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Smithsonian Institution
Southern FusionAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Sonny Burgess

Back in the 1950s, a bunch of white farm boys all across the South discovered that if they turned their radio dials to the right frequency they could hear music that was a lot more exciting than anything playing at the local square dance. In surprising synchrony, these young people began to mix a bit of this wild music in with the haunted strains of Hank Williams and the acoustic overdrive of Bill Monroe's bluegrass. When Elvis Presley hit, they were ready, and dozens followed his lead to the Memphis offices of Sun Records.
       One of the new wave of what would come to be called "rockabilly" artists was Sonny Burgess, who had been tearing up roadhouses in his hometown of Newport, Arkansas. Newport in the Fifties was in one of the few "wet" counties in an area dominated by prohibitionists, and boasted a formidable strip of honky-tonks where music, gambling and wild living were the order of the day. Burgess and his Pacers were the kings of the local scene, the hottest, rawest white rockers around.
       Forty years later, Burgess has mellowed a bit, but he can still rock with the best. In the King of Clubs, an old-time roadhouse where Elvis played one of his first shows and Conway Twitty got his start, he leads his band through a set that touches on everything from Jimmy Rodgers's country yodels to New Orleans r&b and the hits that made Burgess a rockabilly legend. As he tears into "We Wanna Boogie," the floor fills with dancers and the clock turns back to the days when rock 'n' roll was born.

Related Links

        More bio info from the Delta Boogie Website

        Details on the Sonny Burgess recording from Rounder Records

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