red point: Shreveport
Around 1948-49, several big R&B concerns, like Apollo, Modern, Imperial began to squint from the East and West coasts at the lucrative Country music market of the South. Major labels (RCA, Decca, M-G-M) were already running it, but without being locally positioned, they were losing sales, and could not exploit completely this rich soil. So people like Modern’s Bihari Brothers, Imperial’s Lew Chudd, or Specialty’s Art Rupe did seek for D.J.s and A&R men to help them to recruit good talent. And studio for recording locally. The Biharis concluded contracts with Sam Phillips, who leased them a good amount of Blues, which not prevented him to sell other sides to the Chess Brothers in Chicago. Finally Les, one of the Biharis, launched on place in Memphis Meteor records in 1952. The label found immediate success with Elmore James, and later in 1954 in the Country charts with Bud Deckleman. The Chesses came to an agreement to furnish them with masters with local promoter in Shreveport, La. Stan Lewis, who used the facilities of recording at night in the KWKH radio studio. Lew Chudd liked Jim Beck’s studio better in Dallas, Texas and found a certain commercial success with Texan artists : Billy Briggs or Jimmie Heap to name only two. Art Rupe (Specialty) preferred KWKH for its East Texas/Louisiana border position. It has been suggested that his first Southern sides had been engineered by Johnny Vincent in Jackson, MS. But the aural evidence show the very distinctive Stan Lewis feel. Billboard (January 12, 1949) gave notice that Rupe had just inked his first 4 artists on the new Specialty 700 label. All of them were barely known, no doubt they had been approached by Stan Lewis’ relations or talent scouts. Actually only Earl Nunn may be localized with his band, the Alabama Ramblers, for the first issue. Previously he had co-written in 1944 with Zeke Clements the controversial (for its racist words) « Smoke on the water » for Red Foley (Decca 6102). He was probably vocally fronted by Billy Lee, who would have his own record (# 704) a little later.
EARL NUNN offers an enjoyable lazy mid-paced « Double-talkin’ woman », with a steel well to the fore (# 701). Actually the very same steel appears on these early sessions, and one can wonder if this is a studio man, possibly Shot Jackson ; the latter was indeed hanging around at KWKH, and even had his own issues (# 704 and 710, discussed below), not to talk about his work on Pacemaker with Webb Pierce. JOHNNY CROCKETT (# 702) has «Just a minute », a very fast talking blues in the manner of Tex Williams with piano and steel effects, that could easily fall into the novelty category. BRUCE TRENT third (# 703) delivers a jumping sad « Alimony » and the medium paced bluesy « River blues ». It can be noted that he had backed with his Western Tunesters some Hal Carey on a Ca. Jewel label (# 7002).
BILLY LEE does the ordinary hillbilly « I don’t know why I love you » (# 704), while LEO STANCIL had to wait July 52 for the release of his excellent effort « Why don’t you quit hangin’ around »(# 707)(two sides penned by Earl Nunn). Long steel solo for an awesome bopper, with sweet Southern accent !
Earl Nunn « Double-talkin’ woman« (701)
Johnny Crockett « Just a minute« (702)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/702-Johnny-Crockett-Just-A-Minute.mp3download
Bruce Trent « Alimony« (703)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/703-Bruce-Trent-Alimony.mp3download
Bruce Trent « River blues« (703)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/703b-Bruce-Trent-River-Blues.mp3download
Leo Stancil « Why don’t you quit hanging’ around« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/707-Leon-Stancil-Why-Dont-You-Quit-Hangin-Around.mp3download
It seems that the first 4 issues were released in a relatively short time after the label was launched, for example Specialty 703 (Bruce Trent) was reviewed by Billboard in March 1949, 704 in June 1949 although both the full years 1950-51 were blank in releases. Maybe Art Rupe was expecting more sales before cutting more records.
Things began to change a bit in 1952 with the advent of three new artists in the roster : namely CLAUDE KING, BIFF COLLIE and SHOT JACKSON. Collie has been discussed in full earlier in this site, so I omit him here. Claude King (born in Louisiana in 1923,deceased 2013) was not a newcomer. As soon as 1947, he had teamed with guitarist Buddy Attaway and bassist/entrepreneur Tillman Franks as « Buddy and Claude » for an issue on the small President label (HB-10), and a frequent theme for the era, « Flying saucers »
« Buddy & Claude« »Flying saucers« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/president-HB-10A-Claude-King-Flying-Saucers.mp3download
an agreeable and fresh jumping little tune, similar in style to that of the Bailes Brothers.
In December 1950, he recorded 4 tunes for the local Pacemaker label, which were also leased to the big Gotham East coast concern. On Specialty he cut three sessions, 10 tunes in all (2 remained unissued) – he wrote them all – between Spring and December 1952. « She knows why » (# 705) is an uptempo sad ballad (the same old story of the broken-hearted guy), which became seemingly the first hit of the Specialty Country & Folk label. At last, it had good sales and spinning reports in the South. So much so that it even had its answer song « He knows why » by Jeanette Hicks (Okeh 18021). « Take it like a man » (# 708) : the second release of Claude King has more rhythm and an insistant bass, a prominent piano and nice steel solo. Vocally King is in fine form, as in the next song « Got the world by the tail » (711), a little faster although in the same format as 708. Indeed King and his Hillbilly Ramblers had already found their way to the Louisiana Hayride saturday night show that had strong connection with KWKH radio. Actually Claude and Buddy Attaway were cast members of the Hayride since 1948, and wrote songs at the turn of the decade for Kitty Wells and Webb Pierce, who got them through Tillman Franks. Last Specialty 716 by him, « Now that I have you », remains untraced.
Note the ‘old’ Specialty design
a rare 45
Claude King « She knows why« (705)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/705-Claude-King-She-Knows-Why-BB-12-7-52.mp3download
Claude King « Take it like a man« (708)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/708-Claude-King-Take-It-Like-A-Man.mp3download
Claude King « Got the world by the tail« (711)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/711-Claude-King-Get-The-World-By-The-Tail.mp3download
Claude King « Run baby run« (Dee-Jay 1248)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Claude-King-Run-Baby-Run.mp3download
Claude also worked one of Hank Willams’ last tours, as his driver and opening act. He also toured in the Shreveport area with Johnny Horton, but they spent more time fishing and hunting together than in the studio ! Record wise, he remained without a contract until 1957, when he cut the famous rockabilly/rocker « Run baby run » for Dee-Jay (# 1248), and turned in 1961 on Columbia in Nashville for « The comancheros » and « Wolverton mountain » ; but this is another story..It’s interesting to note that, if King wrote all his material, he’d publish his songs sometimes at a curious « Ark-La-Tex » publishing house other than the regular « Venice music » for Specialty recordings.
The third new artist to appear in 1952 on Specialty is SHOT JACKSON (1920-1991), a steel guitar player. He did hang around at KWKH in 1950 and was the player (even sometimes singer on « Beautiful Hawaiian shores », or solist on some instrumentals) for all the Pacemaker sessions of Webb Pierce between December 1949 and January 1951. So it’s him playing steel on « California blues » to name only 1 of the score (circa 23) tunes cut by Pierce at KWKH. Jackson even had his Pacemaker record (# 1004) although sung by Pierce uncredited ! Needless to say, since Pierce, except 2 or 3 occasions, never used a fiddle, that hot Jackson was the real force behind Pierce. He was indeed naturally intended to record for Specialty as soloist.
His 4 sides are uptempo honky-tonks, nothing spectacular, except in a negative way : the machist « I’m trading you in on a later model » (# 706), and the deceiving « You can’t get the country out of the boy » (# 710) – such a title did merit a better treatment. Barely audible steel (short solos), an omnipresent fiddle; the voice of Jackson is forgettable. Note that current Hayride artists Johnnie & Jack gave him 3 of his 4 songs ; in return Jackson was to play dobro for them on numerous records onwards. Surely he was better on instrumentals, and after he built, with the help of Buddy Emmons (house steel-player at Starday), a double-neck steel baptized « Sho-Bud », he was to come again in light in 1962 on a compilation dedicated to steel guitarists (Starday EP 236).
Shot Jackson « I’m trading you in on a later model« (706)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/706-Shot-Jackson-Im-Trading-You-In-On-A-Later-Model.mp3download
Shot Jackson « You can’t get the country out of the boy« (710)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/710-Shot-Jackson-You-Cant-Get-The-Country-Out-Of-The-Boy-oct-52.mp3download
courtesy David House, one of the boys
The third generation of artists on the Specialty 700 serie begins with the Texan JERRY GEEN. (born 1931) He was signed by Art Rupe early in 1953 and cut 4 sides.
« Naggin’ women and braggin’ men » (# 712) is a real good bopper, a tinkling piano well to the fore, followed by a nice steel and a rather embarrassed lead guitarist. « Are you going my way » (# 714) is a shuffler, well-sung and agreeable, with the same backing format. Leader is still shy ! Luckily piano and fiddle come to rescue the solo ..Green was also active indeed on the La. Hayride, before being drafted into the Army until 1955. He then relocated in Arkansas for a radio show « Country Capers » on a Fort Smith KFPW station. Then later he hit the big time with « Tripod the three leggged dog » which led him to Grand Ole Opry in 1967.
Jerry Green « Naggin’ women and braggin’ men« (712)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/712-Jerry-Green-Naggin-Women-Braggin-Men.mp3download
Jerry Green « Are you going my way« (714)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/714-Jerry-Green-Are-You-Going-My-Way.mp3download
Jerry Green today
Jerry Green 1951
Next artist was SMOKEY STOVER, D.J. in Baytown, Tx. He liked Claude King « She knows why », according to a Billboard snippet! Very few details came to light about him, except these : a native of Texas (Huntsville, 1928), he had his own band at 16 and began a long carreer Country D.-Jaying in Pasadena in 1948 only to retire from radio in 1995 in Gallatin, TN! In the meantime, he had been on numerous stations out of Texas, Mississipi, Louisiana (where he tried a career as singer), even New Mexico. He had records on Starday, Ol’podner, Stampede, Sage, Toppa. So now let’s value his Specialty product, cut at KWKH on November 15, 1952. « What a shame » (# 715) is a mid-paced opus ; nothing particular, a nice shuffler as too many in this era. Soli (guitar and fiddle) are interplayed and welcome. Vocal is firm but without any personal touch.
Smokey Stover « What a shame« (715)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/715-Smokey-Stover-What-A-Shame-KWKH-15-11-52.mp3download
This is not the case with JOHNNY TYLER, a veteran (first sides in 1946 : « Oakie boogie » on Stanchel) whose story has been told in this blog before. He offers the bluesy partly double-voiced mid-paced « Take your blues and go » (# 713) ; good surprise : a spare harmonica a la Wayne Raney, without a sufficient volume. « Hillbilly preacher » (# 715) reminds me at times of someone sounding like, say, Luke McDaniel : fine guitar over an insistant rhythm backing. This type of material predates Tyler’s Ekko sides of March 1955.
Johnny Tyler « Take your blues and go« (713)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Specialty-713-Johnny-Tyler-Take-Your-Blues-Go.mp3download
Johnny Tyler « Hillbilly preacher« (715)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/717-Johnny-Tyler-Hillbilly-Preacher.mp3download
Joyce Lowrance & Earney Vandagriff « Hush money » (718)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/718-Joyce-Lowrance-Earney-Vandagriff-Hush-Money.mp3download
Last but not least, the elusive EARNEY VANDAGRIFF, whose story is hard to write. The details on him are near zero, except he came from Texas, and that he had records on Starday and Rural hythm between 1954 and 1957, among them the famous « Atomic kisses ». Here he delivers in a duet with Joyce Lowrance the happy and fast bopper « Hush money » (# 718), with a fine steel throughout and insistant fiddle.
And that was it, Art Rupe decided after 18 issues it was time to close a relatively not so lucrative affair, and concentrate his hopes (and money) on black music, be it Gospel (e.g. Soul Stirrers), R&B (a huge catalog) or, before long, Rock’n'Roll. A sign moreover of poor sales is given by the rarity of these Specialty 700 sides. Rupe’s rivals of Chess, Modern and Aladdin had come to the same conclusion for their part. Sole Meteor in Memphis remained open with the smash success of Bud Deckleman (« Daydreamin’ ») in 1954, before the advent of Rockabilly in 1956, and closed in 1957. But Sun was then at the right position to take advantage in the race for the hits.
Sources : Cactus CD « Specialty hillbilly » for music and CD tracks. Iconographic material : 78tpm.worlds for 78rm scans. Youtube for President Claude King 78 (scan & msic). Various entries on Internet for Art Rupe, Speciaty logo, Smokey Stover, Billboard records reports. Dominique Anglarès (warm thanks !) for Jerry Green and Shot Jackson pictures, also a full Bllboard page and interesting precisions. David House for Shot Jackson picture with Mr. House on Shot’s knee.
Go to a map of the U.S., search « Biloxi », and you’ll find this small city in the Harrison county, down south of Mississipi. That’s where the Fine label story begins. But before that and its debuts, we must look at its founders. Professor Marion Carpenter had a recording studio open to local facilities in Biloxi and was associated with steel guitar player Murphy Monroe « Pee Wee » Maddux (born 1923). The latter’s name had over the years several changes : from « Pee Wee » to « Pee-Wee », even « PeWee ». He was also a songwriter (Kitty Wells in 1956 ; or « Fools like me » for Jerry Lee Lewis, or more « Rocky road of love » for Curtis Gordon, even Fats Domino : « What a price »), and his earliest efforts as recording artist (at least he is credited as such on the labels) are to be found in March 1952 on M-G-M records, cut in Nashville : « My hobo heart » and « Lover’s crime ». The vocals were done by a certain Al Britt for two average boppers. Maddux penned a good percentage of the songs on Fine, among them the Ernie Chaffin ones.
« My hobo heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/mgm-11224-Peewee-Maddux-vocal-by-Al-Britt-My-Hobo-Heart.mp3download
« Lover’s crime« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/mgm-11281-Peewee-Maddux-And-His-Lazy-River-Boys-Lovers-Crime.mp3download
In 1954 the pair Carpenter/Maddux launched a microscopic label, Gulf Coast, which they issued a certain DAN SEAL on : « You gotta walk that line » (# 1012) is a lively little opus, but nothing particular, and it sinked into obscurity. But SEAL reemerged next year on the new comperes’ label, FINE for two ballads, « I wake at dawn (with you on my mind ) » being the best one (# 1003).
« You gotta walk that line« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/01-Dan-Seal-You-Gotta-Walk-That-Line.mp3download
« I wake at dawn« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/05-Dan-Seal-I-Wake-At-Dawn-With-You-On-My-Mind.mp3download
JIM OWEN then came with the rollicking « Sie Simon shuffle » (# 1004) : it’s a jumping hillbilly rocker with a fiddle solo and one from Pee Wee Maddux on steel well to the fore. Owen had late ’50s his own Owe Man label where he issued « The key’s in the mail box » (see below). On to JOHNNY BOZEMAN and the good « She’s my bayou babe » (# 1006). Bozeman went afterwards in 1957 on Mobile, Alabama, Sandy label, which he co-founded with Paul Bose, and saw a classic horror rocker « Rockin’ in the graveyard » by Jackie Morningstar in 1959. Bozeman himself had « Blues and I » (# Sandy 1001)(alas, unheard) and what is described in a sale list as « doo wop rockabilly », « How many ».
Jim Owen, « Sie Simon shuffle« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/07-Jim-Owen-Sie-Simon-Shuffle.mp3download
Johnny Bozeman, « She’s my bayou babe« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/12-Johnny-Bozeman-Shes-My-Bayou-Babe.mp3do<nload
November 5, 1955
Other artists on the Fine label included ANN RAYE and his fine (co-sung with Jim Owen) bopper « Our wedding band » (# 1001). Raye had also had earlier 2 singles on Starday and 1 on Decca in 1956. Incidentally she was the daughter of local promoter Frank « Yankie » Barhanovich, and through her father’s activities, went on to share in 1955 some Elvis Presley shows in Biloxi. Moreover on Fine, HANNA FAYE had the ballad « It pays to be true » (# 1008). Other men : J. W. THOMPSON and the good honky-tonker « It’s your turn » (# 1007) – later he cut « When you’re honky tonkin’ » on the Toledo label (# 1003) out of Alexandria, Louisiana. Or B. F. JOHNSON : the fine bopper « I wish I could believe you » (# 1011)(great mandolin!).
Ann Raye & Jim Owen, « Our wedding band« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/03-Ann-Raye-Jim-Owen-Our-Wedding-Band.mp3download
Hanna Faye « It pays to be true« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/17-Hanna-Faye-It-Pays-To-Be-True.mp3download
J.W. Thompson « It’s your turn« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/15-J.-W.-Thompson-His-Red-River-Trio-Its-Your-Turn.mp3download
J.W. Thompson« When you’re honky tonkin‘ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/When-Youre-Honky-Tonkin-J-W-Thompson.mp3download
B.F. Johnson« I wish I could believe you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/01-Dan-Seal-You-Gotta-Walk-That-Line.mp3download
J.W. Thompson. Nov. 12, 1955
Pee Wee Maddux on steel guitar
The most important artist however was ERNIE CHAFFIN who made his recording beginnings on Fine with « The stop look and listen song »b/w « The heart of me » (1010), before Carpenter and Maddux went with him to Nashville to meet country promoter Jim Denny and A&R man Paul Cohen. A deal with Decca never concluded but Fred Rose took Chaffin on his burgeoning Hickory label. 4 sides were issued without success, then Chaffin came to Sun, and Maddux backed him on such a classic as « Feelin’ low » (Sun 262).
« The stop look and listen song« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/21-Ernie-Chaffin-The-Stop-Look-Listen-Song.mp3download
« The heart of me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/22-Ernie-Chaffin-The-Heart-Of-Me.mp3download
Ernie Chaffin [Hickory]« Get me on your mind« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/get-me-on-your-mind-1024.mp3download
Later on, Carpenter and Maddux helped a lot Jimmy Donley in his early career and got him his Decca contract in 1957.
Maddux cut « New red river valley » (instrumental) for Judd Phillips label Judd (#1010) in 1958. He died and is buried in Gulfport, MS, in 1993.
All in all, a short lived affair (Fine folded after 20 issues, in 1957), but a good starter for many an artist.
From the notes of Allan Turner on the BACM CD « A ‘Fine’ hillbilly song – Country music on the Fine label » # 392. Various researches to. Somelocalloser.blogspot for Jim Owen’s Owe Man sides.
December 25, 1954
Valley Records was owned by Jack Comer and Dave Garrison and located somewhere in Knoxville, east of Tennessee.
The label lasted for a little more than twelve issues from 1953 to 1954, then several years later changed to Valley’s Meadowlark, taking the same numbering system since the start (not avoiding confusion).
Best records were done by Lonnie Smith, Reese Shipley and Shorty Long. Its biggest hit came in 1954 with Darrell Glenn and the weeper « Crying in the chapel », written by his father Artie. But even Glenn did some hillbilly too.
Lonnie Smith offers a lovely Hillbilly bop tune, « You’re my honky tonk angel » (# 103) : swirling fiddle and a good steel. Flip is nice too : « Gal’s below the Mason Dixon line » (sic). « In the valley by the mountains » (# 100) by Archie Campbell is a fast ditty with yodel vocalizing while its flipside « Blue memories » is an average medium paced one.
« You’re my honky tonk angel »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-103lonnie-smith-you_re-my-honky-tonk-angel.mp3download
« Gal’s below the Mason Dixon line« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-103-lonnie-smith-gal_s-below-the-Mason-Dixon-line.mp3download
« In the valley by the mountains« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-100-archie-campbell-In-the-valley-by-the-mountain.mp3download
Another double-sider uptempo comes with SMOKEY WHITE : « You cheated your way into my heart » and « Just be sure » are good although average boppers (# 102), while JOE STUART is unheard (Valley 101).
« You cheated your way into my heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Smokey-White-Valley-102A-you-cheated-your-way-around-my-heart.mp3download
« Just be sure« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Smokey-White-Valley-102B-just-be-sure.mp3download
« Don’t let me down » (# 107) has Darrell Glenn a bit crooning in a rather good medium-paced Hillbilly bopper. « Hang up that telephone » (# 105) is quite good too.
« Don’t let me down« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-107-darrell-glenn-dont-let-me-down.mp3download
« Hang up that telephone« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-105-Hang-Up-That-Telephone-Darrell-Glenn.mp3download
His other sides are in the « Crying in the chapel » vein. He had later on Dot 15476 his own Rock’n'roll version of « My little red wagon ». I much prefer Reese Shipley‘s sides, « Catfish boogie » and « Middle-age spread » (# 106), both very fine Boppers, the former having nothing in common with Tennessee Ernie‘s song. Both songs have a fine and clear lead boogie guitar over a nice piano, « Catfish boogie» being to me the better of both not to forget a stunning (although too short) steel solo.
« Catfish boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-106-Reece-Shipley-Catfish-Boogie.mp3download
« Middle-age spread« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-106-Reece-Shipley-Middle-age-spead.mp3download
Roy Sneed « I’ll be so blue tomorrow« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-111-roy-sneed-Ill-be-so-blue-tomorrow.mp3download
Roy Sneed is also a crooner in « I’ll be so blue tomorrow » (# 111), but has a nice guitar. He was also on a Four Star custom , Scenic OP-238, with « Blue hillbilly ».. Finally the fast « I’ll never tell » by Mary Jane Johnson retain the feeling of Darrell Glenn with a fine guitar.
« I’ll never tell« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-112-mary-jane-johnson-Ill-never-tell.mp3download
We’ll forget « Angels in the sky », (#113), one of the very first efforts by Buddy Cunningham (later on Phillips Int’l). And I kept one of the best for now, Shorty Long (#108) and his amusing « I got nine little kisses » (guitar, piano soli), coupled with « Who said I said that ». It’s the same style as Bill Haley on Essex : no surprise, they were neighbors in Philadelphia. Shorty Long’s story is in this site.
« I got nine little kisses« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/valley-108-Shorty-Long-I-Got-9-Little-Kisses1.mp3download
Valley of Knoxville had nothing to do with the other Valley labels, e.g. Fletcher Hanna in Raymondsville, Texas (« Hepcat boogie », # 101).
Research done with help from Ronald Keppner. Internet was a good source too.
From the Hillbilly Researcher # 13 (late 90s)
Allan Turner. Additions by Bopping’s editor
Nothing is ever as simple as it would appear, take for example the Harrington, Delaware based BLUE HEN label. Just another independant concern would be a fair description of this particular outfit, albeit with one or two above average offerings on the label from the likes of Mel Price and Lanie Walker.
BLUE HEN was owned, according to Galen Gart’s A.R.L.D., by one Sam Short, Jr ., ably assisted by A&R man Hugh Lee Stevenson. That, and the fact that the company was located on Center Street in Harrington, is the sum total of our knowledge of the label.
Over the 6 years or so that BLUE HEN was active the company ran at least three different numerical series. There was a rather obscure 3000 series, which appears to have been the earliest ; the regular 200 series, which was the « main series » ; and an odd ball 500 series (two issues). However, it is neither the 3000 or 500 series which concern us here, but the 200 « main series ».
The first release was Betty Coral‘s « Chili dippin’ baby » (# 200), backed by Raymond McCollister. He had the same number on the Raymor label, also the flipside « Texarkana waltz ». Many master numbers were prefixed RM: does it mean McCollister was involved in Blue Hen?
« Chili dippin’ baby » was very popular : it was covered by Vernon Way on the Hillbilly All Star label, and in a more Rockabilly way by Joyce Pointer on Goldenrod Records.
Betty Coral « Chili dippin’ baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-200-Betty-Corral-Chilli-Dippin-Baby.mp3download
As for the artists who recorded for BLUE HEN were fairly obscure regional acts, altough the label did record a number of relatively well known artists. Billy Wallace, for example, probably better known as a songwriter than a singer, had a release on the label : # 210, « You can’t ride on my train ».
Billy Wallace « You can’t ride on my train« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/blue-hen-210-You-Cant-Ride-On-My-Train.mp3download
Donn Reynolds « Don’t tell me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/05-207-Donn-Reynolds-Dont-Tell-Me.mp3download
Billy Wallace « I still love you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/12-210-billy-wallace-I-Still-Love-You.mp3download
Donn Reynolds, who made something of a name for himself as a yodeling cowboy out on the East coast, also turned up on the label (# 207, « Don’t tell me ») before moving to London, England, to work for Radio Luxembourg ! Tommy Lloyd and his Strolling Cowboys, an outfit who certainly lived up to their name, having played virtually everywhere in the U.S.A. (#204 « Now I know why »), and local lad Tex Daniels (#206 « Give your heart a chance », among three or four more releases, note « Blue hen boogie » from late ’55) were two of the more experienced, yet lesser known artists to record for the label, both with a half dozen or so record releases to their credit before joining BLUE HEN. Local promoter/songwriter Howard Vokes was responsible for getting Hank King , Rudy Thacker (« Mountain guitar » ; also on Lucky) and « The Hardin County Boys » Jeffrey Null and Denver Duke onto the label. The latter, who had something of a hit on Blue Hen with their Hank Williams tribute « Hank Williams that Alabama boy » (#214) went on to enjoy some degree of success on Mercury and Starday.
Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « Hawk Williams that Alabama boy »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/13-214-Denver-duke-Jeffrey-Null-Hank-Williams-That-Alabama-Boy.mp3download
Howard Vokes, Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « When the snow came« (#222)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/24-222-Cowboy-Howard-Vokes-When-The-Snow-Came.mp3download
courtesy Pasi Koskela
Was Vokes involved in the singing of the former song? A visitor told me his doubts.
Tex Daniels « Blue hen boogie« (#212 )http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/11-212-Tex-Daniels-Blue-Hen-Boogie.mp3download
Mention should be made of course of Mel Price (who’s story is on this site) and Lanie Walker, of whom we know very little, who were arguably the best Hillbilly artists to record for BLUE HEN.
Mel Price « Nothing seems to go right anymore« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/201-mel-price-Nothing-Seems-To-Go-Right-Anymore.mp3download
Walker had 5 issues on Blue hen (and one in 1960 on Kingsport, TN Three Stars label , the stunning « Early every morning ») : both hillbilly boppers on # 209 (« Side-track daddy »), one gospel two-sider (« When you meet your Lord » # 218), a non-cover of George Jones‘ « Why baby why », very good Hillbilly bopper, in 1956 (a nice bluesy « Drop in » on flipside, # 219), then a back-to-back Rockabilly/Rocker « Ennie Meenie Miney Mo/No use knocking on my door », # 230 (Mort Marker on lead guitar), finally a 1959 rocker (# 235) « Jumpin’ the gun/Tonite I walk alone ».
Lanie Walker « Side-track daddy« (# 209)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/07-209-Lanie-Walker-Side-Track-Daddy.mp3download
Lanie Walker « When you meet your Lord« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/218-Lanie-Walker-When-You-Meet-Your-Lord.-45.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Why baby why« (#219)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/19-219-Lanie-Walker-Why-Baby-Why.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Drop in« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/20-219-Lanie-Walker-Drop-In.mp3download
Lane Walker « Ennie Meenie miney mo« (#230)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-Eenie-minie-miney-mo.mp3download
Lanie Walker « No use knocking on my door« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-No-Use-Knocking-On-My-Door-1958.mp3download
Larry Lee (Pasake) fronted his own band, The Echo Valley Kinfolk and played locally to good reviews. Originally, the band were called the Glen Mountain Boys (according to Billboard on 24th March 1956). Larry and the band performed over WCRV, Washington, NJ about this time. It was reported that Larry drowned while trying to save the lives of a younger brother and friend when their boat capsized. This seems to have occurred sometime in september 1956. His solitary single is a good bluegrass (A-side) « Time just flies »(# 215), while « Our love affair » is good uptempo piano-led Hillbilly bop.
Larry Lee ‘Time just flies« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/15-215-Larry-Lee-Time-Just-Flies.mp3download
Larry Lee « Our love affair« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/16-215-larry-Lee-Our-Love-Affair.mp3download
Another wizardry : Hank King (of Russian origin, rn Papaila) had in October 1955 « Atom bomb heart » on Chicago Blue Ribbon label. This was re-cut (re-issued?) next year on Blue Hen 221.
Hank King « Atom bomb heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/21-221-Hank-King-Atom-Bomb-Heart.mp3download
That more or less concludes the story of the BLUE HEN label. Virtually all the releases in the 200 series, with the exception of the odd rock & roll/rockabilly offering from the likes of Jimmy Stayton (« Hot hot mama »), Cecil Cline (« Do drop in ») and even Lanie Walker, were Hillbilly of one style or another.
Sandy Harrison & Tommy Lloyd « A package of heartaches« (#225)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/28-225-Sandy-Harrison-A-Package-Of-Heartaches.mp3download
Earl Stuart Quintet « Action’s speak louder than words » [sic](#216)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/17-216-Earl-Stuart-5tet-Actions-Speak-Louder-Than-Words.mp3download
Millard Pressley « Jesus my saviour« (#228)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/228-Milliard-Presley-...-Jesus-My-Saviour.mp3download
Sounds from Cactus CD. Pictures from various sites: Youtube, 45cat for example.
Mel Price « I ain’t got the time« (#208)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/18-208-mel-price-I-Aint-Got-The-Time.mp3download
courtesy Ronald Keppner
listing Blue Hen label
strangely Raymor is located in Kansas, far drom Delaware…
The Four Star custom series were, as did Starday from Beaumont or Houston, known to include many Rock’ & Roll sides played by Hillbilly bands and it was a music that most artists would easily relate to, including the older musicians who had been playing boogie and blues for years anyway. Countless bands were active and the only way they could relate to was release their records on Four Star OP (Other People) custom records.
The tapes would then be sent in and the widely advertised custom service would handle, for a fee, the manufacture of the records and distribution of a number of copies to selected radio stations. Otherwise than this, promotion and distribution was a left up to the the artist or his agent. The number going to the radio stations was probably a percentage of the total number pressed, which varied considerably. Some were produced in relatively large quantities while other artists ordered as few as 99 copies. The rarity of these records varies widely as, of course, does the quality of the music (but not in the same condition). The artist coud choose his own label name, which hopefully often also gives a location. They could also have the record issued under the company’s own logo (as in the case of « Texas » Bill Strength), perhaps at extra cost. Several record labels started as custom pressings before becoming actual independant companies later. Example : Erwin and Rural Rhythm (not represented in this selection). All are generally uptempo sides, with prominent fiddle and walking bass. It must also be noted that many artists were one-off, i.e. they had only one record issued by Four Star OP- service, and never had the chance to cut another one.
HBR did issue two volumes of Four Star OP- custom records. I deliberatly chose to issue unknown sides from 1950 to 1958, and various Western regions (Oklahoma to Oregon), not to exclude Eastern areas like even Florida.
Eddie Snell (on the aptly named Promotional # 242 label) has more of a West coast sound to him, with a « Rockin’ rhythm » similar to Sammy Masters’ early sides. Alden Holloway had also famous releases on Dixie and Starday (« Blast off » or « Swinging the rock »). Here is what he recorded in 1956 seemingly on the West coast for Northwest # 263 : « Woodpecker love ». He had previously issued on # 214 « Beaumont blues » as Shorty Holloway. Veteran Dick Bills, also later on Crest (« Rockin’ and rollin’ » in 1961 with nephew Glen Campbell on lead guiar ) had on Vicki « Beggars can’t be choosers » (# 198, 1954-55). Went also on Morgan (with vocalist Buz Burnam).
Eddie Snell « Head over the hills »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OP-242B-Eddie-Snell-Head-for-the-hills1.mp3download
Alden Holloway « Woodpecker love »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/01-Alden-Holloway-Woodpecker-Love.mp3download
Dick Bills « Beggars can’t be choosers »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vicki-198-dick-bills-his-arizona-drifters-beggars-cant-be-choosers.mp3download
A favorite of Ray Campi, « Quit your triflin’ (on me) » (Hi-fidelity 211), from 1954-55 by Gene Snowden, is a good uptempo probably of West coast origin, while Hank Crow and his Raven River Ramblers do come surely from California: the fine « Baby, baby me » on Southwest 204 from 1954.
Gene Snowden « Quit your triflin’(on me »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Gene-Snowden-Quit-Your-TriflinOn-Me-HI-FIDELITY-OP-121.mp3download
Hank Crow « Baby me, baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/southwest-204-Hank-Crow-Baby-me-baby.mp3download
From Texas, Doc Bryant & National Jamboree Gang on his own Doc Bryant label (# 155) for « Cotton pickin’ boogie », from 1952-53. In 1958, an « old » Texas artist – he first recorded in the late ’40s for Macy’s, i.e. « Cornbread boogie » -, Art Gunn had on his own (?) Arga (# 288) label the fine relaxed « Pickin’ ‘n singing ». He had also previously cut for Revel and V&G Records. The mysterious Phantom Rider Trio does « Peekin’ thru your window » on the K-Pep label # 264 from San Angelo.
Doc Bryant « Cotton pickin’ boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Doc-Bryant-National-Jamboree-Gang-Cotton-Pickin-Boogie-Doc-Bryant-OP-155.mp3download
Art Gunn « Pickin’ ‘n singin’ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/17-Art-Gunn-Pickin-n-Singin.mp3download
The Phantom Rider Trio « Peekin’ thru your window »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/24-The-Phantom-Rider-Trio-Peekin-Through-The-Window.mp3download
Candy Rowell « Ain’t gonna say hello »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/20-Candy-Rowell-His-Western-Swingsters-Aint-Gonna-Say-Hello.mp3download
From Florida, Candy Rowell on the Du Ro #254 label with « Ain’t gonna say hello ». Oklahoma is represented by Al Sweatt and « Fo-Mo-Co » on Keen 262, from 1956. Indeed he was to have the two rockers later « I hate myself/Let’s paint the town red » (Keen 288). Al Sweatt « Little Fo-mo-co »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/keen-OP-262Al-Sweatt-Little-Fo-Mo-Co-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
From Louisiana Pal Thibodeaux and an earlier issue (# 154) « Port Arthur Boogie ». on Skyline (partly sung in French).
Pal Thibodeaux « Port Arthur boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/07-Pal-Thibodeaux-Port-Arthur-Boogie.mp3download
Arizona is represented with the very first recording Duane Eddy was involved in, and it’s a duet with Jimmy Delbridge on the Phoenix label Preston #212. « Soda fountain girl » and « I want some lovin’ baby».
Jimmy & Duane « Soda fountain girl »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Jimmy-Delbridge-Duane-Eddy-Soda-Fountain-Girl-PRESTON-212-4-Star-OP-acetate.mp3download
Unknown origin : Alaska 194 by Betty Jo and Johnny Starr « Peach pickin’ time in Georgia » (# 194). « Peach picking’ time in Georgia »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/alaska-OP-194-Betty-Jo-Johnny-Starr-Peach-Picking-Time-In-Georgia.mp3download
Archie Jefferies « G.I. Talking blues » (Blue Flame # 107) « G.I. talking blues »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/blue-flame-107-Archie-Jefferies-The-Blue-Flame-Boys-G.I.-Talking-Blues.mp3download. Majesty 251 by Tommy Farr (« If »).
Also Buddy Thornton on his own Thornton OP-186 « Ole Santa is coming to town ». »Ole Santa is coming to town- »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/thornton-OP-186-Buddy-Thornton-Ole-Santa-Is-Coming-To-Town.mp3download
Four Star OP- serie continued well over until the late ’50s with the odd Hillbilly bop issued : Sonny LeBarron and « Jack and Jill » (#Mecca 252), Paul McGhee (« You are my sunshine » Flame 305) or 267 Sonny Thibodeaux (Pacific), Leo Gosnell from 1959 on Mountain 298/299, to name just a very few.
Several early issues did appear untraceable although highly desirable, like Tex Bloye’s « Talkin’ blues » on Gavotte 116 (a version of Robert Lunn’s song on Mercury, 1949), or Frank Ole’Shay, who appear to be one of the greatest from his song on a Dixie/Collector CD, « My baby’s not here tonight » (Blue mountain). Addition (Dec. 2nd): Tex Bloye, « Talkin’ blues » (Courtesy Ronald Keppner) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Tex-Bloye-Gavotte-OP116A.mp3download
Ernie Ole’Shay « Be my honey Bee »(Blue Mountain OP-295)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Ernie-Ole-Shay-with-his-Drifting-Vagabonds-Be-My-Honey-Bee-BLUE-MOUNTAIN-OP-295.mp3download
Melvin Price « I’ve got news for you »(Santa Fe OP-131)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/op-185.mp3download
Ernie Ole Shay with his Drifting Vagabonds Be My Honey Bee BLUE MOUNTAIN OP 295
Hu-se-co was founded by Odell Johnson in Hobart, Oklahoma. The label apparently lasted from late 1956 to early 1958, and the main issues were issued in 1957. No label listing does exist, so I don’t know if my presentation is complete, as Hu-se-co was a pretty small label for the time being.
First record was cut in Autumn 1956 by DERAL CLOUR and Charley Drake and coupled the very fine primitive Hillbilly bopper/Rockabilly « Sundown (boogie) » with the ballad « Winter (in my heart) ». Clour has said in an interview published by the RockaBilly HOF that the record was cut at Gene Sullivan’s studio on Capitol Hill in Hobart. Deral Clour was to appear at Ernest Tubb’s in Nashville in 1959.
Deral Clour & Charley Drake
Deral Clour and Charley Drake « Sundown (boogie) » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Deral-Clour-And-Charley-Drake-Sundown-Boogie.mp3download
Deral Clour and Charley Drake, « Winter (in my heart) » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Deral-Clour-And-Charley-Drake-Winter-In-My-Heart.mp3download
Then in 1957, three singles of equal musical value. Most important is the rollicking/jumping//western sides by DOYLE MADDEN, backed by Merl Lindsay‘s Oklahoma Nightriders, « Gonna learn to rock » and « Tonights the night for love » (1-757), both written by Lindsay and one Vonnie Mack. The latter (rn Yvonne deVaney) was at one time Yvonne O’Day on Capitol, then in 1956 Vonnie Mack in 1956 on Columbia, where she turned more or less pop. Later she fronted vocally Merl Lindsay’s band.
Doyle Madden « Gonna learn to rock » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hu-se-co-757-1BDoyle-Madden-Gonna-Learn-To-Rock.mp3download
Doyle Madden, « Tonights the night for love » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hu-se-co-757A-Doyle-Madden-Tonights-The-Night-For-Love.mp3download
Second record backed by Merl Lindsay’s Oklahoma Night Riders is by JIM RAY: average ’50s country/honky tonk, main instruments being fiddles and steel. « A little too late » and « My heart belong to you » are on (# A-557).
Jim Ray, « My heart belongs to you » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hu-se-co-557-Jim-Ray-My-Heart-Belongs-To-You.mp3download
Jim Ray, « A little too late » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hu-se-co-557-Jim-Ray-A-Little-Too-Late.mp3download
The third 1957 issue (if the « 57 » sequence has some sense) is a very nice country rocker by FLOYD ANDREWS, « Buy myself a rubber doll » (3-757), with strong guitar and steel to the fore. Floyd Andrews, « Buy myself a rubber doll » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hu-se-co-757-Floyd-Andrews-Buy-Myself-A-Rubber-Doll-1957.mp3download
One issue by COWBOY (Charlie) HUFF escaped to my antennas, « Swingin’ alone tonite/Tulsa town waltz » (757). It’s the same man who had records in the Starday custom serie (»No two timin’ me »).
Cowboy Huff « No two timing’ me » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/45-616a-Cowboy-Huff-No-Two-Timin-Me-huff-02-57.mp3download
And we nearly reached to the end of label with the 1958 issue by BILL & BINK ( with drummer Dwight), whose two-sided « Bed bug boogie/Do and don’t blues » (1358) could be described as primitive bluesy hillbilly/rockabilly.
Bill & Bink, « Bed bug boogie » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bill-Bink-Bed-Bug-Boogie-Rockabilly-45.mp3download « Do and don’t blues » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bill-Bink-Do-And-Dont-Blues-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
The indefatigable and faithful DRUNKENHOBO has found three more HU-SE-CO records! Thanks Dean.
A Bluegrass rockabilly flavored « If you’re after my heart » by the group RAMBLIN RASCALS on Hu-se-co. Flipside unheard « We both love the same girl ».
Ramblin Rascals « If you’re after my heart » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/The-Ramblin-Rascals-If-Youre-After-My-Heart-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
Then WESLEY (Sleepy) MOORE and « Old mother Nature » (Hu-se-co 1257)(flip side « If you’d say you care ».
Wesley Moore « Old mother Nature » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/HU-SE-CO-1057-Wesley-Sleepy-Moore-Old-Mother-Nature-...-56-Hillbilly-Bop.mp3download
Dean finally mentions a third disc by HURSHUL CLOTHIER, which proves untraceable. Clothier was an Oklahoma ace fiddler, backed by the Oklhahoma Travelers (founded 1953), who had « Will you please » on Hu-se-co 2-757.
The Burdette Land label out of Richmond, KY, must have been one of the scarcest to the day: it issued only two discs in 1960, although one was even reviewed (Pratt Bros.) in the August 29th, 1960 C&W edition of Billboard. So the promotion has surely have been correctly made, since NYC critics did get the record.
First issue was by HUBERT BARNARD (# 3000-1/2-A/B) and coupled one country side, « The man of the road » (partly written by Burdette Land), an unheard tune, and a more interesting side, « Boy She has gone« , rockabilly/rocker, which even found its way on a European compilation (« Hillbilly jukebox »).
Hubert Barnard, « Boy she has gone » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/17-Hubert-Barnard-Boy-She-Has-Gone.mp3download
Second and last issue for the label was by the PRATT BROS. apparently Eugene (writer of both sides) and vocalist Vernis, backed for the rockabilly side by « The Rocking 5″. I didn’t hear « Go find your love« , apparently a rocker, thus « The wind told me so » was average rural rockabilly. Hear them. And that was it. A really short affair in time.
Pratt Bros. & the Rocking 5, « The wind told me so » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/burdette-30002-Pratt-Brothers-The-Wind-told-Me-So-Rockabilly.mp3download
Source: 45rpm.com, the Dan DeClark site for Ohio Valley records. Also RCS.
Warning: I am experimenting html language, so to set the audio podcasts up beside their texts. This language isn’t that easy. Sorry for inconveniences!
Allstar Record Co.
1953: 3116 Garrow St., Houston TX
1958-1959: 2106 Orean Street, Houston 17, Texas
1960: Allstar Music Enterprises, 8029 Gulf Freeway, Houston 17, Texas
1961-1966: 1110 Washington, South Houston, Texas
also: Allstar Distributors
Allstar Records, a quasi-song-poem label with a slightly more plausible claim to legitimacy than most its song-sharking peers, was the brainchild of Houston country musician/ »singer » Daniel James Mechura. The ambitious Mechura started out as the frontman of a local outfit, the Sun Valley Playboys, enjoying one release on the Starday label (which they paid for themselves) in 1955. By that time, Dan had discovered the seedy underworld of songwriter’s clubs and, sensing an opportunity ripe for exploitation, soon began doing business as president of « The Folk Writers Co-Operative Association, » generously offering « every songwriter the help which is necessary to succeed in this competitive field, » as stated in one sales pitch. A record label of their own was the logical outgrowth of this « co-op. »
Read the rest of this entry »
The Jamboree label
Bill Beasley had set up Tennessee records on a professionnal footing : it would be a union label, filing session details with the AFM for approval and paying union scales to the musicians Harold Bradley would bring in. Within a few months, Beasley realized that he could cut expenses for country and blues sessions by hiring non-union musicians, and in May 1950, the partners (Alan Bubis) founded another label that would focus on local country music talent. Another motive for the new subsidiary, Jamboree – although some labels (511 onwards) said « Dixie Jamboree » – was to test the waters in the « racking » market, selling cover versions of best-selling songs through grocery stores and other non-standard outlets that would accommodate a rack of records. A third factor is studio time, as Castle studio was not always available, so Bubis and Beasley recorded also in Bowling Green, Kentucky, at a radio station (engineered by Jim McKinney).
The first Jamboree artist, the prolific Dick Stratton, produced a classic product firmly in line with the Beasley/Bubis philosophy, the jukebox disc « Slippin’ around with Jole Blon », which referenced a number of popular records by stringing their titles together. A vocalist, bass-fiddle player and acoustic guitarist, Stratton led the house band on the live Hayloft Jamboree ((a minor-league radio barn dance, broadcast over WKDA Saturday afternoons from Nashville’s War Memorial auditorium), and soon led the studio band (« The Nite Owls ») on Tennessee/Jamboree’s country records. Stratton’s band was tight, swinging and accomplished with an ensemble sound, especially in the guitar parts (Harold Forrester or Boudleaux Bryant on fiddle, Alan Flatt or Bob Williams on guitar, Billy Byrd on steel or electric guitar and Roy Hall or Del Wood on piano). Beasley remembered that the two unsung stars of the band were the Neely Brothers, Mitch on fiddle and Paul on guitar.
Dick Stratton had also « Fat gal boogie » (# 501), the song’s subject matter may be insensitive by today’s standards, but let’s not forget that Merle Travis scored a hit in 1947 with « Fat gal ». Before he moved to the main Tennessee label at the end of 1951, Stratton recorded a mix of original novelty tunes (« Music City, U.S.A. ») and covers, notably « Poison love », previously a hit by Johnny & Jack. Stratton was an engagingly rough-hew, if limited, vocalist, and the backings were generic honky-tonk, driven by the tic-toc rhythm of the electric guitar’s deadened bass strings – the sort of fare that would have gone down well in the joints around Nashville. Another interesting novelty is « Music City, U.S.A. » (# 510), the first song in which Nashville was touted as such, although until then the city had a view of itself as the Athens of the South. It was written by Beasley, Ray Anderson and Stratton. Once again, the band excels.
Beasley signed another of the Nite Owls, Allen Flatt from Atlanta, for his startingly realistic impersonation of Ernest Tubb. By 1950, when Flatt first recorded for Jamboree (# 511), Tubb had established his base in Nashville, and was being imitated even more than ever. The twist this time comes from the fact that Tubb recorded « Steppin’ Out » after Flatt, making it a rare example of the prophet following the disciple. Flatt proves his mastery of Tubb’s commanding simplicity and lazy charm. The band had also mastered the trademark Texas Troubadour style. Allen Flatt occasionally played warm-up on Tubb’s local shows and possibly Ernest heard him sing this song about his unfaithful honky tonkin’ lady for years. The final Allen Flatt, « A broken heart and a glass of beer » (Jamboree 515) proves that he could even write Tubb-like songs. After leaving Jamboree/Tennessee/Republic, he went to Mercury, without hits. He died in 1988.
But Jamboree’s biggest hit came from another Hayloft Jamboree artist, John Talley. Born in 1924, he made his debut (# 509) with « Hillbilly sweetheart » and went on to make the first released version of Lefty Frizzell‘s signature tune « If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time », Jamboree Records’ biggest seller (# 514).
That Talley’s record was issued in August 1950, a month before Lefty’s own, was the happy result of the friendship Beasley and Bubis had cultivated with a D.J. In Chattanooga, who got prerelease records from the major labels. Although the Jamboree release caused Lefty bitter disappointment, Columbia used its clout to push his original to the top spot. Talley then went playing bass for Bill Monroe. In 1955, he had in his Minnesota band a young Dave Dudley on guitar before turning rockabilly on Mercury in 1956 ( « Wild mind »).
If Allen Fatt was a dimestore Ernest Tubb, then Ray Anderson was the dimestore Hank Williams at this stage in his career. He had first « You’re the two-timing kind » (# 504) : this was a pretty much undiluted Hank from the flashes of falsetto at the end of a line to the walking 2/4 bass and the tic-toc rhythm on the electric guitar. On the second, « I’m lonely because » (# 513), the steel hadn’t quite the bite or incisiveness of Don Helms, but it wasn’t unlike Hank to invoke divine retribution on a woman who’s done wrong. The flip side was a Korean War era novelty (« Draft board blues ») that was shaped after some of Hank’s blues.
After that, Anderson recorded for Cozy, Kentucky (« Stalin kicked the bucket »), Mountaineer in 1955, then Admiral in 1957 for a couple of rockabilly tunes. Finally Starday in 1958, before playing bass for the Osborne Brothers, and turning to religion in 1962.
Jamboree 516 had Shorty Ashburn, « You’re under arrest », co-written by Autry Inman. Indeed it would be a prophetic song for Inman, who foud himself under arrest in 1972 for bootlegging records. Ashburn had previously recorded for Bullet (« Triflin’ Woman »), and that’s all is known about him.
Hugh Cherry’s main claim, beside being a country D.J., is to have recorded the second worst record of these years in Nashville (he couldn’t sing), the first being Audrey Williams’, Hank’s wife.
Roy Justice (# 502) is unheard and went unnoticed.
Jamboree ceased activities circa mid-1951, when McKinney and Bubis/Beasley went separate ways, and that Bubis had some troubles with nonunion sessions and the AFM. He then founded Tennessee (see elsewhere in this site).
Article based on Martin Hawkins’ « A shot in the dark » book, as well as « Tennessee Jive » booklet.
The Kentucky based DIXIANA label was a short lived concern, maybe operating from Bowling Green (Warren County). Launched in 1953, the label appears to have only lasted 6 months or so. However, during that relatively short time, the owners released some first rate Hillbilly, some of which can be found on various White Label « Boppin’ Hillbilly » albums.
Kentucky and Warren Cty
102. Southern Harmony Boys – Hattie Mae Fleming (piano)
That great mansion DA 12
The Lord and I DA 13
103. The Renfro Brothers and the Valley Sta. Playboys
Ever ready (BH 2821) no mtx
Just over a girl (BH 2821) no mtx
Both tracks are superior hillbilly boppers. Very fast tracks, over assured vocals. Backing is superb : sawing fiddle, steel, piano, even an accordion solo. The « Girl » side reminds me of the Carlisles.
104. Odis Blanton and his Blue Star Rangers
Steppin’ High Wide and Handsome (BH 2807) no mtx
Don’t move the moon no mtx
Both sides are superior Hillbilly boppers too. Over a fast fiddle routine, an assured vocal is backed by accordion, steel and piano. The « Moon » side is an excellent medium rock-a-ballad, with the piano well to the fore.
Back in early 1953, WLBJ out of Bowling Green, Kentucky was featuring the Blue Star Rangers. Their leader Odis Blanton was a D.J. at this station, airing daily.
Odis and Hugh would handle the vocal turns as solos. When they did their trio numbers, it usually included John, Gene and Odis.
The Blue Star Rangers had a 45-minute show that aired every day except Sunday over WLBJ called « The Farm And Home Hour ». They also did the usual personal appearances throughout the area of western Kentucky and northern Tennessee, including stage shows and square dance engagements.
Group Members included:
Odis Blanton, leader and manager, rhythm guitar
John Blanton, steel guitar
Gene Kitchens, violin
Hugh Poteet, bass
« Pappy » Jones, saxophone
Gwen Dalton, piano (she had several records on her own on Republic)
105. Cliff Gross and his Texas Cowboys
Hog pen hop (BH 2822) no mtx
Smokin’ and jokin’ (and pokin’ along) no mtx
I only heard « Hop » side : a fine hillbilly boogie, sort of talking blues, with the band singing the refrain in unison. Western swing overtones. The side had surely been recorded in Dallas (Jim Beck’s studio), even « Beck » co-written. Gross was a mountain style fiddler, who had played as early as 1929 with the Hi-Flyers, then in 1932 with the Light Crust Doughboys.
106. Jack Bybee and the Rhythm Wranglers
Drifting down the stream no mtx
(N.B. This label shot was unearthed by Drunken Hobo. Thanks to him)
107. Jimmy Smith
Does he love you no mtx
It ain’t no fun to say I told you so no mtx
Nothing is known about this fine singer. I only heard « Does he love you », which is a fine heavy rockaballad, again over accordion, fiddle and piano accompaniment. Smith (according it’s the same person) has an excellent « First choice » – very fine guitar picking – on Cactus « Rockin’ Hillbilly » vol. 1 (included here).
One then can wonder if the backing members are not the same at least for the known sides.
based on Hillbilly Researcher # 13 issue (mid-1990s). Additional research and comprehensive musical appreciation by Bopping editor.