Tag Archives: Sleepy LaBeef

Where should I sign?

Autographed Taylor Swift folklore CDs at the Exclusive Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This is quite a story if you haven’t already heard it.

Delivery guy drops a box of 30 autographed Taylor Swift “folklore” CDs at a record store 15 minutes before it opens. A young woman signs for it. She’s sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for the store to open. She realizes what the package likely contains and protects it as if it were gold. She hands it over to the record store manager when he arrives to open for the day.

Well, that happened right here in Green Bay a week ago. The record store is The Exclusive Company, one of my regular stops. The store manager is my friend Tom Smith. The Taylor Swift fan is Brandy Baenen, who’s 26.

“‘Taylor would not have wanted me to walk off with this,” she told Tom, who later that day told the story on social media and watched it go viral.

Which got me to thinking about autographs. I’ve never been a big autograph guy. Not athletes, not celebrities and not musicians. I’d rather chat briefly with them, say I enjoyed their performance, and leave it at that.

That said, I do have a few signed records and CDs.

The late, great Steve Goodman signed his “Artistic Hair” record for me after I saw him play at the old Madison Civic Center in the spring of 1983. I vividly remember Goodman sitting at the table, looking up and asking my name for the inscription. Either I mumbled or he misheard me. As you see, he signed mine “JOE / Hello / Steve Goodman.” I was vaguely disappointed at first, but have long since enjoyed it as another delightful gift from Goodman.

Colin Hay Man @ Work autographed CD

After Colin Hay played a solo one-nighter at our local casino lounge in the summer of 2005, I queued up for his autograph on his “Man @ Work” CD. Our son Evan was 10 at the time. He was just getting into music. One of the songs on that 2003 record, “Beautiful World,” was one of his favorites.

Sleepy LaBeef Nothin' But the Truth autographed LP

Sleepy LaBeef, the human jukebox, was one of my all-time favorites. I pulled out “Nothin’ But the Truth,” his 1986 live record, for Sleepy to sign when he played a rockabilly festival at our local casino in 2007. At some point, I managed to crease a corner of the album jacket, and that bugs me to this day.

Carlene Carter autograph on Stronger CD

Carlene Carter autograph on Carter Girl CD

Though we saw Carlene Carter live in 2009, my autographed CDs came by mail. She has the best penmanship and nicest signature of any of my autographs. Fun fact: Ray Nitschke was a close second.

(I also have a CD signed by all the members of The Ides of March, circa 2011, but that was a post-show assembly-line deal rather than a face-to-face meetup. The Ides’ Jim Peterik signed his book for me three years later. I have a 12-inch single signed by all three ladies in The Three Degrees, circa 1978. Bought that for fun.)

(Found while rounding up those autographs: Autographed CDs by blues guitarists John Cephas and Phil Wiggins — a birthday gift in 1993 after we saw them earlier that year — and by country singer Danni Leigh from after a 2004 show at our local casino lounge.)

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Filed under August 2020, Sounds

The wish list

Every kid makes a wish list for Christmas, or for a birthday. Is that something you grow out of?

Our friends over at Analog Apartment ran a little contest earlier this month. Put at least five records in the wish list feature at My Analog Apartment, their sweet new app for record collectors, and they’d pick three users and give each of them one record from their list.

I’m always digging for records, hoping to find something interesting. I was out in the tents in my friend Jim’s back yard last Saturday morning, my fingers numb in the 40-degree cold. October in Wisconsin has been nasty. I brought home 13 LPs for $13, but nothing that blew me away. Some days, you just gotta support your local record dealer.

So why, then, was it so hard to come up with a wish list?

Maybe it’s this mantra, seen on a church message board some 20 years ago: “Strive to need less rather than want more.”

I saw it while running — not far from a record store, actually — and it has stuck with me all these years.

The Green Bay record show is tomorrow, and as usual, I’ll go without a wish list. What’s there is for me to dig through. What’s not there is to be sought another day, an adventure to be continued.

Most of the records on that contest wish list are old soul or R&B records that probably were hard to find in our corner of Wisconsin when they came out, if they came out here at all.

Maybe tomorrow.


“Tomorrow Never Comes,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Tomorrow Never Comes,” 2000.

I never find any records by this American treasure, either.

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Filed under October 2009, Sounds

Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 52

So we come to the end of our Sleepy Sundays.

When I started this blog a year ago, I wanted to shine some light on Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure and human jukebox. I’ve seen him play live four times, and each time was terrific.

When Sleepy played here last May, I chatted briefly with him, telling him about these Sleepy Sunday posts.

“Keep it up!” he said in that distinctive baritone.

That we have, for a year.

We’re going out in style today. The best way to appreciate Sleepy is to see and hear him live, so we’re going to serve up two more cuts from Sleepy’s great live album, “Nothin’ But the Truth.”

Recorded live at Harper’s Ferry in Allston, Massachusetts, on Oct. 22, 1985, these two cuts are the bookends on Side 2 of the album.

It’s midway through the show and Sleepy’s starting to crank it up on our first tune, a cover of an Otis Blackwell song. Listen for him to holler for “Piano!” about 2 minutes in.

Sleepy’s in high gear by the time he wraps up the show with a closing medley of “Jambalaya,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Let’s Turn Back the Years,” “Hey, Good Lookin'” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”


“Let’s Talk About Us” and “Medley,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Nothin’ But the Truth,” 1987. (These rips are from the original vinyl, which leaves a little to be desired on “Medley.” Damn thing skips a couple of times.)

If you have a chance to see Sleepy live, by all means go!

At the moment, his tour schedule shows only two gigs in the United States this year — April 12 at the Americana Roots Ramble in Media, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, and Aug. 15 in Milwaukee at a place to be determined. I know where I’ll be on Aug. 15.

(If you’re wondering, we’re moving on to a new series of posts on another of my faves. And, yes, we’ll still be doing Sleepy posts from time to time.)


Filed under February 2008, Sounds

Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 51

Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure and human jukebox, has covered thousands of songs.

Though many are obscure, others are familiar. It’s always interesting to hear Sleepy interpret a song you’ve heard many times by other artists. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve had both here.

Today, it’s a blues tune done first by Muddy Waters in May 1955. “Mannish Boy” has its roots in the Bo Diddley blues number, “I’m a Man.” It’s a rewrite, a reworking of that tune, which came out in March 1955.

Sleepy isn’t the only one to cover “Mannish Boy,” as you well know. Among the others: Jimi Hendrix, Paul Butterfield, the Band, the Rolling Stones and Hank Williams Jr.


“Mannish Boy,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Rockabilly Blues,” 2001.

Sleepy recorded this version at Dimension Sound Studios in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, in 1981. His backing band is Scott Billington on harmonica, Bobby Keyes on guitar, Harry Duncan on piano, Russell Keyes on bass and Rick Nelson on drums.

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Filed under February 2008, Sounds

Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 50

It was 29 degrees at noon Saturday here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Then the temperature started falling out of sight.

The overnight low was expected to be about 11 below zero. Today’s high is expected to be zero. Maybe.

Oh, yeah, and the wind is blowing and will continue to blow out of the west-northwest at 25 mph, gusting to 40 mph. That puts the wind chill at 30 below to 40 below. Charming.

That’s what the lovely Janet is leaving behind as she hops on a plane this afternoon, bound for sunny, mild San Diego, California. She writes about e-mail marketing, and is on her way to the Direct Marketing Association’s E-Mail Evolution Conference.

She’s worked in the Internet industry for several years, and these kinds of conferences always are in some seasonally pleasant place. But never in, say, Fargo or Duluth or Green Bay at this time of year.

On today’s tune, Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure, also is dealing with being left behind by a woman who’s off to the big city. It’s a cover of a song written by Mississippi bluesman Jimmy Reed, for whom it hit No. 3 on the R&B singles chart in 1961.

“Go ahead, a-pretty baby, a-honey, knock yourself out/Oh, go ahead, a-pretty baby, a-honey, knock yourself out.”


“Bright Lights, Big City,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Rockabilly Blues,” 2001.

Sleepy recorded this at the Shook Shack in Nashville in 1980. He’s backed by Cliff Parker on guitar, Henry Strzelecki on bass, Earl Poole Ball on piano and D.J. Fontana on drums. Ball, who adds some nice honky-tonk piano, used to play with Johnny Cash. Fontana, of course, used to play with Elvis.

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Filed under February 2008, Sounds