Texas Hillbilly bop (and Country ballads): COYE WILCOX (1950-1980)

Tire plant worker by day, honky-tonk singer by night, He had been born in Rusk, Texas, and had been performing around Houston since the mid-1940s. In late 1949 or 1950, he was drafted by the ubiquitous Jack Rhodes for a short time. His recording debut was made with Rhodes for Freedom in 1950. A solo release followed the next year, « I Need Someone Tonight » (Freedom 5006) is a very good mid-paced bopper, fiddle well to the fore. Flipside « One More Mistake » is a well done ballad and sounds promising for the things to come (steel to the fore).

In 1951-52, he released the fine double-sided Freedom 5040 with the same formula : « It’s Nobody’s Business  (What We Do)» and the wonderfully rural sounding of the uptempo « Look What Your Love Has Done To Me ». Apparently Wilcox held the violon.

He cut (unreleased at the time) in 1955 or 56 “Bird’s Nest On The Ground” (a Southern colloquialism meaning “a good thing”) which is pure Hank Williams, drawing out the best in both wonderfully rural Wilcox’s voice and the unindentiified musicians – probably some configuration of the Gold Star house band – accompanying him. It would have made a fine single for Sarg in 1956, but by this time Charlie Fitch was looking for material that encapsulated the present rather than pay homage to the past.

In 1959 he resurfaced this time in modern style on Azalea records. « You Gotta Quit Cheatin’ » was a mid-paced rocker (prominent piano solo) of first quality # 117). Flipside « I made A Mistake » (this man had apparently things to blame on himself for) does return to the old days, with the fiddle well to he fore and a bluesy Rockaballad nicely done.

On Azalea 123 Wilcox had his best ever rocker, the novelty « Zippy, Hippy, Dippy », backed by the folkish « Song Of Jesse James. »

Later on, he cut on Lu-Tex the ballad « Old Man Job » (1212) and the similar styled « Please Play Me A Song » (lot of steel).More Lu-Tex with « I’m Just Teasin’ Me » – good vocal, sensitive ballads (# 505) and « Path Of Tomorrow » (# 325) in 1976.

Then the last recordings on Orbit 1001, « I Just Laughed Till I Cried » and the countryish bopper « Old Hand Me Down ».

Sources: Andrew Brown for biographical details (Sarg Records Anthology); Ronald Keppner and Allan Turner for Freedom B-sides sound files – many thanks to them; Kent Heinemann for a Lu-Tex issue; 5cat for Lu-Tex label scans; YouTb for Azalea sound files and labels. My own archives: Google images.

JERRY IRBY: 2nd part (1949-1975)

The latest M-G-M’s, then Humming Bird, 4* and Daffan Records (1949-1956)

When the recording ban was lifted, late in 1949, Irby was back in the studio recording once again for M-G-M. However, his days with M-G-M were numbered. He cut just two sessions for the company before leaving the label in search of pastures new. His search for a new recording contract took him first to BillMcCall’s 4 Star label, where he cut two singles, then to his old friend H. B. Crowe in Houston, who had just formed his own label – Hummingbird .

Irby was reunited wih an old friend, Ted Daffan, a few years later, when he joined the rost of artists who had been signed by Daffan. Irby recorded for his new formed Daffan label: according to the era’s trends, he recorded Rock’n’Roll (“Clickety Clack”) and a revamp of his oldie “Forty Nine Women” on Polly records.

Following his span on Daffan, Irby recorded for a slew of small concerns, most of which were based in the Houston area, like Hi-Lo, Polly, J+B and Jer-Ray.

Then there followed a period of inactivity, as far as the recording scene was concerned, before Irby resurfaced in the early ’70’s cutting material for Bagatelle. Unlike his earlier recordings, Irby’s Bagatelle material was of a non secular nature. Irby had become a born again christian and was using his talent as a singer/songwriter to praise the works of the Lord . Why after all, as someone once said, should the devil have all the good tunes.

When Jerry Irby died in 1983, he left behind him a wealth of recorded material, that makes out of him one of the great Western Swing performers.

Sources: for the mot part (1942-1951) the 78rpm (sound files and label scans) do come from the huge, amazing Ronald Keppner’s collection. Thanks, Ron, for the help and care taken with the fabulous 78rpm sound. YouTube was used for later 45rpm, as well as Hillbilly Researcher (Humming Bird, # 06) for Irby and Pete Burke sides. Gripsweat for “Hurricane” (Jer-Ray, 1959).BF for “The Daffan label”. 45cat for label scans. Anonymous biography (certainly from Allan Turner’s hand) from Boppin’ Hillbilly series, volume devoted on Jerry Irby.

Late February 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks, this is the fourth portion of Country boogie or rockers for this 2020 year, and will contain no less than ten songs. I hope you will find something of interest here.

Lawson Rudd

A famous blogger and writer, Some Local Loser, posted in YouTube both sides of Starday 711. Originally released April 1958, this was the record debut for LAWON RUDD (born Salyersville, Ky in 1929 – deceased December 2011) backed by the Tippecanoe Valley Boys for two great sides. A-side was named « Country Town Girl », a superior uptempo mid-paced, great hillbilly vocal and rhythm guitar, fine steel all through the song (a short solo). B-side, « Blues On The Run » has a rhumba-beat (maraccas) and reminds one of Louisiana Lannis in « Much To Much » issued the year before (Starday 268){see Louisiana Lannis’ story elsewhere in this blog}.

But LAWSON RUDD’s best known side is to be found two years later (1960) on Kingsford Heights, Indiana based Harvest label (# 709) : « Shake This Town » has a lazy vocal, unobstrusive chorus and good backing for a late period Rockabilly : fine guitar and a trembling steel solo. The guitar player sounds as in Bill Bowen’s « Don’t Shoot Me Baby » (Meteor 5033) cut in April 1956, four years before ! Incidentally the flipside « No One Will Ever Know » couldn’t be traced, a pity..This disc is valued $ 100 to 150.

Paul Howard & Arkansas Cotton Pickers

The veteran PAUL HOWARD and his Arkansas Cotton Pickers do come next with « Texas Boogie » released in April 1949 on the King label 779. Actually a showcase, instrumental for the most part (steel, fiddle, guitar and of course a great piano) only adorrned by the vocal of RED PERKINS {see elsewhere in this blog his story}.

Red Perkins

Carolina Cotton

Then CAROLINA COTTON for a lazy vocal tune from May 1950 on M-G-M 10798B, « Lovin’ Ducky Daddy » has a ‘sugar’ voice, even some yodel and a good piano, but sparse backing (bass and drums).

Clay Allen & His Cimarron Playboys

More in 1950, on another major label (Decca 46324) the recording debut of CLAY ALLEN and his Cimarron Boys with « Evalina ». A good, although forgettable, uptempo ballad, the steel and the piano getting the better part behind the vocal.

The Country Dudes

Billboard, Sept. 28, 1959

Chuck Harding & His Colorado Cowhands

CHUCK HARDING was born in 1914 (Marion Cty, Ky.), the son of a minister who taught him the fiddle. With his Colorado Cowhands he released in March 1948 a fabulous « Talking The Blues » : really great bass, awesome vocal, mandolin, steel solo, great fiddle too. It was first released on Texas Blue Bonnet 135A, before being switched to a greater exposure on California’s Modern 581 in May of the same year. Personnel is wholly given on the back of Boppin’ Hillbilly # 19, issued a mere twenty years ago.

Harding was to have in March 1954 on the Des Moines, Ill. (a Northern suburb to Chicago) Replica label # 101 the fine double-sided « Stop Crying On My Shoulder » and « I’m Living In A Lonely World » : accordion well present to the fore (it has its solo), sparse backing and no fiddle but steel solo.

As a matter of comparison I add the original version of « Talking The Blues » (written by Harding and Pyle) by PETE PYLE on Bullet 602 released June 1946. Good guitar, fiddle solo, and a trembling steel over an extrovert vocal – a good disc, but not to the standard of Chuck Harding’s version.

Billboard May 27, 1954

And that’s it for this fortnight ! Pheewww, as usual, a lot of work (research and making-up) and a lot of fun too (listening to dozens songs before choosing the selection I prefer).

Sources: YouTube (Some Local Loser); 45cat and 78rpm worlds; Ohio River; HBR serie; my own archives