Monday, April 28, 2008

yodel lady who? 2008

yodel lady who?
Originally published 3/26/2008

Oh boy, I get to yodel! Often I slip a yodeling number or two into my regular sets but this is the first time I've been asked to do an all-yodel show. Don't worry, it's only a 15-minute set. 9 to 9:15 p.m. April 10 at the World Famous Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick (north of Lombard and just off of N. Denver). It's part of Honky Tonk Night, a new regular feature there. I'm opening for Johnny Cash tribute group called Counterfeit Cash.
Now, if you know me and my blues purism, you might wonder, Why is Cheseborough yodeling? Isn't that like, a hillbilly thing, not a blues thing?
Good question! But actually the yodel's place in American music was established by Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman. Also known as the Blue Yodeler, Rodgers was a white man from Mississippi who became a huge national star in the 1930s with his songs, which were basically blues with yodeling added. He's considered the Father of Country Music, but he also could just as easily be called the first white blues star. And if you listen to the bluesmen he would have listened to, both on records and in person as he worked on the railroads before becoming a music star, you hear some yodel-like sounds coming from them. Especially from Tommy Johnson, who grew up not far from Rodgers and in the same years. Johnson's falsetto breaks surely must have inspired Rodgers, who made them somewhat more Alpine-sounding. And once Rodgers became a star, he in turn influenced late bluesmen -- in particular Howlin' Wolf (who also grew up in that same region of the state). Wolf was a big Rodgers fan, and said that his howls were based on Rodgers' yodels.
So when I yodel I respect all this tradition. I'll include songs by Rodgers and Johnson at the Kenton Club. Come check that out or ask me for a yodeling number at any of my other shows. Cheers, SC

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