Saturday Matinee – The Darlings, The Dillards, New Grass Revival, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, and Victor Wooten

The Darlings were a regular feature on the Andy Griffith Show, usually showing up whenever there was trouble brewing (like when Ernest T. Bass tried to woo Charlene Darling). The Darlings were The Dillards.

The Dillards, live at the Tonder Festival in Denmark in 1999. Entertaining intro to Ebo Walker, song starts about 03:45 in.

But there was also a real Ebo Walker, an upright bass player from Kentucky, and the song is not a tribute. From a  Reddit discussion:

Harry Shelor

“Crazy story time. Ebo Walker’s real name is Harry Lee Shelor Jr, (there’s a song called Ebo Walker, which Harry took the name from). Harry cultivated and grew marijuana. He ended up shooting a Kentucky State Police Detective by the name of Darrell Vendl Phelps. He began serving a 50 year sentence in 1981.”

Shelor was released from prison in 2013, age 70.

Prior to his arrest in 1981, Harry Shelor/Ebo Walker was a founding member of The New Grass Revival.

New Grass Revival covers Townes Van Zandt‘s White Freightliner Blues (ca.1981). This lineup consisted of

Sam Bush – mandolin, fiddle, guitar, vocals
Pat Flynn – guitar, vocals
John Cowan – bass guitar, vocals
Béla Fleck – banjo, guitar, vocals

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, featuring Victor Wooten on fretless bass , his brother Roy “Futureman” Wooten on Drumitar. That’s one tight trio.

Victor Wooten won the Bass Player of the Year award from Bass Player magazine three times and is the first person to win the award more than once. In 2011, he was ranked No. 10 in the Top 10 Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone.

That set of connections happened somewhat by accident, just like a lot of things these days. Find something fun to do this weekend accidentally, and when you’re done c’mon back here. Got some cool stuff for you to click on.

Saturday Matinee: Uncle Pen, Randy Lynne Rag, Dooley, Steam Powered Aeroplane

Bluegrass has its roots in northern Britain according to my ear. The chord patterns of early country music from Appalachia follow those of Scottish and Irish reels. In the immigration wave of the early 1800’s, the Scottish and Irish tended to venture southward, away from the constrictions of the north, to where they could work their own land. No wonder that early southern recordings sound similar to those of Ireland and Scotland.

Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys popularized it and gave the style it’s moniker: Bluegrass. This song (video from 1956) is a tribute to Pendleton Vandiver, Monroe’s uncle. Monroe joined his uncle Pen’s band as a kid; his sound dates back to the turn of the century.

Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs put Bluegrass on the popular map as pickin’ speed demons.

The Dillards were the Darlings clan on the Andy Griffith show. The Dillards decided that L.A. had more to offer than the Missouri Ozarks, and advertised themselves on the streets in the early 1960’s.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were influenced by the Dillards, and took Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. BoJangles” for a ride.

What I was really looking for when all this linkyness began was New Grass Revival‘s version of “Steam Powered Aeroplane,” one of the prettiest bluegrass songs I ever heard:

"Well I went away on a Steam Powered Aeroplane.
Well I went and I stayed and damn near didn't come back again.
Didn't go very fast on a steam powered aeroplane,
The wheels went around, up and down, and inside and then back again.

 Sittin' on a 747 just watching them clouds roll by,
Can't tell if it's sunshine, if it's rain.
Rather be sittin' in a deck chair high up over Kansas City,
On a genuine old fashioned oil finish Steam Powered Aeroplane.

 Well I'd could be PILOT on the Steam Powered Aeroplane.
I'd pull that pilot wheel 'round, then back again.
And I'd wear a blue hat, YEAH, on the Steam Powered Aeroplane,
With letters go 'round the brim and then back again.

Sittin' on a 747 just watching them clouds roll by,
Can't tell if it's sunshine or if it's rain.
Rather be sittin' in a deck chair high up over Kansas City,
On a genuine old fashioned oil finish Steam Powered Aeroplane."

Here’s the songwriter, John Hartford, with Tony Rice, Vassar Clements and others. (Yeah, his vocals don’t do justice for the song.)

Great pre-sunrise morning roadtrip music, just like Pat Metheny’s “New Chataqua Highway,” or anything by Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli.

[Bunk’s compiling his roadtrip list for next month. Lemme know your favorites.]

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