Music celebrating the life and legacy
of Leon Fullerton -
cowboy, poet, troubadour, hobo, mystic, bum
Upcoming shows featuring former Fullertons:
The Deepwood Ramblers
Friday, February 7, 8 p.m.
Gritty's, Route 1, Freeport, Maine
The Ramblers ride again . . .
The Deepwood Ramblers
Friday, March 20, 8 p.m.
Gritty's, Route 1, Freeport, Maine
. . . and again!
After the Fullertons:
Before there was an actual working band, this site was simply a repository of Leon Fullerton's music and a locus for an informal history of Fullerton's life and times, with its complementary music recorded by his near and dear.
And to that it has returned. But the spirit of the Fullertons will live on.
As Fullerton biographer and noted plagiarist Rex Geronimo put it when he heard that the band was disbanding, “Wherever the moonshine lights up the sunshine, wherever low-lifes live the high life, wherever the heartbeat of the heartland synchopates a blue tattoo on the drumhead of desire, wherever the lost and lonely find reason to grin and bear one more dusty mile while Masters of the Universe wonder who keyed their Lexi, the Fullertons are there."
THE NEON LEON STORY:
Missing and presumed immortal:
"Neon" Leon Fullerton wore (and, we enjoy believing, continues to wear) many stove-in hats: poet, mystic, DJ, minstrel, dreamer, Digger, ranch hand, composer, band leader, prospector, smuggler, train-hopper, hitch-hiker, Mercury-jacker, zen redneck, agitator, striker, day laborer, rodeo wrangler, beat guru, corn pone commie, prairie pinko, mountain madman, freeloader, purveyor of fine peyote, amphetamine enthusiast, alcohol aficionado, and founding arch-shaman of the First Church of Latter Day Cowboys.
Throughout his life, Fullerton has been known to drop out of sight frequently and for extended periods. Born in the Oklahoma dustbowl during the depths of the Depression and carried westward as an infant in the great California migration, he came by his nomadic leanings honestly. His last known address was a Detroit rehab facility, from which, in 2003, he issued himself a midnight discharge via the agency of a second story window, a 28-foot aluminum Werner extension ladder, and a nurse’s aide with a soft spot for rickety coots practiced in the art of spinning a tragic yarn.
As of this writing, he is, in the generous words of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, “missing and presumed immortal.”
Over a dozen albums and a handful of singles comprise Fullerton’s catalog of recordings. All are out of print, and a knotty tangle of estate disputes (the fallout of claims and counter-claims stemming from several messy divorces), probably preclude their reissue in the foreseeable.
Spanning more than fifty years, Fullerton's body of work draws together the wide range of folk, blues, country, cowboy, R&B, swing, and jazz styles that permeated the countess smoky crannies of popular American music of the twentieth century. That music is currently in the pre-planning/no-due-date stages for Free Altercations: The Boxed Set, a knock-out collection of compact disks to be produced (if and when we get around to it) by Fenderbender Records, which has been granted exclusive permission to undertake this project.
About these recordings:
The virtual albums posted on this site are the templates the Fullertons have been instructed by counsel to work from in order to sidestep possible legal ramifications of directly referencing materials currently enjoined by a potpourri of court decrees, enjoinders, and anonymous threats of automobile defacement and pet disappearance.
Originally recorded by Leon's nephews Delmont Fullerton and Rafael Gunn and regrooved with the help of Fullerton's son Jasper Leon "Jazz" Jones, the trio, a.k.a. Obie and the Outcasts, covers a sprawling array of roots-American genres:
Cowgirl's Lullaby and Ugly Roomer are down-home, laid-back, pull-up-a-rocker country, mountain, and Western swing. Division Street is folk and mid-tempo rock. Tunnel Vision and Americanarama are Americana - that ill-defined term frequently bandied by Fullerton and evenually appropriated for commercial (and therefore, to Fullerton's lights, nefarious) purposes by many acts with us today.
Blame It On Memphis and Doublewide! are gut-buckets of electric blues and country rock. Tales of the Enchanted Mesa is a genre-bending meditation none of us has been able to pigeon-hole (lucky for those pigeons). Mercury is nano-minimalist acoustic jazz and blues.
We've also put a Song sampler on the Neon archives tab for people who know what they like. For instance, the Keep on pluckin'! (folk guitar) page is for listeners who would be hard-pressed to choose between an electric guitar solo and a midnight mugging.
A different kind of tribute band:
Album production has not begun yet, but a number of demos, of quality ranging from decent to indecent, can be found in the Virtual albums menu tab. Fullerton’s wide-ranging musical interests tended to lead to albums too eclectic for most sensibilities — one possible reason for his lack of commercial eminence. So to introduce to a wider audience the man and his music, the Fullertons have chosen to present his material thematically and stylistically, ignoring chronology altogether.
That's not unusual for tribute bands, Where the Fullertons depart from custom is that they're not a clone band. The group has been clear from the outset that, breaking from the traditional tribute model, their interpretations of Fullerton’s music will reflect only incidentally (if at all) the sound of Leon Fullerton. The songs may be Leon Fullerton's, but the Fulletons' sound is the band's alone.
We remind purists who expect slavish imitation that the band's approach is faithful to Fullerton's own sensibilities. Note-for-note duplication and elaborate production would both fly in the face of the Fullerton Way, summed up succinctly in the last line of his anthemic “Guitar Highway”: Lay it down and play it all around. Beyond having a broad framework for each song, Fullerton took enormous latitude with how he presented his music. Years before the term jam band entered the vernacular, he was known (if not always respected) for extended digressions, both instrumental and verbal.
There are five decades of material to mine, so please do return to this site occasionally, pull up a stump, and see what's been added since your last visit.
Bottom line: The Fullertons are keeping their versions simple, determined simply to put them out there and get on with subsequent virtual albums — Neon Leon's lay-it-down-and-play-it-all-around philosophy.
In "Next Time I'm In LA," Fullerton gave a collegial nod to Frank Sinatra and Sid Vicious: "Up in heaven, Frank and Sid are singing 'My Way.'" Artists who care to cover any Leon Fullerton tunes that appear on this website (or that don't) are invited, encouraged, and expected to play it their way.
We call it the Fullerton Way.
Anyhow, to get permission to record a song you found on this site, just contact us at info at thefullertons dot net. We'll fix you right up.