Sparrow Bellows' MOTR residency, plus This Day in Music with Country singers Waylon Jennings and … Jerry Springer?
Music Tonight: The every-Monday House Band for Over-the-Rhine club MOTR Pub this month is Sparrow Bellows, the gifted Rock & Roll crew featuring accomplished, veteran local musicians Sammy Wulfeck (Stapletons, Goose), Ric Hickey (long-running solo career, Telegram Sam, Speed Hickeys) and Brian Kitzmiller (Trojan Rabbit and his newest gig, playing with Granville, Ohio, rockers Black Owls, a regular MidPoint Music Festival highlight). The Bellows' energized take on Rock & Roll is compelling, showcasing the members' impressive instrumental abilities (they each are among the best in the city on their individual instruments), tight, memorable and creative songwriting and alluring progressive tangents, as well as great versatility (they're equally adept whether rocking out or dazzling with acoustics). The trio is currently working on new material for the follow-up to its excellent debut album. Hickey writes on the MOTR residency event page on Facebook that, after these MOTR shows, the band will be taking a break (one of those always vague and open-ended "indefinite hiatuses") and it's unclear when they'll be back. If you're going, tonight's show is free and starts around 9:30 p.m. The band's pals Goose are opening things up.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for February 13 On this day in 2002, Country legend Waylon Jennings died at the age of 64. The singer/songwriter/musician is an icon of Outlaw Country, the term used to describe the dust-kickin' Country with a broken-beer-bottle-edge that popped up as a response to the increasingly slick, pop nature of Country (sort of like AltCountry today). Jennings was a star but, like some of his runnin' buddies (including Johnny Cash), he was also an addict, fighting drug problems off and on for years. In the ’80s, he told Spin magazine about his battles and said the reason he quit was for his wife and new son, Shooter Jennings, who is now a much-acclaimed singer/songwriter himself.
Though many might only know him as the narrator and theme-song singer on The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, Jennings' catalog is loaded with Country classics. A retrospective Outlaw Country "greatest hits" album could conceivably feature 95 percent Waylon and few would flinch. He was one of the gods of the genre — even the term comes from Waylon, somewhat indirectly. The genre's name was taken from Jennings' song "Ladies Love Outlaws," written by Lee Clayton. In perfect outlaw style, Jennings reportedly hated the description with a passion.
Jennings died after his hard life caught up with him. He had heart issues and severe diabetes-related pain. A year after having his foot amputated, Jennings died in his sleep from diabetic issues.
Jennings wife — Country artist Jessi Colter — sang the song "Storms Never Last" at his funeral. The song was on Colter (who wrote it) and Jennings' first duets album, Leather and Lace.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers born Feb. 13 include: TV host and Country/Pop hit-maker ("Sixteen Tons") Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919); one of the Fab Faux (The Monkees), Peter Tork (1944); the esteemed former Genesis frontman and even better solo artist Peter Gabriel (1950); Punk Rock legend turned stand-up comedian Henry Rollins (1961); cheeseball British Pop sensation Robbie Williams (1974); and Country & Western singer/songwriter Jerry Springer (1944).
Springer — whose ties to Cincy are often used to emphatically make a point about how backwards the city is ("This is the town that once had Jerry Springer as a mayor!") — had been interested in music back in his early Cincinnati days and hung out at a lot of the local bars with musicians, occasionally "sitting in." His career as a Country singer was like his sleazy talk show career in some ways. Springer's TV show was originally intended to be more Donahue than Morton Downey, Jr. But once the more salacious shows started catching on and the tone became increasingly ridiculousness, Springer seemed to sheepishly accept the shift, using self-deprecating humor to suggest he's in on the joke that is his show.
Likewise, I think Springer genuinely wanted to get some attention for his Country tunes. In the mid-’90s, he released Dr. Talk, an album of mostly honky-tonkin' covers that also included the title track, an original. The majority of the album wasn't the worst Country music you'd ever hear and it wouldn't have come off as a novelty album were it not for that title track, a silly song about his crazy TV career. But that song got the most attention — the show even used it to blare in the studio when a particularly "hillbilly" guest would come on stage — and Springer seemed to just laugh along with everyone, as if he meant it all to be a joke in the first place.
Did he have the chops to make? Not quite. He would have been kicked off American Idol the second his "singing" voice (a not-so-different variation on his speaking voice) was heard.
Here's Springer as a spry young lad performing some Country tunes on a public access show years before Dr. Talk.