That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 41: Beau Weevils – Songs in the Key of ‘E’
In 2018, Blue Hat Records released what would end up being the last album of newly recorded Charlie Daniels music, but it wasn’t a CDB album, it was a whole NEW band.
So were some members of the CDB.
The genesis of the Beau Weevils project goes all the way back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when dad was working with his friend and producer, James Stroud who produced the ‘Homesick Heroes,’ ‘Simple Man’ and ‘Renegade’ albums.
The two had a great working relationship, and enjoyed the experiences tremendously, and dad always hoped to be able to work together again someday, but they just couldn’t find the right project, or the right time.
One day in 2017, dad started messing around with a guitar lick groove and played it for James who liked what he heard and they started kicking around ideas for a project together.
Between the two of them, they had a guitar picker and a drummer, as James came up as a session drummer and played in a blues band called The Kingsnakes, but they would still need a bass player, so dad called upon Charlie Hayward to provide the backbeat, and the trio started working on some songs that dad had written in Twin Pines Studio.
Word started spreading throughout the organization that dad was working with a new band, and there was some concern amongst some of the CDB band members that they would soon be pounding the pavement, but that was never going to be the case. This was just a side project, and dad reassured his band that they weren’t going anywhere.
In fact, the band only did one live performance, and that was at the album release party they did at a bar in the Midtown area of Nashville called Winners, but there was talk of possibly doing some other small shows at some point, but that never materialized.
I had hoped that one night while dad was performing on the Opry, maybe on one of the early shows, the Beau Weevils could come out and do a couple of songs before the CDB came back out later.
While this new band was working in the studio, it became obvious they needed another guitar picker, and CDB roadie extraordinaire had an inspired idea, they called on Billy Crain, brother of the late Tommy Crain who was side-by-side with dad from 1975-1989 and is who most people think of as the CDB’s other guitar player, aside from dad.
Billy is no slouch at all, he’s a world-class slide guitar player, having spent time playing with his brother, The Henry Paul Band, The Outlaws, The Bellamy Brothers, and he made a pretty good living as a songwriter as well.
He was the perfect addition to the swampy sound that dad was going for with the band that he decided to call “Bo Weevils.” Yes, that’s how it was supposed to be spelled, we even have album cover art with that spelling, but when we started looking up trademarks and website domain names, there were a few bands that were already using some variation of “Bo Weevils” or “Boweevils,” so dad decided to geau - I mean go - with something a little swampier, which fit with the Louisiana flavor of some of the songs on the album, so it became “Beau Weevils.”
Sadly, it wasn’t “Charlie Daniels and the Beau Weevils,” for the sake of discovery, particularly on streaming platforms. It was decided to just go with “Beau Weevils.”
I thought if they were going to go that route, they should go full Traveling Wilburys and use aliases all around with dad being “Beau Weevil,” James being “Jeau Weevil,” Billy being, “Yeau Weevil” and Charlie Hayward being “Sleau Weevil,” but nobody bit on the idea.
The album’s title was an easy one, because all songs are literally in the key of ‘E.’
The cover art was taken at the original Twin Pines barn which was built before we even moved to the ranch back in the late 70s, our dear friend, David Harris, loaned his tractor for the photo shoot, and he was also the inspiration for the band’s look.
Rarely was David ever seen without bib overalls, a ball cap and usually a T-shirt, but he was a great guy who would do anything for you, give you the shirt off his back, and be there at a minute’s notice if you called him.
Sadly, in 2017, he was gunned down in an altercation one night. It’s complicated, but being the strong 2A guy that he was, he was carrying and before he went down, he took his killer down with him.
He is sorely missed, and our little corner of Wilson County was a better place with him in it.
I think he got a kick out of being the Beau Weevils style inspiration.
What resulted was one of the best complete albums dad did in the last twenty years, and one that I have listened to repeatedly. You could just tell he was having fun, and making great music with good friends.
That’s how it is supposed to work.
Enough backstory, on to the music.
The package kicks off with a bang with the infectious groove of “Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues,” which is a treat to listen to. It tells the story of Cajun man who is having a hard time, telling his mom that he’s got he got his heart broken, he’s got a spider in his gumbo, and all of that has led to him having the “Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues,” but he’s also got the cops from Lake Charles looking for him, and car trouble. Dad throws in some French and Cajun and probably pseudo-Cajun phrases in. He wrote some line out and had drummer Ron Gannaway’s wife translate them verbatim, so to someone in Louisiana, it may sound like Google Translate, but to the average listener, it sounds good.
In 2020, while everyone was “sheltering in place” during the pandemic, we asked some of our friends to send us videos of them dancing or lip synching to the song and we put it together into a video using clips shot mostly with my iPhone from the Winners album release party and clips from Collin Raye, Crystal Gayle, The Oak Ridge Boys, Rhonda Vincent, T. Graham Brown, and many more, including some friends in Ghillie suits dancing around a swimming pool and just having fun.
I shot one clip of dad saying “C’ez la vie” which was one of the last things he recorded before he passed away.
It was a lot of fun editing, and I think people enjoyed what we were trying to do with it, laugh our way through the pandemic.
“Bad Blood” was a cover of a song from 1995’s “Same Ol’ Me” album about a young man whose father kills a sheriff’s deputy coming to shut his moonshine still down, he leaves him and his family, but warns about the cursed “bad blood” flowing through his veins, which comes back to haunt him years later when his wife flirts with another man at a bar and his own bad blood leads him to kill the man with his bare hands, and he’s reminded of his daddy’s words as he holds the man’s lifeless body.
This version is just a little more uptempo than the original, and I mean that loosely. It’s not a fast song, it’s just slightly faster than the really creepy slow original. It definitely fits the collection.
“How We Roll” is basically a CDB song, in fact, the song made it into the CDB set in the last few years dad was touring.
The first couple of verses are a bit of a working man’s manifesto, touting his affection for NASCAR, the Tennessee Vols, Merle, Hank, George, rodeo, and cornbread, and quotes himself when he says “you better leave this long haired country boy alone.”
The next verses sing the praises of our nation and he acknowledges that people want to come here for a better life, he just says to please get in line and do it the right way instead of coming here illegally, and if you come here wanting to change it instead of embracing the American Dream, please go back home.
“Mexico Again” is about a gringo who is down in the Mexican border town of Villa Acuña having a good time on Cinco de Mayo who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time when a fight breaks out and the federales arrive and he’s the first one taken to jail. Many Mexican jails are notorious for extorting money from Americans, so our gringo is just another in a long line of victims of this unfortunate practice.
He gives all his dinero to the jailers, hitchhikes back to the border and screams “Adios, muchacos, you’ll never see me again!” as he runs back to the USA.
The chorus is a list of things he would prefer happening to him if he ever dares to go down to Mexico again, including chucking him in a shallow grave or chopping him up into tiny bits to be scattered in the wind.
It’s a fun song and the first video released from the project.
And while dad did spend some "unfortunate time" in Mexico for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the story in the song is not acutally autobigraphical.
“Mudcat” is the song that got this project started. Dad started playing this guitar lick and worked it into a song which has hints of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” missed with “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” but built around the old legend of blues pioneer Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads.
It’s cool, swampy and definitely creepy.
One bit of trivia that even Billy Crain – who played guitar on the song - didn’t know, the National Steel guitar Billy played was given to dad by Ronnie Van Zant at the Sunshine Jam in Jacksonville, the last night of the “Torture Tour” on June 10, 1976.
I think I blew Billy’s mind when I told him that when he was a guest on The Charlie Daniels Podcast.
“Mudcat” is pure Charlie Daniels storytelling magic.
“Smokey’s Got Your Number” is a pretty simple message, “Slow down and drive safely!”
Dad describes five different drivers under five different scenarios, including bootlegging whiskey on Thunder Road, speeding in a 20 MPH zone, getting too frisky with the girl in the passenger seat, talking on the phone while driving and putting on makeup, and texting and driving while drinking a latté… each of these individuals get pulled over by “Smokey” – slang for a state trooper – because he’s got their number, and he’s shutting them down.
“Oh, Juanita” was originally recorded for 1993’s “America, I Believe in You” album.
It’s about a boy in love with a girl named Juanita – which happens to be my mom’s middle name – and he professes his love and devotion to her, despite her father’s objections.
It’s got a highly infectious groove which many of the songs on this project do.
“Louisiana Blues” is a mournful and tender song about a man stuck in the big city and being overwhelmingly homesick for the sights, sounds and smells of his native Pelican State.
It’s a soft, bluesy cry for the familiar and the comforting when you’ve been away from home for way too long.
“We’ll All Have Some” is a funny little song about a Friday night barbeque festival in a little Louisiana town.
There must be some question about the quality of the food, because a man named Brud is called upon to be the taster of the barbeque, rum and Brunswick stew, and if it doesn’t kill him, then “we’ll all have some.
Kinda makes you wonder what has happened in the past…
One of the most common questions about the song is, “Who is Brud?”
Well, there was a Brud, Brud Spickard. He worked on mom and dad’s ranch and passed away just about a month after dad.
He was never used as a Guinea pig for possibly tainted food, but he was a true character.
Dad thought it was a funny line to say that if it don’t kill Brud, then we’ll all have some.
I think Brud got a kick out of being immortalized in the song as well.
The premise of “Everybody’s Gotta Go Sometime” is simple, no matter who you are, your days are numbered. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how poor you are, how important you are, how forgettable you are, everybody’s gotta go sometime.
I can’t say for sure, but I really feel that dad was inspired by a song that dad covered on the ‘Off the Grid-Doin’ it Dylan’ album, “Gotta Serve Somebody” which has a similar theme, except instead everybody having a date with death, Dylan sang that everybody serves someone, be it the devil, or the Lord, and both songs lay out people from all walks of life who fall into the category of "gotta go sometime," basically, everyone..
But the songs complement each other, Dylan’s says you gotta serve somebody, dad’s saying that everybody’s gotta go sometime, so if you put them together, the message is, you better be careful who you serve, because one day it will be over, and whoever you’re serving will determine your eternity.
I don’t know for sure if dad was inspired by Dylan on this, but that’s my gut feeling.
Beau Weevils - Songs in the Key of 'E' is one of my favorite albums. It's a fun album to listen to, and you can tell dad and the guys had fun making it.
Dad dedicated ‘Songs in the Key of ‘E’’ to The Band’s Levon Helm.
“Dedication to Levon Helm
He always managed to play on the shady side of the beat and singing made you proud to be from the South.
Rest in peace my friend, you’ve done your part.
Charlie Daniels 2018”
Th- Th- Th- That’s all, folks!
At least as far as original albums go…
For those counting, since 1972, that’s basically forty albums, some CDB, some Charlie Daniels, some Charlie Daniels & Friends and one Beau Weevils, and I didn’t count the original 1970 Capitol album since that was pre-1972.
I was trying to just count original albums and not get caught up too much on repackaged compilation albums without any newly-recorded material until we got to the Blue Hat Records era since a lot of songs were re-recorded for those collections, and I didn’t count the retitled Epic reissues of the Kama Sutra catalog or the Volunteer Jam albums because they were essentially live various artists albums, so the number could really be closer to sixty if you wanted to include every release that ever had dad or the CDB on it, but much of that would have been redundant.
Next time we wrap up with some Memoirs, Memories and Miles, some odds and ends, soundtrack songs, various artists collections the CDB appeared on, and so forth and a few dedications from compilation albums that were notable.
One more to go!
Check out Beau Weevils – Songs in the Key of E HERE
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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Check Out The Charlie Daniels Podcast!
Check out "Geechi Geechi Ya Ya Blues" from Beau Weevils - 'Songs in the Key of E'