Wrapping up an Americana run here on ItGotSoul with another of the great unknowns. Ralph Roddenbery and the Jones are local favorites in the north Florida-south Georgia area. Check this show and you’ll see why his fans think Ralph’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. By the way, sliced bread debuted in ’28. Holsum took it nationwide that same year. Wonder Bread didn’t get into the sliced-bread game until ’30. Let’s get Ralph some publicity before our next Great Depression arrives, huh?
Ralph’s band mates for this show include Mike Beetle-Andrews on guitar, John Wallace on bass and Ritchie Jones on drums. Samantha Alessi-Jones joins Ralph on vocals. Ralph produced a hard-to-find collector’s item in ’95, Fix Myself. Things didn’t happen for him again until the release of Ralph Roddenbery & Friends Live at Tree Sound Studios (‘03). He cut For So Long (’08) with the Jones. Last year, he put together Side Effects to record Between the Stones (’10), a collaborative songwriting effort on which the Jones played.
This show, a wonderful representation of the man and his music, occurred at Smilefest in Pinnacle, NC, on June 4, ’11. Here it is on Live Archive, for listening or downloading: http://bit.ly/ntBr8Y. Visit Ralph’s website for more information on his projects (http://www.ralphroddenbery.com). People have taken notice, and they’re seeking Ralph out. Now’s your turn to learn.
Ralph Writes ‘Em and Sings ‘Em, And the Band Plays ‘Em
“I watched this man say he lost everything,” Ralph tells the crowd.”He said I lost my house and our savings.” The interviewer asks the guy what he was gonna do now, and the guy says he’ll start over. “He didn’t break a tear, or even blink,” Ralph says. “Well, I broke down in the living room and started crying in my Fruit Loops and wrote this song.” “Walking In The Sunlight” hasn’t made it to album yet. I like the sentiment. “Get back, up on your feet again,” Ralph sings. “We will be walking in the sunlight again.”
“Do not ever say I give up,” Ralph says. “I know my hair is coming back.” “Get Up Off Your Hands” comes off So Long. Another call to action. “Get up off your hands and try,” Ralph sings. “You gotta get up off your hands and fly.” Mike offers some tasty leads, perfectly paced. “Get up, get up, get up, get up,” Ralph sings. “Like Marvin Gaye said.” More tasty Mike bits. Now we’re rockin’ a Ralph show. Join us. In studio, from: http://bit.ly/peKgb1.
Ralph gives props to Smilefest. “It’s a big love army,” he says. “Peace soldiers you are.” Bobby Miller joins the stage with his mandolin, while Wildman Steve steps up on rub board. “They Call Him Tumbleweed” features more strong fretwork from Mike. Bobby follows with some nice mando licks. “I remember the night when the storm came rolling down. Took their house and washed it down the mount,” Ralph sings. “He never found his bride, looks for her still. Cussin’ at God high up on that hill.” OK. “The town takes care of tumble, that’s what they do,” he explains. “Cause they know the pain an’ the war that he’s been through.” Wonderful. In studio: http://bit.ly/pS2V2J.
“Stay with us for one more, Bobby,” Ralphs says. “Pushing On A Pull Door” comes off Roddenbery and Friends Live. Ralph wrote it with longtime bass player Randy Jones. “Pushin’ on a pull door, kissin’ on a dirty floor, tryin’ to survive,” Ralph sings. “Livin’ in a funny way for yesterday, ‘till I found out. Pushin’ on a pull door ain’t never gonna get you out.” This one has a great melody, with plenty of room for Mike and Bobby to jam. Cool changes of pace, too. From ’09: http://bit.ly/lejdHq.
“I wrote this for my beautiful, one-and-only wife.” Ralph says. “As Good As You Look,” off For So Long, rides a Buffet-style Caribbean beat. “I wish I felt as good as you look,” Ralph sings. “I would feel beautiful.” Halfway thru, Mike jams a lead. A four-minute love song with sing-a-long lyrics for the crowd. Fun. From Suwannee Springfest ’08: http://bit.ly/pgXLSa.
How Does He Come Up with These Lyrics That Are Both Simple and Deep?
“Maud Only Knows” is from Between the Stones, which features Ralph with fellow songwriters Scott Mecredy and Michael Hurwitz. Early one morning in Macon, GA, the threesome “headed to Rose Hill Cemetery. They made the pilgrimage to Duane and Berry – on down the hill to Elizabeth Reed,” according to Ralph’s website. “She’s famous because the Allman Brothers named a tune after her. They noticed that her daughter Maud was buried next to her, along with her baby. She died young, in child birth, and they figured Maud deserved her own song too.”
“Don’t miss the ones you’re missing,” Ralph tells the crowd. “They’re hovering.” It’s a slower-paced song, with bluesy guitar from Mike. In the cemetery, there’s a yellow flower sprouting between the gravestones of mother and child. “Maud only knows, how a flower grows,” Ralph sings with Samantha. “Between the stones, standin’ all alone. Standin’ all alone.” Another great sing-a-long. Come from within. From the Springfest ‘11: http://bit.ly/oJnTqq.
“You ever tried to fix yourself?” Ralph asks. ”Not in the veterinary way.” Mike gets back to rockin’ on “Fix Myself,” off For So Long. You can hear John workin’ the bass nicely. I like this song a lot. Hard to say what’s better, the lyrics or the music. “Listen to the stories of the beast that other people seem to find,” Ralph sings. “I threw away my energies in a way this man would rather not describe.” Samantha sounds great in the background. From Springfest ’08: http://bit.ly/jFOQR0.
From self-reliance, Ralph moves on to thankfulness. Ralph wrote “This Very Day,” off Live, as a requiem for Jerry Garcia. The guitar jam is nasty and the drum beat is powerful. “Don’t you let nothing bring you down, take your ear and put it close to the ground,” Ralph sings. “You’ll hear the music the good Earth play, you’ll be so very thankful, for this very day.” The city takes it from you but the smile gives it back. Uh huh. From the radio studio, two years ago: http://bit.ly/qt7gTs.
The final song comes off a compilation produced with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty, Big Ole Nasty Getdown, Vol 1 (‘10). Here’s a blog review of the record: http://bit.ly/p2OdSl. “Wake Me Up” gets its job done, to finish the performance on a positive note. “Wake me up, I don’t want to sleep to long,” Ralph and Samantha sing. “Wake me up, I don’t want to miss what’s going on.” More tasty guitar from Mike. It’s been all about struggles and temptations, this show. In the end, trying your best and never giving up is all you can do. Sounds like Ralph himself. From last year: http://bit.ly/gVxF1s.
See you at the next show!