WESTBROOK, Maine — Nashville is country music’s wallet, the middle of the rhinestone-industrial intricate in which hit data are manufactured, stars created and cash made by the hay wagonload.
But that town is not the definitive source of the music’s heart or soul.
That honor belongs to a great number of, far-flung American cities in which real artists sing for some thing further than a paycheck. They toil away, in relative obscurity, mining the depths of human expertise in locations like Bakersfield, California, Austin, Texas, and Westbrook, Maine.
That’s according to noted American music historian and critic Peter Guralnick. His new e book “Looking to Get Lost” chronicles Guralnick’s personalized pantheon of wonderful American artists like Merle Haggard, Monthly bill Monroe, Solomon Burke and Maine’s own Dick Curless.
Guralnick will assist pay back tribute to Curless and other pioneering Maine country new music artists onstage at Lenny’s Pub in Westbrook on Saturday evening.
The pub is the former residence of Party Records, where by many of the state’s early region artists this kind of as Curless, Al Hawkes, Hal Lone Pine, Betty Cody and Lenny Breau created some of their initial recordings, beginning in the 1950s. Nationally-renowned guitarist Invoice Krchen and Maine tunes heroes Memphis Lightning and Sean Mencher will also accomplish.
“Maine had a nation new music scene before the Grand Ole Opry went on the air,” Guralnick claimed. “And the New England scene wasn’t just an aberration.”
Guralnick, who grew up in Massachusetts, understands what he’s chatting about. He’s the writer of a definitive, two-quantity biography of Elvis Presley, as effectively as authoritative guides about singer Sam Cooke, bluesman Robert Johnson and famous Solar Documents founder Sam Phillips. In 1994, Guralnick received a Grammy Award for his liner notes accompanying the album “Sam Cooke Stay at the Harlem Sq. Club.”
Guralnick dedicates in excess of 80 webpages in his hottest guide to Curless, covering his full vocation, starting off with his prospect meeting with New England place songs star Yodeling Slender Clark all over 1949.
Curless’ father was 1 of Clark’s consuming buddies. Right after hearing the son’s singing skills, Clark took him underneath his wing. He received Curless a regular slot on community radio as “The Tumbleweed Kid” whilst continue to a senior in substantial school.
In the early 1950s, Curless started out participating in bass for Hal Lone Pine and his wife, Betty Cody who had a nationally syndicated radio clearly show broadcasting from WABI in Bangor. Their oldest son, Lenny Breau, typically appeared with them and would go on to come to be one of the most influential jazz guitarists of all time. A further son, Denny Breau is even now a perfectly-respected guitarist and songwriter in Maine.
“For Dick, it was like possessing a full new extended family,” Guralnick wrote.
Then Curless was drafted by the U.S. Military. Though serving, he begun carrying out on Armed Forces Radio as the “Rice Paddy Ranger” in Korea.
After his Army stint, Curless came back again to Maine and began his recording occupation with Al Hawkes at Event Documents in Westbrook. Immediately after yet another total ten years of doing typically in New England, Curless experienced his breakthrough hit, the a person he’s however primarily remembered for now: “Tombstone Every single Mile.”
Penned by WABI copywriter Dan Fulkerson, the music went to selection 5 in 1965, warning potato-hauling truckers of an icy road in “up north in Maine that is by no means, ever, at any time found a smile.”
That music is every thing most place music supporters know about Curless, who died in 1994 at the age of 63. Guralnick reported he needs folks to understand Curless was a deeper, far more profound artist than his sole top 10 hit may indicate.
“I wanted the prospect to do justice to Dick, to generate about the breadth of his talent,” Guralnick said. “He’s genuinely the centerpiece of the e book.”
Guralnick also chronicles the relaxation of Curless’ daily life and job — which reflected a fair sum of private and qualified struggle. It’s that uncompromising realness that proceeds to impress Guralnick right now.
“Dick was often reaching out for the soul of the music,” he said. “He insisted on the genuine details of human existence.”
And he did it typically in New England, exterior the Nashville procedure.
Guitar wizard Bill Kirchen is a floor-breaking musician who also labored exterior the Nashville establishment. Kirchen served set the phase for the outlaw nation movement of the 1970s with his individual band, Commander Cody and the Lost World Airmen. He then went on to enjoy alongside the likes of Elvis Costello, John Lennon and Stevie Question.
He’s also a big Dick Curless fan, recording an album titled “Tombstone Every single Mile.”
“When he listened to about Lenny’s remaining the place Dick recorded, he bought all thrilled and requested if he could see where it all took place,” mentioned Bucky Mitchell, a previous drummer and scheduling agent for Curless. “It snowballed from there.”
Kitchen, Mitchell and Guralnick, who all go way again, soon settled on a night to show up in Westbrook jointly.
“It all just type of fell into place,” Mitchell mentioned.
Anticipating a huge crowd, Mitchell stated the demonstrate will be held on a new stage, outside.
Bill Umbel, owner of Lenny’s, could not be happier. Umbel sees the exclusive clearly show as a continuation of Maine’s musical heritage — which is why he purchased the previous recording studio and turned it into a songs venue in the first location.
“There’s a spiritual connection” he said, noting that Memphis Lightning’s entrance guy is only in his 20s. “We’re trying to cultivate the future generation listed here.”
With Kirchen, Mencher and Memphis Lightning actively playing on the invoice, Guralnick reported he’s a tiny uncertain of what his portion will be, given that he’s not a musician, but will believe of one thing.
“I really don’t know exactly what I’m heading to do or say. I just want to be there to celebrate the event,” Guralnick stated. “And who wouldn’t want to appear to Maine in the summertime?”