Hello Folks ! This is the late May 2017 bopping fortnite’s selection. It begins with a Starday custom disc on the Friendly label [from Milan, TN] (# 853) by RAY BELL : « Yodelin’ catfish blues » [what a title!], which is a cross, in my mind, between Rockabilly and Bopper. Dating from 1960 or even later. No guitar solo. A good song anyway which growns on one’s ears at every listening. Bell had another disc on Queen (obviously distributed by King), but a Jay Miller production: it is a suggestion of a Louisiana recording or at least a link. Same Queen label has a Miller protégé, Katie Webster. So the link may be strong. « Blues tavern » (# 24006, June 1961) is a decent uptempo hillbilly ballad. He also had two “leased” titles on the same date which went unissued at King.
Next selection is by three guys (brothers) also well-known, first as the Willis Brothers (led by the eldest of them, James « Guy » Willis) then later as OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS. They put between 1946 and 54 on line a fine string of Country rockers and hillbilly Boppers. I’ve chosen – an uneasy task – two boppers. First the fast «Hoot howl boogie » from April 1951, issued on RCA 20-4309. Piano accompanying throughout the tune (Vic Willis), nice guitar solo (Guy Willis) over a fiddle part (Skeeter Willis) + two unknowns : steel player and a thudding double-bassist. It has an irressistible beat.
Second song is a program per se : « Hillbilly rhythm » (RCA 20-4848, cut May 1952). Not as fast as the previous song, it’s excellent all the way. Fiddle part is more prominent, while the brothers sing the refrain in unison. Guy Willis even plays in a style Merle Travis had done famous several years ago. More on the Oklahoma Wranglers in a not too distant future, when I put my hands on biographical details.
MALCOLM PARKER seems to have migrated from Nashville to West coast (or was it the opposite). The first record noticed was on a California label, Mesa 101: a mid-tempo, nice rhythm-guitar and vocal led for « The tears you saved », stylistically from the early ’60s, although the label indicate « Stereo », which may indicate a 1970’s issue: a great record for this era! Then a second issue on Code, a Nashville label (# 301), early ’60s too. It’s a great rocker (piano and great guitar solo) for « Come along with me ». Perhaps different artists with the same name ? I found (but unheard) one side described by its vendor as « hillbilly » , « The panther den/We’re through » on the Bee (location unknown : label too much damaged), on the RootsVinylGuide site, which is usually very helpful. But not this time ! Anyone help us all?
ART ONTARIO is a well-known figure among Rockabilly circles. He had releases on Dixie (« It must be me », # 2019 (Madison, TN) in 1959, then as Art Buchanan, on sparse Dixie regional issues or on Flame during the early ’60s. Now a rare Starday custom, Illinois label (# 725) presents « Wiggle walkin’ boogie ». A great vocal, an insistant lead guitar (solo) over fine inventive drums. A nice record.
A jumping little tune now on an Atlanta Leo’s label (# 2016) for BLUEGRASS ERVIN : « I won’t cry alone ». Lots of fiddle (at times, played pizzicato, like a mandolin; at other times, duetting with steel). Steel is great, plus a clever guitar player. A great, great light country-rocker !
Finally FREEMAN ERVIN [apparently no connection with the preceding artist] in 1962 for « Living doll » on the Newbury, OH Bryte label # 241. Banjo-led, and high-pitched vocal. Good bopping Bluegrass to finish this issue.
Sources: thanks to UncleGil Rockin’ Archives (Oklahoma Wranglers files) ; HillbillyBoogie1 Youtube chain ; RootsVinylGuide for various scans, as 78rpm-world ; BF CD for Carl Butler personal on this session ; RCS for Art Ontario.
More of these Hillbilly bop duets, even a foray into Rock’n’Roll (country overtones)
It’s useless to present the DELMORE Brohers (Rabon & Alton). They began their career in 1931 ! When they stopped at King studio in Cincinnati in 1946, they cut many, many Hillblly boogies, either as vocal duet, or with spare instrumentation (Wayne Raney and Lonnie Glosson on harmonica). It’s been a real task to choose « Down home boogie » (King 784AA) : the Brothers sing in harmony for this romper cut in November 1947 in Cincinnati. Lead electric guitar player could be Roy Lanham or Zeke Turner.
A dozen years later or so, a man led a typical Hillbilly combo : JERRY DOVE (instrument unknown). He had already put a minor rockabilly classic in 1956, « Pink bow tie » on T.N.T. Label (# 144), but he was more a producer and musician than a singer. Here he gathers the duet (male/female) of Ray Stone and Dove’s wife, Peggy. First side is bluesy, and very atmospheric : « Losin’ the blues » (# 173), paired with an uptempo « Why don’t you love me » from 1959.
Let’s get back to December 1947 with the Arkansas born real ARMSTRONG TWINS. They recorded for 4* a serie of boogies showing the prowesses of Lloyd on mandolin, Floyd backing on guitar, especially on « Mandolin boogie » (4* 1231), a fast and furious piece of Bluegrass.
More of the same with RUFUS SHOFFNER & JOYCE SONGER, clearly billed « Vocal duet » although both join on chorus only, with the powerful « It always happens to me » on the Detroit’s Hi-Q label (# 17) from 1962. Awesome and driving guitar playing by Earl Songer’s ex-wife. Both seem unlucky in the song.
Next is « Truck driver’s boogie » by the MILO TWINS (Edwin and Edward), originally from Arkansas. Their style is pretty close to that of the DELMORE, the CALLAHAN, the SHELTON or the YORK Brothers. Released December 947 on Capitol 40138: fine harmony vocals over a good harmonica playing.
Finally GENE PARSON’S BAND, who’s backing Kimble and Wanda Janes on vocals in a classic, « Night club Rock’n’roll » from March 1959 on Southland label (# 4501) from lllinois. Parson was the owner of this small label. He already had cut for Chicago’s Eko label. I’m pretty sure this Gene Parson has nothing to do with the member of Byrds or Flying Burrito Brothers bands of the ’60s. The Southland issue falls into a collector’s hands for $ 400-500.
Howdy folks, the first serie of the two selections for May.
The exuberant “It always happens to me” by RUFUS SHOFFNER & JOYCE SONGER (wife of Earl) cut in Detroit in 1962 seems stylistically go back to the mid to late ’50s. It’s a great fast bopper (piano, guitar and an energetic rhythm, and an exulting duet vocal), which was issued on Fortune’s label subsidiary Hi-Q 14, and can still be found on various recent compilations, as in Boppin’ Hillbilly vol. 5. Shoffner made several fine sides on Hi-Q or Fortune, or earlier on Kentucky’s Countryside label. More on him later in this site. “It always happens to me“
More famous from the West coast is TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD (1919-1991),who cut a fine string of Hillbilly boogies from the end of the ’40s (“Milk ’em in the morning blues“) to the mid-50s, when he crossed the marked with the top-seller “Sixteen tons” (written by Merle Travis). Here he delivers from July 1950 on Capitol 1295 the much acclaimed “The shot gun boogie” (which had many, many versions later by others, even during the R&R era, f.e. Jesse Lee Turner), backed by the Cliffie Stone crew, among them the excellent Speedy West (steel), Billy Liebert (piano) and Jimmy Bryant (ld guitar).
For the rest of the selections, we’re turning to obscure artists. From Pennsylvania in 1958 on the Skyline label (not to be confused with the Indianapolis label: the Blankenship Brothers) # 106 comes BOB ENGLAR and ” Always dreaming“, a very nice bopper (guitar/steel/fiddle solos). FRANK DARRIS had in 1963 the same energy as Englar for an honest Rockabilly, his personal version of Marty Robbins’ “Ruby Ann” on the Roy label. The wizardry is the same two-sided disc came on two other labels, Thunder and Advance. Another Rockabilly we find from Alabama, early ’60s, “Baby I don’t care” (not the Elvis’ song) by DAVID GREGG on the McDowell label.
Finally the same song, “Blue eyed baby” is a yodeling bopper first issued in 1956 on Esta 284 (untraced)and later recorded twice by DEMPSEY SIMS in 1957 on Huber (time 2’39”) and Sam (time 2’07”). The Sam version seems more polished. Dempsey later had “Blues tomorrow” in 1967 on the Nashville label.
I feel sorry for the light defaults of the scans: my sight is failing (too much reading microscopic master numbers on records!)
First from the West Coast, a fine crossing between Hillbilly Bop and Rock’n’Roll (because of the drumming): DICK MILLER and “Now I’ Gone“. I’ve added a second song from him, very different, this time, 1957 on Mercury Records, “My Tears Will Seal It Closed“.
Eddie Hill and “The Hot Guitar” was combination of various guitar stylings, Merle Travis, Hank Garland, Chet Atkins.Very nice fast tune.
Rufus Shoffner is not a stranger. Here on Detroit’s HI-Q label, he delivers an energetic “It Always Happens To Me“, backed by his sister/wife (I don’t know) Joyce Shoffner.
A real mystery now. Ked Killen was cutting Hillbilly Bop as late as 1969 on WESTERN RANCH. Bopping has recently posted a track by him (Fortnight’s favorites, May 2010). Here “You’d better Take Time“, on a Starday Custom pressing, has welcome gospel overtones. The name HIRAM PHILMON isn’t that common: he cut on his own PHILMON label the fine Hillbilly “I‘m Lonesome Baby“. Just to finish with someone who, with is biting guitar sound, was very close to Rock’n’Roll, FRANKIE LEE SIMS – he cut for Specialty, here on Johnny Vincent’s VIN label, the great “She Likes To Boogie Real Low“.
James Faye “Roy” Hall was born on May 7, 1922, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. An old colored man taught him to play piano, and to drink. By the time Roy turned twenty-one, he knew that he was the best drunken piano-player in Big Stone Gap, and armed with the pride and confidence that this knowledge gave him, he departed the town of his birth to seek fame. Roy made it to Bristol and farther, pumping boogie-woogie in every Virginia, Tennessee, or Alabama beer-joint that had a piano. He played those pianos fast and hard and sinful, like that colored man who had taught him back in Big Stone Gap; but he sang like the hillbilly that he was. He organized his own band, Roy Hall and His Cohutta Mountain Boys (Cohutta was part of the Appalachians, in the shadows of whose foothills he had been raised up). It was a five-piece band, with Tommy Odum on lead guitar, Bud White on rhythm guitar, Flash Griner on bass, and Frankie Brumbalough on fiddle. Roy pounded the piano and did most of the singing; but everybody else in the band sang too.(more…)