“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it,” claims journeyman musician/singer/entertainer Deke Dickerson. As usual, Dickerson interjects dry wit into a serious proclamation of his career intent: keeping America’s roots music alive while interjecting new creativity—a blood transfusion, if you will—into genres of music that flourished in decades previous.
Deke Dickerson is 47 years old and has been carrying the torch since he was 13, playing in his first rockabilly band in his hometown of Columbia, Missouri. After moving to Los Angeles at the age of 22, Dickerson carved out a niche for himself in Tinseltown. In addition to playing in his primary band, Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics, as well as several side projects, Dickerson has provided rootsy music for a slew of television shows and movie projects (including scoring the music for the cult favorite, Johnny Knoxville–produced The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia).
“This music isn’t a cartoon to me, or some weird retro thing to be laughed at,” states Dickerson. “This is the great music of the American 20th-century experience: rock and roll, rockabilly, western swing, rhythm and blues, surf music, garage, and punk. It’s every bit as vital and important as jazz or classical; it just hasn’t gotten its due yet. There has to be somebody out there waving the flag for this music. Wherever I go, anywhere on the planet, people love this music, yet it’s kept out of the mainstream media simply because it’s considered ‘old.’”
Dickerson’s new releases showcase his versatility as well as his desire to touch all bases in the roots music pantheon. In the last three years, he has released an album of vocal versions of surf instrumentals, Sing The Instrumental Favorites, with the popular current surf act Los Straitjackets. He has released an all-rockabilly album, Echosonic Eldorado, that sounds as if it could have come out of Sun Studios in Memphis circa 1956. He has released an album with the legendary surf group the Trashmen, of “Surfin’ Bird” fame, Bringing Back the Trash, that is every bit as wild and crazed as the Trashmen’s recordings from the early 1960s. And he traveled to Memphis to record an EP, Soul Meets Country, with blues/R&B sensation Nikki Hill, backed by the Bo-Keys, an all-star group made up of legendary Memphis soul musicians and top-of-the-heap younger players. Such versatility has endeared Dickerson to fans and impressed music journalists as well.
Dickerson has also made a name for himself in other avenues. He has his own signature guitar, manufactured by the Hallmark Guitar Company of Maryland. He writes for several guitar magazines and has two books published by Voyageur Press, The Strat in the Attic and The Strat in the Attic 2. Two of Dickerson’s songs are used in the newest Disneyland ride, Cars Land, at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
Dickerson is well known as a historian of roots music and regularly contributes liner notes to reissue projects for such labels as Capitol, RCA, Bear Family, and Sundazed.
He is booked to play dates throughout North America, Japan, and Europe in 2015 and 2016.
“To be honest, I never thought my music career would last this long,” reflects Dickerson. “But I guess I’ve carved a niche so deep that it resembles a bobsledding track at the Winter Olympics. I might as well just hang on and enjoy the ride, because there’s no stopping the sled at this point!”