Never had a whole lotta use for the Lawrence Welk show, but man, when it came time for steel guitar wizard Buddy Merrill and his dazzlingly snazzy stringery to take center stage, the broadcast got a hella lot better, fast!
Don Helms, the steel guitarist in Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys band, died on August 11. He was 81. Don provided the smooth-as-silk string stylings for over 100 of Hank's tunes, including Hey Good Lookin' and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. See Don demonstrate some of that steel guitar goodness in a snazzy version of Blues Stay Away From Me, or this instrumental rendition of Hank's Cold Cold Heart, or this sprightly little number, Fireball Mail. [more inside]
Sacred Steel is a pedal-steel guitar style that evolved in the African-American Pentecostal denomination The House of God, Which Is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth. Brothers and lap steel players Willie and Truman Eason, inspired by the electric blues and Hawaiian steel guitar of the 1920s and 30s, brought the sound to two branches of the church, the Keith and Jewell dominions. Its hallmark: "talking guitar," in which the sliding steel emphasizes and mimics the words of preachers and singers. In the 1970s, a new "Motor City" tradition began, featuring the more complicated pedal steel guitar. This body of music was known mainly in church circles until two things happened: first, folklorist Robert Stone became interested in the music and relased several CD collections. And then, church player Robert Randolph (and his Family Band) began taking Sunday morning's music out onSaturday night. [more inside]