We are delighted to feature the video premiere of ‘Tulsa County’ from Jesse Aycock, which is part of the ‘BACK TO PARADISE: A Tulsa Tribute to Okie Music’ project on Horton Records. The song, a Jesse Ed Davis cover, features masterful steel guitar from Aycock and is one of three songs he recorded for the album, which is released today, 28th August. The album was tracked at Leon Russell’s Paradise Studio at Grand Lake in Tia Juana, the first to be recorded there in 30 years. The likes of Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Bob Seeger were part of the Paradise Studio’s rich musical history.
This project involved 20 contemporary Oklahoma musicians collaborating over four days to celebrate local music by recording seventeen songs written by artists from Tulsa. The chosen songs represent both famous and more obscure artists. The end result is full of warmth and heart, respectful and yet new. It honours the musical heritage of the region, celebrating the role models who inspired the performers of today.
It should be noted that Horton Records is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organisations that exists to support local artists and help them achieve their dreams. It’s a noble ambition and deserves support. A special mention must also be given to Tulsa’s Rick Huskey, who has spent the years since Paradise Studio was last used in 1978 preserving and restoring it, so that new artists might continue its musical journey.
Aycock shared his thoughts on recording the cover: “I discovered Jesse Ed Davis around the same time I was getting into lap steel, and was a real eye opener. He’s one of those players whose distinct sound stood out from everyone else. He was a true servant of the song adding just the right colours. There‘s also this trashy element in his playing that really jabs at the heart. When you add his voice to the mix you see the whole picture. I think his struggles of growing up in Oklahoma as a Native American really comes through in his music. I remember listening to an interview with him where he really shined a light on how rough and racist Oklahoma was as a youth. He wrote ‘Ching, Ching China Boy’ about being bullied by a group of kids in school who would follow him around repeating “Ching Ching China boy”, threatening to beat him up. I really feel he was able to take all these hardships and channel them through his music providing us with a sense of who he was and what he’d been through.
When it comes to his recording discography, his list goes on and on. He’s one of those players who’s name pops up in the credits on countless albums. Most of which happen to be the cream of the crop. His work with Taj Mahal is some of my favourite, and that first Roger Tillison album is incredible. Just look up his wiki page and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I recorded three songs on Back To Paradise, ‘Tulsa County’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies’ and ‘Black Cherry’. Jesse Ed either recorded a version himself or was the guitar player on the original session. Jesse Ed also played a very important role in Duane Allman taking up slide guitar. After reading the beautiful book ‘Please Be With Me’ by his daughter Galadrielle Allman, you learn about what an impact Jesse Ed had on Duane pursuing slide guitar. Just another important moment in connecting the dots. Lastly Jesse Ed had a career as a solo artist, but spent most of his career as a highly respected side guy. It’s something that has always resonated with me having been on a similar path. There’s a freedom in that – ‘Tulsa County’ has been in my rotation of covers for years, but I had never put it to tape. This project seemed like the perfect time to record it. When it comes to performing covers I’m very selective. There’s a ton of great songs out there I would love to cover, but not all of them feel like something I could make my own. That’s not the case at all with ‘Tulsa County’. It feels like something I could have written and the subject matter is close to home. The idea for the video came easy as well. It wasn’t originally in my plan to make a video but the ideas poured in and could see the whole thing mapped out. Film is not really my forte, but I’ve always enjoyed the visual aspect of music and figured it would give me something to do while in quarantine.”
This is an important project, executed well by Jason Weinheimer and Them Tulsa Boys on production duties. Check out this song as a superb introduction to an album celebrating the musical heritage of Oklahoma. Enjoy.