Early December 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the latest batch of bopping goodies – and the penultimate 2019 selection. You will have to be comprehensive with label scans, that don’t match the usual bopping.org criteria : as a matter of fact I am experiencing the latest Photoshop version and not completely familiar with it. Anyway the music is still intact and ready for listening/downloading. So let’s go.

Ted Daffan’s Texans

TED DAFFAN (1912-1996) was a bandleader and prolific songwriter (and steel guitar player) since the mid-30s. Backed by his Texans, he wrote many hits and classics: just one among others, the abundantly revised later « Born To Lose » from 1941. Here he is with « Car Hop Blues », orginally published on Okeh 6452, then reissued in June 1947 on Columbia 37438 then 20165 : a fine shuffler, indeed adorned by Daffan’s steel, plus accordion and a bluesy guiar. The vocal is done by the disillusioned Chuck Keeshan. A short note : Daffan had his own label in ’55-’58, which released fine records by Jerry Irby « Clickety Clack »), Jerry Jericho (« These Hands »), Fidlo (« Triflin’ Heart ») or William Penix « Dig That Crazy Driver » .

Jimmie Ballard

As vocalist for Buffalo Johnson & His Herd on Kentucky 520 (1950, Cincinnati), JIMMIE BALLARD cut the two risqué « Tappin’ Boogie » and « T’ain’t Big Enough ». Great boppers, the fastest being the A-side – great walking bass for a combination of guitar and steel over a non-sense vocal. The B-side is slowier, although equally good.

Billboard Sept. 27th, 1952

Billboard, Dec. 20th, 1952

This time two years later on King, as JIMMY BALLARD, he once more had very fine records. The double-sided « I Want A Bow-Legged Woman » and « Shes Got Something » are both superior boppers, drums present – actually pre-rockabilly tunes. Nice steel and vocally fluent.(King 1118). His later amusing « The Creek’s Gone Muddy (And The Fish Won’t Bite ») (# 1143) is done in a similar style. The agile guitar player in these sides could be the great Al Myers, who adorned several days before a Bob Newman session (« Phht ! You Were Gone »).

Adam Colwell, Tex White & the Country Cousins

Less and less known are both next artists. ADAM COLWELL is delivering in 1962 (Cincinnati) the fast « Open the Door » (some chorus, but great steel) on Ark 219, while TEX WHITE — is doing a medium nice uptempo on Nayco 2526 (location and date unknown – do you have any clue, Drunken Hobo?) with « You’re Wasting Your Tears ».

“Little Willie” Littlefield

Finally we got fabulous piano walking basses and tremendous high-pitched notes by LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD : his first record from 1948 on Houston’s Eddie’s 1202, « Little Willie’s Boogie » is very reminiscent of Amos Milburn great Aladdin wildies like « My Baby’s boogeing » or « Amo’s Boogie » ; Littlefield’s « Jim Wilson Boogie » on Federal 12221 is done in the same style.

Sources : HBR « Kentucky label » ; Will Agenant « Columbia 20000 serie » for Ted Daffan ; King Hillbilly Project (Jimmy Ballard) ; Gripsweat (Tex White, Adam Colwell) ; my own archives.

Late October 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, this is the late October 2019 favorites’ selection, and very different things this time.

These are two tracks of the nearest JIMMY MURPHY ever bordered to Rockabilly. A veteran (his 1951 sides on RCA-Victor) of Country bluesy sides, with an appeal to religious ones, like « Electricity ».(RCA 21-0447), and his two-sided November 1955 « Here Kitty Kitty »/ »I’m Looking For A Mustard Patch » (Columbia 21486) sounded (with Onie Wheeler on harmonica) as if they had been recorded in..1945. That was the main problem for Jimmy Murphy, always behind the times. Nevertheless great acoustic guitar and assured,vocal. A must for Rockabilly fans.

Next HANK CADWELL and the Saddle Kings on the West coast D’Oro label (# 103) do come with a Western swing tinged opus, « Alibi » from late ’40s : accordion solo, fiddle solo, lovely assured vocal and chorus.

Then ABE LINK, or A. BLINK (he went under both names) on the Ohio Canton label. « Skeleton Bookie », « and the Western Spotlighters » (S.T.R.C Canton 106) has beautiful steel effects for a Halloween (?) disc, while « Yodelin’ Blues » (Canton 107) is very different. A classic shuffling bopper from 1955. Lot of yodel of course, and a lot less steel.

We jump to 1961 for a male duet. A nice country-rocker by PHIL BEASLEY and CHARLEY BROWN on the Briar (# 111) label, from unknown location. « Good Gosh Gal » has loud drums, and a nice guitar throughout (a fine solo).

On the B.W. label (location unknown), here’s KENNY BIGGS (B.W. 615) for a nice Country-rocker « There’s No Excuse » (early ’60s). One expects in this very melodic tune some chorus (very unobstrusive if ever present).

Col. Tom Parker paid the Norfolk, Va. and Jacksonville, Fl. radio stations not to play PHIL GRAY’s disc on Rhythm 101, and even gathered the copies to destroy from a too Elvisy (Sun style) Rockabilly. He even had done to prevent Gene Vincent to be unplayed in vain. Gray was 15 years old when he cut « Pepper Hot Baby » and « Bluest Boy In Town ». Great guitar, Elvis-style hiccups (the song is like « Baby Let’s Play House »), a real success. This disc is so rare that a copy, when it comes on auction, may get as high as $ 3000 !

Finally a romper with AMOS MILBURN and his great rendition of the Don Raye’s classic, « Down The Road Apiece » (Aladdin 161, 1946-47). Great vocal, fabulous boogie piano.

Sources : YouTube ; 45cat, 78worlds, various compilations, W. Agenant « Columbia 20000 » serie, Gripsweat (A. Blink)

Fred Kirby, the N. Carolina Troubadour (1937-1952)



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cliff Carlisle & guitar

Cliff Carlisle

Fred (Frederick Austin) Kirby was born on July 19, 1910 in Charlotte, North Carolina. His father worked as a preacher and he had nine brothers and sisters. When he was a kid, Fred’s mother taught North Carolina maphim to play the guitar, and she later also helped him to master the fiddle. Fred became involved in the music business by accident: in 1927, while living in Florence, South Carolina, he joined his nephew to visit a friend at local radiostation WBT, and while singing some of his songs in the lobby of the station, Fred got noticed by a WBT employee. Fred was hired on the spot to make regular appearances on one of the station’s shows, and would remain to work for almost 20 years. In the early 1930s Fred lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked with people like Cliff Carlisle and with bands like “The Briarhoppers”, “The Smiling Cowboys” and “The Carolina Boys”.fred Kirby pic

Fred’s first recordings date from 1932 for the ARC label, but none of them have ever been released. In 1936 Fred signed with Victor’s Bluebird. His first recordings with Bluebird were “I’m A Gold Diggin Papa” and “The Lonesome Lullaby“. Next year he’d cut a session for Bluebird with Cliff Carlisle, which saw him duetting with Carlisle for « Cowboy’s Dying Dream ». It was even released in U.K. on Regal Zonophone. In 1938 Fred got signed by Decca where he recorded 16 songs. Quite a prolific artist in those days..Everyone then was yodeling, from Jimmie Rodgers to Gene Autry; so also did Kirby.

I’m A Gold Diggin’ Paparegal Kirby cowboy'sbluebird Kirby diggin'

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“Cowboy’s Dying Dream”

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In 1939 he and Don White, a musician from West Virginia with whom he had gotten acquainted in the early 1930s, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to work for radiostation WLM as the “Carolina Playboys”. The following year, Fred moved to St. Louis to join radiostation KMOX. In St. Louis he gained local fame for selling over 5 million dollars worth US War Bonds during the war

In 1943 Fred moved back to Charlotte, North Carolina and returned to his previous employer : WBT radio. Shortly after, he and Don White regrouped as the Carolina Playboys and in the years after the War they both recorded for the Sonora label, both as the Carolina Playboys and separately. It was with Sonora that Fred recorded his most successful song, “Atomic Power” (Sonora 7008) in May 1946: that song was later recorded by many other artists, including Rex Allen and Red Foley. Later on Kirby released a Decca issue, «  Precious Lord I’ll Be There  » (Decca 46083), giving an indication of his forthcoming career, secular as well as religious.

sonora Kirby atomicKirby standing corralAtomic Power”

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 During 1949, he was approached by M-G-M executives and signed a contract for 4 tunes to be recorded. The very best of them were the coupling of M-G-M 10474, the energetic «  Juke Box Jackson From Jacksonville  » and the amusing «  My Little Dog Loves Your Little Dog  ».m-g-m Kirby Jacksonville

Juke Box Jackson From Jacksonville”m-g-m Kirby dog

My Little Dog Loves Your Little Dog”

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Next year, on July 25, 1950 Fred signed a contract with Columbia to record 4 songs during the very same year. His first recording session was done some ten days later, on August 4 and Columbia released all four songs that were recorded on that occasion. «  My Zig Zaggin’ Baby  » (Columbia 20764) and «  My Red Hot Potato  » were good boppers (fine guitar).

Columbia Kirby zig“My Zig Zaggin’ Baby”Columbia Kirby potato


Cash Box Feb. 9th, 1950

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“My Red Hot Potato”

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In June 1951 Columbia prolonged Fred’s recording contract for another year, but it wasn’t until July 9, 1952 before Fred did another recording session. During that session, eight songs were recorded Columbia Kirby souland six of them were actually released by Columbia., among them the religious bopper «  My Soul Is Not For Sale  », also «  When The Devil Sends His Columbia Kirby devilCalling Card  » (Columbia 21056) ; “We’re No Longer Sweethearts” and “A Pocket Full Of Candy” remained unissued. This 1952 session turned out to be his last one for Columbia: due to the lack of success of his records, Columbia decided not to renew his contract. Later on Fred had a release on Gotham (a NYC/Philadelphia label) with the evergreen “Wreck Of The Old 97” (# 404), a very good version.l

My Soul Is Not For Sale”Gotham Kirby wreck

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When The Devil Sends His Calling Card”

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“Wreck Of The Old 97”

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In the early 1950s Fred again started working for WBT radio, but this time he mainly concentrated on radioshows for the younger audience. Later, when television became more popular he was very successfully as a producer and presenter of specialised kiddie shows: his “Junior Rancho” would run for over 20 years. Nevertheless, Fred’s radiowork lasted even longer: his shows were broadcasted until the spring of 1991. In the 1990s, Fred’s health progressively declined: he suffered from Parkinsons disease, which eventually forced him to move to a nursing home where he died on April 22, 1996.

 

Sources: biography mainly from W. Agenant “Columbia 20000 serie”; additions from “hillbilly-music.com”; pictures from google. Soundfiles and label scans from the indefatigable Ronald Keppner: my warmest thanks to him, whom the feature could not have been written and completed without. ; also some help from UncleGil Rockin’ archives. The rest is a matter of time and…love! Please leave a comment below!

Late April 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, folks ! Hello to past visitors ; hi ! to new ones. This is the late April 2019 fortnight’s selection.

Henry McPeak

Let’s begin with a Starday custom record issued mid-1959 by HENRY McPEAK on the HG label (# 771). McPeak was born 1929 in Snowville, Va. « I Feel Like Yelling » is a fast bopper : lots of guitar ( a great solo picking), an assured vocal (which reminds me of The Lonesome Drifter, alias Tommy Johnson). McPeak had another disc the next year on HG # 851 with « When You Kissed Me »: very different, more melodic. Again that good guitar, even a Rockabilly solo. The record goes on sale from $ 280 to 380.

Bob Burton

BOB BURTON next (aided by Rex Jennings and Shorty Ashford) delivers on Harry Glenn’s owned Mar-Vel 952 (issued 1954 in Hammond, IN) the good « Forty Acres Of My Heart » : a fast fiddle solo and a short steel solo. The three musicians join unison in the chorus. Of course, Burton had other good records on Mar-Vel as « Boogie Woogie Baby Of Mine » (Mar-Vel 951) or « Tired Of Rockin’ » (Mar-Vel 953, 1956).

Johnny Dollar

Next was issued in 1961 on the D label # 1185. Good bopper is « Crawling Back To You » by JOHNNY DOLLAR, great steel led on a fast number. Dollar (his real name), despite many a good record, never got it big, and remained a minor artist. He had several occupations : truck driver, life insurance salesman, lumber yard man among others when he could. He was also dee-jaying (thanks Merle Kilgore) on Shreveport’s KZAE, and finally cut for D, aided by Shelby Singleton.

Johnny Bond

An oldie (1950) on Columbia 20704 now : JOHNNY BOND was a constant Bopper in the early ’50s with things like this « Mean Mama Boogie », cut on the West coast. Great harmonica by Jerry Adler, a little guitar by Jerry Scoggins ; Bond is in particularly good voice.

Jim Oertling

On the Hammond label and as late as 1965, here’s JIM OERTLING & the Bayou Boys for two selections. « Old Moss Back » (# 267) has a terrific guitar intro, an urgent vocal and a fine guitar solo. « Back Forty » (# 268) is a mid-tempo with nice vocal and a Rockabilly guitar solo.

Tommy Elliott

Finally back in the early 50s with TOMMY ELLIOTT and the Line Riders. « Same Dog Bit Me » was released on Texas Time label (# 130) and is a hillbilly bopper, fast fiddle-led with a nice upright bass.

Sources : YouTube ; Notes to D Singles vol. 1 (BF) ; the autobiography of Johnny Bond (a JEMF book) ; «Ohio river » for Bob Burton details ; 78-worlds for Tommy Elliott.

“No Shoes Boogie”, the underrated CHARLIE HARRIS (1951-1964)

Not to be confused with Nat King Cole’s bass player in the ’50s, this Charlie Harris is a Texas music legend who has been active in genres such as Western swing and country & western for at least half a century. One of Harris’ biggest fans is country icon Willie Nelson. The red-headed stranger took time in a 1974 written tribute to Bob Wills to also lavish praise on a group known as the Texas Top Hands. This is one of at least two legendary Texas music outfits that this guitarist has played with; another is Ray Price & the Cherokee Cowboys Band. This Charlie Harris has nothing to do with the one on King (early ’60s) or Golden Eagle label, neither more with Bob Tucker, who cut for State # 4002 the great bopper « Quit Draggin’ Your Feet ».

With Ray Price, Harris took on the important responsibility as frontman, stepping forward at the start of the show to warm up the audience and set the stage for the arrival of the headliner. He also took on this role with country star Stonewall Jackson. Fiddlers Johnny Bush and Buck Buchanan were also members of the Texas Top Hands who continued to be Harris’ associates in the Price outfit. The magnificent Johnny Bush — one of the only people with this surname that Texans are really enthusiastic about — actually played drums in the Texas Top Hands before he switched to fiddle. (Bush and Jimmy Day played together in 1997 in the Offenders, a Texas superband project that also involved Nelson and many others.) In the much dimmer past, Harris also worked in Western swing combos led by Adolph Hofner.

No biographical statistics on Harris are available, except he was a Texas native, and must have been in his early ’20s at the beginning of the 1950’s.

First record which Charlie Harris appears on is a R. D. Hendon’s Western Jamboree Cowboys disc in 1950, on the Freedom label. The origins of the Western Jamboree Cowboys, one of Houston’s most popular and prolific post-war country groups, can be traced to 1947, when some young musicians formed a group to appear at a small downtown nitery called the Sphinx Club, which was run by R.D. Hendon, an ex-oilfield roughneck and Navy veteran from Marquez, Texas. By 1949, the band who called themselves the South Texas Cowboys, were proving so popular that Hendon realized he needed a much bigger club to accommodate the crowds. So he purchased the Old main Street dance Hall – better known by his street address, 105 ½ Main – gave it a ‘western’ theme and rechristened it the Western Jamboree Night Club. The band’s name change followed suit and, by 1950, the club was drawing huge crowds six nights a week. In addition, the band broadcast live over KLEE, where Hendon also worked as a disc jockey. Hendon insisted on putting his name up front as the band’s leader, although his complete lack of musical talent prevented him, for the most part, from being much more than an announcer.

« No shoes boogie » (Freedom 5033), probably the Cowboys’ earliest recording, was virtually an advertisement for the Western Jamboree Club and is unquestionably one of the best Freedom records, an excellent example of the hard-rocking, shuffle-beat swing that was common in Texas before rock and roll. Recorded at Gold Star and released in March 1951, « No shoes boogie » features one of the best of Hendon’s ever-changing lineups. In addition to the excellent vocal and hot electric guitar work of Charlie Harris, the group included Theron Poteet (piano), Johnny Cooper (rhythm guitar), Tiny Smith(bass) and Don Brewer (drums). As often was the case on Freedom sessions, the band’s regular steel man (Joe Brewer) was replaced on this date by former Texas Playboy Herb Remington. Remington’s fills behind Harris’ vocal and his dazzinly fast single-string solo rate among his finest, most exciting performances. Flipside by comparison is a tame weepy ballad, « Those Tears In Your Eyes »

After the Freedom session, the Western Jamboree Cowboys recorded numerous sides for Four Star (Charlie Harris vocal), Gilt Edge, Blue Ribbon, Shamrock and Starday and featured such musicians as singer-guitarist Eddie Noack, the underrated Harold Sharp and trumpeteer-vocalist Bill Taylor.

The Four Star recordings were inaugurated by another coupling, yet under the name « R. D. Henden »[sic] that featured Charlie Harris on vocal, who was soon to leave the group. « Oh ! Mr. President » (4* X-20) was a rush-job in the spring of 1951, a rare, overtly political song dealing with the firing of General MacArthur by President Truman. «The flipside « Don’t Say No » was a real weeper, again sung by Harris, and musically forgettable.

After leaving the Cowboys, Charlie Harris went on to work with Gabe Tucker in Houston, Walt Kleypas and Adolph Hofner in San Antonio, and later played and recorded with Ray Price, among others. The almost ten-years tenure of the Western Jamboree Cowboys came to an abrupt end when R. D. Hendon, who’d always suffered from bouts of depression, committed suicide on September 8, 1956. The Western Jamboree Club remained vacant for several years after his death and was eventually demolished around 1960, symbolizing the end of an era.

While largely a sideman, Harris also stepped forward to host his own television show out of Corpus Christi, an endeavor that managed a secure broadcast spot for a surprisingly long time.

Bass player Gabe Tucker was a familiar band leader and promoter frequently seen in the Nashville area: indeed he had been a part of the original Nashville edition of Eddy Arnold’s Tennessee Plowboys. He recorded at least one Texas session himself which he sent in to Dot (located in Gallatin, Tennessee). Randy Wood (Dot’s owner) created a short-lived 200 serie for bought material and released Gabe’s (& His Musical Ramblers) fine bluesy « It’d surprise you » (Dot 201), which became a popular song for others : Red Sovine had his own version on M-G-M (# 11214) ; the Tucker labelmate Margie Day, fronting the Griffin Brothers, cut her own, R&B style (Dot 1094). It was actually covered by female singers like Rosalie Allen (on RCA-Victor), who found it an ideal song to air the woman’s point of view. The Gabe Tucker sides represent the only truly authentic (Texas) Western swing on Dot Records. The trumpet had been popular for a good amount of years but was going out of style by the time this record appeared. Charlie Harris takes all the vocals but is not credited on the labels, including the interesting novelty « Cracker barrel farmer » (# 201), with the unusually clever lyrics and the songs clicked despite their old-fashioned sound.

Red Sovine

From a different session and better recorded, « You better do better baby » (# 204) is another classy performance by Harris which could just possibly originate fom a Nashville session. It’s backed by the fine uptempo ballad « Rainyday Sweetheart ».
From various Dot sessions came also the fast « Jive Around Old Joe Clark » and the excellent shuffler « Streamline Country Girl » (# 1097).

Harris was apparently Tucker’s front man, this time credited, for another performance on the Gaylord [real forname to Tucker] Music label (# 4926), two nice ballads and again classy performances : « I’m Reaping Heartaches Over You » and « You’re The Only Love ».

We only find Harris again on vocal for « Sing A Sad Song », cut during a Ray Price session in December 1964 for Columbia, again a ballad, a genre in which he’d excel.

One can come across two more 45s by Harris on the Mega label in the early ’70s (untraced).

Sources : From Andrew Brown & Kevin Coffey notes to « Heading back to Houston » Krazy Kat 12 ; YouTube’s « Hillbilly Boogie1 » chain ; my own archives ; 78-worlds (Gaylord and Dot label scans) ; Ronald Keppner for Gaylord sound and Freedom B-side ; Steve Hathaway for 4* X-20 soundfiles ; Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide.