SONG OF THE DAY Bailey’s Nervous Kats – Traveling Sam

robert-smith-baileys-nervous-kats-traveling-sam-camelia-sHailing from the wilds of Northern California, Bailey’s Nervous Kats were one of the many relatively anonymous rock & roll bands of their time. Their surf-fuelled songs were raw and consisted mainly of highly melodic instrumentals, but there were exceptions – as with today’s killer tune! Coming together in 1957, the band celebrated many years of popularity in and around their homeland of Redding, North Carolina.

They recorded a few singles between 1959-1961, releasing them on small labels, experimenting with their own penned songs in between covers. Like a true rock n’ roll band of the era, some of their set was dedicated to covers, with the likes of Little Richard, Elvis and Buddy Holly all making up their repertoire. What the band wrote themselves was initially ‘tested’ out at local gigs and depending on the reaction, this decided the fate of the song. In an interview with Numero Records (find this here), band member Robert Smith described how, “We had our crowd so well trained to our sound that we could play all of our original stuff live to test it. If a tune got a good reaction from the kids, then that was one we were gonna do.” What became one of their most popular songs was one of their originals entitled, Cobra (a close runner for today’s song which I’ve pasted in below). This Middle Eastern-inspired instrumental enchanter demonstrates their flare for originality, setting this band aside from so many of its time! Such was its popularity it reached number one on KRDG in Redding, displacing the Everly Brothers’ Cathy’s Clown!!

Traveling Sam is one of their vocal numbers and I love how it demonstrates a different side to the band, steering their sound away from the more sugar-sweet, into their gnarling, darker side. Backed with Devil’s Run on the b-side, this was issued as a 45 in 1960 on the Sacramento label, Camelia Records. Check it out above and enjoy the wonder that is Cobra below!

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