Howdy folks! For this late July 2010 fortnight, I begin with JIMMY DALLAS on the K.C. Shome label (“Crooked Cards“). Good steel and rinky dink piano (common for the era). He was later to have two discs on the Westport label (seel elsewhere in the site for the label’s survey). Nice hillbilly bop from ca. 1952-53.
On to Texas with the very first (?) record by GLEN REEVES, “I’m Johnny On The Spot” on the T.N.T. label from 1955. Reeves would later appear on Republic and Decca, turning into R-a-B and R&R. Here he is in fine form, supported by a tight backing combo, providing uptempo rhythm. Good fiddle.
COYE WILCOX hailed from Dallas, Texas. Here it is his solitary issue on Azalea label, “Zippy, Hippy, Dippy“. Fine steel and strong lead guitar. Flipside was “You gotta quit cheatin‘” (for another fortnight). He had earlier cut a record for Freedom in 1951, fronting Jack Rhodes‘ band. Rhodes is famous for his song writing abilities during the second part of the ’50s, i.e. Jimmy Johnson/Gene Vincent song “Woman Love”, or Ronnie Dawson.
From Booneville, MS, comes HAYDEN THOMPSON, billed as “The South’s Most Versatile Singer”, backed by the Southern Melody Boys, for “I Feel The Blues Coming On” on the small Von label from 1954. Plaintive fiddle, steel guitar and string-bass behind almost murmuring vocal make a very atmospheric Hillbilly Bop record. Von label had also Johnny Burnette Trio and Lloyd McCullough (the latter’s story is intended in Bopping). Thompson would later cut for Sam Phillips, hence the classic “Love My Baby”, then he ended up in Chicago (Profile and Kapp labels) in the late ’50s, and a successful Country career.
HANK MILLS, whose real name was Samuel Garrett, waxed during the late Fifties in San Antonio (Blaze label) the very attractive “Just A Mean Mean Mamma“, with a prominent mandolin, which reminds me of the mid-Forties sound. Mills would later become a highly-prized songwriter, reaching a N°1 in 1965 with Del Reeves.
We come to an end in Houston with a great R&B Rocker from 1956 on the Peacock label: “Pack, Fair And Square” by BIG WALTER PRICE.
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. (more…)