Friday, May 23, 2008

Hey y'all~

I'd love ANY feedback about Jerry Henry's PLANET WEEKLY article
or this review by Ben Windham.
Both have flaws. Jerry wants Jimmy Dean to be from B'ham and Ben wants Wilbur to act like Citizen Kane and call his album
Mr. Rosebud.


I'm gonna build a nice post with these two articles and you can't imagine how much fun it was today telling Wilbur that
he made the cover of Planet Weekly Magazine and TUSK, the entertainment supplement of Friday's Tuscaloosa News.

& even more satisfying was putting both publications in a manila envelope & mailing it to Wilbur in Dothan this afternoon just before the post office closed.

Shoot me some of your impressions of Wilbur's latest work!!!!

RIGHT NOW, so I can use it in my big post tonight.


Walton back after almost 40 years

By Ben Windham
Tusk Writer
May 23, 2008


'Mr. Rosebud' (EP)

(Playground Records)

Greg Haynes' mighty book, 'The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music,' is the last word on the rock and blue-eyed soul bands that ruled the Deep South in the 1960s. One of the best of these groups, The James Gang, hailed from Dothan.

The band had a regional hit called 'Georgia Pines' in 1965. It was — and still is — a great recording, deftly written and beautifully sung. Almost anyone who grew up in the South during the mid-60s is likely to remember it:

The trees grow tall

Where I come from

Their leaves are thin and fine ...

Vocalist Wilbur Walton Jr. was one of the main reasons for its success. His expressive baritone seemed to capture every nuance of the lyric about lost love, small-town life and the Southern countryside.

Walton, who has been missing in action for almost four decades, is back, and that's a cause for celebration. And also some reminiscing.

As a singer, he seemed in that rarefied league with Roy Orbison, someone who could convey deep emotion over a wide vocal range in the compressed context of a pop song.

The Orbison connection is germane to Walton's story. It began in the early 1960s with a band named The Webs that songwriter/producer Buddy Buie managed. The Webs backed up Orbison at a one-night stand and he was blown away. For the next two years, he used The Webs as his backup band, rechistening them The Candymen as a reference to his bluesy hit record 'Candy Man.'

The original singer for The Webs was a kid named Bobby Goldsboro. Losing his band to Orbison, he went out on his own and eventually charted some sappy but lucrative hits like 'Honey' and 'Watching Scotty Grow.'

Buie, meanwhile, was casting around for another band to manage. He took Walton and bassist Jimmy Dean from a re-formed version of The Webs and added three members of The Ramrods from Birmingham: drummer Fred Guarino, keyboardist Bubba Latham and lead guitarist Johnny Mulkey. They became The James Gang.

A caveat: This James Gang has no relation to the band of the same name that included Joe Walsh, a future member of The Eagles. For a couple of years, this Alabama James Gang was one of the biggest bands on the Southern party circuit.

'Georgia Pines' sold well and so did a second recording, 'The Right String Baby but the Wrong Yo-Yo,' written by Atlanta's Willie Perryman, a.k.a. Piano Red.

The group never was able to break nationally, however, and it disbanded in 1967. Still, Walton hung onto the name and continued to take bookings.

Tuscaloosa's Johnny Wyker, who led the fabled Rubber Band, found himself in the same situation. He tells a funny story about agreeing to form a dummy band with Walton. Depending on bookings, some nights they would play as The Rubber Band, and some nights they'd be The James Gang.

As long as the engagements were far apart, the plan worked pretty well, Wyker writes on his Web site. But one holiday season found them booked back-to-back at the same club, first as The James Gang and then as The Rubber Band.

Somehow, they managed to get out of it but 'I'm sure there was some fast talkin' involved and some fast cars too,' Wyker writes.

Walton was going through a bad time, he writes. Some nights he would be too juiced to sing. He'd claim that the P.A. system was broken and tell the band to play some instrumentals until he got his act together.

Walton has been off the scene for a long, long time. This month, however, he emerged with his first recording in 37 years, a four-track extended play CD titled 'Mr. Rosebud.' And if it's not exactly 'Georgia Pines,' it's surprisingly good.

It was recorded at Valpariso, Fla.'s, famed Playground Studios, which produced soul, garage, psychedelic and Southern rock for 20 years beginning in the late 1960s. Recently reopened and revitalized, with an anthology titled 'Soul Resurrection, Vol. 1' devoted to some of the awesome talent that passed through there, Playground has gained a whole new audience.

Walton's EP isn't quite as retro as you might expect. A couple of the cuts, 'Lonely Song' and 'You'll Smile Again,' are soul-country, in the same vein as 'Georgia Pines' (though possibly a little less rocky). But the other two tracks, 'Johnny' and 'Mr. Rosebud,' are like something off a Steely Dan album.

The lyrics are elliptical; unlike 'You'll Smile Again,' when Walton seems to be singing reminders to himself ('The years and the wine/Sure took their toll/The feet that were once steady/Now aren't so bold ...'), the two Steely-ish songs are impressionist, open to interpretation.

'Johnny,' in fact, almost sounds like a studio jam, with stream-of-consciousness lyrics:

A vapor

Vanishing vapor … a vapor

A trip

Johnny on a trip ... a trip

Johnny at his worst … hey hey hey

But it's surprisingly effective. The backup, which includes Walton's old band mate Jimmy Dean on bass, David Adkins on piano and guitars and John Seals or Warren Meigs on drums, is tight and hard, with more than a passing resemblance to the Steely Dan studio band that cut the 'Katy Lied' album.

The title cut is somewhat more focused lyrically but it's still open and suggestive:

It's been so long since I've seen you

I think perhaps you're not coming

Or have been detained at the coast

As for me things are going quite smooth

There are other fields you know

I've got a friend on an island ...

Physically, Walton changed quite a bit since the James Gang days. Gone are the slick hair and the tailored, collarless leather suit. He wears a patch over his right eye these days. His hair is longish and unkempt. He looks gaunt and weathered.

But Walton still can sing. His voice has gotten deeper and darker over time. If some of its supple power is gone, he remains a master of nuance and inflection.

People who are curious may get a good look at Walton in a recent concert in Dothan with a group calling itself 'The Strange Gang,' (featuring Buie, no less) on You Tube (

If you want to get deeper into Walton's new incarnation, however, I recommend the new EP. It may be hard to find in stores, but it's available on the Internet. It's probably destined to rank as one of the Southern musical comebacks of the year.


A member of the Chukker Nation got buried today.

Used to, we'd tell you how many it was but after it got to be over 100 we gave up on that stuff.

I remember when this cat showed up in the Chukker in the early 70s.
He was absolutely a body double for Jan Michael Vincent.
Trouble was, Jan Michael Vincent was hanging out in Tuscaloosa during the filming of HOOPER.

This little cat was 24. Jan Michael Vincent was 34.
Our Chukker cat won the nookie avalanche around that time.

The S.O.B. used to come up to me and tell me who he was gonna pick up while letting me know I never had a chance.

Not only that, he pushed me furthur than anyone else ever has &
I avoided violence.

He'd get up in my face when he'd gotten down to
the bicycle stage &
raise hell with me but I'd pop him with two flat
(hope yo' head don't find a sharp corner)
& we'd git along


This cat who got buried today was a nightmare.

One day he was driving down McFarland Boulevard near DEATH & he decided he needed ME!

He showed up on my door step & said, "I was riding down McFarland Boulevard & I thought, 'Who could help me?' &

"So what's the promblim?," I axed.

"I was shooting coke & I broke the needle off in my arm."

(Right then, I knew I had a potential corpse on my hands)

"Leon, you need to go to the doctor in Northport."

"I can't go to the hospital! They'll arrest me!"

[this was way before DCH bought Northport, so Northport was different]

I told him, "You have only one option.
You have to get your Daddy to back you on his insurance & you have to go to Northport or you will
go skraight to jail."

Oh, hell, he bitched & moaned about that but he did it.

Here's what happened...

They strap him down & the doctor tells him he can't help him.
The only way my friend can get help is from a born-again DOPEHATING CHRISTIAN plastic surgeon who proceeds to walk in & say,"Well, Mr. Leon, you're a tough guy!"

Leon goes,"No sir, I'm not a tough guy."

Born again!~bible beater~ plastic surgeon sez, "You must be. You take poison & stick it into your veins with dirty syringes. I have no idea what you're on right now so I cannot give you anesthesia."

At that moment, the plastic surgeon took the scalpel in his hand & opened all of the inside of my Chukker associate's elbow.

About that shirt....
I actually kept that thing until about ten years ago. It quit fitting me long before that. I think the photo was taken by Frank Gaines at the 1890 night club in Dothan.

Charlie used to con me into buying the nuttiest stuff to wear onstage. When I first joined the group, he talked me into buying maroon bell-bottom pants that were so flared at the bottom I couldn't walk in them. After we started working for BJ, I gave it up and went to jeans and cowboy shirts.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Ya beat me to it. I found this pic last week & tweaked it a lil to send to you & never did. Anyways, here's the lightened version...I was surprised to see curtains in the background...and ya gotta love the shirts Jimmy & Charlie have on!!

David Adkins, John Rainey Adkins, Charlie Silva, Jimmy Dean

Billy Gibbons~

Muchas to Robert Nix for forwarding this to you.

I have a request.

I want you to give a shout out to KEASLER KEYS (cheap sunglasses would be appropriate)
During your gig tomorrow night at the Wharf.

My son, Christopher Register 205-393-5033, will be in the audience along with at least 3 of KEASLER KEYS pall bearers.
KEASLER KEYS was a Tuscaloosa County Wildcat Senior '08 who was killed in a car wreck near the high school on May 1, 2008.

My son would love to hear from you.
He's already seen you in B'ham & New Orleans.
He has pristine covers of the ELIMINATOR & AFTERBURNER albums professionally framed on the wall of his 1862 double pen dogtrot cabin.

If you get a minute give him a call.

Please spend a few more moments to read about the KEASLER KEYS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS at Tuscaloosa's YMCA camp.

Robert Register

Please take time to look at this sample from my blog

Robert ,

I can't get Chris all-access but did meet Billy Gibbons in New Orleans at Jazz Fest one year. It was aboard THE PRESIDENT riverboat during a concert by Bonnie Ratt and Little Feat and they ROCKED . I was wandering around the boat after a trip up to the top of the ship for a little "pause ", and just asked a fella if I could sit for a second to get my bearings . When I sat , I did a double take , introduced myself , and sure enough , it was himself . A really nice guy with a great attitude and an all-time great musician .

Best ,
David A.

I have met the ZZTop characters,
and they are,
nice guys.

(No Subject)
From: William Arthur Wheatley (
Thu 5/22/08 1:03 PM
Robert Register (

We're going to Katherine Wheatley's concert in Lynn, PA. I have one of her CD's. She great! She may even be a relative. Her family and mine came from the same part of England, so the odds are good, but we have not yet established the family connection. I'll keep you posted.

William Arthur Wheatley

The Wheatley Companies (SM)

The Waco Ramblers will be at JAVA and JAMS in Birmingham tonight 9:00. Java and Jams is semi downtown maybe somewhere close to 10th ave.. Further info can be found at
If you could, would you email your friends in BHam and pass this info along... for anyone who goes and doesn't enjoy themselves, I'll personally refund the price of admission.. (contact the
It will be a good gig.. Records & Merch's will be available..
Thanks a Bunch...
The Blogspot is still a Happenin' item...
Keep up the good work!

Do you have a phone number?
Best wishes,

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1:59 AM
Subject: RE: Alabama Blues Project Update - Winter 2007


Tell Willie that I used to teach with Louie Coleman's daughter and that I know all the rules because Simon Dunn taught me.

I started asking around about electric guitars in juke joints & my old buddy told me that the first blues artists he saw using electric guitars were Muddy Waters & Howling Wolf when they played the Ace Club over in the West End in the early Sixties.

He says the piano & the acoustic guitar were the main instruments at the house parties.

My friend still works but he hangs out with that bunch that plays dominoes at the shack on the 2600 block of 21st Street just east of Radio Cab at the foot of Peanut Hill by the railroad tracks. He hangs out with all those old cats who sit in chairs beside that old house the fire department just burned down.
Now those boys would get you doing your homework on Alabama blues!


P.S. Bootlegging in Tuscaloosa was controlled by people like Mem Tierce & Dee Cunningham but in Greene County a black guy was MR. BIG. His name was Landis(?) Brown. Sam Wainwright told me he walked into over 20 stills in Greene County while he was surveying a straight line for I 20-59 back in the late Fifties/early Sixties.

Subject: Re: Alabama Blues Project Update - Winter 2007
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 19:12:32 -0600

Dear Robert,
I am so happy you are interested in the John Sayles (director) and Maggie Renzi (producer) film that we are bringing to the Bama - and your interest in the blues culture thing!
There is so much important work that needs to be done in this area. Everyone has studied mississippi blues until the cows come home but have over looked Alabama - big time.
I attached my MA thesis (its not too long!) - it is an oral history study that gives a little glimpse and suggestive of the blues culture that has been here all along the way. I know a little VERY LITTLE but some about Dothan because I did an interview with Eddie Kirkland that spent his early life there and got his start in juke joints in that area.
Sadly, so little has been done on Tuscaloosa. Big Bo mentions juke joints in Tuscaloosa...I hope its in my paper...if not I can go back to my interview with him. He mentions an area along the rail road tracks somewhere in Tuscaloosa that had several juke houses.
It is a mistake to think that have juke joints has anything to do with things being wet or dry. During prohibition Alabama was one of the bigest producers of illigal whiskey.
I hear story after story about the underground economy that African Americans created in prohibition and in dry counties.... through the 20s 30s 40s and 50s to this day - where the sherrif gets a kickback from the juke joint owners and still owners. Willie King has lots of those stories himself...he made moon shine, had a juke joint in Pickens co .....I know of lots of old blues players from that county many of them now dead. People had house parties (turned their own homes in to juke joints). Willie's grandmother had a juke joint in Pickens co. Sadly we haven't got a lot of information about Tuscaloosa county...but I know they existed - and even in my 30 years here they have existed.
The history dept is hoping to do some work on this area so if you have any ideas of people to talk to let please let us know! It is so important that this stuff is uncovered and the only way is by talking to the old folks.
Best wishes,
Debbie bond
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2007 11:44 PM
Subject: RE: Alabama Blues Project Update - Winter 2007

Robert Register here.

I love Love LOVE everything I've seen on this Honeydripper movie.
I'm gonna do my homework on this one but here's the thing that jumped out at me right off the bat.

I'm from Dothan & Dothan has almost always been Wet & has always had "colored juke joints" & my buddies from Dothan were some of the first white musicians to play the blues in these clubs in the mid-Sixties & I used to go down to Baptist Bottom on the weekends to watch my friends play. Nobody ever carded us white boys and we were always welcome.

One mo' thang, my Uncle Frank owned a candy/fireworks/beauty aids/novelties company in Americus, GA and I worked with him in the summers in the early Sixties so I visited a lot of "colored juke joints" & pool halls during the daytime hours when I was in my early teens.

Which brings me to Tuscaloosa...
As far as I know, in the early fifties, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE "COLORED JUKE JOINT" IN TUSCALOOSA.
Of course, that's understandable when you consider that Tuscaloosa was dry until '56 but the scene in this town was at the "house parties" & the Tuscaloosa Police Department did a land office business in busting up the house parties over in "colored quarters."

I know some old heads in the community who can give me more information on this.

I'm gonna do my homework so you can give Mr.Sayles & his ladyfriend some good information when they come to town.

My uncle Frank owned a candy company so I got to visit all kinds of pool halls

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I found a photobucket account full of our stuff so I dipped into
I thought y'all might dig...




David & Wilbur

Clayton & Jimmy







Jimmy Dean, Wilbur Walton Jr., Robert Dean


David, Wilbur, Robert, Clayton



I remember a story about an Alabama state trooper from
the 70's. He took his patrol car to the state
motorpool to get a tuneup, and a bag of marijuana was
found in his glove compartment. So he was charged with
possession and hauled to court. When the judge asked
why he had the marijuana, the trooper replied "I never
know when I might need to plant it on someone."

Take care,

Robert ,
I can't get Chris all-access but did meet Billy Gibbons in New Orleans at Jazz Fest one year. It was aboard THE PRESIDENT riverboat during a concert by Bonnie Ratt and Little Feat and they ROCKED . I was wandering around the boat after a trip up to the top of the ship for a little "pause ", and just asked a fella if I could sit for a second to get my bearings . When I sat , I did a double take , introduced myself , and sure enough , it was himself . A really nice guy with a great attitude and an all-time great musician .

Best ,
David A.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

These are pix with Billy Gibbons. He was great. He's like Justo. He's remembers everything about our tours together.

image courtesy of

Had to change my routine this week.

Z.Z. is playing at the Wharf this weekend and my son Christopher has tickets.
(Y'all gotta touch that Network & git MY LITTLE BOY
FULL ACCESS backstage Friday night fo' Z. Z. at the Wharf)

One of his buddies got his parents' beach house between the lagoon and the gulf in Gulf Shores beginning Tuesday night.

Christopher has kinda been adopted by a family in Mobile. He's cut school and gone to like 4 Mardi Gras's straight.
One time they put a color picture of him begging for beads on the cover of the Sunday edition of the Mobile Register while he was supposed to be in skrewl.

That could have been embarrassing but, THANK GOD,
nobody found out.


So he got to go down to Mobile early this week to hang out with his Fairhope & Mobile friends.

So I'm supposed to be staying out at Y's Acres this week as security for the day camp.
Christopher wants me to help him keep a good gig going because his 19 year old ass has been living out there alone in that big 1862 double pen dogtrot cabin since October of '06. (the squared & notched logs are 12 to 14 inches thick & are stacked ten high)

I didn't get out there last night but I got up early this morning and checked out the camp.

My son's home for more than the past year and a half is ABSOLUTELY SUPERB!

You drive up to unlock the gate & you hear the water running over the rocks right to the left of you.

I went out there this evening & Christopher wanted me to turn on
because the late Keasler Keys
helped Christopher put the Christmas lights up last year.

I had a weird feeling walking around this ancient almost 150 year old cabin.

I walked across the beautiful steel cable suspension bridge over the creek in Christopher's backyard & enjoyed the sundown.

Then I walked downstream to where the small creek joins the big one.
Animal tracks were everywhere in the sand.

You can stand on the sand bank at the creeks' junction and get stereo water going over rocks racket.

Then I walked back up the hill from the creek through the woods & when I came to the clearing I saw THE KEASLER KEYS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
and right then I decided the cabin would always be a memorial to Keasler Keys, an 18 yr. old cat I met at my 58th birthday lunch
& who died less than 48 hours later.

I called Christopher at the beach to tell him I turned Keasler Keys Christmas lights on.

He was pleased.

Then I said, "You know they say your buddy who got plugged saw something he wasn't supposed to see."

"Yeah, I just heard that too."

"Well, tell everybody to put all of his hoodlum friends at the top of their list."

"I will."

One of the things I've always done with my son is to NEVER EVER
give him too much information.

I tell him about the world when I feel like he's ready to deal with it.

The whole time he was growing up I told him about all the little money making schemes I had at Cloverdale & Young Jr.

While he was in high school, I shared a few more Dothan Tiger secrets.

Knowing my son is happy with
is about the greatest thing a father could ever want.

It's better to be coming down than to have never been high at all.
-- Mal Function
Wanta yak with the Capn? Click on:

Give them what they want. Give them their money's worth.
-- skypilotclub motto
SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2008

The new issue of HERITAGE, the magazine of the Colorado Historical Society, has a great article by Steve Grinstead, the magazine editor. The article is about Kesey's birthplace, La Junta, Colorado, and includes good stories about Kesey's family and what it was like living there the first eight years of his life; how and why they moved to Oregon; selections from Kesey's book, Sometimes A Great Notion, for, as you remember, Hank Stamper's wife, Viv, "a dust bowl girl," was from Rocky Ford, Colorado, the Watermelon Capital of the World, just a few miles from La Junta.

"Viv spent her summer days hoeing irrigation trenches through the heat-wearing Colorado melon fields, with her hair prickling her neck . . . " so writes Kesey in the book.

If you would like to order a copy of Heritage and read the whole story, go to:

or write:

Museum Store
Colorado Historical Society
1300 Broadway
Denver CO 80203

or call:


or email:

WONDER WARTHOG Sitting On Top Of A Homeless Crackhead's Stuff While Celebrating Another Eviction~

Homeless GEEK MONSTER'S Apartment In The Alley Behind Church's Chicken~
not exactly designed by MARTHA STEWART...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Maybe you should consider moving to Saudi Arabia. I have walked around the market areas of the cities of that dry (very dry -- no alcohol) country, and noticed that many people park their cars, leave the windows open, and leave money and other valuables laying on the seat. No one dares to steal them.
On my first trip to Saudi Arabia, there were some Pakistanis on the flight going in to labor assignments. The customs dogs sniffed drugs in their satchels. They were arrested and hauled off. They were executed the next day in the public square.
Talk about law and order!

image courtesy of

Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.
Martin Luther (1483-1536)
Your view of money and material possessions is an effective barometer of your spirituality. Wealth is neither good nor bad in itself--corrupt people put it to evil use, Christians can use it for righteous ends. But what you do with the money God gives you is a reflection of your thinking. As Jesus said,
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Hey y'all~

I had quite an adventure with the TALI~BAMA police state this weekend.

Saturday night I was at a horse auction and the stockyard manager walked up to me and asked me if I was Robert Register.

When I said, "Yeah," he handed me his cell phone & I found myself talking to a police officer.

"Are you Robert Register?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

"Well what were you thinking when you left all these powerful drugs laying around in the back of this pickup truck?"

"Sir, what powerful drugs? All I have is some antibiotics and my gout medicine & both bottles are in my doc kit inside my satchel."

"You need to come on down here right now."

"Yes, sir! I'll get a ride right now!"

I had parked my truck on the side of a friend's business located near the stockyard.
The cop told me that under the pretext that my stuff in the back of my pickup looked like "an attempted burglary in progress", he had taken the "liberty" to go into my satchel and search my doc kit.

I got back to my truck and cleared everything up with the cop and I drove off.

The next day I found out that the cop told some folks at the stockyard that my stuff in the back of my pickup looked like "an armed robbery in progress."

Talkin' 'bout parkin' in the wrong place at the wrong time!

The only lessons I took away from this potentially traumatic experience
were that I need to lock everything up all the time &
that there's a whole lot of bad karma associated with my friend's business.

I predict that there will be more to come from this story.

Well, let's talk about good news & the good news is that all of you can NOW click on

& listen to samples of all four of the tunes off of Wilbur's new CD.

MR REDBUD now available on CD Baby
Here's the text on CD Baby
Wilbur Walton Jr
Mr Redbud

© 2008 2008 (796873059640)
CD price: $12.97

CD IN STOCK. ORDER NOW. Will ship immediately.
His 1st release in 37 years. sounding Southern Steely Dan-ish, Rock Country-ish, gospel-ish. WW JR still has the unique, one of a kind, immediately distinguishable vocal. One of The Greats.

In October, 1964, songwriter/record producer Buddy Buie, who was manager of Roy Orbison's backup band The Candymen (originally known as The Webs, which included Bobby Goldsboro as singer) put together a group which he named The James Gang. The band was made up of Wilbur Walton, Jr. and Jimmy Dean from a second version of The Webs that Buddy managed, and Fred Guarino, Bubba Lathem, and Johnny Mulkey, from another of his groups, The Ramrods of Birmingham.

That winter, the group released a couple of songs on United Artists' Ascot label which did well in several markets, hitting big in Birmingham and around the South. A session followed at Fred Foster Studio in Nashville, where the group recorded a Buddy Buie/John Rainey Adkins song, "Georgia Pines". The song did well in the south, the midwest, and several western markets.

"The Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo-Yo", written by William "Piano Red" Perryman, became another regional hit for the group. Other hits included the Northern Soul fave “24 Hours of Loneliness”.

The James Gang signed with the Bill Lowery Agency in Atlanta, which was already booking many other southern acts, including Billy Joe Royal, Joe South, Tommy Roe, The Candymen, The Tams, and The Roemans. Wilbur and the James Gang also toured with and backed up artists John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed, The New Beats, The Everly Brothers and Many more.

The exact number of 45 releases fro the James Gang is unknown but there are at least 25 documented. Wilbur Walton Jr. and The James Gang are prominently featured in Greg Haynes’ book entitled “The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music”.

Wilbur Walton Jr. has taken the stage for the first time in 35 years with the James Gang featuring David Adkins. On his new Playground Records release “Mr. Redbud” he presents 4 NEW songs that give the listener a small glimpse the “Strange Gang” existence. Wilbur’s undeniably unique and immediately identifiable baritone voice along with the lyrically expressionistic Alabama rock guitar and classic southern piano of David Adkins define this record. It’s timeless! Wilbur was a undeniable Rock Star in 1963 as he is NOW in 2008

David Adkins and his legendary brother, guitarist John Rainey Adkins were members of the first Playground Rhythm Section and played on countless records and recordings in music of all genres.

Just 3 words…… WILBUR IS BACK!

The numbers are getting better every day. We're not "viral" yet but we'zzzzzzzzzz workin' on it!

image courtesy of
Rite now Wilbur's got 1406 views on YouTube

Buddy Buie & J.R. Cobb's video from Tommy Wilcox Outdoors using song called THE DAY BEAR BRYANT DIED has 1141 views

image courtesy of


JERRY HENRY features Wilbur in his Planet Weekly
column this week!

It'll hit the stands on Friday.

It's got a few dings but that's a good excuse to run a correction in the next issue so don't have any hard feelings.
This ain't rocket science~ it's free publicity in a biweekly college town rag!

Wilbur Walton Jr. & Playground Studios
are back.......
In the 60's Fort Brandon Armory was one of the few places that presented live music. Many played there, well known and unknown, some great, some good and some bad. One of the better bands to perform there was The James Gang. The lead singer was a student at the University with a great voice, Wilbur Walton, Jr. Keyboardist James "Bubba" Lathem and Walton, both from Dothan, were from a version of The Webs. The rest were from a Birmingham band named The RamRods, John Mulkey on lead guitar, Jimmy Dean played bass and Fred Guarino on drums. The James Gang was formed and managed by songwriter/producer Buddy Buie, who was also manager for Roy Orbison's backup band The Candymen (originally known as The Webs, which included Bobby Goldsboro as singer). Buddy had gotten to know the RamRods while working with Dave Roddy, one of the original Good Guys of Birmingham's WSGN, on the sock hops at Oporto Armory. Buddy later formed and had great success with the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
In the winter of 1964, the group released a couple of songs on United Artist Ascot record label. They were hits in Southern markets especially Birmingham. The group recorded "Georgia Pines" a Buddy Buie/John Rainey Adkins song at Fred Foster Studio in Nashville. "Georgia Pines" was a hit in Southern markets and beyond.
Buddy Buie and his partner Paul Cochran went into business with Atlanta based, Bill Lowery Agency. Lowery was already booking Billy Joe Royal, Joe South, Tommy Roe, The Candymen, The Tams and The Roemans. The James Gang began recording at MasterSound Studio, located in the same building as the Lowery Agency. Another regional hit came when they released "The Right String Baby, Wrong Yo Yo", written by William "Piano Red" Perryman. Another hit was, "Twenty Four Hours of Loneliness."
In 1969 band member changes led to Wilbur singing in front of Jimmy Dean, Fred Guarino and Marvin Taylor, formerly with the K-Otics, on guitar. This four-piece group played for a couple more years continuing to gig carrying on the tradition of being frat party favorites. The exact number of 45 releases from The James Gang is unknown but there is at least 25 documented. Their popularity is prominently featured in Greg Haynes book The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music. In the early 70's another group with Joe Walsh as guitarist and later Tommy Bolin took over The James Gang name. They had several nationwide hits like "Funk #49" and "The Bomber."
Wilbur has taken the stage for the first time in 35 years with the new James Gang featuring David Adkins (David Adkins and his legendary brother, guitarist John Rainey Adkins were members of the first Playground Rhythm Section and played on countless records and recordings in music of all genres.). On his new release Mr. Redbud (Playground Records), he presents 4 new songs that give the listener a small glimpse into his past. Wilbur's voice is still surprisingly strong with his undeniably unique and immediately identifiable baritone sound makes this a true pleasure to listen to. When I received my copy I played nothing but it for 2 days in my car and each time I listened I liked it even better. It truly is a great listen. The lyrically expressionistic Alabama rock guitar and classic southern piano of David Adkins define this project as timeless. I also received a copy of "Georgia Pines" that was recorded at the Andrews Benefit on 4-13-08 with Wilbur and Buddy Buie doing the vocals. This brought back a lot of memories. I have always loved "Georgia Pines" and still have a 45 of the original. Wilbur was a undeniable Rock Star in the 60's and he is now in 2008. Wilbur is back!
Wilbur's album takes on the spirit of the place where it was recorded, Playground Recording Studio. The studio was built by Finley Duncan and Shelby Singleton in 1969. It is located in Valparaiso, a Spanish word meaning “Vale of Paradise”. Valparaiso in surrounded by Eglin Air Force Base and is near Fort Walton Beach.
Singleton had just purchased the legendary Sun Records catalog for his Plantation and SSS International labels. His success with Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley P.T.A.", Johnny Adams' country hit "Reconsider Me" and David Allan Coe's debut album Penitentiary Blues put him in the forefront of Southern music. His success also included Harlow "Waxy" Wilcox's crossover hit "Groovy Grub Worm" and Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson's "Soul Shake."Finley Duncan had produced Johnny Soul among others in Muscle Shoals before partnering with Singleton. Duncan had limited success operating record labels and a jukebox vending business from the 50's but was better know as a nightclub owner. After building the studio he operated his Playground and Minaret labels until his death in 1989.
Jim Lancaster bought the decaying studio in 2005. He had experience with the facility since 1970 as a recording artist, engineer and session player. Lancaster and Stax Records hometown of Memphis supplied the inherent love for soul music. Though the master tapes and 45's he acquired when he purchased the studio contained a rich treasure trove of soul, it also contained music from many more genres, pop, country, blues, rock and roll and some that defied categorization in the almost 3 decades collection. From these he is assembling the Soul Resurrection series.
Soul, indeed, whether it's the smooth crooning of former Motown artist Reuben Howell or the tough, distorted guitar-driven funk of Doris Allen and Big John Hamilton. Len Wade, one of those Southern white boys who emotes like a desperate Otis Redding, turns in the crippling "Everybody's Clown," followed by Jimmy Gresham's "Chasin' a Rainbow," a cut that you'll swear was a hit until you check the credits and find that, like Wade's, it has just seen the light of day for the first time here. There are bluesy instrumentals by Leroy Lloyd and the Dukes, proto party rap from Count Willie (whose "Disco Nights" transports you directly to a neighborhood dance circa '76: "Here's somebody's black Cadillac sittin' over here and I don't mind doin' some leanin', ya understand?") and rough mod soul from Jimmie Nelson.

Lancaster has already begun cutting sessions at the newly restored Playground; with Soul Resurrection it finally takes its rightful place alongside Stax, Fame, Muscle Shoals and Birmingham's Rabbit Factory as yet another Southern studio where magic happened on a daily basis. (They only have a very few of the 1st edition of Soul Resurrection with the 16 page booklet available. When the 1st edition is sold out, it will continue to be available for download. The 2nd edition will be in different packaging when available.. If you are a collector, it's time to buy one of the last of these.)