Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers
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Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers

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The best kept secret in music


"Houston singer and fiddle player Leslie Lindley and her guitar-slinging husband Randy, a former member of honky-tonk bluegrassers Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, front a convincing hard-country band on this promising debut that features a bunch of originals by Randy's former bandmate Jake Jenkins and some well-selected covers by the likes of Loretta Lynn and Bobby Osborne. Texas music enthusiasts will recognize steel man Ricky Davis' touch, but the Juke-Jointers are more than competent on their own behind Leslie's big voice, and it's a pleasure to hear how deeply grounded they are in the style. Connie Smith is the most obvious influence on the singing, but Lindley is well on her way to her own voice, offering an engaging persona deep enough to convincingly portray both the woman who misses her honky-tonkin' man and the one who hits the bars on her own." - - Jon Weisberger - Jon Weisberger

"Wailing pedal steel, crying fiddles, alternately growling and keening Telecasters, plunking upright piano figures and songs about the trouble women and men get into when they spend too much time in barrooms: In Texas, that was what the best country was all about in the '50s and '60s, and that's the honky-tonk stuff Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers revive here.
On the album-opening shuffle, "I'll Be Gone Tonight," Miss Leslie showcases all of her talents: her fiddling, her songwriting, her singing and the top-shelf band she has put together. Miss Leslie's got a fairly deep and very clear alto -- think a touch of Patsy Cline and even more Connie Smith -- and she sings with admirable feeling and control, especially on the soaring parts of the slow weepers like "Stranger in Your Mind" and "I Threw Your Pictures Away," a lovely Spanish guitar-tinged song written by her sister Hilary Sloan. (She fares a little less well on the fast stuff -- her phrasing slips and skids on the dancehall boogie "Honky Tonk Gal.")

Panhandle-bred banjo picker Jake Jenkins wrote all or part of six of the 13 songs here, and he's a master of the dying art of honky-tonk songcraft, as are Bobby Bare, Ray Price and Loretta Lynn -- some of the people who penned the very well chosen covers on this record. And it's plain that the band -- wild steel guitarists Bill Howard and Ricky Davis, fleet-fingered, chicken-pickin' lead guitarist Randy Lindley and choice pianist Damian O'Grady, not to mention Miss Leslie herself on fiddle -- have advanced degrees in this stuff.

You'll want a copy of the instrumental "Bobo's Boogie" along for your next long-haul car trip, trust us. But save the vocal numbers for sometime when you can stretch out, grab a couple of cold longnecks and cut a rug. "--John Nova Lomax - John Nova Lomax, Houston Press

Miss Leslie and Her Juke Jointers
Honky Tonk Revival, 2005
Revival is an apt description of Leslie Lindley's debut disc. Backed by a crack outfit capable of recreating the classic sounds of both Bakersfield and Texas honky-tonk, Miss Leslie convincingly portrays the barroom chanteuse of eras gone by.
Lindley, the mother of three, is a first-rate fiddle player who can saw out heartache intros ("Heavy on the Lonesome") or double-track fiddles Ray Price & His Cherokee Cowboys style ("Turn Around"). Instrumentally, two particular stand-outs are pedal steel ace Ricky Davis ("I Threw Your Pictures Away Today"), and the singer's producer/husband Randy Lindley ("Bobo's Boogie") who smartly plucks his Telecaster á la Don Rich.
Clearly the spotlight belongs on Miss Leslie, who deftly channels bar life despair from such heart-wrenching ditties as "Stranger in Your Mind," "(I've Got My) Future On Ice" and "Honky Tonk No More."
Occasionally, the singer just tries too hard to reach a desired emotional effect and falls noticeably short. However, during the better moments ("Talk to My Lonesome Heart," "I'm Walking Slow," and "Honky Tonk Gal") the songstress evokes the aching clarity of Connie Smith. Not a perfect album - it lacks production and engineering savvy - but it's worth checking out because this crew knows what comprises true country music. (Miss Leslie, info@missleslie.com)
- - Ken Burke
- Ken Burke

South County Woman Plays Top Fiddle in Band

THERE are plenty of spotlights and late nights in smoky barrooms for Leslie Lindley, but the retro country crooner doesn't have time to sleep her days away.

The Oak Ridge North resident is a stay-at-home mom and college instructor trying to juggle a blossoming music career. In a year, Lindley has taken the band she fronts, Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers, from startup act to a group poised to break onto the national stage.

The band already has played at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and finished production on a soon-to-be-released compact disc and will receive exposure on a pending documentary about country legend Tammy Wynette.

Juggling act

Since the band was formed in April 2004, the quick success is sometimes enough to make Lindley want to stop and pinch herself, she said.

"Things have taken off really, really quickly, which has been surprising, but fun," she said. "It really is a lot of work when you're an independent artist and don't have a record label." Married for 11 years to husband and guitar-playing band member Randy Lindley, she spends her days rearing their three small children. For the past four years, she has taught computer-related evening classes at the main campus of North Harris Community College, 250 N. Sam Houston Parkway East in Houston.

It's a heavy schedule for anyone, much less the lead singer of a band. So to play music and keep her dreams of stardom alive, the full-time wife, mom and musician has made the band a family affair of sorts.

Musical family

Blending music and family was a trick she learned at a young age. In addition to her husband, other family ties to the band include Lindley's dad and acoustic guitarist, Jim Sloan, who sent her to bed as a young girl to drift off to sleep to the sounds of his living room bluegrass jam sessions.

Born in South Carolina, Lindley lived in Kentucky for a few years, but says she grew up mostly in Fort Worth and Houston.

"My dad plays with us as well and that's a connection I've always had with him, and I really enjoy sharing that onstage," she said.

Lindley's sister, Hilary Sloan, has also found local success with her band, Aunt Erma's Fillin' Station, for whom Randy also performs.

Those musical connections weren't something Lindley was always able to enjoy when her children were younger.

"In the past, Randy played music professionally and I was being supportive of him. Today, we perform together. It's a part of our hearts and souls, and a way of relating to each other that is different from most other ways," Lindley said.

Randy Lindley has played with many national acts, including the Sullivan Family, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, and the Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show.

Texas tour

Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers are in the early stages of their "Honky Tonk Revival Tour" that will take them to venues in Houston, Austin, Victoria, Temple, the Fort Worth Stockyard, Gruene and elsewhere.

The video documentary celebrating the career of country music legend Tammy Wynette features Lindley speaking about the icon's influence on her songwriting.

Lindley said she feels lucky to be in the documentary, which is part of a country legends series packaged by BCI/Navarre scheduled for release in September or October.

"It's a 60-minute documentary and I'm actually in about seven minutes of it, which is quite a bit considering it's not a documentary about me. That really was an honor to be included in that. I'm really excited because their biggest distributor is Wal-Mart. It's going to be everywhere," Lindley said. The Juke-Jointers' new compact disc, ``Honky-Tonk Revival,'' is scheduled to be released in August.

Traditional country

Carey Wise, owner of the Fourth Creation Studio in Conroe where the CD was recorded this spring, said the band's sound borrows heavily from traditional country and bucks many of the trends of modern country music, which some purists say has been made to sound too much like popular music. "What they're trying to do is probably have the soul and feeling and sound of country back in the earlier days. It's different than listening to what's coming out of the music mills in Nashville," Wise said.

The band plays a range of venues, with the only prerequisite being it's a place where the crowd - large or small - is passionate about their country music.

Hard work pays off

For Lindley, the success with this band has been rapid, but is the result of years of hard work. Lindley said she figured out at age 4 of 5 she had a voice good enough to match her love of singing. She also began taking fiddle lessons at the age of 5.

"I just always loved to sing. That was something that never left. I got tired of playing the fiddle a lot. I would go back and forth, wanting to quit that, but I never got tired of singing," Lindley said.

Original style

The band's sets fuse original music and old country son - Charlie Bier

So I admit it. I've got a thing for Miss Leslie & Her Juke Jointers, much in the same way Sara does for Tody. Leslie's music just makes me smile, tap my toe and move my hips. I love me some old-time country music.
MLJJ's performance at the Speakeasy was confident, fun and focused -- everything a great band's set should be. The aforementioned Collis popped up again, bringing the total onstage count to seven. Seven people, plus a piano, a steel guitar, Leslie's high heels and a slew of cowboy hats piled on the Speakeasy's small -- small -- stage. Don't try this at home, folks.

The group has just released its first full-length CD, Honky Tonk Revival, a solid collection of originals and obscure covers. MLJJ's all-too-brief set featured a number of songs from the disc. Honky Tonk Gal, Heavy on the Lonesome, I'll Be Gone Tonight, Midnight Angel -- all highlights, anchored by Leslie's brassy, classy vocals and Bill Howard's crying steel guitar. The crowd even demanded an encore -- and got a pitch-perfect take on Willie Nelson's Three Days.

In the end, I was happy. Happy to have heard so much original music. Happy to have seen Houston's local scene so vibrantly alive. And happy to know that every single one of you -- yes, you too -- are going to check out Miss Leslie's music.

So how about it? 9 p.m. Friday at Blanco's. Come on, I dare you. There will be role-call.

Posted by Joey at July 24, 2005 11:59 PM

- Joey Guerra

For anyone who can't resist the lure of a longneck and a hardwood floor, the authentic sound of Texas band Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers is here to take you back to the barrooms. The guitars are twanging, the piano tinkling and the steel whining on a collection of originals that sound as good and sa true as the vintage songs they sit along side of.

In fact, one of the best cuts here is a new song, I Threw Your Pictures Away, a slow, hardcore heartbreaker written by Miss Leslie's sister, Hilary Sloan. With weeping acoustic guitar touches and a piercing steel solo, the band play like they were born forty years too late, while Leslie Lindley's strident, Connie Smith-style vocals perfectly capture the spirit of the honky tonk.

The 60s feel of the album even extends to a perky Don Rich-style instrumental, Bobo's Boogie, with neat guitar work from Randy Lindley. Pedal steel honours are shared between Bill Howard and Ricky Davis who are superb throughout the album. In fact, all the players are terrific: Damian O'Grady's sparkling piano rolls, Joe Busa's cracking snare work, and Kevin Smith, whose walking bass on Bobby Osborne's Midnight Angel and slap bass work on the closing jiver, Honky Tonk Gal, will have your feet shuffling and fingers reaching for the repeat button.

With its rich, warm sound and bright production, Honky Tonk Revival does exactly what it says on the label. (www.missleslie.com) - Julie Flaskett

After eight members of her band died in a plane crash, Reba McEntire,
overcome with emotion, broke down in tears during I’m Checking Out—
every night. It was a piece of schtick as tightly scripted, cued and
rehearsed as any aspect of any arena show. At the other end of the spectrum,
the only thing the lead singer of British punk-rockers Alberto y Lost Trios
Paranoias, despised more than rehearsing was singing the same song twice, so
no one, least of all the band, knew what was coming next.
Most acts, of course, fall somewhere between these extremes. Some have
to stick to the set list because they only have so much material, or the pickup
drummer didn’t bother listening to the tape. Depending on the audience’s
knowledge of the repertoire and its depth, a set list can be derailed by requests—
complicated by the number of people he invited to come up and sing, and his
mastery at reading a room and making tactical changes, Don Walser’s set lists
were pretty much scrap paper after the first couple of numbers.
Apart from selecting what to play, and, in theory, you can, as Bad Livers
used to demonstrate, get away with just about anything (though Mustang Sally
is probably always a bad idea), the key to a successful set is sequencing. This
can be obvious enough, mixing shuffles, waltzes and two-steps at country dance
halls, or avoiding what DJs, who, come to think, need the same skill set, call
‘train wrecks,’ slow, quiet numbers back to back with raucous rockers,
Last month, The Kennedys and Sean Mencher illustrated the art of the
covers album, this month, although her second album has 17 covers and only
two originals, Leslie Lindley of Houston may help us explore the intricacies of
something rather different—set construction. Not that Lindley and her Juke-
Jointers don’t have originals, about 20 in the set, another ten in the works, but
they were either on their first studio album or will be on their next. Otherwise,
this live recording is pretty representative of what you get when you hear Miss
Leslie & Her Juke Jointers in a club.
Randy & Leslie Lindley’s backgrounds are both in bluegrass, he as a
professional with Karl Shifflet & Big Country, she as a local amateur, but Randy
was tired of national touring and Leslie wanted to take music more seriously,
so when Big Country imploded, they decided that as Leslie’s voice is much more
suited to country and Randy plays mean Don Rich-style guitar, that was the
way to go. On the plus side, there’s hardly any competition in the Houston area
(the album, by way, was recorded at the Houston Continental), where country
means either ‘Texas Country’ or Top 40 covers. On the minus side, there’s not
much local support for real country, so the band is now touring regionally. Also,
Leslie encounters the same resistance to female fronted bands as Austin women,
“We’d do better if we just called ourselves The Juke Jointers and Randy made
the calls.” Even so, Miss Leslie & Her Juke Jointers have made a lot of friends
fairly quickly, Honky Tonk Revival designated FAR’s 2005 Debut of the Year
and getting a stack of good press.
Early on, Leslie and Randy focussed on the 50s and 60s. “We started out
with some songs that were big hits, but over the last few months we’ve started
phasing out anything that was ever in the Top 40.” Leslie kicks off with Glenn
Barber’s stellar Yes Ma’am He Found Me In Honky Tonk which she first heard
Leona Williams sing on a rerun of a 60s Country Carnival Barn Dance (“I
about fell out of my chair”), followed by two George Jones numbers, Everything
AIn’t Right and You’re Still On My Mind, then takes a break while her father,
acoustic rhythm guitarist Country Jim Sloan, sings Bob Wills’ Bubbles In My
Beer. Back at the mike, she carries on with Johnny Paycheck’s I’m Barely
Hanging On To Me, Mel Tillis’ The Arms Of A Fool and Ray Price’s I Want To
Hear It From You, then steps back again while the band plays Randy’s
instrumental Bobo’s Boogie, returning for the excellent original I’ll Be Gone
Tonight. Then it’s Jones again, a terrific reading of Things Have Gone To Pieces,
followed by upright pianist Damian O’Grady (outstanding throughout) singing
Johnny Cash’s Blistered. After that comes Cry, Cry, Cry, not the Cash standard
but written by Shirley Wood, recorded by Connie Smith, yet more Jones, Ship
Of Love, and more Price, Touch My Heart, then Randy sings Leon Payne’s
You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart, Leslie winding up with Empty Barstool
by her sister Hilary Sloan, who also fronts a Houston area band, Little Ole Wine
Drinker Me taken from Lefty Frizzell’s version and Hank Cochran’s A-11. Finally,
steel guitarist Ricky Davis leads an outro of Lloyd Green’s Little Darlin’.
A pretty great Hard Country evening, but is it a tad on the obvious side?
Now there’s a trick question. You might, for instance, think of Bubbles In My
Beer as a standard, but, apart from Wills tributes, it’s not really been co - John Conquest, 3rd Coast Music

"My exposure to Miss Leslie's music began only last year, but I've been in love with Leslie's sound since I saw her open for rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson at the Continental Club. Not only did Leslie hold her own, she earned a lifetime fan in me. I've enjoyed watching her grow musically and vocally, and I've also taken every opportunity to give Leslie the coverage and respect she so richly deserves. Does that make me biased? No, it just makes me a good journalist with great taste. (LOL!) Miss Leslie's vintage--but vibrant--sound makes me believe in country music. Real country music. " - Joey Guerra

What Miss Leslie and her Juke Jointers have done is taken us back to the days when country music was “country”….steel guitars, fiddles, telecasters, upright bass and snare drum. Randy Lindley’s guitar work is that good Don Rich telecaster sound, with just the right amount of reverb, and Joe Busa’s snare drum never misses a lick with the great upright bass of Kevin Smith. Great piano work by Damian O’ Grady, while two steel guitarists, Bill Howard and my old pal, Ricky Davis, share the stool for some classic licks reminiscent of Ralph Mooney. Miss Leslie’s vocal will remind you of mixture of Connie Smith, Norma Jean and Leona Williams, three of the finest but not most popular female vocalists in Country Music. This CD is great mix of classics by Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, Bobby Bare, Jerry Crutchfield, Bobby Osborne, with some new originals that sound like they were written 40 years ago. Jake Jenkins has the lion’s share of originals here and it’s obvious he really understands what country music really is. Randy Lindley’s instrumental, “Bobo’s Boogie”, sounds like Don Rich on a surfboard. “Talk to Me Lonesome Heart” is one of my all time favorite George Jones songs, and they do a great job on it here, my personal favorite. The three part harmonies are right on, just as in the original, in part due to Leslie’s sister, Hilary Sloan, who also wrote “I Threw Your Pictures Away”. It could be a 6 minute song as far as I’m concerned.

You’ll notice I’ve used the word real and really a lot here, simply because these guys have put their time in listening, learning, and living REAL COUNTRY MUSIC and it shows in this great CD. - Tommy Alverson

Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers play songs originally performed by other artists, but don't call them a cover band.

Even the most encyclopedic country-music fan would be hard pressed to recognize more than one song in Miss Leslie's rollicking live sets, which combine obscure, honky-tonkin' tunes from the '50s and '60s with original gems that sound as equally vintage.

It's like unearthing buried treasure -- with a twang.

"It's music that never charted, never went anywhere, but it's still just great stuff that we feel like somebody should hear," Leslie Lindley says of her song selection, which also has more current influences, "like Connie Smith, early Johnny Paycheck stuff, early George Jones, Tammy Wynette."

The Juke-Jointers include drummer Joe Busa, acoustic guitarist Jim Sloan (Lindley's dad), steel guitarist Bill Howard and bassist Ben Collis.

Lead guitarist Randy Lindley is Lindley's husband and has played with many national acts, including the Sullivan Family, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, and the Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show. His vast musical knowledge helped shape Miss Leslie's current direction.

"Randy is just this huge music-lover, in general," Lindley says. "He just had a lot of CDs and just kept building up his collection. We just went back through a lot of the CDs we had . . . looking on the Internet, and sometimes Satellite Radio will play some just obscure stuff."

Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers have been playing together formally only since March, but the band manages to book consistent gigs in and around town. There's even a show lined up at next year's RodeoHouston Texas Stage.

"It's a huge time commitment. It's a huge energy commitment. It's something that if you're going to do it, you don't need to be doing it halfway," Lindley says. "It took a long time for me to kind of be honest with myself and say, `This is what I would really like to do with my life.'"

Even so, music has always been a family affair for Lindley. Her mother, who loved classical piano, enrolled Lindley in lessons when she was 5 years old, and her father corralled Lindley into family bluegrass bands alongside her sister Hilary Sloan, who also has found local success with her band, Aunt Erma's Fillin' Station. (Randy Lindley and Collis perform with both sisters.)

Leslie Lindley went to college in Florida and Texas, initially studying classical violin, vocal performance and opera.

That phase didn't last long.

"I certainly learned some good techniques, but I also learned (opera) wasn't what I wanted to do, primarily because you don't get the spotlight enough," she admits. "Your voice as a singer doesn't really fully mature until you're around 30. Meanwhile, you're doing chorus gigs, and you're moving around props behind stage, sitting around. It just really wasn't my bag."

She did a decade-long stint in the information-technology industry before returning to country music. Lindley currently teaches computer courses part-time at a junior college.

Add three kids -- ages 5, 2 and 1 -- and you've got a whole other career as a juggler.

"There have been times that I'm going, `I don't know if I can do this,' . . . but if everyone else is able to balance all of that, surely I can do the same thing," she says. "I think it presents a challenge, but I don't think it's one that you're unable to overcome. Doesn't Faith Hill have a couple of kids?"

Any similarities to today's crop of country kewpie-dolls ends right there. Lindley's sound is decidedly her own, but anchored by a gutsy, confident vocal style that echoes Patsy Cline. (Seriously, folks.) At the same time, the music deftly straddles the line between classic and modern sounds.

It's nicely reflected in the band's original material, most of which is written by prominent Texas songwriter Jake Jenkins. The five-song EP Turn Around features two originals and follows an 11-song live album released earlier this year. A full-length studio album, featuring a number of new tunes, is expected sometime in spring 2005.

Rest assured, however, that Miss Leslie will kindly keep it country. The kind that doesn't involve video-diva midriffs or Jimmy Buffett duets.

"As far as contemporary country, I just kind of feel like the freak kid on the block," Lindley says. "A lot of it really reminds me of '80s and '90s rock 'n' roll, people just trying to do something that has a `modern sound.' It isn't really anywhere close to the country music that I grew up with. If that's what they're into, that's cool, but it doesn't really appeal to me."

- Joey Guerra


"Honky Tonk Happy Hour - Live at the Continental Club" - CD, 2006
"Honky Tonk Revival" - CD, 2005
"Turn Around 'The Preview'" - CD EP, 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers play honky tonk country music with a 50s and 60s flair. This group is creating buzz with their music they describe as “Country music with a hardwood floor sound”. Combining original material along with obscure country tunes that they have unearthed from the 50s and 60s, the band opens up new sounds in a retro honky-tonk setting.
Leslie Lindley sings a gutsy, belting lead that has been compared to the likes of Patsy Cline, Leona Williams and Connie Smith. While Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers are a relatively new group on the scene, the band has played professionally with nationally touring acts. Ricky Davis played for many years with Gary P Nunn and Dale Watson and is the steel player on most of Dale Watson's recordings. Ricky has also played with many Texas artists such as: Tommy Alverson; Davin James; Larry Joe Taylor; The Derailers and Asleep at the Wheel and TV and radio commercials and movies such as www.monster.com, Bud Light, Kodak, Lonestar, Texas Lotto, "A Scanner Darkly" and many more. Ric Ramirez has played upright bass with Two Tons of Steel and Wayne “The Train” Hancock.

Original tunes mainly come from Miss Leslie. Jake Jenkins, who wrote most of the material for Rebel Records' Karl Shiflett and the Big Country Show when he toured with them, also wrote most of the songs on the "Honky Tonk Revival" CD. For more about Jake, click here: Jake's Page.

Award Nominations:
* 2006 Houston Press Music Awards: Best C&W Band, Local Musician of the Year, Best LP (Honky Tonk Revival), Best Female Vocalist, and Best Guitarist (Randy Lindley)
* 2006 Academy of Western Artists: Contemporary Classic Country Group or Duo, Contemporary Classic Country Song (I'll Be Gone Tonight), and Contemporary Classic Country Album (Honky Tonk Revival)
* 2005 Best Original Band - Houston Chronicle’s Ultimate Houston Awards
* 2005 and 2006 Top Music Pick - Houston Chronicle’s Handstamp Blog
* 2004 and 2005 Best C&W Band - Houston Press Music Awards
* “Honky Tonk Revival” - Best Debut Album of 2005 - FAR Chart’s, FAR and Away picks and the AMA Top 100 (spent 4 months).