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  • "Bakersfield" Sound

    The recent thread asking for San Francisco tips resulted in a reply from "duende".

    "My musical tastes have run to Americana/fringe roots/punk-country of late"

    Reflecting on that made the "Bakersfield Sound" phrase pop into my mine. Anyone here old enough to remember or even care about that epoch?


    "The Bakersfield sound was developed at honky-tonk bars[3] such as The Blackboard, and on local television stations in Bakersfield and throughout California in the 1950s and 1960s. The town, known mainly for agriculture and oil production, was the destination for many Dust Bowl migrants and others from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and parts of the Midwest. The mass migration of "Okies" to California also meant their music would follow and thrive, finding an audience in California's Central Valley.

    Bakersfield country was a reaction to the slickly produced, string orchestra-laden Nashville sound, which was becoming popular in the late 1950s. One of the first groups to make it big on the West Coast was the Maddox Brothers and Rose, who were the first to wear outlandish costumes and make a "show" out of their performances. Artists such as Wynn Stewart used electric instruments and added a backbeat, as well as other stylistic elements borrowed from rock and roll. Important influences were Depression-era country music superstar Jimmie Rodgers and 1940s Western swing musician Bob Wills.[1]

    In 1954, MGM recording artist Bud Hobbs recorded "Louisiana Swing" with Buck Owens on lead guitar, Bill Woods on piano, and the dual fiddles of Oscar Whittington and Jelly Sanders. "Louisiana Swing" was the first song recorded in the style known today as the legendary "Bakersfield sound". In the early 1960s, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, among others, brought the Bakersfield sound to mainstream audiences, and it soon became one of the most popular kinds of country music, also influencing later country stars such as Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, The Mavericks, and The Derailers. Jean Shepard, one of country music's first significant female artists, began her recording career on the West Coast in the 1950s. Through Capitol Records, Shepard's "A Dear John Letter", was the first major country hit single to use entirely Bakersfield musicians. Many of her early recording sessions featured prominent members of the Bakersfield movement, including Lewis Talley and Speedy West.[4]Susan Raye was also a major figure in the Bakersfield sound, particularly in the 1970s, with hits such as "L.A. International Airport". She was also a member of Buck Owens' road show and recorded several hit duets with him. Other women to emerge from the West Coast country movement include Bonnie Owens, Kay Adams, and Rosie Flores.

    Two important British Invasion-era rock bands also displayed some Bakersfield influences. The Beatles recorded a popular version of Owens' "Act Naturally". Years later, The Rolling Stones made their connection explicit in the lyrics of the very Bakersfield-sounding "Far Away Eyes", which begins: "I was driving home early Sunday morning, through Bakersfield ...".

    The Bakersfield sound has such a large influence on the West Coast music scene that many small guitar companies set up shop in Bakersfield in the 1960s. The biggest of significance[citation needed] was the Mosrite guitar company that still influences rock, country, and jazz music to this day. The famed Mosrite company was located in Bakersfield until the death of the company's founder, Oildale resident Semie Moseley, in 1992"



    Some good stuff

  • #2
    "Ninety miles south of Bakersfield is a small town called Cochtotan."

    https://jackshittheband.com/

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    • #3
      I love the Bakersfield Sound. There are a couple of bands here in SF that still play it.

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      • #4
        Great Album by Vince Gill and Paul Franklin titled “Bakersfield” where they cover Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Incredible music!

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        • #5
          I live, virtually and figuratively, in the town's sound these days. It's hard to tell sometimes where the Bob Wills western swing ends and the Bakersfield sound begins, but I'd lump BR5-49 in there (Chuck Mead's still releasing new stuff that has that vibe). Like Jim mentioned, even Cracker put out a double-disc, Berkeley to Bakersfield, half a punkish Gilman-street effort, the other a loving Bako tribute. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, has a great project that travels called the Green Leaf Rustlers - it's basically the Moonalice band (Barry Sless, Pete Sears & John Molo) backing Chris and Mother Hips member Greg Loiacono. There's another SF break-out band with jam-band guitarists Scott Law & Ross James doing Cosmic Twang. And a new treat for me was getting to hear Arthur Lee Land's Twang is Dead - Grateful Dead tunes reimagined as Bakersfield country tunes. The styles are a lot closer than you might believe. https://www.arthurleeland.com/twang-is-dead-1

          I've been playing a lot of this style of stuff this year and have consciously been trying to work more Merle and Buck into the material. Go see Dale Watson when he's in your town, for the truck drivin' songs alone. And if you don't already own'em, look for the Town South of Bakersfield compilation CD's - they're great.
          Last edited by duende; 06-11-2019, 04:29 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by duende View Post
            I live, virtually and figuratively, in the town's sound these days. It's hard to tell sometimes where the Bob Wills western swing ends and the Bakersfield sound begins, but I'd lump BR5-49 in there (Chuck Mead's still releasing new stuff that has that vibe). Like Jim mentioned, even Cracker put out a double-disc, Berkeley to Bakersfield, half a punkish Gilman-street effort, the other a loving Bako tribute. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, has a great project that travels called the Green Leaf Rustlers - it's basically the Moonalice band (Barry Sless, Pete Sears & John Molo) backing Chris and Mother Hips member Greg Loiacono. There's another SF break-out band with jam-band guitarists Scott Law & Ross James doing Cosmic Twang. And a new treat for me was getting to hear Arthur Lee Land's Twang is Dead - Grateful Dead tunes reimagined as Bakersfield country tunes. The styles are a lot closer than you might believe. https://www.arthurleeland.com/twang-is-dead-1

            I've been playing a lot of this style of stuff this year and have consciously been trying to work more Merle and Buck into the material. Go see Dale Watson when he's in your town, for the truck drivin' songs alone. And if you don't already own'em, look for the Town South of Bakersfield compilation CD's - they're great.
            Bakersfield sound is authentic country (and western) music before Nashville globbed strings and angelic choruses on every recording. Love it. Couldn't agree more about Dale Watson.

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