The Corner


Sights and Sounds

In Part III of my “Elko Journal,” I mention a bunch of singers. Here in the Corner, I thought I’d throw some music links at you — for what can beat hearing?

Gary McMahan is the “King of the Cowboy Singers.” “Like manure,” he says, “I’ve been all over the West.” One of his songs is “Yodelin’ Man from Old Montan.” He wrote it in 1978. It’s a tribute to his idol, Wilf Carter, a.k.a. Montana Slim. (Carter was really Canadian, by the way.) “I learned to yodel off his records,” says McMahan. Here he is — Gary — in that song from 1978.

They do a lot of yodeling, cowboys do. As I say in my journal, I heard more yodeling in Elko, Nev., over the course of two days than I think they hear in the Alps, over the course of a year.

Carolyn Martin is the mistress of Western swing, and related types of music. She and her band can really cook. Here is a song that’s not so much cookin’ as slinky and delicious: “Tennessee Local” (“a smoky little poky little train”).

One of Carolyn’s bandsmen is Rory Hoffman, an extraordinary player — of a lot of things. In my journal, I quote an article: “Blind from birth, Hoffman taught himself to play multiple instruments before he reached double digits (he was the drummer in his family’s gospel band at five).” To witness him, on instrument after instrument, go here.

Now and then, I indulge in hyperbolic flights — but they have a point. Today, I say, “The Mills Brothers were merely the greatest pop group in all history.” What do you want to hear them in? Let’s do “Opus One,” that 1943 song by Oliver and Garris.

Brigid Reedy is a singer, songwriter, and fiddle player — 18 years old, and utterly endearing. In Elko, she appeared with her brother Johnny, age 13. To have a taste of them, go here.

In my journal, I say, “Halladay is a tall drink o’ water, who plays a number of instruments. She also sings beautifully — beguilingly and beautifully. There’s a touch of Peggy Lee about her.” I’m talking about Halladay Quist. See her, and her electric bass, here. And I’ll give you a quick paragraph from my journal:

I happen to meet Halladay in a taco line. “What’s that last instrument you were playing?” I ask her. “Electric upright bass,” she answers. “ You and it kind of match,” I say. “Yes,” she laughs, “tall and slender.” “That’s such an enviable build. I wish I were tall and slender,” I say. Then she says — I swear, and she says it in all innocence — “You’re tall.”

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