Indiana Rockabilly (Bluegrass too: The BLANKENSHIP BROTHERS

Indiana isn’t the first American state you’d associate with primitive Rockabilly, but it was there, hidden among the steelworks and the industrial areas. Indianapolis was seething with young, spotty hopefulls,, all wanting to be Elvis and looking more like the greek next door. Eddie Smalling, Tommy Lam, Van Brothers,, Tex Neighbors, Dennis Puckett.. .all true Indiana boppers.

The Blankenship Brothers certainly weren’t the next « Teenage Sensation ». Hell, this small but tightly band didn’t even pretend to cut Rockailly. Led by Floyd & Dennis Blankenshipthis small outfit cut some of the best primitive Rock North of Tennessee, but to them it was more like Country and Bluegrass music, blended with a little rough Johnny Cash edge. They played at the local tonks and jukejoints, entertaining the masses of factory workers who were looking to entertainment after a hard week of being frazzied by the burning steel mills. Hell, maybe these guys worked there too !

« Don’t Tell Me Your Sorry » {sic} and « Easy To Love – Hard To Forget » (Syline 105) is certainly closer to Bluegrass than Rockabilly, especially with the typical mountain harmonies from Floyd and Dennis, and the use of a mandolin and a fiddle.

ssue # 106 (« That’s Why I’m Blue »/ « I Just Got One Heart ») sits on the fence between the two styles. « That’s Why I’m Blue » is a fabulous, primitive stomper with Luther Perkins type picking and jangly acoustics filling out the sound. Hidden almost inaudible is a fiddle player, which you can only hear with earphones and only in the breaks. Flip is back to the bluegrass beat and the fiddle player is right up against the mike to make up for lost time.

Issue # 106 (« That’s Why I’m Blue »/ « I Just Got One Heart ») sits on the fence between the two styles. « That’s Why I’m Blue » is a fabulous, primitive stomper with Luther Perkins type picking and jangly acoustics filling out the sound. Hidden almost inaudible is a fiddle player, which you can only hear with earphones and only in the breaks. Flip is back to the bluegrass beat and the fiddle player is right up against the mike to make up for lost time.

# 107 (« Hard Time Blues »/ »Waiting For A Train » are both full-blooded boppers that any back-in-the-hills cat would be proud of. ((The fiddle player obviously is gone for a cigarette break or something) . The bass player, (although mostly off-mike) is riding the hell out of the fretboard on this 45.

Waiting For A Train

by The Blankenship Brothers

download train

On to Brothers’ own custom label, « Bluegrass », « Tears I Cried For You »/ « Mary »( Blue-Grass # 773) with a Indianapolis address in the Summer of 1959. Backed by the Sundown Playboys (that once featured Russell Spears who cut « Beggin’ Time » on Yolk Records # 128; also on Nabor# 135 and 138). Blue-Grass 773 finds the band back in blue-grass mode, but te guitarist is romping a fine line bordering on Rockablly. Flip has a banjo filling out the spaces. Although the band cook, the vocals aren’t as self assured here (unlike the Skyline tracks).

On to Brothers’ own custom label, « Bluegrass », « Tears I Cried For You »/ « Mary »( Blue-Grass # 773) with a Indianapolis address in the Summer of 1959. Backed by the undown Playboys (that once featured Russell Spears who cut « Beggin’ Time » on Yolk Records). Blue-Grass 773 finds the band back in blue-grass mode, but te guitarist is romping a fine line bordering on Rockablly. Flip has abanjo filling out the spaces. Although the band cook, the vocals aren’t as self assured here (unlike the Skyline tracks).

« Lonesome Old Jail » was issued as # 816 (released approx. March 1960) and we’re back into Johnny Cash bopper/prison song mode. « Too Late » is a standard Blue-Grass B-side.

« Lonesome Old Jail » was issued as # 816 (released approx. March 1960) and we’re back into Johnny Cash bopper/prison song mode. « Too Late » is a standard Blue-Grass B-side.

The final 45 release « You Went & Broke My Heart »/ « The Story »(issue # 870)(end of 1960/61), the Brothers regress back into the comfy womb of blue-grass music, without a hint of rebellious Rockabilly.

The Story (The World Will Never Know)

by The Blankenship Brothers

The final 45 release « You Went & Broke My Heart »/ « The Story »(issue # 870)(end of 1960/61), the Brothers regress back into the comfy womb of blue-grass music, without a hint of rebellious Rockabilly.

You Went And Broke My Heart

by The Blankenship Brothers

From anonymous notes to « Bluegrass and Rockabilly Kings of Indiana » (Blue Sky LP 100, issued 1999).Additional music (Russell Spears) ws drawn from YouTube. All labels (Skyline and BlueGrass) from Rockin’ Country Style.

Early June 2021 bopping fortnight’s favorites (at last, the return)

TOM TALL was a West coast country personality, who cut many a record. Here we go with one of his first ones, on the Fabor label (# 123)( 1955) with the average bopping « Underway ». Later on he went frankly Rockabilly on Crest Records (# 1038) in February 1958 with the classic « Stack-a-records » – « I got records here, I got records there, all over the place, but I am looking for the one that my baby likes to hear, where the guitar plays so fine -it goes (then solo) ». Great, great record !

[raw]
Hello everybody ! Well I’m not dead, but found myself in the hs)pital for the pas t5 months, after a serious illness. Thanks a lot to anyone who took time to encourage me and express care for my welfare. This means a lot to me. Anyway I’m back and ready to entertain you with mroe and more bopping music. Here we go :

Litterally nothing is known on the next artist, JIMMY THORPE, except he recorded for the King sub-label DeLuxe in 1953, so probaby in Cincinnati : « Locked in My Heart » (# 2006).

Trepur was a small label from La Grandenge, Georgia, which issued in te late ’50s some great records, e.g. “Milkman Blues” ‘1006, November 1958) by CHUCK JOYCE & his Chain and his Chain Gang, then “The Moon Won’t Tell” (1005, June 1958) , aimed at Country-rock aficionados for his good piano, by CHUCK GODDARD.

An all-time favorite of mine (since Tom Sims’ cassettes in the ’80s) is KEN HAMMOCK ‘ « It’s Now Or Never » (Starday 370) from 1960. Nice vocal and guitar.

We come to an end with, again on the West coast, with LYNN HOWARD and her « Red Thunderbird » on Accent 1044 from 1960.

As usual, various sources. Trepur sides do come from an old White label album ; Jimmy Thorpe and Lynn Howard from internet.

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.

An Hillbilly impersonator? – not just that: RED GARRETT (1953-1956)

Red Garrett is another classic Hillbilly singer of the golden 50s who missed the boat to fame. Not only his own personality was excellent, he was also a fantastic impersonator which he proves in “They Got Me Singing That Way”. He also copies Hank Williams in “May You Never Be Alone” to insert his tribute recitation of “A Bed Of Roses”. At first listen you think it is an alternative take of the ole master because the original Drifting Cowboy Don Helms was employed on the steel guitar. Also Bud Isaacs is audible along with Chet Atkins . Other possible musicians are Tommy Jackson and Dale Potter .
(Notes from « The complete Red Garrett » Cattle 331)

Red Garrett was born in Barston, Tennessee. He developed a fondness for the music with a country flavor early in his life. Later, he formed a band called the “Tennessee Pioneers”. He started his singing career in 1945. A late 1953 magazine article, Cowboy Songs magazine included him as one of the “Stars On the Horizon”. It also indicated he was working broadcasts back in Vincennes and Princeton, Indiana. In 1951, folks from the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville had heard of him and sent for him. By 1953, he was still a member of the Opry. During his time with the Opry, he appeared on the same billing with such stars as Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold, Elton Britt, Slim Whitman and Webb Pierce among others.

Around that same time, he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor. His first release for them was “Blame It On The Moonlight” b/w “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Past”(47-5242, issued March 26, 1953).

But, shortly after that it seems, another article mentioned he had disappeared from the music scene, but by about 1955, he had come back to performing.

In 1956, he had a record out on the Decca label entitled, “May You Never Be Alone – and A Bed of Roses”. The song was a tribute to Hank Williams – it was said he actually imitated Hank when he sang the tune “May You Never Be Alone” but in the middle of the tune, he does a recitation, “and a Bed of Roses”. The article that mentioned this tune also told us that the flip side, “Clear Sailing” was “weak.”

(Red Garrett: an appreciation – by bopping’s editor)

To be frank, I’ve not taken a great pleasure listening to Garrett’s music. The vast majority of his output is the same in a review of rhythm: medium paced uptempos. No track us some apart from the others, except for two Louisiana inspired tunes (with a rhumba beat): “Papa Joe’s Place” and “Please”. The rest is quite ordinary, in truth typical Nashville honky-tonk or the 1950’s. This perhaps explains why his recording career was so short.

It appears he also did some songwriting, too as we found he co-wrote a tune with Boudleaux Bryant called “Moon Tan”. We found a hint as to the type of artist he was for they wrote in the article, “..never refused to play in a town just because it was small and lacked celebrities to take notice of him.”

Sources: Cattle and HillbillyBoogie YouTube chain for biog. details. Sounfiles from Hillbilly Researcher # 67, entirely devoted to Red Garrett (his complete output); labels from 45cat or 78world.

Discography (from Praguefrank)

SINGLES
RCA Victor (1953)
47-5242 Blame It On Moonlight / Don’t Be Shamed Of Your Past – 26-03-53
47-5363 They Got Me Singin’ That Way / Please – 07-53
47-5499 Moon Tan / Smoke Screen – 11-53
47-5621 Too Late To Plow Now / Bullseye – 01-54
47-5692 That’s Why I’m Happy / You Played Taps To My Heart – 04-54
47-5783 Tell Me Again / Long Gone – 07-54
Decca (1955-56)
9-29742 Papa Joe’s Place / Standing At The End Of The World – 11-55
9-29811 Don’t Believe A Thing I Say / My Search On Earth Is O’er – 01-56
9-30047 Clear Sailing / May You Never Be Alone;A Bed Of Roses – 09-56

JERRY IRBY: 2nd part (1949-1975)

The latest M-G-M’s, then Humming Bird, 4* and Daffan Records (1949-1956)

When the recording ban was lifted, late in 1949, Irby was back in the studio recording once again for M-G-M. However, his days with M-G-M were numbered. He cut just two sessions for the company before leaving the label in search of pastures new. His search for a new recording contract took him first to BillMcCall’s 4 Star label, where he cut two singles, then to his old friend H. B. Crowe in Houston, who had just formed his own label – Hummingbird .

Irby was reunited wih an old friend, Ted Daffan, a few years later, when he joined the rost of artists who had been signed by Daffan. Irby recorded for his new formed Daffan label: according to the era’s trends, he recorded Rock’n’Roll (“Clickety Clack”) and a revamp of his oldie “Forty Nine Women” on Polly records.

Following his span on Daffan, Irby recorded for a slew of small concerns, most of which were based in the Houston area, like Hi-Lo, Polly, J+B and Jer-Ray.

Then there followed a period of inactivity, as far as the recording scene was concerned, before Irby resurfaced in the early ’70’s cutting material for Bagatelle. Unlike his earlier recordings, Irby’s Bagatelle material was of a non secular nature. Irby had become a born again christian and was using his talent as a singer/songwriter to praise the works of the Lord . Why after all, as someone once said, should the devil have all the good tunes.

When Jerry Irby died in 1983, he left behind him a wealth of recorded material, that makes out of him one of the great Western Swing performers.

Sources: for the mot part (1942-1951) the 78rpm (sound files and label scans) do come from the huge, amazing Ronald Keppner’s collection. Thanks, Ron, for the help and care taken with the fabulous 78rpm sound. YouTube was used for later 45rpm, as well as Hillbilly Researcher (Humming Bird, # 06) for Irby and Pete Burke sides. Gripsweat for “Hurricane” (Jer-Ray, 1959).BF for “The Daffan label”. 45cat for label scans. Anonymous biography (certainly from Allan Turner’s hand) from Boppin’ Hillbilly series, volume devoted on Jerry Irby.

Corpus Christi, Tx. Rockabilly: ALVIS WAYNE, “Sleep Rock-A-Roll, Rock-A-Baby”

Feature by Dik De Heer originally published in Blackcar Rockabilly Europe (2006). Additions by bopping.org editor.

Alvis Wayne

is one of those obscure rockabilly artists from the 1950s who wasn’t discovered by European fans until the rockabilly revival of the 1970s. His brilliant recordings for the small Westport label (1956-58) were not released in Europe at the time, although one of them was belatedly issued in the UK in 1963, but in the midst of Beatlemania it was completely overlooked.

Alvis Wayne Samford was born in Paducah, Texas, but lived there only a few months. His family (Alvis was the oldest of five children) lived in several towns around San Antonio before settling in the coastal city of Corpus Christi (South Texas) in 1953. Alvis took an interest in music at an early age and received a guitar for his tenth birthday. In early 1956 he was approached by Corpus Christi musician Tony Wayne (Anthony Wayne Guion) who asked him to join his hillbilly band for a tour of South Texas. However, life on the road proved to be a bitter disappointment for the four band members and they soon headed back home to Corpus Christi. Next Alvis joined a Western swing band, Al Hardy and his Southernaires, but Tony Wayne wanted him back. He told Alvis “Hey, I got us a record contract with Westport Records in Kansas City and they want some rock ’n’ roll records.” Tony also said that he had already written five songs. All Alvis had to do was record them.

Kansas City was nearly 1000 miles away, but Alvis Wayne, as he now called himself, never had to make that trip. He did his first session in a makeshift studio in Corpus Christi, probably in July 1956. Alvis thought it was a merely a session to record some demos for Westport, so he was shocked when he found out that the label had issued two of the three recordings (“Swing Bop Boogie” and “Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A- Baby”) as a commercial single (Westport 132). Both sides are great slices of authentic rockabilly with wild steel, demented guitar, great slapping bass and a good echo on vocal. “Accompaniment by Tony Wayne and his Rhythm Wranglers” was printed on the label, though they never played on the session ; instead Al Hardy’s band did. The third song from that 1956 session was “I Gottum”, which stayed in the vaults for some 17 years, before its first issue on Ronnie Weiser’s Rollin’ Rock label.

The debut single must have sold in respectable quantities, for in 1957 Westport asked him back for a second session, which resulted in the single “Don’t Mean Maybe Baby”/ “I’d Rather Be With You” (Westport 138). This became his biggest seller, topping the local South Texas charts for six weeks without making a national impact. In 1963 it got a surprise release on the British Starlite label.

Rare U.K. issue (1963)

The third Westport single, “Lay Your Head On My Shoulder” (1958), was recorded in Houston. Another great rockabilly side, but it failed to click and Alvis left the music business in disillusion. He spent four years in the US Air Force (1960-1964). After returning to civilian life, he formed his own country band and had singles released on two small labels, Kathy (1966) and Brazos (1969). But at that point in his life he was convinced that he would never hit the big time.

Then, in 1973, the British Injun label reissued “Lay Your Head On My Shoulder”, coupled with the previously unreleased “I Gottum”. Around the same time, Ronny Weiser of Rollin’ Rock Records in California reissued four Westport recordings on an EP. Alvis became a cult hero of the European rockabilly scene, although he didn’t know it at the time. Weiser tracked him down and recorded three new numbers with him in 1974, including the risqué “I Wanna Eat Your Pudding”. A legal repro of the Starlite 45 was issued in the UK in 1977 and “Don’t Mean Maybe Baby” became a hit all over again in the British rock n roll clubs.

Rollin’ Rock EP-002

An LP containing his entire rockabilly legacy was released in 1994 on the British Pink ’n’ Black label. In 1999 Alvis finally visited the UK (Hemsby) for the first time and was overwhelmed by the reception. He became a regular on the international rock and roll circuit. Also, he began recording again for the revitalised Rollin’ Rock label, which resulted in two well-received CDs, “Rockabilly Daddy” (2000) and “Proud Of My Rockabilly Roots” (2001). Alvis Wayne passed away on July 31, 2013, at the age of 75 at his home in Bacliff, Texas.

With warm thanks to Dik De Heer, who allowed me the use of the article published in “Black Cat Rockabilly Europe” site; UncleGil who furnished me with all the soundfiles; 45cat for labels.