BACK TO PARADISE: A Tulsa Tribute to Okie Music

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about

In February 2020, a group of Tulsa musicians traveled to Leon Russell’s famed Paradise Studio at Grand Lake to record the first album tracked there since 1978. Tulsan Rick Huskey has spent the last 30 years preserving and restoring the space, honoring its history while preparing for a new chapter. The narrow, winding road one must travel to reach the compound provided time for reflection. Some of the biggest names in the history of music traveled the same path years before. That realization was both inspiring and daunting. Entering the studio for the first time, the musicians were awestruck. Decades later, the vibe is still alive. Seventeen tracks were recorded over the course of four days – mostly live, with very few overdubs. While there was a core group of players throughout the session, a grand total of 20 Tulsa musicians participated in the recording. The Oklahoma songs chosen for the album represent the famous to the obscure, and everything in-between. This recording honors those who came before and made it possible for Tulsa musicians to have an identity and a music scene today. Thank you to Leon for blazing a trail and building this lake palace. Thank you to all of the Oklahoma musicians over the years who have been role models through their authenticity and spirit of community. This record is dedicated to them. Back To Paradise: A Tulsa Tribute to Okie Music.

(Special recognition to our late friend, Shaun Schamerhorn, and the generous contribution made in his name to make this session possible)

credits

released August 28, 2020

Produced by Jason Weinheimer and Them Tulsa Boys
Recorded at Paradise Studio at Grand Lake
Engineered by Jason Weinheimer and Zachariah Reeves
Mixed by Jason Weinheimer
All tracks mastered by Ryan Foster at Foster Mastering
Front cover illustration by Paddy Ryan
Design and layout by Steve Hammons
Photos by Phil Clarkin, Greg Bollinger, and Jesse Aycock

SIDE A

I’LL MAKE LOVE TO YOU ANYTIME – Written by JJ Cale. Released in 1979 on the album 5 on Shelter Records. 5 was the first album to feature Cale’s wife, Christine Lakeland. Eric Clapton also recorded (covered?) this song on his album Backless. The definition of cool, Cale is one of the most influential Tulsa musicians to have ever lived. His music continues to inspire musicians and fans alike.

Paul Benjaman - guitar/vocals
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – guitar/lap steel

CROSSING OVER – Written by Steve Ripley. Released in 2002 on the album Ripley. Steve played with Bob Dylan and was a founding member of the country-rock band The Tractors. A producer, songwriter, engineer, and inventor known for his Ripley custom guitars, he also owned and operated The Church Studio, the original home to Leon Russell’s Shelter Records label in the early 1970s.

John Fullbright – keys/vocals
Paul Benjaman - guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – pedal steel
Sarah Frick – backing vocals
Charlie Redd – backing vocals
Briana Wright – backing vocals

TRAMP – Written by Lowell Fulson. Released in 1967, and later popularized by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas on the Stax Label. After T-Bone Walker, he was widely considered to be one of the most important West coast blues artists in the 1940s and 1950s.

Branjae – vocals
John Fullbright - keys
Paul Benjaman - guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – guitar
Andy McCormick – sax
Austin Stunkard – trumpet

ROCK N ROLL GYPSIES – Written by Roger Tillison. Released in 1965 by Gypsy Trips (produced and arranged by Leon Russell) and later released by Native American guitarist and Oklahoman Jesse Ed Davis in 1970. Tillison had other songwriting success and released a self-titled album in 1971 that was produced by Jesse Ed Davis.

Jesse Aycock – guitar/vocals/slide guitar
John Fullbright – keys
Paul Benjaman - guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Sarah Frick – backing vocals
The Tia Juana Okie Choir – backing vocals

SIDE B

I YIKE IT – Written by Tommy Lokey. Released in 1974 on the album Magician’s Holiday by The Gap Band on Shelter Records. The band’s name was derived from three streets - Greenwood, Archer and Pine - in Tulsa’s historic Black Wall Street area, where the band used to hang out. The Gap Band was comprised of the multi-instrumentalist Wilson brothers, Charlie, Robert, Ronnie, who honed their musical skills in their father’s church.

Charlie Redd – vocals
Briana Wright - vocals
Chris Combs - guitar
Bo Hallford - bass
Jake Lynn – drums
Paul Benjaman – guitar
John Fullbright - keys
Jesse Aycock – pedal steel
Andy McCormick – sax
Austin Stunkard - trumpet

HELLUVA DEAL – Written by Don White. Released in 2015 on the album Patchwork on Lonesome Dove Records. While perhaps not as well-known as some of his famous musical peers, Tulsa musician Don White has an impressive pedigree. JJ Cale joined White’s band when Cale returned to Tulsa from California in the early 70s. Eric Clapton invited White to perform on The Breeze, a tribute album to JJ Cale released in 2014. White is featured prominently on multiple tracks.

Paul Benjaman - guitar/vocals
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – lap steel

BLACK CHERRY – Written by Junior Markham, Marc Benno, Bill Boatman, Greg Dempsey. Released by Junior Markham and The Tulsa Review (incl. Jesse Ed Davis) as a “promo only” single in the late 60s. Jimmy “Junior” Markham was one of the earliest Tulsa music pioneers. Starting in the 50s, Markham was in demand as a singer/front man and harmonica player. He collaborated on a number of releases by prominent artists during his career.

Jesse Aycock – acoustic guitar/vocals
John Fullbright – keys/harmonica/backing vocals
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Paul Benjaman – guitar
Seth Lee Jones - guitar
Andy McCormick – sax
Austin Stunkard - trumpet

BLIND MAN – Written by Tom Skinner, Don Morris, Benny Craig, Mike McClure, and Mark Ambler. Released in 1999 by The Great Divide on the Dirt & Spirit compilation. This song is a staple in the weekly Wednesday Night Science Project set, a musical jam session started 20 years ago by (the now-deceased) Tom Skinner and Don Morris that features a rotating cast of Tulsa musician and visiting artists.

Dustin Pittsley – guitar/vocals
John Fullbright - keys
Aaron Boehler - bass
Brandon Holder – drums
Paul Benjaman – acoustic guitar
Jesse Aycock – pedal steel / backing vocals

SIDE C

IF THE SHOE FITS – Written by Leon Russell. Released in 1972 on the album Carney on Shelter Records. Carney was partly recorded at Paradise Studios, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Tia Juana, Oklahoma. The song is included in director Les Blank’s Leon Russell documentary, A Poem Is A Naked Person, and seemed to be a perfect fit for inclusion on this album.

John Fullbright – acoustic guitar/vocals
Paul Benjaman – guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan – drums
Jesse Aycock – lap steel / pedal steel

I’M ON FIRE – Written by Dwight Twilley. Originally released as a single in 1975 and later released on Twilley’s debut album Sincerely in 1976. Twilley has been recognized as a significant influence on the power-pop style. His Shelter Records releases also feature the late, great Phil Seymour and Bill Pitcock IV.

Sarah Frick –vocals
Paul Benjaman – guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan – drums
Jesse Aycock – guitar/backing vocals

TULSA COUNTY – This song was written by Pamela Polland during her time with Leon Russell and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. Released in 1970 by Jesse Ed Davis on his self-titled debut album on Atco Records. Davis was a Native American guitarist and a highly regarded session musician, appearing on multiple releases from luminaries such as Taj Mahal, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and John Lennon.

Jesse Aycock –acoustic guitar/pedal steel/vocals
Paul Benjaman – guitar
John Fullbright - keys
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan – drums
Dustin Pittsley – guitar
Jake Lynn – backing vocals

RIDE ME HIGH – Written by JJ Cale. Released in 1976 on the album Troubadour on Shelter Records. Cale was known for writing songs with a groove, this one epitomizes that sound. Troubadour has been recognized by musicians and die-hard fans as one of the best and most complete recordings from his catalog.

Paul Benjaman – guitar/backing vocals
John Fullbright - keys
Bo Hallford - bass
Jake Lynn – drums
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – guitar
Chris Combs - guitar

SIDE D

I’M GONNA GET TO TULSA – Written by Cliff Beasley. Released as a single on Tulsa-based Alvera Records. Not much is known about this artist, but this song is honky tonkin’ at it’s finest. The Alvera label was owned by Al Clauser, who has also been recognized by some for coining the term “Western Swing.” Clauser’s band, Oklahoma Outlaws, also included Clara Ann Fowler (Patti Page).

Jacob Tovar – acoustic guitar / vocals
Paul Benjaman – guitar
John Fullbright – keys/harmonica
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – lap steel

MISERY KICKIN’ IN – Written by Steve Pryor. Released in 2002 on the album Vibraflow on Bonetone Records and later in 2007 on the Cardboard Luck album on Gaugua Records. While relatively unknown on a commercial or national scale, Steve has been recognized by many as one of the greatest American guitarists of all-time. This song was a staple in Pryor’s live set.

Paul Benjaman – guitar/vocals/Steve Pryor’s Leslie cabinet
John Fullbright – keys/harmonica
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – lap steel
Seth Lee Jones – guitar

JEALOUS MAN – Written by Hoyt Axton. Released in 1976 on the album Fearless on A&M Records. This prolific songwriter had a remarkable career of his own and many of his songs gained commercial success through covers by artists like Steppenwolf (“The Pusher”), Three Dog Night (“Never Been To Spain” & “Joy To The World”), and Ringo Starr (“No-No Song”).

John Fullbright – keys/vocals
Paul Benjaman - guitar
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan - drums
Jesse Aycock – lap steel
Andy McCormick – sax
Austin Stunkard – trumpet

CAN’T JIVE ENOUGH – Written by Jim Byfield. Released in 1981 on the album By The Light Of The Moon by Rockin’ Jimmy & The Brothers of the Night on Pilgrim Records. That lineup included Walt Richmond (Eric Clapton, The Tractors) on keys and the amazing Steve “Doc” Hickerson on guitar. Eric Clapton recorded the song “Little Rachel,” also written by Byfield and this stellar group of groove merchants.

Dustin Pittsley – guitar/vocals
Paul Benjaman – guitar/backing vocals
Aaron Boehler - bass
Paddy Ryan – drums/backing vocals
Jesse Aycock – guitar
Sarah Frick – backing vocals


MONA SWEET MONA – Written by David Teegarden, Sr and Skip “Van Winkle” Knape. Released in 1970 on the self-titled album Teegarden & Van Winkle on Westbound Records. This dynamic duo hit it big in the Detroit scene in the 60s and 70s before eventually joining forces with Bob Seger. Teegarden, Sr went on to also work with JJ Cale, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, and others.

Paul Benjaman – guitar/backing vocals
Corey Mauser - keys
Aaron Boehler - bass
Matt Teegarden – drums
Jesse Aycock – guitar

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Horton Records Tulsa, Oklahoma

Horton Records is a non-profit, 501c-3 music organization based in Tulsa, OK that is dedicated to the cultivation and development of Tulsa area artists and building on the great tradition of music from that region, while fostering and strengthening community through musical endeavors. ... more

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