Jessy Dixon and Paul Simon on Vinyl

So back at NQC I heard about Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver recording with Paul Simon and I said to myself, oh that’s kinda interesting/odd/curious. And forgot about it. Until lo! … a friend of mine who has read some of the southern gospel book I’m forever writing and knew of my interest in all things Gaither gave me a 1974 LP: Paul Simon In Concert, Live Rhymin’.

As a title, Live Rhymin’ is almost as bad as Simon’s hair from this era, but as you may be able to make out from these not-great pictures, the album features several assists by the then-Jessy Dixon Singers, twenty-odd years before his taking up with the Gaither Homecoming:

That’s Jessy over there on the right at the organ, I’m pretty sure, and up top with two of the three Singers in pink. This is a low-tech close-up of the latter image from my iPod.

Something tells me Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver will strike a slightly different pose, nes cafe?

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  1. Videoguy wrote:

    Simon & Dixon on the Dick Cavett Show

  2. Videoguy wrote:

    Here’s the continuation of the previous.

  3. Janet B wrote:

    “nes cafe?” Thanks for the spewed coffee all over my computer…which is appropriate, I suppose… ;-)

  4. NG wrote:

    Simon has often used gospel acts. Jessy did lots of work with him. Wikipedia says: “The organizers of the Newport Jazz Festival in 1972 invited Jessy to perform “The Wicked Shall Cease Their Troubling,” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. After the performance, the Jessy Dixon Singers were requested to do four encores. Paul Simon was in the audience and invited Jessy to share the stage with him as lead vocalist on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live. Not only did they share that performance, Jessy soon found himself touring with Simon. Jessy’s affiliation with Simon lasted for eight years, during which time he recorded two albums, Live Rhymin (1974) and Still Crazy After All These Years (1975).”

    The Oak Ridge Boys backed Simon on his 1977 hit “Slip, Slidin” Away.” The Oaks also appeared on one of Simon’s videos called “A Night of Gospel Glory.” Simon has also worked with the black gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds.

  5. NG wrote:

    From his 1987 gospel TV special, here’s Simon singing with black gospel acts plus the Oaks. You can find other clips from the show on Youtube.

  6. Irishlad wrote:

    Sot. the first time i listened to Neil Diamond’s Pretty Amazing Grace i thought sure it was about a girl,just listened again and it’s about…..God.

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    The Paul Simon gospel special I believe was originally called “Everybody Say Yeah”. That can be seen on the tambourine. I never had HBO, so I remember tuning in to a scrambled channel to hear the audio. A little later, it was released on VHS as “The All Star Gospel Session”, so I picked it up through Columbia House. A few years ago, it was released on DVD and that is where it was called “A Night of Gospel Glory” (or something like that).

  8. cdguy wrote:

    I knew about the Simon/Dixon connection LONG before Jessy ever sang on a Gaither video, and thought it ironic that (Jewish) Paul Simon had a gospel group as his opening act.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  9. Trent wrote:

    I think thats Andre Crouch at about the 2 min mark.

  10. NG wrote:

    #8: On the Jew or Not Jew site ( Simon scores 13 for his Jewishness so I guess they didn’t penalize him much for using gospel groups. Bob Dylan got 11 but Neil Diamond got only 9 because of his two Christmas albums. Elvis Presley came in at six.

    Don’t know if there is a site for scoring Christians.

  11. Irishlad wrote:

    #10 yea there is….you’re on it, you get one if you’re an open-minded liberal Christian and 99 if you’re a rabid foaming homophobic one :)

  12. NG wrote:

    Irishlad: Do I get bonus points for the fact that my late parents were Presbyterians, one from near Belfast and the other from near Newry?

  13. Irishlad wrote:

    You do indeed NG,you get an extra point, bringing you to a grand total of 2 ;).I live in Belfast and i know Newry very well along with some very nice “Pressbuttons” as we (lapsed)Baptists so endearingly refer to our Presbyterian friends. Greetings.

  14. Roots wrote:

    Seeing that album cover was like coming across an old friend, and meeting old friends makes old guys like me start to muse. I was a fan of Jessy Dixon’s before I ever paid any attention to either Paul Simon or Bill Gaither. In fact I bought this album when it first came out only because the Jessy Dixon Trio was on it.

    When Bill Gaither got Jessy Dixon involved in the Homecoming series he brought at least part of a fan base (including me) into the Gaither orbit. I started watching Gaither videos in the mid 90s because he brought people like Jessy Dixon and Doris Akers together with people like Naomi Sego, the Hoppers and Conrad Cooke. Up to that point, I had paid the Gaithers about the same attention I’d paid the Kingston Trio, which is to say, zip.

    I’ve since come to appreciate Bill Gaither’s knowledge of the gospel music of the South but it’s still hard for me to think of him as characterizing southern gospel music, because that’s not the style he popularized.

    I’m a few years younger than he is, and spent part of my childhood in his neck of the woods. I remember hearing gospel music in the 1950s in both Louisville and just across the Ohio River in New Albany, Indiana. The difference was fundamental. Much of the music in Indiana was glorious but when it was home grown it was never quite southern. The performance style was different. Even the songs about sin were kind of sweet. I believe that to a “southern” ear, gospel music from north of the Ohio at the time sounded more constrained and churchy, with less edge, less grit, less groove, than the music of the South. There was an emotional space it wouldn’t dare plumb in public. Southern music on the other hand has never been shy about reaching for guts and soft parts.

    To illustrate the difference, compare two groups of about the same age from the 1950s, whose origins are about 400 miles apart, and who took their respective gospel styles to national popular music audiences. Listen to any random 20-second clip of both the McGuire Sisters (Anderson Ch of God, Ohio) and the Louvin Brothers (Baptist, Sand Mountain) and decide which of them seems closest to Gaither’s roots and musical idiom. Or from the same era, compare the Christian Brotherhood Hour Quartet (Indiana) with the Florida Boys. Both of them were great quartets, but Gaither is closer one than the other.
    I’m thankful Bill Gaither had a radio in the 50s and such a passion for the music of the South when he was a boy, and that he took a version of the music uptown 20 years ago, but from a codger’s perspective, Jessy Dixon, a Texan in Chicago, is one of many who substantiate Gaither’s southern gospel credentials, and not the other way round.

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