BACK HOME IN TENNESSEE/COWBOYS AND INDIANS/WHERE THE SOUTHERN CROSS THE YELLOW DOG
by Bruce Sylvester, GOLDMINE
Long before Pat Boone in his white bucks joined Randy Wood's Dot Records, there was ragtimer Johnny Maddox dancing along the ivories, reaching #2 in 1955 with "Crazy Otto Medley." Born in 1927, Maddox was a staffer at Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, TN, before Wood's store birthed Dot. A human encyclopedia of piano music, Maddox became a steady-selling mainstay at the label.
Offering 16 to 20 tracks, these three nostalgic solo CDs were merrily recorded on a Bosendorfer piano in 1984 for Blythewood Records. With "Memphis Blues," "Beale Street Mama" and "Joe Turner Blues," Where The Southern Crosses The Yellow Dog salutes the blues of W.C. Handy, who called Maddox "the white boy with the colored fingers." Back Home In Tennessee emphasizes songs of the South ("Roll Along Kentucky Moon," "Arkansas Blues"). "Dixie Medley" was played at Jefferson Davis's inaugural as president of The Confederacy. Cowboys And Indians includes "Roll Along Prairie Moon," "Red Wing" and, of course, "Ragtime Cowboy Joe."
A visual delight, the CDs' superb booklets give songs' and authors' backgrounds. For art, we can feast on vintage sheet music covers from Maddox-s enormous personal collection of over 100,000 pieces. By the way, the label-s website says that Grateful Dead's "Ramble On Rose" refers to Maddox. Now we know who the song's "Crazy Otto" is.