even when we were fairly well known, there was one incident in south Georgia where the club owner pulled a gun on us and refused to pay us. I had driven straight back from California to play that show! It showed my dedication, but maybe my stupidity, too. We never made any significant money, partly because we never got a record deal.

But the Nightporters toured a lot, including a lot of gigs in New York.

Yeah, we toured a lot. We went to the northeast a lot and played New York all the time and Boston. We opened for all kinds of people, like Bo Diddley.

Do you have a favorite performer or band you opened for?

We had some good times with Cheetah Chrome and the Dead Boys. Jason and the Scorchers were always fun. We played with The Replacements a lot, but there was a lot of tension there because we were so similar that it was like a competition. They were fun to watch, but they had their good nights and their drunken nights similar to us. Opening for The Clash was fun, even if Mick [Jones], my favorite in the band, wasn’t in the band at the time.

Was that the time when the Clash played the Fox Theatre and there was a riot on Peachtree?

That was actually the time before that the Clash played Atlanta. But I was in the riot. We were in the front row. When we came out, there was literally a riot starting. Chris Wood of The Restraints was in the front with an American flag protesting their communist views or some crap. Somehow a fight started and police cars came from every direction. Everyone was so amped up from the Clash show that they were literally fighting with the cops. It was a blast. It was kind of scary, but it didn’t last long.

We played with them a year or two after that. I had gone to Nashville and met Joe Strummer and got us the show. I just gave them a demo tape because I knew they got local bands to open. We got the show a day or two later.

How close did the Nightporters come to cutting a full LP and getting a recording contract with a record label?

We did make a few records, but we never made a whole album. We did two singles on our own and an EP on Safety Net Records called OUTSIDE, LOOKING IN [1986]. We had a lot of material, but we didn’t have a vehicle to release stuff. Andy and I would go up to record company offices in Manhattan, and they would just look at our clothes like “you’re not Scritti Politti or Duran Duran or whatever was selling then.” They didn’t know what to make of us. We were just way too real for a big label to consider investing in us. That’s my theory anyway.

How hard was it to assemble everyone whom you interviewed in the movie?

The hardest person was our drummer, who I never did get in the movie. It was easier to get Peter Buck from R.E.M. than our drummer. Other than that, I just told people to come down to The Majestic [Diner]. I asked a series of five questions and listened to whatever anyone had to say. The idea for the movie was to try and make it a cross between a Jim Jarmusch-type film like CIGARETTES AND COFFEE or something and a little bit of Spinal Tap and The Rutles. I was trying to keep it real, but light-hearted and funny because that was the way the Nightporters were. On one hand, we really took things very seriously. On the other hand, we didn’t take it serious at all. It wasn’t too hard. The most difficult part for me was editing the four hours of footage.

Do you consider the cut you showed at The Plaza the final cut, or will you still be editing some more?

I wanted to tell the whole story. That’s why it’s two hours long, but some people said it could have been shorter. It’s hard for me because it’s so personal. I think I had to include certain parts, and I guess if I’m going to get it distributed, I am going to have to cut it to half the time. I’m kind of dreading that because by now I’ve seen it so many times.

Are there any outtakes or a blooper reel that could be extras for a commercial DVD?

Yes, there is enough for a blooper reel, which is way funnier than the movie.  I kept interrupting everyone during the interviews saying things like, “I remember that”! It took a long time to cut all that out of the film. So I learned to just keep my mouth shut. It’s my first movie, and I had a lot of fun just doing it. That’s the best part – trying to shoot things 10 times because you’re laughing so hard.

Do you have any regrets that the band didn’t go further on a national scale?

Yes, I definitely regret us not staying together longer. I think we could have been huge, seeing what happened with the Black Crowes after us. Our songs are a lot more original and catchier. They have a lot more hooks. Like I said, we were a real kind of band that fought a lot, and we had a lot of problems. It was extremely difficult to get through even the three or four years together that we were.

Any chance of another Nightporters reunion?

Oh, yeah. Maybe. Definitely maybe. But I don’t really know. That’s not up to me—one person out of the four—to say. Andy and I have talked about it. We both have our own lives now and live in different cities, which makes it all the more difficult. We had enough trouble agreeing on things when we lived in the same apartment. We’re working on it, but sometimes I think we have two different visions of what the band could be.

Plus we all have KIDS! Mine is 18 now so I have a bit of free time, but Andy has two little ones.

What else are you up to? 

I still write tons of songs. I don’t always do a lot with them, but I’m always writing them. I have been playing under my own name with different musicians—whoever is available. That’s the thing now. I’m 49. It’s not like I’m 20 anymore so it’s hard to pull people together for any reason, much less to do a show. All those years of rocking out have really done a number on us as well; we’re now paying the price. We survived but are not by any means very healthy!  I’ve been working on this movie for the past year. Actually I’d like to make more films. I like editing. It puts all the things I like such as art and photography—I do photography—all in one form. I’m trying to juggle all those things really and start playing out again soon.

DVD Copies of THE NIGHTPORTERS: TELL IT LIKE IT IS are available for purchase for $15, payable directly to Ray Dafrico’s PayPal account at Rockandrollray@yahoo.com and eventually also will be available through Ray’s ReverbNation store link.

Category: Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All Hail Bubba! Why You Should Swing Down to the Star Bar for the Best Rockabilly/Roots Family Reunion on the Planet Every Memorial Day Weekend

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013 By:

Spike Fullerton plays an early Bubbapalooza. Clipping courtesy of Spike Fullerton.

By Eve Wynne-Warren
Contributing Writer

Bubbapolooza is a celebration of American roots music held every Memorial Day weekend at the Star Community Bar in Little 5 Points. This year marks the 22nd year that friends, fans and family have gathered together to hear some of the best rockabilly, country and rock music around, and the line-up is mighty exciting. On Friday May 24 starting at 8 p.m., hear The Belmont Playboys, Hi-Test, Ghost Riders Car Club, Blacktop Rockets, AM Gold and Slim Chance & the Convicts. Then on Saturday May 25 with doors at 4 p.m. (music at 5), the roster includes an even bigger herd of ATLRetro Kool Kats such as Caroline & the Ramblers, Cletis & His City Cousins, and Grim Rooster, plus Nashville’s The Billygoats, with Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers), Ohio’s The Twistin’ Tarantulas, Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition up from Missississippi, El Capitan & The Band With No Name (surf meets Ennio Morricone!) and McPherson Struts. And that’s not to mention a triad of surf bands – Kill, Baby, Kill, The Intoxicators and The Mystery Men? – downstairs in the Little Vinyl Lounge.

There used to be a bumper sticker adorning the rear of many an Atlanta vehicle that read, “The Star Bar, where things go Twang in the night.” The gracious booking agents who have worked the offices there over the years have, as any live venue does, varied the types of bands and shows offered since the doors opened on Halloween, 1991. However, few other Atlanta venues have been so inclined to offer as much Roots Americana as the Star. It’s not what you’d think of a swank place to “be seen”; it’s a Honky Tonk. People come there for the music. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that you didn’t have to be a certain age, race or one of the “beautiful people” to feel at home there…just love the music. That is the essence of Bubbapolooza, which was founded by Cabbagetown songwriter/guitarist Gregory Dean Smalley. Since Greg passed away from AIDS in the mid-1990s, every Bubba has been dedicated to him and the Boones Farm toast to his legacy is always an emotional moment. This year’s event also pays tribute to the memory of Earl Maddox, another Bubba godfather who passed away from cancer last year. Earl drummed for a slew of bands such as the Diggers, the Convicts and Gregory Dean and the Bubbamatics, and lately had been a character actor in movies. [Ed. note: read a companion story about Earl here and check out our 20th anniversary retrospective for some more history.].

This year ATLRetro decided to catch up with some Star Bar regular suspects, musicians and fans to give those “Bubba virgins” an idea of what it’s all about.

“My goal for this year’s booking of Bubbapalooza was to have a few more regional and national acts to go along with our great regulars and keep the spirit of the event alive,” says Bryan Malone, who does the booking for the Star Bar. “We have more touring acts this year than in the past few years. With Twistin’ Tarantulas, Jason Ringenberg and Jimbo Mathus, I feel we’ve done that.

One of the things that makes this event special is that it is a chance for some of the older fans to come out,” he adds. “Bubbapalooza is almost like a Star Bar family reunion. It’s the one time of year that we see faces and groups from the days of the club’s inception having a great time and enjoying great music.  It is not uncommon to hear the phrase “Happy Bubba” throughout the course of the weekend. This year as always, we donate a portion of the proceeds to the family of Gregory Dean Smalley who created Bubbapalooza. But this past year we lost an old friend when Earl Maddox passed, so we will also be doing something special in honor of him and his family. The whole thing is a family reunion with great friends and great music. There ain’t much else like it anywhere. Happy Bubba!”

Richard “Spike” Fullerton currently plays with Ghost Riders Car Club, on the Friday Bubba playlist, and in the first few Bubbas, with the HotPoint Rangers and later Kingsized, or so he thinks. “My memories are pretty dim,” Spike admits. “The first one, as I barely recall, was very much about humor and the feeling that Atlanta had a pretty good crop of young players in a genre that was on the way back. In the few years I’d been here the rockabilly/country scene had been evolving out of second rate clubs and into better venues. It felt like a sort of coming-out party that our music was vibrant enough to have a club to call our own. The Star Bar really became something vaguely akin to The Ace or Dingwalls in London, where our group just would naturally go there first and check who’s on the marquee later. I really feel fortunate to have had that moment in my musical career. One of my very first gigs back after work had kept me away was with the Ghost Riders Car Club at Bubbapalooza. It’s a very gratifying experience to come back to old friends in a familiar place, and find you’ve still got something to say to each other, musically and spiritually. I thoroughly enjoy the festival and what it has come to mean, to me anyway. I hope to play many more.”

I then asked drummer Mike Hammer to relate what might be his favorite year of playing the event. He said he had not been to every Bubba, but to most of them. “I became good friends with Greg Smalley back in those days,” Mike recalls. “My memory of a great gig was ‘94 or ’95, I think. [Ed. note: Mike was playing with Caroline and the Ramblers then]. The Lost Continentals were the next to last band, and the headliner was to be Scott Miller and his band, the Viceroys. At the last minute, we were told they could not make it for some reason, so we had the stage for the rest of the night. I think we even had Ben Friedman from Cigar Store [Indians] up with Amy Pike singing something. It turned into a wild show and the place was packed. I think it really pushed the Lost Continentals’ rep over the top here in town.”

The Billygoats play Bubbapalooza 20. Photo credit: Al Laipple.

I remember that. Those Bubba pickin’ party/encore sets are definitely some of my favorite memories. Mike will be at the drums with Cletis and the City Cousins on this year’s line-up. I asked Clete, who just may have been at every Bubbapolooza (even some only known to fans in an alternate universe), the same question. Alas there was a Braves game on and I got no reply. I will be sure to ask him in the middle of his set at the show.

Faylynn Owen, bartender at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club, booked the bands for the Star Bar in the early years, and damned, if she didn’t do great job of it, too. I asked her what year stood out in her mind. Drive by Truckers is probably the most now famous band to play Bubba,” Faye Lynn says. “I don’t really have a favorite memory of Bubba. I loved them all.”

This year’s Bubbapolooza is headlined by the one and only Jason of Americana Roots Rock royalty Jason and the Scorchers, backed by The Billygoats, one of my all-time favorite Star Bar bands, also from Nashville. I asked them how many Bubbapoloozas they’d played. “I can only say that, even though I know that we played Bubba may more times than this, we only remember the last three – ’cause we were sober.”

There you have it. Come early; there’s real good Bar-B-Q on the patio courtesy of Slope’s BBQ. And try to plan on coming both nights; choosing which night to be there is too hard. Bryan Malone booked the line-up this year and I gotta give him extra credit for doing a fine job and setting the ticket price so it’s easy to come both nights ($10 Friday/ $15 Saturday). Wear something comfortable and think about cabbing there and home if you like to have a drink with your “Twang.” If you’ve been before, find me and give me a hug. If it’s new to you, come join the friends and family, and we’ll raise a toast together to Greg Smalley, Earl Maddox and George Jones. I bet you’ll come back next year.

Category: Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Posted on: Feb 2nd, 2011 By:

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

© 2019 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress