Texas Hillbilly bop (and Country ballads): COYE WILCOX (1950-1980)

Tire plant worker by day, honky-tonk singer by night, He had been born in Rusk, Texas, and had been performing around Houston since the mid-1940s. In late 1949 or 1950, he was drafted by the ubiquitous Jack Rhodes for a short time. His recording debut was made with Rhodes for Freedom in 1950. A solo release followed the next year, « I Need Someone Tonight » (Freedom 5006) is a very good mid-paced bopper, fiddle well to the fore. Flipside « One More Mistake » is a well done ballad and sounds promising for the things to come (steel to the fore).

In 1951-52, he released the fine double-sided Freedom 5040 with the same formula : « It’s Nobody’s Business  (What We Do)» and the wonderfully rural sounding of the uptempo « Look What Your Love Has Done To Me ». Apparently Wilcox held the violon.

He cut (unreleased at the time) in 1955 or 56 “Bird’s Nest On The Ground” (a Southern colloquialism meaning “a good thing”) which is pure Hank Williams, drawing out the best in both wonderfully rural Wilcox’s voice and the unindentiified musicians – probably some configuration of the Gold Star house band – accompanying him. It would have made a fine single for Sarg in 1956, but by this time Charlie Fitch was looking for material that encapsulated the present rather than pay homage to the past.

In 1959 he resurfaced this time in modern style on Azalea records. « You Gotta Quit Cheatin’ » was a mid-paced rocker (prominent piano solo) of first quality # 117). Flipside « I made A Mistake » (this man had apparently things to blame on himself for) does return to the old days, with the fiddle well to he fore and a bluesy Rockaballad nicely done.

On Azalea 123 Wilcox had his best ever rocker, the novelty « Zippy, Hippy, Dippy », backed by the folkish « Song Of Jesse James. »

Later on, he cut on Lu-Tex the ballad « Old Man Job » (1212) and the similar styled « Please Play Me A Song » (lot of steel).More Lu-Tex with « I’m Just Teasin’ Me » – good vocal, sensitive ballads (# 505) and « Path Of Tomorrow » (# 325) in 1976.

Then the last recordings on Orbit 1001, « I Just Laughed Till I Cried » and the countryish bopper « Old Hand Me Down ».

Sources: Andrew Brown for biographical details (Sarg Records Anthology); Ronald Keppner and Allan Turner for Freedom B-sides sound files – many thanks to them; Kent Heinemann for a Lu-Tex issue; 5cat for Lu-Tex label scans; YouTb for Azalea sound files and labels. My own archives: Google images.

late July 2011 fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks! For this late July 2010 fortnight, I begin with JIMMY DALLAS on the K.C. Shome label (“Crooked Cards“). Good steel and rinky dink piano (common for the era). He was later to have two discs on the Westport label (seel elsewhere in the site for the label’s survey). Nice hillbilly bop from ca. 1952-53.

shome Dallas cards

On to Texas with the very first (?) record by GLEN REEVES, “I’m Johnny On The Spot” on the T.N.T. label from 1955. Reeves would later appear on Republic and Decca, turning into R-a-B and R&R. Here he is in fine form, supported by a tight backing combo, providing uptempo rhythm. Good fiddle.

glen reeves pic

Glen Reeves

TNT Reeves spot

COYE WILCOX hailed from Dallas, Texas. Here it is his solitary issue on Azalea label, “Zippy, Hippy, Dippy“. Fine steel and strong lead guitar. Flipside was “You gotta quit cheatin‘” (for another fortnight). He had earlier cut a record for Freedom in 1951, fronting Jack Rhodes‘ band. Rhodes is famous for his song writing abilities during the second part of the ’50s, i.e. Jimmy Johnson/Gene Vincent song “Woman Love”, or Ronnie Dawson.

From Booneville, MS, comes HAYDEN THOMPSON, billed as “The South’s Most Versatile Singer”, backed by the Southern Melody Boys, for “I Feel The Blues Coming On” on the small Von label from 1954. Plaintive fiddle, steel guitar and string-bass behind almost murmuring vocal make a very atmospheric Hillbilly Bop record. Von label had also Johnny Burnette Trio and Lloyd McCullough (the latter’s story is intended in Bopping). Thompson would later cut for Sam Phillips, hence the classic “Love My Baby”, then he ended up in Chicago (Profile and Kapp labels) in the late ’50s, and a successful Country career.

Von thompson feel

azaleae wilcox zippy

HANK MILLS, whose real name was Samuel Garrett, waxed during the late Fifties in San Antonio (Blaze label) the very attractive “Just A Mean Mean Mamma“, with a prominent mandolin, which reminds me of the mid-Forties sound. Mills would later become a highly-prized songwriter, reaching a N°1 in 1965 with Del Reeves.

blaze  Mills mamma

We come to an end in Houston with a great R&B Rocker from 1956 on the Peacock label: “Pack, Fair And Square” by BIG WALTER PRICE.

big walter price pic

Big Walter Price

peacock price pack

Enjoy the selections, and happy bopping Summer!