Hello Folks ! This is the late May 2017 bopping fortnite’s selection. It begins with a Starday custom disc on the Friendly label [from Milan, TN] (# 853) by RAY BELL : « Yodelin’ catfish blues » [what a title!], which is a cross, in my mind, between Rockabilly and Bopper. Dating from 1960 or even later. No guitar solo. A good song anyway which growns on one’s ears at every listening. Bell had another disc on Queen (obviously distributed by King), but a Jay Miller production: it is a suggestion of a Louisiana recording or at least a link. Same Queen label has a Miller protégé, Katie Webster. So the link may be strong. « Blues tavern » (# 24006, June 1961) is a decent uptempo hillbilly ballad. He also had two « leased » titles on the same date which went unissued at King.
Next selection is by three guys (brothers) also well-known, first as the Willis Brothers (led by the eldest of them, James « Guy » Willis) then later as OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS. They put between 1946 and 54 on line a fine string of Country rockers and hillbilly Boppers. I’ve chosen – an uneasy task – two boppers. First the fast «Hoot howl boogie » from April 1951, issued on RCA 20-4309. Piano accompanying throughout the tune (Vic Willis), nice guitar solo (Guy Willis) over a fiddle part (Skeeter Willis) + two unknowns : steel player and a thudding double-bassist. It has an irressistible beat.
Second song is a program per se : « Hillbilly rhythm » (RCA 20-4848, cut May 1952). Not as fast as the previous song, it’s excellent all the way. Fiddle part is more prominent, while the brothers sing the refrain in unison. Guy Willis even plays in a style Merle Travis had done famous several years ago. More on the Oklahoma Wranglers in a not too distant future, when I put my hands on biographical details.
MALCOLM PARKER seems to have migrated from Nashville to West coast (or was it the opposite). The first record noticed was on a California label, Mesa 101: a mid-tempo, nice rhythm-guitar and vocal led for « The tears you saved », stylistically from the early ’60s, although the label indicate « Stereo », which may indicate a 1970’s issue: a great record for this era! Then a second issue on Code, a Nashville label (# 301), early ’60s too. It’s a great rocker (piano and great guitar solo) for « Come along with me ». Perhaps different artists with the same name ? I found (but unheard) one side described by its vendor as « hillbilly » , « The panther den/We’re through » on the Bee (location unknown : label too much damaged), on the RootsVinylGuide site, which is usually very helpful. But not this time ! Anyone help us all?
ART ONTARIO is a well-known figure among Rockabilly circles. He had releases on Dixie (« It must be me », # 2019 (Madison, TN) in 1959, then as Art Buchanan, on sparse Dixie regional issues or on Flame during the early ’60s. Now a rare Starday custom, Illinois label (# 725) presents « Wiggle walkin’ boogie ». A great vocal, an insistant lead guitar (solo) over fine inventive drums. A nice record.
A jumping little tune now on an Atlanta Leo’s label (# 2016) for BLUEGRASS ERVIN : « I won’t cry alone ». Lots of fiddle (at times, played pizzicato, like a mandolin; at other times, duetting with steel). Steel is great, plus a clever guitar player. A great, great light country-rocker !
Finally FREEMAN ERVIN [apparently no connection with the preceding artist] in 1962 for « Living doll » on the Newbury, OH Bryte label # 241. Banjo-led, and high-pitched vocal. Good bopping Bluegrass to finish this issue.
Sources: thanks to UncleGil Rockin’ Archives (Oklahoma Wranglers files) ; HillbillyBoogie1 Youtube chain ; RootsVinylGuide for various scans, as 78rpm-world ; BF CD for Carl Butler personal on this session ; RCS for Art Ontario.
Hello folks. The link between the 8 songs this time would be either the BREWSTER Brothers, either the WEBSTER Bros, either Knoxville, TN, and would last from 1954 to 1962/63.
In Manchester, KY, circa 1957-59, there were the BREWSTER Brothers. Originally from Tennessee, the elder Willie G. (mandolin and vocal) had begun late ’40s as sideman for the Bailey Bros. He even replaced Dan Bailey when the latter was gone to service duties. In 1953, the Brewster Bros. and the Smokey Mountain Hillbillies found much success on Scottsboro, AL. WROS radio. Not so long after that, joined by younger Franklin « Bud » Brewster (guitar and banjo, plus vocal), the brothers backed in 1957/58 Carl Story for recording sessions on Mercury, Starday, or small companies like Wayne Raney’s Rimrock label. Willie estimates they cut three hundred songs with Story! Around the same time, they went to perform on a regular basis for the Cas Walker radio & T.V. show in Knoxville, TN. They backed Red Rector among others. That’s when they recorded for Acme Records 1776, out of Manchester, KY. two sacred songs in bluegrass style, among them « I’ll Be Happy In My Home« . They were joined by the FOUR BROTHERS QUARTET, which was composed of Audie (mandolin and tenor voice) and Earl (guitar and lead vocal) WEBSTER. More on them below.
The BREWSTER Brothers, as the Jaguar’s (sic), went on to record Rock’n’roll in 1959 on Janet, in Manchester, KY, too, which was simply Acme revived after being sold. Bud Brewster had the fine « I Coud If I Would (But I Ain’t) », on Janet 201, along with the vocalist Harold Harper on the average White rock (insistant guitar riff) flipside « The Big Noise ». After that I lost their trail.
The WEBSTER Brothers, Earl and Audie, started in Philadelphia, TN., playing in schools and churches. They joined WNOX in Knoxville, TN and made 6 sides for Columbia/Okeh in 1954, all great boppers. Let’s begin with the earliest « Till The End Of The World Rolls ‘Round » and « It’s All Left Up To You », issued in January 1954 on Okeh 18056. Fast, fiddle-led (a short steel solo), with Earl on guitar and lead vocal being joined by Audie on harmony duetting chorus.
In October 1954, they joined in Nashville Carl Butler for a long Columbia recording session, and that’s when they cut their best tune ever, the great « Road Of Broken Hearts » – urgent vocal, fine fiddle by Dale Potter, a barely audible Don Helms on steel (Columbia 21421). The same session saw them cut the fine flipside « Seven Year Blues ». Later on (November 1955) they joined Carl Butler (leader) for two religious sides, « Looking Through The Windows Of Heaven » and « Walkin’ In God’s Sunshine » (Columbia 21473). Very nice fast sacred hillbilly.
We found them much, much later (1962/63) on the Nashville Do-Ra-Me label for a far less interesting « My Heart Won’t Let Me Forget », almost pop-country (# 1439).
As usual, comments welcome. You know, these sides are thrown as the best I know today. Indeed they can be rare (they come from my collection or from the net), but it’s the quality that matters !
From the notes to Old Timey LP 126 « Classic Country Duets » and « Early Days Of Bluegrass, vol. 2 » (Rounder 1014, 1976).
Hi! Here are my new favorites, be it Hillbilly bop, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Country rock-a-ballad, or even a bit of Western swing. CARL BUTLER was on Capitol, and cut mainly unclassifiable Hillbilly/Bluegrass sides. I’ve chosen his great « No Trespassing » from 1951, complete with hiccups and banjo/fiddle. Then to early Honky tonk with WEBB PIERCE. One of his very early sides on Decca (1951): « California Blues » (78 rpm – I will be moving soon, so already packed all my precious shellacs and can’t have a label scan). Back to Hillbilly bop with a fairly obscure artist, JACK HUNT (Capitol, 1953) and lazy vocal on « All I Can Do Is Sit Ad Cry ». A short insight into MERLE LINDSAY’s career. He fronted the Oklahoma scene from the mid-forties, and had numerous sides on many labels; here we hear « Mop Rag Boogie » (MGM). A nice Country Rockaballad from 1958 on the Sandy label out of Alabama by JOHNNY FOSTER « Locked Away From Your Heart » (# 1028). I love his sincere vocal. Finally a late 60s Hillbilly Bop by KED KILLEN (Western Ranch), « Hey Pretty Mama ». I don’t know an awful lot of him, except that his style dates from at least 15 years earlier. Couldn’t find his work except on a Cattle LP moons ago, or a Tom Sims Cassette. Enjoy the selections! Bye…