Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Howard Yearwood "Defender Of The"B" Bender

Jeffrey Michael's 40 Years Ago In Bakersfield, In A Night At Joes'
Jeffrey Michael's

About Joes

"Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill opened March 7, 2005. Our style is true and true, red white and blue, with a real traditional and warm establishment. Our hours are 10am to 2am seven days a week. During football season we open at 9am Saturday and Sunday and serve breakfast until 11am (subject to change, call for details). We are a full bar and have a great food menu. There is plenty of room here with a capacity of 210 with lots of parking. This place is a melting pot for all, whether you are 21 or 101, you will fit right in. Joe’s is also the proud owner of Champs Sports Pub, the best Sports Bar in Burbank and one of the very first sports bars in Los Angeles since 1983.


We have live entertainment seven nights a week. We pride ourselves in being one of the best live entertainment bars with a large dance floor in the San Fernando Valley. We have an eclectic selection of music such as Country, Swing, Rockabilly, Rhythm & Blues, Karaoke and good old fashioned American Classic Rock and Roll. You have got to check us out, the joint is jumpin every night of the week. This is definitely a great place to come for drinks with friends, do some dancing, and a great place by far to bring a date." (joesgreatamericanbar.com).

I headed down to Burbank form (and for) Bakersfield Friday night to see Jeffrey Michaels play at "Joe's' Great American Bar". There was almost no traffic on the way up the "Grape Vine" or down the grade and over to Burbank. I arrived about dusk and the band was unloading in front of the bar. I had met Jeffery over Myspace, whom his lead guitar player, Howard Yearwood recommended. I walked down the sidewalk into the bar and introduced myself to the band. After that I helped Howard unload his equipment. I felt like I was a small part of something really big.

I had intended on interviewing the band before the show but they we really buzzy setting up and greeting fans. I setup my video camera and visited a bit with Mark Thomas, who does upright, and electric bass. Mark listened to my rambling about my country music horror film - where giant ants eat Bakersfield, he thought I was nuts. I didn't get the interview or giant ant film footage I went for, but I saw a truly great country music show. It brought me back to the old Flying Burrito brother shows I used to thrive on. I stayed for one set and had to go, but it was one of those shows you could hang for hours and throughly enjoy every second. The electricity of the performance was emanating from the entire band the entire time. I had spoken to Jeffery on the phone the day before the show and he had said "the band plays every show with the conviction and energy they would use at a giant arena, and they surly lived up to their creed! I was really stoked when Jeffery dedicated a Buck Owens song to yours truly, Hank Ray, "all the way from Bakersfield" - that was cool. There was some really cool elements to this show that really stood out to me. Jeffery has some really classic Dwight Yokem moments, done well, Howard Yearwood pulled off some amazing Clarence White, Albert Lee and even some James Burton. But throughout they maintained a sense of themselves, it was a great show - they are something good and I am sure they are on they way to the top, BLT said this best in his classic Jeffrey Michael interview (Rising Up from the Underground, BLT 2008) and his quotes are near the end of this blog..

About Jeffrey Michaels from Myspace:
"The inception of Jeffrey Michael's sound echoes back twenty years to rural Appalachia. There, in what’s known as the ‘Tri-state area’ where the borders of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia all come together, Jeffrey grew up. The geographical location provided multiple musical influences. He soaked-up his parents love for the oldies, the Southern rock and country music of his surroundings, and the gospel and blues music of his idols.

It’s no wonder Jeffrey's music cannot be put into a category, nor labeled by the current music scene. Characterized by powerful vocals that range from ethereal and haunting to raw and raucous, Jeffrey's innovative melodies and eclectic array of styles manage to bring elements of roots, blues, and rock & roll to country, and create a soulful and passionate sound unequaled by today's standards.

Years of touring with national acts have honed Jeffrey's stage skills to that of a consummate professional, while his natural charm and down to earth personality keep him accessible to his audience.

Jeffrey Michael's debut album, "Endless Rd." Released in 2001 continues to gain critical acclaim nationally. The 2005 release of the singles “Mile High” and "One Woman Man" set the stage for the release of his current self-titled album, Jeffrey Michaels which is available at C.D. baby, select stores, and live performances

Spending the past few years touring and living in east Texas. Jeffrey has moved back to, and currently performing in Southern California. Jeffrey is working on a new album which contains 11 new originals as well as a remake of Buck Owens "Second Fiddle. Hoping to be out in the fall of '08. WINNERS RECORDS partners with Steven Sharp's Sharp Objects In a superb 16-year career, Steven Sharp has promoted more than 60 No.1 hits to Country Radio, including Alan Jackson's first chart-topper, "Here In The Real World". Steven has Jeffrey Michaels' powerful story song "Mile High" slated to be released Aug. 22 to over 2800 radio stations in the United States and overseas, supporting Jeffrey's newest CD, which debuted in Ft Worth, TX, April 6, 2005.

Exerts from: Jeffrey Michaels: The historic very first Bakersfield Sound Underground interview ever!Rising Up from the Underground Dr BLT Interviews Jeffrey Michaels :“The sound comes natural to me. As a kid I didn't know that there was something called the Bakersfield sound. I watched HEE HAW and knew that when Buck sang he meant it. He seemed to be sad when he sang a sad song, and happy when
he sang something up beat. That's what singing is to me. It's putting your heart in to what you're saying. I love that the Bakersfield sound wasn't about going against
the grain, but just doing what you feel.Howard Yearwood is on B-Bender, baritone guitar, banjo, and the B.U.Vox. Then we have Mark Thomas, who does upright, and electric bass.

Then, we have Paulie "Deadwood" Sinacor on drums. I'm working on a new album that I hope to have done by July.
The band has been performing some of the material that's going to be on it. I feel like it's getting a good response.Jeffrey Michaels: Where else? Myspace. www.myspace.com/jeffreymichaelsmusic

This is more than a concert or show review for me; it was sort of a crossroads for me. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of twang, you know – “the Bakersfield sound”. I loved the early Buck Owens music and all the incarnations of the Flying Burrito Brothers. My brother and I would sneak into the Palomino Club in North Hollywood and watch The Flying Burrito Brothers, Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band, Freddie Fender, Country Gazette and so on. I was hooked on the music, and my dad and I never missed Buck Owens on T.V. This was the late 1960s and early 1970s. In about 1976 or so I got the erg to learn the music myself, some of the local folks around my school said there was a guy that played guitar like Clarence white (Clarence was the guitar god among my buddies), he played bluegrass in a band called “Hot Off The Press”. My brother drove me up to Calabasas and we caught a couple shows and later we saw them at some of the many Bluegrass festivals they had around back then. Not long after that I went over to the Blue Ridge Picking Parlor on Reseda Blvd near Ventura Blvd. My dad had made me a nice little banjo when I was about 13, so I had a little picking experience. I didn’t have much money, but I scrimped and saved and mowed a lot of lawns and started taking flat pick guitar lessons from Howard Yearwood. I took the lessons for about a year and discovered I simply could not do it. But those days were great for me; we would talk about Clarence White and trade rare tapes stuff. I quite the lessons but still touched base with Howard at the local festivals until about 1978. Then one day I went to see Homer Joy play at the Black Board Stage, Homer Wrote Streets of Bakersfield for Buck Owens. In any case we reunited after 30 years as friends and are friends once again.


Howard Yearwood with his string bender at world famous Trouts. Theresa Spanke looks on, getting ready to sing. (Above)

HOWARD YEARWOOD B bending my Strat.From what I read there are several benders : "One is the routed B Bender like the Nashville Tele has. Its mechanism is linked to the strap button near the neck. Pull down on the neck while wearing a strap and it stretches the string. Then you can also have the hipshot that is activated by the hip pushing a lever by the tail of the guitar. It mostly is a B string thing too. The third version is the palm bender that attaches to the bridge tailpeice and you use your palm to push it down thus stretching the string."


The Parsons/White B-Bender is still the world's best B-Bender. The first B-Bender, built by Gene Parsons for Clarence White, changed the history of country rock and the Telecaster guitar. I have a Hip Shot that mounts to the tail piece of my Mexican Fender Stratocaster. Howard Yearwood mounted mine on my Strat this winter. I had not seen Howard in 25 years or so and he was playing lead guitar for Homer Joy ( Homer Joy is no relation to Homer Simpson, but did write "Streets of Bakersfield for Buck Owens).
It was at a show set up by Rockwell at the WORLD FAMOUS "BLACK BOARD STAGE" at Trouts
in Oildale, just North of the Bridge from Bakersfield, California. It was a great show
and Howard lit up the stage with his maple Tele with bending that would have made even Clarence smile (he didn't smile much). Homer sang and played rhythm (Theresa Spanke- sang back up and lead on a couple outstanding tunes) Howard did the B bendin'. After the show howard and I talked for dozens of minutes about his life and mine and the love we both had for the music of Clarence White. He invited me over to his home in the San Fernando Valley and he hooked me up with his old "Hip Shot" B bender. I have not seen one on a Strat before, but he adapted it and it works great------BOOYYYING...TWANGGGG! The first I used it was on the recording sessions at Bakersfield Sound Studio on BLT's next record. I can't wait to hear it. I will be recording a demo with it soon with the "Fried Burritos" (that do songs about the
original band).
About Howard Yearwood
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **** Instruments played: GUITAR (acoustic, electric, high strung, Gretsch, various Telecasters w/B benders, baritone, 12 stg. acoustic and electric, Coral electric sitar)***** BASS (electric and upright)***** DOBRO***** WEISSENBORN***** LAP STEEL***** MANDOLIN***** BANJO***** UKE***** KEYS***** ********************************************************************** People with whom I've performed and recorded: DIANE MARIE AULT, JEFFREY MICHAELS, HOMER JOY, ALBERT LEE, ROBERT HEFT, JOHN FOGERTY, FREDDY FENDER JR., VINCE GILL, BYRON BERLINE, MICKEY JONES(Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers), ROSE MADDOX,THERESA SPANKE, CHARLIE RICH, KEVIN McKENDREE, LEROY MACK, LEE SKLAAR, JAYDEE MANESS, Al PERKINS, ED PONDER, GREG LEISZ, THE GOSHORN BROS., CANDY GIRARD, FRED NEWELL, TOMMY SPURLOCK, GARY MORSE, ERIC NILSEN, DOUG ALTMAN, RYS CLARK, BUDDY & JULIE MILLER, JIM LAUDERDALE, THE LOST CANYON RANGERS, MAYF NUTTER, JAMES INTVELD, SHARON CORT, MICHAEL CHAIN, TERRY HANSON, BILLY BLOCK, RONNIE COX, EDDIE DEAN, JOHN JORGENSEN, GEORGE HIGHFILL, GARY HILL, DAVE RAVEN, JEFF CONNORS, CHRISTINE CLARK, JACK DANIELS, PAUL MARSHALL, JIM CHRISTIE, JONATHAN YUDKIN, SPADY BRANNEN, BILLY PANDA, SAMANTHA ELIN, JO ANNE KURMAN, TRACY BARNES, LANIE MITCHELL, ERIC WHITE, JOHN AND NANCY STEVENSON, DEAN DOBBINS, JAN MICHAEL VINCENT, DAVID CARRIDINE, ERIN O'BRYAN, & (oh yeah) FRANK SINATRA ...................... opened for WILLIE NELSON, RICK NELSON, MEL TILLIS, BILL MONROE, LESTER FLATT, MARTY STUART, JIM AND JESSE, RALPH STANLEY, DEL McCOURY, DOC WATSON, THE COUNTRY GENTLEMEN ........and too many So. Cal and Nashville artists to mention ****************************************************************** HOLLYWOOD STUFF ************************************************************************** FILM: "Letters from a Killer) (Patrick Swayze), Man on the Moon (Jim Carrey), The Theory of Everything (haven't been paid yet), Revamped (vampires, bikers, bar fight, I wrote the song)* TELEVISION: Beauty and the Geek (banjo @ hodown), The Home Show, Days of Our Lives, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (recurring role), FamilyMatters, Beverly Hillbillies video (promo for the film with Jim Varney and Jerry Scoggins)**************************************************************** COMMERCIALS: Dr. Pepper w/Charlie Rich and David Naughton, Continental Airlines, VanDeCamps ******************************************************************** VIDEO GAMES: Redneck Rampage (soundtrack)

Howard and I have been Clarence White fans since the late 1960s. We spend hours in the late 1970s talking about Clarence and his music and trading rare tapes. Howard used to teach me Clarence style bluegrass flat picking but I am fairly inept and was only able to pick up a little here and there. My brother Ted and I were giant fans of all thing Clarence and we still collect his stuff today. I used to live in Palmdale not far away from where the accident was, it still makes me sad. I did get tojam with Eric White fairly often when I lived in the Lancaster/ Palmdale area, usually at "Del Sur Gardens" and "The Buffalo Club".


"An extraordinary country flatpicker, Clarence White inspired the emerging country-rock scene in the late 1960s. Influenced by Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, White began his career playing bluegrass and country with his brother Roland in their bands the Country Boys and the Kentucky Colonels, before moving into session work in the mid ‘60s.

In 1966 he signed with Bakersfield International Records, where he and friend Gene Parsons formed Nashville West, and along the way, invented the Parsons/White String Bender, an amazing device attached to a guitar strap that allows guitarists to get a pedal-steel string bend from a Fender Telecaster.
Also influenced by British rock bands of that time, White found his talents in demand with the hitmaking folk-rock band the Byrds at the same time their personnel lineup was falling apart. He participated in the Byrds’ direction change into country music during Gram Parsons’ brief tenure with the band, and played on the groundbreaking album Sweetheart of the Rodeo in 1968 before joining the band full-time along with Gene Parsons (no relation).

White made five albums with the Byrds, all heavily country-influenced, until the band broke up in 1973. Following the breakup, he hooked up with his brother again along with other country-rock artists of the time for touring and recording. Tragically, at the very peak of the country-rock scene he had helped create, Clarence White was killed by a drunk driver while loading his car after a gig in California in July, 1973. "

1 comment:

john son said...

Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog also I want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.
List of Bar benders in Chennai