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This lineup has been together almost 12 years now!
THE ZIG GAZETTE
August 26 2014
By Jim Downing
Featuring The Zigs: Jim Ziegler, Adam York, Maddog Johnson, Jim Downing
Friday, August 29 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside – dance into the holiday!
THE BIG NEWTS
“It is finished.” said Teb Blackwell when he called last week.
Longtime Gazette readers know about this work which has been in progress for the last seven years.
“IT” is the second volume of “Oklahoma Bands And Discography 1955-1975” by Teb Blackwell and Rhett Lake.
These two guys are record collectors specializing in records made in Oklahoma. They initially set out to make a definitive discography from the golden age of rock and roll. But they soon realized there were many very important bands who never put out records, so they expanded the scope of their product.
Rhett took Oklahoma City and the southern half of the state. His effort, Volume One, came out in 2010. Teb took Tulsa and northern Oklahoma.
He contacted me early on because someone suggested I was full of trivia and might be able to help him track down some of the people he was interested in. I was able to help in that regard, and I wrote a couple of chapters for the book as well.
At first, people were reluctant to talk to him. Sometimes it took a call from me to tell these people he was OK. At some point the floodgates opened and he was getting swamped with input. About midway through the project, someone swiped his bag that had all his research in it and he had to practically start from scratch. He did back things up on his second run.
He made me a CD of rare Tulsa records that includes Clyde Stacy, David Gates and The Accents, The Johnny Cale Quintet, Wes Reynolds, Larry Bell, etc.
He went to a Leon Lifers meeting with a little record player and announced that he had Leon's first record, “Lovin At Night” by David Gates and The Accents. After Leon's first recorded piano solo, the room erupted in applause.
Teb also met with Gil Fellini who had saved some of the recordings from “Top Ten Dance Party” on channel six. (originally they had one mike on the live band, and that didn't work out too well. Later they had us lip-sync to tapes made at Fellini's) He put together a CD from those tapes, which may come with the book. Gil was the engineer at KOTV and had a home studio where many garage bands recorded. He also helped build Derrick Studios: “I don't need any schematics – this goes here and that goes there...”
I told Teb I heard a band one time called “Down Home” that was just fantastic and wondered if he had heard of them. He hadn't, but his research turned up one of the most fascinating stories in the book. They were a great little band from Blackwell that went to California and almost made the big time.
There are some inconsequential bands included, and some that should have been in, but remained elusive either by choice or attrition. But there are plenty of little nuggets about where some of our best-known musicians started out, who influenced who, and many cross-currents. I would not want to compile the index for this.
In the movie Muscle Shoals, Steve Winwood observes “There are certain places where the music just seems to come up out of the ground.” Robbie Robertson made a similar observation to Greil Marcus in “Mystery Train”.
Tulsa seems to be one of those places. Most people who grew up here don't know that, but musicians around the world do.
The book will probably be published this fall, at cost or just about, for a very reasonable price, Teb says. Anyone who is a fan of Tulsa’s rich musical history should have a copy. I'm hoping that I can launch some sort of media campaign when it becomes available. Rest assured that you will know about it via the Zig Gazette.
FRIDAY August 29 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside – dance into the holiday!
The Zigs encourage you to forward this to everyone you have ever met. Anyone who would like to receive The Zig Gazette directly, or if you have changed your email address, send a blank email with “fresh meat” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org If you feel you have received this hysterical screed in error and somehow wish to be deleted, too bad. For entertainment use only – not to be taken seriously. Any correspondence we receive might end up in print. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this Gazette. Side effects may include yaws, rickets and hebephrenia. If condition persists, consult your physician. Not shown actual size. Use with proper ventilation.
The Zig Gazette
July 24 2014
by Jim Downing
This Friday 7-25 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside 9:30
The Zigs: Jim Ziegler, Adam York, Maddog Johnson, Jim Downing
A while back there was a popular local band named Fully Loaded. Larry Leak was the driving force; guitarist, lead singer and songwriter. It was a power trio with Larry's brother-in-law, Larry Teter on bass and the multi-talented Craig Galloway on drums and vocals.
Leak was a fine guitarist who played a Les Paul and a Gibson Flying V. He was good looking, had curly blonde hair and a sunny attitude. He had a great voice, wrote some good songs and was a good slide player too.
He graduated from McClain in 72 and worked as a cement mason most of his adult life.
I actually invited myself into the band and played organ with them on quite a few gigs. They had done an album at Long Branch in the late eighties. My 90's band, The Oscillators, actually covered one of their songs “I'll Always Want You There”, on our 1997 CD. You can hear it on Maddog Johnson's Reverbnation page, www.reverbnation.com/maddogjohnson.
Larry passed away July 10. He is survived by his wife and son and three brothers. He was a talented guy and will be missed by all who knew him.
STEEPED IN SOUL
Zig showed up at our last gig in a Muscle Shoals T-shirt. His wife Marjorie had been visiting family in Alabama and stopped in Muscle Shoals and toured both studios. We were all insanely jealous.
If you haven't seen the movie, Muscle Shoals, we urge you to rent it or stream it or view it in whatever manner you consume movies. Netflix has it. I rented the DVD and watched it twice. Then PBS showed it a while back and I watched it twice again. Not only is it a great story, but it's one of the best executed documentaries I've ever seen. It's amazing how much great music came out of that little place in the middle of nowhere.
Sophia and I also went to Alabama in June and lounged on the beach off Mobile Bay.
We took two of our 12-year-old grand daughters with us.
On the way back, we spent two nights in Memphis.
We took the girls to Graceland. I didn't know they were Elvis fans, but they sure are now. It's mind boggling to see 300 gold and platinum records all at once.
I lived on the outskirts of Memphis in 1970. At that time, Beale Street was blighted; everything was boarded up except the New Daisy Theater and Schwabb's Variety Store.
I returned in 1989 with Jimmy Ellis for the International Blues Competition and Beale Street was jumping; like a little French Quarter.
We went to see the Stax Studio, but it was abandoned and surrounded with a high chain link fence. Tank Jones grabbed a piece of conduit and started fishing under the fence. “I'm getting a brick!” he said. A wall was falling down near where we stood. I got a brick too. The city had condemned the little shopping center. Citizens got up a petition to save it, but it was torn down anyway.
In 2003, some angels put some money together and rebuilt the place as an exact replica of what stood there before!
Stax was a little mom and pop recording company in a bad, but integrated neighborhood. They started out in the old Capitol Theater recording country music. Then the neighbors started dropping in; people like Booker T & The MGs. Furry Lewis lived across the street. Willie Mitchell lived less than a mile away. Aretha was born in that neighborhood.
Music had a lot to do with improving race relations. Just like in Muscles Shoals, black and white people came together to make music and they didn't see the color of a person.
Stax recorded Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam And Dave, Eddie Floyd, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Albert King, William Bell, Isaac Hayes, The Mar-Keys, The Bar-Kays, and many others. By the 70s, it was a multi-million dollar business.
So I returned to Stax. I could've spent a couple of days there, but I only had a few hours. It is now The Stax Museum of American Soul Music. It traces the history of soul from it's roots in gospel, old-time country music, and blues. Yes, a lot of soul singers listened to The Grand Old Opry every week. It's not just about Stax; it also features Muscle Shoals, Motown, Hi Records, and Atlantic.
The studio is an exact replica. The booth was where the stage was, and the room – the former auditorium, has a sloping floor. You can hear the resonance of that room on all the Stax tracks. In that room are Duck Dunn's Precision Bass, Steve Cropper's Telecaster, and Booker T Jones' Hammond M3 and Al Jackson's drum set.
Thelma's Satellite Record store next door is now the gift shop.
Behind the complex are about three blocks of large buildings which house the Stax Foundation and a music school. Steve Cropper was hosting a workshop the day I was there.
They have a web site and a Facebook page.
It's a great story how a little business in a rough neighborhood has become such a wonderful place with a lasting legacy of a great American musical genre.
The Zigs encourage you to forward this to everyone you have ever met. Anyone who would like to receive The Zig Gazette directly, or if you have changed your email address, send a blank email with “fresh meat” in the subject line to email@example.com If you feel you have received this hysterical screed in error and somehow wish to be deleted, too bad. For entertainment use only – not to be taken seriously. Any correspondence we receive might end up in print. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this Gazette. If condition persists, consult your physician. Not shown actual size. Use with proper ventilation
The Zig Gazette
May 23 2014 –Editor J. Downing
Jim Ziegler, Adam York, Michael Johnson, Jim Downing
Our Website -all things Zignificant
Tonight 5/23 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside
Food, beverages, party people, dancing, general mayhem
And classic blues, soul, & rock and roll
The Recent Past
The Zigs did a gig without me. That's only about the fourth one in twelve years, so I'm only on probation. The peerless Mike Cox filled in for me, as he did when I had that inconvenient cardiac event at the Chuck Blackwell benefit. Mike is a serious musician, but a silly person. He was whelped in Bixby, but lived in El Paso for the last two decades, where he played with Geronimo Black, son of Jimmy Carl Black. If you don't know who Jimmy Carl Black is, you can look him up. Mike was part of the progressive rock group Friends back in the 70s, and they are having a reunion show in Norman this fall.
By the way, he said, “The Zigs sound like the Beatles.”
Tonight 5/23 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside
Yes, we have a rare public gig in Tulsa this week.
Maybe we need a new act. Well, we are seriously considering that. We won't give out the details, lest someone steal our brilliant concept. We could become a Show Band and do these lucrativer casino gigs.
This reminds me that when Maddog and I were in The Oscillators, we made a trip to St. Louis with our guitarist Joe Willie Davis to ready his fiancé’s house for sale. She lived across the river in Alton Illinois.
One night we went to this big Supper Club in one of the nearby towns and saw a show band. A big banner above the stage said The King Of Hearts -America's Band. You didn't even know we had a band, did you? They had a horn section and uniforms. Since they played to older crowds they were doing top 40 of the last 30 years or so, including such easy listening stuff as Tony Orlando and Wayne Newton material. There was nothing original or even unusual about their repertoire; it was all songs that you've heard quite enough already, thanks.
They did throw in an occasional Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears song; but only the big hits, of course.
They had 'snappy patter' – tired Jackie Mason jokes about the songs, and even short, predictable skits. I told Joe and Maddog, “I will bet you $10 that at some point we are going to see a rubber chicken.” We did, about the middle of the second set..
These Rubber Chicken Bands could be seen anywhere in the 70s on what was The Holiday Inn circuit. They would play big lounges in major hotels for a week or two at a time, five to seven nights a week, even with Sunday matinees. They would wear tuxes with frilly shirts or snazzy colorful matching jumpsuits or leisure suits.
A decent musician could actually make a living doing this; the gigs paid well and you could earn a few hundred bucks a week. After eating out and dry cleaning you might have some left to send home for child support.
But there was little or no artistic satisfaction in it. It was a job. The songs were tightly arranged and played the same way every time; sometimes even the solos were just like the record. Many of us would rather play our own music and even jam for a small crowd that was really paying attention, or to put it another way, starve.
I wonder who sells rubber chickens.
Tonight 5/23 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside
What year did the Zigs originate? About 1991 or 2 or 3, says Zig.
Zig alumni over the years include Dennis Gaylor, Tom Hanford, Damon Daniel, Tim Ziegler, Phil Seymour, Jerry Naifeh, Matt Kohl, Pete Huckabee, David Tanner, John Hoff, Robbie Armstrong, Adam York, Scott Meeker, Mark Snider, Ron McRory, Frank McPeters, and Bill Raffensperger. Five of these people have gone over to the other side. I've often said that people will do anything to get out of this band. But that tactic won't get you out of this predicament. We channel the spirits of our departed brethren the best we can. It's like a séance. So if you hear notes that no one seems to be playing, or catch glimpses of faces that aren't there, it's just another one of the paranormal aspects of our musical magic.
Tonight 5/23 Crow Creek Tavern Brookside
The Zigs encourage you to forward this to everyone you have ever met. Anyone who would like to receive The Zig Gazette directly, or if you have changed your email address, send a blank email with “fresh meat” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org If you feel you have received this hysterical screed in error and somehow wish to be deleted, too bad. For entertainment use only – not to be taken seriously. Any correspondence we receive might end up in print. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this Gazette. If condition persists, consult your physician. Not shown actual size. Use with proper ventilation
The Zig Gazette
January 30 2014
By Jim Downing
THE ZIGS: Jim Ziegler, Scott Mariner, Maddog Johnson, Jim Downing
Chuck Blackwell Benefit
Saturday, February 1
The Dusty Dog Saloon 51st and Harvard
Charles Edward Blackwell is a world-class drummer, and a class act. He influenced other well-known Tulsa drummers such as David Teegarden, Jamie Oldaker and Jim Keltner.
Chuck was playing in bars when he was just 13, with a note from his parents. Right out of Central High, he and Leon toured briefly with Jerry Lee Lewis and Bobby Lee Trammel. He went to L.A. With Leon Russell, David Gates and Johnny Williams and was soon gigging with The Everly Brothers and Little Richard. Then he was the drummer with The Shindogs, the house band on ABC's “Shindig” rock and roll show 1964-1966.
After that, he was in a band called Colours with Carl Radle that did a couple of albums. Next came Taj Mahal's original band of Okies with Jesse Ed Davis and Gary Gilmore. They appear in the Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus movie. The story is that Ringo pointed at Chuck and said “I want to play like That guy.”
He is said to have done some gigs with Jimi Hendrix. I've seen a picture of Jimi, Chuck and Brian Jones in front of the Eiffel Tower.
He continued to work with Leon and played on most of his hits. Leon's “Shootout On The Plantation” is about a night at Jimmy Karstein's house when Jr. Markham's lady friend was in Chuck's room. Chuck was a chick magnet, ahem. He joined Delaney & Bonnie and friends (Delaney was a Shindog) and that morphed into Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs And Englishmen band.
He continued with Leon's projects, wrote some songs, and played on Freddie King's Shelter releases.
He's also in a movie with Pete Huckabee, Ron Morgan, Jack Palance and Andy Warhol. It's called “Cocaine Cowboys”, about a band that's dealing.
Then he had enough of the decadent rock and roll lifestyle. To save his sanity, he quit the music business and established Blackwell's Stained Glass in Broken Arrow. He had the first beveling machine in the region. His work is all over town. After my house fire, he gave me a new front door with a beveled glass window in it.
When Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd sat in with The Zigs five years ago, he specifically asked if we could get Chuck Blackwell to come play a few, too. Chuck graciously accepted and it was one of our best sets ever.
A while back the glass business wound down and Chuck started gigging again. He is still a phenomenal player. He's had some health problems we won't go into, but some of it would've sidelined most people. Blackwell is obviously a survivor. One thing led to another, and he was in the hospital a couple of times this year. He's doing generally better, but it's certain he at least has some deductibles to take care of. He probably doesn't get any royalties for all the hit records he played on.
Besides being extremely talented and having two successful careers in the arts, he has the soul of a true artist. He's kind, thoughtful, generous, humble and wise. No one has a bad word to say about him.
His good friend and head cheerleader David Thayer has put together an impressive line-up of local talent (and us too, at 7:45) to play 12 hours this Saturday at The Dusty Dog, 5107 S Harvard. Come enjoy some food and drink and good music for a very worthy cause, or just pop in and donate to the kitty. You can also donate remotely through paypal account: email@example.com. Or you can send help directly to Chuck Blackwell at P.O. Box 150364 Tulsa OK 74115.