Longtime Resident Cuts First Cd

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Eddie Armer's first CD is for fans of "old-time country music."

"I really feel today's country music is not country," he said. "It's a mixture of rock and roll and the blues and a few other things."

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Eddie Armer's new CD, "Country Lovin'," features seven songs, all written by him and all recorded on the first take.

Armer lays the demise of old-time country music at the feet of one man.

"I believe the biggest change, to tell you the honest to god's truth, was Garth Brooks," he said.

And then he follows with an old-time country music primer.

"There's three kinds of country music: the kind where ma and pa sat around and the kids all picked and grinned; then you had the bands that played in the bars; then you had what we called the honky tonk bands, and they even had names like Honky Tonk Blues.

"The joke was if you played the honky tonk songs backwards you got your wife back, you got your dog back, because they were all the old sad honky tonk songs. That's the style we play."

Armer not only plays old-time country music, but he hails from an old-time Rim Country family. In fact, the former constable and self-professed ne'er do well, says his family started it all -- at least from the white man's perspective.

"We have one hell of a history," Armer said. "My family came here in 1883; we were here before the Haughts and the Randalls. My grandfather's one brother was the first white child born in this area.

"The old Armer homestead is underneath Roosevelt Lake and that's why, if you'll look at a map, you'll see Armer Mountain, Armer Wash, Armer Gulch."

The first Armer in these parts, Eddie's great-grandfather, arrived under an assumed identity.

His brother was killed driving a team of horses on the Erie Canal," Armer explained. "My great-grandfather was in the Civil War and he (deserted), so he took his brother's name when he came to Arizona. We just found that out six or seven years ago."

Before serving 13 years as constable, Armer was a cop -- a tradition that runs deep in the family. But Eddie admits to having a little of his great-grandfather in him too.

"Anna Mae Deming told my wife, ‘Eddie come about that close to being on the other side of the fence,'" he recalled. "I've been the black sheep of my family all my life. All the rest of my cousins have college degrees and everything.

"I'm a free-spirited person and you've known me quite awhile. You know that I enjoy raising cain."

As you might expect, Armer has a lot of cousins in the Rim Country (Gila County Sheriff John Armer is one) -- so many that he had to be careful when it came time to marry and settle down.

"Believe it or not, Doris is from Philadelphia," he said. "The joke was that because my grandfather was the youngest of 10 boys and two girls, every time I fell in love with a local girl I found out she was a cousin. So I had to end up marrying a woman from Philadelphia to make sure."

It was Doris who was the driving force behind Armer's new CD, "Country Lovin'," his very first recording despite a lifetime playing music.

"I've dreamed of doing this all my life, and my wife has been pushing me for 20 years," he said. "She selected the songs and she named the album."

Among the songs Armer included is "Mighty Mogollon."

"I was laying on my front porch and I was goofing with my guitar and I looked up on the Rim (I live out in Freedom Acres and the Rim is right there) and I realized this is the very same scene that my grandfather, who owned the R Bar C Boy Scout Ranch in Hunter Creek, saw when he arrived here," he said.

Another special song on the CD, "Dedicated to You," he wrote for Doris.

"I wrote it for my wife," he explained. "I copied the style of a song my uncle recorded as a 78 back in World War II when he was in a USO band."

In all, there are seven songs on "Country Lovin'," and Armer wrote them all.

"Unlike everything I've ever done in my life, every one of these songs was taken on the first take."

Given Armer's musical history, that's not as surprising as he makes it sound.

"I started playing music at 3," he said. "I have the original piano that my Dad traded a horse for in 1941.

"When I was 9, my Dad and I were up at a party at Kohl's Ranch and there was a guy playing guitar named Bud Sexton. My Dad put a $50 bill on the bar and bet I could dance faster than he could play the guitar, and that's how I got my first guitar.

"My first legal-actual-getting-paid-to-play-in-a-band was when I was 12. I was in Globe and a band had one of their drummers get sick and they called me up and asked me to play drums. They said if you can dance you can play drums.

"That was my first official gig with the Rose Brothers band.

They were two barbers who had a barbershop.

"I've been accused of being a natural. The good lord gave me the ability. I've played every kind of instrument there is."

Armer has had his own band on and off for the last 30 years, first as the Bunkhouse Band and now The Rowdy Bunch.

"It's named after Hank Williams Jr's song, ‘All my rowdy friends have settled down.' We named it that because we were all young and wild at one time and we've all kind of settled down and done something else."

"Country Lovin'" is available at Git a Rope Antiques, 1104 South Beeline Highway, the store recently purchased by town historians Jayne Peace and Jinx Pyle.

"The reason they're there is that Jaynie is a cousin on one side and Jinx is a cousin on the other," Armer said.

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