Bloodshot Bill and Esquerita
I was following the trail to Bloodshot Bill - that maniac who plays Guitar and drums AT THE SAME TIME as well as singing some of the wildest rockabilly around. So wild that the USA has decided to ban him from entering their fragile country. He might subvert honest folks from their chosen tasks, now, mightn't he!
So Norton Records will be putting out a single called One Man Banned.
Watch this space!
He also has a new album which is called Trashy Greasy Rockin' Billy on which he is accompanied by Johnny Montreal (of The Alley Dukes) and which contains a track called:
Norton have a (first?) interview with Mary Weiss of the Shangri-La's, which is entertaining, and has some great archive photo's and anecdotes.
The Norton Icon on their web pages is the head of arch-weirdo-piano-demon Esquerita and they have a collection of his raucous rock on CD and LP. That reminded me. And he only has one track listed on the Hype Machine, so off to google and see what turns up.
The first surprise is Esqerita's Myspace page so you can listen to some tracks there, for a start. Now, what do we now about the man. Well he grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and took to the piano at an early age, playing in his local church, and somehow here the story gets blurred. There is some confusion as to whether he influenced Little Richard, or the other way round. They were about the same age and their styles are similar, but, well, different.
There are some good biographical notes and a great album by album discography.
And it's at this point that I find what I always suspected. If you go wandering down the byways of Rock'n'Roll looking for the weird and wonderful surprises that lurk there, then The Reverend Frost has been there first.
There is a more precise
Anyway. Esquerita was playing the regular spot at the Owl Club in Greenville, like the Rev said, and the story goes that Gene Vincent's guitarist Paul Peek discovered him, and brought him to the attention of Capitol's A&R department, resulting in the 1958 sessions and an album on Capitol. It's probably close to the truth. The thing is that when Paul Peek joined the Blue Caps he was playing in a band from Greenville, with Bill Mack who would soon be a Blue Cap for a while. Mack takes up the story:
Paul Peek and I started playing music together around 1955. We played some gigs with Esquerita, real name Eskew Reeder who was also from Greenville, S.C., and after we got hooked up with Gene Vincent, we introduced Esquerita to Lawrence Thacker, and Thacker introduced him to Ken Nelson, A&R man for Capitol Records. I heard that Esquerita later became a big star in Europe. His first record was, "The Flu" on Instant Records. Paul knew a musician from Greenville, S.C. by the name of Red Redding, who had moved to the Washington, D.C. area.
Just to be cool, Bill Mack from Greenville, Carolina isn't Bill Mack from Shamrock (Shamrock?) Texas.
Does this site turn up every time you search with Google?
Esquerita, the Nation
And in a nice turn around, Miriam Linna who helped to interview Shangri-La, Mary Weiss, for Norton Records, has this to say about Esquerita:
6 - Weirdest situation on stage
Another good one was playing at a party with Esquerita-- we were playing for no money and Esquerita was surprised that we would play gratis. he was watching for a while and then went and pulled at Billy's sleeve. "Introduce me!" he said, and then he joined us. He turned to me and said SLOW DOWN and I though (another Spinal Tap moment!) that me meant I was paying too fast. A few more times he turned and said SLOW DOWN and each time I was going slower... and slower... Then I realized he wanted to do the Larry Williams song Slow down! Boy, I'm a dope!
Haha! Like Esquerita would want the music slower.