James Arthur « Jimmie Heap » (later Jimmy) was born March 3rd, 1922 in Taylor, Tx. He died at only 55 on December 3rd, 1977, on account of a boat accident in Lake Buchanan. His corpse was rescued only one day after.
Jimmie’s career did begin shortly after discharge from U.S.A.F. during WWII, more exactly said in 1947. Arlie Carter (piano), Horace Barnett (rhythm guitar), “Big” Bill Glendenings (bass) and Louis Renson (or Rencon) (fiddle), all belonged to the Melody Masters right from the start. Later they were joined by Cecil R. “Butterball” Harris (steel-guitar). Indeed Jimmie Heap was on vocal and lead guitar.
With appearances on radio KTAE (from 1948 to 1956) and in clubs, they were always fully booked up. A Barnett composition about a club they were frequently playing at, “Dessau Hall Waltz” soon found the interest of Lasso Records, who cut the band during the Spring of 1948. Their first singles appeared therefore on this tiny label. They even had leased masters on 4 Star, wrongly credited to « Dolores & Blue Bonnet Boys ». Read the rest of this entry »
Howdy folks. This time we are mostly staying in Texas. First with the legendary bandleader CLIFF BRUNER and « San Antonio Blues« , a late ’40s tune. He saw among his band members Moon Mullican or Link Davis.
Then GENE HENSLEE, aimed at Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly circles for his « Rockin’ Baby » on Imperial. He also had this jumping « Dig’n'And Datin‘ » with fiddle, piano and steel. Henslee was a resident D.J. at KIHN from Hugo, Oklahoma.
BASHFUL VIC THOMAS was one of these Country outfits jumping on the Rock’n'Roll bandwagon in 1956. He delivers here the fine romping « Rock and Roll Tonight » on the Premium label.
From the Sage label out of California comes now BOB NEWMAN (see elsewhere his story in this site), disguised under the family name « GEORGIA CRACKERS » and a remake of « Hangover Boogie » in 1957. He had already cut the song for King during the early ’50s.
The tune « Big Door » was published twice by 4 Star in 1958. One version, as a Rocker, was sung by GENE BROWN (with a possible Eddie Cochran connection). Here I offer the other version by JACK TUCKER, more Country.
Finally, way up North (Richùond, Indiana), here is JIMMY WALLS and the amusing title « What A Little Kiss Can Do » (from 1965!) for the Walton label, which also had Van Brothers‘ issues.
A merry Xmas to you all. Enjoy the music!
a Westport 45 rpm sleeve - courtesy Udo Frank
Westport Records was formed in 1955 by Dave Ruf and his brothers as an outlet to record both their son and daughter, billed as the Westport Kids . The first single released by the new label was Westport 125 by the Westport Kids called « Right or Wrong / Hold Me My Darling« . I don’t know why the company’s catalog began at 125 – a mystery that will probably never get solved. However, Westport started out as a country label, recording also such artists as Milt Dickey and Jimmy Dallas, who was a local country star in Kansas City. Their recording studio called Westport Enterprises, Inc. was based in Westwood, Missouri, a town near Kansas City, where the Rufs also lived. The studio was active as early as the late 1940s and I suppose many of the later Westport recordings were cut there. The Rufs’ son, Bobby, had his own release (he was 11 years old) with the pleasant « Cap Gun Cowboy » as Cowboy Bobby.
the Westport Kids
Billboard advert for the first Westport issue
Westwood suburb, south of KC
Several Westport country artists also appeared on the Cowtown Jubilee (KCMO). The Cowtown Jubilee aired over 50,000 watt radio station KCMO out of Kansas City, Missouri. From an article in 1953, I estimate the show started sometime in 1950 as they had mentioned it had been on the air for three years.
The emcee for the show was Dal Stallard, a disc jockey for KCMO at the time. Helping him out at times were Hoby Shepp, who was the producer of the show and also the band leader of the « Cowtown Wranglers ». Singer-composer, Milt Dickey could also lend a hand with the announcing chores.The Cowtown Jubilee had a mix of the regular cast members along with guest stars and amateur talent. Before each show, the « Talent Quest » – a contest for budding stars would have a chance to try out their talents.The show was held every Saturday night at the Ivanhoe Temple in Kansas City, Missouri (at the corner of Linwood and Prospect), which had seating accommodations for 1,828 attendees. The show was said to be four and a half hours long, but there is no indication if the full length of the show was broadcast over the air. Read the rest of this entry »
Lee Bonds (1924-Present)
By Tony Biggs (thanks Tony: he’s the bass-player of the Rimshots, Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, Bill Fadden & The Rhythmbusters and Ponchartrain)
Lee Bonds was born in Albertville, Alabama on April 22, 1924. At a very young age he became interested in Honky Tonk music and by the age of 18 decided to leave his dad’s farm and head down the musical road. He toured throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida for five years. On his return to Alabama he secured a slot on local Radio station WGWD in his home town city of Gadsen, where he became a regular performer. He joined the ‘Midway Jamboree’ show in 1951 that was relayed by WGWD and became their resident bassman.
Bonds and his band, The Shady Lane Playboys, made their first recording sessions in Nashville during early 1951 for the newly formed Tennessee Records (also based in Nashville).
His style was typically Honky Tonk, but alongside his very rural voice, Bonds incorporated a trumpet into his music giving it a slight bluesy feel. His self-penned ‘Uh-Huh Honey’ was later covered by several artists including Charlie Feathers.
Bonds only saw two releases for the label before Tennessee Records folded under inauspicious circumstances.
Sometime in 1952 he ventured to California and guested for ‘Walkin’ Charlie Aldrich and
Spade Cooley in the summer.
second release Read the rest of this entry »
Howdy folks! Here are my ‘new’ favourite tunes of early this month. As usual I try to give you oddities to illustrate the music, although lacking of inspiration and enthusiasm this time!
Red and Lige, The TURNER BROTHERS, were a duet group from Tennessee. I don’t know if they were related to the more famous brothers, Zeke and Zeb (King and Bullet labels). They offer here a strong Country-boogie with »Honky Tonk Mama » on the Radio Artist label (the one which issued Jimmie Skinner first sides). Circa 1950.
PECK TOUCHTON, a native of Texas, had a solitary release on Sarg (« You’ve Changed Your Tune« ). He also recorded for Pappy Daily’s Starday label, without seeing any issue, following a mixing of label stickers during a car wreck! The whole story was told by Andrew Brown in his excellent site, Wired For Sound. See it here:
Touchton’s record, « Let Me Catch My Breath » was finally issued under the name of George Jones (Starday 160).
Out of Texas or West Louisiana, and at one time associated as a singer with Bill Nettles, DANNY DEDMON had records as early as 1947 on Imperial. Here is his « Hula Hula Woogie« , typical Texas Honky-tonk of the late Forties, with a touch of Western swing. The Rhythm Ramblers were actually Nettles’ band.
George McCormick (he had discs on M-G-M, for example, « Fifty-Fifty Honky Tonkin’ Tonight ») and Earl Aycock teamed as GEORGE & EARL in 1956, and had a string of Rockabilly releases on the Mercury label. I’ve chosen one of their most dynamic sides, « Done Gone« . Nashville musicians behind them. The duet folded shortly afterwards.
Out of Nashville came CLAY EAGER on the Republic label. Although he was a celebrity as D.J. in the St.Louis/St.Paul, MO, area, he had cut this fine « Bobbie Lou » in Nashville. We finish with the wild, rasping young ETTA JAMES on the West Coast. « Tough Lover » is backed by the ubiquitous Maxwell Davis.
The Tennessee label
It was owned by Alan and Reynold Bubis (cousins) and formed in late 1949 by Williams Beasley who owned Coastline Distribution and was a protege of Jim Bulleit at a time when the Bullet label was having great local and national success. This was a time of expansion in Nashville as the Opry radio show became more and more popular and the number of studios grew. The Tennessee label used Castle or Bullet studios, but also radio stations after-hours (WKDA, WMAK), before Beasley set up his own studio. It had its musicians (The Nite Owls, a bunch of ever-changing musicians) and publishing outlet (first Tennessee, then Babb Music). The biggest hits Tennessee had was in the pop field: Del Wood and her singalong piano solos. But, like Bullet, Tennessee also recorded many excellent hillbilly and honky-tonk songs, and had no idea of recording star names. Beasley was looking for regular sales of 25,000. Often thee had the boogie rhythm and low-life themes that paved the way for country rock and rockabilly music a few years later. The musicians involved frequently included Harold Bradley (g), Farris Coursey (d), Allen Flatt (g) and Ernie Newton (b).
Read the rest of this entry »
Howdy, folks. Sometimes it is easy to assemble a « fortnight » feature, sometimes not. This time it has not been that easy, I don’t know why. I tried to vary tempos, origin, labels, and I am not sure I did succeed. Only your visits and interest could say I was O.K.
First in this new serie, CECIL CAMPBELL, backed by the Tennessee Ramblers. He was steel player (born 1911) in the Virginia/North Carolina region, and found moderate but constant success with his records on RCA-Victor. Here I’ve chosen his 1951 « Spookie Boogie« ; he explains in his own words what he wanted to do with this tune:
He was looking for an « …unusual hollow type of rattling sound designed to send cold chills rushing down the spine. » He couldn’t find that sound on the musical instruments. But as fate would have it, one of the members of the Tennessee Ramblers had false teeth and that mysterious sound that appears on the tune « Spooky Boogie » was made by a pair of chattering false teeth. » Later on, he was to have a minor Rockabilly classic in 1957 on M-G-M (12487) called « Rock and Roll Fever« .
From Kentucky comes now JIMMIE OSBORNE, the « Kentucky Folk Singer ». He had a string of releases on KING, with strong success, among them the amusing « Automobile baby« . Osborne played the Louisiana Hayride, as well as the Opry, until his suicide in 1957, at the early age of 35.
On to Texas. FRED CRAWFORD is a relatively well-known artist, whose 9 Starday singles were of constantly highest musical level. « Cornfed Fred », as he liked to be called, was a long-time D.J. on KERB radio station of Kermit, and considered himself more a radio man than an artist. Here below is « You Gotta Wait« , a very nice 1954 Bopper. He later went to D, and committed a pop song, « By The Mission Walls », whose main claim to fame is the backing by no one but Buddy Holly.
Then TEXAS BILL STRENGTH, who had on Coral Records « Paper Boy Boogie« . Another version does exist by Tommy Trent on Checker 761 from 1952. I don’t know which one came first. The song was even revived by Hank Williams as a demo. Strength (1928-1973) had a long carreer, beginning on radio KTHT, Houston, in 1944, and recording for 4 Star, Capitol, Sun and Nashville. He re-recorded « Paper Boy Boogie » on Bangar as late as 1965.
During the Sixties, ARK records from Cincinnati did issue many a fine disc, mainly in Bluegrass or Sacred. In a past fortnight I included a Jimmy Murphy song, which I consider one of his best, « I Long To Hear Hank Sing The Blues« . Here we have a pseudonym, and there is not any chance, I’m afraid, to discover who really was TEXAS SLIM. A very superior double-sided « When I’m old And Gray » and « Look What You Gone And Done To Me » (ARK # 309). Stunning association of banjo and steel. Hear it!
Finally a classic R&B rocker: « Flat Foot Sam » by T.V. SLIM & His Heartbreakers. Hope you enjoy the selections! Bye.
Billy Briggs was born in Fort Worth Texas in 1919. He apprenticed there under pioneering electric steel guitarist Bob Dunn & joined the Hi-Flyers in the mid-1930′s. He followed a stream of former Hi-Flyers to Amarillo in late 1937 to join the Sons Of The West (whose he played on « Panhandle Shuffle ») & in the coming years became one of the earliest steel guitarists to significantly expand upon Dunn’s model. Briggs built his own nine-string steel, began experimenting with new tunings & chord voicings, and, when he formed his own band Swinging Steel in 1939, became perhaps the first steel player to attach legs to his guitar & play standing, fronting his own group. He returned to the Sons Of The West in 1940 & took part in their tightly arranged forward-looking 1941 sessions for Okeh. He held together a makeshift Sons Of The West lineup for a while during the war, then formed his own XIT boys in 1946. In late ’46 or early ’47 Briggs began an association with Dan Allender’s Dalhart/Amarillo-based Time label that lasted to the end of the decade. A single release on Lew Preston’s Folke label followed, before a prolific stint withImperial (1950-53) gave Briggs a regional & much covered hit « Chew Tobacco Rag » in 1951. Briggs ended a nine year association with Amarillo’s Avalon club in 1956 when he dispanded the XIT boys & opened his own ill-fated hall. He left music soon after & died in California in 1984. Read the rest of this entry »
Reece Shipley was born April 19, 1921 in Whitesburg, Tennessee. His parents were string musicians, and Reece grew up in a household filled with music.Radio, movies, and 78 rpm records were spreading the sounds of Bob Wills and Gene Autry far beyond the plains of Texas.
Reece Shipley, 1990s
When I was invited to write the notes for a LeGarde Twins album earlier this year it was an enjoyable exercise, because they were unique in being identical twins – or so I thought. You wait all these years and then two come along: the Milo brothers, who also happen to be clone of each other! (Actually, it’s not two, it’s four, but let’s not confuse this issue.) Read the rest of this entry »