"Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again" - CD/DVD
review from No Depression magazine
They call him the human jukebox. But Sleepy Labeef is more than just a guy whose buttons you push to reproduce somebody else's sounds. When Sleepy wraps his tonsils around a tune, he owns it, blasting out at you with a window-rattling baritone that sounds like its been drug through Texas behind a team of hosses. Although his recordings never topped the charts, his distinctive sound and explosive live show have kept him in demand. Even now, at 77, LaBeef still retains the fire and power that transforms anything he touches into Sleepy property.
Last year, former LaBeef band bassist Dave Pomeroy decided to preserve LaBeef's legacy on film with the documentary Sleepy La Beef Rides Again, booking LaBeef into RCA's historic Studio B in Nashville and recording him live at Douglas Corner Cafe the night before the session. The studio produced hits by artists including Elvis' Are You Lonesome Tonight to Waylon's Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line to Dolly's Coat of Many Colors and Jolene.
LaBeef sounds right at home in this hall of giants, his personality and sound filling the room just as they had the night before in his live show. The live show is captured on DVD, the studio sessions on an accompanying CD, the studio cuts mixed in with live audio from the show. The set list is the same on both offerings, but the DVD contains clips and interviews chronicling LaBeef's career with stops at Sun, Columbia, and Rounder before landing on the Earwave label, who put this release out in May.
Whether the original was rock, country, r&b, pop or gospel, LaBeef' tears into it with a rockabilly fervor that shakes it from the roots to the top of the stalk. Standing In the Need Of Prayer is a traditional gospel tune covered by a diverse groups of artists from the Harlem Gospel Singers to The Oak Ridge Boys to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, as the Wildwood Boys with Robert Hunter in '68. But when LaBeef gets hold of it, it thunders along a rockabilly track, smoking and clattering like a locomotive bound for Glory.
He also proves he's a master of the medley assemblage, stringing together the unlikely combo of Hank Ballard's Tore Up with Clarence Frogman Henry's I Ain't Got No Home before gliding into Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, shifting gears smoothly from doing Henry's froggy croaks to a pounding, country honk version that's more Jerry Lee than Johnny.
He's aided on guitar by Kenny Vaughan, a member of Marty Stuart's backing band, The Fabulous Superlatives since it's inception and an in-demand Nashville studio session man for decades. Vaughan adds the tasteful fills, keeping the barbed wire strung tight behind Sleepy, snapping off a twanging strand every now and then to let you know he's still on fence duty, but LaBeef has no problem holding his own on guitar.
LaBeef plows through Fats Domino's Hello Josephine at breakneck speed, chunks of rockabilly clanging from his guitar, beefed up by some zippy barbs from Vaughan. Despite LaBeef's dominating presence, this is a tight ensemble, with Pomeroy's swampy, funky bass, Gene Dunlap's Jerry Lee piano and Rick Lonow's in the pocket percussion bracing the walls of a groove deep enough for LaBeef's 6 foot seven frame to wallow in comfortably.
He takes Johnny Otis' Willie and the Hand Jive to a new level with Lonow's toms pounding out funky Bo Diddley in the backseat, Vaughan slithering over the top with some electrifying country licks and Dunlap throwing in a few shots of the melody of the Champs' Tequila with LaBeef blasting this way to a throat burning finish. It's the real thing from a master of the genre at the top of his form, a great tribute and a must-have for rockabilly fans of all ages.
By Grant Britt, www.nodepression.com - November 2013
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Americana Festival 2013 Recap: Sleepy LaBeef
September 21, 2013
Day 3 of the Americana Music Festival is in the books and it shows no signs of slowing down at all with performers including Buddy Miller, Amy Speace, and Lisa Marie Presley among others. This Examiner spent Sept. 20 at The Station Inn, where 5 acts showed off the broad size of Americana music's tent with 3 generations of acts and multiple musical styles represented.
Closing out the night was rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. The 77 year old LaBeef cut an imposing presence with his 6'7" frame barely managing to squeeze onto the Station Inn stage without hitting the ceiling. But LaBeef, along with Dave Pomeroy, proved to be an avuncular presence on stage, regaling the crowd who remained for the almost 1 a.m. start time with stories of his travels over the years and of the writers of the hit songs he played. In addition to his own stable of hit songs, LaBeef also dipped into the catalog of everyone from Little Richard to Muddy Waters for his hour long set.
Careening wildly from song to song, often not even stopping for a second at the end of one before launching into another, LaBeef's vocals were strong and his guitar work was as good as ever. He even had several of the ladies from SHEL out of their dressing room and dancing on the floor beside the stage.
All in all, the night showed well just how healthy the Americana music genre is. From current stars like Claire Lynch to rising stars like SHEL, Joy Kills Sorrow, and The Stray Birds, to legendary figures like Sleepy LaBeef, Americana's past, present, and future were all bright on this day.
By Chris Griffy, examiner.com
"Sleepy LaBeef's music is filled with the infectious joy that comes from loving American music unconditionally, and putting that devotion on display, night after night."
- Paul Gaita
"A brisk count-off and Sleepy began his first song. And that first song went on twenty minutes."
- Eddie Gorodetsky
"Sleepy speaks....liars tremble."
- Nick Lowe
"His concerts are as grande as his measurements."
- Entertainment Weekly
"Sleepy dug way down deep to deliver the type of performance that happens night after night on stage, but is so much more difficult to come up with in the sometimes sterile environment of the studio, while the musicians hung on to every note, ready to change keys, tempos or even styles at a nod or a swing of the neck of Sleepy's big Gibson." - Jake Guralnick
"Mr. LaBeef is a living, breathing guitar-picking history of American music."
- The New York Times
"Sleepy's voice is a volcano. He can be the saddest singer alive and the most boisterous often within the same minute."
- Piscataway Review
"A remarkable repository iof the hillbilly, boogie and blues styles that form the roots of rock & roll."
- Daily Variety
"A high-octane feast of good country music."
"Sleepy LaBeef is a survivor. For close to three decades he has toured honky tonks, saloons and roadhouses dishing out genuine rockabilly and boogie music. He possesses one of the most distinctive and compelling baritone voices ever to be heard in rock. The music that he plays is not predicted on the nostalgia of the current rockabilly revival. Sleepy does not imitate tradition. Sleepy is that tradition."
- Detroit Metro Times
"...LaBeef is the genuine article. Without him, the new regime of rockabilly would have less to emulate. Some music cooks, LaBeef roasts."
- Los Angeles Herald Examiner
"...eclectic and encyclopedia sets...fluid guitar and subterranean rockabilly baritone...a set with LaBeef is an American musical education that shows he remains an original and a contender."
- Chicago Tribune
"...fine performances by Sleepy LaBeef...the stuff constitutes a national treasure."
- New York Times
"A full chest-driven, rafters-rumbling baritone that made the Mighty Cantab shake. A voice of authority, the voice of a man singing songs of love, liquor and water-head moccasins."
- Eddie Gorodetsky
...with a six-foot-six, 270-pound frame and a voice that can rattle windows, there are few who have ever forgotten the experience of seeing him perform."
- Nashville Tennessean
"He moves from commanding to demanding when he's singing, and he knows what each style and each song requires for success. Throughout there's a feeling of impending mayhem, barely in check and threatening to break loose at any time."
- Dallas magazine
"...the kind of music that gives rise to goose bumps on one's skin; it's music with an appeal that's as big as Sleepy is."
- Goldmine Magazine
"Sleepy's compact but wide ranging medleys are played with such an unaffected integrity that it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying them."
- New Orleans Wavelength
"Sleepy inhaled deeply, opened his mouth wide and let loose. Suddenly, the stuffy, windowless Cantab Lounge was transformed into a sweat-soaked, undulating swamp. Sleepy led us through that swamp with shimmering guitar, hoo-doo drums and, above it all, that voice."
- Eddie Gorodetsky
"And that is what is so different about Sleepy: not his background, which is common to a whole generation of singers, not his guitar or voice, unique though they may be. What sets Sleepy LaBeef apart is the same conviction and intensity that sets apart any great showman, the same ability to take himself and his audience seriously while taking it all with a grain of salt at the same time."
- Peter Guralnick
"Over the years I've seen countless performances by Sleepy LaBeef. Whether it's opening a big air open concert for Willie Nelson, playing an out-of-the-way New Hampshire roadhouse, headlining at a punk club or a European rockabilly festival, or making one of his regular stops along the endless road, Sleepy never fails to satisfy. Rearing back into his well publicized knowledge of over six thousand songs, Sleepy moves easily from country to blues to rock'n'roll, gospel, Cajun, or rhythm and blues: uniting them all under the all-encompassing definition rockabilly - which to Sleepy represents nothing less than freedom."
- Jake Guralnick
For Booking information please contact:
Marc Gretschel - firstname.lastname@example.org - 301-219-0448
or Linda LaBeef - email@example.com - 479-871-0727
To purchase Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again DVDs or CDs please visit
www.earwavemusic.com or for wholesale/retail information contact
Dave Pomeroy/Earwave Records - firstname.lastname@example.org - 615-298-3504