Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lloyd Reading, His Journey Through The Past, Part 3. "THE BLACKBOARD" By: Hank Ray of Bakersfield

Here is the way the Blackboard appeared in the 1920s-1951. It is made of wood.
(Photo Courtesy of Buck Owens family)

“The Blackboard was the biggest, loudest, roughest bar in Bakersfield for the better part of a quarter-century. Its owners could not have known, back in 1949, that it would become known as the freewheeling cradle of the Bakersfield Sound, the most legendary of the city’s half-dozen country-music incubation stations. But that's just what happened. Nashville had the slick studios and the celebrity mansions, but Bakersfield had raw-edged Telecaster guitars and the vague sense that something special was happening here - at places like the Blackboard.” ( Robert Price.BKS)

Lloyd Reading,1930s Bakersfield country music legend -played the Blackboard over one hundred shows here! Hank Ray, historian and country blues player, standing in front of the actual ruins of the original Black-Board. Hank had brought amps and a car power converter, for the amps -it was just too damn hot to play! It would have been really awesome to jam with a real Blackboard legend at the original spot, some 70+ years after he ripped up the joint with his tunes.

Blackboard, owned by Frank Zabaleta and Joe Limi( standing on the side-walk), was the place to be back in the day. In 1951 the cafe reopened after a major remodeling and became known around town as the hottest places to hear, non horn playing, music acts, The Blackboard’s heyday came in the decade or so starting in 1952. The famous,” Bakersfield Sound,” a string twisting –twang Fender guitar based music, with a hard driven beat, a new country music style unique to the Bakersfield area, was born and burnin’. The new building is made of cement with a brick front. Photo Courtesy of Adoph Limi.

Below show inside the Blackboard, owned by Frank Zabaleta and Joe Limi

(from: Kern County Museum)

The world famous landmark,"The Bakersfield sign", arched walk-over Union avenue. Even tho it defined Bakersfield, the city fathers tore it down and luckily Buck Owens stepped up to the plate and had it restored and erected on the side street next to his Crystal Palace. Even though the sign is a true piece of classic Americana, the city fought Buck all the way, just like the hypocritical S.O.B.s did on the naming of "Buck Owens Blvd", which runs in front of the Palace. This postcard was sold back in the day, this copy was from the Kern County Museum. The Palm trees were moved to the new auto mall between Gasoline Ally and Wibble Road, near Harris Stier's RV.

Buck Owens talks about the Black Board:
“There were fights, there were a few fights .-bit I don’t remember (under his breath Buck and then continues :) , people would talk about the Black Board who had never been there, who were just telling stories. There might have been one fight a week, but to hear people talk about it, it was such a den of iniquity…it was not safe to enter into the doors, some nice people came in”.

Merle Haggard talks about the Black Board:
“Those places were the epitome of the red neck honky-tonk. Up and down the valley each town had their own “Black Board” (Black Board type honky-tonk) and their own Lucky Spot, their would be three or four clubs to a town and thy were all much alike. If you’d be Hank Williams in 1950and you came to California, you would be on tour, you would play the Saturday night dance hauls, the
Blackboard in Bakersfield and the Hitchin’ post in sad Sac – those were in business when I started”.

“The Blackboard Café, Bob’s Lucky Spot, the Rainbow Gardens, the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance, the Beardsley Ballroom, the Clover Club, Tex’s Barrel House,
Trout’s and a number of other establishments offered music seven nights a week. This provided enjoyment for the patrons but more importantly allowed the musicians a place to hone their skills.” (Jeff Nickell, Kern County Museum; July 2009).

Painting Pictures with Time, Lloyd Reading Of Bakersfield Was There 70 Years Ago, A True Blackboard Legend!

”Saw ya won’t me ta tell ya about the Blackboard ay”

I had gone on the tour of the old Bakersfield honky tonks last week with the country music legend, Lloyd Reading . Well, yesterday was time for the king of all haunted honky-tonks worldwide, The Blackboard! I had plans to set up amps and put a converter in my old truck, so as the time drew near I packed up the gear and called Anna, Lloyd Reading's daughter .We met in front of an empty lot next door to the Kern County Museum, which had oddly enough just published an article about the Blackboard that morning in the newspaper’s magazine “Bakersfield Life”. When I first got there, I was not sure which empty field had been where the famous Blackboard stood… I set up in front of a little occupational center parking lot just north of the museum. I turned up my Hip shot-B-Bender-Stratocaster and was playing as load as I could. I suppose I was tryin’ to scare up some old Blackboard ghosts, I was in the mood for a spectral dance. As I played, clad in “cowboy armor” hat-boots-gingum (sp?) shirt and blue jeans. As I played there on Chester Ave, I got a lot of looks from passers by on their trek over the bridge into Oildale. Of all the looks I got, all were inquisitive. Hey…no one thinks I am a nut! Even though it is like 120 degrees! I played my songs “Bakersfield Girl “(magazine cover model Dolly Dagger’s favorite song SEE LINK : then I played a heavy blues version of Walk these Streets Alone
(The New York “Mercs” favorite song : SEE LINK : Ya- it is selfless self promotion…I know!

As I waited for Lloyd and Anna, I could feel a magic about the place, even though it was hot as hell, this is indeed a haunted Honky-tonk! Just about then I saw their red Dodge Caravan parked in a lot just north of my locality. I walked over to them. Anna was the first to speak, “yer in the wrong spot, the Blackboard was over here! I ran back through the perilous Bakersfield heat and got my truck, did a "u" turn on Chester Ave. and came back around to the very South East corner of the Kern County Museum . “This is it!” Anna declared, and I replied –“ it is hotter than hell”, Lloyd responded; “this is Bakersfield!”

I did not set up, I decided it was just to hot to set up the equipment, so the dreams of me playing at the place of the original Blackboard, with one of its’ legends, was not going to happen today.
It is hard to describe the feelings I had being here, "hallowed ground of the Bakersfield Sound" with him, a true Blackboard Legend! I suppose it would be like a Disney fan going to Disneyland and watching the film Fantasia or Steamboat Willie with Walt Disney himself! Anyway, the heat was getting to me. So we decided to have Lloyd show me the layout of the Blackboard and how it was back in the day. He did a bee-line to the chain link fence and waived his right arm in gesture;”here is where she stood” I gazed at the empty dirt field with artifacts of the old place abundant all over the surface. “Here is where the door to the restaurant was” pointing to the South-East corner of the little field next to a large weed.

These 2 photos show Lloyd Reading pointing out where the door, bar and actual chalk covered blackboard, that the bands signed in on, were in the world famous honky tonk, The Blackboard. LLOYD Reading, of Bakersfield, is one of the only surviving players from the Black-Board days. Just this year he will turn 90 years of age and is a Black-Board alumni of the late 1930s.

“Here is where the actual “Blackboard's Blackboard was,” Waiving his guitar pickin hand over to the West about 15 feet in from the current sidewalk. “What?”
I declared, there was an actual Blackboard! I suppose everyone in Bakersfield new this but me, but wow! When you walk in the door, there was a school room blackboard on your left and that is where the bands signed in to their playing slot, “played for three hours, with no breaks, "unless there was a fight”. Next Lloyd showed me where the "behind the bar door" in the wall was where the waitresses passed through from Joe's Restaurant next door, to the bar, There was some legal or code issue, so the the Black Board had to serve food to keep their license. R.T.I.…red tape issue!
The owners, Frank Zabaleta and Joe Limi had set it up so their waitresses went behind the bar out the hidden door into the back of the Black Board and then into the back of Joe's Rester aunt next door to the south on Chester Ave. The waitresses would take the orders at the Black Board and then rush out the back to Joe's pick up the order and come back in the hidden door. The bar tender was never allowed to get involved in the food part of the set up. according to Llod Reading; "there were three tables at the Black Board and they were large wooden cable spools set on their side- the waitress set the food on the spools". (After this we got our guitars out and got some Kodak moments on film and picked a wee bit of a tribute to the ”Honky-tonk Angles” OF THIS, MOST FAMOUS OF ALL THE HAUNTED HONKYTONKS!

Lloyd Reading,1930s Bakersfield country music legend -played the Blackboard over one hundred shows here! Hank Ray, historian and country blues player, standing in front of the actual ruins of the original Black-Board. Hank had brought amps and a converter for car power for the amps -it was just too damn hot to play! It would have been really awesome to jam with a real Blackboard legend at the original spot,some 70 years after he ripped up the joint with his tunes. Note the Archaeological importance of this "historic site", From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Historical archaeology is a branch archaeology that concerns itself with "historical" societies those that had systems ofwriting (Buck and the boys all had song “ writing”). It is often distinguished from prehistoric archaeology which studies societies with no writing. However, in current international usage the term historical archaeology is particularly used, especially in North America and Australasia, to describe the archaeology of the most recent past - from approximately AD 1500 to the present - meaning that it is concerned with the material remains of the modern period.
Bakersfield sound and Blackboard artifacts everywhere, maybe Buck's guitar pick is in that old field?!

Long before Buck Owens opened the very upscale, hugely popular, Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, "he helped shape the music that would come to define Bakersfield in an unassuming little honky tonk on Chester Avenue."
The Blackboard’s was originally a cramped little wooden shack like cafe built in 1925, when Buck Owens was four years old (Buck Owens: August 12,1929- March 25, 2006.) that served breakfast to blue-collar oil and agricultural workers and had live country music at night.

THE HANK RAY INTERVIEW WITH LlOYD A. READING June 22, 2008 at the NEW-Blackboard at Trout's tR



Lloyd at the Buck Owens Chrystal Palace
Add Image
The above photo by Dr. Blt From:
"Bakersfield Sound Undergroud" with Don Kidwell usually on Lead Guitar is on base(BLT is a Bakersfield artist and blogger)

Below, the California Playboys, with Lloyd Reading (photos from Lloyd Reading Collection):

Category: Music
I went out to the Black Board tonight, and all this week for a free songwriting workshop.
The workshop was put on by Tom Rockwell, business manager at Trout's Nightclub, and the proprietor of the new Blackboard stage and basement where the workshop was held. Rockwell (as he is known by all) is always on the move making sure everything is going right, to him everybody is important and everything that is going on in the place is meaningful. I am but a rank amateur at music but I love writing songs as a hobby, for fun and I tell you my skills were modified 10 fold by this exiting 3 day workshop. Some of the finest country music song writers in the world came in and helped out, including Red Simpson and Lloyd Reading.
Rockwell did an outstanding job and was there filming and or recording the class the whole time. We each took turns in the "hot seat" where we got real world stage experience in front of the class and interested on-lookers. I admit I had some bad stage freight, but everybody made me feel right at home and by the end of the third night I was fairly confident, lots of encouragement… unfortunately I was just too tired to perform my tunes. I did get some good performance early in the week though, so I came out of it feeling pretty good about my stage experience. I learned that song writing is a lot about writing and rewriting lyrics over and over until you get the product you desire and then working out the music with other musicians. Some of the Blackboard Playboys were there with high degree of musical expertise and were very helpful in this process.. This was like an inspirational work shop for song writing! A fun, and highly recommended, experience. That's-a-foe-show---
Watch the Trout's' Blackboard calendar for future free workshops

Letter from Lloyd's Daughterabout the article:
"Dad LOVES what you did on your site. One correction. Dad never played with Bob Wills. He met him about ten times but never played professionally with him. He appeared with Rose and Cal Maddox, knew Emogene (Jeanne) Sheppard and can tell you great stories about them. 'Course he has a lot of great stories. One photo has Arthur spelled Aurthur and in one place his name is spelled Loyd instead of Lloyd.
BUT,Good Job, Anna Reading"

Here Lloyd with country star Terry Hanson and Bakersfield sound Guitar hero Don Kidwell.

LLOYD Reading, of Bakersfield, is one of the only surviving players from the Black-Board days. Just this year he will turn 90 years of age and is a Black-Board alumni of the late 1930s.
I consider myself really lucky to have met and played music with Lloyd. He is a great
singer, guitarist and song writer. He has the voice of Ralph Stanley and writing skill of Hank Williams. Lloyd is a great source of information on the early days of country music and has toured and played with many of the greats, including Bob Wills.
He is the nicest fellow you can meet. I hope to play music with him again soon and perhaps we can get another interview! You can find Loyd at Trouts' Blackboard and Green Room for jam session, shows and festivals. Lloyd got a standing ovation at this years Bakersfield Music Festival (Buck Fest). Lloyd was also honored at the Bakersfield Music Awards at Trouts.


I’ve been doin’ this music since I was 14. I had a band in Visalia in 1952 and had the band for 47 years, “The California Playboys”. I did all the Bob Wills stuff. I grew up with that music in Okalahoma. I had Joe Holly in my band for eight years before he passed away and we did all that stuff. I always followed that trend, because I grew up with it.
I’m going into the studio soon with my grand son, Mike, as engineer and I have a lead fiddler from the Fresno area comin’ down. She does all the Bob Wills stuff….those long….. drawn out notes, were going to get those recordings started and give them to Joe Streep.
Ya, I came here in 1938 and left and came back and I’ll be here until I die. I am proud to be here. (Hank Ray from: Bakotopia Magazine, Page 14: July 2008)
What has been known as the Bakersfield sound originated here of all places- Bakersfield.. Buck Owens, along with Don Rich and Merle Haggard usually get the credit for this Country music sub-type, “TWANG” and rightfully so. However, this music did not generate in a vacuum, it evolved out of the California Western swing, and this originated at the Black-Board and similar honky-tonks in and around Bakersfield, California. One of Buck Owens' first musical jobs in Bakersfield was playing at the legendary Blackboard, owned by Frank Zabaleta and Joe Limi. “In 1951 the cafe reopened after a remodeling and became known around town as one of the hottest places to hear new music acts. The famous “Bakersfield Sound,” a twangy, new country music style unique to the area, was off and running. The Blackboard’s heyday came in the decade or so starting in 1952, when music legends Patsy Cline , Merle Haggard and Bill Woods and his Orange Blossom Playboys — including Buck Owens playing his Fender Telecaster — graced the small stage.”
"The Blackboard was hot, but Rainbow Gardens was close behind, thanks to visits by performers like the Everly Brothers, performing here in about 1958 with Buck Owens, Jelly Sanders and others" (BKS). Lloyd played in the same band with Jelly Sanders and many of the others. More episodes to come on this later!

The following was taken from CMT.COM
Buck Owens, a principal architect of country music's famed Bakersfield Sound, died Saturday (March 25) at his home in Bakersfield, Calif., at age 76. The cause of death was not immediately known. He underwent surgery for throat cancer in 1993 but
maintained a busy schedule in recent years at his Crystal Palace restaurant and nightclub in Bakersfield. He was scheduled to perform there this weekend, according to his official Web site.

A man of boundless talents, Owens distinguished himself as a singer, guitarist, songwriter, bandleader, music publisher, talent booker, television personality and broadcaster. Although he regularly topped the country charts during the 1960s and early '70s, his greatest recognition came from his role as the grinning co-host of the country music television series, Hee Haw.

Alvis Edgar Owens was born Aug. 12, 1929 in Sherman, Texas. His parents were sharecroppers who moved to Mesa, Ariz., in 1937. It was in that city that Owens got his start in radio when he was 17, performing on the Buck & Britt show on radio station KTYL. In 1948, he married singer Bonnie Campbell, who would later carve out her own career as Bonnie Owens and marry Merle Haggard.

In 1951, the young couple migrated to Bakersfield, where Owens formed a band, the Schoolhouse Playboys, in which he played saxophone and trumpet. He had also developed his skills as a guitarist. During most of the '50s, he played in the house band at the Blackboard nightclub near Bakersfield. At times, he would venture into Los Angeles to play guitar on sessions for such artists as Tommy Collins, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sonny James and Gene Vincent. He even got a deal himself with Pep Records in 1955. For that label, he cut several singles, including the rockabilly tune "Hot Dog," which he recorded under the name Corky Jones. (Owens returned to that song in 1988 for his short-lived comeback effort as a recording artist.)

Having become acquainted with Owens via his work for other artists, Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson signed him to that label in 1957. Two years afterward, he had his first chart hit, "Second Fiddle" He followed it with three Top 10 singles, including the self-penned "Under Your Spell Again." Between 1963, when he first reached the top of the charts with "Act Naturally," and 1972, when he last topped them on his own, Owens scored 20 No. 1 singles and placed another 13 songs in the Top 10. Many that reached the No. 1 spot tended to stay there: "Love's Gonna Live Here" (1963) for 16 weeks; "I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)" (1964), "Before You Go" (1965) and "Think of Me" (1966) for eight weeks each; and "My Heart Skips a Beat" 1964) and "Waitin' in Your Welfare Line" (1966) for seven weeks each. In all, Owens racked up 28 BMI awards for his radio-friendly singles.

During the late 1950s, Owens moved to the Tacoma, Wash., area. It was here that he met Don Rich (real name Donald Eugene Ulrich), the singing partner who would give Owens' songs the distinctive high, nasalized, heart-in-the-throat pitch that became his vocal trademark. (Rich remained with Owens until he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1974.)

Under the tutelage of his manager, the late Jack McFadden, Owens took a serious turn toward capitalism. In 1964, they formed the OMAC booking agency which eventually handled such clients as Haggard, Joe and Rose Maphis, Wynn Stewart, Freddie Hart and Rose Maddox. In 1967, Owens launched his own music publishing company, Blue Book Publishing. (He sold the company to Tree Music Publishing in the 1980s, and his catalog is now a part of the giant Sony/ATV firm.) Moreover, Owens began to acquire and develop radio stations. (In 1999, Clear Channel bought his KNIX-FM in Phoenix for $84 million and his jointly owned KESZ, also in Phoenix, for $58 million.)

Yet another feature of the Owens empire came through Buck Owens Productions, which produced his syndicated television series, The Buck Owens Ranch Show. Starting in 1966, the show was shot in "batches" in Oklahoma City, much as Hee Haw would later be done in Nashville. In all, 78 half-hour color shows were taped, and the show at its peak aired in around 100 markets. Several of these shows are now available on home video, and excerpts from them were used as country music videos in the late 1980s. Owen's top-notch band, the Buckaroos, won CMA's instrumental group of the year awards in 1967 and '68.

Owens teamed with Roy Clark in 1969 to host Hee Haw, originally a show for CBS-TV. CBS dropped it in 1971, but the show continued and became even more successful as a syndicated effort. Besides introducing acts, telling jokes and appearing in skits, Owens and Clark had a "pickin' and grinnin'" spot in each show, and both sang and recorded in the popular Hee Haw Gospel Quartet.

His recording career sagging, Owens was essentially reduced to being a face of Hee Haw until Dwight Yoakam came along in the mid-1980s. Like Owens, Yoakam was passionate about West Coast country music, and he was loud in his praise of the old master. In fact, Yoakam made so much noise -- including making a personal plea to his idol -- that Owens recorded (and made a music video of) "The Streets of Bakersfield" with him. It went No. 1 in 1988, the last time Owens would view the chart from that vantage point.

Also in 1988, Owens re-signed to his old label, Capitol Records. That union resulted in two albums -- Hot Dog in 1988 and Act Naturally in 1989 -- and five charted singles, none of which reached the Top 20. However, his "Act Naturally" duet with Ringo Starr did make it to No. 27 in 1989. (Starr also sang the lead vocal on the Beatles' 1965 cover version of Owens' hit.) It was accompanied by an amusing "Old West" music video in which Owens' manager, McFadden, played the sheriff and actor Vic Tayback the bartender.

Owens withdrew from his Hee Haw hosting duties in 1986 and was never replaced, although the show continued into 1994. In 1996, he was elected to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Earlier that same year, he had opened his opulent Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, where he performed virtually every Friday and Saturday night.

*************************************************************************************** Response to:Bakotopia: March, 2008 Issue “What is the Bakersfield Sound” “:

The Kookoonauts, here playing Centennial Gardens (RaboBank Arena), of Bakersfield were given credit for bringing the Bakersfield twang to punk rock, writer Nick Belardes called it "Rural Punk" and the Kookoonaut's song "Searching" was the one to set the bar to and the first song of that sub-type of music. The singer/guitarist was a huge Buck Owens and Bakersfield sound fan.

Kookoo-blog from Bakotopia:
Firstly, the front cover is a masterpiece, a heartfelt image of Buck Owens in saddle art painstankly crafted by “Pain Is Beauty Tattoo Shop on18thStreeet.

In, “OH My Word” , Matt Munoz, Bakotopia Editor, asked the question “did the Bkersfield Sound” leave us that rainy day?” (The day Buck Owens passed away). Certainly a driving force , one the founders mentors of the style was gone but his influence will not soon diminish. The main focus of mainstream country music is American Idol, hardly the sound of early Buck Owens recordings. The truth is however,
Buck himself wavered from the distinct sound himself in later years. His recording of “Big In Vegas” has orchestra in it. The Bakersfield sound may not huge in Bakersfield but it has transcended State and International lines and has pockets and all over the world.

“A call to Arms” by Chase Brockett , is a pungent cry from the darkness to unite Bakersfield's’ fragmented music scene and create a new Bakersfield sound. Truly he is passionate about his music, I don’t see much encouragement of the music that has been named “Bakersfield sound” and it would be a nice backlash to the “American Idol” country music that now rules the roost.

Bakersfield has pioneered many types of music,
Even Rural Punk, Korn Ther is even other types of country from Bakersfield and also Blues , Jazz, Norteno, Mariachi, Asian , Arabic Music, African styling - Matts’ own styling and so on- and you could go on forever, But this does not relinquish the fact the there was a new country music styling invented called “The Bakersfield Sound” .Listen to it, it is obvious, it may only have been partly evolved in Bakersfield but it is a very different and distinct sound- defiantly exits and Buck Owens had a big part of the development. It is no myth and many millions of fans and bands all over the world have heard of the Bakersfield Sound. The sad part is that folks here seem to be almost embittered by the concept and want the style to die here so a new music can take the name. Korn can not be undervalued for their influence and success and are the pride of Bakersfield, but this was not the topic set fourth by Matt.

The Bakersfield sound , a highly stylistics breakaway from Nashville crap, was developed at honky-tonk bars such as The Blackboard in Oildale, California, and on local television stations in Bakersfield airing “The Buck Owens’ Ranch” and throughout California in the 1950s and 1960s. The town, known mainly for agriculture and oil production, was the destination for many Dust Bowl migrants and others from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and other parts of the Southwest. The mass migration of these "Okies" to California also meant that their music would follow and thrive, finding an audience in California's Central Valley (Okies, is the defamatory and derogatory ). Bakersfield country was a reaction against the slickly-produced, string orchestra-laden Nashville Sound, which was becoming popular in the late 1950s. Artists like Wynn Stewart used electric instruments and added a back beat, as well as other stylistic elements borrowed from rock and roll, this included the tawny leads on the Fender Telecaster and an in your face steelguitar style. In the early 1960s, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Clarence White with “Nashville West” (Clarence invented the “B” Bender and pioneered its’ use) among others, brought the Bakersfield sound to mainstream audiences, and it soon became one of the most popular kinds of country music, also influencing later country stars the had the same sound but were from no where near Bakersfield, California such as Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, The Mavericks, and The De-railers.
Songs about the Black Board:

1).GOIN” To THE BLACKBOARD TONIGHT (THE BACKERSFIELD SOUND) BY: Hank Ray 3-28-2008 (Copy Write 2008, B.L.T.Nu Bakersfield Music)

I’m going to the Black Board tonight.
Goin’ where the beer is cold and music right.
pretty girls dancin under the bar room lights and..
The Playboys are rippin up tonight.

So I’m driven over that Kern River Bridge
Going to hear that Bakersfield Sound
…Bakersfield sound

Merle Haggard and Buck Owens both played here before.
They must drove this bridge 100 times or more.
Clarence White was Bakersfield Bound, that’ for sure
I love that country music and got to hear some more.

I’m going to the Black Board tonight.
Goin’ where the beer is cold and music right.
pretty girls dancin under the bar room lights and..
The Playboys are rippin up tonight.

So I’m driven over that Kern River Bridge
Going to hear that Bakersfield Sound
…Bakersfield sound

Dr BLT's Blog n Roll Studio -> Bakersfield sound pioneer helps younger songwriters pen song about the Blackboard where he played
Bakersfield sound pioneer helps younger songwriters pen song about the Blackboard where he played

larger view

Mr. Lloyd Reading, formerly of the Bob Manning Trio and the Blackboard Playboys, is helping to bridge the Bakersfield sound generation gap, by joining a couple of younger Bakersfield-sound-rooted songwriters with a song that pays tribute to the Blackboard, the very plays he and his band-mates used to jam.

Mr. Lloyd Reading is keenly aware of our efforts to bridge the Bakersfield sound generation gap and to make his music, and the music of his cohorts of the Bakersfield sound genre more accessible to younger generations through community education and mentoring. Hank Ray is involved in documenting Lloyd Reading's historic past by filming his rich body of songs and stories.

Mr. Reading told us "I'll cooperate in every way. Just let me know what is needed." In the works are a recording in which he will sing this song with us, a song he helped us pen.

There may still be a little editing to do, but here's what the three of us have so far:

Them Blackboard Days

words and music by Dr BLT, Lloyd Reading and Hank Ray copyright 2008 Nu Bako Sound Recordings/Krocker Records

well, I heard you were there

in the beginning

back when country music was livin'

back in the day

them Blackboard days

Mr. Reading, tell us a story

'bout that Bakersfield sound glory

talk about the day

them Blackboard days

chorus 1:

them Blackboard days

sittin', strummin' on the stage

Mr. Lloyd Reading

won't you tell us 'bout the Blackboard days

them Blackboard days

in the old cafe

Mr. Lloyd Reading

won't you tell us

'bout the Blackboard days

on the heels of the great depression

well, I think we all learned our lesson

back in the day

them Blackboard days

in the days of the Edison work camps

picked guitars

by the kerosene lamps

back in the days

them Blackboard days

(chorus 1)

them Blackboard Days

sittin' strummin' on the stage

with the Bob Manning trio

people gathered as

the band would play

them Blackboard days

sittin', strummin' on the stage

Mr. Lloyd Reading

won't you tell us 'bout the Blackboard days


Photos by:Dr. BLT, Hank Ray, and some random dude. (copyright 2008 Nu Bako Sound Recordings/Krocker Records)

Here are "da boys" at the gas station on the "Grape Vine" , on the way up to the gig.
It was a really fun trip, Dr. BLT drove and Lloyd and I road along. Bruce and Lloyd and some great debates and conversations and topped it off with Lloyd's great dust bowl stories. I picked my black,resonator guitar

Here Lloyd Reading and Hank Rayplay for the fans. Note the special guest above!

Above:Lloyd Reading sings and played guitar at The College of the canyons (Photo courtesy of : Dr. BLT; copyright 2008 Nu Bako Sound Recordings/Krocker Records)
Hank Ray sings "Black Board Love Song" in upper middle photo above.(Photo courtesy of : Dr. BLT; copyright 2008 Nu Bako Sound Recordings/Krocker Records) Llod Reading plays lead guitar for Hank.

Above Lloyd posseswith some of his adoring fans.

Country music legend, Lloyd read sign autographs for fans in a magazine he was featured in. Lloyd really captured the imagination and heart of the audience with his captivating ballads.

Here is the 3of us joking around and congratulating each other on a job well done. Exposing some more younger folks to our traditional music and performance style.

Rockwell Canyon road,the street the college is on, Bruce and I are writing a song by that name. This is the name of our buddy at Trouts as well.

Dr. Bruce and Lloyd dine on the memorries of tonights performance.Lloyd interwieved his personal recolections of the dust bowl and the early music that sprang from it between songs.

Here is Lloyd Reading and myself holding Dr. BLT's card at the burger joint, this was right after the performance at the College of the Canyons in Valencia. Dr BLT had set up the performance to correspond with the curriculum for a large class of graduate students. It was the best audience I had ever played for.

Here is a photo taken by the waitress at the Island Resteraunt there in Canyon Country, just a little east of the College. To quote Samual L.Jackson in the film "Puilp Fiction", -"now that's a taste burger!".

Here is Lloyd after dinner, we ravaged a set of burgers. After this Dr, Blt and I dropped Lloyd at went on home with some great new memories.

Here Dr. BLT drops Lloyd off at his Bakersfield home where he lives with his daughter Anna. We got him home about 10:30. Thanks Lloyd, job well done.

Reading in College (the song)
words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2008 Nu Bako Sound Recordings/Krocker Records
(Permission obtained)

In Vygotsky's sociopsychological theory of human development, mentoring, or something I've frequently referred to as "cross-generational mentoring," is deemed essential to the healthy development of children and adolescents. Having folks from an older generation share their talents, their songs, and their stories with folks from younger generations is crucial to the formation of identity in developing children. Furthermore, this sort of bonding experience is essential in terms of a child attaining a sense of being connected to something larger than him/herself. Cross-generational mentoring is the key to attaining a sense of one's roots, one's culture, one's community, and one's history.

In the Developmental Psychology course I teach at Chapman University on Rockwell Canyon Rd. on the College of the Canyons campus in Valencia, California, I try to bring theory to life by offering living examples.

89-year-young Bakersfield sound legend, Lloyd Reading, who jammed with all of the greats associated with the birth of the Bakersfield sound, and who was right smack dab in the middle of this exciting movement as it was spawning some of our greatest country stars, is the living embodiment of Vygotsky's theory of human development, involving mentoring.

Lloyd was offering songs and stories to my students that depicted a very personal history involving the old days when he migrated with his family from Oklahoma to California in the midst of the California gold rush, and began his career and enduring legacy as a Kern County country star. He laid the groundwork for Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, though he would always be humbly standing just one short step behind the spotlight of giants like these.

I call Lloyd Reading the Kern County country music conduit. He is taking the lead among all others in bringing the Bakersfield sound of yore to new generations that hunger to be connected to something bigger than themselves--something bigger than the here and now.

After downing a some burgers and fries at Islands on Valencia Avenue, we began taking the ride back to Bakersfield, on the same grapevine Lloyd once traveled by foot. As we drove back, Hank Ray, one of the most promising among the new crop of Bakersfield-sound-grounded artists, entertained Lloyd and myself with spontaneously spawned choruses to what may soon develop into fully-arranged tunes that chronicle our visit.

We took Lloyd with us. We wish we could take him with us wherever we go. We took a living legend to the classroom. We took the country to the city, and the city will never be the same.

1 comment:

AmandaNicoleMurrell said...

I love reading this because Lloyd happens to be my great grandpa! :D I love reading all kinds of articles about him. he is such an inspiring man and im proud to say im related to him!