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The Raging Teens throw a "Rock'n'Roll Party"

By Ken Burke, March 2001

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One compromise they didn't have to make was their choice for guest pianist. Carl Sonny Leyland, himself a HighTone artist formerly with Big Sandy and renowned session player, lives just a few blocks from Dickerson.

"I really wanted piano on 'Let's Drink Some Booze,'" explains Patey. "It wasn't a Jerry Lee thing I was going for. It was more like a Moon Mullican or as Deke described the song, 'It sounds like the Sparkletones walked into a bar.'" Leyland impressed the group with his honky-tonk rolling style, but the real show was yet to come.

For "Snowbound," a song based on a true experience, Patey instructed Leyland, "'You just go nuts.'"

When Leyland attacked his solo with Jerry Lee Lewis-type fury the band nearly stopped playing out of awe and admiration. "We thought, 'Oh my God, look at him go!' It was really cool."

Rubric is mainly a rock label, raising the question, wouldn't they have been more at home on a roots oriented label like the one Dickerson and Leyland are on?

"HighTone basically had no interest in us whatsoever," laughs Patey. "(Rubric) got us a lot more money and a lot more stuff -- though it's not exactly lucrative."

The Teens hope that their indie rock label will help open more doors, especially in college radio, which tends to stigmatize roots labels as too country.

"The rockabilly world, as much as I love it, it's small," admits Patey, who further explains that expanding audience appeal without changing their sound is one of the band's chief priorities.

Though they have not yet garnered the big bucks, the Raging Teens have racked up memories and experiences that fill the coffers of their rockabilly souls.

"We've played with a lot of bands that are heroes of ours, guys who kept the music alive."

Among that number are contemporaries Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Ray Condo and Dickerson.

The band has also basked in the reflected glory of older artists la Lew Williams, Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley.

Some of those music veterans dig them right back too. Reached at their respective Arkansas homes, Sun rockabilly legends Burgess and Riley both called the band "fantastic" and praised their professionalism and showmanship.

Patey et al also have great reverence for the pioneers of New England rock'n'roll, inviting as many as they could find to their recent record release party, including 83-year old Ernie Hamil.

"He played in the Gibson String Band which was the premier Western band in this area during the 1940's," says Patey. "He played guitar on a famous New England rock'n'roll record by Gene Maltais, the A-side was 'Raging Sea' and the B-side was 'Gang War.' It's considered one of the most collectable rockabilly records."

With the Raging Teens backing him, Hamil played both classic tunes. "It was really emotional - I got kind of choked up just having this guy on stage."

Equally significant was the appearance of Ricky Coyne, whose "Rollin' Pin Mim" the band resurrects for the new CD.

How did the lost legend of Boston rockabilly like the remake?

"He loved it," says Patey with pride. "Actually, I got two really big compliments. (Coyne) told me that our version is slightly faster than his, and that was his complaint that when they recorded his, that it was a little too slow. So, he really liked that. Then, Brione Herlihy came to the show - he's like the 'boom-boom' in Freddy 'Boom-Boom' Cannon. (Herlihy) told me he was listening to the radio, and they played our version of 'Rolling Pin Mim.' He called the radio station to ask what alternate take of Ricky Coyne's song that was because he didn't have that version. He thought I was Ricky Coyne! You can't get a better compliment than that."

Timing and momentum seem to be working in their favor, but the Raging Teens won't know exactly how much support they have until they hit start touring in May.

Moreover, extra care must be taken in setting up the band's dates as Patey's wife, singer/songwriter and Sony/Work recording artist Mary Lou Lord, also has career demands.

According to Patey, Lord, who co-wrote the hillbilly-flavored "Lies" for the new album, is very supportive, but "when she's got stuff she has to do because that pays the bills, I'm like Mr. Mom, and she goes and does it."

Yet Lord's largess provides Patey with the time and financial freedom to crawl into a van with his bandmates and tour.

The disparity in the couple's paychecks is enormous, "Ten days she's gone, and she makes more money than I can in six months."

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