Monday, May 28, 2007

Country Routes

Take Me Back There
I'm excited to have released my latest CD titled 'Country Routes'. It's a collection of my favorite Country Classic hits from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's presented in what I call an Instrumental Honky Tonk Country pickin' piano with emphasis put on the melody and performed as 'tinkling the ivories'.

I named it 'Country Routes' from memories as a young boy before the Interstates were developed when we traveled on state highways throughout Tennessee. My Dad was from Memphis and my Mom was from Knoxville. We also had relatives (aunt and cousins) in Nashville and Chattanooga. We often made the long journey across Tennessee, traveling east to west either on US Hwy. 70 or Hwy. 64 and north to South on Hwy. 58 to or from Chattanooga and Kingston. I got to see the country side as the radio was blaring out Country tunes from that 1953 Dodge. I especially remember all those red top barns with 'see Rock City' written in big white letters on the roofs. When we kids got bored, we counted cows to see who had the most until we reached our final destination.

Produced by New Deal Music of Memphis, this CD is dedicated to the memories of those bygone days when life seemed so much simpler, along with the black and white TV, leaving your doors unlocked and listening to Country music from the Grand Ole Opry.

Special thanks goes out to Jim Kail of Delta Sun and James Gammell of Bolivar and Tina Tigner of Hornsby for her visual inspiration. The CD Includes 20 Classic Country songs plus one original theme tune titled 'Take Me Back there', written especially by me for this album. I love playing and performing all genres of music, but I was raised in the South where the radio stayed on an AM Country station. I can remember my Mom going around the house humming Country songs. Those songs stuck into my head. Along with her favorites, I chose some of my favorites, too.

Those were the days of Cows, Barns and Little Towns

Play the above 'Country Routes' CD Song Clip

Click here to Order this and other Bobby Sowell CD's Music Merchandise Page

The following story was too good to pass up. It involves my good friend and drummer James Gammell and Jerry Lee Lewis back in 1987. The story is written and submitted by James Gammell exclusively for this BLOG.

While watching Jerry Lee Lewis on PBS recently, I was reminded of an encounter I had with "The Killer".
Hernando's Hideaway on Brooks Rd. in Memphis was once my home away from home. One weekend night in 1987 my girlfriend and I were at the famous club. It was after midnight and one of the band members told me that Jerry Lee was in the building visiting club owner Kenny Rogers in his office. My girlfriend, Pam, heard the news and asked me if I would get Jerry Lee's autograph for her. I said "OK, no problem".
So, I strolled up to the office door alone, knocked on it and cracked it open slightly (the band was playing and I couldn't hear anyone say "Come in"). I poked my head in and asked Jerry Lee if I could get his autograph for my girlfriend. He motioned for me to come in and said "Sure". I entered and closed the door behind me. I thought I'd start a little chit-chat with him while he was looking for pen and paper. I said "Where are you playing nowadays?" He said "Well, I'm about to go on tour in Belgium, France, England, Scotland, Ireland and all over Europe". I said "Great, is James Burton still playing lead guitar for you?" I don't know why I asked that, but he said "Hell, I've got a guitar player now that plays circles around James Burton". I said "Bullshit" (and I have no idea why I said that). I saw his facial expression change from 'welcome' to anger. He said "What did you say?" I knew he heard me the first time, so I couldn't change what I said. I said "Bullshit" again. He slammed the pen down on Kenny Rogers' desk and started getting up from his chair. Now, within the next 2 or 3 seconds, all of the following was going through my mind. I thought "Well, this Rock and Roll legend is coming over here to try to knock me on my ass." I thought about easing out the door. I really didn't want a confrontation like this in a small office. I looked to my right and there stood Jerry Lee's 2 female bodyguards dressed in black shiny leather pants suits. One of them stepped between me and the door. Another thought came to mind....."These girls might know karate or something". I had taken a few lessons from Elvis' karate instructor, Kang Rhee, but I could see that I was outnumbered 4 to 1. So, I stood my ground, never moved a muscle while Jerry Lee came toward me. As he approached me I thought "Well, this is it, let's just see what "The Killer" does". I never moved an inch. He came right up to me and as I looked down at him, he grabbed the neck of my shirt tightly in his right hand and said "Nobody calls me a liar. Who in the hell are you?" All I ever gave him was my name. He paused, thinking intently, as if to say "Do I know you?" I probably should have told him that I was a fan and a drummer, but I never did. I still had not moved. He let go of my shirt. He went back to Kenny Rogers' desk, took pen and paper, signed it and handed it to me. I thanked him politely. Once again he said "Who are you"? I told him my name and walked out the door, shutting it behind me.
My girlfriend and I stayed till the band quit playing at 4:30 AM. Jerry Lee never took the stage during the entire night, as he usually did. Pam and I were still at the bar when Jerry Lee and Kenny came out of his office. He spoke to a few people as he made his way up front. By this time I was pretty drunk and so was my girlfriend. Jerry Lee seemed to stagger a little as he walked. I don't remember everything that happened after that, but he came toward me at the bar. He sat down at a barstool and I sat down next to him. I don't know how long we sat there together and drank, but the club owner usually locked the doors about 5 AM after everyone left except guests. We stayed. I don't remember if he bought me a drink. I might have bought him one. We must have talked for a long time, but the only thing I really recall saying to Jerry Lee was "I have a song I want to pitch to you". And he said "Yeah, pitch me a song and pitch me the bitch (referring to my girlfriend). I don't remember what else was said that night, but I can say that I have sat.... and talked.... and drank with.... and was confronted by...."The Killer" himself, Jerry Lee Lewis !!

Incidentally, Jerry Lee's sister, Linda Gail Lewis used to frequent Hernando's Hideaway also. Late one night I was there while she was performing on stage. She could play piano and sing Jerry Lee's songs almost as well as he could. And, she was a hell of a lot better looking; she was HOT!! Well, after she finished her set, somehow I found a way to talk to her and praise her performance. We chatted a little and she invited me to go to another club with her and her entourage. But, since she had a boyfriend/bodyguard who stuck to her like glue, I regretfully declined the invitation.

In the 70's, a man named Bob McCarver was a frequent visitor to the Americana Club at Winchester and Lamar, where I played drums with Don McMinn. Bob and I became friends and I learned that he had three daughters who were singers. Bob invited me to his house on Quince Ave. in Memphis to a practice session with his daughters and some musicians, to see if I wanted to be their drummer. Well, I don't know if I failed the audition or if they just never got their act together, but that one instance was the only time I ever played for the McCarver sisters. A few years later I heard that one of the girls, Kerrie McCarver, became Jerry Lee Lewis' sixth wife! -James Gammell

James (Jim) Gammell is currently playing drums with
"The Bobby Sowell Revue" Show Band.

*2010 JG Update
James Gammell is now living in beautiful downtown Branson,
centrally located for gigging all across the USA.

Dewey Phillips was a legendary Memphis radio Disc Jockey who single handed launched Elvis Presley's career. He was one of rock 'n' roll's pioneering disk jockeys, along the lines of Cleveland's Alan Freed. Starting his radio career in 1949 on WHBQ-AM in Memphis, he was the city's leading radio personality for nine years and was the first to simulcast his "Red, Hot & Blue" show on radio and television in the USA.

Back in 1965, Bobby was cutting a commercial at the local radio station in Millington, TN. There is where he met the legendary Dewey Phillips. At first, Bobby did not know who he was. Dewey was employed as a janitor. Yes, we said janitor. Dewey had lost his broadcasting license and was working as a janitor. Bobby remembers thinking, "What a waste of talent!" As he recalled, Bobby finished the commercial late that night. Dewey approached him and ask if he minded giving him a ride home. Of course, Bobby said yes. On the way, Dewey asked Bobby another question, "Would you mind taken me by the liquor store?" Again, Bobby said yes. When they got to the liquor store he again ask Bobby one more question, "Would you have $5.00 I could borrow for a bottle of wine? Again, Bobby said yes and was more than happy to give him the $5.00. Bobby took him home and that was the last time he saw him but Bobby will never forget it.

Click here to visit the Rockabilly Hall of fame Inductees
Click here to visit Bobby Sowell at the Rockabilly Hall of fame


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