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BOOK REVIEW

Review of “Outlaws, Rebels, and Renegades” Volumes 1 and 2

By Bob Nosbisch, New Mexico Radio Personality

May 20, 2014

     When I worked with the American Forces Network in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1979-1980 and then in various radio stations in southern New Mexico, being on the air was my second favorite part of the job. My favorite part of the job was conducting interviews.   

     So you can imagine my great joy when I read that Michael Buffalo Smith had compiled 102 interviews he conducted into Outlaws, Rebels, and Renegades Volumes 1 and 2. Each volume contains 51 interviews with Southern rock and outlaw country movers, shakers, icons, and legends. (Note: For brevity’s sake, the author subsequently will be referred to as “Buff.”)

     I had read Buff’s Carolina Dreams and Prisoner of Southern Rock and have a few of his CDs so I knew he was a talented writer. Therefore, I was not surprised when I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the musicians he interviewed. Some of his questions amazed me, leading me to silently think, “How did he come up with that question? I never would have thought of that.” Furthermore, I know how much time it takes to listen to an interview and transcribe it, word for word, so you can imagine my amazement when Buff did this for a whopping 102 interviews. This truly was a labor of love. He did this while simultaneously running an online site, hosting a radio show, and researching and writing other books, among other things.

     The 51 interviews in the first volume begin with Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, and Dangerous Dan Toler and end with Patterson Hood, David Allan Coe, and Billy Bob Thornton. In between, you get interviews with guys from the Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, Blackfoot, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and so much more. You also get interviews with famed record producer Tom Dowd, longtime roadie Joseph “Red Dog” Campbell, and the fantastic female singers Bonnie Bramlett and Jo Jo Billingsley.

     Before I sat down to enjoy Volume 1, I had read some books about the Allman Brothers Band so I was exposed to different authors’ thoughts about Betts, Allman, and Toler, but I knew nothing about Thornton’s musical skills, little about Coe, and nothing about Hood. Thanks to Buff’s book, I’m smarter now. It was fun to read about people I have personally had the good fortune to meet: Doug Gray, Chris Hicks, Jakson Spires, Dennis Winters, Taz DiGregorio, Jay Johnson, and Tommy Crain.

     It also was fun to read about Les Dudek and Pete Carr. I had known nothing about these two men when I went into a record store several years ago. I liked the album cover of Dudek’s “Ghost Town Parade” and still think “Central Park” is one of the best songs ever written. While I was reading the back cover of the album, I heard a catchy instrumental playing over the store’s loudspeakers. It was from Carr’s “Not a Word On It.” I bought Dudek’s and Carr’s albums that day and have not regretted those purchases one bit. Buff’s interviews with the guys have helped me learn a lot more about them. Thanks, Buff!

     Volume II kicks off with interviews with Chuck Leavell, Tommy Crain (both have interviews in the first volume, too), and Susan Tedeschi and ends with Ray Brand, Bo Bice, and Gig Michaels. I knew of Michaels through Facebook friends who consistently raved about Swampdawamp and followed Bice’s success from American Idol, but knew nothing about Brand or Tedeschi. David Allan Coe, Johnny Winter, Chris Hicks, and others have interviews in this volume in addition to interviews in Volume 1.

The real sparklers for me, though, were interviews with Barry Lee Harwood who I met (along with Buff himself!) at the annual Winters Brothers Band Southern Summer Jam in Tennessee in 2002; Mike Estes, and Henry Paul. Before Buff’s book, I knew little about bands like Cowboy and Grinderswitch. However, his interviews with Dru Lombar, Scott Boyer, Tommy Talton and others helped me expand my knowledge of these bands.

     Even though Buff has his hands full with new books he is writing, I hope he comes up with a Volume III of “Outlaws, Rebels, and Renegades.” I’d love to read something about Black Oak Arkansas, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Blackberry Smoke, and other musicians who are not covered in the first two volumes. It also would be great to read more interviews with people like Chris Hicks (who has one of the funniest quotes in either volume), Mike Estes and Jay Johnson (both with Skinny Molly now), and others who I may not currently know of.

     I’d also like to see Buff write a full-blown biography, perhaps of Doug Gray, Henry Paul, or any other musician whose music fits this genre. Longtime fans of the Outlaws, Marshall Tucker Band, and other seminal bands have cried out for biographies of these bands as well. Maybe Buff will tackle one of these tasks.

     But back to Outlaws, Rebels and Renegades, Volumes 1 and 2… Believe it or not, Buff’s book mentions Gino Vanelli, Saga, and the first album by the B-52s in various ways. His book is thoroughly informative and entertaining. Get this book today. You will not regret it.

 

-Bob Nosbisch, Los Cruces, New Mexico

 

 

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