On June 30th, Tompkins Square will reissue two albums by Texas singer/songwriter Will Beeley – the self-released mega-rare (only 200 copies) private press LP Gallivantin’ from 1971, and Passing Dream, originally released by Malaco Records in 1979.
Recorded in San Antonio, Gallivantin’ shows Beeley’s heartfelt, folky side – a wistful set of original tunes, plus a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and a spaced-out, 10 minute+ Eastern-influenced psych take on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Little Wheel Spin And Spin / Co’Dine”.
Recorded in Jackson, Mississippi, Passing Dream reveals the shifting musical direction of opposite sides of the 70’s – a tougher, huskier, more alt-country sound emerging, presaging modern day troubadours like Chris Stapleton and Jamey Johnson. Released by Malaco Records in 1979, the album features the very first studio credit by guitarist Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm), along with drummer James Stroud (Marshall Tucker Band, Eddie Rabbitt), keyboardist Carson Whitsett (Paul Simon, Tony Joe White) and other crack studio players.
Now a truck driver living in New Mexico, Will Beeley recently recorded his first new album since 1979’s Passing Dream. Produced by Jerry David DeCicca of The Black Swans (who also produced Larry Jon Wilson’s final album), the new one features Michael Guerra (The Mavericks), and is mixed by Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Cat Power’s The Greatest). The album is slated for release on Tompkins Square sometime in 2018.
In Will Beeley’s own words, April 2017:
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. From the time I could remember I had always made up lyrics so I learned how to play guitar so I could put the lyrics to music. I had gotten into folk music and singer/songwriters like Dylan and Tim Hardin so learning how to play the acoustic guitar was my only choice. Plus with an acoustic guitar you can play it anywhere. A friend of mine named James Harris, taught me the basic chords and showed me how to play “The House Of The Rising Sun,” and “Don’t Think Twice.” Those two songs and Bm had pretty much all the chords I’d ever need to know — James was right.
I started playing around San Antonio in ’67 at a place called Doogie’s Stonehenge, near San Antonio college and a folk music coffee house called the Gate House on 4th St. At the Stonehenge I saw people like Townes Van Zandt and singers who played the Austin, Houston, and Dallas clubs. By ’69 I was getting warm up spots in some of those clubs. I did the Gallivantin’ album in 70 with the financial help of a friend of mine, Phil Pena. We only had 200 copies pressed but it was enough to get the attention of a couple of DJs at KTSA, Ron Houston and Johnny O’ Neal, who liked it and started looking around for a label. In ’71 Elektra flew me to Memphis and then down to Muscles Shoals to meet with Russ Miller. He liked the new songs I had written and said they’d be interested in 9 months to a year. I was also looked at by Capitol Records and then A&M. Wayne Shuler was a promotion rep for A&M who had done work with Malaco on the Mississippi Fred McDowell album and introduced me to Tommy Couch and Wolf Stephenson. They signed me in late ’71. Between ’71 and ’73 we cut enough tunes for an album. Malaco looked for a label deal to release it and in ’74 Malaco released a single called “Rainbow Highway”. It charted on a few radio stations but never really went anywhere. I was pretty disappointed and not writing all that much so Malaco released me from my contract, with first refusal on future material, and I went home to San Antonio to concentrate on writing. I got a job selling new cars for a Ford dealer by day and wrote songs by night. In ’76 I went back to Malaco and played my new album’s worth of songs. Malaco liked them and on the week of the 4th of July ’77 we cut the Passing Dream album. The album and the arrangements of the tunes have always been my favorite studio work.
Passing Dream was released in October of ’79. A single, “Rainy Sunday/Standing At The Station” came out and went pretty much nowhere. I got airplay on the country stations in San Antonio but very little anywhere else. After playing in honky tonks for a couple of years and not really doing all that well I came to the conclusion that it was time to make some changes. My wife was expecting our second child and getting a real job was the obvious decision. We opened a small record store that lasted less time then my wife’s pregnancy. I had been selling more records to clubs than people walking in, and one of the clubs offered me a job as a DJ. This started a career that lasted 21 years. I was moved to Albuquerque where I bought the talent for the Midnight Rodeo for 13 years. We brought in everyone from Willie Nelson to most of the acts that topped the country charts in the ’90s. In 2002, I found myself at 51 and too old to be doing what I had been doing for over 20 years and had to start a third stage in my life.
For the last 14 years I’ve been a long haul truck driver. My wife and I team drive going coast to coast hauling different types of cryogenic frozen liquids–liquid natural gas, liquid nitrogen, and most recently liquid helium. Josh (Rosenthal) contacted me to see if I was interested in the reissue of Gallivantin’ and Passing Dream. I was totally surprised there was any interest. I sent Josh a homemade demo of some recent tunes I’ve written and he blew me away with an idea to record a new album. Half of it are songs I wrote as a follow-up to Passing Dream and the other half new material. I told my wife a few weeks after I sent the demo to Josh I’d love to go back in the studio one more time. My voice has seen better times but the spark was still there. Recording in the 21st century is very different from a hundred years ago. Something else that was interesting was working with people who hadn’t been born yet or were toddlers when I wrote the tunes as a follow-up to Passing Dream. Jerry DiCicca did a great job producing the new album. It’s very different from Passing Dream and I hope you enjoy it.
Relased via Tompkins Square 30 June 2017
Gallivantin’ – CD – TSQ 5395 / LP – TSQ 5401 / digital
Passing Dream – LP only – TSQ 5418
Order it here: http://www.tompkinssquare.com/releases.html