Curtis Gordon, Hillbilly bop and Rockabilly from Georgia

Curtis Gordon – Play the music louder (from 1998 Rick Kienzle notes to Bear Family CD 16253) gordon

At 1 :30 on Wednesday afternoon, October 22, 1952, newly signed RCA Victor recording artist Curtis Gordon began his first session at Brown Brothers in Nashville, with RCA A&R man Steve Sholes presiding. Three of his own band members joined him in the studio : fiddler Charles Mitchell, pianist Curly Gainous and bass player Slick Gillespie. Rounding up the band were three of Nashville’s early studio A-team : guitarist and Sholes protege Chet Atkins, singer and rhythm guitarist Eddie Hill and steel guitar virtuoso Jerry Byrd.

For Gordon, landing a deal with RCA, the label of Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, was a major break. A regional performer who mainly worked south Georgia and north Florida and did occasional national tours, he fit into the honky-tonk sound in vogue at the time. It didn’t matter that he had no national home base like the Opry or Louisiana Hayride. He was a regional favorite around Georgia, Alabama and Florida, and in those days major labels didn’t shy away from signing such acts, hoping to break them nationally.

Born in July 27, 1928 on a farm near Moultrie, Gordon spent his boyhood drinking in music. « Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills were two of my favorites.(…) Ernest Tubb was really my idol until I got into Bob Wills. » Soon enough, Gordon was trying to sing locally, winning a talent show sponsored by a Moultrie radio station.moultrie, Georgia

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Late September 2009 fortnight

Howdy folks! Back from holidays in Rocking Italy, here I am again, this time more piano to the fore. Let’s begin with the now famous CURTIS GORDON and the classic Hillbilly Boogie from 1953, “ROMPIN’ AND STOMPIN’ – fine walking basses (Floyd Cramer, really??), a relaxed vocal, call & response type, steel and bass, everything is perfect here. From a 78 rpm.

 

 

Then we go West Coast with DICK LEWIS and his uptempo “BEALE STREET BOOGIE”. Good left hand, while a nice sax takes the first row for a good solo. 1947, Imperial 8004

The HODGES BROTHERS are well known – I really don’t know if this is the same outlet as on Arhoolie (Watermelon Man). Nevertheless their “HONEY TALK” is already a classic. Rockabilly indeed. Urgent rural vocal, nice interplay during the solo between guitar and fiddle. A great one! Whispering Pines 200 label, from Indiana. They also appeared on Starday custom serie (see elsewhere in the site)

Then a mistery. Famous French collector Henri laffont (R.I.P.) told me he thought it was Red Smith (same guy who cut “Whoa Boy” on Coral) but was unsure. Anyway “RED HOT BOOGIE” is a very solid slice of Hillbilly Bop, almost Rockabilly (because the hiccups of Smith); 3 solos (fiddle, guitar, bass, again fiddle). Which was the original label? This track is one on my all-times favorites! Please take a listen and let me know how you feel it. MYSTERY SOLVED on June 22nd, 2012 (thanks to a faithful visitor, Drunkenhobo from U.K.). The artist is Scotty Stevenson & the Edmonton Eskimos, a Canadian issue on RCA 55-3309-A, from 1950. I’d never thought a Canadian outlet could sound so  “Southern hillbilly bop”!

Way down South. LAWRENCE WALKER and Cajun “Allon Rock and Roll” (sung in English); Lot of cliches, a corny sound: I would have assumed the tune was recorded in late 40s, however it goes back to …1962!

Finally ROD MORRIS and “Weary Blues” (Deadwood). When a Hillbilly got the Blues…WHO the hell may be the SUPERB guitar player ? He obviously heard much Magic Sam and T. Bone Walker, and he’s very aggressive during the solo.

Enjoy, and comments welcome!