“Blues for Oklahoma”: VIRGEL BOZMAN, O.T. and Hot Rod Records (1949-1952)

The story of Khoury’s Recordings starts in 1949 with a man named John Hardin “Virgel” Bozman. He was a rustic singer/guitarist (born in Oklahoma) and part-time comedian who sometimes billed himself, with tongue-in-cheek, as “The Arkansas Sinatra“. He seemingly was also a house painter. He  had apparently been a staple on the San Antonio country and western music scene for some time.  Virgel Bozman was an eccentric Texas bandleader who became fascinated by Cajun music. He had already recorded a Hillbilly record for Bill Quinn, « Griding for my darling » (Gold Star 1324), which was virtually impossible to locate even when it was new. A 1945 contract for Bozman exists, so he may have had an unknown release on Quinn’s earlier Gulf label, or the sides could have become the later Gold Star release. Bozman revamped his band as the Oklahoma Tornadoes in 1947 with new musicians of the caliber of Cajun fiddler Floyd LeBlanc. Together they came up with a viable French-English novelty « La Prison ». Somehow Quinn failed to see the potential of the song and buried it on the flipside of « The hokey pokey » – a piece of pure corn by the Gold Star Trio. But the song still caught on as it was flipped over on the juke boxes in several regions, and copies show up today with mint « A » sides and plowed « B » sides. With the right promotion, the record had the ingredients to become at least a regional hit in the Hillbilly market. Bozman was not deterred and began to feature Cajun music more prominently, although he himself could not speak French outside the words that were scribbled on paper for « La Prison ».

from l.ro r.: Floyd LeBlanc, Iry LeJeune,Bennie Hess (at mike), Virgel Bozman; 1947-48

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 While stationed at a San Antonio military base near the end of WWII, Cajun fiddler Floyd Leblanc befriended Bozman. Together, they had joined Bennie Hess’ Oklahoma Tornados country hillbilly band as a guitar player but Virgil also dabbled in his own material as well. In mid 1948, Floyd had helped Iry Lejeune record two tunes with the band on Hess’ label “Opera” and they had him touring with the group for quite some time in 1948. Cajun music was well on it’s way back and while selling cow horns in Lake Charles, Virgil ended up moving from Texas to Louisiana in order to record it.

The O.T. Years

Then came George Khoury, a Turkish-American businessman from Lake Charles and record store owner.  In 1947, as an owner of a record shop, he noticed a lack of Cajun music being recorded in south Louisiana and decided to open a business to compete with Ed Shuler’s Goldband Records and J. D. “Jay” Miller’s Fais-Do-Do and Feature labels. His base of operations was just around the corner from Ed’s on Railroad Ave in Lake Charles. 

Khoury never had his own studio, however; he would rent out other studios and press the records in other places.  He had his record shop in Lake Charles and many agree he helped Virgil finance his new record label “O.T. Recordings”, named after Hess’ band.  Together, Virgil would try to find new talent for producing records and Khoury would sell the records in his shop. Even his “O.T.” logo resembled a cattle brand. According to author John Broven:

« Khoury was [Virgel’s] sponsor, so to speak, because he didn’t have that much money. He was a good salesman, he had a lot of gab because being a cowhorn salesman he had to have a lot of gab. »

Like Bennie Hess, Bozman stories abound, including his siphoning gasoline out of customer’s cars while they were at the Hilltop Club near his home and at one point driving an old car without a floor. He woud often play the fool’s role in the band as the traditionally required comedian. He was also a fine Hillbilly artist in his own right (« Blues for Oklahoma », O. T. 109) and obviously loved South Louisiana music, working hard to make a success of his labels. By the outset of 1949, the enthusiastic Bozman actually moved his wife and five children to 349-A Route 1 at Westlake in South Louisiana and set up is own OT ‘Hits of Louisiana’ label to tap into the market directly.

Virgil kicked off his label with his own recordings, which were a hillbilly tune “Tell Me If You Love Me” and a Cajun tune “The Cameron Waltz” (#101). The rare Oklahoma Tornadoes record is shrouded in mystery that reflects his initial indecision. The two songs were first recorded in English by Bozman but were cancelled and instead released with uncredited French vocals. The singer’s identity is still subject to much speculation.

Tell me if you love me

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The Cameron waltz”

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Later he issued another Hillbilly bopper, « Blues for Oklahoma » (# 109) [strident mandolin over a loping rhythm] and the more Western swing tinged « Troubles, troubles » (# 112). His B-sides are average little boppers.

“Blues for Oklahoma”

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Don’t let it grieve your little heart”(OT 109)

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“Troubles, troubles”

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For each mistake you pay“(OT 112)

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But he knew he needed other groups. It would be Eddie Shuler that would help Bozman get his first major outside recording artist. Eddie Shuler, a record producer in Lake Charles, had been approached by Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire to record on his label after seeing the success of Iry Lejeune’s recordings. Eddie Shuler, who worked for the KPLC radio station, was too busy with the promotion of Iry LeJeune and put Nathan’s band in touch with businessman Virgil Bozman.  Also, Virgil had been familiar with Nathan’s music since Floyd had played in Nathan’s band years before. Virgil had noticed how Eddie Shuler produced his records for Goldband. According to Eddie Shuler, Bozman’s recording methods were very strange. He recalled:

« He kept the pot boiling by selling cowhorns (the famous Longhorns) and it is how he landed in Lake Charles one day. He discovered fast how I managed to get artists recorded by a third person and he decided to follow my steps. He arrived at the station studio, gave a bottle of booze to the sound engineer, asked him to cut an acetate, left with it and got it pressed somewhere else.

He sold cow horns. In fact, I still have one of his cow horns over the entrance to my door there that he gave me back at that time. I let him sing on my radio show. Anyway, he went then and teamed up with George Khoury and then he went out and found Nathan Abshire. »

 

Pine Grove Blues Success and Aftermath

Nathan Abshire, 1972

Abshire ’50s

In May of 1949, Virgil gathered Nathan Abshire with Earl Demary ‘s backup band in the KPLC studio, located inside the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, to cut 8 tracks; the first of which was the legendary “Pine Grove Blues” for the O.T. label (#102). It was a loose interpretation of an old blues tune called “In The Pines”. His Pine Grove Boys band included Roy Broussard and Ernest Thibodeaux on vocals, Earl Demary or Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Atlas Fruge on lap steel, Jim Baker on bass guitar, Oziet Kegley on drums, and either Will Kegley or Wilson Granger on fiddle. The flipside contained a less-than-impressive “Kaplan Waltz” based on Angelas Lejeune’s 1929 recording of “Pointe Noir”. Since most Cajun 78s usually reached a pressing figure of 500, it was a big hit, pressing around 3,200 copies of the single. Virgil sold boxfulls of “Pine Grove Blues” from the back of a large hearse.

Pine grove blues

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However, Virgil kicked the label off with a string of tunes containing a discography of Cajun songs such as Nathan’s cover of Leo Soileau’s “Grand Mamou” (#106), “Lake Charles Two Step“(#106), “New Orleans Waltz” (# 110), “Hathaway Waltz” (# 111), a re-recording of his pre-war “French Blues” (# 110), and an improved swingy version of his first hit called “Pine Grove Boogie” (#111). At one point that year, Virgil and Khoury convinced the hit artist of the area, Harry Choates, to wax a record, trying to capitalize on his fame giving it “Jole Blon’s Gone” (#107) and the obscure “Lake Charles Waltz” (#107). Neither Nathan nor Harry could recreate the success of the Pine Grove Blues O.T. recording. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French blues

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Pine grove boogie

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Harry Choates, “Jole Blon’s gone

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Other musicians Virgil managed to get were Cleo Harves [Blues] and Jerry Barlow on his listings. (# 103, # 105). The label would eventually move to San Antonio, run by James Bryant and Bennie Hess (former partners at Bill Quinn’s Gold Star records), however, by the end of 1949, O.T. suddenly dried up.

He released his last 4 recordings he was holding onto, outsourcing the pressings by mailing his masters to Stephen Shaw and George Weitlauf in Cincinatti, OH. The records contained Nathan performing covers of the Breaux tune “Step It Fast” (# 114) and a rendition of Harry Choates’s famous Jole Blon hit called “Jolie, Petite Juilette” [sic](# 114). The other one labeled as Sandy Austin was the stage name for Abe Manuel when he and his brother Joe played Corpus Christi in 1950. They recorded “Scrambled Eggs” and a Joe Falcon cover called ” Madame Saustain” (# 113). The O.T. label only produced 14 records that are known to exist.

Step it fast

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Jolie, petite Juilette

Circle C Band circa 52

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Virgel got gone further launching the short-lived Hot Rod label, and issuing his own music : « Way down here in Mississipi »/ »Won’t you care », changing for the occasion the name of his backing band, « The Circle C Boys »

Way down here in Mssissipi

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Won’t you care

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(also named the Circle « C » Band, with Carrol Sammons as leader and guitar player), an outfit of San Antonio, TX. Other issues were by Nathan Abshire (# 103, « Chere Te Mon »), Ernest Thibodeaux [as “Tipidoe » by English writers!] for « Jennings to step » recorded probably in Crowley, La.. Wilson Granger (mostly fiddler on all Hot Rod issues) and Tan Benoit (Cajun recordings) for: « Bayou chico waltz » and « Iowa two step » cut either in Crowley or Jennings in 1951-52.

Ernest TipidoeJennings two step” (Hot Rod 105)

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Wilson GrangerBayou Chico waltz” (Hot Rod 101)

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Tan BenoitIowa two step
(Hot Rod 101)

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Harmon Boazeman

Both Hot Rod [not to be confused with the California R&B outfit] and O.T. disappeared after 1952, as Virgel Bozman, who without doubt made easier the pot boiling by selling cow horns. Harmon Boazeman (not in any form related to Virgel) joined the Circle C Band in 1952 and cut in 1956 « No love in you » for Sarg.

 

Sources : the main sources were the abundant and precise notes of Dave Sax for ‘Cajun honky tonk – The Khoury recordings volume 2‘ ; also Chris Strachwitz for the « Nathan Abshire – « French blues » CD. These notes were freely adapted (and sometimes simply recopied). Many personal pictures do come from the accompanying booklets : I am working on the assumption that not many a reader owns those two CDs. Also I was inspired by the feature written on Khoury’s Records by Wade Falcon, available in this site or in his fine “earlycajunmusic.blogspot.fr” blogsite. Thanks to him. And this feature woud have been far incomplete (Hot Rod and O.T. Records) without the aid of the invaluable Ronald Keppner – million thanks go to him. Remaining pictures from 78rpm-world (45worlds.com). The picture of Nathan Abshire (’50s) comes from “Louisiana Music”, a booklet by Lyle Ferbrache and Andrew Brown. Thanks to them. Some help from “JoDee”, thanks to  her!

 

The Khoury’s label: a Cajun concern (1949-1956)

The Beginning

The story of Khoury’s Recordings starts in 1949 with a man named John Harvey “Virgel” Bozman. He was a rustic singer/guitarist and part-time comedian who sometimes billed himself, with tongue-in-cheek, as “The Arkansas Sinatra”.
eddieshuler-pic-1988 ernest-nathen-pic george-khoury-pic khourys-shop-pic oklahoma-tornadoes-pic shuler-khoury-phil-philips-pic virgel-bozman-picvirgel-bozman-picgeorge-khoury-pic virgel-bozman-picHe and his brother, Harmon Bozman, were auto mechanics and had apparently been a staple on the San Antonio country and western music scene for some time. By the end of 1945, he was in Houston recording for Bill Quinn.  While stationed at a San Antonio military base near the end of WWII, Cajun fiddler Floyd Leblanc befriended Bozman. Together, they had joined Bennie Hess’ Oklahoma Tornados country hillbilly band as a guitar player but Virgil also dabbled in his own material as well.  In mid 1947, Floyd had helped Iry Lejeune record a two tunes with the band on Hess’ label “Opera” and they had him touring with the group for quite some time in 1948. Cajun music was well on it’s way back and while selling cow horns in Lake Charles, Virgil ended up moving from Texas to Louisiana in order to record it.oklahoma-tornadoes-pic

The O.T. Years

Then came George Khoury, a Turkish-American businessman from Lake Charles and record store owner.  In 1947, as an owner of a record shop, he noticed a lack of Cajun music being recorded in south Louisiana and decided to open a business to compete with Ed Shuler’s Goldband Records and J. D. “Jay” Miller’s Fais-Do-Do and Feature labels. His base of operations was just around the corner from Ed’s on Railroad Ave in Lake Charles.

george-khoury-pic

 

Khoury never had his own studio, however; he would rent out other studios and press the records in other places.  He had his record shop in Lake Charles and many agree he helped Virgil finance his new record label “O.T. Recordings”, named after Hess’ band.  Together, Virgil would try to find new talent for producing records and Khoury would sell the records in his shop.   Even his “O.T.” logo resembled a cattle brand.  According to author John Broven:

Khoury was [Virgel’s] sponsor, so to speak, because he didn’t have that much money. He was a good salesman, he had a log of gab because being a cowhorn salesman he had to have a log of gab.2

Virgil kicked off his label with his own recordings, which were a hillbilly tune “Tell Me If You Love Me” and a Cajun tune “The Cameron Waltz” (#101), but he knew he needed other groups. It would be Eddie that would help Bozman get his first major outside recording artist.  Eddie Shuler, a record producer in Lake Charles, had been approached by Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire to record on his label after seeing the success Iry Lejeune’s recordings.   Nathan had been playing at the Avalon Club when the owner Quincy Davis thought having Nathan record would be good for business.   Eddie Shuler, who worked for the KPLC radio station, was too busy with the promotion of Iry LeJeune and put Nathan’s band in touch with businessman Virgil Bozman.   Also, Vigil had been familiar with Nathan’s music since Floyd had played in Nathan’s band years before. Virgil had noticed how Eddie Shuler produced his records for Goldband.  According to Eddie Shuler:

He kept the pot boiling by selling cowhorns (the famous Longhorns) and it is how he landed in Lake Charles one day. He discovered fast how I managed to get artists recorded by a third person and he decided to follow my steps. He arrived at the station studio, gave a bottle of booze to the sound engineer, asked him to cut an acetate, left with it and got it pressed somewhere else.2

He sold cow horns.  In fact, I still have one of his cow horns over the entrance to my door there that he gave me back at that time. I let him sing on my radio show. Anyway, he went then and teamed up with George Khoury and then he went out and found Nathan Abshire.1

khourys-shop-pic

 

Pine Grove Blues Success and Aftermath

In May of 1949, Virgil gathered Nathan Abshire with Earl Demary ‘s backup band in the KPLC studio, located inside the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, to cut 8 tracks; the first of which was the legendary “Pine Grove Blues” for the O.T. label (#102).   The melody was his version of Amédée Breaux’s “Blues du ‘Tit Chien” recorded for Vocalion Records in 1934.   Nathan’s 1935 recording “One Step de Lacassine” clearly anticipates the melody. There are some similarities with Bob Wills‘ “Milk Cow Blues” recorded in 1946 and even a loose similarity with “In The Pines“, which some have credited as Nathan’s source. His Pine Grove Boys band included Roy Broussard and Ernest Thibodeaux on vocals, Earl Demary or Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Atlas Frugé on lap steel, Jim Baker on bass guitar, Oziet Kegley on drums, and either Will Kegley or Wilson Granger on fiddle. The flipside contained a less-than-impressive “Kaplan Waltz” based on Angelas Lejeune’s 1929 recording of “Pointe Noir”.  Since most Cajun 78s usually reached a pressing figure of 500, it was a big hit, pressing around 3,200 copies of the single.  Virgil sold boxfuls of “Pine Grove Blues” from the back of a large hearse.2

ot-102a-nathan-pine-grove-bluesot-111a-nathan-pine-grove-boogie

 

Pine grove blues

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Pine grove boogie

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pinegroveboys

Earl Demary, Wilson Granger, Elridge Guidry, unk. dms, Nathan Abshire, Ernest Thibodeaux

However, Virgil kicked the label off with a string of tunes containing a discography of Cajun songs such as Nathan’s cover of Leo Soileau’s “Grand Mamou” (#106), “Lake Charles Two Step“(#106), “New Orleans Waltz” (# 110), “Hathaway Waltz”  (# 111), a re-recording of his pre-war “French Blues” (# 110), and an improved swingy version of his first hit called “Pine Grove Boogie” (#111). At one point that year, Virgil and Khoury convinced the hit artist of the area, Harry Choates, to wax a record, trying to capitalize on his fame giving it “Jole Blon’s Gone” (#107) and the obscure “Lake Charles Waltz” (#107). Neither Nathan nor Harry could recreate the success of the Pine Grove Blues O.T. recording.

Other musicians Virgil managed to get were Cleo Harves and Jerry Barlow on his listings. (# 103, # 105). The label would eventually move to San Antonio, run by James Bryant and Bennie Hess (former partners at Bill Qunn’s Gold Star records), however, by the end of 1949, O.T. suddenly dried up.

He released his last 4 recordings he was holding onto, outsourcing the pressings by mailing his masters to Stephen Shaw and George Weitlauf in Cincinatti, OH. The records contained Nathan performing covers of the Breaux tune “Step It Fast” (# 114) and a rendition of Harry Choate’s famous Jole Blon hit called “Jolie Petite Juliette” (# 114).  The other one  labeled as Sandy Austin was the stage name for Abe Manuel when he and his brother Joe played Corpus Christi in 1950. They recorded “Scrambled Eggs” and a Joe Falcon cover called ” Madame Saustain” (# 113).  The O.T. label only produced 14 records that are known to exist.

Step it fast”

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o-t-114-nathan-abshire-step-it-fast-ron

The Khoury/Lyrics Years

Meanwhile, realizing Bozman is out of the Cajun music market and with the help of Eddie Shuler, George Khoury decides to continue Virgil’s recordings by creating two labels simultaneously, Lyric and Khoury’s, in 1950.  The reason for both names is unknown, but he set aside the 600 series for Cajun music and 700 series for hillbilly.  It’s also possible he bought out all of Virgil’s material and signed Nathan Abshire exclusively.

 

 

NOTE: Keeping track of George’s numbering scheme is confusing and leads to plenty of misinformation when creating a complete discography.  His reasoning for jumping around issue numbers, repeating numbers and missing numbers completely can frustrate anyone researching the label.  Over time, he would have two sets of 700 series, using several different logo styles.  Some numbers are issued only with “Lyric” name and some only with “Khoury’s” with a few issued on both.  He followed up with R&B issues using the 800 and 900 series. However, this didn’t prevent him from using the number “1” once, issuing one “500” once on Khoury’s, issuing a “100” on Lyric, and later issuing a “1000” and “5000” both on the Lyric name.   As far as anyone can tell, there were no session sheets that remain to prove any particular session dates.   Most of the discography work is speculation based on historical recordings and personal interviews with musicians. Dates here are approximates at best.

There are a number of batches of records by artists which were probably assigned and then released at intervals.  The location of some of the larger gaps do suggest that the missing numbers could have been deliberately skipped.

 

 

lawrence-walker

Lawrence Walker

The Early 1950s

During the first year in 1950, he recorded Lawrence Walker, Horace Lebleau, Crawford Vincent with Will Kegley, and Jimmie Choates.  Walker was a Cajun accordion player who had a history of playing music with his brother Elton, Norris Mire and Aldus Broussard before the war.  He even hosted a group of musicians at the National Folk Festival for the Texas Centennial in 1936.  By 1950, he was back in the studio interested in recording again, this time with Khoury. Lawrence’s songs such as “Mamou Two Step” (# 601), khoury's 606a lawrence walker - wandering aces special (insy)khoury's 606b lawrence walker - la valse kim fe du malkhoury's 607a lawrence walker - tu le du por la mamkhoury's 607b lawrence walker - ton papa ta mama ma sta da all

“Country Waltz” (# 601), “Wandering Aces Special” which was Joe Falcon’s “A Cowboy Rider” (# 606), “La Valse Kim Fe Du Mal” (# 606), ” Tu Le Du Por La Mam” (#607) which was a Fawvor Brothers original and “Ton Papa Ta Mama Ma Sta Da All” (# 607)  first appeared here.

Wandering aces special“[inst]

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La valse kim fe du mal”

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Tu le du por la mam

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Ton papa ta mama ma sta da all

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All of these recordings appear on Khoury’s early 600 series as Cajun artists.  It’s possible the Texas Melody Boys with Pee Wee Pitre may have been recorded during this period which was given the only # 500 for “Ain’t No More”, a version of “Step It Fast”, and an old Creole melody they called “Old Time Waltz”.  Jimmy Choates band recorded “Lonesome For You” and “Belle Isle Waltz” and the band also appears on the country 700 series as #705.  Crawford Vincent, who played with Leo Soileau for years, teamed up with Will Kegley of the Pine Grove Boys for two tunes “Chere Petite Blun” (# 605) and the J.B. Fuselier classic “Lawtell Two Step” (# 605).  They were listed as Vincent & Kegley.  Horace “Ricky” Lebleu was a hillbilly musician from the Lake Charles area that teamed up with Nookie Martin of Eddie Shuler’s band for two songs “Korea Blues” and “Basile Girl”       (# 603).

Chere petite blun

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Lawtell two-step

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Meanwhile, Virgil was back in San Antonio pressing songs by Cajun musicians he had previously recorded; most of them being Nathan Abshire’s band members. While in San Antonio, Bozman and Hess set up the Hot Rod label with local record man Bob Tanner of T.N.T. records. There, between 1950 and 1952, they recorded a few of Virgil’s artists such as Nathan’s lead singer, Ernest Thibodeaux on “Jennings Two Step” (# 105) and Nathan’s fiddler Wilson Granger on “Bayou Chico Waltz”. He released his last recordings of Nathan himself with “Hathaway Two step” (# 103) and “Chere Te Mon” (# 103).  The recording quality wasn’t particularly impressive and could have been the reason for their unpopularity.   During this timeframe, Bob had also launched his Allied label, releasing several recordings of Harry Choates.hot-rod-1031-chere-te-mon

Chere te mon

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He also pulled in little known Cliff Lemaire and the Kaplan Swingmasters for the song “Cow Island Special“.   Obscure artist Tan Benoit also recorded two songs, “Iowa Two Step” and “Gueydon Waltz”. Outside a few recordings by Virgil himself, the label did not last long.  Virgil’s attempt at the recording business was over.  Bob continued his TNT label well into 1953, pressing records for Eddie Shuler’s band as well as for Aldus Roger and Iry Lejeune.

Cliff Le MaireCow Island special

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Tan BenoitIota two step

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The following year, with Nathan no longer working for Virgil’s label, George contracted him to re-record “Pine Grove Blues” (# 611). It didn’t sell nearly as well as Virgil’s recording two years earlier, but it produced several titles popular with Nathan’s band such as “Belezere Waltz” (“La valse a Belezere“) (# 610) based on the tune “A Precious Jewel” by Roy Acuff and “Choupique Two Step” (#610) based on Amede Ardoin‘s “Amede Two Step“. These were pressed on both the Lyric and Khoury label. Other songs were completed such as, “Valse de Hollybeach” (# 611), “Iota Two Step”  (# 612) and “Valse de Bayou Teche” (# 612), a tune originally recorded by the Segura Brothers in 1929. Nathan’s career with the Pine Grove Boys was taking off.

Choupique two-step

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La waltz a Belezere

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lyric-610b-nathan-choupique-two-steplyric-610a-nathan-abshire-la-valse-a-belezere

1951 would round off the year with Lawrence Walker again, this time recording “Johnny Can’t Dance” (# 615), the bluesy “Evangeline Waltz” (# 615), “Bosco Stomp”(# 616), “Waltz Of Sorrow” (# 616), “Creole Waltz” (# 617) and an upbeat version of Joe Falcon’s Lafayette as the “Lafayette Two Step” (#617).   It’s around this point when George began to switch labels from black to blue.

By 1952, George’s label is doing well enough for him to attract other obscure local bands. He invites Lawrence Walker back again for “Reno Waltz” (#623) and an old Joe Falcon song “Madam Sostan” (#624) but Lawrence feels the pressure to record some of his English country favorites including “Little Bitty Girl” (# 623) which was a 1946 comical jazz recording by Velma Nelson and “Keep Your Hands Off It” (# 624). Khoury tries his luck with recording two rather unknown groups, one being Shuk Richard with Marie Falcon. Marie was Joe Falcon’s niece and played music in some of the same venues in which Joe had played. She sang her version of “Jole Blon” called “Jole Brun” (#621) and did her Cajun version of “The Wild Side Of Life” (#621)(“Le cote farouche de la vic“). The group cut “Madam Entelle Two Step” (# 622) and “Chere Vere Naig” (# 622) during the same session.  But it would be Elise Deshotel’s group which would feature a rather unknown singer and fiddler known as Dewey Balfa.   Possibly recorded in late 1951 or early 1952, they waxed some of the best known tunes with a young Dewey on vocals such as Leo Soileau‘s “Quand Je Suis Bleu” he called “La Valse de Bon Baurche”, Cleoma Breaux‘s “Crowley Waltz” he called “La Valse de Tepetate”, and “La Valse da Courage” which is very similar to Nathan’s “Bayou Teche”.   The flipsides were instrumentals such as “La Two Step De Villeplatte“, “Two Step De Avalon“, and “Two Step De Kindergarden” (# 618, 619, 620). However, Khoury failed to latch onto marketing the bluesy vocals and powerful fiddle solos which Dewey would make famous ten years later.

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Evangeline waltz

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Bosco stompkhourys-621a-skuk-farouche

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“Bosco stomp”

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Le cote farouche de la vie

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khoury's 609b elise deshotel (dewey balfa) - la valse da courage

La valse de Bon Baurche

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La valse da courage

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The following year seemed to slow down for Khoury and his recordings.  Jimmy Newman would be George’s brand new artist but his recordings only sold moderately.  Nathan’s group was in turmoil due to band member changes and they were looking for more material to record.  Jimmy recorded his country tune “Darling” which somehow landed on the Cajun 600 series while the 700 hillbilly series seemed to fade away. Nathan recorded “Musical Five Special” (# 631), a cover of Joe Falcon‘s “Fe Fe Ponchaux” and “Avalon Waltz” (# 631) but also recorded some cover tunes, “The New Jole Blon” (# 636) and “Tee Per Coine” (# 636), a version of “Keep A Knocking But You Can’t Come In“. Crawford Vincent, who had played for years with Leo Soileau and other members, headed to the studio with Horace Lebleau and recorded “Tippy Tee Tippy En” (# 640), an old traditional Cajun ballad known as “T’es Petite et T’es Mignonne“.khoury's 636-B tee per coiné

Tee per coiné

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eddie-shuler1988

Eddie Shuler 1988

By 1954, things seemed to remain slow.  His 600 series seemed to employ more country music from Cliff Lemaire and Rick Johnson with one record by Nathan containing “Texas Waltz” (# 645), a slightly different version of his Kaplan Waltz and “”Point De Lou” (# 645), a rendition of “Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin” in which Iry Lejeune had famously made into his “J’ai Ete Au Bal”. Strange enough, he would try to resurrect his Lyric label with Amar Devillier’s “Shoe Pick Waltz” and “Durald Two Step” using number #1 but never continued the series. He kicked off his second 700 series again, this time with Eddie Shuler covering “J’ai Passee Devant” (#700) and re-issuing Floyd Leblanc’s “Louisiana Stomp”(#700), a tune Virgil had recorded previously on O.T.

George reverted back to his original recording artists that he trusted and in 1955, released a string of tunes by Nathan Abshire and at least one by Lawrence Walker such as Nathan’s “Casa Blanca Waltz” and, “Lu khourys-647a-nathan-lu-lu-boogielu Boogie” (# 647), “Shamrock Waltz”  (# 652) and “Carolina Blues” (# 649). The unusual songs, “Boora Roomba” (# 649), Dewey and Nathan’s version of “La Cucaracha”, and “Mama Rosin” (#652), also known as “Ay Mama Inez”, were attempts to cash in on the briefly popular Cuban rhumba influence which entered mainstream country music that year. However, George was now pressing his records using different logos and label styles, some in California.  Lawrence followed up with “Waltz of Regret” (# 648) and the “Brunette Two Step“.One inventory listing by Nathan’s band shows them covering some Happy Fats tunes but it seems to never have been released. The 600 series seemed to be fading away as we

“Lu Lu boogie”

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The Final Years

By the end of 1955, the writing was on the wall.   The influence of rock and roll was taking a toll on Cajun music sales.   R&B and country music was on an up hill swing and Cajun music sales weren’t the same as they were almost 10 years earlier.   He wouldn’t record any Cajun music until about 1956 with Nathan Abshire, both “Crying Pine Grove Blues” (# 701) and “L.S.U. French Waltz” (# 701), and in 1957 Cleveland Crochet with Shorty Leblanc, both on 45RPM and both on his new second 700 series. But by the time Cookie and the Cupcakes released their huge R&B hit “Mathilda”, George wasn’t interested in Cajun music anymore.  He would occasionally issue out a Cajun record to keep sales up.  He released one more Nathan Abshire on 45RPM in 1958 containing “Cannon Ball Special” (# 704) and “Red Rock Waltz” and a 45RPM of Pee Wee Broussard containing Angelas Lejeune’s “Perrodin Two Step” (# 709) and “Jolie Te Brun”.

Between 1956 and 1958, Cajun music recordings across Louisiana were on the decline.   Needing more exposure, Lawrence Walker heard a man named Floyd Soileau was starting up a recording label in Ville Platte.   Having already recorded Austin Pitre and Adam Hebert, the Khoury recording artist was eager to switch over to Floyd’s new Swallow label.   This ended the relationship between George Khoury and Lawrence Walker.   Nathan would eventually follow suit.

shuler-khoury-phillips

Eddie Shuler, George Khoury, Phil Phillips

The following year, Khoury would land an even bigger R&B hit with Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love” and yet only released two Cajun records that year, Pee Wee Broussard’s “New Iberia Stomp”   (# 720) with “La Valse De Bons Amies” (# 702). The other one being “La Robe Barre” (# 725) and “Elton Two Step” (# 725) by Lawrence “Blackie”Fruge in 1959.

He would only re-release an earlier Cleveland Crochet “Sha Meon Waltz” in 1961 when he restarted his 1000 series as an R&B label which lasted until 1966.   Finally, in 1966, Wilfred Latour recorded “Bye Bye Cherie” and “Te Julie”, a couple of zydeco based tunes, believed to be George’s last French recordings.

  1. http://arhoolie.org/eddie-shuler-goldband-records/
  2. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven. P32.

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY FATS (Leroy LeBlanc) & his Rayne-Bo Ramblers: (1935-1952) and Oran “Doc” Guidry, Louisiana extraordinaires

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).happy fats pic 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 doc guidry & happy fats1936. 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.   (more…)

Starday custom 626-650 (April-July 1957), part 6 of this serie

STARDAY RECORDS 626                                BILLIE and GORDON HAMRICK with the Low County Gospel Band April 1957

45-626-A – Gonna See My Lord Someday626A (Starday) billie & gordon hamrick gonna see my lord someday

(Nell Palmer)   (Starrite BMI)

45-626-B – Jesus Is The Name

(Nell Palmer)   (Starrite BMI)

Another slice of Gospel heaven from the talented Billie & Gordon Hamrick.

A side is a torrid Blue Grass / Gospel number with nice harmonies. Very nice banjo solos, accompanied by a fiddle player. B side is slower with a Dobro more to the fore. Perhaps this is my favourite 45 by the artists so far. Almost makes me want to go to church! (except, in England, we’d have no music like this being performed.)

STARDAY RECORDS 627                                BOB and CINDY DEAN627-A (starday) Bob & cindy dean I'm knocking at the door

May 1957

45-627-A – I’m Knocking On The Door (To Your Heart)

(Garland Cline)   (Starrite BMI)

45-627-B – One Life To Live

(Garland Cline)   (Starrite BMI)

I never managed to get the Cattle LP (#87) entitled “The Sweethearts Of The Air Sing Hillbilly Music”, so if there’s any sleeve notes, I’ve obviously missed them. The duo appeared on the fliside of a KAY EP, with the other side being two great mumbling rockers from Link Wray.

A side of this disc is a fast hillbilly number with threads of bluegrass influence (probably because of the banjo solo). Nice harmonies from Bob and Cindy. B side is much slower and again has nice harmonies from the duo.

They’ll appear later in this series (Starday 688) (MC)

Bob and Cindy Dean were a popular Country and Western team who were based in Elkton, VA and made some stunning records throughout their musical career. Bob was born on the 26th October 1919 in Elkton (Cindy Morris was born December 24th 1924).

Bob’s musical career started in 1956/7 after he found a lead guitar picker, Leon Baxter, with whom he formed a band. Their first job was just a plain beer joint in NW Washington, DC, where they picked their music three nights a week. Through their popular live performances, Bob got a recording deal with DC Records. He remembered that in Virginia there was a good fiddle player, so he got in touch with him and talked over their would-be music venture. His name was Hank Dean and he also sang tenor. (Hank was no relation to Bob). Bob hired Hank and along with Leon, the three of them recorded “Maple On The Hill” and “I’m Sheddin’ Tears Over You” on DC 8049. The sessions took place at the Paragon Studios in Washington, DC.

DC Records were interested in releasing two more sides, as 8049 was selling well locally, thanks in part to Connie B Gay’s radio program “Town And Country Time”, and Bob’s personal appearances. Their next recordings were “Back To Old Smoky Mountain” and “I’ll take Her From The Valley” (DC 4101). By this time, Bob was opening up for acts at the Constitution Hall for Connie, being followed by the likes of T. Texas Tyler and the Sons Of The Pioneers.

627-B (Starday) bob & cindy dean One life to live

In 1948, after the death of his father, Bob (and Cindy, who was his wife – the sleeve notes don’t mention how they met) moved to McGaheysville, VA to be with his mother. Bob worked for a while at a chemical plant, but once he was laid off, he decided to get into the music business full time. By now, Cindy was singing along side him. They formed a new band featuring his old school friend Eddie Michael on fiddle and Cindy learned how to play the stand-up bass. Carroll Ray was on electric guitar.

By 1955, Bob and Cindy Dean were winning first prize on a Connie B Gay show with a song entitled “Walk, Walk, Walking Blues”. This track, along with “When You Cross Your Heart” were eventually issued on Ben Aldeman’s KAY label from Washington, DC, with the flip side of the EP being taken up by two manic vocal recordings from Link Wray (“I Sez Baby” / “Johnny Bon Bonny”). According to the sleeve notes, these tracks were recorded in 1955.

How Bob and Cindy found themselves on Starday is a bit of a mystery as it’s not really explained in the sleeve notes. According to the session details listed on the LP, these were recorded in 1958 and their next Starday release (#688) was recorded in December 57. It mentions that a Frank Merica was on banjo at the session and Carroll Ray was still on guitar.

WILLIE NELSON RECORDS 628 WILLIE NELSON628-A 'Willie nelson) willie nelson no place for me628-B (willie nelson) willie nelson lumberjack

Vancouver, WA May 1957

45-628-A – No Place For Me

(Willie Nelson)   (Starrite BMI)

45-628-B – Lumberjack

(Leon Payne)   (Hill and Range BMI)

Willie Nelson was born 30th April 1933 and is by far, one of the most well known artists to cut a disc for the Starday Custom series. After studying music at home, he joined the Bohemian Fiddlers as their singer and guitar player. After graduating from high School in 1950, he joined the Air Force where he was eventually discharged for having back problems. After stints as a musician (he played bass for Ray Price) and as a DJ, he signed a contract with Pamper Music as a songwriter. He wrote some of the best known country classics, such as “Funny How Times Slips Away“, “Hello Walls“, and “Crazy“.

But back to this little gem. Both sides are dominated by an acoustic guitar (presumably by the man himself) and the vocals have a fair slab of echo added to it, giving it a slight haunting feel. There is a steel guitar nestled in the background – well, almost in the next room to be honest. The flip is okay; a nicely sung cover of a Leon Payne song. But it’s the A side that really sticks out.

FAITH RECORDS 629 THE RELATIVE QUARTET

Conover, NC May 1957629-A (faith) the relative quartet A home for my soul

45-629-A – A Home For My Soul

(J Q Deal Jr. / Rheda L Strickland)   (Starrite BMI)

45-629-B – Heavenly City

(Rheda L Strickland)   (Starrite BMI)

Lovely far-back-in-the-hills Gospel from what sounds like a white quartet. I can only hear an accoustic guitar being played, no other instruments and no solos. No personnel details, except perhaps the names listed as song writers.

The FAITH label turns up a fair bit later in the series with various addresses. I’ve wondered if FAITH was the gospel version of the DIXIE label. Can’t be sure.

DALE RECORDS 630                                                    DARNELL MILLER

Bluefield, VA May 1957630-A (Dale) darnell miller waiting game for love630-B (dale) darnellmiller gettin' out of the woods

45-630-A – Waiting Game For Love

(D Miller) (Starrite BMI)

45-630-B – Gettin’ Out Of The Woods

(Cecil Surrat)    (Starrite BMI)

I’m assuming this is the same Darnell Miller who recorded for Starday Records (# 349, « She’s gone/Cardboard Sweetheart », 1958 and “Royal Flush“, # 422, 1960), as they sure sound similar. A side is a slow weeping hillbilly song; probably not one for the memory banks, but Darnell sings with feeling. Flipside is a medium tempo ditty with fine vocals from Darnell, ably backed by some fine fiddle playing.

STARDAY RECORDS 631                                              KEN CLARK and his Merry Mountain Boys

May 1957

631-A(starday) ken clark ho! ho! love 'em Joe631-B (Starday) ken clark quit fool45-631-A – Ho! Ho! Love ‘Em Joe (Clark)   (Starrite BMI)

45-631-B – Quit Fool (Mama’s Lookin’) (Clark)   (Starrite BMI)

Okay, so I know darn all about Clark, except he recorded for Starday main series (« Buckskin Coat/Pretty Love », # 442, 1959), and for the Nashville label (assoc. with Starday) : « Truck Driving Joe » (# 5009).

A side is a nice uptempo number with fiddles, steel guitar, dobro and lead guitar and some lovely Starday sounding echo. Some call it country, some call it Rock-A-Billy. Whatever the musical tag, it’s a lovely record. B side is more country/hillbilly and there’s a little less echo. Another uptempo side and very nice it is too. Cowboy Copas recorded at least one song of Clark’s.

KENTUCKY records 632                                               MAC O’DELL

Garrard, KY                                                        May 1957

45-632-A – It Was Springtime (When I Met You) (Walter Brock) (Starrite, BMI)

45-632-B – When I Was Young (Dewey Brock) (Starrite, BMI)

Untraced. O’Dell recorded prolifically, e.g. on King (« Penicillin »), Intro (« Diesel Smoke ») and Exclusive.

GULF Records 633                                                        TRICE GARNER

Route 4, Tupelo, MS                                            May 1957633-b (gulf) trice garner lover's hill

45-633–A – Tombigbee (Garner) (Starrite, BMI)

45-633-B – Lover’s Hill (Garner) (Starrite, BMI)

Artist already unknown. The A side has yet to be heard. B side is a very fast Bopper, some could say Rock’n’Roll, but it has no drums, only two very effective guitars (no solo). Vocal is very impressive, fine Southern accent, words almost impossible to understand for me, French speaking !

ROBIN Records 634                                                       ZEKE WILSON & the Prairie Playboys

Macon, GA                                                         May 1957

634-A – My Heart Needs A Vacation (F J Beskidniak)(Starrite, BMI)

634-B – I’ve Just Said Goodbye (F J Beskidniak)

Vocal on A side is by Zeke Wilson and Lenn Dries ; on B side, Zeke Wilson solo.

Untraced record.

NIGHTHAWK Records 635 JIMMY STEWART & The Nighthawks

Argo, IL                                                            May 1957

635-A (night hawk) jimmy stewart dream world45-635-A – Dream World (J Stewart) (Starrite, BMI)635B (night Hawk) jimmy stewart nuthin' but a nuthin'

45-635-B – Nuthin’ But A Nuthin’ (J Stewart) (Starrite, BMI)

A side has yet to be heard, while the B side is one of the greatest Rock-a-billies ever comitted to wax. Cool vocal, some growling, a very nice lead guitar and sparse backing of acoustic and bass. Stewart also had another slab of Rock’n’Roll with « Rock On The Moon » in 1959 on the Eko label.

OLD DOMINION RECORDS 636                               SLIM and ORNA BALL

June 1957

45-636-A – Mother’s Prayers (Were Not In Vain) (No info)

45-636-B – When I Get Home (I’m Gonna Be Satisfied) (No info)

STARDAY RECORDS 637                                         MEL PRICE & his Santa Fe Rangers

June 1957

45-637-A – I Miss You So637A (starday) mel price I miss you so637b (starday) mel price midnight whistle blues

(John Suite / Mel Price)   (Starrite BMI)

45-637-B – Midnight Whistle Blues

(Mel Price)   (Starrite BMI)

Mel (or Melvin) Price had only fine records on Blue Hen (“Nothing Seems To Go Right Anymore” and “I Ain’t Got Time“), regular Starday (#186 and 226, respectively “The Pace That Kills” and “Gonna See My Baby“), Dixie (“Until” and “Little Dog Blues“) and Regal (“For You My Love“). His story is intended for a future issue. The record although here is unheard.

DEL-MAR RECORDS 638                               DELMAR WILLIAMS SINGERS

Dayton, OH                                                          June 1957

638-A – Lonely Tomorrow

(D Williams)   (Starrite BMI)

638-B – I’m Not Angry Now

(D Williams)   (Starrite BMI)

RALPH JOHNSON RECORDS 639                                   RALPH JOHNSON & the Hillbilly Show Boys

Box 4, Minden, WV                                                June 1957

45-639-A – Reality639-b (ralph johnson) ralph johnson henpecked daddyralph johnson

(M Pack) (Starrite BMI)

45-639-B – Henpecked Daddy

(M Pack) (Starrite BMI)

Ralph Johnson was born in the Clinch Mountains of south West Virginia.  He began developing his musical career at the age of six, after receiving his first guitar.  At the age of fifteen, his singing and musical talent had developed enough to enable him to put together his own band.  Ralph and his band auditioned for a radio show in Richlands, VA. They landed the job on WRIC radio.  During this time, his band played schools, halls and theatres in the area.  They later auditioned for a spot on a new TV station in Bluefield, WV.  Some time later, they had earned the privilege of performing two shows on WOAY in Twin Oak Hill, WV.  It was here that he recorded his first record, “Henpecked Daddy“.  After appearing on different radio and TV stations throughout the country, he moved his operation to Baltimore. MD.  While in Baltimore, he launched Wedge Records, Dome Records and Fleet Records.  Along with all of his record labels, he opened his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music.  He released all types of music from the Washington and Baltimore areas.  He later moved his operation to Vineland, NJ where he became the co-owner of WDVL Radio.  As a DJ, he played country music five hours a day, every day.  He went on to develop and book country music acts from Nashville, TN into Palentein Park every Sunday.  In 1976, he decided to move to Nashville, TN, where he proceeded to record and promote records on his Wedge Entertainment record label.  He used songs from his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music.

MISSOURI RECORDS 640                                        ERNIE NOWLIN and Blue Shadow Boys

5508 Wells Ave, St Louis, MO                           June 1957

E Nowlin45-640-A – Tally Ho640A (missouri) ernie nowlin tally ho

(Nowlin) (Starrite BMI)

45-640-B – Tell Me Why

(Nowlin) (Starrite BMI)

A fine Hillbilly bop, in the average category. Duet vocal at times, a borderline rockabilly with fine inventive guitar on a solid beat (snare drum). Flip unheard.

BLUE GRASS RECORDS 641                                         BOB VARNEY and Stone Mt Boys

31 Pine St, Logan, WV                                         June 1957

45-641-A I Hear You Calling

(No info) (No info)

45-641-B Stoney Mt. Boogie641b (blue grass) bob varney stoney mt. boogie

(B Varney)   (Starrite)

B-side : good boogie guitar instro, fine southern vocalizing from Varney. Whole thing is propelled by a strong rhythm guitar.

STARDAY RECORDS 642                                              BUDDY SHAW

June 1957

45-642-A – Don’t Sweep That Dirt On Me642a (starday) buddy shaw don't sweep that dirt on me

(Ruth Snider / Buddy Shaw) (Starrite BMI)

45-642-B – Second Place

(Ruth Snider / Buddy Shaw) (Starrite BMI)

Fast Hillbilly bop, again bordering on Rockabilly. Welcome tinkling piano (fine solo), urgent lead guitar (two solos). A classic ! Shaw had “No More“, a fine CountryBilly on Starday 618 (see elsewhere in the site for this number)

LINCOLN RECORDS 643                                            CARL TRANTHAM and the Rythm All Stars (sic)

Peoria, IL                                                        June 1957

45-643-A – Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way)643A (lincoln) carl trantham where there's a will

(Trantham)   (Starrite BMI)

45-643-B – After I Go Away

(Trantham)   (Starrite BMI)

A side : Hillbilly bop/rockabilly. This is where Hillbilly boys were doing Rock’n’Roll, nice guitar licks a la Scotty Moore, cool vocal (some hiccups), fine bass, and an almost unheard drum kit. Another classic ! For the B side, the boys return to a more Hillbilly approach, this time with a good steel. Vocal changes too, in a more rural way of phrasing. Again that fine lead guitar. Trantham also had “Deedle Deedle Dum” on Starday 336 (1958), a very fine Country rocker.

CRESTWOOD RECORDS 644                                      MARVIN JACKSON

Box 49 Route 1, Cadet, MO                                 July 1957644A (crestwood) marvin jackson someday you'll be sorry

45-644-A – Someday You’ll Be Sorry

(Jackson) (Starrite BMI)

45-644-B – My Crying Heart

(Jackson) (Starrite BMI)

Unheard record. Jackson had “Gee Whiz, Miz Liz“, a good rocker, on Crestwood 200 (backed by Ozark Toppers). Collector records issued a full CD of Rock’n’Roll sides of his, fine although average rockers.

STARDAY RECORDS 645                                     FRANK EVANS and his Top Notchers

(Artist based in Tampa, FL)                           July 1957

45-645-A – Pull The Shades Down Ma645A (starday) frank evans put the shades down ma

(Jimmy Dunklin)   (Starrite BMI)

45-645-B – Would You Believe Me

(Owen Wilson)   (Starrite BMI)

« Pull The Shades Down Ma » is Fifties country music of the sheerest excellence. « Now this city’s dwellin’ just ain’t cut out for me… » sings Frank in his most exuberant vocal on record and the band lays down an infectious rhythm that complements the lyrics perfectly. The song is reminiscent of the cool stuff Little Jimmy Dickens was cutting at the time: fun, full-blooded country that was uncompromisingly rural sounding.

COWTOWN RECORDS 646                                           GENE RAY

Fort Worth, TX                                                    July 1957

45-646-A – I Didn’t Mean (To Fall In Love)

(No info)

646B (cowtown) gene ray I lost my head45-646-B – I Lost My Head

(Miller)

B side is a fine shuffling Hillbilly with stop-starts, steel, guitar (uninspired solo) and fiddle. Singer is in fine voice however. Ray had an EP on Cowtown 677 (moreover in the serie) with « Rock’n’Roll Fever ».

UNKNOWN RECORD LABEL 647 (UNKNOWN ARTIST)

July 1957

UNKNOWN RECORD LABEL 648 (UNKNOWN ARTIST)

July 19 57

KHOURY’S RECORDS 649                                     NATHAN ABSHIRE and his Pine Grove Boys

Lake Charles, LA                                           July 1957

45-649-A – Boora Rhumba

(None)   (None)

45-649-B – Carolina Blues649A (khoury's) nathan abshire boora rhumba649B (khoury's) nathan abshire carolina blues

(None)   (None)

Unheard record.

STARDAY RECORDS 650                                       CLARENCE BAKER

July 1957

650-? – Hear My Plea

(No info)   (No info)

650-? – Soon I’ll Hear My Saviour Calling

(No info)   (No info)

Unheard record.

As usual for these series, many details do come from Malcolm Chapman’s site devoted to Starday Customs. This time, label pictures were easier to find than music: actually this serie does not contain, but exceptions, rockabilly classics, so many records escaped to reissue programs. Note a good percentage of sacred recordings.

early July 2010 fortnight

Hello folks, here I am again, back in wonderful Vallée du Rhône (where I lived for more than 40 years): Roman monuments, wines, goat cheeses, near Lyon, the second city of France (rivalling Marseille). Here in Vienne we have one of the foremost Jazz Festivals all around Europe (1rst fortnight of July), held in a marvelous Roman theater (fantastic acoustic!). Among all artists will be this year Joe Cocker – he’s not a Hillbilly yet, you know, but one of the truly Soulful artists ever. The show is booked…

All my records are still in boxes, and the library has yet to be set up, later this Summer. So this early July fortnite will be made up of tunes stored on my Macintosch for accidental use like this one. No label pictures, no spare time left to research in my files, only the music. After all, it’s only music we all love that got importance, isn’t?

Here we go.First from Indiana (Ruby label) comes WALTER SCOTT and the fine Hillbilly bop “I’m Walkin’ Out” (1956) complete with swirling fiddles and steel-guitar. Then to Texas, I think (I may be wrong!), with the great HYLO BROWN, whose career was firmly dept in Bluegrass but flirted with Hillbilly at times. I’ve chosen his 1951 rendition of “Lonesome Road Blues” (Four Star). Down in Louisiana, here comes the Pope of Cajun accordion, NATHAN ABSHIRE and one of his first records (although he had already recorded in 1939) under his name, the fine instrumental “Lu Lu Boogie” (Khoury’s label, 1947). On to Nashville, and JIMMY MARTIN, one of the founding members of the Bluegrass style (he’s been once guitar player for Bill Monroe). The song herein is Bluegrass, indeed, but Jimmy has hiccups in his voice…that predate (in my mind anyway) Rockabilly! “Hop, Skip and Wobble” (Decca) Complete with fiddle, banjo, string-bass. Back to the real roots of Hillbilly of the Thirties: (Tom) DARBY & (Jimmy) TARLTON – the haunting “Sweet Sarah Blues” (may be from 1928? 1931? I cannot verify at the moment). Great, strange vocal, and wild dobro.

We finished with two very different tunes, separated by at least 50 years. BIG MACEO (Merryweather) was a fine piano player and intimate vocalist of Chicago in the early 40s. Hear his “I Got The Blues” (backed by Tampa Red on the fluid electric guitar). Then MAURA O’CONNELL (late 1990’s) and the beautiful (both melody and lyrics) “It’s A Beautiful Day”. Enjoy, folks!