Mechanicsville Man Recorded in 1950’s, ’60’s
by John Wharton, Enterprise Staff Writer
On the way to a basement studio in Bryans Road, Vince Maloy listened again to the tape, the music from 40 years ago he’d stored in a china cabinet.
Maloy, 67, had a soft drink during a stop at a restaurant in La Plata, and talked about the words he’d found to sing to the recorded music. He also pondered whether a younger group of rockabilly musicians in Charles County could truly copy the work of his peers.
“To get that timing, to get that feeling, you’ve really got to work on stuff,” Maloy said, recalling sessions from many years ago. “We spent 15 hours recording ‘Draggin’ All Night.’ We’ll see. It won’t hurt my feelings if they want to try to do it.”
Maloy was doing it for real in the late 1950’s and ’60’s, grabbing onto the early days of rock ’n’ roll with other Southern Maryland musicians and landing local gigs, television performances and record contracts. His last recording, 1968’s “I’ve Been Around Your Door...Before,” still spins with other 45’s on the jukebox at the Drift Inn, not too far from his Mechanicsville home.
Even after his professional music career waned, Maloy still performed on live radio broadcasts for charity, as he worked as the chief of police in the Calvert County town of North Beach.
From there, he began a new career as a federal law enforcement officer until his retirement about four years ago.
Maloy’s return to the microphone this week came about from a chance meeting about six years ago at an Indiana rockabilly festival, where St. Mary’s County rockabilly fan Greg Laxton met Lance LeBeau of Charles County. LeBeau, his family and friends have two bands of their own, Flea Bops and the Twilite Ramblers, and a reel-to-reel tape deck that could handle the 15-inch-per-second spools Maloy had in his cabinet.
“I had the right tape deck to play them on. it’s a ’60’s era, but it’s a ’50’s derivative design,” LeBeau said. “I thought it was cool to be putting an original tape from the ’50’s on the tape deck. To be able to go back and listen to the original tape is awesome.”
Among the tracks on Maloy’s old tapes was one with just the music to a tune of his called “Be My Chick,” a little reminiscent of Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t.”
Maloy remembers the session 41 years ago recording “Be My Chick” with local musicians, including Kenny Wathen of Breton Bay on guitar and Tommy Rice of Mechanicsville on piano, but no vocal track was made.
“I don’t remember the words,” Maloy said. “I can’t find the lyrics.”
Maloy had recorded a song back then called “Indeed I Do,” one that had the words he knew well.
“I did the Milt Grant (television) show 40-some times with that record,” Maloy said. “That’s the one Fats Domino was going to put on the back of a record. I just didn’t get it out to him.”
LeBeau copied the music of “Be My Chick” from the reel-to=reel tape onto a cassette, and Maloy recently tried out singing the words of “Indeed I Do” to the other tune.
“It fit,” Maloy said.
On Monday evening in LeBeau’s basement, Maloy sang along with the taped music a couple of times. Handed a guitar, he sat down by a microphone, and he was soon playing and singing the song without the tape, accompanied by LeBeau on drums, Wendy LeBeau on upright bass and Preston LeBeau on electric guitar.
“It’s right up their alley,” Maloy admitted between takes. “It’s the kind of music they do.”
The laughs came easily to Maloy this week as he talked about his music career, and playing with Wathen, Rice, Cecil Norris of Laurel Grove on bass, Teddy Wathen of Leonardtown on bass, Bobby Jones of LaPlata on drums and Jim Dalton of California on bass and guitar. Other performers from outside the area often joined them.
“Link (Wray) backed me up on ‘Flying Love,’ but I can’t find the tape,” Maloy said. “That was before he even did ‘Rumble.”
Maloy’s old records still get some radio play overseas and closer to home, including a disc jockey in Texas, and Maloy has heard from a man who could help get him into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Maloy’s wife, Shirley, died last August, seven years after their love for dancing won them a West Coast Swing Gold Division World Championship. The retired lawman now has space at the Maryland Antique Center in Leonardtown, and works there once a week, but he’s looking forward to marketing his new vocal performance coupled with the old music track.
“We’re going to put them on a CD and sell them on the Internet,” Maloy said.
He’s also looking forward to making music with his new friends in Bryans Road.
“I told them I’d cut it with them, too,” he said. “We’ll make up a couple of numbers.”