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 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 until dawn.

  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, 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 fire.

Well, Crawpatch Rides Again!!!

   Andy Morton, 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 Crawpatch.
  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 of bluegrass.  Jimmy Crosthwait sometimes joins us on washboard, as does Hank Sable on fiddle.
  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.

Don McGregor    

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