Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Simpson

During that same trip to Bakersfield where John and I saw Buck Owens at the Crystal Palace (see previous entry), we caught one of Red Simpson's regular Monday night gigs at Trout's in a town called Oildale, which is a few miles north of downtown Bakersfield. The 73 year old nightclub is the last remaining authentic honkytonk in the Bakersfield area.

Monday evenings are advertised as "SENIORS & SINGLES MIXER - LIVE MUSIC Featuring RED SIMPSON & LARRY PETREE!" and the music is really meant as accompaniment for dancing, the way it is at most of the best honkytonks in the country. On the warm September evening that we were there, the dance floor was packed, and most of folks dancing were over the age of 60.

Red and steel player Larry Petree played mostly country standards that night and surprisingly few truck driving songs, the style of country music Red is famous for singing. We had been in contact with Larry the previous week and he knew we were going to be in the audience that night. Shortly after we arrived, he introduced us to Red and Red asked me what song I wanted to hear, to which I responded "Roll, Truck, Roll," without thinking that there's not much room for Larry to play on that song--not that that really mattered. They played "Roll, Truck, Roll" early in the set and they played "Hello, I’m a Truck" shortly after and I don't remember them playing any other truck-driving songs. They mostly played music that was more suitable for dancing. This was definitely entertainment for locals, while Buck's show was geared more toward out-of-towners.

Red and Larry were very friendly with us and we all had a beer together after the show, where Red introduced us to his wife Joyce and signed our records. The entire place--the management, the wait staff, the bartender, the performers--were unusually welcoming and friendly, and this evening is my fondest memory of the Bakersfield trip.


  1. Yeah, that was an awesome time. The bartender set us up with a round on the house as soon as we walked in the door. Most of the dancing was people I would place at least in their 70s, doing all sorts of complex line dances. I think it was pretty novel for someone to track down Red like that, though it seemed to occur for him once or twice a year.

  2. I've always admired this album cover. What a great experience you had in getting it signed.

  3. Awesome, love each and all of the songs on Roll, Truck, Roll (just reviewed the album on my music blog). I'm envious you got to meet him!

  4. Nice review! I'm glad you mentioned how fantastic the musicians are on that album, including reference to the piano playing on "Big Mack." If you haven't heard Red's tribute to the police, "The Man Behind the Badge," it's just as good.