Howdy folks ! En route for a new batch of bopping billies, mostly from the late ’40s-early ’50s, with the occasional foray into the early ’60s.
We begin this fortnight with an artist I’d already post a song in March 2011 – that is more than 5 1/2 years. CURLEY COLE was a D.J. in Paducah, KY and a multi-instrumentist. Here he delivers on the Gilt-Edge label (a sublabel to Four Star, as everyone knows) the fine bopper « I’m going to roll » (# 5028). It’s a proto-rockabilly in essence, as a train song, from 1952. Cole also had another on Gilt-Edge 5016, « I’m leaving now/For now I’m free » (unheard).
The second artist of this serie also appeared in January 2016, but with different tracks. DON WHITNEY was a D.J. for Radio KLCN out of Blytheville, AR. in 1951 when he cut for Four Star « I’m gonna take my time, loving you » (# 1548), again a nice bopper. Later on, he had the romper « G I boogie » (# 1581) in late 1951. Minimal instrumentation (lead guitar, rhythm, bass [it even got a solo], a barely audible fidde) but a lot of excitement. At the beginning of this year I’d posted both his «Red hot boogie » and « Move on blues ».
From Vidalia, GA. Came in 1960 the group Twiggs Co. Playboys for a (great for the era) Hillbilly bopper, « Too many ». Very nice interplay between fiddle and steel (solos) over an assured vocal (Gala # 109). This label is now more known for its rockers (Billy « Echo » Adkinson, The Sabres, Otis White) than for Country records.
It is useless to present HANK PENNY. To quote the late Breathless Dan Coffey in a very old issue of his magazine « Boppin’ news », and a feature on Jerry Lee Lewis : « If you don’t know what happened to him, you shouldn’t read this mag ! ». From the heyday of his discographical career (which spanned from the late ’30s until 1969), actually of a constant highest level on a par with his popularity, however I was forced to choose two songs he cut for King Records between 1945 and 47, but released on the same 78rpm, King 842, late 1949 or early 50. « Now ain’t you glad dear », cut in Pasadena, CA. in Oct. 1945 at the same session as « Steel guitar stomp » and « Two-timin’ mama », is a fast brillant Western bopper backed in particular by Merle Travis (lead guitar) and Noël Boggs (steel). The other side, recorded in Nashville two years later, and penned by Danny Dedmon (Imperial artist and member of Bill Nettles‘ Dixie Blue Boys) isn’t not at all a slow blues : « Got the Louisiana blues » is equally fast as the B-side, and showcases James Grishaw on guitar, Louie Innis on bass and Bob Foster on steel. A great record.
Next artist, whom I don’t know much on, is called CLAY ALLEN, from Dallas, Texas. He had two Hillbilly sessions between April and July 1951 for the Decca label (« I can’t keep smiling »,# 46324, is maybe scheduled for a future Fortnight). He was part of the Country Dudes on the Azalea label in 1959 with the very good rocker « Have a ball »). Later on, he cut several discs between 1961 and 1964 for the Dewey Groom‘s Longhorn label, « Broken heart » (# 516) for example. I’ve chosen « One too many » (# 547) as his great deep voice backed by a bass chords playing guitar comes for a great effect. Maybe later I’ll post the flipside « I’m changing the numbers on my telephone », but lacking space this time.
To round up this serie, here are two tracks by the Atlanta guitar virtuoso JERRY REED, early in career which he began on Capitol Records. From October 1955, there’s the traditional « If the Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise » (# 3294), done in a fast Hillbilly bop manner making its way onto Rockabilly. Both steel and fiddle have a good, although short solo, while Reed is in nice voice. He comes once more, this time recorded in January 1956 : « Mister Whiz » is frankly Rockabilly (# 3429) but the Hillbilly bop feeling is retained : a nice fiddle flows all along, while the guitar player may be (to my ears at least) Grady Martin. Capitol files and Praguefrank are silent on the personnel of Jerry Reed sessions, a pity.
Sources: mostly 78rpm-world or my archives; John E. Burton YouTube chain (Twiggs Co. Playboys); various researches on the Net. Countrydiscographies.com (Praguefrank) for Hank Penny and Jerry Reed data.
Some real rarities this time, several being medium-paced. The name JACK HOLDEN does ring a bell ? With his brother Fairley he had on the White Church (ca. 1946-48) label some issues. We find him in 1948 on the sister label RED BARN (# 1152), located in St. Louis, MO, whom he released three singles for. Red Barn « Mama I’m sick » is a fast, typical late ’40s sounding bopper. Call-and-response format, it includes a vocal backed only by a powerful rhythm guitar and a great fiddle (Wayne Miskiff?). Holden appeared on Cincinnati « Renfro Valley Barn Dance ». Love his style.
Then in Louisiana’s West Monroe. Jiffy was a short-lived affair, however important by the quality of its issues, and the celebrity of some names, Jimmy Pickard, Tommy Spurlin or Jimmy Simpson. Here is the least known ED RAYBORN & his Southern Hillbillies, and the good medium paced « I’ll go on hurting » (# 208). Nice fiddle/steel and sincere vocal.
Kustum appears to have been a subsidiary to Jiffy, yet had only one issue # 4000 (an ambitious numbering) by DAVID CRAIG and the medium uptempo « Just forget it » : nice vocal & steel. Craig was also on Imperial (“Replace my heart” # 8284): hear him on a future Fortnight.
ERNIE HUNTER next was a long-time fiddler for various Starday sessions. Here he’s the leader for the very first Houston Longhorn label ( 503) « At ease my friend » (1957). Uptempo medium paced, piano led with confident vocal and steel. Hunter also appeared on a Gold Star custom Rainbow issue (# 1203/1204).
On the Rose City label (unknown location, # 1004), there’s nothing particular with « At the drug store cowboy’s ball » by ROY JACKSON. With much accordion, this record surely dates from the late ’40s. Good hillbilly bop.
There were at least two SNUFFY SMITH : one on Star Talent and own Snuffy Smith label ; the other on Western. I don’t know. Or his record which is called « Johnny Acton » is actually titled « Snuffy Smith » ? Anyway it’s great fast Rockabilly, urgent vocal backed by steel and a very nice lead guitar. Oops, Kasko label # 1644.
Finally on the Covina, CA. Toppa label (# 1014), let’s get late ’50s Hillbilly. Very intricating : piano, bass figure lead guitar, steel (solo) and..claphands and screams. It’s « I’m a country boy » by WALLY BLACK. He had already cut for Fable « Rock and roll mama » and apparently knew how to rock.
Source: main is Youtube (my favorite chains), also own researches on the Net.
For this last 2014 fortnight, I’m lacking time and imagination so I’ve chosen several particular records. We begin listening to BILL HICKS and the Southerners on Fortune 188 (from 1956) for two well driven rockabillies/boppers « She’s done gone » (slow) and « Blue flame » (fast).
The following artist has a long recording story behind him : he can be found as early as 1951 on Blue Bonnet, as part of the Texas Round-Up Gang. Later, DEWEY GROOM went to Mercury, then founded early ’60s his own Longhorn label, where he cut among other tunes « Butane blues » (# 517). I didn’t verify if this is the same track as Gene O’Quin‘s one.
Back to Louisville, Kentucky and the Pier-Wats label (# 1200), and the fast bopper (nice fiddle and steel) by F. EDDY PIERCE, « Your kisses don’t thrill me anymore ».
Finally GENE DAVIS, who meddled almost at any style of music since his beginnings in 1954 on the West coast : hillbilly, rockabilly (as « Bo Davis » on Crest), rock’n’roll (on R-Dell), finally back to Country on various labels. I’ve chosen both sides of his solitary TOPPA ’61 record (# 1110). « When he let’s her forget »[sic] and « I won’t care » are top notch California country-rockaballads (sublime Ralph Mooney on steel).
We don’t know anything about Jack Derrick’s early life. He seems to have emanated from Texas in 1921, and he began recording as early as 1946 in a sparse honky tonk (mainly guitars) instrumentation for King. This label did issue on both main serie as well as on Deluxe and Federal the result of 12 songs two sessions. Best tunes are one « Truck Drivin’ Man » , « Got Worried Blues In My Mind », “I Want A Woman (That Can Cook)” or « Triflin’ Baby ». I don’t know if any tune did meet the success, although « Truck Drivin’ Man » remains as a minor classic : it even has been re-recorded in the early ’60s on a « trucker » LP (# 866 “Truck Drivers Songs”). Another curiosity is the line in the song: “
“When my truck drivin’ man comes into town
I’ll dress up in my silken gown”
So Derrick was ahead of his time with a gay trucker song.
Later on we find Derrick on a solitary Majestic issue of 1950-51. Why he appeared on this West coast label is unknown. « Can’t Find The Keyhole » is of course a drunken song.
Derrick also had issues on the Clifton and Eagle labels (untraced) during the early 50s.
Back in 1955, Cowboy Jack Derrick was working at KNUZ in Houston, Texas. He hosted a show called the “KNUZ Corral” each day from 11:00am to 1:25pm, Monday through Saturday.??On Saturday night, he would sing and do comedy as well as part of the KNUZ Saturday Night Jamboree. To finish off his weekends of personal appearances, he performed at the Magnolia Gardens on Sundays where they did outdoor shows.??In late 1954, Biff Collie and Jack wrote Martha Ferguson of Pickin’ and Singin’ News that they had a ‘homecoming’ type of show lined up for their Christmas Jamboree show over KNUZ. Texas Bill Strength and Arlie Duff were to make appearances.??In May of 1955, we note that Jack wrote a letter of encouragement to the new publication, Country & Western Jamboree to help disc jockeys like himself keep up on the news.??In the summer of 1955, Jack wrote one of those regional roundup columns and gave us some insight into the KNUZ Saturday Night Jamboree show. It was held at the City auditorium and broadcast every Saturday night from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm. At that time, he told readers some of the members of their cast were Link Davis, Sonny Burns, Floyd Tillman, and, Burt and Charley. The show would also include guest appearances by other acts who were probably making appearances in the area and included such names as Red Foley, Tex Ritter, Eddie Dean, T. Texas Tyler, Tommy Collins and Jimmie Davis. He also told readers of another Jamboree show that he had learned about when he visited with the show’s organizer, Hank Jones over in Hammond, Louisiana. That show, The Southeastern Jamboree was held on Saturday nights at the Reimers Auditorium in Hammond.??
Finally he had two interesting boppers in 1955-57. One is on Starday (# 205) , « Waitin’ and Watchin’ », which is fine. Even better is the very first Longhorn issue « Black Mail », full of energy and happiness (# 501). After that Derrick disappears at least from the recording scene : only one more picture shows him in 1960 with Hal Harris.
Note. Drunken Hobo pointed out the two versions of “Truck Driving Man”, which had escaped me.
credits: Allan Turner for Federal and True-Tone (South Africa pressing) scans. Hillbilly Researcher for Majestic issue. “HillbillyBoogie1” (You tube) for the mid-50s bio details.Various sources (also own collection) for the rest. Comments welcome!