CD-274 Louie Setzer "Jukebox Bluegrass"
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Born and raised in Wind Gap, in the heart of Pennsylvania's slate-mining district, Louie was the eighth of nine Setzer children. While his homemaker mother inspired him musically, he didn't learn to play guitar until he was in the Army. After he mustered out in the late 1960s, Louie and his four brothers formed a local Country and Western band, Country Alliance.
Louie was introduced to bluegrass around 1970 and has never been the same since. He just loved the sound of acoustic instruments and harmony singing. His bluegrass career began singing in Eastern-Pennsylvania veteran bluegrasser Lloyd Hampton's band, where he developed his distinctive "titanium tonsils."
Around this time, Louie also began working for Martin Guitar in Nazareth, PA. For his last five years with Martin he was the company's final inspector of guitars, which caused many to say, "It's not a Martin, 'til Louie says 'It's a Martin!'"
Having become a bluegrass fanatic, Louie couldn't sit still. He started having shindigs at his Wind Gap home. When the house would no longer hold the crowds, he co-founded the Appalachian Fiddle & Bluegrass Association, which held monthly shindigs at the Blue Valley Farm Building in Bangor, PA. He was the AFBA's President for 12 years.
It was at these shindigs that the original incarnation of Louie's band, The Appalachian Mountain Boys, started playing together. That crew - Shorty Newcomer (banjo), Red Edwards (fiddle), Fred Severud (mandolin), and Fred Sharp (bass) - played on Setzer's first recording, a 45 rpm record - "Bluegrass Hall of Fame" b/w "Sweet Alla" - released in October 1976 (Ripsaw 209). Other recordings followed from time to time, Including a 1978 LP "Wood Smoke" (Revonah 505)
This recording, “Jukebox Bluegrass,” was co-produced by Jon Strong of Ripsaw records, who has been working with Louie since his first recording endeavor in 1976, and Tom Mindte of Patuxent Music, a roots music label in the DC area. Long-time Appalachian Mountain Boy Ron Penska provides the bass fiddle accompaniment. The album is rounded out by Mark Delaney (banjo), Nate Grower (fiddle) & Tom Mindte (mandolin & harmony vocal). Special guest appearances by Frank Solivan II and Billy Hancock put the icing on the cake.
The album's selections are from a cross-section of sources, but the result is pure hard-core, honky-tonkin' bluegrass: There are three well-known, hard-driving bluegrassnumbers - "Rolling On Rubber Wheels" (Stanley Bros.), "Me And The Jukebox" (Buzz Busby), and "Truck Driver's Queen" (Charlie Moore); There are four country ballads as well as an outlaw piece that Louie bluegrassifies - "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" (Willie Nelson), "Burning Bridges" (Jack Scott), "All For The Love Of A Girl" (Johnny Horton), "Judge And Jury" (Warren Smith), and "Wrong's What I Do Best." (George Jones); There is the obligatory fast-paced train song - "Long And Lonesome Old Freight Train"; There is a Sixties pop ballad that gets the Setzer "titanium tonsils" treatment - "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'" (Johnny Tillotson); There is a heart-wrenching Christmas song - "Christmas In Tennessee" (Luke Gordon); There is a gospel song - "Everyone Has To Answer In The End" (The Scott Family); and there are two other numbers, one a bluegrass tearjerker and the other originally a rockabilly bop beat song - "Send Me Poppa's Fiddle" (Jim Hagen) and "King Of Fools" (Billy Hancock).