Arlen Vaden was D.J. at WCKY out of Cincinati, OH, when he launched in 1958 his own Vaden label. The first issue (# 100) of the new label was by BOBBY BROWN & The Curios, who consisted of Brown (vocal, rhythm guitar), Shorty Stewart (lead guitar), Tommy Jones (bass) and Johnny Welker (drums). This record was cut at WCKY, and later on reissued on Vaden 107. « I Get The Blues “ is of course bluesy with a fine lead guitar (long solo).
Early 1959 saw Bobby Brown back for another issue on Vaden 109, this time cut at KLCN radio in Blytheville, Arkansas. Twin-lead guitars (J.C. Caughron & Tommy Holder), Larry Donn (bass), Johnny Welker (drums), but the most important and pulsating instrument is Teddy Redell‘s piano, who adds a brillant and pulsating flavor to « Bobby’s blues ». Thanks to Alexander Petrauskas who provided me with all the information. Do visit his great blogsite « Arkansas 45rpm records » or “Mellow’s Log Cabin“!
We go further East in North Wilkesboro, in N. Carolina, circa 1952-53, for a fine double-sider first on the Blue Ridge label (# 306) by LARRY RICHARDSON [banjo] & Happy Smith & the Blue Ridge Boys. Two songs are in discussion : « I’m Lonesome » and « Just Let Me Fall », both superior Bluegrass tunes, billed « Hillbilly » on the labels ! Thanks « 53jaybop » to have posted them two songs on Youtube. Later on, Richardson had on the MKB label, out of Virginia (no #) what it seems to be a rocking effort, »I’m Lonesome/I’ll Fall In Love With You » (alas untraced). We finally find him back on Blue Ridge 516 in 1960/62 for « The Nahville Jail », again a fast and fine Bluegrass number or « Wild Over Me » (great fast mandolin by Clinton Bullins?) on MKB 130 from 1968.
Way up North now for the Omaha, Nebraska Applause label : the TERRIFIC TABORS (with their leader Paul Tabor ? He at last holds the credit) offer a pretty weird mix of Bluegrass (unisson chorus) and garage rocker on « Rockin’ The Boat » from 1961. There’s even what sounds a steel behind the backing of guitars. The flip side, which sounds an instrumental (« Tabor Tromp ») remains untraced.
Real old Hillbilly now by CHARLIE BOWMAN& His Hill Billies on the Brunswick label. Bowman was a fiddler and a banjo player on several sides cut in New York with the Hopkins Brothers between October 1926 and May 1927 : « East Tennessee Blues » and « Riding That Mule ».
Finally a SHORTY LONG, who has apparently nothing to do with the S. Long I discussed thoroughly earlier in this site, does a romping R&B rocker (saxes), although the voice sounds white, with « Redstone John » on the K-Son label (# 7283). Location unknown.
Very little is known about this Texas artist, except the information on labels and two comments after his solitary 1952-53 issue as published by Andrew Brown’s “wired-for-sound.blogspot” site.
“Ramblin’ Fool” is a Gold Star pressing, dating from around 1952-53. Glen Barber, whose band provides the music here, was probably still a student at Pasadena High School when he cut this. The steel guitarist is “Dusty” Carroll, and the fiddler is Charlie Frost. Musically, this is far from great, but hey, it’s a group of teen-agers. Cut them some slack. Flipside “Let me show us how” is an uptempo weeper. Young Glen Barber is invited to do his (very tame) solo.
In 1956 for a label of the same name (Premium 344), Bashful Vic Thomas (note his entire name) had “Rock and roll tonight“, a prime example of a country band thinking that they could jump on the rock and roll bandwagon by simply writing a song that had the words “rock and roll” in the lyrics — leaving the steel and fiddle intact. I suspect that teenagers at the time weren’t impressed, but the honky-tonkers probably thought they were being “hip” by dancing to it. Flipside is Hank Williams‘ “You’re gonna change (or I’m gonna leave”, well done and very fast in the Thomas manner – copyrights go to Thomas. Actually “You’re gonna change” sound like an entirely new song and I wonder if Thomas only got the tune’s title from Hank.
Bashful Vic lived up to his name — I’ve never heard anyone on the Houston ’50s scene mention him at all. After re-cutting “Ramblin’ Fool” for Applause, an Omaha, Nebraska label in 1960, he disappears from the vinyl map completely except for the Memory 45. Flipside of the Applause 45 was a modern and energetic (for the times being) revamp of his 1956 “You’re gonna change“.
The Memory 45 is from 1961, and originate from Chula Vista, California, a fact which indicate Vic Thomas was a well traveled artist. It’s a Starday custom double sider of lovely but forgettable country ballads, “A fool in love” and “I wonder“. Thanks to Allan Turner to have provided the label scans as well as sound files. Vic Thomas later in his life moved to Florida and eventually was committed to an asylum for his depression. Originally from New York City, Vic was attracted to the sweet sounds of West Texas troubadors and aspired to be one himself.
It is almost certain that the Vic Thomas of “Marianne” fame, a white doo-wop song from 1963-64 on Philips, is a completely different artist.
Notes and sources: Boppin’ hillbilly Vol. 2002 and 2022 for short snippets on Vic Thomas. Comments on Premium 101 “Ramblin’ fool” on Andrew Brown’s “Wired-for-sound” bloodspot. Thanks to Allan Turner for providing rare scans and sound files. Music and scans of Applause from somelocalloser bloodspot (2013).