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

Jimmie Logsdon: the early years (1951-1958)

Jimmie Lloyd Logsdon was born on April 1, 1922 in Panther, Kentucky. His father was a self-taught man who made it through a Methodist seminary. He was a circuit rider in Kentucky during his early years as a preacher and was then posted to several towns while Jimmie was growing up.

The beginnings

Music for the first 15 years of Jimmie’s life was gospel, the only music he had heard around his gospel surroundings. He and his sister sang in the choir. They put on shows and entered amateur contests. When the family lived in southeastern Kentucky, he heard blues singers and secular country music at ice cream parties and other social events. Later, he was impressed by rhythm & blues and especially remembers Erskine Hawkins’ “After Hours” as a record that made a deep impression on him. Glenn Miller, Gershwin and the popular music of the day also had an impact but not as much as blues and country.

The 1940s

In 1940, he was graduated from high school in Ludlow, Kentucky, and in the fall he married his first wife. He started working in Cincinnati installing public address systems. In 1944 he went to the service in the Air Corps, but never got further than technical training school in Madison, Wisconsin and an air base near San Antonio where he repaired the wiring on B-17s. Down in Texas, he heard Ernest Tubb and other Texas honky tonk singers. Locked up in the stockade for a few days, he remembers singing to a fellow inmate who was facing a term in Leavenworth. “That is where it all began, “Jimmie said.”

In 1946 Jimmie and the service parted ways. He then started a record and radio shop in La Grange, Kentucky, 25 miles northeast of Louisville. He picked up records from the Jimmie Skinner Record Center in Cincinnati to re-sell in his own store, and, after two years, decided that he would get into the music business. In 1948, he borrowed a guitar from some friends for a while and finally broke down and bought one from a pawn shop for 12 dollars. He learned a few basic chords, then cut some demos on an old recording machine he had in the back of the shop.

The first record

He got together a band and went to Cincinnati and cut his first record for Harvest Records, his own label : « It’s All Over Now (Harvest 401B) is a good uptempo bopper, well in the manner of the era (fiddle prominent, steel solo over a thudding bass). The flipside « Road of regret » is a real weeper. He did the recording at Herzogs which was the same studio where Hank Williams Sr. had cut “Lovesick Blues” about two years earlier.

The Decca years

He eventually wound up performing on a show in Louisville where the great Hank Williams was headlining. Hank told Jimmie that he would speak to someone in Nashville about getting Jimmie a contract. Meanwhile, Jimmie, in addition to doing shows and nightclub appearances, had a daily radio show. He interviewed lots of stars including Jim Reeves, Porter Waggoner, Merle Travis, Elvis Presley, Boyd Bennett, Les Paul and Mary Ford among others.

His career received a boost in 1953, when he became the host of a live country show on WHAS-TV, which also featured his backup group, the Golden Harvest Boys. Logsdon’s work for Decca was predominantly composed of country songs, but some of them verged on rockabilly. After Decca had dropped him in late 1954, Logsdon’s career took a dive, when the aftermath of a messy divorce drove him to drugs and a six-month stay in hospital. Vic McAlpin, his agent (also a prolific songwriter), got him onto Dot Records where he cut four songs in September 1955, the best being the bluesy « Cold Cold Rain »(Dot # 1274). He then went to Starday for one release : »I Can’t Make Up My Mind » is a rockabilly in essence, because the hiccups of Logsdon and the prominent steel (# 286, released March 1957).

Thus he was then ready for the next skip: his friend in Nashville, Vic McAlpin, called and said he had a possible recording deal for Jimmie with Roulette Records. By this time Rockabilly was coming into full swing and hardly any label wanted a country singer on their roster. Jimmie had gotten an idea for a song called “Where The Rio De Rosa Flows” when he was in San Antonio during the war. In August 1957 he recorded this rockabilly song for Roulette ( # 7001 in the short-lived Roulette C&W serie) and it was a big hit in several markets including Memphis where Carl Perkins heard it and covered it on a Columbia album («  Whole Lotta Shakin’ », Columbia 1234) shortly after Jimmie’s version was released.

Jimmie and Vic McAlpin also wrote “I’ve Got a Rocket in My Pocket.” To some, this might seem like a dirty song, but Jimmie insists that it was just a nonsense thing. It is still a standard and was used in the sound track of the movie, “the Right Stuff.” The reason Vic McAlpin and Jimmie decided to use the pseudonym “Jimmie Lloyd” when recording for Roulette Records was that Jimmie knew that country fans are loyal and maybe would not forgive him for singing rock and roll if they knew it was really him singing. Hardly any of his country fans knew that Jimmie Lloyd was in reality, Jimmie Logsdon.
He was released from his Roulette contract after the 2nd record and he realized that at this age, he might be a little old to be rocking and rolling.

Sources : my own archives ; HBR for Selective ; 45worlds for Tommy Sargent, Ray Whitley and Tommy Magness label scans.

Cashbox, sept. 14, 1957

Please see the follow-up to this story in: Jimmie Logsdon, the later years (1962-1982)

Billy Wallace, successful songwriter and not-so-well known notwithstanding hillbilly and rockabilly singer (1950-1964)

Billy Wallace had one of the most unique voices in rockabilly music and played a different guitar style than most of the guitarists back then would do. Both, his voice and full-bodied guitar play worked well together on his classic session with the Bama Drifters in 1956 for Mercury Records, on which he laid down four songs. But Wallace had also a long and more successful (but also unknown) career in songwriting. He never achieved the honor he should have. billy wallace     Wallace was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1917, but his family moved soon after to Athens, Alabama. Previously, his father had worked on the oil fields in Oklahoma. He grew up on his father’s farm and learned to play the guitar at an early age. As a teenager, he began to write songs and was later influenced by the country music stars back then like the Delmore Brothers, Rex Griffin and Roy Acuff but also listened to Hank Smith, Ernest Tubb and Hal Smith. (more…)