If this band was a jukebox you'd be drunk as hell and all out of quarters.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen... The West Coast Turnaround!

So do you like Country Music? Real country music we mean, not that folksy alterna-pop coming out of Nashville these days. The West Coast Turnaround (Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround for all of you purists out there) is the Midsouth's premiere honky tonk band. Described by The Memphis Flyer as "BR549 with a mean streak" (which we assume is a compliment) the WCT plays loving covers from the Golden Age of hillbilly music, and originals that sound like mid-20th-Century chart-toppers.

Some of the artists covered: Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Ray Price, Charlie Rich, Hank Sr. (no Jr. sorry, don't ask). Earnest Tubb, Hank Thompson, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Emmylou Harris, Willie, Waylon, The Wilburn Brothers, Porter Wagoner, Patsy Cline, Johnny Paycheck, Red Sovine, and a whole lot more.

If you want to read more about Papa Top's favorite band the Commercial Appeal ran a lovely piece called "Country Classics Done Right." (Doh! Seems they've taken the story off line, and your Pesky blogger is too damn lazy to transcribe it. Oh well, the title says it all.)

If you want to listen to a live show you can go here. Note: The WCT played this show while the Hi-Tone was under serious renovation. There was nothing on the walls, the floor was stripped down to concrete, and the PA was hippie rigged, so the sound quality is awful, but you'll get the idea.

If you want to book The West Coast Turnaround just drop an e-mail


Note to potential clients: Country Music does NOT mean family entertainment. The WCT has been called on many times to play "family" events, and it puts them in a tight spot. All of their songs are about drinking, fighting, cheating, trucking, and heartache. You know, the good stuff. They'll play anywhere they are wanted-- but be prepared to cover the kiddies' ears.

UPDATE: The WCT is located in Memphis, TN and play most of their shows in the Midsouth. Yes, they will travel far and wide if the price is right and if they have enough advance notice. Sadly (or perhaps for Faith and the boys, gladly) they all have real jobs. So if you want to book them out of town--- Book them well in advance.
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Gotta Have Faith

A Brief History of Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround

It all began one drunken night at the P&H Cafe as former actor Chris Davis , and John "Sticky" Stivers, the shit-hot guitar player for Memphis' storied surf band Impala wept into their beers and lamented the fact that there just weren't any real honky tonk bands in the Bluff City. Though both Stivers and Davis were closely affiliated with the Midtown rock scene, they put their cards on the table, confessing their secret love for artists like Wynn Stewart, Ray Price, Webb Pierce, and Buck Owens. They joked about starting a country band over pitchers of warm beer and shots of Maker's Mark. Shortly thereafter Davis bumped into John Whittemore (of Neighborhood Texture Jam and The Tearjerkers) at a free George Jones concert at the Midsouth fair. Upon hearing yet another truly great Memphis guitar slinger express an interest in playing hillbilly music, Davis started working the phone; putting together a motley ensemble of sophisticated rednecks. A few months later The West Coast Turnaround--named for the most infamous variety of trucker speed--was tearing up the Memphis clubs. But in spite of nearly instant popularity in a city starved for traditional Country music, something was missing.

About a year after the boys started playing they added female vocalist Faith Wallace to the lineup. Faith had been singing for a rock and roll cover band called Two Faces, but wanted to go Country. Easy on the eyes and with a voice that sounds like a cross between Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette, she proved to be the missing piece. She quickly became the heart of the band, and an audience favorite with her covers of Harper Valley PTA, and D-I-V-O-R-C-E and her wonderful vocal contributions to originals like Pathways of Sin and Daddy Drinks Because You Cry.

Over the years Papa Top's West Coast Turnaround has played with such traditional Country and Rockabilly heroes as BR549, Johnny Dilks, Dale Watson, and Jason and the Scorchers. And in spite of the groups proclivity for singing about slipping around, and divorce they've become quite popular on the Midsouth wedding circuit--- who could have seen that one coming? The WCT got its start playing at Kudzu's and the P&H, but today they are more likely to be found at The Hi-Tone, Young Avenue Deli, Murphy's or The Buccaneer. As far as anybody knows they are the first and only band to ever play Harpo's Lounge on Hwy. 51, a roadhouse that proudly claims to be the most redneck place in the universe. So needless to say, they'll play just about anywhere

The West Coast Turnaround Today

Chris Davis & Faith Wallace--Vocals
John "Sticky" Stivers-- Guitar
John Whittemore-- Pedal Steel & Baritone Guitar
Clint Wagner--Fiddle
Baker Yates--Bass
Mark Jordan-- Drums. Posted by Hello

Some of Our Award-Winning Posters

Most of these were created by former WCT bass player Jeff Joiner, but since old Baldy-locks has moved to Texas, the WCT's drummer Mark Jordan has carried on the tradition. That's right: we may be the only honky tonk band in America that has won an Addy award. Go figure.

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