Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Sweethearts of Nashville Soul

The Avons - Tell Me Baby (Who Would I Be)

In the mid-'60s WLAC-TV (now WTVF) in Nashville aired a locally-produced program called "Night Train," which was hosted by black music impresario Noble Blackwell. A couple of episodes still exist and I have both in my video collection. The show is very interesting to watch, as many artists from the greatly unheralded Nashville soul music scene are featured: the show's band is Jimmy Jones & The King Casuals and featured artists include Joe Perkins, the Spidels, Hal Hardy, Jimmy Church and today's featured artists, the Avons. I don't recall the names of the three women in the group off-hand, but they are featured on both episodes and were both beautiful and talented.

The Avons recorded a few 45s for RCA, Excello and Ref-O-Ree. I've heard some of the Excello tracks as well as today's selection, which came out on Ref-O-Ree. "Tell Me Baby (Who Would I Be)" features a nice swinging groove and great vocal work from the group. It's a shame that the Avons, like many other Nashville acts, didn't break into the big time and that their work was underappreciated. Fortunately, the Nashville scene is starting to get some publicity, as the excellent "Night Train to Nashville" boxed sets have been successful and the Country Music Hall of Fame has now dedicated an exhibit to Nashville's soul scene.

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