Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters: Texas honky-tonk (1948-1955)


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.   heap pic

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 ».   (suite…)

late December 2010 fortnight favourites

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.

gene hensleeimperial 8227 henslee

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. premium vic thomas

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.


Bob Newman

sage ep 316 georgia crackers

jack tucker

Jack Tucker

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.   4 star 1719 tucker

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.

walton walls

A merry Xmas to you all. Enjoy the music!

Westport label (1955-1962): Kansas City hillbilly, rockabilly, country-rock


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.

Westport Kids

the Westport Kids

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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.   (suite…)

Lee Bonds: Wild Cattin’ Woman Done Gone Crazy

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 headLee Bonds pic1 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.

tenn 804tenn 826

Tennessee Records

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Lee Bonds

second release (suite…)

early December 2010 fortnight’s favourites

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.

turner brothers CDradio art.243 turner 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).

Starday160 touchton

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. imperial 8019 danny dedmonThe Rhythm Ramblers were actually Nettles’ band.

George and Earl pic

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.

mercury 70852 george 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. clay eager - bobbie louWe finish with the wild, rasping young ETTA JAMES on the West Coast. « Tough Lover » is backed by the ubiquitous Maxwell Davis.

etta james modern tough lover