When Tara Murtha first heard the music of Bobbie Gentry, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t found it sooner.
It was about eight years ago, back when the Philadelphia writer started dating her now-husband Jesse Lundy. She characterizes it as the point in a relationship where one partner is trying to impress the other, show off their taste a bit, and Lundy did this with a copy of Ode to Billie Joe, the 1967 debut LP by the multifaceted Mississippi-born musician who disappeared from the public eye in 1980.
After listening, Murtha was intrigued, and took to Google to learn more. The first thing she came across was a video of Gentry on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, surrounded by dancers in bright colors, making her way through an elaborate stage set designed like a Louisiana swamp. It was 1967 and she was performing her rendition of “Niki Hoeky,” a song by Jim Ford and Pat and Lolly Vegas. Continue reading →