Country duo Maddie & Tae will embark on a headlining concert run this spring, announcing the dates and cities for their Tourist In This Town Tour. Kicking off April 15 in Baltimore, Maryland, the trek marks Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye’s first headlining tour in five years and follows a whirlwind 2019 spent in support of Carrie Underwood’s lengthy Cry Pretty 360 Tour. The duo’s eight-city run will give them a chance to present new material bound for an upcoming full album release, and they’ll be joined by newcomers Avenue Beat.“Feels so surreal to be going out on a headlining tour, especially with our new record,” said Dye in the Tour’s official announcement. “These songs are our raw unfiltered stories, and we can’t wait to tell them live.”
“We’ve waited five years to go back out on a headlining tour. We are so excited to see our beautiful fans singing all of this new music,” added Marlow.
Tickets for Maddie & Tae’s Tourist In This Town Tour go on sale Friday (January 17) at 10 a.m. local time, and the “Die From a Broken Heart” duo will also hit the road with Lady Antebellum this summer on the Ocean 2020 Tour.
After 20 years of country stardom, Rascal Flatts will ride off into the sunset this year, announcing their Rascal Flatts Farewell: Life Is a Highway Tour. Marking the end of a transformative era in the format, the hit-making trio revealed their surprise decision on CBS This Morning Tuesday (June 7), saying it was time for one last “thank you” to their fans. “I know, it hurts us, too,” said frontman Gary LeVox as he broke the news.
“When we started out 20 years ago, we could not imagine all of the people, places, and gifts we would encounter,” LeVox (49) followed up in a statement and said this,
“The greatest feeling ever is being told that our music has been the soundtrack to their lives.” LeVox
What greater gift can an artist receive than to be told ‘I got married to “Bless The Broken Road,”’ or ‘We played “My Wish” at my graduation.’ That ‘“What Hurts The Most” is the song that made me love country music for the first time,’ or ‘“I’m Movin’ On” helped me get sober’ or even that ‘“Changed” made me call my family again after not talking to them for years.’ That’s why we create music and the reason we can’t wait to celebrate this incredible 20-year journey all year, with our fans who we love dearly. I don’t know what God has in store for the future, but I am excited to see what He has planned!”
“We’re really looking forward to getting to spend this entire year loving on our fans, and thanking them for allowing us to have the most amazing career over the last 20 years,” added the band’s, Jay DeMarcus. “While it is, of course, bittersweet, it is so important to us to celebrate what our music has meant to their lives, as well as what the fans have meant to us.
There is no sadness here, just new chapters, new journeys, and new beginnings. Rascal Flatts’ music will live on forever, because of our fans, and this year is all about them!”
“Dreams do come true … and we are three walking examples of this truth,” guitarist Joe Don Rooney said.
“I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve pursued our dreams together and with courage, hard work, and dedication we’ve been able to cultivate our dreams into reality; it’s simply incredible! There’s no doubt we have been blessed way beyond belief and we can’t wait to spend the rest of 2020 expressing our love and appreciation to all of our devoted fans, music industry friends and our families for believing in us and playing a major role in our path to here, said Joe.
“I personally can’t wait to shine a light on my brothers Jay and Gary this year, and make another mountain of new memories with them.” Joe Don Rooney
The group — which holds the title of the most-awarded country act of the last decade — began their journey in 2000, mixing solid country themes and musicianship with the crossover pop of the Y2K boy-band era. They went on to score 17 No.1 singles, and in 2006 was the best-selling musical act on the planet (of all genres).
Kicking off on June 11 in Indianapolis, the trio’s farewell tour will visit 25 cities across the U.S., wrapping with an emotional show in West Palm Beach, Florida, October 17. Tickets will be available first as part of the Live Nation Country Megaticket, with more information coming soon.
The biggest question being asked every year around the world by millions of Elvis Presley fans, is the King Of Rock ‘n Roll really dead? Well is he? Yes, he is really dead, no, he is still pretty much alive, well in which category do you fall in. Now for me, I don’t know, but I would really want to believe he is still alive, don’t you? Oh, come on, if you wish he were dead, you are one of the few non-Elvis fans, and truth be told I have not met one Elvis fan who wishes he was not still alive. The internet is full of articles and even some pictures of Elvis Sighting all over the world, even at your local Walmart. So with all the so-called proof of “The King Of Rock ‘n Roll still being alive, then why do some believe he passed away just over 40 years ago, on August 16, 1977. I mean did he or didn’t he perform live, well sort of, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra just the other day. All I can say is if he is still alive we wish him well and grant him the peace he so very well deserved and organized for himself, while still thanking him for the music that rocked the world.
At Sounds Like Nashville, we pride ourselves on bringing our readers updates about the latest and greatest songs coming out of Music City. Whether it’s a new single from the biggest superstar or the debut track from a new artist, we hope to bring fans a wide range of what’s hot in country music.
At the top of each month, our staff selects their personal favorite new songs and updates SLN’s ongoing 10 Songs You Should Be Listening To playlist. This month, Sounds Like Nashville has an array of new tunes from country’s biggest hitmakers and brightest rising stars. Three star-studded collaborations make the cut, with Thomas Rhett, Jordan Davis and Blake Shelton each enlisting the help of close friends to sing on their latest tracks. Fresh off her No.1 single with Brantley Gilbert, Lindsay Ell is back at it, releasing “I Don’t Love You,” an ode to moving on but not forgLindsay Ell – “I Don’t Love You”
Thomas Rhett – “Beer Can’t Fix” ft. Jon Pardi
Jordan Davis – “Cool Anymore” ft. Julia Michaels
Blake Shelton – “Nobody But You” ft. Gwen Stefani
Simon Lescart woke up on his last day,
plugged in the coffee maker,
and sat down at the computer to check his email.
There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes,
which he deleted without reading.
The sixth message subject line read “Final Notice”,
and the sender was an acronym, “T.P.T.B.”
He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open.
The message was this: “NOTICE OF EXPIRATION.
“Dear Mr. Lescart,
“This is an automatic reminder that your life expires at midnight tonight.
Please do not try to reply to this email.
Have a nice day.
Very truly yours,
The Powers That Be.”
Simon tried to reply anyway,
but his email bounced back from the “unknown recipient”.
He knew it must be a stupid joke,
but he couldn’t stop thinking about it
as he fought the city traffic on his way to work.
What if this really was his last day?
He’d often heard the old saying,
“You should live every day as if it were your last.”
What should a person do on his last day, anyway?
Get drunk? Smell some flowers? Confess his sins? What?
He didn’t have much of a family to visit,
just a brother up in Akron and an ex-wife in Atlanta.
They hadn’t spoken in years.
He couldn’t think of any old sins offhand.
Maybe he should commit some?
He knew that the weird email was a fraud,
but he decided not to go to work today, just in case.
He pulled off at an exit and got back on the expressway,
going the other way, toward the ocean.
This is nuts, he thought.
He couldn’t think of anything really important to do,
befitting a persons last day on the planet,
so he just sat on the beach for most of the day and drank a few beers.
He felt a little nervous, like a high school truant,
but he also felt something else he couldn’t define. Was it freedom?
He had some guilt too, for wasting the day looking at the ocean.
Someone sat down beside him.
The man was obviously homeless,
in his ragged black suit and dirty torn sneakers.
The man said, “Are you okay, friend? You look kinda lost.”
Simon said, “That’s an odd word… ‘Friend’.
Now that you mention it, I guess I don’t have any of those.
Just a bunch of acquaintances.”
“Maybe you never really tried”, said the man.
“I’ve been pretty busy”, said Simon.
“You must have accomplished great things, being so busy”, the man said.
“No great things. Just keeping even. Paying the bills”, said Simon.
“Do you think you have any great things in you”, asked the man?
Simon said, “Maybe. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.
If I had the time I’d do things differently.”
That’s when the chest pain struck and the world faded to black.
He heard voices. “What Happened?” “Get back!”
He was being carried.
Then a blinding light above. People working over him.
“We’re losing him! CLEAR!”
Then a huge shock and the world was gone again.
The smiling nurse said, “Welcome back. You’ve had quite a day.”
“What time is it”, he asked?
“Almost midnight”, she said.
“I have to call my brother”, he insisted.
“We’ll contact him for you. You can talk to him in a few days.”
“I wish I HAD a few days”, he said!
A cell phone rang.
“That sounds like mine”, he said. “Where is it?”
“It’s beside your bed, but you need to rest.”
He reached for it, but she stopped him.
“I’ll answer it for you”, she said. “Lie back down!”
She said, “It’s just a text message.”
“What does it say?”, he groaned.
The letters on the cell phone screen said this:
Will 2020 bring us all peace and prosperity or doom and gloom? No one can really tell. If it is left up to the politician and the ones who rule the world then I have not much hope for any of us. The current rulers of the world, and I am not talking about the governments, have only their own selfish and evil interests at heart and will never create a world of peace and goodwill for us all. There is talk about war everywhere, even good people are not left alone to live their lives in peace and are manipulated and forced daily into a new way of thinking. Yet it seems there is nothing the ordinary man woman or child can do to change that.
I am starting to understand why God finally decided to destroy the world. For he knew there was no way the people would change, so the best was just to wipe everyone out and start again with Noah and his family. For if all that is prophesied in the Bible comes true then looking around me is it not time for the world to be destroyed again and this time by fire? I for one would never be able to make that call, can you ? I, as do many other people who live between all the heartbreak and sorrow of each new day have to find a happy place somewhere, even if it’s in our hearts. For if we are happy in our hearts no one alive can change that. We believe that our God will sort out the good from the bad, and as stated in our Our Lords Prayer, deliver us from evil.
“As we all stand on the eve of a new year are we better off in many ways than our own good people were a hundred years ago ?”
Over a 100 Years ago the world was at War, a war started only for the sake of successfully changing the world from the old order to the new order. The first World War where thousands upon thousands of young men were to die, for no other reason but to change the world from the old to the new. Britain won that war with the help of their allies which included my Grandfather who was a Corporal in that war. It is so sad, that he could have died in the great war for Britain, Europe and America. Yet today, I who proudly carry his name cannot leave South Africa and go and live and work in the very countries my Grandfather fought to protect and almost gave his life for, how fair is that?
More Than a 100 years ago the Boer Nation name, identity and heritage was to be changed, by their invaders Great Britain, to the Afrikaners. This was done to forcefully divide and conquer forever the Boer Nation, and cover up Great Britain’s Holocaust and hide the war crimes against the Boer Nation. It is just over 100 years ago since the British murdered over 30000 Boer children, half the Boer Nations children and raped and killed almost 10000 Boer woman in Nazi like concentration camps in the Republic’s of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, now stolen from the Boer Nation and included into the new lawless 2020, South Africa. That war was started so that the gold that was discovered in the Republic of the Transvaal could be taken by the invaders, and that at all costs. Thousands of good people from Britain and South Africa, yes both sides of the war, just like you and me, died for that plan to have worked, and as always, it did.
So today are we really a little better off than we were 100 years ago? After all we are not being invaded by marching armies any more, we are just being killed in the safety of our own beds in our own home towns and cities. We should be thankful that at least we don’t all have to go to a foreign country to be killed anymore.
With all that said, today there are Millions of people living on this planet, and the ones like you and me, hopefully, will all take a positive attitude and be thankful that our ticket has not yet been called. For now we are all hopefully safe and happy in our own little space, perhaps like me, not my happy space, but nevertheless safe for now, living and breathing on this wonderful planet we all call home.
In closing I want to stress that I am not negative or depressed about the future, I am just someone who thinks he knows what is real, what is not real, what is a fact and what is not a fact. People who live in a dream world always wake up shocked and traumatized by reality.
I wish every single living person on this entire planet a wonderful and happy New Year and if you are intending to do something bad to someone take the time to consider this, that today it is them you do it to, tomorrow it will be you they do it too and you can take that to the bank.
People who tell us that it’s a pagan holiday,
just because it’s near the winter solstice,
may not realize what an intrusion that is upon our enjoyment.
We can each bring our own thoughts to the season,
and make it our personal non-pagan celebration.
It’s in the spirit of the beholder.
It’s hard to work up the spirit here in Florida,
but we give it a shot every year.
Misty decorates a tree,
and puts Christmas stuff all over the place.
We listen to Christmas music with the air conditioning on
and with palm trees lurking in the yard.
Television doesn’t help, with reports of all night sales,
talking heads urging us to be good consumers,
stranded travelers sleeping in airports,
and carolers singing “Happy Honda Days”.
I toss up futile prayers for snow here in the subtropics,
but this is the time of year
when we just get a cheap imitation of early autumn.
A couple of trees around here get a touch of red,
and I go look at them.
I get sentimental about Christmas,
probably because I had real Christmasy holidays years ago,
with folks who are no longer with us,
and my childish subconscious thinks it will happen again.
I think next year I’ll write a letter to Santa,
and ask him for one more snowfall in Buffalo,
where the night is silent, the homes are warm,
and Christmas is strong in the air.
2019 saw a batch of amazing artists hit the country mainstream, many of which were featured on our 19 New Country Artists to Watch in 2019. But now, we’re back with a complete list to keep your playlists full of Nashville’s brightest new performers.
Here are 20 acts to keep on your radar in 2020 (in alphabetical order).
Country’s newest all-female trio instantly grabs one’s ear with their engaging melodies and harmonies. The Gen Z group of Sami Bearden, Savana Santos and Sam Backoff recently made their way on to the country scene and are already garnering attention with such charmers as “Delight” and “Ruin That For Me,” while their animated personalities that pour through on screen are enough to uplift your spirits. But the feminist edge of “Be a Bro” and lyrics like “If you hold a sister down / It’ll all come back around / So be a bro / Know the girl code,” prove that they’re the future of country music. – Cillea Houghton
Though there’s a smooth charm in Bandi’s voice like that of a member of your favorite boy band, he balances this vocal ability with the sensitivity he pours into his music. This gives his songwriting an intriguing effect, as demonstrated by the way he vulnerably lets his guard down on tracks like “Man Enough Now” and “Why I Don’t Drink.” “Cause I know what I feel ain’t love / Only time I open up / Is when I’m drunk / Standing at your door,” he croons on the latter, yet is just as smooth and suave on such grooves as “Rain Man” and “Only One.” With his open-hearted nature, Bandi is sure to swoon listeners as his collection grows along with his talent. – C.H.
There’s a cinematic element to Blair’s music that makes it so enticing. The Missouri native brings a pop flair to her compositions while unveiling the insecurities and mistakes that come with being a 20-something. Love affairs that are in a gray area and going back to someone you know you shouldn’t are just some of the topics she tackles honestly in her songwriting. But if you really want to hear her vulnerability, turn to “Gotta Quit Drinkin.” With a dreamy voice that she utilizes with precision, Blair is one of Nashville’s most dynamic young artists. – C.H.
Before he was runner-up on the country music competition show Real Country in 2018, Fleet had already won over fans in Willie Nelson and Jake Owen with his undeniable voice. The Chattanooga-based singer who mellifluously blends blues and country impressed Owen so much during his performance at a mutual friend’s party that the hit maker offered him an opening slot on his tour, eventually landing him a guest spot opening for Nelson. With a rugged, but comforting voice and lyrics that touch on blue collar life, Fleet is always speaking to the common man in a way that’s artistic, yet relatable. – C.H.
With just one hit of Frey’s voice, you’d think she’d been transported from the 90s era of country music, as she’s quipped with a voice that’s as crisp and nostalgic as power women like Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood. Frey carries this sense of timelessness into songs like “One Night in Tulsa” that reflect the storytelling of the 90s country era that makes it so beloved, using images of walking through the scorching hot desert and riding a buck wild mustang bare back to convey the pain of longing, while songs like “Too Bad” draw one in with their pure, traditional country identity. With this unbeatable combination, Frey is sure to continue to attract fans in the new year. – C.H.
With a voice that’s soulful and distinctive, it’s no wonder Gates landed a coveted slot during season 12 of The Voice on Gwen Stefani’s team. Gates originally launched his career as former frontman of Rhode Island-turned-Nashville-based pop rock band Runaway Saints, but has since struck out on his own with an intoxicating voice and sophisticated songwriting palette. You hear this on such vulnerable tracks as “Dive Bar,” “Bandit” and “Brooklyn Nights” that put the listener at the center of his heartache. With an impressive resume and bold voice serving as his aces in the deck, look for Gates’ star power to rise in 2020. – C.H.
Jones’ bubbly charisma shines through across her dynamic body of work. Her infectious smile matches that of such catchy numbers as “Chasin’ Me” and “The Difference,” while her endearing flair has won over fans across the musical spectrum. She was hand picked to open for the likes of Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett, the latter of whom believes in her so much that he gave her a distribution deal with his Mailboat Records and personally penned the breezy “Gulf Coast Girl” for her. Watch for Jones to break through the mainstream country ceiling in 2020. – C.H.
Between her unique voice and emotive songwriting, it’s easy to see why Kozak was selected as the flagship artist to Nashville’s first all-female label, Songs & Daughters, helmed by songwriting pioneer Nicolle Galyon. The Ontario native has a voice that glows and a songwriting capability that resonates, particularly with her debut single “First Last Name.” The touching number that serves as a Father’s Day gift to the man who inspired her love for country music is a potent example of Kozak’s talent demands your attention. – C.H.
With a bright, effervescent vocal and a talent for exposing the connective tissue of the soul, Kalsey Kulyk wraps emotional depth in an optimistic-roots package. The Saskatchewan native scored an early believer in one of Fleetwood Mac’s original producers, and it’s easy to hear on her self-titled debut album – full of thick vocal stacks and deceptively sophisticated arrangements. – Chris Parton
One listen to a song from Trea Landon’s catalogue and you know he’s unabashedly country. Built on a foundation of laid back country melodies and equally carefree lyrics, the Georgian picks up where Easton Corbin left off with tracks like “Loved By A Country Boy” and “Get The Girl” that portray him as a southern gentleman at heart. Sweet and simple are two of the qualities Landon conveys melodically and lyrically, particularly as he proclaims “you ain’t been loved ‘til you’ve been loved by a country boy” in his easy going debut single. The welcoming nature of this rising star is sure to entice fans in the new year. – C.H.
Parker McCollum spent years grinding show-to-show in Texas’ independent scene, building himself a dedicated following on a youthful wave of self-penned country rockers … but recently he’s made a play at the mainstream. His latest major label release is the reflective midtempo “Pretty Heart,” which mixes a loose-fitting vocal with a Lone Star-sized dose of regret and distorted slide guitars. – C.P.
As the son of Suzanne Cox, member of the Grammy winning bluegrass band The Cox Family, Ratcliff literally has music in blood. Though he’s merely 24-years-old, Ratcliff’s songwriting ability proves he posses maturity beyond his age. He demonstrates this with tracks like the bluesy “See Me Like This” that has an edge without being bitter while debut single “Rules of Breaking Up” shows off his emotional side. Watch for this talented musician to continue to flourish in 2020. – C.H.
Pairing up with power songwriters Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Matt McGinn, Robb’s growing catalogue proves him to be a modern writer with a serene voice. His McAnally and Osborne-penned second single “Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You” is a breezy bop that invites one into Robb’s talent that is bound to only grow in the new year. With a voice that calls to mind Dustin Lynch and a songwriting style that reflects the modern country landscape Robb has solidified himself as one of the genre’s promising new acts. – C.H.
Sometimes one song is all it takes to launch a career, and that is happily the case with Matt Stell. The chill-bump raising “Prayed for You” turned into a wish fulfilled this year, showcasing his smoky vocal and a sense of poetic romance to become his first No.1 at country radio, while also pulling in north of 40 million Spotify streams. He’s doubling down with the Everywhere But On EP. – C.P.
White can write and deliver a pop-country hit with the best of them (see the undeniably catchy modern relationship bop “If You’re In It”), but it’s the unflinchingly honest ballads that truly allow her to shine. Though White’s career is only destined to soar, it’s a safe bet that “Ten Year Town” will always stand as one of her best. The painstakingly outspoken guitar ballad that speaks of selling one’s soul and wondering if they have what it takes to make it as an artist are just two of the raw confessions she makes in the song that gives listener a no-holds-barred explanation of how the music business operates. This is just one example of the vulnerability that White brings to her songwriting, making her one of the best rising stars Nashville has to offer. – C.H.
Hailey Whitters broke out in 2019 after capturing the struggle to do just that in “Ten Year Town,” a striking diary entry any down-on-their-luck-dreamer could relate to. With an organic ‘90s sound and a knack for insightful lyrics, her work finally paid off, grabbing attention on tours with Maren Morris and Little Big Town. Next year includes a full album and tours with Tanya Tucker and Jordan Davis. – C.P.
The Williams family tradition continues through Sam Williams, son of Hank Jr. and grandson to the iconic Hank Sr. But like the generations before him, this Williams follows his own artistic arrow – even when he’s covering his elders. With the single “Weatherman,” he puts a lonesome howl of a vocal on his father’s 1981 ballad, and often veers into spacey experimentalism on tracks like “Gemini.” – C.P.
The small town Louisiana native is proud of her roots, as demonstrated by her new album Redneck Hollywood that’s filled with such gems as “Workin’ Ovetime” and “LA” and showcase her sound that’s an alluring mix of smoky and sultry. The young star has a strong strain of confidence she carries into other songs like “Things a Man Oughta Know” and the ode to her favorite brazen gesture, “Middle Finger,” yet displays this confidence in a poignant way on “Tougher.” With her thoughtful songs and eclectic style that calls back to the 70s, Wilson is a name you need to keep an eye on. – C.H.
LaBeef was born in Smackover, Arkansas, the youngest of 10 children,he was raised on a melon farm. He received the nickname “Sleepy” as the result of a lazy eye. He moved to Houston, Texas, when he was 18. There, he sang gospel music on local radio and put together a bar band to play venues as well as radio programs such as the Houston Jamboree and Louisiana Hayride. LaBeef stands 6.5 ft (2.0 m) tall.
The following are some tributes posted on social media to honor the life and the legacy of the Great Sleepy LaBeef.
Linda LaBeef and Entire Family: It is with deep, agonizing sadness that we inform you of the news that this morning, Sleepy LaBeef, born Thomas Paulsley LaBeff, passed on from this life to be with the Lord. He died at home, in his own bed, surrounded by his family who loved him, and whom he dearly loved. He lived a full and vibrant life, filled with the excitement of much travel and experience, the contentment that came from being able to spend his life doing what he loved best, and the fulfilling love of his wife, children, and grandchildren around him. We loved him, love him, and will always love him, and will cherish the memories of the time we were blessed to be given with him in this life. We thank you for your love and support for Sleepy throughout the years, and during this very difficult time. – With all our love.
Pete Djpj Paraskevas: The news is spreading. Sleepy LaBeef has passed away. I had the pleasure to meet and work with him a few times in Portland, Maine. Great guy, great musician, biggest one I know of. An upright bass looked like a violin in his hands. May your memories be eternal.
Matthew Mcghee: Rock And Roll Sleepy!! Simon Chardiet Scott Kitchen Glenn Healy and your band blew up the Continental D ! I spent the entire weekend there, probably should have just slept there but Roger would have thrown my ass out 🙂 Sleepy WAS a human jukebox..
Tracy Moon: So sorry to hear about the loss of a great man he was a great singer and musician
Janne Smeds A true Gentleman has gone to heaven. He won’t be forgotten… RIP
Deke Dickerson: I woke up to the news that rockabilly great Sleepy LaBeef just passed away, and saw that just about every one of my friends and colleagues had a story about the guy. We all got to spend so much time with him over the years, myself included, and we’re all richer because of it. Sleepy was one of the original 50’s rockabillies, he made excellent records for Starday, Mercury, Dixie, and Wayside. In a way he was one of the first “50’s revivalists,” cutting greasy rock and roll records all through the British Invasion years of the mid-60’s, but the truth was that Sleepy existed in a Gulf Coast world of rough bars and sleazy dives where the hard driving 50’s rock and roll mixed with classic country never went away. Sleepy was HUGE.
Frans Maritz AirplayExpress: Being from South Africa I only discovered Sleepy LaBeef a year or two ago while searchin’ the Internet for a newer version of “Staggerlee”. I did find many but they were either badly recorded, badly sung. I am not saying they were all bad as some were pretty good and some were just too clean if you know what I mean. Then just as I was about to give up, I clicked on a version by “Sleepy LaBeef” not knowing what to expect as I had never heard of him before. Well it took about 10 seconds for me to realized I had not just found me the best version of ‘Staggerlee” I had ever heard, but I also found me a great singer and just like that I was a fan of the great “Sleepy LaBeef”. Today I am also very saddened to hear that he has passed away, I will make a place in my musical heart for him right next to Elvis Presley and George Jones. Thank you for the music “Sleepy LaBeef” I wish I had known of you earlier or even personally you are a legend in my Musical World.
Deke Dickerson Continued:I Sleep was Huge, always referred to him as a ‘Man-Mountain,’ and I always found it comical when I loaned him a guitar or upright bass and it looked like a ukulele or a toothpick on his large frame. His girth enabled him to portray “The Swamp Thing” (a large, semi-naked caveman/wildman character) in the 1968 exploitation film “The Exotic Ones,” a memorable film moment, if you’ve ever had the good fortune to screen that particular gem. In the 70’s, Sleepy got signed by the new Shelby Singleton-owned Sun label and then the Boston-based Rounder Records, and he began working the Rockabilly revival and Teddy Boy circuit in England and Europe.
He became known as “The Human Jukebox” because he seemed to know every song ever written, and sometimes his shows would consist of him performing for 3 or 4 hours straight, no breaks, with short-and-long term band members holding on for dear life, often not knowing the songs as Sleepy plowed through them like a mule plowing through hard and rocky Arkansas farmland. Sleepy kept going and going and that’s where we met him, in the early 1990s, playing in Los Angeles at the Blue Saloon in North Hollywood. At that time, we didn’t back him up but we got to know him and appreciate him for what a great and unique character he was. He had a deep bass voice that could rattle the foundation loose from a building! He fired a band member for secretly listening to a heavy metal cassette! He kept playing past last call and finally had to have the electricity turned off to stop him from playing! He would buy junk on the road to sell at the flea market back home in Arkansas until there was barely any room left for the band in the back of the van! Eventually we got to play with him. Once around 1994 or 1995 at a gig in San Francisco, my group the Dave and Deke Combo were opening for Sleepy, and he was watching our set. We launched into “Cherokee Boogie,” an old Moon Mullican tune, and Sleepy got so excited he jumped up on stage, took the bass out of Shorty‘s hand (or was it Lloyd?), and played bass with us on the number (he was a great upright bass player, but the bass looked like he was slapping a child’s cello). I backed up Sleepy at one of the Green Bay rockabilly festivals in the early 2000s, and when his string broke he finished the set playing my guitar. I still savor the memory of how tiny my guitar looked on him. We crossed paths and played on the same bill dozens of times, and I was always overjoyed when I heard his basso profundo voice chime out “HEY DEKE” backstage or wherever we happened to see each other.
The last time I got to back up Sleepy was at the Rockabilly Rave in England in 2010. Sleepy was supposed to play with a European band, who had learned all of his 50’s rockabilly songs, but didn’t realize that 95% of Sleepy’s set consisted of ‘The Great American Songbook.’ Which meant you had to go into the gig knowing about 10,000 songs of all genres–it might be rock and roll, it might be country, it might be blues, it might be gospel, it might be an old pop standard. Sleepy rehearsed with the European band and decided he didn’t want to play with them. Jerry Chatabox summoned me and luckily I was prepared, at that particular Rockabilly Rave I had the best rhythm section you could get–Beau Sample on bass and Alex Hall on drums, from the Modern Sounds. I’ll never forget the show, Sleepy went into every song and style imaginable, and we knew all the songs. He was pleased and had a big smile on his face the whole time. It might have marked the only time in my career where I played a medley of “Bo Diddley” into “Amazing Grace.” I never got a chance to back up Sleepy after that, and I knew he had a bout of very bad health problems a few years ago. I was overjoyed to run into a much older and much slimmer Sleepy backstage at Viva Las Vegas a couple years ago, where he greeted me with a “Hey, ol’ Deke!” We all got to know him and love him, and he gave us so much great music over the years. RIP Sleepy, thank you for all the great memories–you truly were a giant.
It was the day before Christmas.
We were road tired and traveling westward through Illinois or Iowa…
on our way to another show somewhere.
We tried to cheer each other up,
and said we’d celebrate our Christmas at a later date.
The countryside looked like a Christmas card
through the windshield of our motor home.
Fine dusty snow was starting to whirl around.
and the Interstate Highway was just about deserted.
It began snowing harder.
We needed a place to pull in for the night,
but we hadn’t seen anything open for miles.
We started to get worried.
It was getting dark,
and the wind was blowing the snow into drifts.
We pulled off at the next exit,
but there was no sign of life except for an old barn.
There was a wooden sign over the door,
and Christmas lights were on inside.
It turned out to be a little store
with a few groceries, and some antiques for sale in the back.
The owner took us to a little room where they kept boots and snow shovels.
That’s where we plugged in our electric line.
Misty made a good deal…
One night, two dollars.
I dragged our small artificial Christmas tree out of the trunk.
She had it trimmed and lit in about ten minutes.
We’d been on a long hard tour
and we didn’t have any presents for each other,
so we looked around at the antiques and things in the store.
We picked out a few gifts,
but we didn’t have any way to gift wrap them.
Two or three at a time people from the town came into the store,
stomping the snow off their shoes
and saying “Merry Christmas” to each other.
They were smiling and friendly
and offered to take our gifts back to their homes and wrap them for us.
When they came back a while later our presents looked beautiful.
They brought along some cookies and eggnog,
and we had a little party with these unusual strangers.
We wanted to cancel all our future bookings and live here.
In the morning we woke up to snow covered cornfields
and a sparkling forest of winter trees.
An old rusty plow and a wagon
were half buried in the snow outside our window..
It was a perfect Christmas.
We don’t even know the name of the town,
or which state it’s in.
And we haven’t been able to find it on any map.
We just think of it as our Christmas Town.
Maybe it’s in the twilight zone.