Here’s an album that some might not expect to see pop up on a Columbus music blog. A Lynyrd Skynyrd spin-off project? Yep, and there are many Columbus connections with this band and record. My route to discovering this was circuitous and stretches back to the early nineties when I became a big fan of the Allman Brothers Band and Warren Haynes.
Artimus Pyle Band
MCA Records - MCA 5313
Released just after I graduated from high school and weeks before the Grateful Dead’s Brent Mydland passed away in July 1990, the Allman Brothers’ Seven Turns album was a revelation to me. This was exactly what I was looking for musically at the time and as the Dead’s live performances began to decline after Brent’s passing, I got on the Allman Brothers’ train. And the new guy, Warren Haynes, with his remarkable slide playing and bluesy vocals, really grabbed my attention. I wrote a glowing review of Seven Turns for my freshman English class at Ohio State.
So when Warren formed a power trio with Allman’s bassist Allen Woody, I was on board from day one. I already loved the power trio format and Gov’t Mule quickly became my favorite band. At one of the first Gov’t Mule shows I saw at the old Ludlow’s in the Brewery District in 1998, the band brought up John Boerstler for their encore of Spoonful. How cool! He smoked on it! I knew Boerstler from seeing him many times with the Hoodoo Soul Band and Men Of Leisure. He’s one of my favorite Columbus guitarists. My respect for both him and Mule grew even more. But how did they know each other?
I’d heard that Boerstler used to play with Artimus Pyle and learned that Allen Woody had as well. Maybe there was some connection there. I’d see Boerstler sit in with Mule again and took video of the Ventilator Blues he played with them in 2012. Through conversations over the years, I finally was able to confirm that Boerstler and Woody briefly played together in the Artimus Pyle Band in the mid-'80s.
But how did Boerstler know former Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle? Thomas Delmar “Artimus” Pyle was born in Louisville Kentucky but spent a chunk of his childhood in Columbus and graduated from Eastmoor High School in 1966. Daryll Otis Smith (Dave Workman Blues Band) was also an Eastmoor grad and would go on to be the lead vocalist in this original lineup of the Artimus Pyle Band.
Their first album, A.P.B, was recorded in Spartanburg, S.C. in 1982. Although it suffers from the same ‘80s production values that plagued the era in general, it’s a solid rock album. It’s a great showcase for Boerstler’s guitar work and he gets some writing credits as well. I was not familiar with Daryll Otis Smith, but he’s got a great voice. This leans more to the pop side of things - more .38 Special than Allman Brothers - but that doesn’t bother me a bit. In fact, track one kicks off sounding dangerously close to .38 Special’s Hold On Loosely, which hit the year before. But once the chorus appears, it gets its own character and Town To Town becomes a solid pop rock song that will stick in your head.
Next up is Don’t Know Her Name which Boerstler wrote with his old music cohort Frank Pierce. This riff-based tune features Boerstler’s formidable slide playing. You also get some nice Doobie-esque harmonies. Another Boerstler-penned song follows, written with Darryll Smith and another Frank Pierce Group alum, Bob Kocher - It Ain't The Whiskey, a piano and slide infused ballad. Side one ends with Darryll Smith just killing on the vocals of a faithful cover of Chuck Berry’s Maybellene. Sidebar: One of the first concerts I ever saw was an outdoor Chuck Berry show Downtown my Dad took me to in 1986. That gig would be immortalized in the film Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll when Chuck surprises everyone by suddenly leaving rehearsals to perform in Columbus. He’s seen walking through Port Columbus and meeting his pickup band. The drummer that night? Frank Pierce.
Side two starts with the one song written by Pyle, Makes More Rock. He gets the double bass drum going, and takes a brief solo, but nothing too flashy. Look, say what you will about Artimus, but you gotta give him credit here for focusing on the songs and not making this a “drum” record or an ego fest. This was a band in the democratic sense and the record is better for it. There’s plenty of tasty drumming and fills, but he gives the band their input and doesn‘t hog the spotlight. I’m sure some would quibble with that, but I like busy drumming and I like what Pyle brought with Skynyrd and here.
The Road Never Ends brings some acoustic guitar and again showcases Smith’s voice. Unfortunately, Darryll Otis Smith passed away in 2016. Steve Brewington passed in 2010. Boerstler has had his share of health issues too, but he’s still playing as much as he can with the Hoodoo Soul Band and others. He’s truly a Columbus treasure and he’s proven here, with Gov’t Mule and with Hoodoo on Sunday nights that he’s a world-class player who can hold his own with anyone.
P.S. Just learned of Dusty Hill's passing - Rest In Peace
A1 Town To Town
A2 Don't Know Her Name
A3 It Ain't The Whiskey
A4 She's My Baby
Written-By – Steve Lockhart
Written-By – Chuck Berry
B1 Makes More Rock
Written-By – Artimus Pyle
B2 My Whole World's Upside Down
B3 The Road Never Ends
Written-By – Steve Brewington
B4 Take A Look
B5 Rock & Roll Each Other
Recorded At – Creative Arts Studios
Mastered At – Sterling Sound
Phonographic Copyright (p) – MCA Records, Inc.
Copyright (c) – MCA Records, Inc.
Record Company – Carousel Records
Manufactured By – MCA Records, Inc.
Art Direction – George Osaki
Bass – Steve Brewington
Design – D. Hogan
Drums – Artimus Pyle
Engineer – Kevin Herron
Engineer [Assistant] – Randy Merryman
Engineer [Tape Assistant] – Rick Hyder
Guest, Backing Vocals – Bob Kocher
Guest, Percussion – Trip Tillery
Guest, Piano – Doug Gray, George Mccorkle, Jerry Eubanks, Vince Schoenborn
Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Steve Lockhart
Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals – John Boerstler
Illustration – Roger Bergendorff
Mastered By – Greg Calbi
Photography By – Alan Messer
Producer – Doug Gray, George McCorkle, Jerry Eubanks
Vocals – Darryll Otis Smith