Riley “Grandma’s Roadhouse”

I’m a long time fan of the perfect hair, boozy lamentations, and sorrowful, wavering croon of popular country music’s tragic superstar, Gary Stewart. When I heard Delmore Recordings had unearthed one of Gary’s first projects, a 500 LP hand-stamped private-pressed recording from after-hour sessions at Bradley’s Barn in 1970, well, who could resist.

Nashville writing partners and recording assistants, Gary Stewart (who would hit it big in the later 70s with “She’s Acting Single, I’m Drinking Doubles” and “Drinkin’ Thing”) and Bill Eldridge invited Michigan’s Riley Watkins, Jim Snead, and Jim Noveskey to experiment during their free time at the Barn. Nashville Scene does an excellent service to the rest of Riley’s story, although, I can’t agree their music is very commercial in sound. Roadhouse may be one of the scratchiest demos I have yet to hear from the early country-rock (as Delmore calls it “headneck”) genre. These are scant, dusty archive recordings (“Daddy’s Come Home” even mildly garbled by tape flutter). Riley’s sound is more on par with what came from suburban garages in the early 60s than anything ever recorded in Music City USA; naturally I’m completely in to the record.

The sound is somewhere between The Band’s americana, heady jams and headstrong vocals of Moody Blues, CSN-tinged harmonies, Link Wray’s chicken shack (in this case “Funky Tar Paper Shack”), and down-home southern vibe you’ll find in bands like Goose Creek and Wheatstraw-era Dillards. For Stewart fans, the highlight is Gary’s big vox on his own “Drinkin’ Them Squeezins,” an early nod to his secret formula. Big kudos to Delmore for digging this up from nowhere; I’ll never tire of excellent unheard reissues from this era. Keep em coming!

Get some more at whenyouawake.

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“Field Of Green”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2010 | Delmore |  buy from delmore ]
:D CD Reissue | 2010 | Delmore Recordings |  buy  @ delmore ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • thevandalstookmyhandle

    Absolutely fantastic! Thanks for the continuing education.

  • Cosmic_American

    Awesome, I’ve been in love with Gary Stewart ever since i picked up his classic LPs Out of Hand and Your Place or Mine. Thanks so much for sharing…I already bought my copy!

  • Drinkin’ Them Squeezins, nice song

  • Rob

    Stumbled on this blog by accident, ended up ordering this Riley LP and bidding on a few others via links. This is my favorite music, the psych/ americana/ garage genre, and you guys are doing a killer job at highlighting some standouts. Please keep it up!

  • cary baker

    you hear the Moody Blues; I hear Moby Grape and Creedence, as the Nashville Scene piece says. the sound is like what came out of recording studios in the late ’60s, not the early ’60s; and the tape flutter you hear is likely the result of the lack of master tapes for the record. Bradley’s Barn was a pretty top-notch facility in 1970. the music sounds pretty commercial to me if you’re listening with an ear to rock of that era, not country music.


  • Brendan

    I’m sure the Barn was a top-notch facility by then, but this record sounds like it was recorded without the benefit of the usual top-notch engineers and top-notch session players. The songs are good and catchy, but the sound is rough and arrangements are bare. Compare this to the Beau Brummels’ Bradley’s Barn and it sounds like a demo.

  • Jim Noveskey

    This recording was produced from demo tapes and the like because the masters were lost in a fire at bradleys barn. I had a few tapes in boxs and we were fortunate to have Mark Linn locate what he could. Sorry the quality is not perfect but the band (Riley ) had an energy on stage that was contageous. Working with gary was like a wonderful dream. Back in Michigan we were earning 2 to 3 times what our friends made in the UAW car plants in the area because we rocked their butts off and packed every gig to the walls. Thank you for the Kind words and recognition.
    Jim Noveskey

  • Len Liechti

    Yep, I’m getting Creedence from this too, but not sure where you’re getting the Moodies, B! (Never any rough edges on their stuff!) The boozy roughness of these tracks – accidental or otherwise – is part of their charm. I’d venture that a certain Mr Sid Griffin might have had this stuff subliminally on board when he kickstarted the cowpunk movement with the Long Ryders. Used to be a fairsize Gary Stewart fan; must dig out my old vinyl Gary compilation again sometime . . .

  • Brendan

    ok busted. something about Riley’s grand vocals made my gut go Moody Blooze.. but to be honest, apart from a dusty 8-track I found in my parent’s attic many years ago, I haven’t really ever listened to the moodies. chalk that lousy comparison up to laziness.

    fwiw, i don’t hear much creedence.

    @Jim Noveskey: thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I think the sound quality is right on the money. Haven’t heard much like it and it’s a serious grower. Nice nice work.

  • Jason

    I’ve listened to this album quite a bit the past few days….its real good. “You Been Cheatin’ On Me Honey” is amazing….I may have to put together another country rock podcast….

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