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6/15/2007

My 2001 article on steel guitar legend Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphey

Here’s an article I wrote on the legendary western swing steel guitarist Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphey, who played with Spade Cooley, Tex Williams, the Plainsmen, and other West Coast acts in the 1940s and 1950s. To merely call him the best steel guitarist of his era is to do his work a disservice. He is arguably the greatest soloist country music has ever produced.

Murphey seldom granted interviews. Why he chose to speak with me I don’t know, but I’m grateful he did. I was also fortunate to interview some other significant players for this article, such as Speedy West, Herb Remington, Paul Westmoreland, and Ernie Ball. Yes, that Ernie Ball. Ernie Ball worked as a steel guitarist in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and his father was Joaquim Murphey’s first steel guitar teacher.

It’s hard for me to look at the old JCM articles without a bit of real sadness. It was once among the finest music magazines I’ve ever seen, admirable in both its breadth and depth, and always a good read. It all fell apart in 2002, though, when editor Chris Dickinson and researcher Ronnie Pugh were dismissed in an ugly Stalinist purge. They deserved better.

So, because it doesn’t seem to be available elsewhere on the internets, and because they have the internet on computers now, here is my article on Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphey in PDF format:

Download article (PDF)

By the way, please note the spelling of Murphey’s surname. It’s often (incorrectly) spelled Murphy.

Tangleweed mentioned in Lawrence Journal World article on Wakarusa

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: GigBlog, News, TweedBlog.

We got a nice mention in the Lawrence Journal World’s Wakarusa summary, courtesy of festival organizer Brett Mosiman:

Mosiman says part of Wakarusa’s appeal is turning on veteran festivalgoers to new music.

“The fun part for me is some of the Campground Stage bands like Tangleweed or Dirtfoot that nobody had ever heard of. We bring them in and a few 100 people stumble into it, then write a (Web site) thread like, ‘That melted my face.’ I’ve always thought that’s what Wakarusa was about, more than headliners,” he says.

You can read the whole article on the Lawrence Journal World’s site.

Many thanks to Brett and all the good folks at the festival for having us. We had a great time.