It has proved difficult to find something on Happy Fats Leroy LeBlanc, although he has been a very popular figure in Louisiana during an half-century. Below is a biography published on the net by All Music (Jason Ankeny). Little did Gilbert and Carrie LeBlanc know, when their baby boy was born on January 30, 1915, that their cheerfully named child would become one of Louisiana’s most recognized Cajun musicians. The music of Happy Fats remains instrumental in both of the preservation and celebration of his native Cajun culture, despite the damage inflicted by a series of race-baiting protest records cut at the peak of the civil rights movement. Born Leroy LeBlanc in Rayne, Acadia Parish, LA, on January 30, 1915, Fats was a self-taught musician who began his professional career at 17 when he began playing accordion in Cajun hillbilly bands led by Amédé Breaux and Joe Falcon. In 1935, he formed his own group, the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, which starred the talents of Eric Arceneaux among others. And regularly headlined the local OST Club. Fats signed to RCA Victor in 1936. In 1937, he played alongside Doc Guidry, and Uncle Ambrose Thibodeaux. Other associates were Luderin Darbonne, Pee Wee Broussard, Doc Guidry, « Papa Cairo » Lamperez, Rex Champagne, and Crawford J. Vincent. He was invited and spoke on many radio stations including: KANE, KEUN, KUOH, KROF, and others. In 1940 he scored his first significant hit, « La Veuve de la Coulee » which featured then-unknown fiddler Harry Choates. The Rayne-Bo Ramblers also served as a springboard for Cajun accordion legend Nathan Abshire in 1935 (« La valse de Riceville« ). Other popular Fats recordings include the traditional « Allons dance Colinda, » « La Vieux de Accordion, » and « Mon Bon Vieux Mari. » Few of his efforts earned national attention, but within south Louisiana he was a superstar, and in the early ’50s even hosted a weekday morning radio show on Lafayette station KVOL. In 1966, however, Fats was the subject of national controversy when he signed to producer Jay D. Miller’s segregationist Reb Rebel label to record the underground smash « Dear Mr. President, » a spoken word condemnation of Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights policies that sold over 200,000 copies despite its appalling racism. « We didn’t have any problems with that, not at all, » Fats maintained in an interview. « There wasn’t anything violent about it — it was just a joke. I had a car of black people run me down on the highway one time coming in Lafayette, and they said, ‘Are you the fellow that made » Dear Mr. President »?’ I said I was, and they said, ‘We’d like to buy some records.’ They bought about 15 records. There was a big van full of black people and they loved it . . . Either side at that time, they didn’t want integration very much. They wanted to go each their own way. » The commercial success of « Dear Mr. President » launched a series of similarly poisonous Fats efforts including « Birthday Thank You (Tommy from Viet Nam), » « A Victim of the Big Mess (Called the Great Society), » « The Story of the Po’ Folks and the New Dealers, » and « Vote Wallace » in ’72. » After a long battle with diabetes, Fats died on February 23, 1988. Read the rest of this entry »
Hope you’re all well and ready to visit some more boppers and rockabillies. The name JAMES MASK isn’t that familiar (he had not big hits), although he appeared on Bandera (Illinois), Arbet (Tennessee, « I miss my teen angel », a teen rocker), and later (1972) on MGM-Sound of Memphis (the country rocker « Humpin’ to please »).
Here we find him on the Pontotoc, MS (where he was born in 1932 – Tupelo area) Tom Big Bee label (# ) with a fine early ’60s version of the Rocky Bill Ford‘s classic, « Beer drinkin’ blues ». Honest country rocker. He had some tunes (unissued in the ’50s) on an old White label LP 2305 « Mississipi R’n'R ». The Dutchman wrote there that Mask was backed by his two brothers Charles and Willie.
James Mask « Beer drinkin’ daddy »
Let’s stay in Mississipi with an otherwise very well known artist, at least in Europe (he drives, latest news, a taxi at Chicago Int’l Airport), Mr. HAYDEN THOMPSON. I offer his first record, on the Booneville, MS, label, Von [which issued Lloyd McCollough and Johnny Burnette's first records,] « Act like you love me« b/w « I feel the blues coming on« . (original in 1951 by Elton Britt, although not credited on the label) Great slow Hillbillies, whispering vocal over confident backing. Same last tune was done (but it’s a different song) by Loy Clingman on the Arizona Elko label in 1956. Penned byLee Hazlewood, it’s a soft Country-rock effort. The third Thompson track is taken from his sessions at Sun in Memphis, and he retains the same feeling with « Blues, blues, blues » (U.K. Charly 605B) – although more echo, as usual from Sam Phillips’ manner.
Hayden Thompson, « Act like you love me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Act-Like-You-Love-Me.mp3download
Hayden Thompson, « I feel the blues coming on« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/I-Feel-The-Blues-Coming-On.mp3download
Hayden Thompson, « Blues, blues, blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/605B-Hayden-Thompson-Blues-Blues-Blues1.mp3download
Elton Britt « I feel the blues coming on » (RCA, 1951)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Elton-Britt-I-feel-the-blues-coming-on.mp3download
Let’s get up north in Lancaster, KY, and with HAROLD MONTGOMERY. His fine sides on Sun-Ray were documented in the site (see « Sun-Ray » label). Here he comes once more with a good side, similar style, on Wolf-Tex 103, « How much do you miss me », from the ’60s. Great mumbling vocal, similar to early Elvis!
Way north a little further. Muncie, Indiana on the Poor Boy label. A small one, but important artists, the best known being its owner Wayne Raney (« We need a whole lot more of Jesus (and a lot less of Rock’n'Roll »!) ; others are the Van Brothers (« Servant of love », to name only one) and Les & Helen Tussey (already recently posted in fortnight’s favorites).
Harold Montgomery, « How much do you miss me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/wolf-tex-103-Harold-Montgomery-How-Much-Do-You-Miss-Me.mp3download
The artist was named DANNY BROCKMAN & the Golden Hill Boys, on Poor Boy 107. First side is Hillbilly bop, « Stick around » from 1959, when Brockman was D.J. at WTMT in Louisville, KY. Great Starday sound, a powerful rhythm guitar, great interplay between lead guitar and steel during the solo, fabulous (altho’ too short) fiddle solo. A ‘must ’ record for Starday sound lovers. The flipside is sung in unisson duet with a certain Carl Jones. Nothing exceptional with « Don’t you know it’s true », a real Everly Bros. -alike. With fine steel and fiddle solos. Brockman also appeared on Dixie 859 (« Big big man »), more on him in a future fortnight.
Danny Brockman, « Stick around » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/poor-boy-107-Danny-Brockman-And-The-Golden-Hill-Boys-Stick-Around-.mp3download
Danny Brockman & Carl Jones, « Don’t you know it’s true« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Poor-boy-107B-Danny-Brockman-Carl-Jones-Dont-You-Know-Its-True.mp3download
Finally in Omaha, Nebraska (frontier to Canada). 1958, with the wild double-sider « The itch/Baby doll » by CARL CHERRY on the Tene label. « Baby doll » is a typical White doo-wop rocker, good although average. THE side is the garage Rockabilly « The itch » (Tene 1023), prettily sensual. Cherry has got the feel and itch, and the drummer and lead guitar player (RaB HOF says the guy was legally blind!) too ! Fantastic garage sound…They don’t play this way anymore, even with the wilder neo-rockabilly European bands.
Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « The itch » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Tene-1023B-Carl-Cherry-The-Itch.mp3download
Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « Baby doll » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/tene-1023A-CARL-CHERRY.-BABY-DOLL..mp3download
Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries
Shorty Long, upper left
Reading, Berks Cty
A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Shorty Long was the leader and organizer of the Santa Fe’ Rangers. When he was just 14, his parents, who were musically inclined, sent him to study music at the College of Rome where he got an education in classical music. They said he graduated cum laude as a violinist. During that time it seems he had formed a hillbilly music band that shocked his ‘serious- minded’ parents and the professors. That classical musical training just added to the bands musical sounds.
Shorty Long could also play the accordion, and sang both solo and tenor lead in his combo. He was with radio station WEEU in Reading from about 1946 and by 1951, seemed to be still there. His fan mail was said to be phenomenal.
Prior to returning to his hometown of Reading, he had also appeared on the WSIL Hayloft Hoedown and also the WLS National Barn Dance during the Alka-Seltzer sponsored portions. He also played to rave reviews at New York City’s Paramount Theatre when he was featured with the Foy Willing Trio on the Andrew Sisters’ « Eight-To-The-Bar Ranch Show ».
Shorty spent his summers at his Santa Fe Ranch which was on Rt. 422 just outside of Reading. It may have been some place where entertainment was held as they mention he played host to the big names in the entertainment field. He also appeared in the movie, « Powder River Gunfire ».
He had also just signed a recording contract with RCA Victor then, too. And in his song folio of 1951, was a recent addition to the King record label. (BIOGRAPHY TAKEN FROM: hillbilly-music.com)
Shorty Long, Country Musician, Composer
By Nathan Gorenstein, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: October 27, 1991
Shorty Long, 67, a country-and-western musician whose songs were played by Roy Acuff and who backed up Elvis Presley on recordings of « You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog » and « Don’t Be Cruel, » died Friday October 25th, of complications from cancer at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Reading, where he was born.
Mr. Long, whose real name was Emidio Vagnoni, lived in Exeter Township and for many years ran the Santa Fe Ranch, a 20-acre family entertainment park. He played country and gospel, and staged family comedies with his wife, the former Gladys Ulrich, whose stage name was Dolly Dimples.
Although Mr. Long never officially changed his name, most of his fans only knew him as Shorty Long, a stage name he adopted 50 years ago.
Mr. Long’s original music training was in the classical tradition, and included a stint at the Conservatory of Rome, where his parents enrolled him for violin studies when he was 16.
Despite that – and playing violin with the Reading Symphony Orchestra for a period – he decided to pursue « hillbilly and western music, » as country music was called in the 1940s.
Only 5-foot-6, Mr. Long told interviewers how he’d gotten his name.
In the 1940s, at the start of his career, a fan approached him for an autograph. Because friends had already given him Shorty as a nickname, he signed « Shorty » – only to have the fan complain that the autograph was inadequate without a second name.
« So I wrote Long, » he recalled in a 1956 interview. « That happened to be the name of a girl I was going with at the time. »
Mr. Long opened the Sante Fe Ranch in 1948, emphasizing country music. In 1967, he and his wife purchased a 67-acre tract in New Tripoli, Lehigh County, and opened Ontelaunee Park, where top-name country music entertainers performed.
He sold the second park in 1982.
Mr. Long played steel guitar, wrote songs and recorded for a number of major labels. He also played violin, piano, bass, organ and banjo in recording sessions for a number of artists, including Presley.
His songs were recorded by Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Jimmy Dickens, Pee Wee King, Jim Reeves and Hawkshaw Hawkins.
In 1955 he was cast as the lead in a Frank Loessner musical, The Most Happy Fella, and was declared a « showstopper » by columnist Walter Winchell.
Long stayed with the Broadway production for about four months, but later said homesickness for his wife and his country-and-western group, « The Santa Fe Rangers, » brought him back to Berks County.
It was during his stay in New York that he played piano and other instruments on such Presley songs as « Hound Dog » and « Don’t Be Cruel. »
In 1984 Mr. Long was presented the Outstanding Italian American Citizenship Award of Berks County by the Spartaco Society.
In a 1982 interview, Mr. Long said, « I wanted to be remembered as someone who always wanted to be with my family, the thousands of people who let me entertain them. »
It has not been very easy to assemble a story of Shorty Long. Indeed the biography and the obit above did help a bit. But what more ? Virtually all I know about him came from his records, and luckily they are quite a lot, in very different styles. Let’s try at one go a classification and an appreciation of Long’s music.
His first Signatures/Hi-Tone sides from 1947 (with Riley Shepard) are exuberant: lot of accordion (Long?), lot of reels (« Sheppard’s Scottische ») or traditionals (« Boil them cabbage down »). I really would like to listen to their treatment of the blues standard « Sweet Corinna blues » (untraced – someone can help?). Anyway nice songs are also present, typical ’40s hillbilly : « Airmail special on the fly » or « After all these years », which remind me a lot of the music that another Pennsylvanian cut at the same time : Bill Haley & His Four Aces of Western swing, early in his career (1949-50) on Keystone, or Cowboy label.
Riley Shepard & Shorty Long « After all these years » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/signature-1014-after-all-these-years.mp3download
Riley Shepard & Shorty Long « Boil them cabbage down » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/signature-1032-boil-them-cabbage-down.mp3download
On the Cowboy label, precisely, Shorty Long and the Santa Fe’ Rangers (at this point, not to be confused with Virginian Melvin Price‘s band, who cut on the Regal label as well as Blue Hen, among others, although later in the ’50s) recruited an already 30 to 32 years old singer (born 1918), Jack Day, or the alreay unknown Pee Wee Miller (although Day was present in the writers’ credit) for several sides. Fine uptempo sides with main instrument being accordion well to the fore (a fact which may wonder if Shorty Long was not playing it himself), good and firm singing by Day on « I round up the stars » and « I’ll go on loving you », or Miller in « You’ve got my heart in trouble ». Later on, Jack Day woud pursue a long career, although not very prolific recording-wise, on Coral ( his « Mule boogie [is this the Roy Hall tune on Bullet?]/Coyote blues » sounds promising..), Mercury (a cover of Bob Newman‘s « Lonesome truck driver’s blues »), and finally in late 1959 on Arcade 155: the fine « Rattle bone boogie » (flipside I’d like to hear is an instrumental, « Rappin’ the bass », well before the rap craze, of course).
Shorty Long and Santa Fe’ Rangers [Jack Day, vocal] « I round up the stars » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/cowboy-202-I-round-up-the-stars.mp3download
Shorty Long and Santa Fe’ Rangers [Pee Wee Miller, vocal) "You've got my heart in trouble" http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/cowboy-202-youve-got-my-heart-in-trouble.mp3download
Jack Day, « Rattle bone boogie » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/arcade-155-Jack-Day-Rattle-Bone-Boogie.mp3download
Get back to Shorty Long – as he aimed to be called then by fans. We find him next on Decca in 1948 for very slow sentimental songs. Long has a fine voice, mellow and easy, but…no uptempo : he’s crooning. Best song to emerge is the standard « I love you so much it hurts ». In 1949-50, he went to RCA-Victor, and all the songs I’ve heard are similar in style and I can think in confidence that Long pursued on slow ballads on the label.
We find him next on King Records, out of Cincinnati. It’s still now unclear where he recorded, either in Cincinnati or Nashville, TN. But he must have used studio musicians : on the labels, « The Santa Fe’ Rangers » have disappeared. All in all, he had better moments then, and went straight on the hillbilly bop bandwagon. My favorites are « Calm, cool and collected » (# 889) and the two-sided # 953. « Just like two drops of water » is a good uptempo ballad, well in the style of the King label circa 1950-52. The best side is however the powerful train song « Good night Cincinnati, good morning Tennessee » (my first exposure to Shorty Long’s music in 1978). Nice steel, infectious rhythm, a little classic !
Scotty Evans, « Three times seven » (Arcade 115) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/arcade-115-SCOTTY-EVANS-ACCOMPANIED-BY-SHORTY-LONG-AND-HIS-SANTA-FÉ-RANGERS-Three-times-seven-Arcade-115A.mp3download
Shorty Long, « Just like two tear drops of water » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/king-953-just-like-two-drops-of-water.mp3download
Shorty Long, « Good night Cincinnati, good morning Tennessee » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/king-953-goodnight-cincinnati.mp3download
I’d like to hear also « Hillbilly wedding » (# 949), which escaped to my research until now ; it must have had some success, since this tune was reissued on # 1076 in 1952. Shorty Long’s band must have been in demand, as they are backing Scotty Evans on one of the first Arcade issues (# 115), « Three times seven/What’s become of me« , both reasonable boppers.
1953, down in Tennessee ; first for the Gallatin Dot label ; « Pretend » and « Crying steel guitar waltz » (# 1153) are highly forgettable, slow sentimental ballads. « Crying » was covered by Pee Wee King with a reasonable dose of success in May 1953.
Second session is a lot more interesting for the Knoxville small Valley label. From then on, I guess it’s a turn in Shorty Long’s career. « I got nine little kisses » is a jivey little rocker, a la Bill Haley (Essex period – actually the song reminds me « Crazy, man, crazy »). Chorus, string-bass, lead guitar and a happy vocal by Long. Its flipside « Who said I said that » is an equally good jiver.
Shorty Long « I got nine little kisses » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/valley-108-I-got-nine-little-kisses.mp3download
Shorty Long « Who said I said that » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/valley-108-who-said-I-said-that.mp3download
The Davis Sisters covered « Just like me » (RCA 47-5843) in 1955, and the pair offered Martha Carson « I just found God » (RCA EPA 674) in 1956.
Back to the big RCA-Victor label, this time I think in NYC in 1954, until 1957. Long went more and more pop, after 1956; anyway he had still fine sides, like the train song « Standing in the station » (with a male/female chorus doing train effects – Boudleaux Bryant had already given Long the song « Who said I said that » on Valley) or the mambo-beat « Make with me de love » or on the X label in 1955 ; Long teamed with Bob Newman as « The Dalton Boys » for the great two-sider « Roll, Rattler, roll » b/w « Just like me » (X 0045).
Shorty Long, « Standing in the station » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/X-0024-Standing-in-the-station.mp3download
Shorty Long, « Make with me de love » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/X-0024-Make-with-me-de-love.mp3download
The Dalton Boys « Roll, Rattler, roll » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/X-0045-The-Dalton-Boys-Roll-Rattler-Roll.mp3download
Shorty Long, « I got it » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/RCA-SHORTY-LONG-I-Got-It-unissued.mp3download
Shorty Long, « Luscious » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/arcade-115-SCOTTY-EVANS-ACCOMPANIED-BY-SHORTY-LONG-AND-HIS-SANTA-FÉ-RANGERS-Three-times-seven-Arcade-115A.mp3download
Shorty Long, « Redstone John » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/A5-Shorty-Long-Redstone-John-K-Son-J8OW-7285_6-58.mp3download
The Davis Sisters covered « Just like me » in 1955 on RCA 47-5843, while the pair offered « I just found God » to Martha Carson (RCA EPA 674) in 1956.
Late January 1956 as pianist he backed Elvis Presley during the mammoth session with saw « Blue suede shoes », « Shake rattle and roll », etc. cut He maintained to have played on « Hound dog », although Gordon Stokes of the Jordanaires held the piano stool for this August 1956 session.
Apart from a fine, very Everly-ish « I got it » (unissued at the time – I don’t know where the Youtuber found it), and a big band-ish « Luscious » (I believe this is the Roy Hall song – B-side of « Blue suede shoes« : the writer is the same, Greg Callahan) , other tracks are « Vacation rock » (curiously issued as B-side to « I got nine little kisses » on the Valley bootleg issue in 1978) which is a belter, as « Burnt toasts and black coffee » (RCA 47-6572). Last good track Long could have cut was Cliff Crofford’s « Another love has ended », alas ruined (to my ears) by over-production and noisy brassy backing. Final track of interest came in 1958 on the Birmingham, AL. K-Son label (distributed by RCA): Shorty Long delivers an honest white-rocker with lot of saxes. Nothing of an earthquake however!
Shorty long issued several albums during the ’60s and ’70s along with his wife Dolly Dimples, and was active in music nearly until his death in 1991.
This article would have proved impossible to settle down without the invaluable help of collector Ronald Keppner, out of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Thanks Ronald for the sounds and scans.
Howdy folks ! Hope you will enjoy those selections of the present fortnight. Now it’s very hot in southern France, so is the music I choose.
From Harrington, KY., do come GORDON SIZEMORE on the Alvic label (no #. Thanks Mr. Dean C. Morris for the scan of the label!). « Waddlin baby » [sic] is a Country, near Rockabilly from 1962. The voice of the singer is nasal and sounds a little old. The guy must have been the perfect Country boy. He his backed by (apparently) two brothers, Johnny and Casey Jones. One of them does a fine fiddle solo. The record, if you find it, will cost you between $ 100 and 200 !
Gordon Sizemore « Waddlin baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/alvic-Gordon-Sizemore-Waddlin-Mama.mp3download
Tom Wilson « Why’d you pick on me »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/cool-135B-Tommy-Wilson-Whyd-You-Pick-On-Me.mp3download
To learn more about the COOL label, go to Dean C. Morris blogsite: http://anorakrockabilly45rpm.blogspot.co.uk
On the Harrison, NJ. Cool label (# 135B) we go now to TOM WILSON and « Why’d you pick on me », a fast Rockabilly flavored Country rocker, with fine slapping bass. The name of the singer sounds familiar to me, I know at least another Tom Wilson on the Crest label out of California, surely a different person. The disc is from 1960.
Next two tracks are sung and played by BUDDY ALLEN and his Drifting Vagabonds on the Driftwood label (# 1001) from Waynesboro, PA. « Driftwood on the river » is the side for hillbilly bop fans : a medium paced ditty, with a nice mellow voice, backed by a fiddle and steel-guitar (a solo). A great record from, I’d say, 1955. Allen had another issue, « Allegheny moon » on Driftwood 1002 (untraced)
The flipside is totally different. « God loves His Children » is a fast sacred hillbilly with a good touch of bluegrass : a mandolin solo per example. Hear the most the great falsetto vocal ! Is the singer the same Buddy Allen who did « Shine, shave, shower » on Tennessee 748?
Buddy Allen « Driftwood on the river »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DRIFTWOOD-1001A-Buddy-allen-driftwood-on-the-river.mp3download
Buddy Allen « God loves His children »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/DRIFTWOOD1001B-buddy-allen-God-loves-his-children.mp3download
From Louisiana next two tracks by a relatively famous HOLLIS ALBIN, for the minor classic « Vee-eight Ford boogie » on the Hammond label, out of Baton Rouge (1959). Loud drums, nasal vocal, topical lyrics, all these make of the track a gem, a classic. (# 106A). The flipside is, in my mind, equally good, altho’ in a different manner. « Uncle Earl don’t stand alone » is a medium hillbilly bop, with a backing of banjo and fiddle, over amusic lyrics.
Hollis Albin, « Vee-Eight Ford boogie http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/hammond-106-HOLLIS-ALBIN-Vee-eight-Ford-Boogie.mp3download
Hollis Albin, « Uncle Earl don’t stand alone »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/hammond-106B-HOLLIS-ALBIN-Uncle-Earl-Dont-Stand-Alone-.mp3download
Finally two tracks by the legendary PRAIRIE RAMBLERS. They were Texans, but recorded (during a tour?) in NYC for the ARC label. First « Gonna have a feast here tonight » (on the reissue label Melotone 13412-B) is an exuberant number sung by Salty Holmes, who holds also the harmonica. Tex Atchison plays the fiddle. The orchestra sings in unisson on this song cut on April 18, 1935. Second, their greatest classic, « Deep Elem Blues » (about the events in the ‘hot’ quarter of Dallas) cut on August 15, 1935, has clarinet (solo), banjo, fiddle. The whole thing is a mess! (Melotone 5-11-51). What a slap bass, by Jack Taylor, ahead by 20 years on Sonny Fisher‘s « Rocking Daddy »…Same session saw also the first cut of « Just because« , later sung by Elvis on Sun!
Prairie Ramblers, « Gonna have a feast here tonight »
Prairie Ramblers, « Deep Elem blues »
Enjoy the selections, you can always post comments, corrections or additions. If you prefer a direct link, go to my email address : email@example.com. Bye, till next fortnight.
Howdy folks! En route for a new batch of bopping ‘billies. Main instrument will be fiddle (but not in all titles present), always to the fore. It even had in places good solos. Second instrument (normal in honky tonk) is steel-guitar. By accident, I’ve uploaded two yodeling vocalists too. Music rounds up from 1954 to 1961, from Texas and southern New Mexico to Ohio. Here we go…
RICKY McKINNEY offers on the Mystic label (# 0528) (an RCA custom pressing from 1958) the nice Western swing flavored « Washday blues« . Roswell, New Mexico.
Ricky McKinney, « Washday blues »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Ricky-Mc-Kinney-Washday-Blues-1958.mp3download
Second offering is by a well-known guy (for his Rockabilly side « My square dancing’ mama (She’s done learned to Rock’n'roll)« . Here is the flip side (MGM 12195 from March 1956), « Your wild life’s gonna get you down« , very much in a traditional Honky tonk manner. The name: BOB GALLION!
Bob Gallion, « Your wild life’s gonna get you down »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Your-Wild-Lifes-Gonna-Get-You-Down-Bob-Gallion.mp3download
Freddie Frank, « This old rig »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Freddie-Frank-This-Old-Rig-19611.mp3download
From an unknown location I guess Ohio, on the microscopic Chuck’s label (although # 3434 seem to evoke other previous issues) by CHUCK SMITH. Without doubt his own label, where he delivers a great, dramatic bluesy (à la Hank Williams) « Lovesick daddy« . Smith even does yodel. I wish to hear more by a man of this talent. Chuck Smith, « Lovesick daddy »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Chuck-Smith-Love-Sick-Daddy.mp3download
Finally back to Texas (Plainview) on the Flair label (# 1021-1023) by JAMIE HILLIARD, « I’m going back to my Indian maiden« . Good piano (solo) and guitar, and the fiddle takes two solos, while Hillard vocalizes in yodel too. Indeed nothing to do with the Los Angeles Flair label (Richard Berry, Elmore James, etc.) of the Biharii Brothers.
Jamie Hilliard, « I’m going back to my Indian maiden »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Jamie-Hilliard-Im-Going-Back-To-My-Indian-Maiden.mp3download
Hope to hear from you! Any comments or additions welcome (even bad ones!). My thanks as usual go to Ronald Keppner: he’d help me a lot for the Shorty Long story.
June 2nd, 11h47PM. I don’t really know what happened. I had included Shorty Long’s « Goodnight Cincinnati, good morning Tennessee » (King 953), announcing the next feature on him in Bopping. Really cannot understand: everything about him disappeared from the project (pictures, text and music).Sorry for inconvenience! Blame on internet wizardry? Also all my article on Freddie Frank, whom you only have without any explanation two tunes. More on him later!
This time we focus on 3 artists only. First DARNELL MILLER, who has enjoyed a comfortable Country music career for 5 decades in W. Va (a long-time affiliate to the famous WVA Jamboree), is present here with three of his early records. On the Dale label (a Starday custom) # 630 from Bluefield, W.Va, in May 1957, he released a very honest medium-paced hillbilly (fiddle present) with « Gettin’ out of the woods« . Two years later, he was to have two nice Country-rockers on the main Starday serie (in the meantime, he had been presented to Don Pierce, boss of the label, in Nashville). He delivers the energetic « Royal flush » (Starday 422) as well, several months later, the equally nice (where he seems to double his voice over) « Back to you » (Starday 459). Later on, he cut many, many records until his retirement early in the 2000s.
Darnell Miller, ’90s
Darnell Miller « Gettin’ out of the woods » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/630-B-Dale-Darnell-Miller-Gettin-out-of-the-woods.mp3download
Darnell Miller « Royal flush » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/starday-422-Darnell-Miller-Royal-Flush-.mp3download
Darnell Miller « Back to you » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/07-Darnell-Miller-Back-To-You.mp3download
The second artist presented here has no biographical data. BILL DUDLEY had cut in Nashville a good amount of records from 1953 to 1972 (in Canada) then disappeared from Dick Grant’s antennas. I’ve chosen the nice hillbilly released in November 1953 by Capitol (# 2662) « If I cry« . All in all, he recorded between 1953 and 1954 thirteen tracks for this label, which issued 4 singles. The next track by him is the fine Country-rocker « Oh please Mr. Conductor » on the Todd label (# 1046) from 1959. This tiny label issued several good disks during this period by Lee Bonds, Jimmie Fletcher or Jericho Jones, to name the most well-known in the Hillbilly bop/Country-rock field.
Bill Dudley « If I cry » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/capitol-2662-bill-dudley-if-I-cry.mp3download
Bill Dudley « Oh please Mr. Conductor » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Bill-Dudley-Oh-Please-Mr-Conductor-TODD-Records.mp3download
Down in Louisiana, I will dwell on JOEY GILLS upon. A protégé of Jay D. Miller, and né Joseph Guillot, he hailed from Thibodeaux vicinity, La. where he was born on a farm in 1929 (died 2013).A relative to Cajun superstar Johnnie Allan, during the early ’50s, he often gigged with Rusty & Doug, and he sounded so much as Hank Williams that J. D. Miller often used him to test new songs. Here it is his first record from 1953-54 « Hey Meon » (Feature 2002), cut in Crowley, La (J. D. Miller studio): Gills is backed by Lonnie Jones (later known as « Lazy Lester« ) on washboard, Johnny on steel (Miller can’t remember his full name) and Wiley Barkdull on piano for a very good waltz-paced ditty, partly sung in French. In February or March 1956, he cut 4 tracks for Mercury, either in Crowley, or in Nashville, which included the great medium boppers « (I am) Like a dog without a bone », « My name is Joe » and « Consolation prize« . From then on, Gills had his own radio show in Thibodeaux on KTIB, but recorded only this song (found on Youtube).
Joey Gills: « Hey Meon » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/feature-2002-Joey-Gills-Hey-Meon.mp3download
Joey Gills « Like a dog without a bone » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Joey-Gills-Im-Like-A-Dog-Without-A-Bone-1956.mp3download
Joey Gills « My name is Joe » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/06-My-Name-Is-Joe-Joey-Gills.mp3ref= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/06-My-Name-Is-Joe-Joey-Gills.mp3″ target= »_blank »>download
Joey Gills « Consolation prize » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Consolation-Prize-Joey-Gills.mp3download
Joey Gills « Baby, leave your troubles at home » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Baby-Leave-Your-Troubles-At-Home-Joey-Gills.mp3download
Howdy folks, the first serie of the two selections for May.
The exuberant « It always happens to me » by RUFUS SHOFFNER & JOYCE SONGER (wife of Earl) cut in Detroit in 1962 seems stylistically go back to the mid to late ’50s. It’s a great fast bopper (piano, guitar and an energetic rhythm, and an exulting duet vocal), which was issued on Fortune’s label subsidiary Hi-Q 14, and can still be found on various recent compilations, as in Boppin’ Hillbilly vol. 5. Shoffner made several fine sides on Hi-Q or Fortune, or earlier on Kentucky’s Countryside label. More on him later in this site. »It always happens to me » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/rufus-shoffner-it-always-happens-to-me.mp3download
More famous from the West coast is TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD (1919-1991),who cut a fine string of Hillbilly boogies from the end of the ’40s (« Milk ‘em in the morning blues« ) to the mid-50s, when he crossed the marked with the top-seller « Sixteen tons » (written by Merle Travis). Here he delivers from July 1950 on Capitol 1295 the much acclaimed « The shot gun boogie » (which had many, many versions later by others, even during the R&R era, f.e. Jesse Lee Turner), backed by the Cliffie Stone crew, among them the excellent Speedy West (steel), Billy Liebert (piano) and Jimmy Bryant (ld guitar).
T. Ernie in 1957
T. Ernie Ford « The shot gun boogie » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/capitol-1295.mp3download
For the rest of the selections, we’re turning to obscure artists. From Pennsylvania in 1958 on the Skyline label (not to be confused with the Indianapolis label: the Blankenship Brothers) # 106 comes BOB ENGLAR and » Always dreaming« , a very nice bopper (guitar/steel/fiddle solos). FRANK DARRIS had in 1963 the same energy as Englar for an honest Rockabilly, his personal version of Marty Robbins’ « Ruby Ann » on the Roy label. The wizardry is the same two-sided disc came on two other labels, Thunder and Advance. Another Rockabilly we find from Alabama, early ’60s, « Baby I don’t care » (not the Elvis’ song) by DAVID GREGG on the McDowell label.
Bob Englar « Always dreaming » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Bob-Englar-amp-The-Southland-Playboys-Always-Dreaming-Hillbilly-45.mp3download
Frank Darris « Ruby Ann » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Frank-Darris-Ruby-Ann-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
David Gregg, »Baby I don’t care » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/David-Gregg-Baby-I-Dont-Care.mp3download
Dempsey Sims, « Blue eyed baby » (Sam version)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Dempsey-Sims-Blue-Eyed-Baby-Country-Bop-45-Sam-Version.mp3download
Dempsey Sims, « Blue-eyed baby » (Huber version)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Dempsey-Sims-Blue-Eyed-Baby-Country-Bop-45-Huber-Version.mp3download
Finally the same song, « Blue eyed baby » is a yodeling bopper first issued in 1956 on Esta 284 (untraced)and later recorded twice by DEMPSEY SIMS in 1957 on Huber (time 2’39″) and Sam (time 2’07″). The Sam version seems more polished. Dempsey later had « Blues tomorrow » in 1967 on the Nashville label.
I feel sorry for the light defaults of the scans: my sight is failing (too much reading microscopic master numbers on records!)
He was an enormously successful and popular country music star, a man who recorded over 90 chart hits with a unique style that wasn’t exactly rockabilly, but certainly influenced the shape it hillbilly rockers to come. He was related to hillbilly royalty through his marriage to June Carter, not to mention that his daughter became a country music hit maker in her own right. You know who I’m talking about of course – the one and only Carl Smith. (He also wore black on occasion, but to the point…)
Born in 1927, and hailing from Roy Acuff’s hometown of Maynardville, Tennessee, Carl Smith grew up like many Southern boys of the depression, idolizing singing cowboys in the movies and hillbilly musicians on the radio. Acquiring his first guitar at the age of ten, Smith took advantage of any opportunity to play music at local dances, socials and school programs. He found work as a professional musician while he was still in high school in various bands centered around Knoxville and Cas Walker’s radio show on station WROL. But his pursuit of a fulltime music career was temporarily interrupted by his stint in the U.S. Navy in 1945-46.
After returning from the service, Smith found fulltime work as a musician in the Knoxville area where WROL was becoming a triple-A farm team of sorts for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and a prime location for record companies to discover up-and-comers in the hillbilly scene. In 1950, with Hank Williams selling records hand over fist for MGM, every major label was looking for stars that could deliver the new, post-war, hard-edged honky tonk style. For Columbia Records, the then 23 year-old Carl Smith was just what they were looking for. Smith found himself in the fast lane to hillbilly stardom, signed to both the Grand Ole Opry and Columbia Records in less than a month. While he might not have been the tortured hillbilly poet that Hank was, Smith had many other assets including a strong, clear voice, his country boy good looks, a head full of wavy hair, and perhaps best of all, he lacked the self-destructive tendencies that were constantly derailing Williams’ career.Smith quickly proved himself a master of just about any form of hillbilly music he set his sights on — from Eddy Arnold-style crooners to Hank Williams-style honky-tonk heartbreakers, to heartfelt gospel that any mother would approve of. But the style that Smith really made his own came from Saturday nights, not Sunday mornings. It was “honky-tonk stomp.” Up-tempo slices of hillbilly bravado and swagger like “(When You Feel Like You’re in Love) Don’t Just Stand There,” “Trademark,” “Hey Joe!” , « Dog-gone It, Baby, I’m In Love » and “Back Up Buddy” where Smith really made his mark on the evolving palette of hillbilly music.
It was a style that Hank Williams had pioneered with songs like “Honky Tonkin’” and “Mind Your Own Business” and that he referred to as “sock rhythm.” But ole Hank’s “sock” was just the 2-4 backbeat that had marked the dividing line between white and black popular music for so long, and that more and more hillbilly musicians were picking up on in the late forties. Smith was a natural for this younger, hipper and hotter form of hillbilly music, but he never came across as the threatening rebel. “The Country Gentleman,” as he became known, could deliver a heartbreaking ballad that brought tears to the eyes of the bluest blue-nose and then toss off a stomper that thrilled the budding teeny-bopper crowd with his down home machismo.
« hey Joe! » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Carl-Smith-Hey-Joe.mp3download
« Dog-gone it baby, I’m in love » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Carl-Smith-Dog-Gone-It-Baby-Im-In-Love-1954.mp3download
« Back up buddy » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/columbia-21266-carl-smith-BACK-UP-BUDDY.mp3download
While seldom acknowledged as such, Carl Smith, along with other honky-tonk stompers like Webb Pierce, Faron Young and Hawkshaw Hawkins were adding the final ingredients to the musical gumbo that would spit out rockabilly in just a few years. The young, hot shot attitude, combined with a driving beat and the good looks of many of these honky tonkers provided true swoon appeal to a generation of corn-fed gals, whose younger sisters would be screaming for the “Memphis Flash” and his fellow rockabilly cats in just a few short years. But of course you gotta have a hot band to play hot music, and that’s exactly what Smith assembled with his road band, The Tunesmiths. Featuring top session men like Junior Husky (on bass) and Buddy Harman, but most especially the master steel guitarist, Johnny Silbert (then 17 years old), the Tunesmiths developed a hot style that drew from both Western Swing and the nascent rock’n’roll beat. Other Tunesmiths’ members included drummer Farris Coursey, ex-Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys Sammy Pruett on lead guitar or future Jordanaires’ Gordon Stoker on piano. There’s never been any fiddle in Smith’s hillbilly boppers, another sign of him being ahead of his time.
Sammy Pruett left to Hank
A perfect example of the musical style that Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths developed is their 1955 recording of “Baby I’m Ready.” It’s a song that both swings and rocks as Smith declares his readiness to show his lady a hot time on the town. And all with a charm that probably left the young lady’s mother and father smiling and waving from the front porch as that “good boy” took their daughter out for a night of hillbilly whoopee.
« Baby, I’m Ready » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/25.-Baby-Im-Ready.mp3download
Ricky Van Shelton « Baby I’m ready » (1987)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ricky-van-shelton-baby-Im-ready.mp3download
Also take a listen to the proto-rockabilly (by rhythm and lyrics) « Go Boy Go » or « No, I don’t believe I will »
« Go, boy go » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/columbia-21266-carl-smith-go-boy-go.mp3download
« No, I don’t believe I will » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/13-Carl-Smith-No-I-Dont-Believe-I-Will.mp3download>download
In June of 1952, Smith married June Carter, daughter of musical matriarch Maybelle Carter. The couple settled just north of Nashville in the suburb of Madison. Smith cut several gospel recordings with the Carter Sisters, and in 1954 the couple cut a pair of novelty songs with June playing comedic foil to the more straight-laced Smith in sort of gender-switched hillbilly version of the shtick that Louis Prima and Keely Smith were conquering Vegas with. The couple’s next collaboration, their daughter, and future country star Carlene Carter arrived in 1955.
But even among hillbilly royalty, matrimony is not without its challenges. The couple split in 1956 with Smith marrying fellow Grand Ole Opry star, and hillbilly music’s first “glamour queen” Goldie Hill the following year. Smith left the Opry near the end of 1956 in a swirl of behind-the-scene politics to take top billing on the Phillip Morris Country Music Show, a free traveling revue sponsored by the cigarette company that ran through 1957 and ’58, often playing the same cities and dates as the Opry-sponsored road show. Smith then made the leap to TV stardom as the co-host of Five Star Jubilee and later the Canadian-produced Carl Smith’s Country Music Hall.
The Tunesmiths: « Oh! stop » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/columbia-21386-The-Tunesmiths-Oh-Stop.mp3download
The Tunesmiths: « Doorstep to Heaven » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/columbia-21522-CARL-SMITH-WITH-THE-TUNESMITHS-doorstep-to-heaven.mp3download
Although his hottest period was in the pre-Elvis era, Smith continued to produce solid country hits through the sixties and early seventies. He even managed to hold the strings and vocal chorus of the then popular “Nashville Sound” at bay on his recordings, staying true to a more traditional honky tonk sound. He left Columbia Records in 1973 and after a short stint on Hickory Records made the rare move of voluntarily retiring from the music business in 1978.
He spent his later years enjoying the fruits of a country boy’s dream, on his 500 acre horse and cattle ranch in Williamson County, Tennessee. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003. His wife Goldie, passed away in 2005 with Smith following her in January of 2010 at the age of 82.
Reflecting on his decision to retire from the music business Smith told Tim Ghianni in a 2003 interview for the Tennessean, “I just wanted to play cowboy. My philosophy is doing what I want to do.” A darn good philosophy for a country boy, but of course we can all be grateful that for a time, bringing a hot beat, a snarl and a swagger to country music was just what Carl Smith wanted to do and what he was best at.
Biography and pictures taken from the net. Scans and music mostly from private collections.
Nothing to do with Jimmy Carter’s supposed brother ! That Bill Carter was a member of the Big Jim DeNoone’s Rhythm Busters.
His story begins on December 12, 1929, when he was born in Eagleton, Arkansas, one of ten siblings, the son of an itinerant share cropper. By the time he was nine years old, he was singing on KGHI out of Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1937 , the family moved to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Bill’s father got a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Indio, California, in 1943, and the family headed west. Bill’s interest in music was encouraged, and he took voice lessons during his teens, as well as performing on radio stations KRBO (Indio) and KROX (Modesto), modelling himself on Eddy Arnold. After graduating from Coachella Valley High school, Bill gained employment with the Johnson lumber Company in Grass Valley, and confined his performings to weekends.
In 1949 he joined USAF, and whilst stationed at Lackland and subsequently Parks AFB in Calfornia, Bill formed several bands, playing with the likes of Shorty Lavender (lead guitar and fiddle), Slim Roberts (fiddle), and Bob Cooper (drums). His music was firmly strenched in C&W and performing at NCO clubs kept his hand in. Whilst still in the Air Force, he got to perform with Cal Smith’s band in San Leandro, as well as playing dates in the San Francisco area, and venturing as far afield as San Antonio, Texas radio stations to perform. Read the rest of this entry »
For this early Spring favorites selection, I’ve chosen mostly – that is unusual – major labels recordings!
The first three on King probably all cut in Cincinnati between 1949 and 1950. The earliest track is by RED PERKINS (born in 1890), who had begun his career before WWII and was later the featured vocalist of PAUL HOWARD Arkansas Cotton Pickers (see below). Here it is his « Hoe-Down Boogie » (King 792), a fine call-and-response fast bopper. He also had « Crocodile tears » the next year. His first issue on King (# 773) was « Texas Boogie« , and the personnel was then Jabbo Arrington [gt], Billy Bowman [steel], Bob Moore [bass], Roddy Bristol [fiddle], Fiddlin’ Red Herron [fiddle], Joe Rea [drums], poss. Harold Horner [piano]. The backing is probably similar.
Second selection is of course by PAUL HOWARD: « The boogie’s fine tonight« . Fine piano bopper (# 871), and the next is by the famous REDD STEWART, featured vocalist of Pee Wee King‘s Golden West Cowboys. Actually, except accordion (inaudible) the GWC are the backing band of Stewart for this great « Brother drop dead » (# 843). Fine piano, aggressive steel punctuating the beat.
Red Perkins, « Hoe-down boogie » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Red-Perkins-Hoe-Down-Boogie.mp3download
Paul Howard « The boogie’s fine tonight » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/king-873AA-Paul-Howard-The-boogie_s-fine-tonight.mp3download
One step away to West coast on the Capitol label for GENE O’QUIN and « I specialize in love » (# 2715). Fast bopper from 1954.
Gene O’Quin « I specialize in love » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Gene-OQuinn-I-specialize-in-love.mp3download
Back to early days. Dallas, Texas, Jim Beck’s studio, April 1951. The MERCER Brothers (Wallace and Charlie), an old-time male duet do a very energetic « Wish bone » on Columbia 20978. They sound like the Delmore Brothers, and even have WAYNE RANEY on harmonica for a great solo! Thanks to Jack Dumery to have led me to them (and for the CD!)
Mercer Brothers « Wish bone » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/columbia-20978-mercer-bros-wish-bones.mp3download
Eddie Crosby « Blues stay away from me » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Eddie-Crosby-quotBlues-Stay-Away-From-Mequot-78-rpm.mp3download
Danny Dedmon « Hula hula woogie » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Danny-Dedmon-Hula-hula-woogie.mp3download
The link with the former is the Delmore and a version of their all-time great « Blues stay away from me« , a cityfied rendition (Cincinnat, August 1949) by EDDIE CROSBY. Nice guitar (could be Zeke Turner).
Finally back in Dallas with DANNY DEDMON, former vocalist of Bill Nettles. Actually his Rhythm Ramblers are Nettles’ Dixie Blues boys. Here he does in 1947 the amusing « Hula hula boogie » on Imperial 8019.
Sources: my own collection and the net for artists pictures.