Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' - Sammy Walker

from the album Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' (2016)

Once upon a time, radio disc jockeys had the freedom to play the music of their choice.  People tuned in and listened, as a trusted source guided them thru music that was most relevant irrespective of genres and formats.

WBAI was a New York City radio station with its antenna atop the Empire State Building.  In the 1960's and 70's it allowed its disc jockeys to experiment with their musical choices and opinions.  This helped give rise to the counterculture.

One of WBAI's DJs - Bob Fass - had a jewel of a program called Radio Unnamable. This was a free form show that weaved between music and left wing politics.  The quality of artists who stopped by to perform on this program was staggering.  This is where Arlo Guthrie first performed Alice's Restaurant.  It is also where Jerry Jeff Walker first performed Mr. Bojangles.

Other musical guests included Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Muddy Waters, and Frank Zappa.  Likewise, there were political activists, like Abbie Hoffman, and poets like Alan Ginsberg.

One night in 1975, a 23 year-old folk singer from Atlanta named Sammy Walker got to stop in and play a few songs.  His acoustic guitar and harmonica skills coupled with his vocals and songwriting chops readily evoked a young Bob Dylan.  The performance caught the ear of renowned protest singer Phil Ochs, who turned his friends at Warner Brothers on to this talent.  Soon Sammy Walker had a record deal.

His eponymous first album was released a year later.  It was an excellent record, but did not breakthrough.  Being a great new coffeehouse folkster in 1976 was a bit like being the last man who walked on the moon, a great accomplishment but nobody remembers your name.

This month, Sammy Walker has released an album leveraging those original recordings (arthritis now prevents him from playing guitar).  The album shares the name of its first track, Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin'.  It is incredibly good.  Devoid of the original versions 70's production stylings this record is stripped down and raw, like very early Dylan.

I've been digging the title track.  It takes me back to make believe days in Greenwich Village that I never actually experienced, but know so well (music can do that).  Take a listen and escape to a distant time and place.

And support great local radio.

Click Here to listen to Sammy Walker's 2016 rendition of Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin'.

Click Here to listen to the original version of Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' from 1975.

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