Country by Mel Hague
SOMETHING’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN
JK Records - 00031
I get a lot of independent records sent to me
and most of them are well under par; some from young wannabes who
just haven’t got it and some from old timers who never had it
but won’t lie down and concentrate on the day job. Every once
in a while I get a gem and this is the one for this year, I guess.
A very attractive lady gracing a beautifully packaged album that says
“play me and you won’t be disappointed.” I wasn’t
and is that an understatement or what?
The album contains 13 tracks running through almost 47 minutes of
very classy country and concert style material. I’ve never heard
of Jennifer Weatherly but she has a terrific voice handling every
thing she tackles with ease and style.
Texas singer/songwriter Clay Blaker produced the album with Jennifer
as well as co-writing the title song, SOMETHING’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
There’s some excellent songsmiths contributing to this album
such as, Mark Collie, Even Stevens, Jim Lauderdale, Garth Brooks,
Pat Alger, Don Penn and Chips Moman.
I don’t think it would be long before I was picking this gal
out from the rest and that’s what being a class singer is all
about. I’m going to be enjoying this album for some time and
looking forward to the next. If I had a radio programme I would play
every track over a five or six week period and some of them more than
once, especially the kick off track, HEARTACHES AND HONKY TONKS, that
is a belter. The whole album has a modern feel with a real country
undertone, best of both worlds and that’s not an easy balance
to find. Learn more about
her at www.jenniferweatherly.com
JONNY WILLIAMS - WALK THROUGH THIS WORLD - TFI Country Records
Another 12 track album from the Sheffield Rockabilly
Kid who sticks mainly to solid country these days and has already
made himself a pretty big mark in the country music scene all over
Britain. He’s a very personable lad, always turned out well
on stage, puts on a good show and if you buy his album after one of
his appearances you won’t be disappointed. The content on this
latest offering is mainly old country, which Jonny does well and what
he very much prefers to sing. There’s not much here for new
millennium country fan but I don’t think he really cares all
that much when he has the backing of a growing legion of fans who
love what he does and that includes the dancers. Just go to one of
his shows and you’ll hear plenty of applause from those at the
tables as well as those packed onto the floor.
The album opens with a fairly modern THREE MINUTE POSITIVE, NOT TOO
COUNTRY, UP TEMPO LOVE SONG and BLESSED OR DAMNED and then into the
old stuff like DON’T THE GIRLS GET PRETTIER EVERY DAY, PICK
ME UP ON YOUR WAY DOWN, DRINKIN’ WINE SPO-DE-O-DE and the rest.
From a personal point of view I thought his version of Billy Grammar’s
GOTTA TRAVEL ON was too hectic and therefore lacked the punch of the
original, which was what made it a hit in the first place. Apart from
that I can’t really fault Jonny’s choice of material or
the way he’s interpreted it. Nice one Jonny and I’m sure
this will appeal to your fans and gain you a few more.
SONNY K CURTISS - Sonny Sings C&W & 50s/60s - Self
This album from Sonny K runs for over 47 minutes through 17 tracks
and covers a fair range of material taking in 50s and 60s songs and
C&W with country being the overall dominant content - just.
Among the country songs are Merle Haggard’s MAMA TRIED, the
old Bob Will’s classic DEEP WATER, Don Gibson’s SEA OF
HEARTBREAK and A LEGEND IN MY TIME, Hank Thomson’s WILD SIDE
OF LIFE, a Jim Reeves medley and an Earl Scruggs medley. Sonny shows
of his musicianship with CAVATINA, WALK DON’T RUN/PERFIDIA,
DUELING BANJOS and, again, the Earl Scruggs thing FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN
MEDLEY plus, of course, the obligatory Shadows tune, WONDERFUL LAND.
I don’t think that Sonny would honestly describe himself as
the world’s greatest musician but all his instrumental work
is tackled with taste and style and the pieces come off extremely
Throw in a couple of Buddy Holly songs and three Everly’s and
you have a very good mixed bag CD to take home as a souvenir of a
good night out with Sonny K Curtiss. Add to this an easy-on-the-pocket
price of £4.99 and what more could you want? A nice easy-listening
package from one of Doncaster’s own. If you’re out of
the South Yorkshire region and you fancy a copy of Sonny’s album
give him a bell on 01302 868745.
I went up-market last week and took myself along to the Civic Theatre
in Doncaster to see the legendary Val Doonican in concert. What a
treat to sit in a comfortable seat surrounded by people who had come
along to be entertained; no thunder of chatter, no clinking of beer
glasses and no bingo, absolute heaven. I guess it must be 30 years
or so since I was last in the Civic when I took part in a country
music evening organised by the enthusiasts of the Bay Horse CMC. I
seem to remember that Larry Hinchliffe and his trio were there along
with Jack Parkes and his band and Mal Carson’s outfit and about
3 or 4 other bands including the Westernaires and myself. I’m
sure I still have a poster from that show somewhere, I must dig it
out and have a reminisce.
Meanwhile back in the present:
Although Doonican has been out of the charts for 30 years or more
and off TV for over 20 years, the Civic was still over three-quarters
full of fans who had paid their £13 to have an evening with
a legendary gentleman performer, a class act and no doubt.
I first picked up on Val Doonican back in 1964 when he had a huge
hit with ‘Walk Tall’, I still have the 45 single that
I bought to learn the song, which stayed in my act for five or six
years and was immensely popular. He sang it on the night, but only
did a part of the song and I thought he rushed it as though he wasn’t
really bothered. A shame, because it was his biggest chart success
and I was really looking forward to hearing him sing it as was most
of the audience; you could tell from their reaction when he kicked
it off. Apart from that and a second rate version of ‘Ode To
Billy Joe’ where he got the name of the river wrong, he sang
Tallahassee River instead of Tallahachie River, his show was excellent
and I thoroughly enjoyed my night out. I even stayed to the end, which
is something of a rarity for me.
Doonican looked very smart and upright considering his 75 years and
certainly proved that his 55 years in showbiz had made him a master
of his craft. His voice was very good with only the slightest occasional
waver on some of the higher notes, but the depth and richness was
still there and the blarney was as clean and sharp as ever. His anecdotes
about his childhood in Ireland and some of the characters he grew
up with were a joy and everything had a relevance to his show and
he knew just when to cut off and get back to singing. I never once
had the urge to call out, “Get on with it then.”
What pleased me most about him as an Irish performer was his honest,
straightforward delivery; there was none of the smarmy, sugary, over-the-top
sincerity, which always comes across to me as anything but sincere.
No names and no pack drill, but from the smallest to the tallest,
so many Irish performers lay on the ‘I Love You’s’
and the blarney with a trowel and I just have to get up and leave
before I spoil my manners. Val Doonican is a world class entertainer,
who happens to be Irish and who featured a lot of country music performers
on his TV show which spanned a staggering 24 years. Although there
was only a sprinkling of country music in his live show on this occasion,
I still thoroughly enjoyed being entertained by a lovely, gentle performer.
What a great night!