This is the early September 2018 fortnight’s favorites selection of 10 tunes.
We begin with a sort of mystery. Nobody seems to know either the artist nor the label’s location, except that Mecca was a RCA-Victor custom pressing. GLEN COOPER had two records beween 1956 and ’57 on the Mecca label, and I suspect a Carolina or a Virginia location, even Tennessee, judging by the style of music. Backed by the Jets, Cooper delivers on Mecca G-01112/1113, first a fabulous Rockabilly with « Sugar Mama (Daddy) » – a guitar solo and very efficient sparse instrumentation, then a fast ballad bopper, « They Say » – fiddle solo and high standard guitar backing, both from 1956. Cooper had next year two rural rockers, « Just Rockin’ » and « These Blues Are Driving Me Mad » (Mecca H-0330/0331). The one in discussion has a value of $ 300 to 400.
DEAN ARMSTRONG& The Arizona Dance Hands come next with a jumping Hillbilly boogie (call & response format), « Cowboy Boots ». The singer, KENNY SMITHhad his own career : born 1931, he sang with Merl Lindsay(« Blue Mary ») on Cormac Records, then he had under his own name the fine double-sider « Walkin’ By My Lonesome/I’m So Lonesome Baby » issued n Johnny O’Neal’s Rural Rhythm # 507 label in 1957.
AUBREY CAGLE has his own entry in bopping.org. I chose two tracks released in 1959 on his own label Glee (# 100) in Indianapolis, although Cagle hailed from Tennessee. »Be-Bop Blues » is Rockabilly which guitar and piano twinkle in – topical words for Be-Bop music. The B-side « Just for you » is a Rockaballad, with an heavy bass and steel (solo). Good hillbilly voice.
From Detroit the WINDY MOUNTAiN BOYS issued in 1963 a Bluegrass sung in unison, « High Wide And Lonesome » on Fortune 223. They released also records with Wendy Smith and Delmar Delaney on Wedge and Rebel. “High Wide And Lonesome“
From Campbellsville, Kentucky came KEITH BUCK and His Harmony Playboys. He cut the nice, sincere vocal « Only Fooling Around » (guitar, fiddle, great rhythm) and the romper « Leon Boogie » on the Folk-Star label (# 630) at an unnown date (circa ’54 or ’55).
Finally the familiar T. TEXAS TYLER has a semi-instrumental (much interjections to the guitar player James Pruett, and the steel Joaquin Murphy) with « Guitar Boogie Woogie » issued on Four Star 1114 in 1946, and it’s really a gas !
This is the late August 2018 fortnight’s favorites selection. BLONDIE BROOKS opens the ball with a lovely female vocal tune, « We’ll Make Out Together » from March 1962, with a nice steel and heavy drums on the Gulf Reef label 1008. Backed by Cousin Wilbur (perhaps her husband), she had previously appeared on Bullet 691 (Cousin Wilbur leader) in 1949 for a fine shuffler : « Why Not Confess » and a good revamp of the Delmore Brothers‘ « Blues Stay Away From Me » : strident steel.
We go further with GENE McKOWN on the California Fable label # 571 (owned by Sandy Stanton, and actually a song-poem label). He had previously cut for Aggie the rockabilly classic « Rockabilly Rhythm ». Here we have « I’m Still Wondering Why » : McKown is joined by a certain Fiddlin’ Slim for this fast hillbilly rocker from 1957. Later on McKown went on Brass Records.
Two selections then by the RHYTHM HARMONEERS. On the Jamboree label 28001 (one of a few to have this name), they do « Women drivers », a fast shuffler, with vocals in unison. They previously had cut for the Flair label (Los Angeles) # 1003 (1950) « Good Old Chlorofyll» in the same manner.
In 1962 on the California Arlen label (# 1014) LESTER ROSE & the Tennnessee Road Runners do deliver two fine sides. « Alimony Blues », a half spoken tune, while its flipside « Wino Blues » has, as expected, hiccups. A good record to look for..
From 1965 on the Wheeling, WVa. Emperor label # 266, the PERRY BROTHERS (Bob & Harry for two good unison vocals and a nice guitar on « Waiting In Vain ».
Finally LUCKY WHITE & the Dude Ranch Playboys on the Arizona label Courtney # 103, and « Down And Out Blues », which has a strong resemblance to « Milk Cow Blues ». Good, lazy vocal and piano. The legendary Leodie Jackson is on steel. White had also « Teddy Bear » on Courtney 129, while Jackson issued « That Naggin’ Wife Of Mine » on # 130. He also appeared on Jess Willard records (« Cadillac Blues », « Honky Tonk Boogie » and « Lonesome Dollar Bill ») and Johnny Tyler (« Freight Train Boogie »).
Howdy, folks. This is the late May 2018 bopping and rockabilly fortnight’s favorites. A fair percentage of selections will come from the State of Tennessee, with the odd number from Ohio or NYC.
On the Nashville Excello label, more familiar to Blues/R&B buffs, let’s begin with both sides of # 2071 by the LINDSEY BROTHERS. They offer 2 uptempos from 1955, both based on solid rhythm guitar, aided by fiddle and steel. « Big Hearted Joe » is the best side of both, for its great duet harmony, and the record is valued $ 50-60. The flipside « Let’s Get Down To Business » has more of the same, although less interesting. A pleasant Hillbilly bop record.
We keep with the LINDSEY BROTHERS 5 years later in 1960, on the Excello sublabel Nasco # 6032, and the change is not in the right direction : the label says « Popular ». Fddle and steel are out, only remains the rhythm guitar for « Mr. Blues » (penned by Jack Toombs : he had cut the Rockabilly « Kiss-a me quick » (Excello 2083), or « Little Andy » as Jackie Trent on Nasco 6012 – see his full story elsewhere in this site) and « Hello Heartaches », very Everly-ish. Value $ 10-15.
Back to Tennessee on the Rythm label [sic] # 303. REX HALE & his Rythm Masters [re-sic]. Two great Rockabilly sides. Steel is omnipresent on « stop-and-go » couplets. Energetic drums, and fine, fine guitar. « Darn Dem Bones » and « Down At Big Mama’s House » would cost you $ 2000-2500, only if you can locate a copy!
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.