The same day we posted Lenny Bruce’s “Djinni in the Candy Store” last week, we came across this album while cleaning a great crate of jazz records.

bobby lyle

Keyboardist Bobby Lyle has made his most indelible mark as the musical director for hugely popular singers in the 80s — Bette Midler, Anita Baker and Al Jarreau — but he has sporadically recorded soulful jazz albums under his own name as well.

He is also part of the Minnesota jazz legacy, growing up just a couple blocks off Lake Street and cutting his teeth at clubs like the Blue Note and Herb’s back in the sixties. Jay Goetting’s history of Minnesota jazz, Joined at the Hip, includes an impressive story about Lyle. When Wynton Kelly was playing at Herb’s with his trio, Lyle stepped up and played during their smoke break. Mickey McClain was there, and remembered, “Kelly looked up and exclaimed, ‘Who the fuck is that?'”

Another legend about Lyle is that he nearly started a jazz fusion band with Jimi Hendrix. The two jammed, along with Willie Weeks and Gypsy drummer Bill Lordan, but the project never went further before Hendrix passed away the following year.

Lyle lives in Texas now, but according to Goetting’s book he occasionally returns to the Twin Cities.


From the picture on the back of The 12 Sides of John D. Loudermilk, the singer-songwriter hardly looks like bad news, but he wrote some of the baddest outlaw tunes around. Our favorite is this 1963 single, which, like many of his songs, has been covered pretty widely over the years. Country fans likely know it as through Johnny Cash’s recording, and more recently it became a sort of signature tune for Whitey Morgan and the 78s.

Paul Revere and the Raiders had the biggest hit from a cover of one of Loudermilk’s songs with “Indian Reservation” in 1971. He wrote the song after a family of Cherokee Indians took him in when he was stranded in a blizzard, and they asked him to write a song about the plight of their people.

Historian Dee Brown calmly describes the period following the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (and the subsequent Cherokee Removal Act of 1838) as “a bad time” in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Cherokee people have long called it “The Trail of Tears,” as nearly their entire nation was forced to march more than a thousand miles with minimal supplies in one of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history.

When telling the story of “Indian Reservation” to the Viva! Nash Vegas radio program (here), Loudermilk says that after being awarded a medal by the Cherokee nation, he was asked to read from a ledger from the Cherokee Trail of Tears and was shocked to find the names of his great grandparents, who were ninety-one years old when forced by the US Military to leave their home.

A small number of Cherokee escaped the forced removal and remained, and they now have a reservation as The Eastern Band of the Cherokee, not far from Loudermilk’s hometown of Durham, North Carolina. He wrote a song about his childhood there called “Tobacco Road,” which was also a hit after it was covered, this time by the Nashville Teens and later Eric Burdon and the Animals. The song has since become a standard and probably the most commonly covered of Loudermilk’s songs.

John D. Loudermilk is eighty-two years old and largely retired, so he’s probably not “Bad News” anymore. He is one of our favorite songwriters. In fact, last winter we posted a novelty song he recorded in 1957 without even knowing it was one of his songs (here).

hot pants

This is actually the second appearance of a hilarious country song by Leona Williams on the Hymies blog. Here’s the first.

We always felt it was a shame when artists weren’t credited on the jacket — like all those Wrecking Crew recordings which don’t mention the musicians and leave you thinking the Beach Boys or the Monkees were just really good. Ha.

Some years ago Kevin Odegard kindly gave us a copy of his book about the Blood on the Tracks sessions here in our neighborhood, and its a great read — remarkably, there’s not a lot of bitterness about the band not being properly credited on that classic album. Everyone Dylan fan in Minnesota knows who they are, anyway.

Jazz albums are pretty reliable for crediting performers, but sometimes they get into the same kind of billing issues you see in the movies — like how the new Star Wars movie is required to bill Mark Hamill at the top, and actual star Daisy Ridley somewhere down the line. This 1978 live album by the Milestone Jazzstars, who are clearly identified on the front jacket as being Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins and McCoy Tyner, is a good example. You can’t look at this album and wonder, will there be a drummer?

jazz stars in concert

There is, although he is hardly offered a moment to stand out in this album’s hour of grandstanding. He’s really just there to do his job — but in defense of Al Foster, he does it exceptionally well, as he reliably does. Foster is probably best known for his work with Miles Davis during the period before and after his hazy late-70s retirement, and the drummer is described as one of the people who Davis reliably saw during those dark years. In his autobiography, Davis describes Foster as able to “set shit up for everybody else to play off and then he could keep the groove going forever.” You get a sense of this on the recordings he made with Davis, beginning with the On the Corner sessions — Foster played on “Ife,” which found its eventual release on Big Fun.

The Milestone Jazzstars tour was probably a great opportunity for him during those years he was not working with Davis’ band, and it is only the tip of the iceberg as far as the wide range of modern jazz settings in which he could excel. He doesn’t really get a solo or a moment to shine on this album, but e still don’t understand why he was left off the front of the album jacket.

the chicken astronaut

This guy does not have “the right stuff.”

Now if we can just figure out what on Earth that means.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.24.01 AM

We’ve had a hard time feeling inspired to post some new songs here on the Hymies blog lately because the news is so overwhelmingly depressing that we’re afraid to unroll the paper on our porch every morning. Still, we want to share a couple of songs from Circle Round the Signs with you. It’s the latest album by Al Scorch and the Country Soul Ensemble, and they’ll be performing here at Hymie’s this evening at 5pm before their show at the Turf Club along with Tin Can Gin.

al scorch

Circle Round the Signs has been on rotation here in the shop all summer, in part because Al Scorch’s songs are suited to the times. It’s surprising how much folk music isn’t really about anything anymore these days, but not so with Scorch and his band. Also, we appreciate any guy who would organize a bicycle tour of record stores in his hometown.

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