Hello folks! This is REALLY a hot summer over there in France, lot of heavy clouds but…no rain at all. Perfect time anyway to keep oneself well dry inside and stomp to that good ole’ Hillbilly beat. We begin with a very elusive artist from the Cumberland Valley/Cincinnati area. I’ve told before in this site about him, and did promise I should post everything I gathered for one year and a half. This could be later this year, so watch out for the fullest possible story on Mr. JIMMIE BALLARD. The first cut in this fortnite is Ballard’s own version of “Birthday Cake Boogie” (Kentucky 508)
of course, the same song was also recorded by, among others, BILLY HUGHES and SKEETS McDONALD, and stands out as a classic ‘risqué‘ or ‘double-entendre‘ song. Ballard was the front man then of BUFFALO JOHNSON‘s Herd (who was active in the D.C. area, and a full story on him is on the line. And he keeps the vocal duties with the also ‘risqué‘ (Kentucky 520 ) “T’ain’t Big Enough“. Both songs are from 1953/1954, fine uptempo Boppers, altho’ just above average, except for lyrics.
Back to a Wildcat out of Texas, a very long career as steel guitar player as soon as 1936, then singer and front man of his band, the XYT Boys, BILLY BRIGGS. I will have some day a complete story on him. He was (maybe he’s still alive, I dunno) to have a sound on his own, and produced very strange ditties from his steel in 1951 for his greatest success (much covered) “Chew Tobacco Rag N° 2” . Here I’ve chosen the amusing “North Pole Boogie” (Imperial 8131, late Forties), complete with icy wind effects (on steel), and Briggs’ own barytone voice imitating a sort of ‘polar bear’ .
Back to Cincinnati and BILL BROWNING. I’ve written about him elsewhere in the site with the story of the LUCKY label. Today I listen to his composition “Dark Hollow“, which was a hit in 1958 when picked up by JIMMIE SKINNER, before the very nice version on BLUE RIDGE by LUKE GORDON (watch out for his story later in 2010), then even by The Grateful Dead in 1973, among others. I particularly like the recent version made by FRED TRAVERS (90’s) which I’ve included in the podcasts; almost falsetto urgent vocal and great dobro.
More from Cincinnati. BOBBY ROBERTS (I think there were at least 2, or 3 personas by the same name during he 50’s). Here he’s the great Hillbilly singer, who cut late 1955 4 sides for KING records. I cannot rememeber if I posted earlier his great “I’m Gonna Comb You Out Of My Hair” (what a title!). This time, I offer the second KING (4868, unverified – Ruppli’s book still stored) “I’m Pulling Stakes And Leaving You”, same lyrics format. Great, great Hillbilly Bop. Later in 1956, Roberts (or one of his aliases) had “Big Sandy” or “Hop, Skip and Jump“, pure Rockabillies. I still wonder if it’s the same man; if so, he would have adapted very well and quickly (within some months) from pure Hillbilly vocal to almost Rock’n’Roll. By the way, he would not have been the first to do so: SKEETS McDONALD, GEORGE JONES, MARTY ROBBINS did very well the transition early in 1956.
Another elusive artist: guitar player/singer PETE PIKE. Recently deceased (2006) just after a CD ‘back to roots’ (Bluegrass) issued in 2005, he was active both in Virginia and D.C. areas from 1947 onwards, and associated several years with another interesting man, BUZZ BUSBY (Busbice). Pike had Hillbilly Bop records on FOUR STAR and CORAL in 1954-1955, among them I’ve chosen the superior ballad “I’m Walking Alone“. Another future entry in www.bopping.org, research is well advanced.
Finally, on the Rocking Blues side, you’re in for a treat with L.A. ‘black Jerry Lee Lewis’ (as the Englishmen call him when he visits their shores), WILLIE EGAN and “What A Shame” from 1957 (Vita label). Pounding piano, wild vocal, strong saxes, heavy drums, the whole affair rocks like mad, althoug relaxed. Enjoy, folks. Comments welcome. ‘Till then, bye-bye.
Jack Dumery has perhaps the finest knowledge in France of multiple forms of Country music today. He’s well and lives near Orléans, France. Here are three of his best discoveries over the last months. Thanks, Jack, for this post!
WILLIE NELSON/Willie and the Wheels (Bismeaux Records)
WILLIE NELSON goes back to his roots with this new Texas Western Swing CD. RAY BENSON, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL were pioneers of the style revival in the early 70’s and they bring strong support to Willie on this one. Nobody could have dreamed of such a musical team.
The singer and musicians have selected 12 classics, here brilliantly revisited, from « SWEET JENNY LEE », « OH YOU PRETTY WOMAN » to « CORINNE, CORRINA ». Every player (RAY BENSON, guitar – JASON ROBERTS, fiddle, mandolin – FLOYD DOMINO, piano – EDDIE RIVERS, steel-guitar), a strong rhythm section, WILLIE’s relaxed and jazzy vocals (with shades of FLOYD TILLMAN, one of Willie’s early influences) make this CD one of the best Country releases from the last decade.
« FAN IT » came from Jazz before entering the Western Swing repertoires. Young Rock’n’Roll pioneers like Bill Haley probably found their inspiration in such numbers .
ELISABETH McQUEEN is the regular singer/guitarist with A.A.T.W. and here brings her assistance to Willie for a superb and bluesy « SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD », while an instrumental number, « SOUTH », shows the talents of two great musicians, PAUL SHAFFER on piano and Nashville star VINCE GILL on guitar.
There is also a deluxe edition of « WILLIE AND THE WHEEL » featuring an additional song, « I’LL HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE » with the phenomenal young fiddle player from Austin, RUBY JANE.
Liner notes were written by RAY BENSON himself and pay tribute to the late legendary producer JERRY WEXLER who was the originator of this product in 1979.
THE SIDE-WINDERS/ROMPIN’N’STOMPIN’ WITH (Bop’n’Stomp Records)
Over the last few months, a new type of Rock’n’Roll, performed by Young CaMex musicians, meet the favors of audiences. Wild vocals and high speed temps are opposed to traditional Rockabilly. That is why this new release on the Bop’n’Stomp label from San Diego will be a pleasant surprise to the fans of the latter with deep Hillbilly-Bop/Country-Boogie roots.
RENE EDSON CERVANTES (vocals, guitar), RAMON IBAN ESPINOZA (lead-guitar, vocals), EDWARD GIOVANNI GRANADENO (string-bass) and CARLOS ANDRES VELASQUEZ (drums) are the writers of 11 songs on this CD, the only cover being « FEEL LIKE A MILLION » (EMERY BLADES on ARVIS). JEFFREY MORGAN (steel-guitar) guests on 4 titles, his sound being much welcome.
Twelve gems in Rockabilly style, from « ONE OF THESE DAYS » to « SWEET DREAMS ».
This is undoutedly a group to pay great attention to. Let’s hope this first release will not be their last one.
TIM HUS/BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO (Stony Plain Records, Canada)
Here’s one of my best discoveries over the last few months and this canadian artist has already 4 CDs to his credit, « BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO » being the last one.
With shades of JOHNNY CASH, RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT and TOM CONNORS in his own style, TIM takes us all on the road of real life with a strong and craggy voice, original songs and a first-class backing band usic Telecaster, steel-guitar, dobro, fiddle and string-bass. Nobody should be well unaware of such a talent.
From his first song, « DEMPSEY HIGHWAY », we travel through the vast canadian spaces to meet fascinating characters and admire grand sceneries. California will not be overlooked with « BAKERSFIELD MUSIC », a tribute to MERLE HAGGARD and BUCK OWENS. Every track is a real tale.
“MAN WITH THE BIG HAT » is a cowboy song from present times with GARY FJELLGAARD appearing on a duet with TIM on this one, while « COAL MINE” sounds more like real bluegrass, as opposed to the other songs on the CD. « ROADHOUSE BAND » would have fit WAYLON JENNINGS or HANK WILLIAMS, Jr. in their best days.
Twelve great numbers by an artist who deserves more recognition and larger broadcast on so-called « Country » stations.
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 rm). 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?