The Kentucky based DIXIANA label was a short lived concern, maybe operating from Bowling Green (Warren County). Launched in 1953, the label appears to have only lasted 6 months or so. However, during that relatively short time, the owners released some first rate Hillbilly, some of which can be found on various White Label « Boppin’ Hillbilly » albums.
Kentucky and Warren Cty
102. Southern Harmony Boys – Hattie Mae Fleming (piano)
That great mansion DA 12
The Lord and I DA 13
103. The Renfro Brothers and the Valley Sta. Playboys
Ever ready (BH 2821) no mtx
Just over a girl (BH 2821) no mtx
Both tracks are superior hillbilly boppers. Very fast tracks, over assured vocals. Backing is superb : sawing fiddle, steel, piano, even an accordion solo. The « Girl » side reminds me of the Carlisles.
104. Odis Blanton and his Blue Star Rangers
Steppin’ High Wide and Handsome (BH 2807) no mtx
Don’t move the moon no mtx
Both sides are superior Hillbilly boppers too. Over a fast fiddle routine, an assured vocal is backed by accordion, steel and piano. The « Moon » side is an excellent medium rock-a-ballad, with the piano well to the fore.
Odis Blanton, DJ
Odis and Hugh would handle the vocal turns as solos. When they did their trio numbers, it usually included John, Gene and Odis.
The Blue Star Rangers had a 45-minute show that aired every day except Sunday over WLBJ called “The Farm And Home Hour”. They also did the usual personal appearances throughout the area of western Kentucky and northern Tennessee, including stage shows and square dance engagements.
Group Members included:
Odis Blanton, leader and manager, rhythm guitar
John Blanton, steel guitar
Gene Kitchens, violin
Hugh Poteet, bass
“Pappy” Jones, saxophone
Gwen Dalton, piano (she had several records on her own on Republic)
105. Cliff Gross and his Texas Cowboys
Hog pen hop (BH 2822) no mtx
Smokin’ and jokin’ (and pokin’ along) no mtx
I only heard « Hop » side : a fine hillbilly boogie, sort of talking blues, with the band singing the refrain in unison. Western swing overtones. The side had surely been recorded in Dallas (Jim Beck’s studio), even “Beck” co-written. Gross was a mountain style fiddler, who had played as early as 1929 with the Hi-Flyers, then in 1932 with the Light Crust Doughboys.
106. Jack Bybee and the Rhythm Wranglers
Drifting down the stream no mtx
You don’t love me no mx
(N.B. This label shot was unearthed by Drunken Hobo. Thanks to him)
107. Jimmy Smith
Does he love you no mtx
It ain’t no fun to say I told you so no mtx
Nothing is known about this fine singer. I only heard « Does he love you », which is a fine heavy rockaballad, again over accordion, fiddle and piano accompaniment. Smith (according it’s the same person) has an excellent “First choice” – very fine guitar picking – on Cactus “Rockin’ Hillbilly” vol. 1 (included here).
One then can wonder if the backing members are not the same at least for the known sides.
based on Hillbilly Researcher # 13 issue (mid-1990s). Additional research and comprehensive musical appreciation by Bopping editor.
Howdy folks. If you are there, you’re in for a musical journey in Hillblly bop music. Here we go for more obscure or lesser known names, who one cannot know anything about, except what it’s in the grooves, or what I gathered – and most of the time the harvest is a meager one. Talking about harvests, let’s not forget the “contact me” section: here are for sale excellent CDs or vinyl records (very nice condition) for sale from my collection. Don’t overpass this occasion!
Chuck Bowers did hail from Arkansas, where he was born in 1921. He was a regular of the St. Louis, MO. Ozark Jubilee and had a spot on KWTO. His acclaimed shuffler “Pig Pen Boogie” on the Kansas City Choice label (# 845) is one of the serie he did for radio or TV appearances. Actually you can find 3 songs by him that contain “boogie” in the title on Youtube! Later Bowers was on Decca for two Nashville produced pop rockers, the better being “Blabber Mouth Sidewalk Stroll” (# 30578) from 1957. I don’t know anything on Bowers afterwards.
Way up North and Michigan, on the Bart label. One Billy Martin has the really fine Hillbilly bop ballad “Tears I Couldn’t Hide” on the Bart label (# 7G28). Prominent steel over a very sincere vocal. The same Billy Martin had also « Angel »/ « If It’s Lovin’ That You Want » (Lucky 0009, 1960) and « I’m Home Again » (Fortune 198). . There were also issues on Happy Hearts, D, Cannon and Misty in the 70’s.
The very small – Kentucky based, as said in an old Hillbilly Reserarcher issue – Dixiana label was launched in 1953, and do seem to have only lasted six months or so. From his 7 issues I chose The Renfro Brothers‘ “Just Over A Girl“, a fast romper led by a boogie pianist and showcased by an accordion (# 103). On the same label was issued Odis Blanton & his Blue Star Rangers, who I will post later the great “Steppin’ High Wide And Handsome“. On Dixiana 105, there is still a Cliff Gross to be found yet (both titles sound interesting).
Walter Scott‘s great “I’m Walking Out” (see Ruby # 240, elsewhere in this site) was cut in 1968 by a L. C. Angel with Coye Farmer on the microscopic Baron label (no # number) out of Trenton, OH. The record gives full personal (steel-guitar-bass); so which instrument was played by Farmer or Angel? Incidentally the very same record was reissued twelve years later on the A & A label (still no #) out of Hamilton, OH. A fine version nevertheless, but the artist is completely out of sight!
Ben Hall has the fine “Moo Mama” Rockabilly on the Cord label (# 101). Very rare one; even rarer is the unissued at the time “Be Bop Ball“, saved from oblivion by the Dutchman!
Finally from a February 1932 session do come the very sexual “Red Nightgown Blues“, cut by Jimmie Davis for RCA-Victor (with sublime slide guitar by Oscar Woods) and issued in the Bluebird serie (# 5699). A tune that suits exactly to Jerry Lee Lewis‘ way of life, and one may wonder how he has not recorded this song (remember “Long Legged Woman” cut for Sun?)
Flash (January 23rd, 2012). I received a mail from JIMMY RENFRO. His Dad Jim had not heard their songs within a very long time, so he was stunned and happy. His uncle Raymond did the same. Thanks Jimmy! I include in the posts the flipside of their Dixiana 103, “Ever Ready“. Alas, I don’t know any other record by them.