Crawpatch is a very loose group of musicians who have been playing
together in different combinations for thirty years. We are
an institution, and should probably be in one. Have I
already used the word, "loose"?
The first time I saw Jimmy Newman play mandolin was in the
annual talent show at Memphis Central High School in 1967.
He performed in a band called The Fruits of the Loom with
Dane Layton, Van Gray, and George Joneas. They came out on
stage wearing overalls and straw hats, and played The Martha
White Flour Commercial, Big Daddy's Alabamy Bound, and Egg
Suckin' Dog. They brought down the house, and won the Most
Entertaining category. They performed regularly at the
Bitter Lemon, a popular coffee house around that time.
The next time I saw Jimmy play, it was in the band Crawdad, featuring
Dane Layton on guitar, banjo, and vocals, Denny Knot on
guitar and vocals, and George Joneas on washtub and high
harmony. Crawdad was one of the best bands to ever play in
this area. They played with heat from the heart. This was in
the early Seventies, and it was a magic time for all of us.
Peanut's Pub was going strong about that time, as was the
Folklore Restaurant, the Last Laugh, Ruby Red's, and High
Cotton. Those times were a constant party. There was always
something going on. We'd often get though with a gig, and
then gravitate on over to someone's house, and pick and sing
I first heard Brandy Parks sing at a rehearsal of Briarpatch, a band that
originally consisted of Paul Compton on Guitar and Vocals,
John Chambliss on bass, Lee Phelan on Guitar and Vocals, and
me on guitar and vocals. Paul brought Brandy to the
rehearsal and said we should give her a listen. We did, and
I actually got goosebumps the first time she did a Patsy
Cline song. She stayed with the band for as long as it
lasted, through all the breakups and shakeups. Briarpatch
went through a lot of changes during the next few years. At
times, we had Swain Schaffer on Hammond B-3, Tom Jantzen on
drums, and a young woman named Amy Miller on Viola.
Different people drifted in and out, but the band played on.
Originally from Maryville, Tennessee, Andy Morton moved to Memphis after
graduating from UT at Knoxville with a degree in
Architecture. Andy Morton replaced John Chambliss on bass at
some point (I think it was during the second chorus of
Friend of the Devil.), and then we actually had four part
harmony. Chambliss is a great bass player, but he can't
sing. He tried it once, and caused geese to fly north for
the Winter. A great bass player, though. Chambliss currently
plays with The Amazing Rhythm Hounds. Lee Phelan left the
band early on to go to law school. I stayed with it for a
few years. Larry "Gimmer" Nicholson began playing with
Briarpatch about the time I quit, and this group stayed
together a good while longer. It was a great band. I wish
there were more recordings and photographs from that time.
Back then, as now, bands were continually breaking up and reforming with
different combinations of members.
Denny Knott left to go to St. Louis, and Crawdad folded it's
tent for a spell. I joined them for a while around 1973, and
we played a good bit under the same name, but I always felt
the real Crawdad had Denny Knott in it. John Chambliss was
also bass player for this band for a while. One of my
favorite incarnations of this band featured Jimmy Crosthwait
on washboard. Jimmy is a well known percussionist, sculptor,
professional puppeteer, and a major source of creative
energy that helps to feed the Midsouth. He is also the
percussionist for Mudboy and the Neutrons.
For a while there, both Crawdad and Briarpatch bands had disbanded, and a
few of us from each band joined together to form Crawpatch.
Dane Layton, Jimmy Newman, Brandy Parks, Andy Morton, Paul
Compton, Gimmer Nicholson, Thomas Boggs, and I were the
heart of Crawpatch. David Luttrell was also featured with
the band many times. Crawpatch had a great deal of success
in Memphis and around the Midsouth.
There was one memorable collection of recordings released on 12 inch
vinyl by Crawpatch. It was on the Peabody record label, and
produced by Sid Selvidge. This album has been digitally
transferred and remastered onto to a CD that can be
purchased online by going to www.crawpatch.com, and clicking
on the picture. We are in the process of building the full
website, but that button works.
This, too, was a band that occasionally went through personnel changes. A
band is a few musicians trying to play music together, but
sometimes, when things go right, a band becomes something
greater than the sum of its parts. Individual members come
and go, but the band lives on. This was true of Crawdad and
Briarpatch, and especially true of Crawpatch. Also, this was
a band that other musicians loved to sit in with. A partial
list of some of the people I have seen on stage with these
bands reads like a who's who of Memphis Musicians ; Lee
Baker, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, Tony Thomas, Furry
Lewis, Zeke Johnson, Charles McNutt, Alex Chilton, Leo
LeBlanc, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ed Finney, Chester Thayer, Les
Birchfield,... I'll add more to that list as my brain cells
connected to long term memory functions continue to randomly
Well, Crawpatch Rides
Brandy Parks, Jimmy Newman, and I resurrected the band again
a few years ago to keep some of the real Southern country
music tradition alive. We performed for a spell under the
name Lost Dog, and now have returned to calling ourselves
After years of searching, we were lucky enough to find our long lost
friend and bandmate, Dane Layton, and have him rejoin the
band for several memorable shows before his untimely passing
from this earth. We are all so glad we got to spend some
time with him. Dane is sorely missed.
David Luttrell, when he's not too busy performing in
Nashville under his stage name, Trayler Parker, of Trayler
Parker & The Propane Tanks, joins us, and his high lonesome
vocals and banjo playing take us even further into the realm
Jimmy Crosthwait sometimes joins us on washboard, as does Hank Sable on
Over the last several years, Crawpatch has played many shows
around the Memphis and Tri-State area including Otherlands
Coffee Bar, the High Tone, the P&H Cafe, and Kudzu's,, as
well as at festivals in and around the Midsouth such as the
Pink Palace Arts and Crafts Festival, the Memphis, Cooper
Young Festival, and the Memphis Heritage Festival put on by
the Center for Southern Folklore. We also are proud to have
been a regular annual feature of the Magnolia Classic Jack
Russell Terrier Trials.
We are proud past winners of the First Place Prize, a Blue
Ribbon in the Bluegrass Band Competition at the Hernando,
Mississippi A'Fair, a wonderful outdoor annual event.
The most important part of all these bands, all along, has been our
friends and family who make up the audience. From professors
to pawn brokers, lawyers to landscapers, and painters to
poets, amidst all our diversity, we are all connected by our
love and appreciation of real music, played by real people,
just for the love of doing it.
CRAWPATCH - TRAILER PARK WEEKEND - ON CD AT
Don E. McGregor 11-2-09
For Crawpatch or Don McGregor booking information, please