First three are exceptions to the rule. CAL DAVIS does a shuffler, with a bit of echo on the steel for »Loving lifetime » on the Mack label (# 258). No indication at all of its origin. A RCA Custom of 1954.
« Loving lifetime«
« I reckon so« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/hilton-00001-Raybon-Busby-I-Reckon-So-alexandria-La-cheese.mp3download
Second dates from 1957 on the Hilton label, yet still unknown origin. RAYBON BUSBY does the complex, half slow, half fast « I reckon so » (# no #) : A sort of talking blues, steel phrases on the slow side ; fast side reminds me much of the Blankenship Brothers.
Note: Hilton was based in Louisiana, according to DrunkenHobo.
TOMMY RIDDLE with « Rayford line » pertains apparently to the late ’50s/early ’60s on the Staircase label (# 6651), from where I don’t know. Good fast honky-tonk, a lot of echo on the lead guitar.
Note: DrunkenHobo says the record came in 1961.
« Rayford line« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/staircase-Tommy-Riddle-Rayford-Line.mp3download
No we begin exploring 1960′s sounds.
With a classic theme – either in Blues or Country – « Walking blues », RAY BEACH couldn’t go wrong in 1968. Solid guitar and light drums for a good uptempo. 3 backing members are listed on label (Ray Beach, really?), which don’t give any clue to the origin of this record.
« Walking blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ray-Beach-Walking-Blues.mp3download
Picked from my good friend Alexander’s site « Mellow’s log cabin», here is the nice « After I have broke your heart » by LEO GRAY, from Mt. Healthy, OH, in 1965, issued on Log Cabin 903. Good steel over a jumping tempo.
« After I have broke your heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/log-cabin-903-Leo-Gray-After-I-Have-Broke-Your-Heart.mp3download
On the presumably Ohio Harron label, here are two fine Bluegrass duets (male/female) led by ERNEST STACEY (great vocal) and backed by HARLIN KAZY on vocal and fiddle, the fast « I do » and the dynamic « I made up my mind » from 1962 (# 995A). They had also at least one other record, « Lonesome road » on Arvis, another label from Ohio. Usual Bluegrass backup : dobro and bass.
« I do« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/harron-995A-Ernest-Stacey-Harlin-Kazy-I-Do-1962.mp3download
« I made up my mind« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ernest-Stacey-I-Made-Up-My-Mind.mp3download
From Iona, Michigan, BOB WAYLEE offer in 1962 on the Northway Sound 1002 label a fine fast (flying guitar) « Looking out the window ».
« Looking out the window« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/northway-1002-Bob-Waylee-Looking-Out-The-Window.mp3download
Finally the famous CAL SMITH burns the pedal steel-guitar in 1968 on Kapp 938 with his solid version of « Honky tonk blues ».
« Honky tonk blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Kapp-938-Cal-Smith-Honkey-Tonk-Blues.mp3download
Here he comes once more, Mr. Jack Dumery, one of the finest connoisseurs in Country music of our time. Jack is often in correspondance with artists, and he has the knack to find the more obscure, although the best talented ones.
Nuff said, here is his turn.
Over the years Charlie Thompson has always been known for the high quality of his live performances all over Europe as well as for his first-class recordings.
His latest release, « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS’, available on CD/LP, is only here to confirm that he is a true master of Rockabilly and Hillbilly music.
Recorded in Pasadena, California, Charlie is strongly supported by top-notch musicians. We find here TK.SMITH (lead-guitar), JERRY WAKEFIELD (steel-guitar), WALLY HERSON (string-bass and also producer of the sessions), DAVE STUCKEY (drums), BOBBY FURGO (fiddle) and CARL SONNY LEYLAND (piano), a dream band if any.
« The automobile song« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/the-automobile-song.mp3download
« Boogie blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/boogie-blues.mp3download
« A blue million tears« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/a-blue-million-tears.mp3download
Charlie has selected 12 songs in the 50’s Hillbilly repertoire, every track a real gem whether strong boppers like « The Automobile Song » (Luke McDaniels), or « Boogie Blues » (Earl Peterson) or beautiful weepers like « A Blue Million Tears » (Carl Butler) and « I Miss You Already » (Marvin Rainwater/Faron Young). Charlie put his own touch and sensibility to the songs while every single note from the musicians is a perfect delight for the ears of the listeners. « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS » is probably one of the best releases for 2015.
« I miss you already« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/I-miss-you-already.mp3download
CHARLIE THOMPSON won « Best Honky Tonk Male Singer » at the Ameripolitan Music Awards 2016 » in Austin, Texas, on February 16, 2016, being the first European to win.
Flatt & Scruggs, along with Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers or Jimmy Martin were among the pioneers of traditional Bluegrass music. After playing along side Bill Monroe, Lester and Earl started their own band, The Foggy Mountain Boys, in 1948. Josh Graves joined the outfit in 1955, first as a bass player but soon switched to dobro which was then to become a defining feature of the Bluegrass sound.
Jerry Douglas, acknowledged to be the finest dobro player around these days, has put together a handful of super pickers, known as the Earls of Leicester, to pay homage to the sound of Flatt & Scruggs : SHAWN CAMP (famous singer/songwriter in Nashville), CHARLIE CUSHMAN (banjo), TIM O’BRIEN (mandolin), JOHNNY WARREN (fiddle) is himself the son of Paul Warren, a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys and BARRY POSS (string-bass).
We return to the roots of Bluegrass music with 14 classics from the Flatt & Scruggs songbook like « I’ll Go Stepping Too », « On My Mind », « Dim Lights, Thick Smoke », « You’re Not a Drop In The Bucket ».
« I’ll go stepping too« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ill-go-stepping-too.mp3download
« On my mind« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/on-my-mind.mp3download
« Dim lights, thick smoke« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/dim-lights-thick-smoke.mp3download
« You’re not a drop in the bucket« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/youre-not-a-drop-in-the-bucket.mp3download
Some might argue that we have here only imitation of the original style but The Earls of the Leicester infuse new freshness and thrilling musicianship into the songs. With their sound and very popular live performances they are in the right position to open new young audiences to the sound of traditional Bluegrass music.
Jim Dickerson is a Memphis singer/guitarist well known for his work with the North Mississippi All Stars and the South Memphis String Band. The Wandering is his latest project for which he has assembled the talents of four female mid-south vocalists/instrumentalists. SHANNON McNALLY (voice/guitar), VALERIE JUNE (vocal/banjo/guitar), AMY LA VERE (vocal/string bass) and SHARDE THOMAS (vocal/fife/drums). DICKERSON plays various guitars and sing harmonies on this recording.
« Sittin’ on top of the world« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/sittin-on-the-top-of-the-world.mp3download
« Lovin’ him was easier than anything I’ll ever do again« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/lovin-him-was-easier-than-anything-Ill-ever-do-again.mp3download
« Glory, glory« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/glory-glory.mp3download
« Mr. Spaceman« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mr.-Spaceman.mp3download
The song selection, ’Sittin’ On Top Of The World’, opens with a quite unusual fife part played by Sharde who is probably one of the last fife players in the vanishing fife and drum tradition. Her vocal on this all-time Blues (and also Country) classic shines and she also leads an excellent version of the Gospel « Glory, Glory » with harmonies from her partners. Amy La Vere turns the Byrd’s classic « Mr Spaceman » into a jug band number full with a kazoo break, slapped string bass, Shannon’s duet vocal and Valerie’s harmonies. Shannon McNally gives a real cowboy ballad with «Outlaw » including yodel and sweet melody. Her version of «Lovin’ Him Was The Easier Thing » is without doubt the best version ever heard with a true country sound. Valerie June handles classics such as « Old Joe Clark », « You Are My Sunshine » and « In The Pines ».
« Old Joe Clark« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/old-joe-clark.mp3download
« If I had possession over judgment day« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/if-I-had-possession-over-judgement-day.mp3download
« If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day » comes from the repertoire of Blues giant Robert Johnson and Valerie gives a new life to the song. The work of all those talents, vocally and instrumentally, in the Folk, Blues or Rock fields is a true success and a second volume would be much welcome.
Hear Mr Dickinson ?
Michael Hurtt’s first CD ‘Come Back to Louisiana’ was released in 2006 on the Allons label from New Orleans. Now it’s time to bring more Hurtt music to sink your teeth into. Hurtt moved to Detroit, Michigan, after hurricane Katrina hit south Louisiana in 2005. He was followed by JD Mark (lead/baritone guitars) leaving other members of the band spread around.
« Searching for shadows« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/searching-for-shadows.mp3download
Early 2013 original members of the Haunted Hearts met again in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to record this new project. Michael (vocal/guitar), JD Mark (guitars), Mitch Palmer (electric/steel guitars), John Trahey (string bass) with the addition of Detroit Lonely Charles (drums). The sessions led to a perfect selection of Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk material including original songs mostly written by Michael, from the opening track « Searching For Shadows » which gives the color of the whole CD with hot vocal and lead-guitar to « This Heart is Haunted », a Louisiana colored ballad.
« Ramblers blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ramblersblues.mp3download
In between, « Rambler’s Blues » with its tribute to Jimmie Skinner, superb rockabilly; « I’ll Put The Finger On You » on which recording engineer Erik Alderink shows he can handle the lead-guitar as a true master. « You Don’t Have To Tell Me The Night Is Long » with its shadow of the Johnny Cash sound, and another Louisiana type ballad « This Heart Is Haunted ».
Covers include « Breaking Hearts » (Bill Browning), the obscure « I’ll Move Along » (Red Lewis), « My Hamtrack Baby » (Ray Taylor) and, last but not least, one of the best Rockabillies ever «Teardrops Valley » (The Lonesome Drifter). Unfortunately, JD Mark passed away in July 11, 2013, a few months after these sessions were held in Ann Arbor (RIP).
« I’ll put the finger on you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ill-put-the-finger-on-you.mp3download
« This heart is haunted« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/the-heart-is-haunting.mp3download
« Breaking hearts« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/breaking-hearts.mp3download
« Teardrop valley« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/teardrop-valley.mp3download
« Walk ‘em off blues » # 5028 by PECK TOUCHTON can only be described by one word – stunning. Pure Hillbilly vocal and tremendous support from the Sunset Wranglers. Next, TOUCHTON‘s « Walkin’ on top of the world » backed with « Sighing trees on a broken heart » (# 5041):both sides are superb Hillbilly, with again the Hank Williams influence apparent, particularly on the former song [alas untraced]. Of course Touchton is known to have had records on Sarg and Starday (the famous « Let me catch my breath », # 160), but these sides are his earliest and probably his best. Also his story is intended as soon as I get enough information. His Sunset Wranglers also backed Johnny Nelms on Freedom.
»Walk ‘em off blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Freedom-5028-peck-touchton-Walkem-off-blues.mp3download
« Lonely world« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Freedom-5028-peck-touchton-Lonely-world.mp3download
« Walkin’ on top of the world« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Freedom-5041-peck-touchton-walkin-on-top-of-the-world1.mp3download
The next issue (# 5032) is another unknown item and then we have CHARLIE HARRIS telling us about the « No shoes boogie », a number he co-wrote with R.D. Hendon whose the Western Jamboree Cowboys provide the backing. Probably dating from the late Summer of 1951, this disc (# 5033) has Charlie in tremendous voice (and lead guitar) on a quality fast Hillbilly boogie number while the band who also recorded with Eddie Noack or Bill Taylor as vocalists for Shamrock, 4*, Blue Ribbon and Starday show why so many of the musicians who went through this band were to become stalwarts of later Starday sessions. »No shoes boogie » is an excellent example of the hard-rocking, shuffle-beat swing that was common in Texas before rock’n'roll. The band consists of Harris (on hot guitar), Herb Remington (steel), Theron Poteet (piano), Johnny Cooper (rhythm guitar), Tiny Smith (bass) and Don Brewer (drums). The story of the prolific Charlie Harris is scheduled in this site.
« No shoes boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5033-Charlie-Harris-No-Shoes-Boogie-Freedom-5033.mp3download
Activity at the label at this time is hard to determine as I can find no information at all about the releases from # 5034 to # 5037. Then our old friend BENNY LEADERS returns for a final fling on the label with two musical throwbacks. Accompanied by the Ranger Trio, « Always remember » is a real Western flavored number while « Give my heart a break » (# 5038) is also Western and set to a waltz tempo and also features Benny’s brother Parker Leaders.
The very next issue on the label is a real oddity. The group, LOUIS LAMB and his Melody Boys, are completely unknown to me as is the singer on both sides, one DANNY BRYAN. The titles are « Down hill and shady » and « I will trouble you no more » (# 5039). Hot fiddle reminiscent of Cotton Thompson and an ambitious guitar ensemble riffing add style. Lamb was also present on Melody, perhaps a Pappy Daily’s label of1946. There is a gap of nine No’s with regards of the matrices on the label, but, in the run-off area of the first side there is an ACA number while the flipside has the legend JB2 and that leaves me very perplexed.
« Down hill and shady »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Freedom-5039-Louis-Lamb-Dannyryan-down-hill-shady.mp3download
I suspect that the last three issues I know of on the label date from early 1952. And so we come to the last known, to me anyway, release on the label by TEX JONES and his Texas Rangers. « Little darlin’ » # 5042) is a fine Hillbilly bopper with the Texas Trio helping out on vocal while band once again show us how Hillbilly music was evolving in the area and was to become more widely nown throughout the U.S.A., and now further afield, as the ‘Starday sound ’.
« Little darlin’« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5042-Tex-Jones_little-darlin-T004.mp3download
« A gambler’s last hand« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5042-Tex-Jones-a-gamblers-last-hand_T003.mp3download
Just why FREEDOM folded is not known to this writer. Like another independant important company from the same city, MACY’S, it occurred just when the 45rpm record was beginning to exert itself. Admittedly the music scene was changing, and not just with Hillbilly music. We may never be able to find out why but one thing is for sure and that is the fact that Saul Kahal and the acts who recorded for him have left a fine legacy of Western swing and Hillbilly music for collectors to investigate.
Three features with the precious help of Ronald Keppner and Allan Turner. Help from Krazy Kat CD12 notes (Andrews Brown & Kevin Coffey)
Howdy folks, this fortnight will be a bit quieter than usual, with a batch of very old Hillbillies.
First the King of Country Music, Mr. ROY ACUFF himself. There’s no need to tell his story, after all, with his Smoky Mountaineers or his Crazy Tennesseans, he more or less started it all. Here’s his « Steel guitar blues » (Conqueror 9088), recorded on March 22, 1937 in Birmingham, AL, with the stunning Clell Summey on lap-steel, Jess Easterday on guitar and Red Jones on bass. Wild effects on the steel, and great string-bass !
« Steel guitar blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/14-Steel-Guitar-Blues.mp3download
Columbia reissue of 1946
JOHNNY HENDERSON, originally from Texas, was a determined character, who just kept on trying. He had «The girl that I love is an Oakie », first on Miltone 5201, a nice jumper (piano leader plus steel solo and fiddle) ; then he recut it on his own High Time label # 117. On the flipside, « Down beside the Rio Grande » is a fine relaxed fast ditty on the same format. Henderson also had of course the famous « Any old port in a storm » and, under the alias of Johnny Gittar, « San Antonio boogie », perhaps for a later fortnight.
« The girl that I love is an Okie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/miltone-5021-Johnny-Henderson-The-Girl-That-I-Love-Is-An-Okie.mp3download
« Down beside the Rio Grande« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/high-time-118-Johnny-Henderson-Down-Beside-The-Rio-Grande.mp3download
On the Tred-Way label (# 100A), out of Midland, Texas, « Who flung that mater » by TROY JORDAN is a gentle piano-led jumping little thing. Good fiddle solo. Jordan had another one on this label, « Too many kinfolks » (# 103).
« Who flung that mater« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/tred-way-100A-Troy-Jordan-His-Cross-B-Boys-Who-Flung-That-Mater.mp3download
Way up in the early times, a famous duet, that of TOM DARBY & JIMMIE TARLTON, had a long string of releases between 1927 and 1933 on the Columbia label, cut in Atlanta, Ga. Here is their fantastic bluesy dobro and urgent vocal for « Sweet Sarah blues » (April 15, 1929, Columbia 15431).
« Sweet Sarah blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/columbia-15431-Tom-Darby-Jimmie-Tarlton-Sweet-Sarah-blues.mp3download
From Arizona came SHELDON GIBBS. On his own Gibbs label (# 1), here are two sides, « Nothing gets me down » first, an uptempo shuffler, with lovely fiddle and vocal by Bud Gray. On another issue, they do the semi-instro »Houn’ dog boogie », a nice uptempo with fine guitar, steel and drums issued on the Smart label (# 1016). Thanks Dean.
« Nothing gets me down« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Gibbs-Sheldon-Gibbs-Nothing-Gets-Me-Down.mp3download
« Houn’ dog boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Gibbs-Sheldon-Gibbs-Houn-Dog-Boogie.mp3download
Sources : as usual, Youtube or (mostly) HBRAllan blog.
Howdy folks ! Eleven selections (yes, 11) this time of small labels and very minor artists, who made for the most part of them only one known record then vanished into obscurity or did something else than a career in music.
From California on the Pico Sundown label (# 113, very late ’50s, let’s hear at BOBBY AUSTIN‘s « Fool, fool, fool » : a jumping little tune, very expressive vocal – the singer knows what he’s talking about, of course. A prominent steel guitar, whose style must BE Ralph Mooney‘s.
« Fool, fool, fool« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/sundown-113-Bobby-Austin-Im-A-Fool-Fool-Fool.mp3download
« I made a mistake« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/azalea-118-coye-wilcox-I-Made-A-Mistake.mp3download
Recently I posted both Freedom records of COYE WILCOX from 1951. He cut later on several small Houston labels, among them this one, Azalea (# 118), « I made a mistake » from 1959. The singer possesses a very distinctive phrasing, and his ballad grows and grows on you at every listening.
« It’s money« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/national-sounds-Mike-Clay-Its-Money-.mp3download
A lively « It’s money » by MIKE CLAY follows on the National Sound label (# 1501), mid ’60s. It’s an uptempo with a harsh guitar. The record itself is produced by « Jack Rhodes », famous producer and songwriter residing in Mineola, TX.
« Carry me back to Ark.« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/hood-1031-Carl-Dixon-Carry-Me-Back-To-Arkansas.mp3download
« Hunting out of season« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/hood-1031-Carl-Dixon-Hunting-Out-Of-Season.mp3download
From Louisville, KY, here they are, back-to-back of the Hood label # 1031 by CARL DIXON. More ‘Country’ than hillbilly, however two fine medium-paced Country rockers : « Carry me back to Ark. » and « Hunting out of season ». Surely Dixon has to watch for gamekeepers.. A harmonica throughout is the main instrument.
DICK BILLS began seemingly his career in Arizona on the Vicki label in 1954-55 (an OP- custom issue, « Beggars can’t be choosers »)[see elsewhere in this site my feature on the Four Star OP-serie]. We find him later on the Morgan label (# 107) in California for two medium paced numbers (one is sung by Buzz Burnam – I can’t for Heaven’s sake remember him where/when, but his name rings familiar to my ears). Tracks are « Lost without you », an ordinary bopper, while « Old dusty sun » has a surprising hawaiian-style steel guitar.
Finally Bills reappears in 1961 on the Crest label for a solid « Rockin’ and a rollin’ » (# 1091), backed on the lead guitar by his nephew Glen Campbell.
« Lost without you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/morgan-107-Dick-Bills-Lost-Without-You.mp3download
« Old dusty sun« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/morgan-107-Dick-Bills-Old-Dusty-Sun-.mp3download
« Rockin’ and a rollin‘ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/crest-1089-dick-bills-rockin-and-a-rollin.mp3download
JIMMY RINGO next artist offers a very nice bopper as late as 1958 on the big concern W.C. Dot (reputed for its pop orientation). « I like this kind of music » (# 15787) has everything Boppers’ addicts could wish for : a nice guitar (a short solo), an interesting vocal, a prominent fiddle, of course no drums and even a banjo solo.
« I like this kind of music« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/dot-Jimmy-Ringo-I-Like-This-Kind-Of-Musicr.mp3download
Red River Dave McEnery
The following artist had a long career as Red River Dave, mostly songwriter, he takes here his real name of DAVE McENERY for a solitary single on a subsidiary label to T.N.T., the aptly named Yodeling # 500. I wonder if they are more numbers in the serie. Both tracks are unusual. « Did the gypsy lie ? » is an intense ballad, while « Jailhouse blues » (backing is made of 2 guitars and a bass) is a sort of folkish hillbilly, very pleasant with its yodel efforts.
« Did the gypsy lie?« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Dave-McEnery-Did-The-Gypsy-Lie-Yodeling-501_B.mp3download
« Jailhouse blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Dave-McEnery-Yodeling-501_A.mp3download
Note: Phil Watson, a visitor, had noted what follows: « I heard this was recorded when T Texas Tyler was jailed in 1958 for a drugs offence (he was found carrying weed) and, quick off the mark as always, Red River Dave wrote a song about it – Jailhouse Blues. The lyrics mention a couple of Tyler’s songs. ». Thanks Phil!
Last artist is a completely unknown from Kansas City, MO : ROY BEEMER comes with a shuffler, « Cheatin’ don’t count » has a guitar solo « a la Hank Garland », solos of steel and fiddle. A real good disc on the Artist label # 1459.
« Cheatin’ don’t count« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/artists-1459-Roy-Beemer-Cheatin-Dont-Count.mp3download
Enjoy the eleven selections, comments welcome !
Sources : Internet (Youtube) or my own collection.
(Follow-up of the good article by Phillip J. Tricker in a 1992 Hillbilly Researcher issue, with additions by Bopping’s editor). See earlier the first article.
For the next release in order of issues we return to a Western swing disc with « Jelly roll blues » (# 5010) by fiddler/vocalist Guy « COTTON » THOMPSON & his Village Boys. The song, a jazz standard, which had been cut Western swing style by Cliff Bruner in 1937, has the steel player definitely Herb Remington. Thompson is best known for making Kokomo Arnold‘s « Milk cow blues » (1934) a western swing standard via his 1941 recording with Johnnie Lee Wills [brother of Bob] on Decca 46012, largely to be recorded later by e.g. Joe Martin on Coral, even in a folkish version by Tom Rush. A well known personality in Houston for a long time he had already recorded for GOLD STAR under his own name (« How long » #1381) and a vocalist on early Moon Mullican KING releases. Here he is in great form and the Village Boys cook along well.
« Jelly roll blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5010-Cotton-Thompson-amp-His-Village-Boys-Jelly-Roll-Blues.mp3download
« Milk cow blues« (1941)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/decca-46012A-Johnnie-Lee-Wills-Milk-cow-blues.mp3download
« How long« (Gold Star, 1950)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/gold-star-1381-cotton-thompson-how-long.mp3download
Cotton Thompson ? – center
JACK RHODES RAMBLERS (# 5011) had « Missing persons » and « How can I tell », although untraced do beggar two questions. First, who would the vocalist be : one Fiddling Bob Henderson ? This was not Mr. Rhodes, already a songwriter, bandleader and promoter, and evidently not a singer. Could it be JIMMY JOHNSON the vocalist, although many others fronted Rhodes’ band? As to « Missing persons », a song with that title appeared on Capitol by FERLIN HUSKEY, and the label credit « Reynolds-Rhodes-Huskey » as songwriters.
Freedom 5013 is untraced. The mysterious TRAILBLAZERS cut « A cowboys silent night » (# 5014), which is delivered ‘acapella’ and has a recitation by CAROL while « Little Moohee » has an acoustic guitar support and GEORGE handles lead vocal. Issued for Christmas 1950, it was cut at ACA studio, a location often used by Freedom, although they also are known to have made recordings at Bill Quinn’s Gold Star setup.
However where the next 78 was cut is a real mystery. HUB SUTTER and his Hub Cats were a superb outfit who recorded for LASSO, 4* and Columbus and Hub had a reputation for putting on a very fine act. « I don’t want my baby back » (# 5015) is a magnificent slab of bluesy Western swing, with Hub’s unique vocal style well suited to the song : he was capable of crooning the cooziest ballads or shouting the most whiskey-soaked blues; the backing is excellent with guitar and steel interweaving well.
« I don’t want my baby back« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5015-hub-sutter-i-dont-want-my-baby-back.mp3download
« Tellin’ my baby bye-bye« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5030-hub-sutter-tellin-my-baby-bye-bye.mp3download
The matrice numbers have a ‘W’ prefix and this is the only known case at this time. Sutter commenced his career in 1941 with ace guitarist Spud Goodal’s band in Galveston. At the end of WWII he was in Austin with Cecil Hogan’s Swingsters doing his recording debut on the local Hi-Fidelity label, before around 1946 joining Jesse James’ popular band thru 1950 ; so he was singing on some of James’ Blue Bonnet and 4* recordings. He even cut under his name a record on Lasso with « his Galvestonians » [actually Jesse James' band in disguise]. On Freedom, « I don’t want my baby back » was intended as an answer to Floyd Tillman‘s « I gotta have my baby back », and had an excellent relentless electric mandolin, and quite possibly Herb Remington on steel. His next Freedom release, the rocking « Tellin’ my baby bye-bye » (# 5030) was recorded with R.D. Hendon’s Western Jamboree Cowboys, probably at the same session as Charlie Harris’ « No shoes boogie » (# 5033).
Another gap in our knowledge appears at # 5017 and then we have the arrival of one of the most talented Hillbilly singers to come from Texas: JOHNNIE NELMS (born Houston in 1931). His output covers many years and includes a range of labels that extends from Decca to Gold Star, Starday, D and obscure labels like Westry (not in order given). With his Sunset Cowboys, his « If I can’t have you » (# 5018) is pure Texas Hillbilly/Honky tonk music. Great vocal over a superb band with swirling fiddles (Doug Myers), haunting steel (Herb Remington) and brilliant « knocked out rinky dink » piano. The flip side, « The bride to be » has unfortunately an organ backing, but even so Jimmie’s vocal is pure class. Another gap appears at # 5019.
Johnny Nelms « If I can’t have you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5018-johnny-nelms-If-I-cant-have-you.mp3download
TOMMY SANDS is the most well-known name to record for Freedom. His # 5022 (« Love pains/Syrup soppin’ blues » is extremely rare. Credited as Little Tommy Sands (The West’s Wonder Boy), it is his debut on record. He was not a Texan, born in 1937 in Chicago ; his family moved to Houston when he was young, and he would have been only 14 when he cut his record. Yet his vocal is assured and insouciant, and both sides are excellent boppers with great backing from an uncredited band, except Herb Remington on steel (the lead guitarist, unfortunately afforded no solo space, remains unidentified).
Tommy Sands « Syrup soppin’ blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/freedom-5022-little-tommy-sands-Syrup-Soppin-Blues.mp3download
The fine uptempo « Somebody’s stealin’ (my baby’s kisses) » (# 5023) by BOB JONES & his Troubadours is a fast Hillbilly bop ditty. One may wonder if this is the same Bob Jones who appeared later on Starday (# 148 and 210) and more later on, on Dixie # 1070 (April 1964)(I want’ cha baby), valued at $ 50-60. Sorry, no picture available.
Bob Jones « Somebody’s stealin’ (my baby’s kisses) »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/freedom-5023-bob-jones-somebodys-stealin-my-babys-kisses.mp3download
Gaps appear on # 5024 and # 5026, sandwiching the great double-sider (# 5025) « Cross roads » and « Hula boogie ». The former is a lugubrious ballad, that was quite a regional hit of little interest, but the latter is a fine bopper with good vocal and the Westernairs providing fine backing which include nice steel. TOMMY DURDEN also recorded for 4* (« That’s where you dropped your candy » with Boots Gilbert) with a band of the same name, led by Vic Cardis (4* 1500) , and for Pappy Daily’s ‘D’ label later, but his main claim to fame is as co-writer of « Heartbreak hotel ».
Tommy Durden « Hula boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/freedom-5025-Tommy-Durden-Westernaires-Hula-Boogie.mp3download
Issue # 5027 is by LAURA LEE & The Ranch Hands, but I’ve not heard « Everybody but me » ; « I’m lonely for you darling » is a good jumping uptempo (fiddle, steel) song..However it would seem that she is LAURA LEE McBRIDE, the wide of Dickie McBride, whose band probably supply the backing. LAURA LEE is a well-known and respected Western swing vocalist, who, besides recording under her own name (i.e. M-G-M 11086 « I love you boogie »), also sang and recorded with Bob Wills.
Laura Lee « I’m lonely for you darling« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Freedom-5027-laura-lee-Im-lonely-for-you-darling.mp3download
Laura Lee & Dickie McBride « I love you boogie« (M-G-M 11086)
Third and last part of the serie (# 5028 to 5042) with more great music in a soon feature.
Harmonica Fats, « Tore up« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/darcey-5000-Harmonica-Fats-Tore-Up.mp3download
The Midnighters, « Tore up over you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/TORE-UP-OVER-YOU-by-Hank-Ballard-Midnighters.mp3download
Tommy La Beff, « Tore up« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/wayside-1654-tommy-LaBeff-Tore-up.mp3download
Second R&B artist is even more obscure : AL SIMMONS with Slim Green & the Cats from Fresno cut in 1957 on the (I believe) Johnny Otis‘ Dig label a great « Old folks boogie » (# 138). An half screaming/half spoken vocal over an hypnotic lead guitar and a nice sax solo for a Little Junior Parker’s/ John Lee Hooker « Feeling good » type song..
Al Simmons, « Old folks boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/dig-AL-SIMMONS-Old-Folks-Bgie.mp3download
We turn now to usual Country records in this site. EVERETT SPEARS has his own version of the Terry Fell‘s classic «Truck driving man » on the Epto (no °) label. A cool vocal , lot of echo and heavy drums do combine a very nice mid-60′s country rocker, although of unknown area.
Everett Spears, « Truck driving man« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/EPTO-Truck-Driving-Man-Everett-Spears_.mp3download
RAYMOND WEBB now is an unknown artist from the Kentucky or Tennessee. He had only two records. On Rich-R’-Tone 1063 issued in 1953, he gives us a very bluesy track, « Hot water blues » : wailing vocal and a great piano backing. The flipside, « Bucket special » noted on labeI « Instrumental boogie woogie », is a good side too. I ought not be surprised if the piano player was a Black one.
Raymond Webb, « Hot water blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ric-r-tone-1063-raymond-webb-hot-water-blues1.mp3download
Raymond Webb, « Bucket special« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/rich-r-tone-1063-raymond-webb-bucket-special.mp3download
Raymond Webb, « Wherever you are« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/kyva-102-raymond-webb-wherever-you-are.mp3download
He can also be heard 5 years later on the microscopic label Kyva [KentuckY-VirginiA] (the only other record known on this is Luke Gordon‘s) and « Wherever you are ». On a waltz tempo with a prominent steel, it’s a good record for 1958.
GEORGE STOGNER cut in Miami, FL ca. June 1953 on the Rockin’ label # 522 the great double-sider « Hard top race/Big yellow moon », arguably the best ever and the fastest hot rod type song. Label’s owners Henry Stone and Andy Razaf sold it to King’s Sid Nathan in August of the same year. The latter reissued part of the Rockin’ masters on his own DeLuxe label, hence Stogner had the honour of opening the new Deluxe 2000 serie. Back to « Hard top race », with its urgent vocal, fabulous piano and steel, it’s really a berserk wildie taken at an ultra-fast tempo, while the flip « Big yellow moon » is an uptempo ballad with sentimental words, written by Rod Morris : a good song anyway.
George Stogner, « Hard top race« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/George-Stogner-Hard-top-race.mp3download
George Stogner, « Big yellow moon« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/deluxe-george-stogner-big-yellow-moon.mp3download
Finally here is the unknown HAROLD MORRISON, who seemingly never got to issue any commercial record ; only remains an acetate of the fabulous « I gotta have her », a supercharged Rockabilly : great vocal, very fine guitar. I wonder if someone ever took notice at the time of such a talented guy.
Harold Morrison, « I gotta have her« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/audiodisc-HAROLD-MORRISON-I-Gotta-Have-Her.mp3download
Note: the indefatigable visitor Phil Watson sent about Harold Morrison (March 27): »Not sure if it’s the same man, but Harold Morrison was a respected singer/comedian who recorded for several labels including Starday. I have two LPs by him. He started out with Red Foley on the Ozark Jamboree, then worked for the Wilburn Bros for seven years, followed by six years with George Jones & Tammy Wynette, up to 1975 when a now-single Tammy fired him. » also, « Yes, according to Praguefrank, this acetate is by « the » Harold Morrison, and was his first recording in 1956. He recorded for RCA and Decca but not Starday. He died in 1993. ». Thanks Phil!
Sources : Raymond Webb material provided by Allan Turner – thanks to him ! Other selections from my collection (Harmonica Fats and Tommy LaBeff, George Stogner reissues). Label scans as usual from 78rpm-world or YouTube.
Comments or corrections/additions welcome !
What little recognition Carvel Lee Ausborn enjoys today is due to the fact that he hosted a show called « Pickin’ and singin’ hillbilly » on WELO, Tupelo, Mississipi, starting in June 1944. Originally a 15 minutes Saturday show, it increased to 30 minutes and finally to one hour, five days a week. It preceded WELO’s Saturday afternoon Jamboree sponsored by the Black and White store, and on those who got up to sing on the show’s amateur spot was none other than Elvis Presley. The musical influence that Mississipi Slim had over a pre-pubescent Elvis wasn’t that great, but for awhile in 1945 and 1946, Slim epitomized all the glamor of the music business for ten or eleven-year old Elvis. The customized guitar, the easy patter…how alluring it must have seemed to an impressionable kid from the poor end of town. Elvis probably hung around Slim until the Presleys left town at the end of 1948.
By all accounts, Slim (born in Smithville, MS., ca. 1923) was a quiet, easy-going fellow who sang country songs, but liked to call himself an actor and paid as much attention to « giving a show » as to singing. He was a Jimmie Rodgers disciple, and a cousin of the Opry comedian Rod Brasfield. In 1948, he went to WSIX in Nashville with Goober & his Kentuckians. He got onto Opry once or twice.
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This article (and the following ones about the same musical label) is based on the Hillbilly Researcher’s article from 1992 written by expert Phillip. Tricker, and mostly on the notes of other experts Andrew Brown and Kevin Coffey for the compilation « Heading back to Houston » (Krazy Kats CD12) issued ca. 1998. Important additions have been made by bopping’s editor.
The style of Honky Tonk music that Starday commenced to issue in 1953 had developped over the years following the end of WWII and a thriving recording scene had expanded in the Houston area with much of the recorded output appearing on labels like FOUR STAR and more locally labels like MACY’S, NUCRAFT, OPERA, HUMMING BIRD and PHAMOUS to name but just a few. Some, like MACY’S issued over fifty releases while others scaled down to a mere dozen or so and yet others a solitary lone release. One of the most important of these labels was FREEDOM : little was known about the artists and bopping music. However, since 1992 and Phillip Tricker’s article, an important amount of research has been done and we can now have a far better overview of both the label, its owner and the artists.
Hello, folks. This fortnight’s favorites selection will be very various and pointing in different directions.
First artist whom a virtually nothing is known about, and not more on his band. DON HAGER & the Hot Tots had in Autumn 1957 several sides cut for the Oak label out of the very small (ca. 800 souls) town of Whitakers, N.C. These guys had a tendency to Calypso rhythm, fact is obvious with « Bebop boogie » (Oak 0357), and it brings a lot of freshness to their composition. Fine rinky-dink piano, an hopping drum and a good (although discreet) steel make it a very fine Rockabilly, yet different..That very same song had been cut by Mustard & Gravy in 1950 and issued on Gotham 403, a sign of its later popularity. I already posted their fine version in the early June 2011 fortnight’s favorites selection And even earlier back, it had been recorded by Harry Gay, and published on…Oak 1000 [untraced, but according to the notes to « Long gone daddy », a compilation on Collectables 6335]. Hager had also « Calypso boogie », same style, on a ’70s Rockin’ Stars issue and « I love you dear forever », from a 1990 compilation (Oldies 5374) – this is an alternate take – with the steel much more to the fore. Finally « Liza Jane bop » (Oak 0358), also strange in its rhythm, yet is a more conventional Rockabilly. Nobody knows what happened to Hager and his group afterwards.
« Bebop boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/oak-0947-Don-Hager-Be-bop-boogie.mp3download
« I love you dear forever« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/oak-don-hager-I-love-you-dear-forever.mp3download
« Liza Jane bop« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/oak-0358-don-hager-liza-jane-bop.mp3download
From Alabama comes the second artist : NORRIS MIMS [not to be confused with the Texan of similar name Morris Mills] in 1959 on the custom pressed (CP-1987) Birmingham, AL, Arlington label (# 101B) for « Sweet sweet baby ». It has an urgent vocal over a very fast backing, a fine guitar and a piano break. It is stunning such a good record is not worth an entry in Tom Lincoln’s book, as I am sure it’s very highly treasured. Incidentally the tune had been first cut in 1956 by Buddy Hanes [according to « 50sRock'n'roll » Youtube chain], but had remained unissued until our era (I didn’t find on which support).
« Sweet sweet baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Norris-Mims-Sweet-Sweet-Baby-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
The third record is not by a newcomer. The song « Chili dippin baby » was issued twice : on Blue Hen and on Raymor by its composer, Raymond McColister with different singers. Here is the Raymor version (# 6004A) with vocal by Mz. Melody Mack.
« Chili dippin baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/raymor-6004_A-melody-mack-chili-dippin-baby.mp3download
JIMMY HEATH & the Rhythm Rollers did record « Little darlin’ » for the Modesto, Ca. Mega label (# 2261) . It’s a typical late ’50s bopper. Lot of steel (a solo which reminds a bit of Ralph Mooney), a jumping little tune with a good expressive vocal and a fine Rockabilly guitar.
« Little darlin’« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/mega-2261-Jimmy-Heath-Little-Darlin.mp3download
Now on to Texas, in the apply named town of Center, with REGGIE WARD & his Sons of Texas. They do offer a fast bopper « Juke box baby » from early 1951 with vocal by Jack Ford. Could the latter be the same man who cut « No not now », backed by Curley Williams (Columbia 20633, January 1950), or the Hayrider who recorded the fine hillbilly bop « That’s all you gotta do » (Chess 4858) in 1954 ? A final detail on Nemo Records (owned by Mrss. Jack McLendon and Leon Sanders) : the Wilburn Brothers [Theodore & Doyle] (later on Decca) apparently cut their first sides for this label.
« Juke box baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/nemo-1005-Reggie-Ward-His-Sons-Of-Texas-Juke-Box-Baby-.mp3download
BILL WATSON on the Demorest, GA Country Jubilee label (# 525) recorded a fine double-sider reviewed by Billboard in February 1960. The songs are similar in structure : over a strong guitar, a very melodic vocal partially sung in unison, they are very enjoyable and catchy « You’re the one for me » and «I’m dying darling ».
« You’re the one for me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ctry-jibilee-525-Bill-Watson-Youre-The-One-For-Me.mp3download
« I’m dying darling« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/country-jubilee-525-Bill-Watson-Im-Dying-Darling-.mp3download
And that’s all for this time, you Hillbilly buffs. Keep a-bopping ! ‘Till next time, bye.
Sources : mainly YouTube, also Hillbilly Researcher, Phillip Tricker’s notes to « Bebop boogie » compilation on Collectables. And a lot of time, research and patience !