Friday, June 30, 2017


Friday, June 30, 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
Big Balls in Cowtown by Don Walser
I'm the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised) by Johnny Paycheck
Cowboy Boots by The Backsliders
Girl on the Billboard by Del Reeves
Gotta Get Up Every Morning by Junior Brown
Poor Rambler by Sturgill Simpson
Daddy Was a Badass by Jesse Dayton
A Week Before the Fourth of July by Boris McCutcheon
Fourth of July by Dave Alvin

American Epic Set
Mama's Angel Child by Jack White
On the Road Again by The Memphis Jug Band
Ragged But Right by Riley Puckett
Three Nights in a Barroom by Wade Mainer
Louis Collins by Mississippi John Hurt
Last Kind Words by Christine Pizzuti
Mal Hombre by Lydia Mendoza
Killer Diller Blues by Alabama Shakes

Cheap Motels by Southern Culture on the Skids
A Six Pack to Go by Leon Russell
Delete and Fast Forward by Willie Nelson
Don't Cheat in Our Hometown by Ricky Skaggs
Back Street Affair by Webb Pierce
Trophy Girl by Bobby Bare
Girl at the End of the Bar by The Waco Brothers
I Love You, Baby (And I Hate Myself) by Uncle Dave & The Waco Brothers
Worried Mind by Johnny Dowd

Truck Stop by Marty Stuart with Emmylou Harris
Write Your Own Songs by Dale Watson & Ray Benson
Bottom Dollar by Panama Red
I Left My Car at Maria's by Joe West
I Changed the Locks by Lucinda Williams
Selfishness in Man by George Jones
I Love You a Thousand Ways by Lefty Frizzell
Country Bumpkin by Cal Smith
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: To Sing Those American Tunes

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
June 30, 2017

Back during the height of Watergate, Paul Simon sang, “We come in the age’s most uncertain hour to sing an American tune.” 

We’ve had lots of uncertain hours since then, and I still find strength in those American tunes, the old creaky blues, gospel, hillbilly, jug-band records, those crazy songs of joy, wry humor, and simple wisdom sung by people living in severe poverty in isolated regions, in an era of harsh injustice and racial apartheid. 

I find comfort in those weird musical stories of horrible murders, of hopping trains, of hopeless drunks finding the Lord, of spooky old pines where the sun never shines, of carefree ducks diving into rivers of whiskey.

So during this uncertain, tense, and violent era I was heartened in recent weeks when PBS presented American Epic, its excellent documentary series about the dawn of the American recording industry in the mid-1920s, when record companies sent talent scouts to scour the hills, hollers, and honky-tonks of the South to find musicians that the folks in rural America could relate to. 

The series, directed by British filmmaker Bernard MacMahon and narrated by Robert Redford, focuses on a handful of greats like the Carter Family, Mississippi John Hurt (a sweet, gentle spirit who is one of my major musical heroes), blues pioneer Charlie Patton, and South Carolina gospel singer and preacher Elder J.E. Burch — whose parishioners included the young Dizzy Gillespie. 

American Epic features three episodes of musical history, plus one called “The American Epic Sessions,” which consists of performances of (mostly) old songs by contemporary artists including Alabama Shakes, Taj Mahal, Los Lobos, Beck, Willie Nelson with the late Merle Haggard, and more. These tunes were recorded on an old pulley-driven Western Electric Scully lathe, the kind that the record companies hauled around to record the immortals in the ’20s and ’30s. Throughout “Sessions,” the directors show a near cargo-cult fascination with this Rube Goldberg-like device.

Though the South is the main focus of American Epic, there are also excursions into the West. There is a segment on Tejano music queen Lydia Mendoza and a trip to Hawaii, where we hear the story of Joseph Kekuku, the man who invented the steel guitar. 

And there is a segment on Hopi music, telling the story of how racist religious nuts in Congress sought to ban the tribe’s Snake Dance, calling the Hopi religion “a weird cult” after unauthorized film footage of the dance — which had been attended years before in Arizona by President Theodore Roosevelt — leaked out. In response, a group of Hopi religious leaders went to Washington, D.C., in 1926 to perform the Snake Dance for a crowd of dignitaries on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. They also recorded several songs for RCA Victor.

Being a jug-band fanatic, my favorite segment deals with the Memphis Jug Band, led by Will Shade. At one point the rapper Nas talks about the similarities between hip-hop and jug-band music. “These guys are talking about carrying guns, shooting something, protecting their honor, chasing after some woman who’s done them dirty.” Nas, backed by an acoustic band led by Jack White, performs a version of the Memphis Jug Band’s “On the Road Again” in the “Sessions” episode.

Sony has released nine American Epic albums, including a single-disc soundtrack of the artists covered, a five-disc box set, a “Sessions” soundtrack by modern musicians, and several for individual artists and genres. Critic Robert Christgau recently joked — was he joking? — that “American Epic is a Sony plot to poach/rescue the American folk music franchise from the Smithsonian and the great Harry Smith.”

Most of this music is available on other compilations. Here are some other great American roots-music collections:

Harry Smith
* Anthology of American Folk Music. The fabulously eccentric Harry Smith compiled this collection in 1952 from old 78 rpm records in his personal collection. The 84 songs — blues, hillbilly, Cajun, gospel — originally were recorded between 1927 and 1932. Among the artists included are Mississippi John Hurt, Charlie Patton, the Carter Family, Dock Boggs, Blind Willie Johnson, Rev. J.M. Gates, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Uncle Dave Macon. Keep in mind, the anthology came about in 1952, back when only a few academics and the most obsessive record collectors knew who any of these people were.

* The Bristol Sessions. The first episode of American Epic tells the story of RCA talent scout Ralph Peer setting up a makeshift recording studio in an old furniture store in Bristol, Tennessee, in 1927 and striking gold. Among those he attracted to Bristol were the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Also among the Bristol bunch were West Virginia bard Blind Alfred Reed, Ernest Stoneman, and the Tenneva Ramblers, whose song “The Longest Train I Ever Saw” would in subsequent years be handed back and forth among black bluesmen and white hillbilly and bluegrass singers under various titles (“In the Pines,” “Black Girl”). It would re-emerge in the 1990s as Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” (There are a few versions of this collection available ranging from a single disc to a five-disc box.)

* Ruckus Juice & Chitlins: The Great Jug Bands. This is a set of two CDs (sold separately) of classic jug-band recordings from Yazoo Records. The collection includes seminal acts like the Memphis Jug Band, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, Earl McDonald’s Original Louisville Jug Band, Whistler & His Jug Band, and more. (Vol. 2 can be found HERE)

* My Rough and Rowdy Ways: Badman Ballads & Hellraising Songs, Classic Recordings From the 1920s and ’30s. This is my second-favorite two-disc collection from Yazoo. The subtitle says it all. It’s a bunch of great hellraising blues and hillbilly songs about sex, booze, drugs (Dick Justice’s “Cocaine” kicks off Vol. 2), gambling, and murderers — from Stack-O-Lee to Billy the Kid to the psycho who killed Pretty Polly.

I did a quick Throwback Thursday blog post on American Epic a few weeks ago, including a few videos. You can see that HERE

Here are some more videos, starting with The Memphis Jug Band

Here's Dick Justice's take on the same subject

Was Donald Trump thinking about Lydia Mendoza's classic song when he spoke of "bad hombres" crossing our borders?

This song by The Alabama Shakes is one of my favorites from American Epic Sessions

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Laid Around, Stayed Around This Old Town Too Long


This week on Throwback Thursday I'm going to look into a great old country song that's been covered so many times by so so many great singers, many folks have forgotten -- if indeed they ever knew -- who did it originally.

And yes, I'm among them. I had to look it up before I learned that the song originally was recorded in 1959 by a singer named Billy Grammer.

Billy who?

According to The AllMusic Guide, Grammer was a pretty accomplished dude.

He was one of 13 children born to a coal-mining family in downstate Benton, Illinois. Despite a youthful interest in science and engineering, the young Grammer often played fiddle, guitar, or mandolin at local gatherings, accompanying his father or performing solo. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and worked as an apprentice toolmaker. But after discharge, work was scarce for an eager young musician. When Grammer heard about an opportunity with Connie Gay's Radio Ranch, he hitchhiked to Arlington, Virginia; auditioned; and made the cut. Two years later, he made his recording debut. In 1955, Gay suggested to Jimmy Dean that Grammer join his television show. During his years on The Jimmy Dean Show, Grammer was a sideman in several bands, including those of Clyde Moody, Grandpa Jones, and Hawkshaw Hawkins.

And according to the New York Times:

Mr. Grammer also designed and produced flat-top acoustic guitars under his own name through a company he started in the 1960s. He donated his first model to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969, and in 2004 Sotheby’s sold an abalone inlay acoustic model played by Johnny Cash for $131,200.

And here's something weird. On May 15, 1972, Grammer and his band, The Travel On Boys played at the George Wallace rally in a Laurel, Maryland shopping center when Arthur Bremmer shot and critically wounded Wallace, leaving the former Alabama governor in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

But enough talk, let's get on with the music. Here's a live version of "Gotta Travel On" by Billy Grammer.

The first version I ever heard of "Gotta Travel On was on sausage baron Jimmy Dean's 1961 album Big Bad John and Other Fabulous Songs and Tales.

Bill Monroe was a fan of the song. It was on his 1962 album My All Time Country Favorites.

Jerry Lee & Linda Gail Lewis made it rock.

And more recently, in 2013, French rocker Rev. Tom Frost did a "graveyard blues" cover of the song on his Bloody Works album

UPDATE 9:30 pm 6-29-17
A reader, Tom from New Jersey, informed me about a blog, Chimesfreedom, that has far more information on this wonderful song.

First of all, "Gotta Travel On" has very similar predecessors recorded years before Billy Grammer's hit. Here's one called "Police and High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down" from 1927 by bluesman Ollis Martin.

Chimesfreedom points out that the song we've come to know as "Gotta Travel On" was copyrighted in 1959 by  Paul Clayton, Larry Ehrlich, David Lazar, and Tom Six. Clayton was active in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the '60s.

But the blog also says "The three latter names listed as writers were pseudonyms for members of The Weavers.  Ehrlich was a pseudonym for Lee Hays, Six was a pseudonym for Fred Hellerman, and Lazar was a pseudonym for Pete Seeger."

Now I'm not certain that's true that Lazar was a pseudonym for Seeger. According to a 2002 obituary for David Lazar in the Washington Post, Lazar, who was best known as a diplomat:

 had some early success as a lyricist. He helped write words for popular tunes that included "Gotta Travel On," which was recorded by Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan and countless others. ... 

During his youth in Chicago, Mr. Lazar liked to hang out in blues, folk and jazz clubs. He heard Pete Seeger in the 1950s and was among a small group, including Paul Clayton, that helped Seeger write new lyrics to the tune later recorded as "Gotta Travel On." 

But apparently Seeger was involved at some level. What rich irony that a troubadour for George Wallace got famous on a song written by a bunch of coffee house folkies who were blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

God Bless America!

Plus Chimesfreedom linked to another blog that reminded me that Neil Young & Crazy Horse did this song on their Americana album.

For more deep dives into songs, check out The Stephen W. Terrell Web Log Songbook

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday Mel Brooks!

Mel Brooks, center, as Gov. William J. Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles, 1974

Mel Brooks, the comic force behind some of the funniest movies of the '70s, turns 91 today.

Happy birthday, Mel!

Though he's basically known as a comedian, writer, director, producer and actor, Brooks also had an ear for music. The songs in his movies helped make them memorable

To celebrate his birthday this Wacky Wednesday here are some of the best songs from his films.

Let's start with this scene in Blazing Saddles featuring Madeline Kahn as the Marlene Dietrich-like Lili von Shtup singing a ditty called "I'm Tired."

In Young Frankenstein Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein and Peter  Boyle as his monster teamed up for a rendition of "Puttin' on the Ritz."

Robin Hood: Men in Tights was one of Brooks' later movies (1993.) Here  Cary Elwes as Robin Hood serenades Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck) with "The Night is Young and You're So Beautiful," a song Dean Martin recorded a few decades before.

Brooks himself sings the theme of his 1977 Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety in a hotel lounge. He wrote the song too.

But music-wise I don't believe Brooks ever topped this glorious anthem from his 1968 film The Producers.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Sunday, June 25, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrell(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Occidental Front by Black Lips
Girl Happy by Elvis Presley
The Point is Overflowing by Left Lane Cruiser
Crybabies Go Home by The Ghost Wolves
I'm Not Like Everyone Else by The Rockin' Guys
Bikini Girls With Machine Guns by The Cramps
The Grace by The Molting Vultures
I Shot All the Birds by The Blind Shake
Truck Stop by Suzi Quatro

Voodoo Priestess by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Walk on Guilded Splinters by Jello Biafra & The New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars
The Lucky Ones by Mudhoney
That's When I Reach for My Revolver by Mission of Burma

Demon in Profile by Afghan Whigs
Heathen Child by Grinderman
Every Girl Deserves a Song by The Electric Mess
Skintrade by The Mekons
Almost a God by Movie Star Junkies
No Rocks on Mars by The Vagoos
You Never Had It Better by The Electric Prunes
Hap Hap Happy Heart by Pamela Lucia
Time Can Do So Much by Negativland

Burning Love by The Residents
Days of Being Wild by ... and You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead
The Thing That Should Not Be by Primus
Falling by Xiu Xiu
I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound by Dion
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, June 23, 2017


Friday, June 23, 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

Move it on Over by George Thorogood
In the Jailhouse by The Grevious Angels
Hotdog That Made Him Mad by Wanda Jackson
If You Play With My Mind by Cornell Hurd
Lonesome 7-7203 by Hawkshaw Hankins
Bottom Below by Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
3-Pecker Goat by Jesse Dayton
Punk Rockin' Honky Tonk Girl by The Blue Chieftains
This is How It Ends by Steve Earle

White Trash by Fred Eaglesmith
The Love In by Ben Colder
Broken Halos by Chris Stapleton 
Armistice Day by The Yawpers
Visionland by The Banditos
Fourteen Rivers, Fourteen Floods by Beck
Dolores by Eddie Noack
Hucklebuck by The Riptones 
Good Morning Judge by Louis Innis & His Stringbusters
Foldin' Bed by Whistler's Jug Band

Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves by The Last Mile Ramblers
How Fast Them Trucks Can Go by Claude Gray
Truck Drivers Blues by Cliff Brown
Give Me 40 Acres by The Willis Brothers
Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man by The Byrds
UFOs Big Rigs and BBQ by Mojo Nixon & The World Famous Blue Jays
Highway Cafe by Kinky Friedman & The Texas Jewboys
Truck Drivin' Man by Terry Fell
Mama Hated Diesels by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen

A Tombstone Every Mile by Dick Curless
Diesel Daisy by Killbilly
Truck Stop Hooker by Stinky Joe McCoy
Giddy Up Go by Red Sovine
Truck Stops and Pretty Girls by Jim & Jesse
Six Days on the Road by Rig Rock Deluxe (Dale Watson, Rosie Flores, Wayne Hancock, Toni Price, Kim Richie, Jon Langford, with Lou Whitney & The Skeletons)
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Listen to the Truck Drivin' Set below

Thursday, June 22, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Songs for the Truck Stop

An overflow crowd at a public meeting in Santa Fe showed up to protest a proposed Flying J truck stop off I-25 south of the city.

According to a news story by my Santa Fe New Mexican colleague Justin Horwath, residents of the nearby Rancho Viejo neighborhood claimed the truck stop would bring unwanted traffic, crime and pollution. One guy even warned of the danger of light pollution coming from a 24 truck stop.

In other words, a fairly typical Santa Fe NIMBY battle. I must have covered a million of 'em back when I had the City Hall beat.

But for a lover of vintage country music, there just seems something un-American about attacking a truck stop,

As any serious country music fan knows, a truck stop is a hallowed place, an oasis on the highway, where a pretty waitress will pour you another cup of coffee (for it is the best in the land!)

A truck stop is where the brave men and women who bring the food to our supermarkets, and other goods to our stores can take a shower, grab a burger and a piece of pie and share a little face-to-face conversation with fellow humans to relieve the tedium that white-line brings.

Surely that outweighs a little light pollution.

Whenever someone protests a truck stop, somewhere out on the Lost Highway, the ghost of Big Joe sheds a quiet tear as he drives his Phantom 309 through the shadows.

O.K., I'll stop. Enjoy some classic American truck driver songs. Most of these have been banging around in my head since I read Justin's story,

I first heard "Truck Drivin' Man" done by Buck Owens. But it was written and first recorded back in 1954 by an Alabama-born singer named Terry Fell.

UPDATE 7-8-17: Wow! Just a couple of weeks after I posted this, someone yanked the Terry Fell version off of YouTube. So I guess we'll just have to settle for the Buck Owens cover.

Dave Dudley --  born David Darwin Pedruska in Spencer, Wisc. -- is best known for his truck-driver songs in the 1960s. His best-known song is this hit from 1963.

Red Simpson was a pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound as well as an important purveyor of truck driving songs. "Roll, Truck Roll" is my favorite Simpson tune.

Kitty Wells, one of the giants of 1950s country music, sang a sweet testimonial to truck stop waitresses

Dick Curless, a New Englander who wrote many truck driving songs in the 1960s, did this song about "truck stops with swingin' chicks" in this tune called "Chick Inspector."//

Here's another Red, Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine, who made it big with truck driver tunes. He's responsible for the spooky "Big Joe & The Phantom 309." This maudlin little weeper, also a "talking" song -- or maybe you can call it "white rap" -- was even a bigger hit for Sovine. It's about a guy who drives a truck called the "Giddy Up Go."

But this one is my favorite truck driving song of all time. I prefer the version by New Mexico's own Last Mile Ramblers, who performed and recorded it back in the '70s. But a Texan named Doye O'Dell was the first to record "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves" back in 1952. The song features a hotshot steel guitarist named Speedy West.

You can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to play a big load of truck driver songs on The Santa Fe Opry Friday night on KSFR.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Let's Get Residential

On this Wacky Wednesday let us now praise The Residents and the joy they bring.

This anonymous music and art collective has been together for more than 40  years in various evolving forms.

Today we salute one particular aspect of The Residents -- their cover songs. They've been reinterpreting, deconstructing and mutating popular songs by better-known artists  in their own peculiar way  since the very beginning.

In fact, the very first track on their very first album Meet The Residents (1974) was a version of Nancy Sinatra's "Boots."  Check this out.

Since that time, The Residents have released entire albums of covers of specific artists including Elvis Presley (The King & Eye), Hank Williams and John Phillip Sousa (Stars & Hank Forever) and George Gershwin and James Brown (George & James). Here's a tune from that one.

The eyeball boys took a stab at Ray Charles ...

Here's a classic performance of an Elvis classic on Night Music, a syndicated show in the late '80s and early '90s that remains my favorite TV music show since Shindig. On that same episode, The Residents backed Conway Twitty on a song.

Here's a Rolling Stones favorite as re-imagined by The Residents

The Residents go country ... but I don't think Hank done it that a way.

And finally, a little Sousa for yousa

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Sunday, June 18 , 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
All Was Well by Benjamin Booker
Whettin' My Knife by The Ghost Wolves
Baby, I'm in the Mood for You by Dion
Bionic Girl by The Exterminators
You Can't Sit Down by Wolfman Jack
The World by The Count Five
Rocketship to Freedom by The Molting Vultures
Wandering Black Hole by Rattason
I Smell A Rat by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Killing the Wolfman by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Ghost Robot by Willis Earl Beal

Murder in My Heart for the Judge by Moby Grape
Society of Plants by The Blind Shake
Death of an  Angel by Destination Lonely
Onion by The Mekons
Into the Floor by Afghan Whigs
Nutbush City Limits by Ike & Tina Turner
Mama Guitar by The Oblivians
I Fuck Alone by The Grannies
I Think I'm Going Down by Weird Omen
The Beat Generation by Bob McFdden & Dor

Advanced Romance by Frank Zappa & The Mothers with Capt. Beefheart
Squatting in Heaven by The Black Lips
Happy People Make Me Sick by The Monsters
Wasn't That Good by Wynonie Harris
Psycho Love by The Meteors
Think About It by Grey City Passengers
Give Me Back My Wig by Hound Dog Taylor

Over the Mountain, Across the Sea by Johnny & Joe
Lips of a Loser by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Village of Love / Going Back to the Village of Love by Nathaniel Mayer
Leaving it All Up to You by Don & Dewy
Come on Up to the House by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, June 16, 2017


Friday, June 16, 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
Ain't I'm a Dog by Ronnie Self
Settin' the Woods on Fore by The Tractors
Gonna Be Flyin' Tonight by Wayne Hancock
Big Mouth by Nikki Lane
So You Wannabe an Outlaw by Steve Earle with Willie Nelson
Take Your Love Out of Town by Zephaniah Ohora
She's No Angel by New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Nail by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts) by BR5-49

It's Her Turn Now by Boris McCutcheon
Hurtin' on the Bottle by Margo Price
Jubilee by Ashley Monroe
My Tennessee Mountain Home by Dolly Parton
Come as You Are by Iron Horse
Last Thing I Needed First Thing this Morning by Chris Stapleton
Truck Driver's Woman by Nancy Apple

Nobody's Dirty Business by Bettye Lavette
Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me by Mississippi John Hurt
Did You Hear John Hurt by Dave Van Ronk
It Gets Easier by Willie Nelson
Cumberland Gap by Jason Isbelle
Fair Swiss Maiden by Roger Miller
Lover of Your Dreams by Zeno Tornado
Intentional Heartache by Dwight Yoakam
Make Him Behave by The Collins Kids

Nothing Takes the Place of You by Shinyribs
Please Don't by Lauria
I Drink by Bobby Bare
Lost From Me by Stephanie Hatfield
I'm Going Home by Slackeye Slim
Old Dog Tray by Peter Stampfel & The Bottle Caps
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Booker & Dion

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
June 16, 2017

This week I’m looking at a recently released album by one of my favorite new artists of the past few years as well as one by a guy whose music I’ve enjoyed for nearly 60 years. I’m talking about Benjamin Booker — age twenty-seven, for those keeping score at home — and the mighty Dion DiMucci, who will turn seventy-eight next month.

Three years ago, Booker’s rocking self-titled debut album was one of the most exciting records I’d heard in years. His record company had hyped the album as a cross between the dark punk-blues of Gun Club, the Mississippi gospel of Blind Willie Johnson, and the crunching glam-rock of T-Rex.

But it wasn’t only that. “I was just a music lover who wondered what it would sound like if Otis Redding strapped on a guitar and played in a punk band,” Booker told NPR a couple of years ago. And dang if that’s not what he sounds like.

His first album was so good that I almost dreaded hearing the follow-up. How could the kid possibly top that album? How could Booker possibly avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?

Now the wait is over. Booker’s new one, Witness, is here. And, while it’s not nearly as head-turning as his first, it would be wrong to call the new record a slump or a setback. The late Richie Havens had a sweet and wise song called “Younger Men Grow Older,” and indeed, Booker seems to have grown in the past three years. Witness shows the effects of maturity on this artist. Not only are the lyrics more pointed, more socially aware, but the music shows a willingness to experiment and explore, with the end result even more grounded in gospel and soul music.

No, Booker hasn’t forgotten how to rock. The album opens with “Right On You,” which could go blow-for-blow with the wildest tunes on the first album. “Off the Ground” starts off deceptively mellow, with Booker singing gently over an acoustic guitar and piano for about a minute before suddenly shifting into a full-throttle rocking rage. And the album ends with the frantic “All Was Well,” in which Booker borrows freely from Rev. Gary Davis’ “Samson & Delilah.” (“If I had my way, I would tear this building down.”)

But this album is bound to be better remembered for the slower, more gospel-soaked songs like “Believe,” in which Booker sings, “I just want to believe in something/I don’t care if it’s right or wrong.” One of my favorites is “The Slow Drag Under,” a funky tune with a swampy guitar. It almost could be a Prince song. I suspect this and “Truth Is Heavy” have their psychic roots in Prince’s Sign O’ The Times.

The title tune features guest background vocals by none other than Mavis Staples, the living embodiment of soul and gospel music. It was inspired not only by police killings and white nationalist violence of recent years but also by a personal incident in Mexico, where Booker was shoved around by locals who, as a Mexican friend explained to him, “don’t like people who aren’t from here.”

Booker sings, “Right now we could use a little pick-me-up/Seems like the whole damn nation’s trying to take us down/When your brother’s dying/Mother’s crying/TV’s lying.”

This album might be the closest thing to Marvin Gaye’s landmark album What’s Going On that we’ve heard in years.

Speaking of musicians in transition, that certainly was the case of the venerated rocker Dion in the mid-’60s. Norton Records has just released his “lost” album of 1965, Kickin’ Child. 

Here’s a man who started off literally singing on New York street corners with his doo-wop group, the Belmonts. Dion knew exactly how it hurt to be a teenager in love, and he had the hit single in the late ’50s to prove it.

Then, going solo in the early ’60s, he was responsible for three of the toughest songs of the era: “Ruby Baby,” “Runaround Sue,” and, most bitchen of all, “The Wanderer.”

His record label, Columbia, had other plans for Dion. They saw this handsome Italian singer as some kind of lounge singer, a potential monster of easy listening.

But Dion wouldn’t go for that. He’d developed a love for the music of Bob Dylan and a friendship with Columbia producer Tom Wilson, who was responsible for Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. Wilson agreed to produce an album by Dion and his new band, The Wanderers.

But Columbia wasn’t quite sure what to do with the album. The company released a few singles, including the title song, and through the years, some of the songs have dribbled out on various Dion compilations. But the actual album was shelved, never released for public consumption until now.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the music industry?

The aura of Dylan and folk-rock in general are palpable here. There are three Dylan songs on the record. One is a passable cover of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Then there’s “Farewell,” an obscure one from the early ’60s. But I prefer the tracks that eschew the jangly, Byrdsy sound in favor of a harder-edged Highway 61 Revisited blues-rock sound.

By far the best Dylan song is another obscure one, “Baby, I’m in the Mood for You,” which Dion makes his own. And even better than that is a Dion original, “Two-Ton Feather.” That one plus the title song are the best examples of Dylan’s influence on Dion’s songwriting and The Wanderers’ sound.

But that’s not to say the more folkie style doesn’t suit Dion well. He sang another song here written by a major ’60s folk-scene figure. “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” is one of singer Tom Paxton’s greatest songs. And Dion rips into the heart of it with his emotional performance.

Let there be video!

Witness this ....

But young Benjamin stills knows how to rock

Here's the title song of Kickin' Child

And here's "Two Ton Feather"

And here's a cool video Dion recently posted on his Facebook page

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Great American Dog Songs

As I wrote yesterday, I'm dealing with the loss of my dear old mutt, my friend and security dog, Rocco Rococo. On Wacky Wednesday I posted some great old  novelty tunes about man's best friend (plus a pretty cool houserocker by Hound Dog Taylor). Today I'm posting some classic American songs about dogs.

In 1853, Stephen Foster revealed himself to be a major dog lover with his sentimental song "Old Dog Tray."

Old dog Tray's ever faithful,
Grief cannot drive him away,
He's gentle, he is kind;
I'll never, never find
A better friend than old dog Tray.

My favorite version is by Peter Stampfel, singing here with The Bottle Caps.

Here's one that would have been appropriate for Wacky Wednesday as well as Throwback Thursday, "Quit Kickin' My Dig Around" by Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers.

Another old favorite is "Old Blue," which has been recorded by many folks. (The Byrds did a great cover on their album Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. But here's an older recording by Memphis bluesman Furry Lewis.

Hank Williams knew what it was like to be in the doghouse. Here's "Move it On Over."

Even sadder than "Old Dog Tray" is "Old Shep." Hands down, the greatest version of this tearjerker is Elvis Presley's 1956 cover, I posted that on my Facebook page the day Rocco died. But the original was by Red Foley. "I cried so I scarcely could see ..."

Rocco Ralph Rococo, 2002-2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


My beloved 15-year-old fuzzy-faced mutt Rocco Rococo left this earthly plain this week, so I'm dealing with some real pain here.

So this Wacky Wednesday is for Rocco. It's a set of  wacky tunes about man's best friend. I think my best friend would wag his tail for these.

Let's start out with Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs ode to a cartoon canine lawman, Deputy Dawg.

"Marie Provost" is Nick Lowe's sardonic ode to Marie Prevost (he calls her "Provost") the one-time movie star who died in January, 1937, She died of malnutrition, basically drinking herself to death at the age of 38. According to Hollywood legend -- perpetrated by a chapter in Kenneth Anger's scurrilous Hollywood Babylon -- she was eaten by her own pet dachshund, Maxie. That gruesome tale is widely disputed, though it inspired Lowe's song.

Hey Hey it's The Monkees singing this dumb doggy ditty from their first album

Rockabilly Ronnie Self offers this shoulda-been-a classic tune that's not only a bitchen rocker, but also an pioneering experiment in radical grammar: "Ain't I'm a Dog."

Finally, here's Rocco's favorite house rocker, Hound Dog Taylor playing a tribute to Howlin' Wolf

Rocco Rococo in happier days. Photo by Helen Sobien

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Sunday, June 11, 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
Hound Dog by '68 Comeback
One Arabian Night by King Salami & The Cumberland 3
Bo Diddley is Crazy by Bo Diddley
Mr. Investigator by Ex-Cult
Lay Down by Left Lane Crusier
Two Thumbs Up by Rattanson
Let's Get Funky by Hound Dog Taylor

All the Good's Gone by The Ghost Wolves
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby by The Beatles
Hittin' on Nothing by The Detroit Cobras
Hooch Party by MFC Chicken
The Whip by The Creeps
Devil Time by Satan & The Deciples
The Gasser by The Fleshtones
Bums by Dean Ween Group
I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges
I'm Hurting by The Dustaphonics
The Cook Who Couldn't Cook by Bingo Gazingo

Questions I Can't Answer by The A-Bones
I'd Kill For Her by The Black Angels
Get Out of My Face by Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons
Goin' Underground by The Molting Vultures
Baby I'm Your Dog by Stomping Nick & His Blues Grenade
Baron of Love Part II by Ross Johnson & Alex Chilton
Cathy's Clone by The Tubes
Children of Production by Parliament
I Don't Like the Blues No How by John Schooley
Deputy Dog by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs

The Cell by The Mekons
Witness by Benjamin Booker
Run Through the Jungle by Gun Club
Jungle by J.C. Brooks
Death's Head Tattoo by Mark Lanegan
Toy Automatic by Afghan Whigs
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, June 09, 2017


Friday, June 9, 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
Look at That Moon by Carl Mann
Hello, I'm a Truck by Red Simpson
It's Not Enough by The Waco Brothers
That's What She Said Last Night by Billy Joe Shaver
Buckskin Stallion by Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Mudhoney
Trouble, Trouble by Shinyribs
Eight Weeks in a Barroom by Marti Brom
Pickin' Off Peanuts by Seven Foot Dilly & His Dill Pickles

That's How it Goes by Meat Puppets
Up to No Good Livin' by Chris Stapleton
On the Road Again by Nas
I'm Walking Slow by Miss Leslie
Ain't No Sure Thing by Bobby Bare
Precious Memories by The Blasters
11 Months and 29 Days by Dave Alvin
You Can Be My Baby Now by The Backsliders
Something I Said by Ray Condo & The Hardrock Goners

Salty Songs of the Sea
Haul Away Joe by The Scallywags
Blow the Man Down by The Jolly Rogers
Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest by Salt Sea Pirates
Good Ship Venus by Loudon Wainwright III

Keep on Truckin' by Hot Tuna
East Side Boys by Martin  Zeller
Down in Sinaloa by Panama Red
The Only Man Wilder Than Me by Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson
If the River Was Whiskey by Charlie Poole

Bring Me The Meat by L.A. Rivercatz
Americadio by Slim Cessna's Auto Club
Misery Without Company by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
Just in Time by Valerie June
I'm Going Home by Slackeye Slim
Cold Hard Truth by George Jones
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, June 08, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Happy World Oceans Day


Today, June 8, is World Ocean Day.

So to honor the world's oceans, here are a bunch of sea shanties, pirate songs and other salty songs of the sea.

Let's start with one that Popeye used to like, "Blow the Man Down" as performed by the Robert Shaw Chorale

Here is a classic shantie called "Haul Away Joe," done a Capella by a contemporary Irish group called The Eskies. I'm not sure why the lead singer shouts "Timmy!" at the end of each version, I don't think it has anything to do with Southpark. (The Clancy Brothers do it too.)

Here's an archetypal pirate song, "Fifteen  Men on a Dead Man's Chest" as performed by  The Roger Wagner Chorale. This song originally came from Robert Lewis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island in 1883, Stevenson only wrote the chorus:

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

But in 1891, Kentucky journalist Young Ewing Allison expanded the snippet into a full-blown poem and published it in the Louisville Courier-Journal (where he was the editor.) Allison called his work "The Derelict," Here's a version by a band called The Jolly Rogers -- live in Muskogee, Oklahoma

"Barnacle Bill the Sailor" was considered pretty ribald and randy when Frank Luther recorded it in 1928. Of course, I learned far filthier lyrics to in as a teenager at Methodist Youth camp.

Speaking of filthy, here's "Good Ship Venus," as performed by Oscar Brand. (And even he cleaned it up a little.)

Finally here's my favorite sailor song, Jacques Brel's  "Port of Amsterdam," as sung by Dave Van Ronk. When I was in Amsterdam a few years ago I searched for a restaurant that served fish heads and tails but couldn't find any.


For another great old sea-faring song, check out my Throwback Thursday post on "Hanging Johnny" from a few onths ago,

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Before we existed the cloning began
The cloning of man and woman
When we're gone they'll live on, cloned endlessly
It's mandatory in heaven
For one brief shining moment, rock 'n' roll was overrun by renegade clones
Pat Benetar & Roger Capps

Maybe it was The Boys from Brazil, the 1976 novel by Ira Levin, turned in to a movie two years later, which was about Nazis cloning Adolf Hitler.

Or maybe it was the 1973 Woody Allen science fiction Sleeper, which involved a government plot to make a clone from the nose of the dictator. He had died in a rebel bombing and the nose was all that remained.

Or maybe it was the story -- suppressed by the lame-stream media -- about the clone of Elvis Presley, who escaped his mad scientist creators. (As far as I know, nobody ever claimed the $100,000 reward, so he's probably still out there.)

Whatever sparked it, from the mid '70s through the early '80s, the concept of human cloning was responsible for a bunch of rock, pop and funk songs.

Below are some of the best of these.

Let's start with the funkiest, George Clinton and Parliament, whose album, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein set a high bar for the clone tunes that would follow. Here's the song "Children of Production."

In 1977 Now, the third album by the San Francisco proto-New Wave group The Tubes, included a song called "Cathy's Clone." None other than Captain Beefheart played sax on the track.

Cloning showed up on on Pat Benetar's 1979 debut album In the Heat of The Night in the form of "My Clone Sleeps Alone." Did Miss Pat foresee the eventual decline of clone rock? "No naughty clone ladies allowed in the '80s," she sang.

Alice Cooper had one of the last Clone Rock tunes, his 1980 single "Clones (We're All)," later to be covered by The Smashing Pumpkins.

And yes, in 1981 I made a little Cajun-flavored contribution to Clone Rock  ...

Sunday, June 04, 2017


Sunday, June 4, 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
Lake of Fire by Meat Puppets
You're My Pacemaker by Archie & The Bunkers
Watch Out Woman by Travis Pike & Brattle Street East
Life on the Dole by Molting Vultures
Tallulah by Cowbell
They Ring the Bells for Me by Reverend Beat-Man
Teenage Barbarian by Rattanson
The Mad Daddy by The Cramps
Bundle of Joy by Dean Ween Group

Get on Board by Dead Moon
That's When I Reach For My Revolver by Mission of Burma
Stand for the Fire Demon by Roky Erickson
Burning Love by Rev. Tom Frost
Cowboy George by The Fall
Web in Front by Archers of Loaf
Why Do You Think You Are Nuts by Sharon Needles

Ballad of Soloman Jones by Jon Langford's Men of Gwent
Traveling Alone by The Mekons
The Hand of John L. Sullivan by Flogging Molly
Down in the Beast by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Dead Meat by Pussy Galore
Claw Machine Wizard by Left Lane Cruiser
Off the Ground by Benjamin Booker
Stalin Wasn't Stallin' by The Golden Gate Quartet
Luna Goona Park by The Wipeouters

Down by The Water by PJ Harvey
I Got Lost by Afghan Whigs
Estimate by The Black Angels
Is That You in the Blue by Dex Romweber Duo
Sycamore Tree by Xiu Xiu
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, June 02, 2017


Friday, June 2, 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
The Crawdad Song by The Meat Purveyors
Truck Stop at the End of the World by Bill Kirchen
Pop  a Top by Nat Stuckey
I Ain't Got Nobody by Merle Haggard
Big Dummy by Tommy Collins
Better Bad Idea by Sunny Sweeney
Big Game Hunter by Andy Anderson
Grandpa Stole My Baby by Moon Mullican
Root Hog or Die by June Carter
Shakedown by Valerie June

Creepy Jackalope Eye by Steve Earle & The Supersuckers
I'm at Home Getting Hammered by Jesse Dayton
Totally Totaled My Car by L.A. Rivercatz
I Can't Tell the Boys from the Girls by Lester Flatt
Cryin' to Cryin' Time Again by Dale Watson & Ray Benson
Cryin' Time by Nancy Sinatra
May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose by Little Jimmy Dickens
Brown Eyed Women by The Grateful Dead
Payday Blues by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks

I'm Leavin' by Rhonda Vincent
Soul on the Move by Martha Fields
Chew Tobacco Rag by Pee Wee King
Suzie Anna Riverstone by The Imperial Rooster
Stupid Boy by Gear Daddies
Who Was That Man by Nick Lowe
Small Town Saturday Night by Wheeler Walker
Livin' on Love by Ray Campi
Wake Up Baby by Sonny Boy Williamson
Untitled (track 2) by Charlie Tweddle

San Antonio Stroll by Tanya Tucker
It's Not Right by John Wagner
Laredo by Snakefarm
Marie by Leon Redbone
St. Pete Jail by Panama Red
Cheater's World by Amy Allison
Cold Hard Truth by George Jones
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Like the Santa Fe Opry Facebook page

Check out this month's hillbilly episode of The Big Enchilada, Where the Jackalope Roam 

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: In Celebration of June ... Lots of Junes!

It's June 1 and what better time to show some appreciation for singers named June.

First let's start with June Allyson, a dancer, singer and actor born Eleanor Geisman in The Bronx in 1917.  In the 1940s she became known as "the girl next door." Here's a number called "When" from a movie called The Opposite Sex."

June Christy was another June who wasn't born a June. (She was born Shirley Luster in 1925) Christy's big break in show biz is when she landed the job as singer for Stan Kenton's band following the departure of Anita O'Day in 1945. Here's an appearance on High Hefner's first TV show, Playboy's Penthouse.

June Tabor is a wonderful British folk and pop singer. I first heard her in 1976 with Maddy Pryor on their album Silly Sisters. Here's a song she did with The Oysterband.

Valerie June Hockett, known professionally as just Valerie June probably is way too young to be part of Throwback Thursday. But much of her rootsy music hearkens back to the 20s and 30s. Here's a bluesy tune called "Workin' Woman Blues."

Finally here's my favorite June of all, the lovely June Carter, later known as June Carter Cash. Sometimes June is overshadowed by her own family. Her mom (and aunt and uncle) were The Carter Family, major pioneers of country music. And her husband was a guy named Johnny Cash. But in the 1950s, June had her own career, singing songs and performing sweet hillbilly comedy. Here's a heartache song, which follows some funning around with Marty Robbins on some TV show.

Happy June!


  Sunday, May 26, 2024 KSFR, Santa Fe, NM, 101.1 FM  Webcasting! 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time Host: Steve Terre...