Tony Jackson – Tickets – Iron City – Shows – Birmingham, AL – July 6th, 2018

Tony Jackson

Tony Jackson

Earl "Guitar" Williams, Gary Harbison and The Juke Band

Friday, Jul 6th 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Iron City - Shows

Birmingham, AL


This event is all ages

Tony Jackson
Tony Jackson
Is it premature to see Hall of Fame material in a guy who's just releasing his first album?

Not if that guy is Tony Jackson.

To put it plainly, Jackson is one of the most gifted singers ever to grace country music.
His initial videos from the album have excited over 25 Million Facebook views seemingly overnight, while Jackson tours tirelessly in support of the record.

The respect Jackson has already earned within the music community is evident throughout Tony Jackson, as the new album is titled. It features songs and/or performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members John Sebastian, Steve Cropper and Dr. John “Mac” Rebennack, Country Music Hall of Famers Vince Gill, Bill Anderson and Conway Twitty and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame luminary Norro Wilson.

It is the ease with which Jackson makes every song—even the familiar ones—distinctly his own that sets him apart. Who else would dare to try and then succeed in bringing a fresh layer of emotional urgency to such a classic as George Jones' “The Grand Tour” or Conway Twitty's eternal “It's Only Make Believe”?

On the first-time and lesser known songs, Jackson mints his own classics. With its sweeping steel guitar flourishes and ambient barroom clatter, he transforms John Sebastian and Phil Galdston's “Last Call” into the sweetest, most affectionate separation ballad imaginable. With reverence and a twinkle in his eye, he enlists Sebastian and Vince Gill in revivifying (after 50 years) the Lovin' Spoonful's 1966 romp, “Nashville Cats.” “When asked if we should recut the song,” Sebastian begins, “I said absolutely but we have to get Vince Gill, Paul Franklin and today’s real Nashville Cats in on the session and fortunately it was preserved on video,” he beams.

After capturing perfectly, the excitement of new love in Bill Anderson's “I Didn't Wake Up This Morning,” he moves on to a memory-stirring homage to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr. and Willie Nelson in “They Lived It Up,” a lyrical scrapbook from Anderson and Bobby Tomberlin.

Jackson shines as a keen-eyed songwriter in his own right with such memorable excursions as “Drink By Drink,” “Old Porch Swing,” and “She's Taking Me Home.”

From start to finish, Tony Jackson stands out as a “discovery” album, the kind you listen to with such delight that you have to recommend it to friends. And hundreds of thousands have done just that.

Jackson is currently a headliner on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia, and is almost certainly the only major bank executive ever to abandon a prominent IT job in finance at a Fortune 500 company to embark on a career in country music. But he didn't grow up a country fan.
The son of a Navy man, he led a base-to-base existence, at one point living with his family in Rota, Spain for three years. His early musical background was sketchy at best. “I sang 'White Christmas' in the Christmas play in the sixth grade,” he recalls. “Everybody seemed to love it, but I was a wreck. My mother forced me to sing in the church choir, but I was kind of buried in the voices along with everybody else.” This was basically his entire musical resume until ten or so years ago when a friend whose band had lost its lead singer asked Jackson to try out for the spot. “I did,” he says, “and I was hooked after that.”

Two weeks after graduating from high school, Jackson joined the Marines. “I told my dad I was joining because I was sick of taking orders,” he says with a wry grin. There was as much getting-ahead as gung-ho in Jackson’s enlistment. “I was a computer and electronics geek as a teenager,” he says. “When I talked to the recruiter, he told me the Marine Corps had just started a computer science school in Quantico, Virginia. Fortunately, I scored high enough on the entrance exam to go to that school.” It was a smart move. When he finished service, a prominent bank in Richmond snapped him up to work in its Information Technology division, initially assigning him the lowly chore of re-setting passwords. “I was way overqualified,” he says, “so I got promoted fast. I was a senior vice president by my early 30s.”

It was while in the Marines that he first started paying serious attention to country music. “My mother listened only to gospel,” he says. “My dad was into jazz, hip hop, R&B, new jack swing—stuff like that, but Armed Forces Radio played everything. When I was living in Spain—when I was 10 to 13—Randy Travis came over there on a USO tour. Some friends and I were out there early when they were setting up the stage, and we actually got to talk to him before we realized he was the guy who’d be performing later. He was really cool to us. In the Marine Corps, when my friends and I played music for each other, we were all homesick. So when you’d listen to these country songs that talked about family and home and heartbreak, it would really grab you.”

A song that particularly appealed to Jackson was George Jones’ heartbreaking 1974 hit, “The Grand Tour.” When Jones died, Jackson and some friends went into a Richmond studio and recorded it. In the process, they also made a performance video that eventually wound up on YouTube. By sheer accident, singer Donna Dean Stevens saw the video and instantly decided Jackson should do “The Grand Tour” on the Old Dominion Barn Dance, which she had just resurrected. After she witnessed Jackson’s standing ovation—an honor that hadn’t yet been accorded to any of the show’s headliners—she offered to co-manage and co-produce him with noted talent manager Jim Della Croce. A commanding performer in her own right, Dean Stevens recorded for Mercury Records in Nashville as Donna Meade. She is also the widow of Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Dean and a zealous guardian of his vast musical legacy.

Dean Stevens and Della Croce then whisked Jackson to Nashville, where he recorded most of Tony Jackson at the hallowed RCA Records Studios. In one of his best-loved songs, George Jones considered the dwindling ranks of country superstars and asked plaintively “Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes.”

Tony Jackson volunteering for duty.
Earl "Guitar" Williams, Gary Harbison and The Juke Band
Earl "Guitar" Williams, Gary Harbison and The Juke Band
Bessemer, backyard, and blues are a common denominator in the life of Earl Williams. Known in and around the Bessemer and Birmingham areas as Earl “Guitar” Williams, he is no stranger to music lovers.
Raised in Bessemer, Alabama, Earl recognized he had an interest in music at the young age of seven. He often watched television and admired Roy Rogers, Ricky Nelson, and Elvis Presley as they played guitars. It was exciting to Earl to hear such melodious sounds come from guitars. He decided that he wanted to play a guitar and asked his parents to purchase one for him. Coming from a family of nine children, they could not afford to buy a guitar for him. However, Earl learned that Bo Didley made his own guitar out of a cigar box. Because he was so determined to have a guitar to play, Earl then focused on making his own. With much thought and anticipation, he successfully crafted a guitar. He used a King Edward cigar box, a broomstick, and fishing cord for the strings. It was the beginning of his musical career, and the rest is history.
At the tender age of nine, Earl befriended Raleigh & Joe
Redmond. They were brothers who owned an acoustic guitar. The three of them often practiced on the back porch of the Redmond home, and eventually learned to play different songs. They began to make noise sound like real music.
Approximately two blocks away from the Redmond’s home lives Mr. Henry Gipson, aka “Mr. Gip”. He showed an interest in the children in the community and cleared an area of land near his home for them to play baseball. However, when Earl went to the ball field, he observed guitars on Mr. Gip’s porch. Instead of going to play ball, Earl’s interest in what Mr. Gip made available to them was diverted to the guitars and watching the men play.
Earl developed a burning desire to further develop his talent and sought ways to hone his guitar skills. He purposely surrounded himself with friends who shared the same passion for music. Whenever one friend would rid of a guitar, he would find someplace else to go; somewhere he could play his guitar. He was inquisitive enough to return to Mr. Gip’s place and watch while seasoned guitarists played on the front porch of his home. Earl watched as each adult took a turn at playing a gold hollow body guitar. Those guitarists included Mr. Gip, Louis Franklin, Willie “Dude” Franklin, and Little Bro Franklin.
There were two adult guitar gurus in the neighborhood who granted Earl the opportunity to shadow them. “Bunkie Boy” and Eugene Patton were his idols. Earl eagerly watched them, learned their techniques, and began playing the guitar. He knew that he wanted to play just like those men.
Earl began going into a local pawn shop at regular intervals. He would pick up a guitar and attempt to play, always believing that he would eventually succeed at doing so. Other players in the pawn shop often noticed Earl’s keen interest in learning to play the instrument and taught him how to tune the guitar and make chords.
By the age of twelve, Earl landed his first job as a shoe shine boy in the rear of an all white barber shop. He happened upon this job while walking in the downtown area of Bessemer, and saw the barbers playing guitars. They often played while there were no customers. Earl was paid twenty cents per customer and remained on the job only long enough to save enough money to purchase his first authentic guitar. Within a very short time span, Earl put his skills to work and returned to Mr. Gip’s place and showed the men how well he could play.
Earl’s profession as a musician began at the age of thirteen. His first paying gig was with a band called “The Corruptors”. He played a song by Johnnie Taylor, “I Got to Love Somebody’s Baby”. They had a female vocalist, Johnnie R. Powell, and their repertoire included lots of Motown sounds and blues. Their group performed for mostly adult audiences and was very well received by them. Nonetheless, the young band members could not go into the audience on their break, they had to return to the dressing room.
During the early 1970’s, Earl became a part of “Skinny and the Afro Blues Band” (later renamed “KALU”). His lifelong friend, Lee Mitchell also played saxophone with the band, but later moved to Dallas, Texas, and played with rhythm and blues singer, Johnnie Taylor. Earl worked for U.S. Steel, but because of his love for music, he took a leave of absence from his job and relocated to Dallas, TX. He joined his friend, Lee, and played with the band “Justice of the Peace”. The band consisted of members who played for Johnnie Taylor when he performed.
Earl later returned to Birmingham and resumed his job at U.S. Steel. While working as the steel plant Earl began playing with Cleve Eaton and the Garden of Eden Band. It was then he developed an interest in the harmonica. Through the teachings of Cleve Eaton, Earl learned the theory of blues, which led him to a better knowledge of a blues harmonica. He soon began wailing and added the sound of harmonica to his music. The harmonica gained the attention of the workers in the plant, and Earl became famous for one of his first originals, “Seventy-four Blues”. It was written about a severe reprimand he received when the superintendent caught him asleep on the job. The propensity to be fired was prevalent, and Earl thought to sound out his troubles through song. He managed to play his guitar and harmonica when he could be heard by his superintendent, and all of his troubles and negatives on his work record were redeemed. The guitar and harmonica helped Earl remain on the payroll at U.S. Steel. He remained there until he was laid off in mid-1980.
Several months after his lay off, chit ling circuit blues legend, Benny Latimore, contacted Earl and offered work for him and the guys in “KALU” band. They traveled with Latimore throughout the United States. Earl’s hairstyling skills came into play, and he became Latimore’s hairstylist. He also was known for styling other musician’s hair.
Earl enrolled in the school of cosmetology in 1984. He still played music, and was granted time away from school to travel with the band. He resumed his studies once he returned home. Earl graduated and utilized his styling techniques and knowledge to subsidize his income, but never lost his love for playing music.
Over 23 years ago, Earl decided to quit touring and opened Intensive Care Beauty Salon in Bessemer. Until this day, he remains owner/hair stylist, and he still plays with Latimore whenever the singer is in the area. Earl plays gospel music with his church choir, and often accompanies other artists. He still returns to what is now known as “Mr. Gip’s Juke Joint”, one of the places where he started on his musical journey.