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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cate Bros. - Union Man

The Cate Brothers are the singer-songwriter-musician duo of twins Earl and Ernie Cate, brothers born in Fayetteville, AK on December 26, 1942. In the mid 1960's, they became performers of southern soul music at clubs and dances throughout the regional South of the United States. Both brothers are singers, with Earl on guitar and Ernie on piano. They became prolific recording artists during the mid to late 1970s, and again since the mid 1990s.

In their 1950's Fayetteville hometown, where rock pioneer Ronnie Hawkins had also grown up during the 1940's, Hawkins owned and operated the Rockwood Club. There, some of Rock music's earliest pioneers came to play, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Conway Twitty.

During the late 1950's the Cates associated with Hawkins and his original band members in Arkansas, known as the Hawks, including Hawks drummer Levon Helm. After 1958, Helm and Hawkins left, and settled in Canada, where they went on to form the core of the group The Band.

In 1975 Levon Helm introduced the Cates to a record company representative in Los Angeles. The Cates, soon after, received a recording contract with Asylum Recods, and so began their recording career.

Their 1975 debut self-titled album was produced by guitarist Steve Crooper, who also appeared on the record along with Levon Helm, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Poco bass guitarist Timothy B Schmit, who later joined the Eagles. Today's post was from this LP.

Two more albums followed in 1976 and 1977.

In 1979 they reached a wide audience when they appeared on the PBS music television program Austin City Limis, taped in December of the prior year.

In 1979 the brothers released their fourth and final album of the period, Fire on the Tracks, which reached number 24 on the album charts that year from the success of the single "Union Man." That single was one of the songs the brothers had performed during the Austin City Limits television show, leading up to the album's release.

During the 1980s the band's recording career went on hiatus, though they remained a popular touring act around the southern country rock and blues circuit of the Tennessee and Arkansas region.

In the early 1980s, the brothers joined Levon Helm on tour for a reconstructed version of The Band, without guitarist Robbie Robertson, and also worked with blues singer Maria Muldaur.

The Cate Brothers resumed recording in the mid 1990s, on a series of independent label albums.

Billboard listed this song as from the 7" single and not the LP so that is the version included here today. This is also the only time they appeared on the dance chart.

Taken from the oringinal 7" single on Asylum 45294
Union Man - 4:48
Song charted on January 31, 1976. Spent 2 weeks on the chart and reached #19

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