Bill Lloyd, Danny Wilkerson, Chris Church, & Lannie Flowers
One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Bill Lloyd is a Nashville based songwriter, musician, recording artist and producer who is most often remembered as half of the late ‘80’s RCA country-rock duo, Foster and Lloyd. Lloyd’s diverse musical activities include working as a producer (ranging from Carl Perkins to MTV reality show indie-rockers, The Secret), a session player (from Brit-pop icons like Ray Davies of The Kinks and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze to country legends like Buck Owens and Steve Earle), a sideman (Poco, Marshall Crenshaw and with Cheap Trick when they perform The Beatles Sgt. Pepper with orchestra) and as a songwriter (with songs cut by Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Keith Anderson, Hootie and the Blowfish and many more). He has recorded a string of critically acclaimed solo records that blend his melodic power pop sensibility with finely tuned song craft. During his stint as the Stringed Instrument Curator at The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, he created the quarterly series Nashville Cats, that he continues to host. He’s the music director for the First Amendment Center in Nashville. He also organized and plays in Nashville’s high concept cover band, The Long Players recently profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered.
He’s been a Mayor, a Pickle, and a Pengwin. He’s played music all over the world, sang on a Weird Al Yankovic record, and recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Danny Wilkerson has accomplished quite a bit since he first began playing music at age 13, but there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to check off his bucket list – until now.
But we’ll get back to that in a minute. First, a bit of background on the multi-faceted Mr. Wilkerson.
Like so many musicians, Danny cut his teeth on the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. “I remember seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show,” Danny says, “and at just under 5-years-old, it changed my life. I knew right then what I wanted to pursue in life.”
So Danny and some boyhood pals from Fort Worth, Texas spent their days imitating the Fab Four, playing guitars made out of balsa wood and kite strings, and banging on drum kits fashioned out of hat boxes. From there he began “collecting all things Beatles” and spent all his available time listening to, reading about, and watching them on television. Music was already starting to become his passion.
Danny began learning how to play drums in middle school and received his first drum kit on his 13th birthday. (“It was orange sparkle,” he recalls.) Never one to waste time, he set about forming a band the very next day.
While learning songs for the band, Danny came up with a unique method that would serve him well in later years: “To learn songs, I would put a record on my Longines Symphonette record player, place the speakers behind me and turn it up as loud as I could. Obviously, this was a dinky system with very little power and I couldn’t hear the music over the drums, so I got to the point where I would just sing the songs - lead parts and all - and play along to myself singing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it really helped me down the road to be able to play and sing at the same time.”
While in high school, Danny not only gigged around Texas in several bands, but he also began branching out into other areas of the music biz: he wrote an entertainment column for his high school newspaper (reviewing records, sharing news about upcoming concerts, and conducting the occasional interview); he dabbled in concert stage lighting; and he worked for a company called Concerts West, mainly helping with the promotion of local concerts. Danny remembers the promo job fondly: “I got free tickets - almost always great seats and sometimes backstage passes - to nearly every show that came through Fort Worth, and any tickets I didn’t get through Concerts West I would spend the night in line to get. For Paul McCartney’s ‘Wings over America’ tour, I cut class to get the tickets…I’d do whatever it took.”
It was at this point in his budding career that Danny also began sneaking into clubs to see local bands, as well as doing a bit of living on the edge (as only a high schooler can) with his popular local band Windswept: “We would rent a hall in Kennedale, Texas, purchase kegs of beer, and then charge a cover to drink the beer and see our band. The crowds were actually pretty good, but it still amazes me that we didn’t get arrested as we had no liquor license and certainly weren’t checking ID’s. Thank the Lord no one ever got hurt!” Members of another local pop-rock combo called The Pengwins would attend these Kennedale beer bashes, and although Danny didn’t know them well at the time – “I would go see them play; however, we were just casual acquaintances,” he remembers – he would soon join their ranks.
“I was a maintenance engineer at an apartment complex in Arlington, Texas and got a work order to check out an air conditioner that was not working in one of the apartment units,” Danny says. “The apartment was literally right across the hall from the unit I lived in. When I walked into this apartment, I saw all these records; it was the first time I had seen someone else other than myself with as many records as I had.” Danny chuckles at the memory and continues: “I fixed the AC and left, and then a couple of days later as I was entering my apartment, a guy was entering that apartment I had just worked in a few days earlier. That was when I introduced myself to Lannie Flowers, who was a singer, songwriter and vocalist with The Pengwins. We became fast friends as we had so much in common.”
Things happened quickly after that fateful meeting. Danny met the rest of the Pengwins, ran sound for them for a short time, and then joined the band as a drummer/vocalist. The band’s popularity was growing quickly, and they began playing gigs beyond their hometown. Initially the members of the band also worked day jobs, but an ultimatum from Danny and Lannie’s boss led them to abandon the 9-5 world. Danny relates the humorous tale of how it happened:
“We would be playing gigs in Houston, which was five hours from home. We’d finish at 2:00 am, drive all night, literally go straight to work, then drive back to Houston for the next night’s gig, and so on. This kind of scheduling went on for about 18 months, and I’m sure the quality of our work was in steep decline! Eventually, our boss sat Lannie, myself and our soundman down for a big talk; we were all working in maintenance by now for the same apartment owner. He gave us the ultimatum that we would either work for him or continue playing our shows We all looked at each other and within about five seconds said, “It’s been nice working with you,” and we were out of there!”
Diving headlong into music as a full-time occupation, The Pengwins’ touring spread to more new markets, as they hit states such as Colorado, Kansas and Arkansas. Playing a winning mixture of covers and originals (most written by Danny and Lannie), the band gained new fans wherever they went and did some recording. The Pengwins also toured Europe (“a dream come true,” Danny remembers fondly) and even though they all subsisted on a very small stipend, they were beyond thrilled to be there. While in the UK, Danny recalls he and Lannie cold-calling record companies (“everyone we could think of, from EMI to Pye”) and giving them copies of The Pengwins’ demos. During the course of their travels, The Pengwins opened shows for artists such as Cheap Trick, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Joe Ely, the Beach Boys, and many others, “and Quiet Riot actually opened up for us,” Danny chuckles.
While those times were not necessarily financially fruitful, Danny looks back on them today with a mixture of nostalgia and wisdom: “I learned a lot about myself during these times, as we were all literally broke,” he says. “There were times when we would have to sleep in a truck and share what little food we could afford. You could literally see every rib in my body, but it never bothered me for long because getting to do what I had always dreamed of was worth the price I paid, and I really believed in what we were doing.”
In 1985, Danny left the band to launch his own company called Direct Management. Their main act was The Pengwins, and Danny officially became the band’s manager. “My goal was to get a record deal,” he explains.
Danny relates what happened next: “The band recorded some new songs and I went to New York to shop them to labels. A relative who was in the music business let me look through her Rolodex, and I copied every number I thought could possibly give me an “in.” One of those contacts resulted in a meeting with Liz Derringer (wife of guitar wizard Rick Derringer), who was definitely a mover and shaker in the industry at the time. The meeting was set at a recording studio and then at the last minute got changed to her house.”
Danny arrived for the meeting to find that Liz wasn’t home, which led to him having an impromptu meeting with her rock star husband. “Rick and I sat down, and he picked up a guitar, started doodling around and began singing. I instinctively started doing a harmony and we just hit it off. During the course of our conversation, I told him I was shopping a band to labels and asked if he would like to hear a tape. As I was setting the tape up, I told him I would love to have him produce a demo for the band. So he listened, said some nice things, and we hung out for quite a while. Liz never showed.”
Danny continues, “When I got home a few days later there a message on the machine from Rick saying he would love to work with band on a demo. I started meeting with investors to raise the money to get the band to Woodstock, NY to have the demo recorded at Bearsville Studios with Rick producing and Tommy Edmonds (Lenny Kravitz’s soundman) engineering. Once the money was raised I flew to Los Angeles to meet with Rick to deliver all the songs to be considered for the demo and to work out final details for the sessions.”
Here’s where the story takes an odd – and very cool – turn: “I arrived in L.A. and call Rick, who asks me to meet him at a recording studio. When I arrive, someone lets me in and starts guiding me back to where Rick is. As I get closer I start hearing a Rolling Stones tune being played on an accordion; it’s Weird Al Yankovic in the studio, with Rick sitting behind the mixing board acting as producer. After a while, they take a break, and we all eat some Chinese food they had delivered." Legendary drummer Carmine Appice joined the group for dinner and conversation, and soon after, Weird Al went back to work in the studio.
“So Rick and Al start talking about what they want to work on next,” Danny remembers, “and Al says, ‘Let’s work on some vocals.’ Rick replies, “Okay, which song?’ At this point, Al looks at me and asks, “Do you sing?’ He then takes me out to the studio, they set up a vocal mic, he pulls out some lyrics, and next thing you know I’m multi-tracking background vocals and harmonies throughout a song called ‘Spam,’ which was a takeoff on REM’s song ‘Stand’.” This bit of “spontaneous, fun and very surreal” music making was released on Weird Al Yankovic’s 1989 album, UHF – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff.
There have been many other special moments – musical and otherwise – for Danny Wilkerson over the years:
---He played in a band called The E.P.’s with three other former Pengwins (Alan Petsche, Delbert Raines and Kelly Creighton); they recorded a CD of all original music that featured Rick Derringer on a few songs, with former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe’s artwork gracing the cover.
---He produced an album for 16-year-old country music artist Emily Rogers (“a little girl with a big voice”) in 2003 and wrote eight of the LP’s dozen tracks.
---He’s played in a variety of cover bands over the years: The Nurse (“the entire band played every gig in hospital scrubs”), The Pickles (“they were a big dill for a while”), The Waltons, with Lannie Flowers (“a party band”), and Generation Rumble (“we played only what we wanted to hear”).
---Danny served as Mayor of Annetta North, TX for four years and as Mayor pro-tem for a decade.
---He wrote the Alma Mater for Trinity Christian Academy when his daughter attended the school. (“I still attend some of their graduations just to hear the choir, students and faculty sing it.”)
--- His son Joshua is a member of the popular Texas-based rock band Green River Ordinance, who have released four full-length discs, including one on Virgin Records. (“My entire family loves music,” Danny admits.)
In 2005, what could be seen as the second phase of Danny Wilkerson’s career began in earnest when The Pengwins reformed. Now (a little) older and (more than a little) wiser, the band has been active ever since. They’ve recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, released four deluxe box sets combining new and vintage material (with a dozen more on the horizon), and performed in such far-flung locales as England, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, New York, and California. And, bringing everything full-circle for Danny, they’ve performed several times at the storied Cavern Club in Liverpool.
But although Danny has accomplished quite a bit over the course of his career, there was still that one pending bucket list item - a solo album. With the release of his most excellent, 10-song debut - simply titled Wilkerson - Danny can now cross that off his list. Danny is understandably excited about the record and has made sure that great care has been taken with every aspect of its creation, from the songwriting and production down to the mastering. He was more than ably assisted during the songwriting and recording phase by singer/songwriter/producer Bleu McAuley, someone whose powerful, layered pop music Danny had enjoyed for some time.
“Bleu and I met through a Kickstarter campaign and a follow up from a songwriting session that Capitol/Virgin had arranged for him to write with my son Joshua for their band,” Danny explains. “My wife and I are big fans of Bleu; we would listen to his music almost every morning and drove six hours to Oklahoma City on a ‘road trip’ to attend one of his shows. I jumped at the chance to get to write with him, but at the first session I was so nervous I could barely play my guitar and my voice was all shaky. He was very gracious, though.”
From there, the partnership bloomed. “I fumbled around for a while with several of my ideas and finally managed to get the first verse and chorus of what became ‘Let it Go Tonight,’ in which I sang the slide intro and string parts to him. He had me sing the intro parts a couple of times and we got to work. It wasn’t long before what I was hearing in my head was coming together right in front of me. Bleu is incredibly talented; he can play just about any instrument, he has an amazing ear, an incredible voice, and he knows his music. He has amazing sense of exactly what needs to be there, technically and musically.”
Sometime later, Danny traveled to Los Angeles for another writing session. “I had a more definite idea of what I wanted this time. The song was ‘Enough for Somebody,’ and the session went great. At this point we were just recording demos, but Bleu’s demos are not your typical demos - they almost sound as if they are ready to be mixed and mastered.”
The third time Danny co-wrote with Bleu, inspiration came from an unlikely – and potentially devastating – source. “We were at dinner the night before the session and I was starting to suggest an idea when Bleu stopped me and said, ‘Nope, tomorrow I’d like to meet up with no preconceptions and just start from scratch and see what we come up with.’ I had been having medical issues for some time prior to the session and had recently undergone a biopsy for prostate cancer. Right as we were sitting down to begin our session, my cell phone rings and it’s my doctor telling me I need to get in to see him as soon as possible. I knew that meant the results were not good.”
Danny was stunned but soldiered on. “Bleu offered some encouraging words and I had all these emotions overwhelming me, but I didn’t want it to ruin the session. He’s doodling around on the piano and I’m doing the same on the guitar trying to come up with an idea we could build on and then he plays this beautiful little part and I throw out the line, ‘A thousand times I made a mess/a million times I made amends,’ and we were on our way to writing ‘When Your Number’s Up.’ Lyrically, things were flowing easier than at some of our earlier sessions, as I was right there in the midst of all these unknowns with fear, death, sorrow and regret, thinking of my family and life. The song is a reminder that life should not be taken for granted and you’d better make the most of it while you’ve got it. It’s also a song of hope.” Fortunately, Danny is now cancer-free.
Wilkerson turned out to be a bi-coastal affair, recording-wise. Half the album was recorded at Bleu’s studio and Taylor Locke’s Velveteen Laboratory in L.A. and was mixed by Grammy-nominated David Spreng, who has worked with Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper and Lucinda Williams; the other half was tracked in Boston at two-time Grammy winning Ducky Carlisle’s (Flashcubes, The Major Labels) studio with Carlisle mixing, as well as drumming on a few tunes.
Other luminaries who offer vocal and instrumental support on Wilkerson include Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck, Imperial Drag); Joe Sieders (The New Pornographers); Jesse McGinty (Pharrell Williams, Meghan Trainor); the Boston Symphony Strings; Josh Kaufman (Season six’s winner on The Voice); and Pat Buchanan (Idle Jets, Hall & Oates, Cyndi Lauper, Don Henley).
As an admitted audiophile, Danny is downright thrilled that Miles Showell (Beatles, Stones, Who, Police, Queen) mastered Wilkerson at Abbey Road, using the same lathe on which the Grammy-winning Sgt. Pepper reissue was mastered on in 2017.
And the songs! I was treated to a sneak peek of the ten tracks that make up Wilkerson while visiting Texas last summer and suffice it to say that I was absolutely blown away by each and every one: they all feature peerless musicianship and thoughtful lyrics, which mesh perfectly with Wilkerson’s pure, emotive lead vocals. The album is truly a feast for the ears.
With the release of Wilkerson, not only has Danny Wilkerson crossed a major item off his bucket list, but many pop-rock fans will no doubt be adding the album to their list of the finest records of 2018.
Oh, and just to bring things full circle, a few years ago Danny had a chance meeting with two of the musicians who inspired him all those years ago. If you ever have the opportunity to chat with Danny, you’ll definitely want to hear about the night he met Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, nearly 50 years to the day that a wide-eyed five-year-old from Texas watched the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. That bucket list of Danny Wilkerson’s just keeps getting shorter and shorter…
John M. Borack
Contributing Editor, Goldmine Magazine
After releasing two progressive hard rock albums with his band Däng, Chris Church makes a bold return to his power pop origins with his new record “Limitations Of Source Tape”. Not a concept album, but a construct of power pop influences, the 14 song album features chiming melodic guitar chords, on-target vocals, and classic pop rock song craft. Being an ardent fan of sophisticated power pop, Chris set out to achieve his goal of creating the album he wanted to hear.
First single “Something Completely” is a riff-heavy, yearning, prototypical pop rock stunner sweetened by hand claps, soaring call and response background vocals, and multiple guitar solos. In short, “Something Completely” is one of those songs that makes you want to hear it 20 times in a row.
With tracks that are fun to sing and lyrics that are often fun to contemplate, “Limitations Of Source Tape” [or “L.O.S.T.”] will resonate nicely with fans of all Power Pop genres.
Lannie Flowers is a standard bearer for the Power Pop resurgence currently taking hold across the world. Combining diverse influences such as British invasion, punk rock and glam rock, Lannie puts forth guitar driven melodies that are at once fresh yet familiar.
Also known as “Cowtown” and Gateway To The West,” Fort Worth, Texas in the mid-1960’s was an incredible hot bed of talent.
The “Teen Scene” phenomenon that sprang up in and around Fort Worth, Texas started with “Teen A Go Go” located at the Round Up Inn at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. It’s popularity resulted in satellite locations known as “Action A Go Go” and “Holiday A Go Go” – all in Ft. Worth. Events were sponsored by KFJZ Radio and MC’d by a host of KFJZ radio disc jockeys, among whom Mark Stevens was most prominent. This synergy led to a vibrant radio presence all through North Texas that influenced and yielded many musicians, bands and out and out rock stars. In the movie “Teen A Go Go,” industry critics mention that “though Dallas and Seattle both had great bands, the quality of music from Ft. Worth was just better.” Notable names from this era are Courtship, Delbert McClinton, Bloodrock, John Nitzinger, Buddy Whittington, and Larry and the Bluenotes.
Lannie Flowers grew up in a little rural community one mile from the Fort Worth city limits and exactly 15 miles from “Teen A Go Go.” The essence of Lannie can be captured in this quote from 1986 – “The two most import things in my life when I was growing up was The Beatles and the Dallas Cowboys.” He began to play guitar in 1968 and formed a band in 1969. Three years later, he founded The Pengwins with some friends from Kennedale High School. They played covers of The Beatles, Grand Funk, CCR, and Alice Cooper in living rooms, garages, parties, and dances for sometimes adoring adolescents in the Fort Worth area of Texas, all the while dreaming of bigger stages and always adoring adolescents. Unlike most other nascent rock n’ rollers, Lannie started writing his own songs. Over the next five years, the lineup remained relatively stable.
During his early touring years, Lannie played the infamous Jacksboro Highway on the north side of Fort Worth. Many country and western bars would bars would try rock and roll on Thursday nights and The Pengwins actually performed behind chicken wire on several occasions. One club required them to play “at least a few” country songs and Lannie came up with a Buck Owens medley that he still remembers and occasionally performs at his acoustic shows.
Then Lannie saw the New York Dolls in Dallas in 1975. The Ramones released their first record in 1976 and the second British Invasion hit in 1977 – Pistols/Clash/Jam. Mash this up with his earlier influences and now you’ve got the distilled version of Lannie Flowers.
In 1977, Disco (sucks) and Urban Country were commanding the airwaves, but Lannie and his Pengwins had grown in the opposite direction. Heavily impacted by Badfinger, Raspberries, Big Star, David Bowie, The Stooges, and Mott the Hoople, The Pengwins paved a different path out of the local Texas soup of blooze and booze music scene. The band that started getting out of town gigs in bars and frat houses all over in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Their set list gloriously blended FM radio hits with Glam, Punk, and New Wave, and they bravely marched on, in spite of the pabulum the masses were currently consuming. Along the way, this burgeoning band of brothers opened for The Drifters and The Guess Who, and surrendered the Mother Blues stage to Thin Lizzy, who had stopped by for an after-hours set.
“Life After High School” was the first recording released by The Pengwins. Pressed as a 7” 45 RPM single with 2 other songs (Life After High School plus Look Around and It’s a Dream), it had a small LP sized hole in homage to the singles coming out of the U.K. at the time. It was released on Fabb Records, where “Even if it’s not a hit, it’s a Fabb Record!” In retrospect, Life After High School is a near perfect vinyl slab reflecting a coming-of-age, life stage summation and launching pad for the future – both for the song’s narrator and the band itself.
In their initial 15 year career, The Pengwins garnered significant attention from such seminal music icons as Rick Derringer and Jim Dickinson (famed producer of Big Star and The Replacements), both of whom produced later recording sessions for The ‘Gwins. The band re-formed in 2005 and have been recording and playing select venues since that time.
When The Pengwins, quit touring in 1992, Lannie not only continued writing but he had a backlog of songs recorded on 4 track tape. When faced with the daunting task of finding a permanent storage facility for all those hundreds of old demos and half finished songs in his studio in Kennedale TX, Lannie decided to create the ultimate homage to those old tapes and his music – 36 individual melodies or one all-inclusive song – it’s up to your interpretation.
Released in 2008, “Same Old Story” is a 45 minute pop music collage. From the first glance, through all the struggles of young love, to the inevitable end, Lannie’s delivery is a refreshingly new perspective on the “Same old story, you know the one you’ve heard so many times… the same old story, except this time the story’s mine”… The music was so good, former Pengwin lead guitarist Alan Petsche signed Lannie to his record company and created a label, SpyderPop Records, anchored by Lannie’s music.
World-wide critical acclaim (not to be confused with fame or sales) followed. In fact, Lannie received so many letters requesting complete versions of songs on SOS that he released “New Songs, Old Stories” to satisfy the demand.
“Circles“ was released in 2011 and featured more captivating power pop – this time loosely addressing the more grown up perspective of what goes through the mind of an rock and roll road veteran with a heart toward true love.
Following the successful reception of “Circles,” winner of LA Music Awards 2013 “Record of the Year,” Lannie released his first live album. As documented on “Live In NYC,” those who showed up to break the drudgery of reconstruction after Hurricane Sandy were greeted with a solid set of power pop and roll to lift their spirits out of the mire. Drawing from “Circles” and “New Songs Old Stories,” Lannie and the band proudly provided a welcome hook revolution to their guests. He also paid homage to Alex Chilton and his much loved Big Star by performing a faithful rendition of “Back Of A Car,” the first single released from this album.
For the single, Lannie brought in producer Mike Gage to remix and re-master both the live song and a new song, “Best I Can” resulting in a double A sided 45rpm delight.
Lannie first met Nitebob, world famous sound engineer, producer and tour manager, in the late 1980’s and had wanted to work with him ever since. In 2016, the stars aligned and the ever busy Nitebob spent a week in Texas recording at The Cove, Spyderpop Records’ professional studio. The result of their long awaited pairing is a new 45 rpm and CD single, “Kiss A Memory” b/w “Everything A Man Could Want.”
For the next project, Lannie is recording “Home” a group of songs that complete the thematic arc started with “Same Old Story” and continued in “Circles.” Starting in March, 2018, Lannie decided to release a free downloadable single every month until “Home” is released. Pragmatically titled “March To Home,” this series of singles has been met with lavish critical praise and will eventually be compiled and made available for purchase.
Lannie is also actively involved with “The Pengwins Box Set Series,” installments of sixteen singles featuring an A side from the once and future Pengwins (recorded at Abbey Road studios) and a B side featuring original re-mastered recordings from Pengwins incarnations past. Each single is released in its own box set containing neat surprises. Volume 5 is slated for a first quarter 2018 release.
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