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HICKS WITH STICKS NEWS #207, August 24, 2009

San Francisco Bay Area Twang Calendar Highlights
Bands / Clubs

Blue Diamond Fillups @ Black Cat Bar, 10056 Main St., Penngrove 10pm $5

Billetproof Car Show
Antioch Fairgrounds

Misisipi Rider @ The Music Store, 66 W. Portal, SF 6pm free

77 El Deora @ Mill Valley Fall Arts Fest., Main Stage, Old Mill Park, Mill Valley 330pm $8

Loretta Lynch/The Hollyhocks/Yard Sale @ Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 4th St., SF 9pm $7

The Buckshot Boys @ Stout Bros. Irish Pub, 527 4th St., Santa Rosa

Jinx Jones & the KingTones @ La Barca, 2036 Lombard St., SF 930pm

The Lonestar Retrobates @ 19 Broadway, 19 Broadway, Fairfax 3pm free

Robbie Fulks @ Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison, Berkeley 8pm $18.50/$19.50

18th Annual Hank Williams, Sr. Birthday Tribute/Live-band Country Karaoke @ Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF 10pm $5

28th Annual Western Swing Hall of Fame Music Festival @ The Machinist's Hall, 2749 Sunrise Blvd., Rancho Cordova


Full Calendar


You might meet that wide-eyed, sweet smiling, corn-fed gal and the soundtrack in your brain will kick into "Everybody Loves a Midwestern Girl."  Or, it might happen while driving in unfamiliar territory when the melody "I'm 'Lost' and I can't find my way" kicks into gear.  Or perhaps you'll be shy of funds, and hear "Fell off the 'Gravy Train,' fell off of the gravy train..."  Or, it could be a road tangle with a bad driver and "Don't drive too slow.  Don't Drive too fast.  'Don't Drive Like an Ass,"" that will chorus through your brainpan.  In every case, you've entered the Yard Sale God Bless Our Camper zone, a CD world that's thick with aural crazy glue.

Officially an acoustic trio, Yard Sale has added some studio horsepower (including a harp) to give their latest CD a full band sound.  All three – Melanie DiGiovanni (guitar), Denise Funari (rhythm guitar), and Jill Olson (bass) – write, sing, and put their own style into the songs and they cover three tunes.  One might expect a mish-mash with all this going on, but fast or slow, light or heavy, the songs play well with one another. 

The CD is rich in its variety of inputs, yet remarkably seamless.  They skimmed the cream off their abundant material, invited a few pals into the studio (trusty Wally's Sound), and developed a country and pop flavor that is special to Yard Sale.  They are as country as they want to be on Tom T. Hall's classic "That's How I Got to Memphis" or their own "Talkin' Whiskey," but they can also be the envy of the Shirelles on that girl group's hit "Baby It's You," or with their own girl group remix of the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time."  Both songs have HWS thinking that a Yard Sale in Poodle Skirts CD would be the absolute '60s throwback most.

Catch them at one of their potluck Sundays at SF's Rite Spot, or at a CD party near you, or hear them now on


Mention western swing and most will think of Bob Wills, Texas or Oklahoma, but what about California?  Few realize that western swing was regional music until the Golden State got hold of it.  Bob Wills moved to Californy in 1943 to join the 2.5 million (a heap o' folks back then) who'd already escaped the Dust Bowl.  It was SoCal's radio, music and movies that repackaged and sold the cowboy, singing or otherwise, to the world.

Richard Chon (Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Sons of the San Joaquin) is the
Saddle Cats' fearless leader, a hecka fine fiddle player, and a California music historian.  (He's credited in Gerald Haslam's Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California, Univ. of California Press, 1999).  He's also got himself a fine bunch o' musicians with pedal steel player Bobby Black (Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, Asleep at the Wheel), geetar picker Gordon Clegg and bassist Bing Nathan, and together they've made Heardin' Cats, a tribute to California's western swing legacy.

Richard Chon?
The CD is divided between standards and not-so-standard western swing tracks: all California born and bred.  "Roly Poly" is a Fred Rose song that's been covered by hundreds of bands yet it was a first for Wills and California in '46.  The perennially popular "What's the Matter with the Mill" is a veiled song, as music like this had to be back in the day, about the closing of a house of ill repute.  "Who Walks in when I Walk Out" is about cheatin'.  "You've Got the Right Key Baby, but the Wrong Keyhole" is about greener pastures.  Yep, all these themes were in western swing well before honky-tonk found them.

Instrumentals, which were popular back in the day, get their play too, and who'd have thought that a classic like "Oklahoma Stomp" was California born?

At its best this music flows and flows, and with four crack musicians plus Chon himself getting a fine country croon on, the Herdin' Cats CD flows like the Big Muddy.  This is music for sittin' a spell, sippin' a little and watchin' the sun go down; and the history lesson comes at no extra charge.


Les Paul
(June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009) made vast swaths of popular music possible with the invention of the solid body guitar.  He also took audio recording to a new level with overdubbing, phasing and the use of other effects that we now take for granted.  And, he played in a style that took the guitar to a new level.  He leaves a legacy that will remain with us for as long as electricity and music remain together.


The Bay Area is home to some premiere 78 and 45 rpm record collectors who spin at clubs.  Here is a copy-and-paste list of their spin cycles.

Bay Area Ancient Vinyl Events
Compiled by

First Sunday 3-8: Savage Sounds
Miss Cherry Bomb, Dr. Scott
and guests
Fireside Lounge, Alameda, CA, 3-8, free
45 rpm R&B, R&R, rockabilly, exotica and surf.

First Sunday 10-2: Shuckin' 'n' Jivin'
Dr. Scott
and Okie Oran
Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF, Free
78 rpm vintage recordings of R&B, Jump Blues, Stompers, Boppers, and Jivers.

2nd Sunday 9-12:30: Lonely Teardrops
dX the Funky Granpaw and Sergio Iglesias
Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF, Free
78s and 45s of early rock n' roll, doo wop, boppers and jivers.

Every Monday 6:30-9:00
DJ Blze Orange
3121 16th (newar the Roxie), SF, free
All-Country VinylMix

Every Monday 7-11: Shellac Shack
Chas Gaud
Homestead, Folsom and 19th, SF, Free
Spinning vintage 78 rpm blues, jazz, R&B, rock & roll, and country on vintage turntables

Every Wednesday 5-9: Martini Time
  DJs Heartbreak and Nicolo
Deco Lounge, Larkin and Turk, Free
Vinyl standards, big band, lounge and jazz.

3rd Thursday 8:30-12:00: Shake Rattle & Roll
DJ Tanoa Samoa Boy
Forbidden Island, 1304 Lincoln, Alameda
Jump Blues, Swing Bop, Classic CountryDoo Wop, Surf

Every Friday: Friday Night Jump
Rotating DJs Tanoa Samoa Boy, Okie Oran, Rockin' Raul, and Sergio Iglesias
 Jay & Bee Club, 2736 20th St., SF, Free
Vintage R&B, country, rockabilly, big band, jumpers and jivers.

Twang has a minority interest in most of these mixes, but that could change soon.  DJ Jett, Shellac Shack's go-to gal when Chas Gaudi can't host it, is scouting for an East Bay or SF venue that needs an all-vinyl country night.  Get in touch with HWS if you have a place in mind.


Real deal rock and roll, rockabilly, and punk has a new stage on the Mid-Peninsula.  The British Banker's Club opened three decades ago as a Menlo Park fern joint.  But these days its players include Santa Cruz rockabilly from the Chop Tops, Santa Cruz surfabilly from Los High Tops and more rockabilly from SF's Miss Fire and the Detonations.  Talk about disturbing the chardonnay!  Thanks, BBC, for letting the Pabst drinkers in and bringing life to a Bay Area dead zone...  The Sleeping Lady in Fairfax has added bluegrass on third Thursdays. 
Larry Carlin's Bluegrass Showcase is invitational and Carlin, is Marin's main man for bluegrass, knows just who to invite.  He produced monthly shows for many a moon at the Sweetwater Saloon in Mill Valley, and later at Sweetwater Station in Larkspur.  Those venues have closed but the post office will stop delivering mail before Larry Carlin stops producing bluegrass, so off to the Sleeping Lady it is.  He publishes a bluegrass newsletter that can be subscribed to by contacting him via his site... 

BAND WATCH: Those preparing for the Northern California Band Exam will want to be aware that the difference between the
The Ferocious Few and The Fortunate Few is that the former is a bluesy punkabilly duo out of SF and the latter is a honky-tonking quartet from Citrus Heights (near Sacramento).  We don't want to make anybody nervous, but this is just the kind of question that could show up on the test...  The B-Stars had a honky-tonk and western swing dance thing going with Bill McKenna alternating between lead guitar and pedal steel, but Mikiya Matsuda has stepped in to play lap steel and McKenna will handle the six-string full time.  Get your dancin' shoes on for this version of the B-Stars...  The Jack "Daniels" Spade Band has added Charlie Roman of the Teenage Werewolves to play bass so Professor Spade himself can be more up front singing lead and playing rhythm guitar...

Glen Earl
GOINGS ON: The Buck Owens birthday night at the Elbo Room on August 12th was a big success.  Organizer Glen Earl Brown Jr. is looking ahead to next year, possibly at the Verdi Club...  Hank Williams Birthday Night returns to the Knockout in SF on Sunday, September 20th.  This will be a karaoke tribute to Hank One and it's coming up so start practicing.  Liquid courage optional...  The GoldDiggers have a snazzy new site and videos on YouTube...  The CalAmericana Association has updated its calendar of regularly scheduled Bay Area Americana events There are 22 such events every month.  Nine of them are weekly which means over 60 roots events take place between SF and the East Bay and from Soquel to Petaluma month in and month out.  Follow the link and right click to save your copy.  Between CalAmericana's regularly scheduled events calendar (which includes bluegrass events), the Hicks with Sticks calendar, the www.scbs.org acoustic twang calendar, and the vinyl DJs calendar above, there's something twanging every night of the month...  CalAmericana has also published over a dozen YouTube videos.  Find Big Sandy, James Intveld, Wayne Hancock, Red Meat, "The Pecker Song," and several Bay Area bands here.

Keep an eye on the HWS calendar for the next Duet Roulette night at Amnesia which produces two of these contest-cum-theater events each year. 

Duos, not necessarily of different genders, compete in a down-market Star Search lead by MC Half-in-the-Bag, helped by judges all the way in it, and a hormone or two run amok.  One judge dropped a contestant's trousers, one duo wound up in a heated love wrestle on the stage, and Rudy and Rudi took first prize with their send-up of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn's corn pone classic, 
"As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone," captured on video.

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