SCINTILLATING STOCKING STUFFERS

by Barry M. Klein
There is a good reason why I have frequently written about Craig "Bones" Maki: he is a significant person in the world of rockabilly music. As a musician, Craig has demonstrated a proclivity for singing, songwriting, producing, and guitar playing. He is also one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of rockabilly music, demonstrated by his many years on the radio hosting a rockabilly show. Craig has applied his many virtues and talents to the release of the second Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers CD, "Ride Again".



A 14-song collection (13 plus a bonus track), Craig once again teams up with the talented Graham Tichy on lead electric guitar and his long-time associate, Kenny Bruce, on upright bass. Bruce was also in Craig's former band, Big Barn Combo. "Ride Again" has a lot to offer: 14 songs, mostly written by Maki, but also some that feature tunes such as Marty Robbins' "Pretty Mama" and "Wildwood Rock", which sounds like it was written in Memphis in the 1950's. This CD features variety in sound, arrangements, tempo, and even Maki's vocals resonate differently, but effectively on this CD. On "Everybody Thinks You're An Angel", the band serves up some spicy Cajun cooking, with a swamp-rock sound reminiscent of Dale Hawkins. Their version of Fred Netherton's "Wildwood Rock" is faithful and flawless, while "I Don't Suppose" once again proves Bones Maki has a talent for love ballads. The other tunes really rock, and will get you hankerin' to jump up, get your favorite filly or beau, and get jumping and jiving on the dance floor.

September 6, 2003 proved how popular Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers are in the Detroit area. Over 100 friends and fans crowded into the New Way Bar in Ferndale to attend the CD release party for "Ride Again". Almost every rockabilly band in southwest Michigan (including the Silvertones from Windsor, Ontario) showed up out of respect for their peers (even the currently "unaffiliated" Bill Alton, former lead singer of the Starlight Drifters). The following photographs capture some of the magic from that night.


Musical peers attending the "Ride Again" CD release party include (left to right) Bill Alton, former lead singer of the Starlight Drifters, Matt Strickland, lead singer of the Hi-Q's, Shel Kay, leader of the Juke Joint Johnnies, Loney Charles, a former mate of Craig Maki in Big Barn Combo, and drummer for the Hi-Q's and Jack Scott's backup band, The Top Ranks, and an unidentified pool player who was arm-wrestled into the picture.



Cash O'Riley and the Downright Daddies opened the party.



One-half of the Windsor, Ontario rockabilly/western group, The Silvertones.



Legendary Detroit based Sun Records star, Jack Earls, with his Daughter Lisa, who has been touring and performing with her dad in Europe.



The stars of the show: Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers.


Not pictured, but also in attendance was Bill Georgio, leader of Nobody's Business, whose regular Thursday night gigs at the New Way Bar have provided Detroit area rockabilly fans with almost weekly live entertainment.

For more information, visit the Sun Dodgers web site at www.sundodgers.com.





CAVE CAT SAMMY -
"Whiskey and the Devil"

An amazingly talented rockabilly band, Cave Catt Sammy, has recently released their third CD, and the second one on the Rubric Records label, entitled "Whiskey and the Devil". I reviewed the last CD on Rubrick, "Love Me Like Crazy" ( www.rockabillyhall.com/barrycdreviews.html"), and this release adds another dimension to the previous releases fine effort: Cave Catt Sammy has added a talented tenor saxophone player, Ruben Lara, to an already outstanding line up of musicians.



A San Antonio rockabilly band that has always sounded like a good Texas rockabilly band, and you might say that the addition of Ruben Lara's saxophone sound makes this a "San Antonio rockabilly meets Kansas City Blues" type of a sound, and it really works! In addition to five songs solely written by lead singer and bass player Beau Sample, there is an interesting infusion of other artists' material including Jerry Reed's "Your Money Makes You Purty", "Knocked Out" written by fellow Texan Shaun Young, and lead guitarist Steve Scott's "The C-Jack Jump", "The Nautilus" and a very different arrangement of the Peanuts Wilson west Texas classic, "Cast Iron Arm", the songwriters of which included Roy Orbison and Norman Petty. Actually, I believe that Sonny West told me that Peanuts Wilson was a member of Roy Orbison's early band, The Teen Kings. In addition to Beau Sample on vocals and upright bass, Cave Catt Sammy includes Steve Scott and lead guitar, Paul Ward on drums, Dustin Hutchinson on rhythm guitar, and on this CD, Ruben Lara on tenor saxophone. A great effort Boys!





WILD WAX COMBO -
"HOT ROD DOLL" IS FAST AND FURIOUS



I have known about the Wild Wax Combo (who hail from Copenhagen, Denmark) for about four years. I have seen them perform at Ronny Weiser's "Meet and Greet" party that he usually throws on the Wednesday before Viva Las Vegas prior to Easter weekend. Rene', Mikael and Paolo all sat in at Ronny's for two or three years, and even though the temporary stage at Ronny's home featured unrehearsed jam sessions by an amalgam of bands from all over the world, the Wild Wax Combo acquitted themselves very well. I was pleased to receive a review copy of the Wild Wax Combo's new CD, "Hot Rod Doll". It contains 15 songs, mostly written by the band, and almost all are up tempo, catchy rockabilly numbers. In fact, the first three songs, "Dance Like a Devil", "I'll Tie You Up" and "Rock Me To Death" remind me of a boxer who lets everything hang out in the first couple of rounds of a 15-round championship bout, but in this case, the boys keep up their stamina and make it a very worthwhile experience. Authentic, energetic rockabilly music lovers won't be disappointed.

"Hot Rod Doll" is on the Enviken record label, and I hope that we in the states will be lucky enough to see them tour here soon.





THE FOUND CATS -
Full Gospel Rockabilly


From the ever-active Golly Gee record label comes a CD called "The Found Cats - Full Gospel Rockabilly". Apparently The Found Cats are an intra-label "super group" consisting of Ralph Rebel, members of Peter and the Wolves and the Long Island Hornets, among others. Rockabilly gospel isn't exactly new (remember Jack Scott's "Save My Soul"?), but I admit that I haven't seen too much of this recently. This is a concept album that does an excellent job with rockabilly gospel. Most of the songs were written by Peter Ludovico of Peter and the Wolves, and Jeff McLary of The Long Island Hornets, and most are toe-tappin', up tempo, hardcore rockabilly sounds with hepcat-tinted gospel lyrics. It could be just the right gift for the holiday season for your rockabilly loving loved one. If you can't find "The Found Cats - Full Gospel Rockabilly" on your favorite online CD source, contact Golly Gee Records at www.GollyGeeRecords.com.





BIG AL DOWNING - "ONE OF A KIND"
"One of a Kind" is probably as appropriate a title one can use to describe Al Downing. Like Conway Twitty and others, Big Al Downing started as a rock and roll/rockabilly artist, pounding the piano and taking lead vocals with Bobby Poe and the Poe Cats ("Down On The Farm"), and as a crack piano player who provided music for Wanda Jackson's earlier hits. Settling in as a country singer for most of his career, Big Al certainly could not be pigeonholed into any genre when he performed at the famous (and probably never to be duplicated) Rockin' 50's Fest in 2002 at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay.


Big Al Downing in Green Bay 2003


"One of a Kind" is a 14-song CD that is done very professionally from the production to the multi-page booklet included with the CD. The first song, "Hometown America", is a post 9-11 patriotic song in which Al takes a musical journey around the United States in his tribute to America and the war veterans "who fought and died to keep us free". The rest of the album serves up a mostly country music menu with some unmistakable rockin' piano numbers thrown in the works too.

Overall, a very good effort by a talented producer, songwriter, musician and singer who doesn't stop coming up with fresh material.





ROCKIN' RYAN & THE REAL GONERS

Getting back to Golly Gee Records, they have released a CD called "Live & Lowdown" by Rockin' Ryan & The Real Goners. This CD actually self-contains of a formerly out-of-print 2000 studio release called "You Wanted More Rock And Roll÷" as well as a "Live at Mooneyes 2002" performance, so what you have here are 30 songs, featuring several written by the band, but some other great covers. The live CD starts out with a version of one of my favorite "over the top" type rockabilly songs, Mel McGonnigle's classic from 1958, "Rattle Shakin' Mama", that incorporates every lyrical cliche' and many song titles from the early rock and roll era. All and all, it's a very high-energy live performance, not to mention a whole lot of rockabilly on one CD. If you can't find the Golly Gee CD's on your favorite online source, contact Mel at www.GollyGeeRecords.com or gollygeerecords@yahoo.com".

Barry Klein - bmk@bmkre.com





© Barry M. Klein / Rockabilly Hall of Fame®