Sunday, March 20, 2016

From the Heart of Alabama to Hee Haw

Nashville, January 2016

From the Heart of Alabama to Hee Haw

I was only six years old and too small to reach the boom mic that towered over me in the barn-sized studio of Heart Recording Company. But in those days, when egg cartons tacked to the walls served as sound proofing for music captured by reel-to-reel tape, and splicing that tape was accomplished with the same kind of tools used to create the cardboard box it came in, record producers thought in terms of whatever worked.

So while I stood there in a converted second-story warehouse above Birmingham’s Blood Bank, gazing up at the monster of a microphone hanging over my head, producer Kenneth Shackleford was dragging Coca-Cola crates out of a storage room and stacking them into a platform for me to stand on. As I said, whatever worked. And sure enough that l song I cut standing on Coke crates, a Christmas tear-jerker called “Send My Daddy Home,” got me a contract with Briar Records, a Nashville indie label whose roster included Hoyt Axton, Mother Maybelle Carter,  Pee Wee King, Jimmy Riddle and Floyd Cramer.

Ever heard of a God-wink? Well, maybe just an interesting coincidence, but twenty years later I once again found myself part of a group that included two of those names on Briar's list, when I began a ten-year stint in a dual role on Hee Haw as female vocalist with Buck Owens’ Buckaroos and also as “Miss Honeydew” of the Hee Haw Honeys.
During that time, my former Briar label-mates Jimmy Riddle and Floyd Cramer were also part of the Hee Haw gang, Jimmy as one half of Riddle and Phelps, the duo who performed the hambone routine on the show, and Floyd as pianist with Hee Haw’s Million Dollar Band. (Note Birmingham's Henry Strzelecki on bass in video.) 

So God-wink or not, I do wonder about the odds of me winding up working with Jimmy and Floyd again after all those years, and our earlier association surely foreshadowed my long career in the company of country music legends. Then again, I was working with legends in Birmingham before Briar Records and Nashville ever entered my picture. So while I'm name-dropping, I might mention that back in those days when I was too little to reach the microphone, Bobby Goldsboro was one of the "house" musicians at Heart Recording Studio,  and it wasn’t long before Bobby made his own Alabama-Nashville connection with chart-toppers “Little Things" (Early video above, worth getting past the ad to watch.), “See the Funny Little Clown,” “Watching Scotty Grow,” “Autumn of My Life,” “With Pen in Hand,” “Honey” . . .
Bobby Goldsboro Lttle Things Music Video
     Oh, yes, every month here at “The Alabama-Nashville Connection” we’ll be talking about – and with – legendary musicians, but we’ll also include the music-makers behind the legends, the ones like Kenneth Shackleford who would do whatever it took to see his artists reach the top, even if he had to build a tower out of Coke crates to get it done.