WILEY BARKDULL, Louisiana piano man

WILEY BARKDULL

Born circa 1927, Forest Hill, Louisianawiley barkdull pic

The musical career of singer / pianist Wiley Barkdull is virtually inseparable from that of the brothers Rusty and Doug Kershaw.

Barkdull’s main instrument was the piano, but he may have played rhythm guitar as well, possibly at his live performances. A deep voiced Lefty Frizzell soundalike, he performed over Crowley’s KSIG alongside Jimmy Newman, Jim Toth and the Kershaws. Rusty, Doug and Wiley all started recording for legendary Crowley producer Jay (or J.D., if you prefer) Miller’s Feature label in 1953 or 1954. Very few of these recordings were issued at the time, but most of them (plus some KSIG radio transcriptions) finally appeared on the UK Flyright label in 1991. Barkdull’s record for Feature was “I’ll Give My Heart to You” (soon to be rerecorded for Hickory)/”Living a Life of Memories” (Feature 2006), which appeared in early 1955. It was the last release on the label, crediting the backing to Rusty & Doug and the Music Makers.  feature 206 wiley barkdull  I'll give my heart

After Feature was wound down, Rusty and Doug were signed by Hickory Records in Nashville and Barkdull was also signed as an artist in his own right. Wiley’s deep bass voice contributes to many of Rusty and Doug’s recordings and so much so that his name was credited on almost all of the Rusty & Doug sides on which he appeared as a vocalist. In some cases, these harmonies are downright spectacular (“Kaw-Liga“, for instance). These fine Hickory recordings benefited in no small measure from a first-class accompaniment by the Nashville A-team, sometimes enhanced by the fiddle of Rufus Thibodeaux.

hickory 1065 wiley barkdull Too manyhickory 1074 wiley barkdull I ain't gonna waste my timehickory  1074B wiley barkdull hey, honey

Barkdull’s solo recordings for Hickory (8 singles altogether) are a mixture of country in the Lefty Frizzell style, western swing and rockabilly. Songs in the latter category include the great two-sider “Hey Honey“/”I Ain’t Gonna Waste My Time” (Hickory 1074) and “Too Many“, which was covered by Ocie Smith (whose version got a UK release on London, while the original went unissued in the UK). “Too Many” (written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant) was my first Barkdull experience, in the mid-80s [via the U.K. Magnum Force album « Hillbilly Rock  – 20 Rare Tracks From The Hickory Vaults »].

bb 24-6-57 barkdull too many

It features a great guitar groove by Hank Garland and Ray Edenton, fine percussive sounds by Buddy Harman and Lightnin’ Chance (on bass) and a piano solo by Floyd Cramer. Most of Wiley’s Hickory material was written by J.D. Miller, with just one Barkdull co-writer’s credit. Rusty and Doug scored five country hits between 1955 and 1961, but for Barkdull’s solo recordings there was no chart success, in spite of their quality. His final Hickory release was a nice up-tempo treatment of Melvin Endsley‘s “Keep A-Lovin’ Me Baby“. After this last Hickory session Barkdull moved to Houston, and started to record for the All Star label in 1961, gaining seven releases by the time the label closed in 1964. The last anyone heard of him was that he was residing in Nederland, Texas, still playing the beer joints.

allstar a-7297 wiley-jessie barkdull I'll always love youallstar b-7297 wiley-jessie barkdull that's one broken hearthickory 1092 45 wiley barkdull keep a lovin' me baby


Recommended listening:

– Rusty and Doug Kershaw with Wiley Barkdull, Louisiana Men: The Complete Hickory Recordings. Ace CDCH2 992 (2 CD-set, 56 tracks). Released June 2004. Informative liner notes by Dave Sax.

– Rusty & Doug with Wiley Barkdull, The Legendary Jay Miller Sessions. Flyright FLY CD 35. Issued in 1991. 21 tracks.

Story by Dik De Heer, www.rockabillyeurope.com (Blackcat Rockabilly)

all star ?? Wiley Barkdull - When you go

Early June 2011 fortnight’s favorites

The story of Frank Rice and Ernest W. Stokes goes back to 1933, when they were known as “Mustard and Gravy“. They came from Virginia, and discovered by Smiley Burnette, doing minstrel-shows. In 1950, they cut for Gotham the fine “Be Bop Boogie“, accompanied by a trombone!  The song found its way several years later in a Calypso style by Don Hager on the Oak label.  oak 357 don hager

Nothing is known on Les Willard, surely a Nashville singer, here backed by Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, for the romper “Double Up And Catch Up” in 1955.

mgm 11537 willard

Red Mansel was from Texas, and had a contract with Dan Mechura‘s Allstar label ca. 1958 for the equally fine “ Johnny On The Spot“. He had already cut for Starday Custom (# 523) in 1955, the piano-led medium tempo “Broken Fickle Heart” (see elsewehere in this site for “Starday Custom serie (# 500-525).

From Texas came also on the T.N.T. (“Tanner’n’Texas”) label the duet The Jacoby Brothers (George, the uncle and Boy, the nephew), respectively on mandolin and guitar. They offer here the very fast “Bicycle Wreck“, with a fantastic mandolin solo.

jacoby brothers (boy and gene)

red woodward & red hawks pic

Red Woodward and his Red Hawks were familiar in the period 1945-1950 on WBAP radio from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’ve chosen his “Cowboy Boogie” from 1947, on Signature label. Relaxed vocal, fine backing, and a guitar solo which seems being acoustic one!

herald 465 l.hopkins had a gal called salFinally a R&B Rocker from 1954 by the great Lightning Hopkins. Hope you enjoy the selections. Don’t forget to have a look at my “contact Me” section, for records and books for sale from my collection. You could be amazed! Bye