Monday, October 23, 2017

R.I.P. Al Hurricane

I was on the air doing my radio show last night when I learned of the death of Alberto Sanchez, better known as Al Hurricane. He died from prostate cancer, He was 81.

Al was the undisputed king of New Mexico music. I've been a fan for about 40 years but I didn't get to meet him until 1998 when I interviewed him for the New Mexican. At that point he still was going strong as a musician.

Here's a copy of that interview

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 7, 1998

It's star time New Mexico style.

The band is pumping a Norteno beat and the audience is warmed up. Literally. It's an outdoor show on a hot afternoon, but nobody seems to mind the sweat and the sun.

"Are you ready for the star of the show?'' the man behind the keyboards asks. The crowd roars in approval.

"Well, sorry. We're not bringing him out yet.'' But the bandleader's smile gives away his little joke. "No, I'm just kidding. Here he is, ladies and gentleman, the star of the show, the Godfather of New Mexico music, and my father, Mr. Al Hurricane!''

The Godfather emerges from his tour bus parked to the left of the stage as all eyes turn to him. He cuts a dashing figure white suit, white shoes, a mop of black curly hair and a face marked by a black eye patch a grim souvenir of a life as a traveling musician turned into a celebratory trademark of a man and his music.

"Orale!" Hurricane shouts, waving his hand in greeting and grinning. Some shout back. Others just clap and cheer louder. By now it's a standing ovation and he hasn't even started.

He basks in the moment. This more than the money, he says is what propels Alberto Nelson Sanchez, the man behind the Hurricane.

For about 40 years Sanchez/Hurricane has been making a living with his music. He owns his own record company, Hurricane Records, which still thrives in the age of the compact disc. In past years his family also owned its own recording studio and nightclub in Albuquerque.

And while the entertainment business is full of stories of careers destroying family relationships, the musician's road seems to have had an opposite effect on the Sanchez clan.

Hurricane has shared the stage with his younger brothers "Tiny Morrie" and "Baby Gaby," who was part of a recent show at Camel Rock Casino. He has seen his son, Al Jr., grow up to become his bandleader, and his nieces and nephews find musical careers of their own. He currently is working with his youngest daughters on what he hopes will turn into a recording project.

But the road has had its share of pain and loss for Hurricane as well.

He lost an eye in an automobile wreck on the way to a gig in Colorado in November 1969.

Both of his marriages ended in divorce, the second one with extremely tragic consequences.

In 1986, soon after his second divorce, his ex-wife's boyfriend killed his 2-year-old daughter. The boyfriend, Ruben Lopez, and Hurricane's ex-wife each were convicted of charges of child abuse resulting in death. Both served time in prison. Hurricane had a heart attack soon after the killing.

But his family, his music and his fans all helped him heal and go on.

The Godfather! ("Don't call me `El Padrino'," he later cautions a reporter. "There's a singer down in Texas who goes by El Padrino.") As the crowd outside of Camel Rock Casino cheers, it's easy to see that the man called Hurricane has won a big spot in their hearts. And you can tell he feels that love. Maybe that's why he doesn't immediately take the stage, but goes right for the center of the crowd.

Holding a wireless microphone, Hurricane sings his first several tunes right there among the people. Between songs he shakes hands with his fans, tells jokes with the men and flirts with the ladies. (Nothing raunchy, mind you. Not far away in the audience is Bennie Sanchez Hurricane's mother). During one song, he dances with a little girl who has come to the show with her parents.

Indeed, it's an all-ages show. As Hurricane finally joins his band on stage and more couples start dancing, you can see many generations. Men and women who look old enough to be the parents of the 61-year-old Hurricane dance next to couples in their teens not to mention small children who scamper about the concert area.

It's an inter-generational gathering on stage also. Hurricane's son, Al Jr., 38, leads the band and is a recording artist in his own right. At the recent Camel Rock gig, two daughters, Erika, 20 and 13-year-old Danielle the twin sister of the girl who was killed sang a few songs. Other sons and daughters have played with him in the past.

Hurricane has been playing music in public since he was younger than Danielle.

He was born in Dixon in 1936, but spent most of his early years in Ojo Sarco. His mother gave him the nickname "Hurricane'' as a child.

"I couldn't reach across the table without spilling a bunch of things and knocking everything over," he said in a recent interview at one of his favorite Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque.

The Sanchez family moved to Albuquerque when Al was 9 years old. At first he found himself picked on because of his light complexion and natural blonde hair. (His jet black toupee is one of the worst-kept secrets in New Mexico entertainment circles).

But his music helped him win acceptance. Both his mother and his father, Margarito, who died in 1979, encouraged him in this direction, he said.

As a youngster he worked as a strolling troubadour at restaurants in Albuquerque's Old Town. As a student at Albuquerque High School he formed his own band.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bennie Sanchez began a career of promoting rock shows at the old Civic Auditorium in Albuquerque. Among those who performed were James Brown, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Hurricane said he played with Chubby Checker in Santa Fe at a show his mother produced.

The young Hurricane's group was frequently chosen to open the show for touring national acts and sometimes was hired as a ``pickup'' band for famous singers coming through town without their own backup groups.

This is how Hurricane hooked up with Fats Domino. For a short time he traveled with Domino, though he said he turned down a chance to tour Europe as a part of Domino's band in the early 1960s because he did not want to leave his wife and young children.

Hurricane had married his high school sweetheart Nettie. The couple had four children Al Jr., Darlene, Sandra and Jerry.

Hurricane said he also played some concerts as a guest guitarist with Marvin Gaye's band in the mid-1960s.

While he loved rock and soul music, by the late 1960s he realized "people here were hungry for Latino music."
The Godfather-to-be cut his first album Mi Saxophone in 1967 for a small independent record company. Soon after that, he and his family started Hurricane Records, which produced albums for Hurricane, Tiny Morrie and Baby Gaby, and later Al Jr.

More than 40 albums would be released on vinyl during the next couple of decades. Like other record companies in recent years, Hurricane now only deals in CDs and tapes. Hurricane said he has six of his own albums currently available on CD.

Meantime, brother Morrie and his mother set up a family recording studio on San Mateo Boulevard, purchasing recording gear from Norman Petty Studios in Clovis. "Norman Petty offered us a deal on his Buddy Holley equipment," Hurricane said.

And noticing that there was no venue in Albuquerque for Chicano music, the family bought the Far West nightclub on west Central Avenue.

Thus the Sanchezes became a mini-music industry of their own recording music at their own studio, distributing it on their own label and playing live at their own nightclub.

The family toured quite a bit in those days, mainly through the Western states with cities that had sizable Hispanic communities.

It was on the way to one of those out-of-state gigs that Hurricane lost his right eye.

"It was November First, 1969, in Walsenberg, Colorado,'' Hurricane recalled. "We were in our way up to a show in Denver. I was in a car, there were six of us, band members, you know. We were pulling a trailer with our equipment. Tiny, Gabe and my mom were behind us about two or three hours.''

The car hit an icy bridge and started to slide, Hurricane said. ``It turned over five times and I came out of the driver's side.''

There was a shard of glass stuck in his eye.

Hurricane's wife and children came to the hospital, he said. They got off the elevator as nurses wheeled him by in a gurney, "I heard my wife tell my son, `Look at that poor man. I hope your dad is not in that bad of shape.' My face was so swollen up my own wife didn't recognize me.''

The accident and the new eye patch didn't stop the music. But his first marriage soon came to an end. Hurricane remarried in 1971.

With his new wife, Hurricane had four more children Nelson, Erika and the twins Danielle and Lynnea.

By the early 1980s, Hurricane decided to sell the nightclub and the recording studio.

Tiny Morrie and his family moved to Mexico, where his son Lorenzo Antonio became something of a teen idol. Morrie's daughters would form a Spanish-language pop group called Sparx a few years down the road.

Baby Gaby by this point had decided to quit the music business. He became a postal worker but still performs occasionally.

The mid-1980s became the most horrible time in Hurricane's life the second divorce, the killing of Lynnea, the heart attack, which he says came about due to the stress of losing his little girl.

Lynnea Sanchez was pronounced dead on arrival at University of New Mexico Hospital on Nov. 5, 1986. An autopsy later showed that she died of blunt trauma to the back or the abdomen.

Hurricane's wife, Angela Sanchez, then 34, and her boyfriend Ruben J. Lopez, then 44, were arrested. In September 1987 a jury convicted both of child abuse leading to death.

Lopez was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was released in 1992 and is still on parole. Angela Sanchez was sentenced to six years and served about half her term.

Hurricane said he had no choice but to go on and be strong. "She went to prison and suddenly I had to be the mother and the father of my children, '' Hurricane said. "You know it really touched me. Last Mother's Day my son Nelson called me and said `Happy Mother's Day, Dad. You were my father and mother.' ''

These days Al Hurricane has slowed down. Not nearly as much touring, just a couple of gigs a week. He says he's working on a new album but doesn't want to say when to expect it. "Whenever I say, it would be later,'' he said.

But he still loves the music, still loves the applause, still loves it when a fan interrupts an interview to get an autograph and a kiss.

And the Godfather loves passing his music on to a younger generation. He recalled a recent show at a school in Las Vegas, N.M. The students he said were just as enthusiastic, if not more, than his regular audiences. "They were grabbing me, caressing me, '' he said. "I told the vice principal later that I felt like Elvis Presley. He told me, `You are our Elvis Presley.' "

Here are some videos, starting with one that was produced by Natalie Guillen for The New Mexican two years ago:

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Sunday, Oct. , 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Norma by NRBQ
Spookmaster by The Ghastly Ones
Between Me and You, Kid/ Six Two One by Mudhoney
Swampland by Pere Ubu
Skippy is a Sissy by Roy Gaines
Ride With Me by Sulfur City
Jettisoned by Thee Oh Sees
Two Headed Demon by Urban Junior
Dispatch from Mar-A-Lago by L7

R.I.P. Al Hurricane

Mi Saxophone
La Mucura
El Burro Norteno

Bikini Girls with Machine Guns by The Cramps
Ghost Rider by The Gories
Bela Lugosi's Star by Nekromantix

It's the Law by Bob Log III
Red Wine by Juke Joint Pimps
Walk Out by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
I'm Insane by T-Model Ford
Coffin Lid by Mark "Porkchop" Holder
Somebody's Child by The Routes
Marcia Funebre by Los Eskeletos
Thank You, Mr. K by Ty Segall
Teen Angel by Dirty Fences
What Can I Do? by Howlin' Max Messer

Cruel Cruel World by Jackie Shane
Chicken Pussy by Bongwater
The House at Pooneil Corners by Jefferson Airplane
Bad Attitude by Lisa Germano
In Germany Before the War by Marianne Faithfull
I'm Still Here by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, October 20, 2017


Friday, Oct. 20, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Til the Well Runs Dry by Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones
Big Time Annie's Square by Merle Haggard
How Cold Hearted Can You Get by Hank Thompson
Mama's Fried Potatoes by Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band
Okie's in the Pokie by Jimmy Patton
5 Minutes to Live by Joecephus & The George Jones Massacre
I Swear to God by Tyler Childers
Vandalism Spree by Hellbound Glory
Gamblin' Barroom Blues by Steve  Forbert
Cadillacin' by Paul Burch

Back Side of Dallas by Jeannie C. Riley
Shandy by Kris Kristofferson
The Taker by Ryan Bingham
Good Luck by Margo Price
Bellville County Line by Beth Lee & The Breakups
Sing a Worried Song by Legendary Shack Shakers
Such is the World We Live In by Chris Hillman
DYGKD by The Ghost Wolves

Bonaparte's Retreat by Pee Wee King
Bonaparte's Retreat by John Hartford
Flowers on the Wall by The Statler Brothers
You Broke My Heart by Steve Earle
Prayer by Ray Wylie Hubbard
You've Been a Good Old Wagon by David Bromberg
Aunt Peg's New Old Man by Robbie Fulks
Blues for Pilgrum by The Imperial Rooster
In the Boxcar by Joe West
You're Not My Same Sweet Baby by Chuck Prophet
Old Devil Time by Pete Seeger
Papa by Cynthia Becker
Nothing in This World for Me by Howard Armstrong
Happy Hour by Ted Hawkins
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: While the Fiddles Played "Bonaparte's Retreat."

Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow by Adolph Northen

It was on this day in 1812 that Napoleon Bonaparte, decided to retreat from Russia. In June of that year, he'd invaded with an army of 500,000 soldiers.  But things didn't go well.

As tells it:

During the opening months of the invasion, Napoleon was forced to contend with a bitter Russian army in perpetual retreat. Refusing to engage Napoleon’s superior army in a full-scale confrontation, the Russians under General Mikhail Kutuzov burned everything behind them as they retreated deeper and deeper into Russia. On September 7, the indecisive Battle of Borodino was fought, in which both sides suffered terrible losses. On September 14, Napoleon arrived in Moscow intending to find supplies but instead found almost the entire population evacuated, and the Russian army retreated again. Early the next morning, fires broke across the city set by Russian patriots, and the Grande Grande Armée’s winter quarters were destroyed. After waiting a month for a surrender that never came, Napoleon, faced with the onset of the Russian winter, was forced to order his starving army out of Moscow.

If that doesn't that sound like the basis for a good country song, I don't know what does.

Fastforward to 1937: Songcatcher Supreme Alan Lomax, traveling through Kentucky, recorded a fiddler named William Hamilton Stepp playing an old tune called "Bonaparte's Retreat." It sounded like this:

But before the tune made it into country music, it first had an impact on classical music. Aaron Copland used the melody for the main theme of his song "Hoe-Down" from his 1942 ballet Rodeo. Thus William Hamilton Stepp became rich and didn't have to work another day in his life.

Just kidding. Copland didn't give Stepp one bit of credit or a penny for the song.

Nice guy ...

In 1950, country star Pee Wee King added words to the melody. Nothing about burning Russian cities or starving soldiers. It was about a girl he met in a town way down in Dixie ....

Later in 1950, pop singer Kay Starr did a snazzy, jazzy version

Former Monkee Mike Nesmith, on his 1972 album Tantamount to Treason, took it to the realm of country rock (with a bizarre little intro that lasts about a minute before the vocals come in)

But my favorite version has always been by Glen Campbell, who turned it into a big country hit in the mis '70s. Here's a clip from a few years later on a TV show with Barbara Mandrell. She plays a mean steel guitar, but Campbell plays a meaner bagpipe.

I have to mention here that The Chieftains in 1976 released an album called Chieftains 6: Bonaparte's Retreat, the centerpiece of which is a 14-minute song called, you guessed it, "Bonaparte's Retreat." This actually is a medley of various tunes, seemingly unrelated to the song I've spotlighted here.

Unfortunately I couldn't find the whole piece on YouTube or Spotify or anywhere else, but I did spot the introduction.

So why didn't Napoleon XIV do a version of "Bonaparte's Retreat"?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey!

Lee & Marina: I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride ...
Seventy eight years ago today, in the city of New Orleans a baby boy named Lee Harvey Oswald was born. He would grow up to change America.

As a young Marine he defected to the Soviet Union. But just a few years later he returned to the U.S. with his Russian bride.

Then, on Nov. 22, 1963, from a window of the Texas School Book Depository, he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.

Unless you believe Oswald when he says he was just a Patsy.

Whatever the real story is, Oswald inspired some wild songs -- good, bad, ugly and beyond -- through the years.

Here are some of them. Let's start with that wigged out Texas combo, The Butthole Surfers, who to this day insist that "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave."

The Skatalites recorded this instrumental named for the assassin in Jamaica in the mid '60s -- while JFK's murder was still fresh on everyone's minds.

This one, "Love Song from Lee Harvey Oswald to Jackie Kennedy" by a guy named Albert DeMuth, is dark and abstract. It was released in October 2016.

And I would quell your endless doubt 
to be the lover you call 
with my back against the world 
and my ear against your wall. 

I just stumbled across this little piece of outsider art, posted only a couple of days ago. I wonder if the FBI has already visited Mr. Tommy Daniels.

But this Homer Henderson classic, "Lee Harvey," which also has been recorded by The Asylum Street Spankers, T. Tex Edwards, The Rockin' Guys, Laura Cantrell, Lucy Falcon and others, is the greatest Oswald song of all.

If you're into this sort of thing, check out my Tune-up column from a few years ago in which I reviewed Norton Records' Songs from The Grassy Knoll and the Conspiracy a Go-Go compilation from Turn Me On Dead Man Records.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Ring the Alarm by Quintron
Golden Key by The Vagoos
Don't Go Messin' by The Molting Vultures
Get Off the Road by The Man Eaters
Society of Plants by The Blind Shake
Stranger in Me Me by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
Hit the Road Jack by The Cat
Boys by The Beatles
Why is This Commercial by Negativland

Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man by Concrete Blonde
The Black Cat by The Tombstones
Satanas es su Nombre by Los Eskeletos
Don't Shake Me Lucifer by Roky Erikson & The Aliens
Season of the Witch by Donovan
Sunshine Superman by Husker Du
Hurdy Gurdy Man by Butthole Surfers
Burn She Devil Burn by The Cramps

I'm in Love by Satan's Little Helpers
Home is Where the Hate Is by Mary's Kids
Burying the Bodies by Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons
Caught in the Devil's Game by The Darts
This Situation by Lucy & The Rats
Pink Stillettos by The Stillettos
Start Together by Sleater-Kinney
Never Say Never by Romeo Void
Love is All Around by Joan Jett
Lusty Little Lucy by Nick Curran & The Lowlifes

James Leg by mark "Porkchop" Holder
Oh Sinner Man by Black Diamond Heavies
Natchez Trace by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
You Went Away by Phil Hayes & The Trees
Red Eye Blues by Pere Ubu
The Curtain Falls by Bobby Darin
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Benefit and Life Celebration of Micah Chappell

Micah Chappell, drummer for the Santa Fe band Chango, died this morning. He'd been suffering a terminal disease.

Friends and family already had been planning a benefit show for him and his wife Chris Trusnovic-Chappell, who in addition to the emotional stress, has been under financial strain because of Micah's illness.

The above poster was created by Sam Haozous last night, obviously before Micah died. Now the show is a benefit for Chris and life celebration for Micah. It's Wednesday, Oct. 18 at The Underground (the basement of Evangelo's), 200 W. San Francisco St., in downtown Santa Fe. The show starts at 9 p.m.

Playing there will be The Imperial Rooster from Espanola and The Dildonts (who I haven't heard, though I love their name.) Also there will be a silent auction offering the works of Santa Fe artists.

In addition to Wednesday's event, there is a Go Fund Me campaign to help Chris.

Try to make this show.

Friday, October 13, 2017


Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Weakness by Margo Price
Blood, Sweat and Murder by Scott H. Biram
Papa Was a Steel-Headed Man by Robbie Fulks
Honky Tonk Flame by Tyler Childers
Bonapart's Retreat by Glenn Campbell
Black Cat by Tommy Collins
Single Boy by Legendary Shack Shakers
Will I Ever Feel Fine by Tommy Miles & The Milestones
They'll Know Who I Am by Silkie with JJ

Demons in Your Head by The Imperial Rooster
Demon in My Head by Joe Buck Yourself
Maple Court Tragedy by Ed Sanders
Party Dolls and Wine by Eddie Spaghetti
Cheap Motels by Southern Culture on the Skids
Bad Elevator by Beth Lee & The Breakups
Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends by Buddy Miller
Killer Diller Blues by The Alabama Shakes

Spider, Snaker and Little Son by Ray Wylie Hubbard
If Mama Coulda Seen Me by Steve Earle
Lucifer and The Fallen Angels by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way by Steve Earle
'Merica (The Good Ole USA) by Hellbound Glory
The Poor Girl's Story by Eilen Jewell
My Man's a Jolly Railroad Man by Moonshine Kate
Moonshine Kate by Fiddlin' John Carson

Old Man Trump by Ryan Harvey
The Nail by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
Tallacatcha by Alvin Youngblood Hart
No More Crying the Blues by The Cactus Blossoms
Old Churchyard by The Wailin' Jennys
There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely by Possessed by Paul James
Walk Through This World With Me by George Jones
My Own Peculiar Way by Willie Nelson
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Enjoy the latest hillbilly episode HERE
Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Latest albums from Ray Wylie Hubbard and Steve Earle

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Oct. 13, 2017

The arrival of a new album by Ray Wylie Hubbard is more than just getting the latest from one of your favorite songwriters. It’s like getting a message in a bottle from some shipwrecked sea dog from centuries ago, who somehow beat Poseidon in a poker game to gain immortality. Or it’s akin to stumbling across the taped confessions of an old train robber who went mad hiding out in the desert — but still has a lot of insightful stories to tell. Or maybe it’s like finding some old scroll with the original version of the Book of Revelations — before God edited all the jokes out.

Hubbard’s latest, Tell the Devil I’m Gettin’ There As Fast As I Can, is another fine revelation from the crusty old Texan, who has been on a pretty impressive roll since shortly after the turn of the century. Turning seventy hasn’t softened Hubbard’s edges. In fact, he only seems to get tougher and ornerier with age. Tell the Devil takes its place with other recent Hubbard gems like GROWL, Snake Farm, and Grifter’s Hymnal.

Like the Bible, the album starts out with the creation story — a song called “God Looked Around,” in which Hubbard, in his knowing drawl and slow-moving guitar, tells the story of the origin of the universe, Adam and Eve, and that pesky snake. My favorite part is when Adam wakes up to find a beauty with “ravishing curly raven hair” and tells God, “Whoa, Lord! You done answered my prayers.”

But the next song, “Dead Thumb King” goes right to the hoodoo, as the narrator, lest you doubt, explains he’s armed with “some dirt from Lightnin’ Hopkins’ grave,” “bones from an old black crow” and a “rattlesnake tail inside my guitar.”

With “Spider, Snaker and Little Sun,” Hubbard pays tribute to a trio of musical inspirations — “Spider” John Koerner, Dave “Snaker” Ray, and Tony “Little Sun” Glover — from the darker edges of the 1960s folk revival. “It wasn’t no clean-cut folk group,” Hubbard explains. “They looked like sinister, low-key criminals.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard & Son
Ray Wylie & son Lucas playing during SXSW 2012
at The White Horse in Austin
The rocking “Old Wolf” is about an old blues singer in some dull club where “there ain’t a lot of action around the tip jar.” Hubbard introduces the shady clientele and people who work there, including the waitress (“Her name is Maggie, but they call her ‘Black Betty/Bam a lam, bam a lam!’ ” Hubbard sings, properly feeding the spirit of Leadbelly).

And in the title song, backed by the vocals of Lucinda Williams and mainstream country star Eric Church, he tells the story of some anonymous picker who plays a sunburst Gibson in an unnamed alt-country band (they opened for Son Volt in Los Angeles!) who’s in love with a woman “who can out-cuss any man.” (Speaking of cursing women, in “Dead Thumb King,” Hubbard growls, “I sleep with a woman who cusses in French”).

But the most moving, and most disturbing, love song here is the tragic “House of the White Rose Bouquet,” a minor-key acoustic tune with a foreboding mandolin in which the narrator lives in “a house of ill repute and sin” with “a young woman of desire” who “enjoyed the company of rakish men.” I won’t reveal what happens in this story, but it doesn’t end well.

The Prince of Darkness is the star of a five-minute picaresque tale called “Lucifer and the Fallen Angels.” He’s a hitchhiker who holds up Nervous Charlie’s Fireworks and All-Night Liquor Store, and may have killed a clerk in the process. But he also offers Hubbard some good advice about trying to get a publishing deal in Nashville. “Why go to Nashville when you ain’t never going to be mainstream?” the Devil advises.

I have the feeling that Lucifer’s not the first person to tell Hubbard that. But I don’t think he really cares, at least not anymore. And neither do his fans — as long as we can still hear that snake rattling from inside his guitar. Ray Wylie Hubbard’s website is And check his Twitter feed at

Also recommended:

* So You Wannabe an Outlaw by Steve Earle & The Dukes. Let’s cut to the chase: This is the best Steve Earle album in well over a decade. Through most of the 1990s and into the first part of this century, Earle consistently delivered some of the finest country music, alt-country, country-rock, or whatever you want to call it.

But at some point his albums started becoming less and less interesting. It’s tempting to say — as others have — that it was when his records started getting more and more political, but that’s actually kind of lazy. Some of his political songs from the early aughts — “Rich Man’s War,” “John Walker’s Blues” (a sympathetic look at John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”), and my personal favorite, the cheeky “F the CC” — are excellent protest songs. But somewhere during his Jerusalem/The Revolution Starts Now period, the magic seemed to start wearing off.

But So You Wannabe an Outlaw is hot stuff. It’s definitely his most country album. Country fiddles and steel guitar dominate several cuts and there are vocal contributions from Willie Nelson on the title song, and, even better, from Johnny Bush (he wrote “Whiskey River,” kids) on “Walkin’ in LA,” which may be the honky-tonkiest song you’ve ever heard by Earle.

Other highlights include the jumping “The Firebreak Line,” an ode to hotshot forest firefighters; “If Mama Coulda Seen Me,” which, with its nasty guitar hook and prominent fiddle, can be considered as Earle’s “Mama Tried”; and “This Is How It Ends,” a break-up song that has country star Miranda Lambert providing heartbreaking harmonies.

By all means, check out the deluxe version of this album, which includes four covers of Willie and Waylon Jennings songs from the 1970s outlaw era. These aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but Earle’s joyful delivery makes for a fine tribute.

Steve Earle will appear in a benefit concert for the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA with Joan Baez, Patty Griffin, and other special guests at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the KiMo Theatre, 423 Central Ave. SW in Albuquerque. Check for ticket availability at

Let's have some videos!

It's a live version of "Spider, Snake and Little Sun"

This is the official video for "House of the White Rose Bouquet"

Here's "The Firebreak Line"

And what do you know, I found Steve Earle and Ray doing "Pancho and Lefty" together

Thursday, October 12, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Magic of Moonshine Kate

Here's a hillbilly singer from the 1920s who deserves more recognition. She was born Rosa Lee Carson but she was known professionally as "Moonshine Kate.

Born in Atlanta 108 years ago yesterday, (Happy birthday, Kate!) she was the daughter of one of the biggest hillbilly stars of his time, Fiddlin' John Carson.

Here's some bio from her page at the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

Carson made her recording debut in June 1925 at the age of fifteen, when she accompanied her father on guitar on four songs for OKeh Records. At the session she also recorded two solo sides, "The Lone Child," a Tin Pan Alley song about a ragged, wandering orphan boy, and "Little Mary Phagan," a sentimental ballad, composed in 1915 by her father, in response to the Leo Frank case.

For the next nine years Carson accompanied her father and the Virginia Reelers on tour and on recording sessions in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Camden, New Jersey. In addition to the recordings she made with her father, she also recorded a handful of solos and duets on which she sang lead, including "The Drinker's Child," "Texas Blues," "The Last Old Dollar Is Gone," and "The Poor Girl Story." In 1928 Polk Brockman, OKeh's Atlanta records distributor and talent scout, gave Carson the nickname Moonshine Kate to enhance her hillbilly image, and she embraced it proudly for the rest of her life.

Moonshine Kate died in 1992, mostly forgotten except for by record collectors and fans of proto-country music.

Here are some of her songs. Let's start with "The Poor Girl's Story."

Here's a duet with her dad, which sports the best title in the bunch: "Ain't No Bugs on Me."

This one's my favorite: "My Man's a Jolly Railroad Man."

Here's the murder ballad about "Little Mary Phagan." It pins the murder on Leo Frank, who many now believe was framed for the crime because he was a Jew in the South.

True confession: I only got turned on to Moonshine Kate recently. The delightful Eilen Jewell (she's a former Santa Fe resident, ya'll!) covered Kate's "The Poor Girl's Story" on her latest album Down Hearted Blues. And here it is:

And hey, there's not one but two Moonshine Kate songs on the latest exciting Big Enchilada podcast -- "Railroad Man" by Kate, "Poor Girl" by Eilen. Check that out HERE

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday Fred Trump!

Freddy T
On Oct. 11, 1905 Fred Trump, the son of German immigrants, was born in The Bronx in New York City.

Happy birthday, Fred!

He's best known today for being the father of the current President of these United States, Donald J. Trump. (The elder Trump died in 1999, so he never got to see his son in the White House.)

But in 1950, when Donald was just a tiny orange tot, Daddy Fred crossed paths with a major figure in American music.

Woody Guthrie, in  December 1950, signed a lease at the Beach Haven apartment complex, built by Fred Trump's company near Coney Island.

And soon, the Dust Bowl Balladeer began hating his landlord mainly because of the "bigotry that pervaded his new, lily-white neighborhood, which he’d taken to calling `Bitch Havens.' ”

That's the observation of Will Kaufman, a professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain. Kaufman discovered some previously unpublished Guthrie lyrics and poetry while doing research at the Woody Guthrie Center’s archives in Oklahoma.

"Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of Fred Trump’s buildings and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings ..." Kaufman wrote in The Conversation in January 2016. "These writings have never before been published; they should be, for they clearly pit America’s national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire."
Woody G

Those writings include:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project

And, Kaufman wrote, Guthrie reworked his song “I Ain’t Got No Home” into a "blistering broadside against his landlord":

Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!

There is no known recording of Woody singing this song. But shortly after Kaufman published his findings, singer Ryan Harvey, along with Ani DeFranco and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello put it to music under the title "Old Man Trump."  using the melody of  “I Ain’t Got No Home.”

Here's that song.

Happy birthday, Old Man Trump!

Sunday, October 08, 2017


Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Monkey Bizness by Pere Ubu
Johnny & Bo by The Dustaphonics
The Straight Life by Mudhoney
Tanzen Gehn by The Dirtbombs
The Fox by Sleater-Kinney
Not a Sausage by The Mobbs
Blow My Mind by Hollywood Sinners
The Right Girl by The Fleshtones
One More Time by Stinky Lou & The Goon Mat
Springtime for Argentina by Billy Joe Winghead

Power Child by The Night Beats
Nothing New to Trash Like You by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Web by Thee Oh Sees
Ghosts by Travel in Space
I Saw Ghosts by Pierre Omer's Swing Revue
Contort Yourself by James Chance

Boob Scotch by Bob Log III
Lay Down by Left Lane Cruiser
Dirty Traveler by Lonesome Shack
Don't Mess With My Mind by The Stomachmouths
Here Come the Mushroom People by The Molting Vultures
Gypsy Woman by The Snails
Terrible Man by Escobar
London Blues by Suicide Generation
Little Girl by John & Jackie
Hootie Sapperticker by Barbara & The Boys

Take Me Me Away by Willis Earl Beal
Midnight Blues by Detroit Cobras
Drunk on Destruction by Mark Lanegan
Snake Behind Glass by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
Overtime by Benjamin Booker
Invitation to the Blues by Tom Waits
Hyper Real by Negativland
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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UPDATED: Link to gospel podcast fixed

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
8 am to 10 am Sundays Mountain Time
Substitute Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM

Email me during the show! terrel(at)
Here's the playlist :
Tone the Bells Easy by The Gospel Songbirds featuring Andrew Cheairs
All Wrap Up in One by Otis Wright
Trying to Do Thy Will by The Shaw Singers
Consider Me by Annette May
Nobody Knows by Robert Brown & The Sons of The South
He's the Same Today by The Kelly Brothers
Ain't That a Shame by The Sensational Saints of Ohio
Cloud Hanging Low (Part 2) by The Missionaires
Angels by Professor Johnson & His Gospel Singers

Viet Nam by The Dymanic Hughes Gospel Singers
I Want to Go Home by The Drexall Singers
Children Are You Ready by The Violinairres
Walls of Jericho by The Gospel Challengers
Where the Sun Never Goes Down by Willie Mae Williams
Soldiers of the Cross by Rev. Lonnie Farris
The Titantic by Bessie Jones, Hobart Smith and the Georgia Sea Singers
God is Ruler from Above by The Beckenridge Singers
Creep Along Moses by Mavis Staples

If you liked the music I played during the first hour of this show, you'd probably enjoy this classic Big Enchilada podcast episode Steve Terrell's Gospel Favorites

The Old Lady and The Devil by Bill & Belle Reed
Movement by Phillip Roebuck
I'm 900 Miles from Home by Fiddlin' John Carson
The Indian Tom Tom by Big Chief Henry's Indian String Band
Mole in the Ground by Bascom Lamar Lunsford
Casey Bill by Earle McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band
Hollywood  Rag by Cannon's Jug Stompers
My Man's a Jolly Railroad Man by Moonshine Kate
Last Kind Words by Geeshie Wiley

Louis Collins by Mississippi John Hurt
Skin and Bones by Jean Ritchie
Insane Crazy Blues by Memphis String Band
John Henry by Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers
Henry Lee by Dick Justice
Blues in a Bottle by Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers
I Wanna Hot Dog for My Roll by Butterbeans & Susie
God's Gold Ring by The Grizzly Souvenirs

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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Friday, October 06, 2017


Friday, Oct. 6, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Bloody Mary Morning by The Supersuckers
Corn Money by Defibulators
All American Girl by Angry Johnny & The Killbillies
Garden of Delights by Legendary Shack Shakers
Wish I Was in Love by Southern Culture on the Skids
Diamond Joe by East River String Band
Two Hands by Wanda Jackson
Black Rose by Waylon Jennings
Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll by Billy Lee Riley

High Low and Lonesome by Dinosaur Truckers
Ring of Fire by Raw Death
The Losing Kind by Joecephus & The George Jonestown Massacre
Hee Haw Hell by Dash Rip Rock
Git Back in the Truck by Hickoids
Anything But Goodbye by Tommy Miles & The Milestones
Bass Player is a Junkie by Joe West
One Road More by Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Tip That Waitress by Loudon Wainwright III
The Beautiful Waitress by Terry Allen
She's a Waitress (and I'm in Love) by 5 Chinese Brothers
Waitress Song by Freakwater
Mr. Sellack by The Roches
Waitret Please Waitret by Kinky Friedman with Little Jewford
Highway Cafe by Jesse Dayton

I Won't Back Down by Johnny Cash
Wildflowers by Chris Hillman
End of the Line by The Traveling Wilburys
Old, Fat and Stinky by The Imperial Rooster
Midnight Train by David Rawlings
Dead Thumb King by Ray Wylie Hubbard
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Thursday, October 05, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Alien Rockabilly of Billy Lee Riley

Happy birthday, Billy Lee Riley!

Born in Pocahontas, Arkansas exactly 84 years ago (Oct. 5, 1933),  Riley was the son of  a sharecropper who learned to play guitar from Afican-American farm hands.

Riley, who died in 2009,  never got as big as Elvis or Carl Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis (who played piano on his biggest hit), or other Sun Records stars.

But Billy Lee Riley made rockabilly go intergalactic.

It was a crazy novelty song he recorded for Sun Records in 1957 called "Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll" -- a tune that forever cemented the cosmic links between UFOs, 1950s rock 'n' roll, tacky sci-fi movies and Cold War paranoia.

You must realize that Commies and aliens were out to destroy America -- and some truly believed that a bunch of wild-eyed hillbillies playing savage, unholy music were leading the way.

Here's proof:

But it in the years before "Flying Saucers," in the early 1950s,  Riley gigged around Arkansas in various bands, including one called The Dixie Ramblers, which included Cowboy Jack Clement. Clement and fellow Rambler Slim Wallace recorded a couple of sides by Riley in 1956, which impressed Sam Phillips, who released a single for Sun Records.

Another classic Riley song for Sun was "Pearly Lee."

"Pearly Lee was the flip side of  "Red Hot," a song originally recorded by Billy "The Kid" Emerson for Sun Records. (Confession: The first version I heard was the mid-60s cover by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs.)

Bob Dylan, who befriended Riley decades later, thought "Red Hot" was was Billy Lee's masterpiece. Here's what Dylan said about the song just a couple of years ago at the 2015 Grammy Awards:

"So Billy became what is known in the industry -- a condescending term, by the way -- as a one-hit wonder. But sometimes, just sometimes, once in a while, a one-hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star who's got 20 or 30 hits behind him. And Billy's hit song was called "Red Hot," and it was red hot. It could blast you out of your skull and make you feel happy about it. Change your life. "

And later, Riley would even make a music video for the sexy, sleazy Scopitone company. (I've featured Scopitone a couple of times HERE and HERE

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Tribute to the American Waitress

She's more than just a server of food.

In American song, the waitress is a friend and frequently a fantasy lover of truckdrivers, starry-eyed poets, lonesome drifters and other lost souls on the Lost Highway.

She's appeared in the work of some of my favorite songwriters. Below are just a few examples

Loudon Wainwright III has some advice that any waitress would appreciate in a song "for Patty and all the girls ..." Tip that waitress!"

The Roches sing "Mr. Sellack" from the point of view of a waitress having to grovel to get her job back.

Here's a classic by Santa Fe's own Terry Allen, "The Beautiful Waitress."

Sometimes waitresses fantasize about their customers, at least in the fantasies of Dan Hicks. Here's "Sweetheart (Waitress at a Donut Shop)," sung by Maryann Price.

Kinky Friedman wrote at least a couple of songs about waitresses. Here's "Waitret Please Waitret."

But Kinky's greatest waitress song is "Highway Cafe" sung here by Tom Waits on a Kinky tribute album.

Sunday, October 01, 2017


Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Dispatch from Mar-a-Largo by L7
Treat Her Right by Los Straitjackets starring Mark Lindsey
Crime of Love by Jack Oblivian
Sheela Na Gig by PJ Harvey
Valley of the Wolves by The Ghost Wolves
Makin' Love by The Sloths
Headin' For the Texas Border by Flamin' Groovies
Sorrow Avenue by The Howlin' Max Messer Show
Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was in by Mojo Nixon

Warm Hands (Freedom Returned) by Ty Segall
Mountains of the Moon by The Grateful Dead
Night Expo by Thee Oh Sees
I'll Take It by James Leg

Captain of the Creeps by Oh! Gunquit
Billy by Boss Hog
You'll Bring Me Flowers by The Darts
Hey Little Girl by The Dead Boys
I'm the Unforgiver by The Masonics
Monkey With Your Tail by The Cramps
Let it All Out by The Movements
Corner Remix by The Grannies

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart by J.C. Brooks & The Uptown Sound
Welfare Bread by King Khan & The Shrines
If I Ever Get Home Before Dark by Gogol Bordello
Happiness by Lisa Germano
I Thought He Was Dead by Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
Loser by Family in Mourning (with Lydia Lunch)
My Man is a Mean Man by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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R.I.P. Al Hurricane

I was on the air doing my radio show last night when I learned of the death of Alberto Sanchez , better known as Al...