Paducah Native Rocks at SUN

Rockin' & Ballin' The Jack ( Wix Records )

Run Fool Fun ( Wix Records )

Wayne Keeling

By Adriaan Sturm

Rockabilly music has made a quiet comeback over the last couple of years. Bands like The Cigar Store Indians, The Legendary Shack Shakers and The Blue Moon Boys, just to name a few, are giving audiences from the East to the West coast a chance to hear the music which stood at the birth of rock & roll. The success of the new groups even brought old time Rockabillies like Billy Lee Riley, Narvel Felts and Sonny Burgess out of retirement into the studio for new recordings of the music from the early years of their careers. Wayne Keeling never recorded during the fifties and being born in 1939 in Paducah, Kentucky hardly qualifies him as a new Rockabilly artist. Wayne started out in music in the late fifties but in order to provide for his family he pursued a career in law enforcement leaving music for the weekends. Early retirement and a phone call from a small independent record company he had sent a tape in the mid-eighties brought Wayne to the famous SUN studio in Memphis; first in 1997 which produced "Rockin' & Ballin' The Jack" and for a second time in 1998 resulting in "Run Fool Run".

A lot has been written about the recording sessions which took place at 706 Union in Memphis during the late fifties. After Sam Phillips recorded Elvis Presley, area talent started knocking on his door and Sam listened and recorded. The sessions always were loose and it was common for SUN artists to play on each other's records. This tradition continues on Wayne Keeling's CDs with two SUN legends; J.M. Van Eaton, the legendary drummer and Billy Lee Riley on guitar, harmonica and vocals. Add Wayne's brother Bobby Keeling, who played with Ray Smith, Brenda Lee and others during the rock & roll days, on lead guitar and the sound captured on these CDs comes very close to the original SUN sound from the fifties.

"Rockin' & Ballin' The Jack" covers the SUN spectrum from country songs like 'How's My Ex Treating You" and "Weary Blues" to a rockabilly version of Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie" and standards like Carl Perkins' "Matchbox" and Warren Smith's "I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry". "Rock Me (Jammin' Around)" gives, as the title indicates, everybody a chance to let it all hang out. This jam is repeated in "Ballin' The Jack" on which Wayne is joined by Billy Lee Riley on vocals. The CD closes with "'Till You Get Home" a nice country rocker written by Wayne and holding the promise for more new material.

"Run Fool Run", Wayne's second CD for WIX Records, again offers some fine SUN country rock in "So Long I'm Gone", "Come On, Let's Go" and the self penned "Knockin' On Your Door". Overall this second effort has a stronger honky-tonk feel to it, especially on "I'll Pour The Wine", "Shackles And Chains", "You're So Cold I'm Turnin' Blue" and Harlan Howard's "I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Today". The addition of a saxophone does wonders for "In Your World" and Wendell Lee, who played piano with Johnny Burnette, twinkles the ivories on Wayne's version of "You're Sixteen".

Rockabilly music was at the forefront of Rock & Roll music which nearly destroyed country music. Ofcourse country made a come back and it, nowadays more pop than ever, enters the new millennium at the peek of it's popularity. Ironically small independent labels, which gave rockabilly it's start, are now home to some of the best country/rockabilly talent around. Wayne Keeling does not wear a black cowboy hat but he knows how to sing country with just the right amount of rock thrown in to keep things jumping. (WIX Records, P.O. Box 27, Hohenwald, TN 38462 - E-Mail : WixRecs@aol.com )