Patuxent CD-203 Chick Hall Jr. - Nuke the Juke
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The Washington DC Area has always had great guitar players for as long as I can remember. We have been spoiled, really, to be able to walk around the block to the local Legion Hall, teen club, or bar and have our minds blown by Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanon, Bobby Parker, Bill Kirchen, Bo Diddley, Link Wray, Roy Clark or Chick Hall (both Senior and Junior). More than just great players, they were/are stylists, innovators and risk takers. Some of them shaped and changed popular music way, way beyond whatever compensation and credit they received. Most of them were stay-at-home family men who watched, passively, as younger, flashier looking musicians latched on to their ideas and ran to the bank with them. It’s an old story. This is Chick Hall Jr’s first album under his own name, and yet he has been playing guitar for fifty years. Like his dad he can play in many different styles of music and burns on jazz, rock, country and blues. On this CD he is backed by, essentially, an R&B band. His father played and arranged for country combos for more than fifty years but never had a commercial recording to his name. When DC native Jimmy Dean asked him to come to New York in 1962 to lead the band on his weekly TV network music show, Chick, Sr turned him down to tend to his own night club he had opened in 1955. “Chick Hall’s Surf Club” is still open to this day. In 1960, after being bested in a guitar jam session, jazz/bossa guitarist Charlie Byrd asked him, “Why are you wasting your time playing country?” Hall’s response: “Well, I’m working steadier than you.” So, to my mind, Chick Hall Sr started the tradition of great guitarists from the DC Area. He also taught his son a thing or two. Chick Hall Jr joined his first rock group at age 13, went on to form the “Magestic Neons” and played the usual teen clubs, parties and rock bars. The Neons actually yielded a 45 RPM on the Unicorn label for Elliot Ryan, but, like his dad, Hall Jr eventually gravitated to country music under the employ of Ronnie Dove, Johnny Lee, Lori Morgan and Ace Cannon. For the past twenty years Chick has led his own trio or quartet in the Rock or Country genre, usually at the Surf Club. But, also like his dad, he loves to really let loose on a fiery jazz solo if the song calls for it. A Chick off the old block?
Us old-timers grew up with the juke box. We knew where the good ones were and spent a small fortune in nickels, dimes, and quarters to keep them playing. I actually found one that played for free in Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland in 1960.