Column #10 - published May 6, 1998
MACK STEVENSAll photos courtesy of Laurie Weiser
TEARS IT UP AT ROLLIN' ROCK
One day I was minding my own business and reading my e-mail on AOL, when I get an "IM", an instant message that is, from a 12 year old girl, Annie Bennett, who claimed she was playing drums for a Rockabilly singer in Texas. I think to myself, yeah, shua, these days rockabilly bands are proliferating like rabbits!
The girl asks me if I am Rockin' Ronny Weiser of Rollin' Rock Records, and I think to myself, wow, how does this kid know about Rollin' Rock? It turns out that she was drumming for MACK STEVENS, the Corsicana Wild Man, who had been trying to track me down for many years. Mack first got turned on to Rollin' Rock when he was only 12-13 years old in the early 1970s. At that point the name Mack Stevens didn't mean dickweed to me, except that I thought that any cat from Texas with "Mack" as part of his name couldn't be all bad!
Soon enuff I talk to the Mackster on the phone and he's so kind to send me his LP and cassette: wow, what an authentic greasy 1956 Texas sound: simply amazing! It felt good to know that Rollin' Rock had an influence on such a savage Texas Rocker!
I finally saw the Corsicana Flash rockin' frantically at the Denver Rock N' Rhythm-Billy Weekender: it was an outrageous performance of wild Texas Rock! Mack Stevens was drenched in sweat from the top of his head to the tip of his boots! He played on his back, he played on his stomach, he jumped into the audience, he was roaring and howling and twirling and twisting like a Texas Tornado. The wildest Rock'n'Roll show west of the Mississippi for sure!
After the show, I go shake his hand, and as I am about to ask him: how would you like to record for Rollin' Rock, he beats me to the punch and says: "How would it be possible for me to record at Rollin' Rock?"
Pictured: Big Al, Jim, Mack, Ronny, Roger.
So it finally happened! Sunday, May 3 1998, I picked up Mack Stevens at the airport, and that same day we had finished recording 12 tracks of classic Wild Wild West Rock, Hillbilly Bop, Texas Boogie, and Las Vegas Stomp! Next day, 8 more greasy sexy rockers were cut here at Rancho Ronny, the home of Rollin' Rock Records!
Man alive, what a session, what a sound! The excitement and success of this session wouldn't have been possible, were it not for these great rockabilly musicians:
Big Al Ek on guitar, and Mary Ek on slappin' bass and vocals, of the Las Vegas rockin' 'billy blues band The Shuffle Aires.
Roger Casanova, on slappin' bass, courtesy of Las Vegas' premier Rockabilly band, Dragstrip 77.
Jim Lovgren, of the Las Vegas Country & Western band Western Rain.
RONNY: When and how did you first get interested in rockabilly?NEWS, plus Upcoming Shows, Reviews, Messages, Tidbits, Features, etc.
MACK: Since the very beginning of my life I was raised on the music by my Mom and Dad, who fed me a steady diet of Carl Perkins, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. I never developed an interest in any music past 1960, and I am glad to be free from modern influences.
RONNY: Well, maybe this ain't completely accurate, since you've been buying early Rollin' Rock Records made in the 1970s...
MACK: I don't consider those to be modern music at all!
RONNY: Well, maybe they ain't modern, but they shure are the Sound Of The Future, huh?
MACK: Damn straight !!!@!!!!!
RONNY: So then, how did you stumble into Rollin' Rock and what was your impression?
MACK: I was thumbing thru some lps at a Dallas record shop in the mid 1970s, when I ran across one of Ray Campi's early albums. The cover looked homemade, looked like somebody had hand written the titles, and typed up the liner notes on their home typewriter. This made me hope that the music inside would be raw and primitive, and I wasn't disappointed! So I started looking around for more stuff on Rollin' Rock, and also started looking for many of the earlier recordings of artists who had recorded for Rollin' Rock.
RONNY: You told me that you wanted to record at Rollin' Rock, so now you have, whatcha think of it then?
MACK: I have never been more comfortable, or felt more at home recording that I have here at Rollin' Rock, the only exception would be my own home studio, Freedonia Records, where I can stand around butt-nekkid and record if I want to! I mean, the atmosphere at Rancho Ronny is laid back and unhurried! Nobody's watching the clock there! I've never played with such an easy buncha guys, who really know how to get that authentic rockabilly sound!! My apologies to Mary Ek, who is not really a guy, but who slaps the dog-house bass like she's really got a pair!! And, man, can she sing!!! The two duets I cut with her are particularly exciting! Her lucky hubby, Big Al, is one helluva gittar picker!! Turns out he knows some of the same serial killers I know!!! :-) :-)
I've never seen a better dressed cat than Roger Casanova. When he walked in with his bullfighter outfit I said I hoped to myself he can play that bass as well as he dresses!! Once again I was not disappointed!! He slaps that bass around like a red-headed step child! The most difficult element has always been finding the right Rock'n'Roll drummer. I had no need to worry at Rancho Ronny / Rollin' Rock when I heard Jim Lovgren. He is the best drummer I have ever recorded with. Period. I have also gained five pounds already due to Miz Laurie Weiser's wonderful home cooking.
RONNY: What are the plans for the rest of your time in Las Vegas?
MACK: Hang around El Rancho Ronny, watch TEX AVERY cartoons, eat, and maybe track down some of these Las Vegas 'billy gals!! This is the best vacation I have ever had!
RONNY: Anything further to add?
MACK: Be on the lookout for the ROLLIN' ROCK CD aptly titled "MACK STEVENS AT ROLLIN' ROCK - Las Vegas Stomp" around the Fall, and look for my newest release on No Hit Records entitled "Tonite I Die". It's a collection of some sincerely twisted and wicked songs. I think you perverts out there will like it! Happy Trails to Y'all & Keep It Swingin'!
This concludes the interview with Mack Stevens!
Wow, what a week so far!
MACK STEVENS AT ROLLIN' ROCK
"THE LAS VEGAS STOMP"
1.) It's Nothin' To Me
2.) Don't Start A War, Daddy
3.) Hepcat Heaven
4.) Woodpecker Rock
5.) I May Be Right, But I Hope I Am Wrong
6.) Diet Pill Boogie
7.) If You Love My Woman
8.) Runnin' After Fools
9.) Women Crawlin' All Over Me
10.) The Las Vegas Stomp
11.) Whatever It Takes
12.) It's Armaggedom Time
13.) Fire Walkin'
14.) Rockabilly Romance
15.) Only The Good Die Young
16.) The Scream
17.) Momma Stop Me Before I Kill Again
18.) All That And More
19.) Daddy's Goin' Mad
Always Rollin' The Rock,
Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
The Rockabilly Rebel Westerner from Las Vegas, Nevada,
The Wild Wild West
E-Mail Ronny at Rollin' Rock
Col. # 7 - 2/98 - 10 ROLLIN' ROCK CDs
Col. # 6 - 1/98 - SAM COOKE
Col. # 5 - 12/97 - LAS VEGAS IS A 1950's TOWN
Col. # 4 - 11/97 - GOD BLESS TEXAS
Col. # 3 - 10/97 - FATS DOMINO
Col. # 2 - 9/97 - RAB DISCUSSION GROUP
Col. # 1 - 8/97 - 25 YEARS OF ROLLIN' ROCK RECORDS
ROCKIN' RONNY WEISER - On-site Rockabilly HOF web page