Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, 1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.
LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut “Two Timin’ Blues” and “Long Gone Daddy” at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next
year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, “I’m Lonesome,” “Sweet Bunch of Roses“, “Please make up your fickle mind” and “My Heart Tell Me.” all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single “Wee Willie Brown” for the Coral Records label.
court. Imperial Anglares
SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.
We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.
From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.
More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.
Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).
download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)
DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’reOne in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.
Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.
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!
Let’s visit the “contact me” page: I am selling albums and CDs – some 45s too – at very reasonable prices!
This time I will focus on an unknown Hillbilly/Rockabilly singer, who cut only 4 sides between 1953 and 1957. His story was covered in depth on the Rockabilly all of Fame site. So all I have to do is to let Shane Hughes speak. The singer is BILL BLEVINS. So here we go:
Biographical facts on Bill Blevins are pretty well scant. The meager details that have surfaced indicate that Bill was born in 1932, but exactly where is not known. His influences and inspirations are open to conjecture. Aurally, he draws an uncanny similarity to Jimmy Swan and, from a broader perspective, Hank Williams. This is borne out in Bill’s first recordings made for Lillian McMurray’s Jackson, Mississippi based Trumpet label in 1953. McMurray had arranged a series of sessions at Bill Holford’s ACA studio in Houston during the first week of February 1953. She had recorded a handful of masters by Werly Fairburn (sub-credited as The Delta Balladeer on what would be his debut recordings), Jimmy Swan, R. B. Mitchell (Jimmy Swan’s guitarist) and ‘Lucky’ Joe Almond on February 3. The following day, Bill Blevins was brought into the studio to record four sides, followed by brief sessions by Tex Dean and Glen West. Exactly how Bill came to the attention of McMurray is not known, but he was teamed with an aggregation of studio musicians, most of whom were well known Houston players. Indiana born steel guitarist Herb Remington, who had arrived in Houston three years earlier, led this group of top flight musicians, that included guitarist Bill Buckner, fiddle player Douglas Myers and seasoned bass player ‘Buck’ Henson, who had earlier worked with Dickie McBride, Deacon ‘Rag Mop’ Anderson, Richard Prine and Cliff Bruner. Of the four sides cut, McMurray chose to release only two numbers on Trumpet 200. ‘An Hour Late And A Dollar Short’ is reminiscent of Jimmy Swan’s lightly swinging ‘Juke Joint Mama’ (recorded for Trumpet the previous year) and is an interesting precursor to Billy Barton’s ‘Day Late And A Dollar Short’ (Billy Barton 1007).
After one release on Trumpet in 1953, Bill was not heard of again until ’57 when he surfaced on the one off Houston based National label. According to Andrew Brown, two titles were cut during the early months of ’57 in a garage somewhere in Houston. The backing on both tunes is fairly sparse, indicating only lead guitar and bass accompaniment. Brown continued, “Bill was drunk at this session, hence the excessively abused phrase ‘drunken southern rockabilly’ actually is applicable for once”. After listening to the National disc, particularly « Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin’ », it’s easy to hear in Bill’s slurred pronunciation that he had more than just a tipple before kicking off the session. Both tunes, however, are premium examples of lazy Lone Star rockabilly. ‘Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin” is as salacious as the title suggests and the second cut from the session, the self-penned ‘Crazy Blues’, is a slow burning moody piece that draws from the rich musical melting pot of Texas. In ‘Crazy Blues’, a well cultured listener will detect hints of early country blues, like those hollered by Texas Alexander, Blind Lemon Jefferson or Ramblin’ Thomas during the nineteen twenties. Indeed, ’30’s steel guitar wizard and one time Jimmie Davis sideman, Oscar Woods, could have laid down a version of ‘Crazy Blues’ that would not have been unlike Bill’s. Both titles were mastered at Bill Holford’s ACA studio on April 8 and released shortly after on the short lived National label. National may have been a vanity label that Bill established solely for the release of this disc, as no other releases on this label have been traced. Subsequent discs by Bill are unconfirmed, although rumor suggests one further release appeared sometime during the nineteen sixties or seventies. If this disc does exist, discographical data is unknown. Bill is now believed to be deceased, but his National sides are still very much cherished by collectors of the Big Beat, who have been treated to the occasional reissue of ‘Crazy Blues’ and ‘Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin”.
I’ve included in the podcasts all that is available by BILL BLEVINS.
Not more known is RICHARD MORRIS on the Country Jubilee label (# 541) with “Rosetta“. Insistent fiddle and guitar, heavy Indian style drumming make this a gem.
Finally Texan J.B. BRINKLEY, whose career goes back to the ’30s, when he was guitar player for the Crystal Spring Ramblers, or the ’40s for the Light Trust Doughboys. Here he delivers the fine, powerful “Buttermilk Blues” , piano-led, scintillating guitar on the Majestic label (# 7581). Indeed he had also “Guitar Smoke”, instrumental on Lin. It is believed however that this J.B. Brinkley was Jr. to the ’30’s artist.
Howdy folks! The new batch of stomping Honky tonks and Hillbilly bop tunes for this early November 2010 fortnight.
First, from Nashville, JIMMIE SELPH. He seems to have had a long career, both in Bluegrass and Hillbilly, in the late 40s and early 50s, although mainly as a backing member (rhythm guitar and steel) for such luminaries as RED FOLEY or WEBB PIERCE. Here I’ve chosen his nice, relaxed Bopper “That’s Why I Worry” (Majestic label). Below he is shown with a whole bunch of Nashville musicians in 1950. SELPH had records on BULLET, and in 1956 a famous “TOM CATTIN’ AROUND” on COIN.
Then later, in Kentucky. Small BLUEGRASS label in 1957. A real wildie “MAMA, MAMA” by JESSE STEVENS. Urgent vocal, fine guitar. Wonder what happened later to the man?
The ARCADE label of Philly had a whole string of Hillbilly boppers, and was well documented on two “Rockaphilly” albums once in the 70s. Here is JIMMY COLLETT and the great “FOUR ALARM BOOGIE (# 106, 78 rpm), with sound effects.
Back to Nashville with the brother to Chet, JIM ATKINS, and a decent “I’M A DING DONG DADDY” on the CORAL label. We stay in Tennessee, this time in Gallatin, home of Randy Wood’s DOT label (1000 serie). One BILLY WORTH was fronting vocally the TENNESSEE DRIFTERS (whose personal is unknown) for the great early sounding (1950-1951) “BOOGIE WOOGIE BABY”. Fine piano, which may be played by George Toon.
Finally I offer to you one of the best, harsh Rocking blues ever. LUE CAZZ was at one time fronting the JIMMY McCRACKLIN’s band (he also had a 45 on ART-TONE, out of Oakland, Ca.). Here he is covering the classic “THE WALK” in 1962 for the VEE-JAY label. Fine, energetic version: the drummer is pounding like mad!. Don’t miss the great Joe Conwright’s alto-sax solo!