No novelty, just down-home talent

RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTOJim (left) and Fallon Crabbe perform Friday night at the Village Green in Cottage Grove.

Just because The Down-Home Boys have a keyboard player who joined the band when he was 8 years old, that doesn’t make them a novelty act … does it? 

“Even when he was 8 he was still playing solos. The only novelty was that he was young, but he was always good,” Jim Crabbe said of his son, Farron, who’s now 14.

“I did tell him once, because we were getting big tips when he was young, that this might all go away once he got a little older, that we might just be a couple of guys playing, but we’re getting better tips than ever.” 

That was easy to see why after watching their show Saturday night at the Village Green.

Jim said he knew his son was stage-ready at age 8 after his jazz teacher walked him through the song “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. “His left hand was playing the bass and his right hand was soloing,” Jim said. “Once I saw that, I knew he was ready to gig. Then we’d go busk at UO games, we’d sit at the foot bridge and make a lot of money. He’s always made a lot of money — it (ticks) off his friends.”

They earn that cash, because each complements the other so well. It’s a crisp, refreshing, exhilarating sound, with artists ranging from Elvis to Gershwin. From Ray Price to the Grateful Dead. 

Before performing a Mickey Gilley song Saturday night, Jim mentioned that Gilley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart were all cousins growing up together in the same Louisiana church. 

“Can you imagine sitting around the dinner table when those three got together?” he mused. 

The Down-Home Boys play plenty of country, blues, rockabilly and swing, but as Jim says, “I like the original rock ‘n’ roll from the 50s and 60s.” 

Farron? He likes it all, but that doesn’t mean he’s listening to it.

“I don’t really listen to the music I play, I just play it,” said the eighth-grader who plays basketball and hopes to play for South Eugene next season. “I don’t listen to the music my dad listens to, but I have an appreciation for it. But I do listen to jazz. I play a lot of jazz and I’m also learning to do a lot of classical now.”

Farron credits Gus Russell for teaching him blues and jazz standards. Also, lately he started learning to transcribe Miles Davis songs, and just memorized “A Night in Tunisia.”

Like most musicians, Jim has a day job – he’s a driving instructor. “I teach drivers of all ages,” he said. “I get them all. I get the ones that nobody wants to teach.”

He tried the life of a musician. It didn’t last long. 

“We had a band called Galaxy Trio – we had a booking agent and a record label – and we toured for a while in the 90s but I never really made a living out of it,” Crabbe said. “We were a surf-revival band and we opened for Dick Dale. But that’s the closest I got to making a living out of music.”

The third member of The Down-Home Boys – who was not with the band Saturday night – is saxophone player Paul Biondi, who is somewhat of a local legend. That makes it even more baffling that this highly entertaining band has never received any local press coverage – until now.

“I really appreciate this,” Jim said after the interview. “You’re the first person who’s ever talked to us. Even when he was 7 years old and we were ripping at the Vets Club (Mac’s), I was wondering if the news would come out because you don’t see this every day.”

So now the secret is out. 

Pass the word. The Down-Home Boys have been cookiing up something good. 

No matter your taste, they have something for every musical palate.



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