First selection is a fine bopper (sincere vocal, strong rhythm and good fiddle, even pizzicato played) : « I was standing too close to a heartache » (sounds familiar?) by BILLY TIDWELL, who cut a very good version of « Folsom prison blues » on the White Deer, TX Ko Co Bo label in 1964.
Billy Tidwell, “I was standing too close to a heartache”
Second odd issue is first ever Tommy Collins‘s song, « Campus boogie », when Collins was still known as LEONARD SIPES in his native Oklahoma. The song can be found on Morgan 106, and is very Hank Williams styled.
Then we enter in back-to-back series. JIMMIE DAVIS, also politician for Louisiana Governoship, cut a whole string of early boppers in the ’30s. Here I selected « You’ve been tom cattin’ around », issued on Bluebird in 1933.
A good 22 years later, CARL STORY had his own version, although the mandolin player is himself, on Columbia 21444 (1955). The flipside is the equally good, Rockabilly style, « What a line ». Strong boogie guitar, a fiddle solo. Really a masterpiece.
« What a line » derives from the original by JIMMIE WIDENER, who had this on his first King session in 1946 (# 536B) on the West coast, backed by such luminaries as Joaquin Murphy on steel or Jimmy Wyble on electric guitar. Harold Hensley is also present on fiddle, and co-wrote the song with Merle Travis. Widener had had been vocalist for Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills.
The song was revived first in 1953 by CLYDE MOODY on Decca. Usual style. Moody does it fast, with fiddle and guitar solo. Then in the mid-60s by GLENN THOMPSON, the most obscure artist of them all, who came from North Carolina. Guitar player is modern, but has a fine bluesy solo.
Hello folks. The link between the 8 songs this time would be either the BREWSTER Brothers, either the WEBSTER Bros, either Knoxville, TN, and would last from 1954 to 1962/63.
In Manchester, KY, circa 1957-59, there were the BREWSTER Brothers. Originally from Tennessee, the elder Willie G. (mandolin and vocal) had begun late ’40s as sideman for the Bailey Bros. He even replaced Dan Bailey when the latter was gone to service duties. In 1953, the Brewster Bros. and the Smokey Mountain Hillbillies found much success on Scottsboro, AL. WROS radio. Not so long after that, joined by younger Franklin “Bud” Brewster (guitar and banjo, plus vocal), the brothers backed in 1957/58 Carl Story for recording sessions on Mercury, Starday, or small companies like Wayne Raney’s Rimrock label. Willie estimates they cut three hundred songs with Story! Around the same time, they went to perform on a regular basis for the Cas Walker radio & T.V. show in Knoxville, TN. They backed Red Rector among others. That’s when they recorded for Acme Records 1776, out of Manchester, KY. two sacred songs in bluegrass style, among them “I’ll Be Happy In My Home“. They were joined by the FOUR BROTHERS QUARTET, which was composed of Audie (mandolin and tenor voice) and Earl (guitar and lead vocal) WEBSTER. More on them below.
The BREWSTER Brothers, as the Jaguar’s (sic), went on to record Rock’n’roll in 1959 on Janet, in Manchester, KY, too, which was simply Acme revived after being sold. Bud Brewster had the fine « I Coud If I Would (But I Ain’t) », on Janet 201, along with the vocalist Harold Harper on the average White rock (insistant guitar riff) flipside « The Big Noise ». After that I lost their trail.
The WEBSTER Brothers, Earl and Audie, started in Philadelphia, TN., playing in schools and churches. They joined WNOX in Knoxville, TN and made 6 sides for Columbia/Okeh in 1954, all great boppers. Let’s begin with the earliest « Till The End Of The World Rolls ‘Round » and « It’s All Left Up To You », issued in January 1954 on Okeh 18056. Fast, fiddle-led (a short steel solo), with Earl on guitar and lead vocal being joined by Audie on harmony duetting chorus.
In October 1954, they joined in Nashville Carl Butler for a long Columbia recording session, and that’s when they cut their best tune ever, the great « Road Of Broken Hearts » – urgent vocal, fine fiddle by Dale Potter, a barely audible Don Helms on steel (Columbia 21421). The same session saw them cut the fine flipside « Seven Year Blues ». Later on (November 1955) they joined Carl Butler (leader) for two religious sides, « Looking Through The Windows Of Heaven » and « Walkin’ In God’s Sunshine » (Columbia 21473). Very nice fast sacred hillbilly.
We found them much, much later (1962/63) on the Nashville Do-Ra-Me label for a far less interesting « My Heart Won’t Let Me Forget », almost pop-country (# 1439).
As usual, comments welcome. You know, these sides are thrown as the best I know today. Indeed they can be rare (they come from my collection or from the net), but it’s the quality that matters !
From the notes to Old Timey LP 126 « Classic Country Duets » and « Early Days Of Bluegrass, vol. 2 » (Rounder 1014, 1976).
This time we’re beginning with a strange item. Carl Story, bluegrass virtuoso, doing Hillbilly Bop with “Whatta Line”(Columbia). then 1955 Rock’n’Roll with Ken Davis “Shook Shake”. Same period with pianist -bandleader Dick Hyman, doing “Rolling the Boogie”(MGM 78 rpm). Enjoy the walking basses! Back to Country-rock with the unknown Cuddles C. Newsome (One Little Kiss, nice guitar). Strong guitar bopper with Bill Watkins, out of Cncinnati for “unissued at the time” “Big Guitar” (Lee label). We come to an end with Jimmy Heap out of Abilene, Texas, for Harry Choates’ “Cat’n Around” done Hillbilly Bop style (strong fiddle), and vocal by Perk Williams. Enjoy! Comments?