Gene O’Quin, the Hometown Jamboree “Problem child” (1949-1955)

He was a fantastic little guy. Gene could have been one of the biggest things on television. He could’ve had his own show nationally and been one of the biggest artists on TV. But you couldn’t O'QuinPicturedepend on Gene. He’s be liable to be out at the horses races, you know, instead of being at the station, where he should be…but you couldn’t keep from loving the little guy.” (Speedy West)

Because he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously as an artist, he excelled at good-timey romps, as Boogie Woogie Fever, Texas Boogie,  and was not totally convincing on tearjerkers. He was a major star on the West Coast for several years, with high-profile radio and television status on Cliffie Stone’s Hometown Jamboree. The musicians who backed him were the top ones of the West Coast: Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Billy Liebert, Cliffie Stone. He enjoyed only minor hits, like his cover of Hank Locklin’s “Pin Ball Millionaire”, but he sold consistently enough for Capitol to keep him around for four years in a very competitive and changing  scene – surprisingly, given his undoubted feel for hillbilly boogies, it was the emergence of rock’n’roll that really knocked him out.   (more…)

late March 2009 favorites

Several tunes I enjoy now…

First a tribute to two bopping artists recently deceased. HANK LOCKLIN, famous Hillbilly crooner, had also done Hillbilly Bop, as here “Down Texas Way”. BUCK GRIFFIN, a Rockabilly great (LIN/MGM sides) – it was hard to choose, but I decided finally to include his “Stutterin’ Papa” complete with hiccups a la Charlie Feathers.

Then we got to unknowns. JOE ‘Cannonball’ LEWIS, whose “I’m gonna tear your playhouse down” (Kentucky label) is already a hillbilly bop classic. Then KED KILLEN. His “Worried blues” (Western Ranch) is dramatic.

Don’t quit! Now Bluegrass with The CHURCH BROTHERS (Ralph, Bill & Edwin) from North Carolina with their powerful “I Don’t Know What To Do” (Blue Ridge). And we go to the end with Cajun live: PAUL DAIGLE’s “I Told A ie”.

Hope you enjoy these selections