Scene Report: Eddie Bond at the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival

On Saturday night, exactly 54 years after he headlined the St. Francis County Fair in Forrest City, Arkansas, alongside Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Floyd Cramer, Sun rockabilly Eddie Bond took the stage at the Center for Southern Folklore‘s Memphis Music & Heritage Festival.

At the fifth annual Ponderosa Stomp, Bond was backed by Deke Dickerson and the Eccofonics, along with special guest guitarist (and one-time Bond protege) Travis Wammack. Saturday, he played with a group of Middleton, Tennessee country musicians, including an unknown hotshot guitarist disguised in a Hawaiian shirt and glasses.

Bond, a showman responsible for the phenomenal 1956 b-side “Rockin’ Daddy” and the 1973 pop culture hit “The Ballad of Buford Pusser” who cranked out the hits even as he pulled double-duty hosting several popular Memphis TV shows, took the stage inside the Center’s Folklore Hall wearing his trademark yellow blazer and played “Rockin’ Daddy” — twice!

Go here to read my Memphis Flyer feature about the changing face of the Memphis Music & Heritage Festival, which lost two perennial performers, Stomp alum Billy Lee Riley and famed producer Jim Dickinson, in recent weeks.

From the article:

When I caught up with Center for Southern Folklore director Judy Peiser a week before festival time, she had a heavy heart. Upon pausing to contemplate the gaping holes caused by the absence of the ever-dependable Riley and Dickinson, she said:

“Things are definitely mutating. It’s gotten so hard to do a festival every year because of the people who aren’t there anymore, people who had a major effect on what we do. I grew up listening to the music I started presenting, and now I’m presenting music that’s one generation removed. People like Jim and Billy Lee weren’t playing off records — they were playing off life.”

Peiser sighed, recalling moments she spent with Dickinson, co-producing bluesman Mose Vinson’s solo CD Piano Man. She remembered the blues sets that Riley often delivered, peppered with his classic Sun rockabilly hits such as “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll” and “Red Hot.” She sounded dismayed at the thought of anyone other than Thomas, the minstrel performer turned Stax Records mainstay — billed as “the World’s Oldest Teenager,” he died in 2001, when he was 84 years old — performing “The Funky Chicken.”

“Life goes on,” Peiser finally said. “Sure, there was Michelangelo, but there were also a lot of people after him.”

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