Being one of the friends on The Breeze has already paid off for White, who recently received his first check from its U.S. label and awaits a first payment from Polydor Records, the outfit handling worldwide distribution. He’s also gotten an offer to play some dates in Europe, which he’s considering.
“I’ve been over there two or three times before, playing with [country artists] Johnny Rodriguez and Joe Sun,” he recalls. “I’d like to be able to go over there as Don White and play ‘em some of that good old Tulsa music.”
Unlike the other friends listed on the sticker, White doesn’t have a management or promotional team in place to take advantage of the international buzz his work on The Breeze has generated. He does, however, have lots of musical friends around Tulsa, and one of them – the Grammy-winning drummer and Natura Digital Studios owner David Teegarden, who also plays on the Cale tribute disc – gave White some advice on how to make the most of his new visibility.
“Teegarden and I were talking, and he said, ‘You really need to get a new album out, but I don’t think we have time to make one,’” remembers White. “So I said, ‘Well, let me check my archives and see what I’ve already got that we might be able to use.’[pullquote]I’m perfect for those kinds of shows because I can come out and do 30-35 minutes, just me and a guitar. I don’t get in anybody’s way, I’m good at it, and I can warm ‘em up a little bit.”[/pullquote]
“I found six songs I’d recorded in Nashville about seven years earlier. Greg Kane, who’s from Tulsa, had ended up in Nashville as a studio engineer. He’d always been a Don White fan, and he called me and said, ‘Come on down, man, and let’s cut something.’
“I hadn’t recorded in Nashville in a few years,” he adds, “but when I was living there I’d played in bands with Jamie Hartford, John Hartford’s son, who’s a guitar player, singer and songwriter. So I told Greg I’d like to use Jamie, if he was available.”
As it turned out, Hartford was on the road and unavailable, so Kane found a substitute.
“He said, ‘I’ve got a guy named Jack Pearson I think I can get, and I think you’ll like him.’ Come to find out, Jack Pearson’s one of the hot guitar players in the business, playing with the Allman Brothers and a lot of other people. He’s a pretty famous guy and a great guitar player.”
Four of the songs featuring Pearson, multi-instrumentalist Robby Turner and drummer Billy Taylor found their way to White’s new disc. All are White compositions, with Kane and White co-producing, and they’re great examples of the low-key country-blues groove that’s a hallmark of the Don White sound. When you add those to the other tunes on this 11-cut disc, fittingly titled Patchwork, a lot of musical territory gets covered. There’s a cowboy number with some Sons of the Pioneers-style wordless harmonies, a powerful story-song called “Good Old Times,” and even a humorous offering to close the collection. The latter, one of only two tracks not written by White, is “Look At Granny Run, Run,” the tale of a newly randy grandpa and his appalled and fleeing wife. Penned by rock ‘n’ roll icons Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman, it was a minor hit single for soul singer Howard Tate back in 1967.
The other non-original is “I Didn’t Want to Boogie,” written by drummer Jerry Allison and recorded with his long-lived group the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s band. A wry and rueful tune about hesitating when you should be acting, it was sent to White by Allison himself.
“I started doing it in my shows, mainly when I’d go to theaters and open for classic-country acts,” remembers White. “And I started doing ‘Look at Granny Run, Run’ for comedy relief. [Nationally known Tulsa promoter Larry] Shaeffer found a niche in places like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming where he could play Ray Price or Merle Haggard or Willie and make some money. So I went out with him several times. I’m perfect for those kinds of shows because I can come out and do 30-35 minutes, just me and a guitar. I don’t get in anybody’s way, I’m good at it, and I can warm ‘em up a little bit and then get off. I’d do ‘I Didn’t Want to Boogie’ and ‘Look at Granny Run, Run,’ and those folks would tell me that they’d like to have a CD with those songs on it. So I promised them I’d do that.”
“Look at Granny Run, Run” was recorded at Natura Digital, with Teegarden on drums and Casey Van Beek on bass, as was a recut of one of White’s better-known tunes, “Tulsa Shuffle No. 1.” Those and the other tracks were all mastered by Teegarden and Brett Baldwin at the studio.
By the time you read this, White should have Patchwork on iTunes and Amazon.com. It’s also available from his website, www.donwhiteok.com.