Me and Charley Goofin' at the Rootin', tootin' Newton

Country 42

Country 42 by Heck Ramsay                                             11-1-16

            This joint isn’t about re-fighting the American Civil War, nor is it Nashville Geographic as we go ‘Country’ to Country.

            Country Music is nearly exclusively a White Music Genre and the majority of that comes from the American South; Dixie.

            The prospects for picking a guitar were infinitely more appealing than picking anything in a field.

            It is for that reason that it is rare that a man of color can break the Colored Line’ and prosper, but that’s Charley Pride for you.

            I met him almost as soon as I landed at RCA Vancouver and he was landing at YVRs South Terminal (Maaaan, we can’t get out of the South!) in his own Lear Jet! So, you could say he was doing ok.

            I don’t recall meeting any other artist that way, Charley has style.

            He toured Canada quite a bit and RCA’s National Country Product Manager, one Barry ‘Haystack’ Haugen (he warn’t huge, he was more like the proverbial needle in one.) was such good Buds with Charley he would sometimes go out on the road on Tour with him when he had some time off.

            I am reminded of Charley as the other day I came across a photo of the two of us having a howling good time at a bar in Surrey, the Newton Inn.

            I have to digress here to say that prior to arriving at RCA I never had occasion to go to any bar or club in Surrey, a matter of personal safety, but one day, having some business there, I called the Newton Inn which was in the Newton area (Surprise!) and it was said there ain’t nuthin’ new in Newton! So inquiring as to directions the nice lady at the reception desk told me, and here it is… why HI Ray! It’s real easy! Now sugar, you know that Surrey is the asshole of BC? Uh-huh, well, Newton is 5 miles UP it, see ya soon hon!.....(click)…..True, sigh, you can’t make this shit up!

            Back to the future….Charley was in town a day ahead of his show and having some time on his hands and having heard one of RCA’s other acts Nestor Pistor, was appearing and thought he’d go there for the evening. For those of you that missed the Nestor Pistor era, you missed a real comic. He is best described as a walking Ukrainian slur, BUT I set it up with the Rootin’ Tootin’ Newton Inn and they sent a Limo to pick up Charley in downtown Vancouver to bring him to the bowels of Surrey (the directions again).

            We hooked up in the lot and I walked him into the Club/Bar (of course Nestor wanted him to pay immediately) but here he was, unannounced, and everybody in the room stopped chewing with their mouths open, and couldn’t believe they own eyes! Didn’t know whether to shit or wind they watches! The watches got left behind, in a nice manner of speaking for a short brown trouser moment but quickly caught up!

            So Charley and I spent the evening having waaaay too much fun at once and he graciously met folks, chatted them up and posed for pictures, a true gentleman, and THAT Pride hasn’t had a fall I’m aware of.

            His website: http://www.charleypride.com/

Here’s the pic……….. 

 

 

            My breakfast the next morning is QUITE another story, unique in the telling, and I won’t warn you not to eat there because the Newton Inn is now better known as SaveOnFoods and the most ‘Country’ thing about it may be the Ham and the Pumpkins, so you’re all safe!

            Of course, preceding him was The Genius~ Ray Charles who’s soulful versions of Country songs could stop you right in your tracks, covering Hank, Don Gibson, Eddy Arnold, Frankie Brown, & Jimmie Davis (to name a few), tho while he adapted the songs to his style, the pride of Seattle (for a while) remained a Soul/R&B singer, unmatched.

            Following Charley’s Rising Star (1973), another colored gent stepped up to spank the planks and make his own sizable mark, this was BIG Al Downing in 1978 with his signature hit ‘Mr Jones’ https://youtu.be/heE59bOlOs4 and that song has stayed with me right to today from the first time I heard it on the radio.

Another of the AfroFew is Darius Rucker who descended upon Country Music from his Alt/Rock group Hootie & the Blowfish with consistent success and acceptance.  www.dariusrucker.com

            Now going Country to Country:

            In the late 60’s I discovered a song on a Country Radio stations playlist credited to a Sweet Daddy Siki, the same Sweet Daddy that strutted into the Wrestling ring and up one side of his opponent and down the other, this was Reg Siki, the Texas born, Toronto based rassler that could wring a song out of a guitar while doing the same to an opponent’s neck, very dexterous; you could say his music had a certain ‘ring’ to it.

 In 2003, BMG Music had a Black artist, Tebey (Pron: Tay Bay) who, for a while was managed by Bruce Allen, the Power behind the throne for a plethora of acts, but for this instance I’ll cite the fabulous Martina McBride, what a powerhouse! But I digress, I may have a bad case of Indigression (*Burp!**)

            Tebeys single was ‘We Shook Hands (Man to Man)’ but there wasn’t much hand-shaking going on at Radio in Vancouver, (head shaking, yes! hand wringing p’raps, on my part) as there was an unforeseen and uncharacteristic resistance to the song from a Station Management position I wouldn’t have expected, but that made any Radio visit from Tebey quite uncomfortable, and airplay impossible, as Bruce agreed and it was set aside.

            BUT, Good things come to those that wait, are pure of heart, etc, etc., so we tab ahead 13 years and find Tebey tested and found winning, with the able assistance of Road Angel Jill Snell-De Cartier who I had the pleasure of working with while at BMG.

            Visit Tebey at tebeymusic.com

            Still in Canada but locally on the Best Coast, there’s a new face in the crowd making some noise, one JoJo Mason who I had the pleasure of seeing at the BC Country Music awards a weekend ago and he was impressive, a kind of Urban Back40 with the groove and moves to grab the younger demographic and keeping the music fresh and moving forward. Peep JoJo at www.facebook.com/jojomasonmusic

 

            So, good on ALL these guys, it’s just music after all and in Canada we’re not hung up on the Bullshit that happened in the South or still happens today, so Zip-a dee-doo-dah, go make a joyful noise!

 

 

            Oh, if you’re still confused about the ‘42’? Think Jackie Robinson and you’ll get it……Batter UP!

 

Check THIS out!    

American Masters – Charley Pride: I'm Just Me | About ... - PBS

 

www.pbs.org › wnet › american-masters-charley-pride-