Get Rhythm

The Other Lost Highways: Red Foley

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 06:18 AM Written by

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the New Year's morning Hank Williams was found dead in the back seat of a chauffeured Caddy in Oak Hill, West Virginia after too much booze and drugs. Days later, at his funeral in Montgomery, Alabama his pal, Grand Ole Opry star Red Foley sang "Peace in the Valley," fulfilling a pact between them: whoever died first, the survivor would sing the song at their funeral.

Everyone knows Hank's journey. Foley's was no less tragic. One of country's pioneer crooners, he had records on the pop charts long before Nashville tried to put them there. He also faced scandals that would have made him a TMZ regular today.

He was also Pat Boone's father in law. We won't hold that against him.

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Except for a video of a 1965 WQED program, hosted by Bill Hillgrove, that we've posted here before, there aren't many easily available examples of Joe Negri with his longtime performing partner, the late Pittsburgh-born trumpeter Danny Conn, who died in 2006 at 78.  And there are fewer still of Joe working with his late brother, pianist Bobby Negri, who died in 2010, though a recorded live show was broadcast many years ago on the old WDUQ.

Here's something unique: audio of Conn and Joe at Foster's Grill at the Holiday Inn in Oakland.  Not sure of the exact year, but Joe after hearing the material recalls it was much later, toward the end of Danny's performing days. The bassist is local jazz star Dwayne Dolphin, the pianist Max Leake, who still works regularly with Joe and the drummer, Pittsburgh jazz legend and mainstay Roger Humphries. 

Joe wasn't initially sure of the players but after hearing the track, it refreshed his memories.  He notes that he never formally recorded with his friend Conn, but adds "he and I hit it off well both musically and personally .. We use to joke about being Geminis.  'The Gemini Kids', we called ourselves"   

The song: "If I Should Lose You."

One only wonders how much more live jazz--by these guys and many other local greats living and departed, are lying about unheard, on old home recording discs, tapes and even old CD's, in attics or basements.  If only more of this stuff could be unearthed and archived.

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Even today, many longtime fans of The Greatest Rock And Roll Band in the World, be they young or those there from the start, don't realize how much the Stones owed, and still owe, the blues, and they'd be the first to tell you that.  Here they are, covering one blues hero, sitting at his feet as he performs and at the end, sitting in with another of their blues idols, whose early recording provided them their name. 

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60 years ago this month, Hank Williams Sr., daddy of Hank Jr.. grandfather of Hank III, died in the back seat of a Cadillac sometime between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Enroute to a show in Ohio, too much booze, too many pills and in general, too much hard living finally caught up.  His driver pulled over in Oak Hill, West Virginia and realized it was over. He'd been in decline, sacked from the Grand Ole Opry the previous summer after pulling one too many no-shows, and returned to the radio show where he first gained notice: Shreveport's KWKH Louisiana Hayride, already rivaling the Opry as a "farm club" for new talent including Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Floyd Cramer and Jim Reeves (and in 1954, Elvis Presley). 

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Pizzarelli In Concert: Tales of Bucky

Tuesday, 22 January 2013 07:30 AM Written by

Funny what you learn at a John Pizzarelli concert. Yes, he's great with self-deprecating one-liners and patter, but he also has stories about himself but also about his dad, Bucky Pizzarelli, who at 87 is still toting his Benedetto 7-string guitar around the country playing jazz gigs.    My review of the Friday concert is here, but I want to add a bit that I wrote down and had no room to use.

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