Allen’s story in his own words
“I grew up in Sanford, Michigan. Small town, U.S.A. 1950s. Country Music and Rock and Roll. By the Tittabawassee river, the railroad tracks and the U.S. Highway 10, which ran smack through the middle of town. Two grocery stores, two gas stations, two bars, and five churches. Ice skating in the winter, baseball in the summer and fishing year ’round.
I sang on the local radio and at talent shows and County Fairs when I was 5-6 years old in my little cowboy outfit. “Over The Prairie”. I still remember the lyrics. They told me later on that some talent scout, or maybe it was a bandleader wanted to take me to Hollywood, California, but my Mom wouldn’t let me go. Way to go, Mom! Sounds a bit creepy. Of course I made it out there later, Hollywood and all.
My older sister had Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry records and we had top 40 radio. At the café next to my Dad’s Feed and Grain Store (“Famo Feeds For All Farm Needs”), on the strictly Country jukebox, they somehow had Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk”, which is an R&B instrumental. Not totally wierd, Hank Williams (who I now like) had a song about “honky tonk angels.” Of course I played “Honky Tonk” every time i went in there. “Dammit, Al, did you hafta put that one on again?”
My Mom’s favorite singer was Nat “King” Cole. And she loved songs like “Faraway Places With Strange Sounding Names”. She was from Detroit, and there she was, stuck in Sanford. (“Mama Had The Blues” Allen Finney and Ebb, 2006).
There was a lot of other music going on at that time, like Muddy Waters and B.B. King and Sonny Boy Williamson which I didn’t get to hear until 1965. Why? It would take a book.
On June 4, 1964, I bought a Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar in Flint, Michigan. It’s still my main guitar. We’ve been through a lot together. Concert hall stages, TV shows, biker bars and shopping malls. She had to have major reconstructive surgery after a car wreck in Louisiana and I nearly watched her burn, literally, in Hollywood. (“The Scars On My Guitar”, Allen Finney Combo-Fogetto, 2013). And I have a few scars of my own. (“Take The Change” Allen Finney-In A Blue Frame, 2020).
I could go on and on–being a Hippy in California, the topless bar in Toronto where I did my songs between (not literally) the dancing girls. Then there was England and France and finally, up here in Sweden. And memorable (for better or worse) gigs, people and places and the first time I met the Blues and Folk Music and getting back to my Roots.
We all have indelible moments in our our lives. One of my biggest was that first E chord with Miss Gibson at that music store in Flint. And me and Miss G still get it on every day. How about that?
One other thing. Look into the history and usage of words like honky tonk and juke and jazz and mojo. Interesting stuff. Thanks and good bye,”