Lonnie Mack “The Hills of Indiana”

Hills of Indiana

Probably due to the success of The Band, starting in 1970 a slew of rockabilly and rhythm and blues artists diverged from the sound that gave them a name in the 60s and released at least one kick ass roots rock album. File Hills of Indiana on the same shelf.

Lonnie Mack’s 1971 outing may not slay listeners the first time around like Bobby Charles or Link Wray, though it reels in that familiar mix of blues, soul, & country rock. Indiana finds Lonnie trading his guitar slinger/blues-instrumental persona for gentler roots rock with touches of gospel and even straight bluegrass – Uncle Pen is a faithful rendition of the Bill Monroe number. He shows good taste with versions of Bob Dylan’s Man In Me, Carole King’s A Fine Way To Go, and Mickey Newbury’s She Even Woke Up To Say Goodbye. There are five originals (cowrote with Don Nix) with some fine cuts in Motown-inspired trucker ode Asphalt Outlaw Hero, the low-key and orchestrally ornamented Florida, and album closers All Good Things Will Come To Pass and Three Angels.

The album’s production is a touch on the clean side, edging near schmaltzy, and closer to Dale Hawkin’s pro-studio approach than Wray’s chicken shack. This kills only a little appeal for this near classic record, still worth a spot in any Americana collection.

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:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Elektra | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download @ amazon ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • Louder than Milk

    Great choice. A superb guitarist was Mack with underrated bluesy, gospel vocals. His 2 late 60s Elektra albums are well worth a listen too.

  • W

    He was a great guitar player, and this isn’t bad country rock either. Very cool to hear. Thanks. W.

  • David Williamson

    He uses to stop down at my dad’s boat when I was a little boy in Aurora IN. I remember him playing country roads for me. And anytime Lonnie would come down to the harbor Bob’s wife Evelyn would want him to play Rocky top. It was such fun times back then I was about six or seven, so that was 1972, to 74, 36 years ago, man where has the time gone. My dad was president of the Eagles in one of Cincinnati’s chapters and they would have these big parties pig in the ground, keg of beer on ice. And Steve, Bob and Evelyn’s son would get his guitar out and they would play all kinds of music just sitting on a picnic table. They had a boat (Bob and Evelyn) next to us called the High Moon and Lonnie and Steve did a song about it, it was fun to hear them put it together. There would be about 30 to 40 people I would gather firewood for the 8×8 fire pit we use to have. The Harbor was called Pier 50 or it may have been called Coppers Marina still that far back. Dan Harley use to own it I think, but my father and mothers gone now, so I can’t ask anyone anymore.

  • John Berg

    David, did you ever catch any performances by Aurora singer-guitarist Ralph Trotto? Ever since reading one of Lonnie Mack’s interviews where he talks about taking lessons from Ralph, I longed to hear his music. In 1991 I was in the Cincinatti area on business so made a point of going by Ralph’s home, spending several hours there — alas by that time he was bed ridden in a coma, the result of a car accident a couple years earlier, and his wife was taking care of him with help from visiting nurses. She was kind enough to let me make cassette copies of a couple of Ralph’s albums, plus a tape of him playing in his living room, likely the last thing he ever recorded. More recently, I was able to connect with a very kind gentleman who used to take lessons from Ralph; he sent me CD-R copies of all of Ralph’s gospel albums, along with a disc of Ralph playing/singing live at my friend’s home. Marvelous music! I also have a super tape of Lonnie going a live gig at the Wintergarden club circa 1962, including an early version of Memphis and a “killer” slow blues instrumental. When Lonnie toured in Seattle in 1989, I asked him about a possible release of that tape, and he said, ‘ah, I’ve got lots of that kind of stuff
    , nobody wants to hear that old shit’ and that was the end of that conversation. But of course there are a lot of people who would like to hear “that old shit”. I’d be glad to make a copy for you — post a note here if you are interested.

    John Berg, Seattle area

  • David Williamson

    Sure John Thanks, and as far as knowing Ralph Trotto I have to say no not as an adult, although Lonnie had friends sometimes that would come down to the boat, but I was just a kid. Sadly I didn’t pay much attention to the grown ups to much except Lonnie because I thought he looked cool. He looked like he dose on the hills of Indiana album, and he reminded me of Grizzly Adams a little bit, so when I would come up to him he would ask me what song he would like me to play for me. One time I told him Miss American Pie, I think it’s called the day the music died. I remember singing it with him it was so cool I thought it was cool that he could just play songs people would ask him to play. I can recall a time my dad and I were talking about knowing anybody famous and he said hell yeh dam it boy, don’t you remember Lonnie, and I said Lonnie from down at the boat? he said yeh you’d sit in his lap when you were little and me and my dad lol, I said in amazement Lonnie’s famous, now remember I’m a kid that went through my teens starting to listen to Ozzy Osborne and Ronnie James Dio, and Led Zeppelin. Now at this time I’m about thirty something and I thought to myself he is kidding me, because he seemed (Lonnie) so down to earth I just thought he was friends of the family or an Eagles member. lol So I went to work one day after my dad and I talked and I ask a few older co-workers about Lonnie and they were surprised I knew him. They said you knew him? and I told them yeh I’ve sat in his lap before, and Tom my co-worker he’s about 60 or so said is this the Lonnie that you told me about a few years back? and I said yes, and he said I didn’t know it was Lonnie Mack. We laughed about it, and Jim my supervisor at the time, brought in a few of his albums and then I was surprised. I told them I never realized who he was until my dad told me. And I’m glad my dad and I talked about it, because it would have taken until the 1990’s until I would have figured it out when I started listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and herd that he liked Lonnie Mack a lot, (another sad thing discovering Stevie after his death) but then again I probably wouldn’t have connect the dots, because Lonnie always had his acoustic guitar with him when he was down at the harbor. I didn’t even know he could play like he dose (whit an electric) on those albums I have, he is super bad in a very great way. He use to play a lot of stuff people asked him to play and that was stuff like John Denver Arlo Guthrie I think, like I said I didn’t pay to much attention and wish I did.

  • Jenny Awad

    hi David..we have found a couple of ralphTrotto Albums and have put them on a CD..what a talent to have in our town of Aurora. Ralphs poor wife lives in poverty in Cochran. He sings as if he was a sighted person.

  • Lisa M Zwinger

    My father is the nephew of Ralph Trotto. Would love to get copies of any of his recordings. please email me back. If you can help him

  • John Berg

    Lisa, email me at johntbergATgmailDOTcom and we can discuss my sending you CD copies of Ralph’s albums.

  • I knew Ralph Trotto. He used too play at all the Church Revivals. I was just a teenager trying to learn to play guitar by getting together with players in Rising Sun, Indiana. Someone would bright Ralph up to play with us. I can think of no greater honor for the man as an artist than for someone to post his some of his music on the Internet. I has been a very long time. I would love to hear him again.

  • RRalph

    John iam ralphs cousin and would love the tapes or cds I will email you if it is still the same emailo

  • Lisa Zwinger

    My dads name is Lloyd Probst would like to have copies of any cd’s of Ralph Trotto music.

  • Ralph Starkey

    Lisa my mother Jessie Caplinger gave me your mother Jessie correct? As a person who would have them.There is also Dale Day and Joe and Suzy Owens that may have them all.I have been looking for them for mom,she lost all hers in a fire just a few years ago and really wants to hear them again.My email is starkeybuddy@yahoo.com

  • sherry

    I remember listening to Ralph at my uncle Grady’s house in Elizabethton TN too many years ago. Would love to purchase any recordings anyone might have.

  • John Berg

    Sherry, I’ll see what I can do to put some of Ralph Trotto’s music on disc for you — may have to wait until after Christmas though. Send me your postal address and we’ll do our best to get some CDs to you soon, OK?

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