From the monthly archives: "April 2014"

 

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MEMPHIS, Tn.—Some evocative field recordings were done in the South’s finest hotel.

A couple months ago “Peabody Blues” was released on the new Nehi Records label out of London, England. The Delta blues and string band  recordings were made Sept. 22-25, 1929 in a guest room at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis for the  Brunswick/Vocalion label.

Artists include Furry Lewis, Mississippi bluesman Charlie McCoy and Robert Wilkins, whose “That’s No Way To Get Along” was poached by the Rolling Stones for their “Prodigal Son” on the 1968 “Beggar’s Banquet” LP.

The 26 single-CD recordings were issued as ‘78s and it is from copies of those 78s that the “Peabody Blues” material was gathered. The ’78s were in the collections of blues enthusiasts.

Russell Beecher is the Nehi owner and “Peabody Blues” is his debut project. In an e-mail he explained, “The original recording equipment in 1929 would have been a  conventional microphone recording process, going onto an acetate  master that would then be used as the source for all of the issued  78s. The 78s were in varying shape but we tried our best to find the cleanest source and then put the versions we  had found through two different mastering processes to try and clean  them up as well as possible without losing any of the integrity of  the original recordings.”

A segregated Beale Street was jumping just a couple blocks from the Peabody.

The original Peabody opened in 1869. The current Peabody with its marble fountain and swimming ducks opened in 1925 in downtown Memphis.

Between 1927 and 1929 the Beale Street Shieks (Guitarist Dan Sane and Frank Stokes) were popular street performers on Beale and, in fact cut their 1927 debut record for Paramount Records. Paramount was based in Grafton, Wis. and last year was honored by Jack White in the 800-MP3 track “The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records.”

Furry_Lewis

Furry Lewis performing in Memphis, circa 1960s.

Did any of the Peabody musicians come from the Beale Street scene?

“I wouldn’t say any were ‘discovered’ on Beale Street but plenty played there,” Beecher answered.

“Some, like Furry Lewis and Jenny Pope, lived in the city. Hernando, not far away, in North  Mississippi, provided quite a few of the artists such  as Robert Wilkins and Garfield Akers. The talent scout who arranged  the sessions, H. C. Speir, was based in Jackson, Mississippi, and so  some of the artists were known to him from there such as Walter  Vinson and Charlie McCoy. Jackson had a very vibrant blues scene.”

Beecher’s spinoff from “Peabody Blues” is “Jackson Stomp,” which features McCoy, one of the most important figures in pre-war Blues, via his own work or backing others. Beecher wrote, ” McCoy’s versatility meant that he was in demand from influential artists such as  Bo Carter, Johnnie Temple, Sonny Boy Williamson, Will Weldon, Memphis Minnie, and many others.” Furry Lewis delivers intense alternate takes of “John Henry *The Steel Driving Man) and country blues singer Jenny Pope begins “Whiskey Drinking Blues” by asking, “Have you ever woke up with whiskey drinking on your mind?” Her material is just as vital as today’s Fat Possum catalog from North Mississippi.

Peabody Hotel room, 1925, likely a corner room (Courtesy of The Peabody Hotel)

Peabody Hotel room, 1925, likely a corner room (Courtesy of The Peabody Hotel)

The new-fangled development of portable recording enabled companies to branch out into music.

The Vocalion label for which the Peabody posse recorded were also instrument makers. Paramount Records was born in 1917 as a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Chair Company. Wisconsin Chair also made wooden cabinets for Edison phonographs. Artists like Louis Armstrong and King Oliver recorded for Paramount and the chair company even built a pressing plant along the Milwaukee River, 10 miles southwest of Port Washington, Wis.

Beecher is 36 years old. He said he has been listening to blues since the age of 11. He has been  involved in the production of hundreds of albums for his  own labels, as well as for other companies, including assembling the Snapper Records ‘Complete Blues’ series that accompanied  the Martin Scorsese series of blues documentaries. Beecher also co-wrote “Barrett,” released in 2011, the definitive work on Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett.

The Peabody has a strong history with music apart from the rock n’ roll bands who stay there today.

Sun Records founder Sam Phillips engineered live broadcasts of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey from the Hotel Peabody Skyway from 1945 to 1950, when he opened a “very modest” recording studio called Memphis Recording Service in a former radiator shop at 706 Union in Memphis. That turned out to be Sun Records.

Elvis--Courtesy of The Peabody Hotel

Sleepy TIme Elvis at the Peabody–Courtesy of The Peabody Hotel

 

Once the studio was open, he would use the big-band income to stock his studio.  So the Peabody was the first Kickstarter campaign for rock n’ roll.

“I would buy a little piece of equipment at a time,”  Phillips told me in a 1987 interview in his modest Memphis home “Gosh, I had a little four-position mixer to begin with.”

Phillips was hooked.
“There was a religious fervor to experiment,” he said. [The full Sam Phillips interview can be found under the MUSIC tab of this website.]

In July, 1956, not long after Presley left Sun photos of the future king were taken in a 6th Floor guest room at the  Peabody. These pictures were part of a series of photos taken in Memphis for a story in “Parade” magazine.

Kelly Earnest, director of public relations for the hotel said, “According to journalist Lloyd Shearer, Elvis referred to them as ‘my first glamour pinups’ and asked not to be photographed while smiling.And the hotel’s recent research uncovered the fact that Elvis Presley signed his November, 1955 RCA recording contract in the hotel lobby.

The Peabody is still discovering archives from when the hotel was closed on April 1, 1974. There were 53 guests in 617 rooms on the final business day.  in the 1970s and slated for demolition. The restored Peabody reopened in 1981. I began hanging around the Peabody in 1985, even when I wasn’t a guest.

 

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Courtesy of The Peabody Hotel

The Peabody is offering a Summertime Blues & BBQ package that includes the CD, at $209 a night plus tax, double occupancy along with a downtown trolley pass, self parking and athletic club access. Call 1-800-PEABODY and ask for the package. The Peabody Blues CD is also on sale in the hotel gift shop.

Years ago I used to drive to Memphis to see the Memphis Chicks play Southern League baseball in Tim McCarver Stadium and then catch Booker T & MG’s offshoot The Coolers on the weekly rooftop party at the  Peabody. The traditional event is still going strong, and may I recommend the Molly Ringwalds on May 22. Here is the full Peabody Rooftop Party schedule.

 

1940s Peabody Rooftop Party

1940s Peabody Rooftop Party

 

 

 

 

Archie's, March 9, 2014--Photo by Nick Kam

Archie’s, March 9, 2014–Photo by Nick Kam

The corner bar is the center of any urban neighborhood.

You hear small talk, big talk and jive talk. You know you’re walking into a good corner bar when everyone sitting along the bar turns around to see who is coming through the door. There is no place like their place.

Unfortunately in Chicago the  corner bar has gone the way of corner news stands, Cubs victories and vinyl jukeboxes. There are more good corner bars in Milwaukee.

But Archie’s Iowa Rockwell Tavern persists.

The bar celebrates its cornerness to such a degree that it names itself after its Humboldt Park corner.

Archie’s, 2600 W. Iowa (at Rockwell)  has Chicago liquor license No. 177. It is named in honor of founder Archie Boroca, who died in November. Archie’s has been serving good times  since 1943.

In early March we had a signing for The Supper Club Book at Archie’s because of its North Woods ambiance. (Thanks to legendary Chicago DJ Joe Bryl for manning the turntables with sweet soul music.)

I also live a block away so it was  convenient for me.

I started going to Archie’s about 12 years ago when it was an old man bar–as you will hear in this fine video produced by Nick Kam.

Back then retired railroad workers and manufacturers were at the bar, which shut down around 7 p.m. Now, I am the old man. I don’t hang around long on any given Saturday night although I do love the bottled Big Wave Hawaiian beer from the Kona Brewery.

In  recent years I’ve grown to appreciate the classic neighborhood vibe of Archie’s. It goes beyond the hipster Hamm’s $2 beer in a can. According to the tavern’s distributor, Archie’s sold 50,088 cans of Hamm’s in 2013. The metal drawer on a 1922 button cash register says, “Thanks a Lot! Enjoy Drewry’s beer.” Archie was an honorary Meisterbrau brewmaster.

All this  was before the craft beer movement.

Archie's portrait by Nick Kam

Archie’s portrait by Nick Kam

 

Over the weekend Archie’s hosted a neighborhood clean up. The staff takes good care of “Elvis,” the tavern’s mute handyman who is a huge Blackhawks fan. Bar manager Katrina Arthur is the daughter of owner Deborah Pup. Katrina is married to Jon Arthur, a fireman in the Northwest suburbs. They love supper clubs as much as I love Archie’s.

Deborah Pup hit a home run at our event by serving her Kanapki  open faced Polish sandwiches.

Everyone loved them. She was willing to share the recipe with us.

She pointed out she did not invent the sandwich, but they are a traditional favorite in Polish and slavic communities.

“As a child it was a way for my mom Elsie to get some food in me, because I was always way to busy to think of eating,” Pup said in an e-mail. “The recipe can change based on what ingredients you have at home and your ethnic background. I  ate these in my childhood for breakfast as well as my dad Archie. These are a budget friendly alternative to  appetizers at parties and are so tasty it makes people smile and say this sandwich is good. Plus they are great with a ice cold beer.”

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Here you go:

Rye bread slices (seed or seedless)

Maslo (Polish mayo) and horseradish cream sauce

Polish ham, krakowska, swiss cheese

Sliced tomato ,sliced garlic /tart pickles, sliced onion,

hard boiled egg slices

parsley, chives or dill (dill is my fave)

 

Assemble the sandwich as written one ingredient on top of another.

Crush the dill before adding it to the sandwich so you can smell its essence.

Smacznego (enjoy).

You got that right!

 

 

 

Union Stockyards, 1947

Union Stock Yards, 1947

Meat purveyor James Calvetti had just one request in 1974 when he built his new office in the heart of the Union Stock Yards. A large window on the north side of the building was to frame the Chicago skyline.

Calvetti was onto a mash-up of Chicago history; through his window he saw the majestic growth from Carl Sandburg’s iconic poem “Chicago” (Hog Butcher for the World)” which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. And his open natural light office was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Claude Wayne Thomason whose firm also designed North Shore banks.

Calvetti’s son Jamie Calvetti now runs the company from the same lean space built in the former Stock Yards feed lots.

It is the last family purveyor in the Union Stock Yards. (City Foods produces bone-steer navels and Bea’s Best corn beef at 4230 S. Racine.)

East entrance to Union Stockyards, 2014 (D. Hoekstra photo)

East entrance to Union Stock Yards, 2014 (D. Hoekstra photo)

 

James Calvetti Meats, Inc. supplies 35,000 filets a week for a dozen major airlines.

“If you want a good filet in business class, it’s likely coming from us,” Calvetti said in a recent interview, adding that he is under contract to not disclose the airlines. “About half the catering business in the country. Nobody knows that. That’s how we’ve been able to stay here when everybody else has gone away. We niched. There’s four meat companies (Tyson, Cargill, National Beef, American Foods Group) controlling 85 to 90 per cent of the beef that’s sold in this country. We can’t compete with that. We take a tenderloin, which is 5 per cent of the animal and focus on that. We cut and cut and cut.”

And steakhouses are back, back and back in vogue.

The ‘60s inspired Next steakhouse was the latest chapter from Grant Achatz, Dave Berran and Nick Kokonas. Keefer’s Restaurant, a favorite of Calvetti’s, is still going strong. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman gave props to the gritty Ronny’s Steak House.

Even the NBA got into the act. The Washington Wizards, who are giving the Bulls fits, began life in 1961 as the Chicago Packers. The league’s first expansion team played down the road from the stockyards at the International Ampitheatre. Despite stars like Walt Bellamy and Sihugo Green they finished in last place with an 18-62 record.

When James Calvetti worked for the now-closed Pfaelzer Brothers in the Union Stock Yards, he sold meat to Chicago classics like the Ambassador East and West, the Palmer House, and Fritzel’s, 201 N. State St., one of Kup’s favorite restaurants. He called Fritzels’ Chicago’s answer to New York’s Toots Shor’s.

“Restaurants today are boutiquing the business,” Calvetti said. “It is marketing. You’re taking something you would normally sell at ‘X’ and sell it for 140 per cent of ‘X’, which is a wonderful thing. How do you justify it? You have to give it a great name. It is good food, don’t get me wrong, but what they’ve added to what’s always been done at Fritzel’s and Binyon’s is that they’ve put a story to it. Now my Dad would say they haven’t invented a new animal in years. They have mixed the breeds up a bit.”

A James Calvetti sale to Howard Johnson's. In interest of fairness the Calvetti name has been photo shopped; at the time he was a Pfaelzer Brothers salesman.

A James Calvetti sale to Howard Johnson’s. In interest of fairness the Calvetti name has been photo shopped; at the time he was a Pfaelzer Brothers salesman.

I did wonder about growth hormones in the production of beef cattle in America. “The amount of residual nature and or synthetic hormones in beef steak and burgers is virtually undetectable,” Calvetti answered. “A larger issue is the prophylactic of antibiotics  in beef cattle. That should be stopped. I don’t think the meat from beef cattle that are fed a small amount of antibiotics is unsafe, it’s just a poor use of a good medicine.

“My Dad sold the expensive muscles (of the animal). He was extremely good at selling filet mignons. New York strip steaks. Porter House. T-Bones. That’s the middle of the animal. And that’s what Fritzel’s bought. In the 1940s and 50s the high end restaurant business was here and New York. Vegas was still a desert and L.A. was developing. He got a national contract with Howard Johnson’s because he could sell the higher priced parts in volume. From Chicago, especially when Eisenhower came in with the interstates you could distribute all over the country. And previous to that the railroads came through Chicago.

“That’s what made Chicago great.”

And Calvetti looked out his window at the Willis Tower.

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James Calvetti began his career in 1936 as a 19-year old messenger boy for Swift & Co. in the stockyards.

My father began his 41-year career at Swift in 1939 as a 19-year-old messenger boy for Swift & Co. in the stockyards. He told me there was a crew of nearly 100 messenger boys in mail and telegraph rooms.

The stockyard slaughterhouses were directly west of the Calvetti office. The slaughterhouses left in the 1950s and 60s. Calvetti worked for the high-end Pfaelzer Brothers from 1945 until 1972. He left to start his own company. He was 56 years old.

James Calvetti staff 1968 (Courtesy of Jamie Calvetti)

This is Chicago!–James Calvetti staff 1968 (Courtesy of Jamie Calvetti)

“My Dad was a natural salesman,” Calvetti said in firm tones. “He went to Midway Airport,  which at the time was the busiest airport in the world. He went to the United Airlines flight kitchen. At that time there were eight to 10 kitchens owned by the airlines staffed by German, French and Swiss chefs from after the war. Each flight kitchen was putting out different food at different costs all over the country.

“He went into the Army in 1943. He was in the Pacific and went on to Australia where he met my Mom (Veronica) at the USO in Brisbane.” She was an Australian Red Cross nurse.  He married her in two weeks and went  AWOL.  Calvetti explained, “They had bride ships out of Australia, 600 women on a boat. Guys had snatched up all the women. They came to Chicago but nobody remembers the meat was rationed during the 1940s. He went back to Pfaelzer Brothers. They had saved a spot for him.”

Jamie Calvetti in the cooler (Photo by Lance Mulvey)

Jamie Calvetti in the cooler (Photo by Lance Mulvey)

James Calvetti created the idea of central purchasing. He sold the same steak from the same company at the same price. “I met some of these older chefs as a kid,” Calvetti said. “They wanted to control it. My Dad had to shepherd and herd it through.”

James Calvetti died in 2006 after a fall in his Glenview home. He was 89. His son said he was active in the business until age 85.

Historic photos courtesy of Jamie Calvetti

Historic photos courtesy of Jamie Calvetti

 

“My Dad was the oldest living customer at Schaller’s (Pump),” Calvetti said. “He went there over 50 years. He was going there when Jack’s father was there. They had a plate of limberger cheese on the table when you came in.”

I called Jack Schaller to confirm this.

Jack turned 90 in January. Like my 93-year-old father and Calvetti, he is the last of a breed. “Jimmy was my oldest customer,” Schaller said earlier this week. “He sat right by the basement door. He was very serious, but a nice guy. He’d have one Scotch. Only one.”

The rough boundaries of the stockyards were 47th to Pershing and South Ashland to South Halsted.

Schaller’s Pump was ground beef zero.

Chicago Bar Project photo

Schaller’s Pump—-Chicago Bar Project photo

 

 

Calvetti said, “When I started in 1974 it was thriving down Halsted Street to where Schaller’s is. They were meat companies and they were the ones that survived from when the stockyards moved out. They were family businesses but nobody was raising their kids to work in the meat business.

 

“There’s a culture here. With the commoditization of the food business many of the meat companies couldn’t survive. Or the generations passed. (Guarino’s Wholesale Meats ’s is still next to Schaller’s out of the stockyards.) Nobody has children wanting to come up.”

 

Most of the meat at today’s Chicago steakhouses is raised where it always was, according to Calvetti.

He explained, “The good product is between Omaha and Minneapolis, Indianapolis and a bit east of Denver, where we have water. The rest of the world doesn’t have this clean water we have. The Mississippi River lays down 12, 14 feet of beautiful thick topsoil. That is the finest grazing land in the world.” Calvetti’s animals come from Nebraska.

About 25 people work at James Calvetti Meats, hand cutting and packaging filets. Last year Calvetti invested in two new multi-vacuum packaging machines.

“Bridgeport Dave” shows up at 3:30 a.m. and starts processing at 5 a.m in the 34-degree 10,000 square-foot cutting room. Packaging foreman Margie Borowski is from Poland. The Back of the Yards resident has worked at Calvetti’s for 25 years.

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Margie Borowski (D. Hoekstra photo)

 

Stern looking head butcher John Kopinksi  has been with Calvetti’s  35 years. He told me he does a few thousand cuts a day, into five and six ounce slabs. He drives to Bridgeport from his home in south suburban Palos Hills.

Life is good in these parts.

“Airlines are moving more to pre-prepared foods,” Calvetti said. “Now they haven’t gotten to pre-prepared filets but it could come down the line. We’ve developed some new products. Salmon florentine. Chicken Gordon Bleu wrapped in bacon. They help me diversify. The dough is cooked in the packets. Many of them are packaged and cooked in a thermal pill which is a new product. We’re working with an airline company. We’re also working with distributors that sell into retail.  We’re the only ones in the country today doing this. In two years there will be others.”

James Calvetti was at a crossroads when Pfaelzer Brothers closed. His son recalled, “All I hear is my father saying at 56 years old is ‘I went out and started my own business ‘when everyone else laid down and died’.” His son can be a fast and sharp talker but he slowed down to make a point:

“The person I had to convince about change the very most was me.”

 

Signed, sealed and delivered (D. Hoekstra photo)

Signed, sealed and delivered (D. Hoekstra photo)

 

 

 

 

 muddy_waters-3-900x600

The historic Muddy Waters house is rolling and tumbling into another chapter.

On Friday Larry “Mud” Morganfield, the oldest son of Muddy Waters and long time Chicago music attorney Jay B. Ross are scheduled to place an offer on the vacant home at 4339 S. Lake Park.

Waters (a.k.a. McKinley Morganfield) lived in the house between 1954 and 1974, the fertile years of the merging of blues and rock n’ roll. The house has been listed for a $100,000 short sale.

The Muddy Waters house was built in 1879. It was on the Landmark Illinois 2013 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places list.

Ross said that if the bank accepts the offer, the group has 90 days to raise a minimum $120,000, which would also cover liens and closing fees. Donations are accepted at Morganfieldfoundation.org.

“Enough is enough,” Morganfield said Thursday in a conference call with Ross. “I called a handful of relatives from Rolling Fork, Miss and my brother Big Bill (Morganfield, Blind Pig recording artist) and asked Mr. Ross to spearhead this for us. We want to save the property.”

The house could be the same kind of tourism magnet for Chicago as was the early days of Graceland for Memphis or the still lively Louis Armstrong House in Queens,  N.Y., which should be a model for the Muddy Waters House.

Muddy jammed with his piano player Otis Spann and drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith in the basement of the house. Howlin’ Wolf stayed briefly in the North Kenwood home before finding his own pad. Chuck Berry visited the house and Mike Bloomfield held court with Muddy in the living room. All that was electric mud.

Courtesy of the Muddy Waters Estate

Courtesy of the Muddy Waters Estate

 

Ross said, “We have a tall mountain to climb. The alderman has to help us get a zoning variation if we want an educational center and a museum to be part of the house. But most people realize the importance of Muddy Waters to Chicago, to Illinois, to the United States and the world.”

This is where I get as mad as a Delta catfish in a barrel.

On Thursday the Sun-Times and Tribune featured reports of the city’s excitement about a potential George Lucas Museum. What does George Lucas have to do with Chicago? That won’t stop Mayor Emanuel from establishing a “task force” to identify sites.

Where’s the “task force” for the Muddy Waters house? The Chess Records studio, still one of the city’s most untapped musical sites. The mythical Chicago Blues Museum? A Gospel Music Hall of Fame?

Chicago should be ashamed of the way it treats  its deep musical heritage. City of Chicago Cultural Historian Tim Samuelson told me the Muddy Waters house is the most historically significant home in Chicago.

And it sits empty and boarded up.

There is currently an effort in St. Louis to have a historic plaque placed on the downtown site where the prostitute Frankie shot “Johnny” and became the blues standard “Frankie And Johnny,” covered by Lead Belly, Mississippi John Hurt and many others. That site is actually on a concourse near section 102 or 103 of the new Scottrade Center, according to Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Earlier this week Ross reached out to Dylan Rice, Director of Creative Industries-Music for the City of Chicago’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.  “Any time someone has a plan to celebrate an iconic Chicago blues legend like Muddy Waters, I think it’s fantastic and very exciting,” Rice told me in a Thursday e-mail. “As a legacy genre, Chicago blues keeps inspiring the masses all over the world. I look forward to learning more about their plans.”

The late Willie “Big Eyes” Smith lived next door to the house. In a 2006 interview he told me, “With his experience in real estate, Leonard Chess [of Chess Records] looked the house over to make sure it was in good shape.” The house later featured outer storm doors with aluminum grilles with flamingos and Muddy’s name cast into the bottom. In the 1970s Muddy modernized the house, replacing the original wood porch with the metal canopy that remains today.

Chandra Cooper, a relative of Waters is sole owner of the house. Foreclosure activity began in the fall of 2012. The four-bedroom house was sent into Cook County Housing Court in the spring of 2013. The non-profit Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) was appointed receivers of the house and had exterior repairs done on the north and south brick walls.

Over the summer Cooper’s attorney Erik Miles issued the statement, “Ms. Cooper’s intent is to preserve this historic landmark, which the entire community enjoys.”

Last fall Waters’ grandson Steven McKinley Monson launched a noble online fundraising campaign to save the house and held a Waters tribute at the Checkerboard Lounge in Hyde Park. His plans stalled.

Ross said, “The family is not as close as one would hope they would be.”

Morganfield added, “Muddy was ‘The Mojo Man’ but there’s Bill, there’s me, Roslyn, my sister Mercy in New York City, Joseph Morganfield and kin folks in Mississippi and California. And my step mom Marva. ” Morganfield, 59, lives in his native Chicago.

MUD MORGANFIELD

Ross has been practicing law for 46 years and has represented more blues artists than any attorney in America. He has handled the estates of Bessie Smith and Thomas A. Dorsey as well as Chicago soul singer Gene Chandler and the late James Brown for 15 years.

Muddy Waters was his first major client. “He introduced me to Willie (Dixon), who I represented and to Albert King, who I represented and Junior (Wells),” Ross said. “We were together 15 years. I personally owe him so much.”

Ross said he is trying to reach out to the Rolling Stones representatives through a client who works with James Brown’s estate. Mick Jagger co-produced the upcoming James Brown biopic “Get on Up” and certainly Keef could drop a few bucks as a nod to one of his musical mentors.

“We have a couple people in town who are considering lending us the money so we can acquire the house immediately,” Ross said. “Then we can worry about zoning and rehabbing later. The key is to get a lock on that house before some third party sees the potential and tries to buy it out from under us.”

Morganfield said, “Wouldn’t that be a shame? No one tried but Muddy’s grandson and myself.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hobo Marlin Wallace (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

Hobo Marlin Wallace (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—Of the many things to know about Marlin Wallace, it all starts with a strong handshake. His meaningful grip was once seen on a union waterfront and along a cattle trail.

Say hello to forgotten America.
With his right hand the songwriter creates a vice-like covenant that flattens the fingers of a stranger. It is an old hand that has been hardened from 17 years of riding America’s rails as a hobo. Connections can be made in trains and in music and Wallace has spent his life chasing them down and taking notes.

He is America’s most prolific songwriter.
He gives you a gotcha-smile as he shakes a hand.
Wallace was born in Springfield in 1937, and as a teenager played his father’s violin at Springfield area square dances. He has no memories of his birthfather who died at age 47. In 1953 Wallace  got into a fight with his stepfather, who was a train operator. His stepfather’s leg was broken. Wallace was kicked out of the house. He spent time at a couple of relatives homes to live. There were no helping hands. Finally, Wallace was sent to a psychitraist. He spent three months undergoing electroshock treatment at a state hospital in Nevada, Mo.
“It slowed me down but it didn’t help nothin’,” Wallace says during a February, 2014 interview at producer Lou Whitney’s studio in downtown Springfield. “One time there was a faulty machine that didn’t knock me out. It felt like a log chain went in your spine through your head. That’s how much pain I felt. They had us lined up taking that shock stuff.”
After he was discharged and a short stint in the Army, Wallace began riding the rails.

He had to get away.
His most memorable journey was in the spring of 1966. Wallace jumped down to New Orleans, got on the Chilean freighter “Maule”which took him through the Panama Canal and down to Callalo, Peru. From there he grabbed a small airplane to Iquitos, Peru. He then floated 20 days alone in a small canoe on the Upper Amazon River.
He can prove it.
He took black and white pictures and faithfully sent postcards back to his mother in Springfield. There are several hundred postcards which documents a man’s journey into the unknown.
Wallace settled back in Springfield in 1972 and established The Corillions, which at different times is his singing group, recording label and home recording studio. He chose the name because of the Cordillera mountain range in the Philippines. Roughly translated, “Cordillera” is Spanish for “cord.”
Of course nothing has kept Wallace down.
He has copyrighted over 1,000 songs and in the late 1960s was briefly under contract with Dolly Parton’s “Parlowe” records which pressed his debut ’45 “Reno/”The Planet Mars.”
In the summer of 2004 Lou Whitney, the avatar of modern Springfield music, introduced former Morells keyboardist Dudley Brown to Wallace.
Brown immediately took Wallace under his wing.

Lou Whitney (L), Marlin (C), Dudley Brown (R), Feb. 2014 (D. Hoekstra photo)

Lou Whitney (L), Marlin (C), Dudley Brown (R), Feb. 2014 (D. Hoekstra photo)

Since that first meeting, Wallace has recorded 50 full length CDS—more than 750 songs–in less than a decade.
The DIY CDs are themed: “Drinkin’ Songs,” Train Songs,” “Outer Space Songs” and “Prison Songs” (where  the cover art is of the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield where mobster John Gotti died in 2002.) All artwork is done by Springfield artists.

Brown accompanies Wallace on keyboards and produces the wonderfully unfiltered music. The duo is currently working on “Country Songs, Vol. 15.” “In 16 months we’ve done 15 CDs,” Brown says. “There’s more to go. It’s a natural part of our lives.” Brown discovered several three ring notebooks filled with sheet music along with the historic collection of post cards all stored in Wallace’s backyard shed.
“You feel the positive energy of it all being creative,” Whitney says while sitting across from Wallace in his downtown Springfield studio. He grins and adds, “This is worker productivity.”
Wallace got some nice ink in the 2012 coffee table book “Enjoy The Experience (Homemade Records 1958-1992) [Siinecure Books, New York, Los Angeles] that spoke of what Wallace is mostly known for in “outsider art” circles: he believes  Communists are zapping him with lasers. Even some of his current compact discs say, “FIGHT COMMUNISIM.” But to label Wallace as “outsider music” in the manner of the late Hasil Adkins is a grave disservice.
Wallace incorporates country, rockabilly, a smidgen of blues, rural gospel, and innocent pop (think NRBQ or Springfield’s own Skeletons.) I bought a copy of “Jungle Songs” and in an exotica background Wallace touches on primitive rap (“Jungle Jim”) and the rave-up rocker “The Jungle In Flight” where he imagines monkeys flying through the air.
Brown looks at a monkey on the cover of “Jungle Songs.”

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He says, “This is actually a local macaque. The plumber that does work on Marlin’s place owns that guy. His name is Jo Jo. When I took his picture the plumber says, ‘If Jo Jo likes you he is going to come up and do his thing.’ He didn’t really say what his thing was. So I bent down and he was super nice, but my they smell.:
Jo Jo got real close to Brown and started sucking on this neck. “I was okay with it,” Brown says. “But then I’m doing research I  learn that all macaques in captivity have this herpes B virus. And if you get one splatter in your eyeballs it can be fatal. Well, I had my glasses on, but I thought, ‘This is how I’m going to go out, getting herpes from a monkey’.”
All in the name for a Marlin Wallace CD cover.
A common thread in Wallace’s music is about longing and searching for sense of place, where Wallace draws on his hardscrabble childhood and his hobo years. “Memories of places have a bad side,” Wallace says. “You’d think a carefree hobo’s got no worries and there’s times like that. Other times I was depressed. I grew up with a lot of hate in me. I had had hate in me for years and it sticks in your gut. The Bible says ‘As a twig is bent so goes the tree.’  It’s nothing how Dudley grew up. He had a good home and a good upbringing. That didn’t happen for me.  It’s like trying to outrun the devil. I’d be traveling but going a lot further than I needed to go.
“It was like something was driving me.”
On the galloping country “Ghost Train” vocalist Alton Davis sings in bass tones about how “the devil is the engineer/keeps his crew standing near….” “Heart Full of Rain” recalls the organic guitar strumming of J.J. Cale, who was from Tulsa, just down the road from Springfield.

“Wanderin’ Soul” is another tune set rolling Tulsa-country rhythms.  Wallace’s “wanderin’ soul” is being chased by Satan with train whistles blowing in the distance.

Here is a snippet of “Wanderin’ Soul.

“Wanderin’ Soul” is the closest Wallace has come to being discovered by a mainstream audience. In 1975 late Arkansas vocalist Gary Atkinson sang “Wanderin’ Soul on the Corilllion label. In 2006 “Wanderin’ Soul” was re-released by the U.K. based Fat City Records in the compilation “45 Kings III.” That compilation wandered into the House Music scene where the gospel bass break that leads into the lyric “…Oh Satan, I hear you callin’” became a popular sample. The original ‘45 now sells for a minimum of $75 on eBay.
Wallace has never seen a penny of royalties.

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Marlin Wallace began recording music in 1977 at Nick Sibley’s Dungeon Studio in Springfield. The studio was known for nationwide commercial and jingle work. Wallace found other Ozark area vocalists to cover his songs. Wallace has sung on just two of his songs including “Wildcat Mabeline,” which ends with glass being broken and coffee cans being rattled.
“Marlin heard about me being a guy who had an ability to do this and that,” Whitney says. “He came out to see me at a bar on the south side. I was getting ready to go on a two month trip and couldn’t do it. I really, really wanted to do a song with him. Then I didn’t hear from Marlin for quite some time. We later talked songs and I think Marlin got miffed with me thinking  I was one of ‘them.’ He went home and woodshedded.”
A few years later Wallace walked into Whitney’s studio.
He carried a large briefcase with 61 cassettes of his songs.
Whitney called his long time Morells-Skeletons drummer Lloyd Hicks (now with NRBQ). “We listened a lot of the songs,” Whitney says. “I wanted to get them down a little better so Marlin didn’t have to worry about  recording. So Marlin came in on Tuesday mornings and we’d record on 10-inch reels. Every Tuesday morning. Marlin would sit there and play guitar and sing and I’d record. Marlin used local session guys at Dungeon. Lloyd played on some of them. But we never used a band.
“And we got them all.”

Marlin Wallace's lifetime of music

Marlin Wallace’s lifetime of music

In 2000 Whitney had hired Brown to play in the Morells since original keyboard player Joe Terry was on the road with Dave Alvin. Brown was a member of the Morells from 2000-05. Whitney told Brown about Wallace.
Brown, who was born in 1960 in Springfield, Mo., earned Wallace’s trust by becoming the songwriter’s advocate in shady real estate dealings. Wallace’s home and home studio is on the northwest edge of the downtown area. “Marlin was being maneuvered out of his property,” Brown says. “So I just stepped in and bought Marlin’s property. It’s the house that Marlin lives in and a bulding next to it.”
Wallace lives alone.
He says he was married once, “for about 20 years.”
Wallace sighs and says, “I could have left my house. But I had nowhere to go.”
*                                 *                                *
The singer-songwriter-hobo from Springfield, Mo. likes to wear his tattered baseball cap low as a teardrop over his eyes. His narrow face and wispy southern drawl recalls the late Levon Helm.
But one thing becomes clear: Wallace has unbending pride in his body of work, ranging from his heartfelt music to the postcards from the road which he mailed to his mother Theo Walls, a Springfield homemaker.
Brown gently picks up a large plastic binder of the postcards. Each card is organized in plastic sheets. “This is a one of a kind historical record starting on Sept. 11, 1955 and going all the way through 1972,” Brown says. “There’s some from South America. Others are just the (blank) two cent kind you could buy at the post office. Some of these stamps are awesome.”
Whitney says, “It’s chronicled. You can’t argue with it.”
Wallace explains,  “When I changed railroads I sent her the name of the railroad I was at. Each card has the initials of the railroad. I didn’t ride all the railroads, maybe 48. I rode the L&N (Louisville & Nashville), Florida East Coast.”
His first post card (9/11/55) is like a Tweet from today:
I’m in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. We’re headed for Kentucky. So long.
Springfield is a crossroads of railroads. The city was constructed on American optimism. Even the Worman House at the mega-popular Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, 30 miles south of Springfield, was built in 1921 as a rural retreat by Harry Worman, President of the Frisco Railroad.
Wallace can remember jumping his first train. He says, “In 1955  had a ‘42 Packard that broke down before I got into Pittsburgh. So I hitchiked into Pittsburgh and got freights going back to Springfield. I learned fast. When you run after it (the train) and grab the latch you get into a box car and swing your body up; they call that ‘catchin’ the train on the fly.’ Naturally, you try to get them when they are still. But jumping them is where I got the handshake.
“The boxcar grip.”
He also brought along a fiddle for his road trips. “I played in bars and passed the hat at bars in New Orleans,” he says. “I had a duffel bag with the fiddle in it and I would toss that on the train first. I was in Houston one time trying to catch the Rock Island. Boy when that came, I was running full steam and I swang that duffel bag around like it was a rag doll. You can die real quick.”

Marlin & his piranhas from his Amazon trip (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

Marlin & his piranhas in New Orleans before departing on his Amazon trip (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

In 1966 Wallace ventured out on the mother of all hobo trips when he went to South America.
“I wanted to get away from civilization,” he says. “I wanted a break from conformity. I wanted to get down to the jungle. I got a job washing dishes at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans waiting for this freighter to come in. I got a big double cabin to myself. I paid $150. I had a passport. I was on the ocean for three weeks. I got off at Lima. I was trying to get to the Amazon. I finally got to Iquitios (Peru), boy the river is wide there. I bought a small boat there and floated down to Leticia, Colombia (a major Amazon River port on the border of Peru) . About 360 miles. The river is pretty spooky especially when a big rain comes up. The first night I lost my flashlight.
“I decided to go to the bank of the river to take a leak. I tied up to a tree. Something was stinging all over my hand. I took the flashlight and saw my hand and arm was covered with fire ants from the tree.  I dropped my flash light and got out of there as fast as I could. I went to the middle of the river. I had trouble swimming around that Amazon.”

Marlin's picture of his New Orleans hotel before  departing for the Amazon

Marlin’s pictures of New Orleans before departing for the Amazon

But wait. There’s more.
Brown pulls out a fat, yellowed ledger. “In these sheets he documented the mileage he went on these trips,” Brown says. He then reads from the penciled notations, “South Dakota, June 9, 1961; Muskogee to Kansas City, 247 miles. K.C. to Omaha, 237 miles. Those are hot-shots, right? (No stops).” Wallace nods his head in agreement.
Brown continues, “Omaha to Sioux Falls, 177; Sioux Falls to Fort Dodge (Iowa) 197; Fort Dodge to Minneapolis 414! Minneapolis to Chicago 395, that’s a good haul too, Chicago to K.C. 414, K.C. to Springfield, Missouri 196.”
Wallace hears the numbers add up and says, “I’d come home and take out an atlas and look at the scale. I’d measure off so many miles by inch, 180 miles and so forth. Every time I made a big run I’d write it down.
“I’ve gone around the world four times, stretched out in one line.”
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Marlin Wallace still churns out songs with the force of an old steam engine.
He works each song out on guitar and then puts it on a cassette. Moving to keyboard, he will write out sheet music with staff notation along with a detailed lyric sheet. He has not performed in public since his nascent teenage fiddling days around Springfield.
“I don’t write as much as I used to,” he admits. “It takes time to finish them. Some are quick, some are slow. Sometimes when I don’t finish them people steal the material before I finish the songs. It may take me 10 years to finish a song. I can name songs they stole from me by spying on me in my own home.”

For example, Wallace says he had “Who Let the Dogs Out” poached from him. And while the 1998 Baha Men hit (which in truth came from Trinidad & Tobago Carnival season) sounds like a Wallace title, there’s more than enough good Wallace material that hasn’t been “stolen.”
Brown watches over Wallace’s songs. He says, “We make a copy of the song and do the poor man’s copyright. Then Marlin brings over the cassette, song sheet and lyric of the songs he decides for us to work up. We bang them out on the piano and get it into the computer. We now have a huge reservoir of songs to pull from.”
Wallace is a modern day Woody Guthrie. Woody was considered a “Red.” Marlin is tormented by the Reds. And just like Guthrie, his considerable travels have informed his music. “The Amazon River influenced me quite a bit,” he said. “I drank water right out of the Amazon. I’m writing a book right now.
“But I’m waiting for something good to happen.”
Whitney listens with wide eyes and the open heart that has made him one of the most empathetic producers in America. Whitney leans over and says in firm tones, “Marlin, let me tell you. If you don’t do anything else in this whole world but write all the songs you did, you have done one bunch of good stuff. Period. It doesn’t seem like that when you inch along……”
Wallace tenderly  nods his head and says, “I know it.”
Whitney continues, “…..But if you take a look at the things you have accomplished. The places you have been. The songs you have written and the interest you generated. You have accomplished quite a bit. Talking in generalities, songwriting is a young man’s game. You have to be young to think everything you do is great. As you get older you think, ‘That’s been said before.’ Marlin totally transcends that. Marlin sees material in things he knows about. He knows a lot about black widow spiders. He knows a lot about the animal kingdom. He knows a lot about history. And he writes about that stuff.
“If anybody paid attention they would see it is transformative.”
Wallace says the Communists are still harrassing  him and this angle is where people get sidetracked off the music. “It’s still happening but not as bad as it was,” he explains. “In the ‘70s it was terrible. I was kept awake all night long. The Reds put radiation attacks on me. I figured it was from satellites. They were torturing me, trying to drive me insane. They could hit me right now. The probe feels like somebody tapped you with a finger. Then they hit you with the laser, a series of twitch attacks. They have to zero in on you first. I’d hold a piece of ceramic over me to stop the attacks.
“In fact the toe on my right foot is broke from one of those attacks. In 1972 they hit me on the head with a laser. It was like my head was exploding.  I jumped out of bed and ran into a door.
“Psychological warfare.”
Just like the music business.
Communist-inspired laser attacks are one genre’ that Wallace has declined to address in an album. He reasons, “It wouldn’t be received very well to say you’re hit by lasers and tortured by reds. But I’ve written four songs about the reds like ‘Machine Guns And Machetes’ about the reds in Central America.” The track is from his “War Songs” CD that also includes “General MacArthur,” “Brave Men of Uncle Sam” and “Mekong.”
Whitney says, “Some people would read his liner notes, and Marlin and I have had this discussion, and form some kind of opinion right off the bat. A lot of people get more interested what he writes on the back of the album rather than listening to it. But if you have a chance to go deeper–you’re fortunate to have a chance to go deeper.”
The instrumental Wallace track “Judgment Day” is a work of beauty, flavored by tropical steel guitar. * I love this.

“I came back from South America and started writing those,” he says. “Somebody in Nashville started to mimic my material with the flat notes I had in there. They put out ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and all that. I came back and hit them in the head with ‘Theme From Corillions’. This isn’t ‘outsider’ music. Anybody who does anything different is ‘outside.’ It is misleading.”

Marlin Wallace Citizen Journalist (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace

Marlin Wallace Citizen Journalist (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace

Wallace grew up in the Pentecostal church but strayed as an adult. He includes scorching contemporary gospel in his repertoire such as the country-jubilee “I Will Follow The Lamb,” flavored with profound bass vocals. “You get this emotionalism in religion awfully easy,” Wallace says “Follow the Lamb’ is one of the first religious songs I wrote. It seemed real easy to write. But they tell you to pray away your troubles. I can’t go that route.”
Whitney laughs and says, “That’s like faith based toxic waste removal!”
Brown earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Missouri State University. He is Manager of Information Systems (MIS) for MD Publications, Inc. (Transmission Digest, etc.) He finances the CDs.

Marlin's notes on the family (right)

Marlin’s notes on the family (upper right)

 

 

“Over the years it has added up to a lot of money,” Brown says. “It is hard to estimate what we’ve spent since 2004. We spent around $10,000 to produce the first 5 CDs. That included re-mastering of all the old vinyl recordings and then the CD production. We pressed up to 1,000 each. After that, since we hardly sold any CDs (vinyl was sold to hard core collectors) we would only press up to 50 of each release. We don’t have to book studio time. We recorded them at my home studio (in southeast Springfield.).
Wallace interrupts, “Before he came along I spent $20,000 out of my own pocket working hard labor jobs. I was a janitor at the Colonial Hotel in Springfield. I hung turkeys at Hudson’s Foods.”
Wallace worked at a now-defunct poultry processing plant in downtown Springfield. When a truck of turkeys were unloaded, a person was assigned to take the turkeys out of their cages and hang them by their feet one by one onto an overhead assembly line conveyor belt of live turkeys. The turkeys were then taken to the “kill room.” This job helped Wallace fund his DIY LPs.
In the early 1990s Brown was recruited by Skeletons-Morells guitarist Donnie Thompson to play bass and sing in The Park Central Squares (named after a park in downtown Springfield) along with drummer Katie Coffman of the Debs.

My favorite  band The Skeletons (Lou center)

My favorite band The Skeletons (Lou center)

At age 17 Brown took piano lessons from Pete Schuelzky (Queen City Punks) who schooled him on the blues scales and improvising in the classic 1-4-5 chord pattern. Schuelzky also helped Brown deconstruct Miles Davis’s “All Blues” (from 1959’s “Kind of Blue”) which gave him the sensibilities to play in ensemble and eventually collaborate with Wallace. Brown counterpoints Wallace with appointed instrumentation that is playful and purposeful.
“Marlin’s music is organic,” Brown explains. “It’s not rootsy, it is  kind of like folk. We start straight from his song sheets and his demos. We have so many songs we’ve been trying to get down for the past 10 years.  Over a thousand. We just sit down and bang out the chords on the piano. While I’m playing the piano Marlin will sing a track to a metronome where in most cases we’ve got the vocal down and a chord structure. That’s the roots of it all. You can take that and go anywhere with it. We have a nice easy pace. We work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and maybe an eight hour day on Saturday if we get in a groove–which is no more time than I would spend if I was playing in a band.”
Wallace adds, “We experiment with different things. We pick a marimba or an organ to back up a song, whatever brings a song in. Brown says, “With a computer you have a pallate of sounds to choose from. So you can pick what kind of flavor  you want to add to the music.”
Just like any other artist and producer, Brown and Wallace endure creative tension.
“We’re quite a bit different in a lot of ways,” Wallace says. He looks at Brown and says, “He’s a meticilous clean freak. I’m an old hobo. He flies off the handle. I just let it slide it off.”
Brown says, “But I’ve gotten better. A lot of time when you’re doing songs you put all this effort into it and get it to  a certain state and you don’t want to turn loose of it. But you know it’s not working. Marlin can spot that stuff miles down the road way before I can. I’ve learned over the years to trust his judgment. For one thing, it is just one song out of over 1,000 so ‘chill out.’ I am more like ‘get the drums done, get the bass done’ and get it up to the level where it starts working for the song. Marlin has the gift of knowning what not to do. And in a creative process, that overall taste is  important.
“It is recognizing the flavor of something and knowing what the real song is.”
In early June, 2007 Brown and Wallace made a cordial eight hour drive from Springfield to Chicago to do a half-hour song-documentary on the 17-year-locust. His “The Seventeen Year Locust” tribute to the locust from his “Buggy” album is an infectious combination of New Orleans Second Line rhythms and Cajun dance music. In his documentary narration Wallace explains there are 15 broods of the locust (the Biblical name for cicadas) in North America and they only appear east of the Great Plains. “They have little fear of man or beast,” he says in the doc.
Like Wallace, the locust are a mystery.
“Seventeen is a recurring number for Marlin,” Brown adds. “Seventeen year locust, seventeen years on the rails.” Wallace recalls, “We got in the car with a camera and got to Chicago and couldn’t hear one cicada. I thought, ‘Where did these bugs go?’ So I said, ‘Let’s drive south.’.”

8040509-illinois-route-66-sign-as-found-on-the-historic-route-66
Brown and Wallace took I-55 along Old Route 66 before finding a park filled with chirping cicadas. “We had a birds-eye nest,” Wallace says gleefully. “We took pictures of the trees covered with them.”
Brown says, “They were landing on us.”
Wallace stops to reflect. He says, “One of my best memory places was in Muskogee, Oklahoma. I was six years old and living in this boarding house. There was a big empty lot next door. I’d get out there and climb those trees. I’d see other kids walking down the street but I didn’t want to be with them. I discovered three or four cicadas down there at this young age. That was one of the best times of my life.
“I just stayed alone in this world of nature.”
There is no rhyme or surface reason for Wallace’s prolific nature. “I’ll come up with the idea first,” he explains. “I’ll get to thinking about a certain subject. Say a warthog.”
Of all the things Wallace could reference, he references a warthog.
“I start thinking about the warts,” he says. “Then the whole hog will develop. Then I have a song ‘Warthog’. Lookin’ out of the eyes of an animal, you have to get on their level and write from their viewpoint.”
Bob Dylan isn’t this succinct.
“Give Me Your Love” is a scorching blues track Wallace recorded in the late 1970s with Maurice Rock, a black singer from Springfield. “One Good Soul” was written by Wallace reflecting on his hobo days. “I was driven by these forces to ride the rails,” he says.
Back in her space age beehive hair days, Dolly Parton signed Wallace to her Owepar Publishing Company she had started with Porter Wagoner. The late Frank Dycus (“He Can’t Fill My Shoes” for Jerry Lee Lewis and “Is Forever Longer Than Always” for Dolly and Porter was a Owepar staff writer. Whitney says, “Back in the late ‘60s they took two songs of mine. I was writing songs and pitching them in Nashville. One was a country recitation song I wanted Porter to get. It was called ‘World’s Biggest Clown.’ They picked up a tune of Marlin’s too. Marlin had a bad experience. I had no experience.”
Wallace still has his contract, signed by Parton in cursive with a pair of breasts.
Wallace met Parton in her 17th Avenue South office on Music Row. “I played some tapes of songs,” he says. “She (accidentally) broke the tape of the one called ‘Mekong’ (a dark folk ballad sung by Jim Grandstaff) while she played it. On Feb. 13, 1969 Parton signed a contract to purchase the rights of Wallace’s “The Planet Mars.”
Trust is imperative whenever people make music together.
“Until I ran into Lou and Dudley I was always given a hard time by people,” Wallace says in measured tones. “It’s a bad story. I room full of staff writers steal people’s ideas. I never got anywhere. I’m not trying to promote myself as a singer as much as my material. I’m a non-conformist and forced into a corner by myself. I have to occupy my time. But as long as I’m kicking, I’ll keep kicking them out.”

Marlin and Elvira on the Maule ship (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

Marlin and Elvira on the Maule ship (Courtesy of Marlin Wallace)

 

MarlinWallace_ElviraOnTheMaule2

 

 

Dudley Brown has spent more than $10,000 and invested countless hours in his efforts to share the considerable music of Marlin Wallace with the rest of the world.
He, too, is a hobo with a strong helping hand.
Why?
Brown considers the question for a few moments. He finally answers, “It is is a great endeavor. When I met Marlin I was interested in the ‘45s and how neat ‘Wanderin’ Soul’ was and then how neat the albums were. I was blown away trying to figure it all out. Somewhere along the line your realize this guy has written thousands of songs. Thousands. There’s only a handful of people on the planet that have ever done anything like this. And there’s only one Marlin Wallace. No one has done what he’s done. It is all so massive. The post cards, the maps, the music.”
Whitney adds, “If you sit down and visit with Marlin you either get it or you don’t. My visits with Marlin convinced me that one, he is productive. Two, his songs are good. And three, he’s an honest human being. I got the entire package but I couldn’t step up and do what Dudley’s done. And Dudley got it immediately without even meeting Marlin. The way Marlin meticulously put his cassettes together. If he’d do something and change his mind or made a mistake–in the unlikely event he made a mistake–he’d hit that record button, there would be a little kechang and it would carry on. That takes focus. Intuitiveness. And patience. It is wealth. You can’t go out and spend it, but it is wealth and it is valuable. It reflects effort, time and investment. It reflects belief and creativity.
“That’s wealth beyond what a lot of people ever dream of.”
Marlin Wallace looks around the room and asks, “How do we cash it in?”

To purchase the excellent music of Marlin Wallace please visit his Corillions website, intro by Lou Whitney.

Copyright, April,  2014  Dave Hoekstra