I decided to change the name of this column to "This Road of Music" from "Thoughts From Music Row." Thanks to the editors for allowing me that freedom. I just felt I'd like to cover other musical items in addition to things here in Nashville. I'm definitely still based here, but do a good bit of traveling and thus thought a title change was in order.
Now, with that out of the way, it's June and that usually means beautiful weather in just about all parts of this great country of ours. Although hampered by many a cheap, greedy and evil soul, I do still love it. Don't you? I mean, all you have to do is take a look around the globe and be thankful. Great folksingers like Chuck Berry would have never come along and help invent rock 'n' roll if this wasn't such a melting pot. The renowned guitarist Duck Baker was the first person I ever heard refer to Chuck Berry as a folksinger and I had to totally agree with him. Where else have we ever heard such great stories — true American tales told with such life and energy. Not to mention a guitar style that would forever be copied in every form of popular music.
By the way, there's a beautiful new CD available by Duck Baker and Molly Andrews on Day Job Records. It's a great collection of traditional and modern tunes. Baker's great off-beat guitar style (disciplined at times, in this case, to accommodate Andrews' singing) is so refreshing. There's also some great instrumentals. As far as I know, the disc is only available at their shows but, trust me, if you get a chance to hear these two, don't pass it up. Duck's a complete person now. He came to Nashville a few months ago with one thing in mind — meet Chet. He accomplished that mission and actually sat down and played a few songs with Mr. Atkins, another guitar hero of his along with Mr. Berry. Molly Andrews has a pure, beautiful voice and would hold even the most disinterested party listening.
Another fine record I was enlightened to, thanks to my old friend Orville Moss, is an album called Joshua, by the late Peg Leg Sam on Tomato Records. This disc has been available since 1989, but I was thrilled to have it. We're talking real blues y'all. This man was a true original. The South Carolina native was a shoe shine boy, a cook on a ship, a house boy and a hobo and played his music, starting out in innumerable southern towns.
This crooked-faced black man with the whittled-fence-post leg claims to have based his harmonica style on that of Elmore "Shorty" Bell. This record with guitarist Louisiana Red is so full of life, so full of soul, it just won't quit! I keep going back and playing it time and time again. I'm only sorry I never had the opportunity to hear this man live. Peg ended up playing the summer festival circuit, as many obscure blues and folk artists do. He apparently had a real magnetic personality that would keep everyone smiling and listening. The crowd-drawing vehicle for Chief Thundercloud's medicine show for a while, Peg Leg Sam endured many of life's bad turns including a knife scar, which made his face seem lopsided, incurred when he once tried to break up a fight between a man and a woman. According to Kent Cooper's liner notes, he kept a great "up" attitude throughout his life. When he passed on he left behind many fans and friends to retell all the stories of his escapades and to listen to his music, thanks to those who saw the great need for his music to be put on record along with other American greats such as Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, etc. His is a legacy of laughter and great music.
Until next time, Adios.
(Alan Rhody was born in Louisville and is a successful songwriter and performer now living in Nashville, Tenn.)