Git it

After years of detective work, Gene Vincent's Lost Dallas Sessions resurface

But by April 1958, Gomez quit the band and returned to school. Like all of the Blue Caps before him, he had burned out.

In May 1957, before Vincent moved to Dallas, the Blue Caps were touring through town and ended up at the North Dallas home of the mother of former oilman Tom Fleeger, who had gotten himself involved in the music business. Fleeger was representing a Dallas songwriter named Bernice Bidwell, who had written a song called "Lotta Lovin'," and he somehow convinced Vincent to stop over at his mother's house on Sherry Lane and demo the song. He also got Vincent to try out another song Bidwell had written, "In My Dreams," plus Mary Tarver's "Nervous," which later became a hit for Gene Summers.

During the course of tracking down Vincent information, Dennard stumbled across Fleeger's tapes and got his permission to put them on an album with the Sellars demos. That gave Dennard material for 11 tracks, but not enough for a full-length disc. Only after many more months of detective work would Dennard discover that the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville was sitting on acetate transcriptions of old Big "D" Jamboree broadcasts--featuring, among others, Carl Perkins, Ronnie Dawson, and Gene Vincent--which had been recorded by the Army and sent to troops overseas. (The Army also recorded the Old Dominion Barn Dance, the Louisiana Hayride, and other regional country and rockabilly shows from the 1950s.)

Yet Dennard could never negotiate a deal with the Hall of Fame to license and release the tapes, and he left Nashville frustrated. "I got really fed up with them," Dennard says. "So I finally said, I'm going to go to Washington, D.C., because I heard in talking to the Library of Congress that they had an entire set, and all you have to do is book some time and go in, and they'd play them for you."

In the Library's basement, Dennard discovered just what he was looking for: at least 15 minutes of Vincent and the Blue Caps live at the Sportatorium, performing "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On,'" "Dance to the Bop," "Lotta Lovin'," and the immortal "Blue Jean Bop." After hours of listening to each disc and unearthing the tracks, Dennard finally had enough to put on his Vincent CD--all he had to do was convince Michael Bullington to let him release the music. It was a done deal, and within weeks, Dennard received from the Library of Congress a Federal Express package with digital audiotapes featuring the Vincent performances. All it cost him was $600.

Interestingly, the date of the Big "D" Jamboree performance, according to the information Dennard has, was October 24, 1958--the same time Vincent biographers have him in Hollywood cutting his final Capitol sessions. Indeed, there are still questions about who's playing on some of the tracks. But Dennard's lucky enough to have the music, much less the names of the musicians who play on the long-lost tracks. Vincent, of course, isn't around to confirm the information: He died of ulcer trouble in L.A. on October 12, 1971.

Dennard hopes at some point to release an entire set of discs featuring all the Big "D" Jamboree material, including many of the artists, famous and obscure, who graced the Sportatorium stage. But for now, he's content to present one final piece of the puzzle that was Gene Vincent's life and music, releasing the disc in the States on Dragon Street and abroad on Roller Coaster. "I should do a book, I've got so much stuff on the Big 'D' Jamboree," he says. "I've got movies, I've got pictures, I've got shows. It's wild. It'll blow your mind. All of this has been a labor of love, maybe one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life."

Scene, heard
Speaking of rockabilly legends, Ronnie Dawson's new record, a live album cut in January at the Continental Club in Austin, will be released early in April. Featuring all the should-be hits and then some, the disc will be released by the Austin-based Continental Records, home to 8 1/2 Souvenirs, and there will be limited distribution. Also, Dawson's "Yum Yum Yum" is featured in Primary Colors, during a backyard barbecue scene...

Caulk will celebrate the release of its third album, Imaginary Enemy, with a handful of upcoming shows, beginning with a gig on March 27 at the Curtain Club with Baboon and Fixture. On April 3, they'll play Rick's Place with One Ton labelmate Slow Roosevelt and Fixture, who will share the bill with Caulk the following night at the Aardvark. We like the record just fine--it, oh, rocks--but we're even more fond of the publicity photo that refers to Caulk frontman and One Ton Records boss Aden Holt as Dean Brodie...

Hard to believe, but the Vas Deferens Organization will play publicly for the first time ever--well, aside from a little "fucking around" several years ago, says VDO co-frontman Matt Castille--March 27 at the Orbit Room. The band will open for Chrome, the band fronted by prog guru Helios Creed. Denton's Light Bright Highway will also share the bill.

Send Street Beat tips, gripes, and pipe bombs to rwilonsky@dallasobserver.com.

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