Early September 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

I don’t know where DON WINTERS hailed from, probably Nashville. He has during the mid-’50s several good discs.

On RCA-Victor 47-6154 first he asked his Lady « Forgive My Mistakes » : a nice shuffler – piano, steel solo and an extrovert, really sincere vocal.
A later side (RCA 6348) « One Way Is Bound To Be Right » finds him, in a faster rhythm. A pleasant side.

Finally he embarked Rockabilly bandwagon with a release on Coin # 102 : « Be My Baby, Baby » is still Hillbilly Bop, but almost Rockabilly. The collectors couldn’t be mistaken. The Coin issue is valued at $ 150-200. Flipside « Pretty Moon » is pure heaven Rockabilly with its urgent vocal.

A typical Honky tonker from 1956 comes next with BILL WIMBERLY and his Country Rhythm Boys : « You Can’t Lean On Me » has a good steel (solo) and fiddle. A pretty nice record for the era. Mercury 70900. Just a few months earlier (February) Wimbery had released (Mercury 70815) « Ole Mister Cottontail » and on the flipside a lively instrumental « Country Rhythm ». Later on he was on Starday (« Back Street »).

Is it useful to develop on AL TERRY ? He’s already known since 1953 for his first sides on Feature and Champion. Here he is in July 1956 on the Hickory (# 1056) label out of Nashville for a typical mid-tempo Honky tonk bordering Rockabilly, « Roughneck Blues ». A lazy vocal and the lead guitar played by none other than Grady Martin.

Casho Box, Nov. 10, 1956

We jump back in May 1954 for a real ‘tour-de-force’ by the Father of Bluegrass, BILL MONROE : here it’s his « Whitehouse Blues » (Decca 29141). It’s the FASTEST Bluegrass tune ever.

Finally from Texas in 1956 a jumping little Rockabilly bopper with “Dig Them Squeaky Shoes » by FRANK STARR on the Lin label # 1009.

Sources : my own archives ; YouTube ; various compilations.

Early April 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! This is early April 2019 fortnight’s favorites’ selection.

Lefty Nicks

We begin with a rarity, aimed at Rockabilly circles, and sold between $ 800 and 1000. On the Nicktone label (# 6020) LEFTY NICKS delivers a great « Model A Ford Blues ». An utempo half-sung vocal over great guitars and steel throughout tune.

John Talley

Then a well-known figure, this of JOHN TALLEY with two different styles. First an uptempo straight Nashville style – steel and fiddle solos, guitar to the fore – for « Hillbilly Sweetheart » on Jamboree 509 from 1954. Then a « perfect » song on Mercury 70902 : « (I’ve Changed My) Wild Mind » is a classic Rockabilly, with great guitar and a lot of echo, from mid-1956. Talley had another good tune, « « Shine, Shave And Shower (It’s Saturday Night) » on Tennessee 752 from 1954.

Eddie Bond & the Stompers

On Mercury too, EDDIE BOND & his Stompers and two classic sides, « Boppin’ Bonnie » and « Baby, Baby, Baby » (Mercury 70941, issued August 1956). Bond was from Memphis, TN, and delivers great tunes on a par with what Sun was doing at the time. Lot of echo, uptempo song with drums.”Bopping’ Bonnie” was written by Jerry Huffman and Jody Chastain, the two sidemen of Charlie Feathers. The B-side is a bit slowier with a touch of blues.

James Wilson

From Shreveport, La., the 17-years old JAMES WILSON offer in 1957 on Ram Records (unknown #) the great « Wilson Blues N° 1 ». Of course a bluesy uptempo, a good atmospheric tune with drums. The record when located change hands for $ 600-700.

Luke Gordon

Two sides now by LUKE GORDON. Originating from Kentucky, he’d cut in 1958 (May, or November) on Vienna, Va. Blue Ridge label (# 502). « Dark Hollow » is the old Bill Browning song, done here with dobro and fiddle. Gordon’s voice is well fitted to this type of material.. The flipside « You May Be Someone (Where You Come From) » is in the same style : fiddle and dobro solos.

Sonny Burns

Finally SONNY BURNS, a largely underrated Starday artist. Here he is with a July (?) 1956 Eddie Noack tune, « If You See My Baby » : it’s an uptempo with fiddle (Ernie Hunter) and steel (Herbie Remington) solos. Classic Starday backing : tinkling piano of Doc Lewis, and Hal Harris on lead guitar.

Sources: my own archives; 45-cat; RCS; YouTube

Late February 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! It’s the second fortnight of February 2019, and there are already in this blog 5 issues since January 1st, that of two bopping fortnight’s favorites selections, and two throroughly researched hillbilly profiles, that first of the North Carolina Church Brothers and second of the harmonica extraordinaire Lonnie Glosson. Now we embark for the late February bopping selection. Latch on, folks !

Lacy Kirk

A very fast 1961 Hillbilly rocker bt LACY KIRK, « This Is Saturday Night » – guitar played on the bass chords, too short steel-guitar and fiddle solos. Singer in a good voice. This record was released on Ohio Karl 3022, a label of Clay Eager bopping is now actively researching on (see « I’m Looking For » section) . The man had many good records to his credit, and maybe you can help to share your knowledge of him with me and all the readers of the blog. « This Is Saturday Night » will cost you $ 270 if you can locate a copy in good shape.

Carson Willis

CARSON WILLIS is rightly interesting for more than one reason. He hailed from South Carolina it seems, and released the fast Hillbilly rocker « Sal’s House # 1 and # 2 as talking songs on Dixie (another of this name) # 121 (duet with Goldie Norris) complete with animals’ yells. Actually it was a reworking of « Going Down To Sal’s House » issued on the Starday custom Dixie # 903 in September 1959 under the name BILL WILLIS.

The flipside « Poor Man » is similar in style.

Bill /Harmon R. Willis

And Willis (if he’s really the same man) was to publish in 1958 as « HARMON R. WILLIS & Family », again on Dixie-NC [=North Carolina, one can assume] 123, « Crossing Over Jordan », a very good sacred Hillbilly. Finally Bill Willis also issued the fine double-sided « Boogie Woogie All Night »/ »Where Is My Baby », a classic Rockablly on Dixie 825 (value $ 300 to 400).

Another Rockailly bopper, « Wanted, Dead Or Alive » comes next on the G. B. 406 label by CURTIS WILSON : urgent vocal, and a good rhythm guitar. Other records of interest are : « Teenage Party Line » (Canary 6417) and « My Heart Is Made Of The Blues » (Cherry 1014 – the very same Scottsville Kentucky label which did bear Art Adams, Judy Capps or Johnny Hargett and Tommy Holmes – phew ! what a Rockabilly poster!). Alas, Wilson’s records didn’t live up to their promises, as they were teen rockers.

Carl Perkins

On to a star, which is unusual in bopping. CARL PERKINS in May 1955 cut the Hillbilly bopper (very near to Rockabilly) « Let The Juke Box Keep On Playing ». A very great Rockaballad, warm voice, guitar and bass – steel by Stan Kesler and fiddle by Bill Cantrell, both stalwart accompanists on more than one Hillbilly session at Sun or Meteor. This record is perfect !

Wayne Busbice

Frankie Short & Dee Gunter

Finally from Baltimore, MD the frantic voiced duet « Country Boy Trock And Roll » (mandolin, fiddle and banjo) by FRANKIE SHORT and DEE GUNTER on the Wango label (# 201), which bopping researches on. Short (with Green Valley Boys) had another interesting record, « No Longer Sweetheart Of Mine » during the early ’70s. Indeed the original to “Country Boy..” had been cut late 1956 by Don Reno & Red Smiley on King 5002: Short and Gunter do frankly copy this original.

And that’s it for this late February 2019 selection. My thanks go to CheeseBrewWax YouTube chain ; to 45-cat for several label scans, as « Ohio River Records » site ; Tom Lincoln’s book for the value of Rockabilly/Rock’n’roll records ; consulting also Michel Ruppli’s book « The Mercury Discography » was also helpful (Merle Lindsay record) ; finally my own archives.

LONNIE GLOSSON, the Hillbilly “Talking Harmonica Man”

Lonnie Glosson

Lonnie Glosson (1908-2001)
By the dawn of the twenty-first century, country musicians who had recorded as long ago as the early 1930s were a diminishing band. The harmonica player Lonnie Glosson, then in his nineties, had first been heard on wax in 1932, though few copies of Broadway 8333, «The Fox Chase» and «Fast Train Bues», escaped onto the market. In any case, records were never as important to Glosson as radio. It’s impossible to calculate how many hours on air he logged in a career extending across seven decades. His show with fellow harmonica player Wayne Raney, which ran from about 1947 until past the mid-’50s, was sent out on transcriptions to more than 200 stations in the United States and Canada.
Sponsored by the Kratt Company, manufacturer of hamonicas, the show’s job was to sell the instrument to listeners, with a carrot of a free instruction book. Raney claimed they shifted more than 5 millions harmonicas with their friendly person-to-person approach, which they recreated, years afterward, for a Tv documentary.
A great big happy howdy to you, neighbors. We’re going to be demonstrating the talking harmonica, and we want you to get a pencil and a piece of paper ready, because we’re going to tell you how that you too can have the talking harmonica just exactly like the ones your old friends Lonnie Glosson and Wayne Raney plays.(…)
Glosson was born and grew up in rural Arkansas, where he learned harmonica from his mother and hillbilly songs from the many amateur musicians around. After some teenage years rambling round the country playing for change in barbershops, he settled in St. Louis and made his radio debut, about 1925 or ’26, on KMOX. By 1930 he had moved on up to the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago, and later put in time on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, the Grand Ole Opry, and WCKY in Covington, Kentucky, across the Ohio river from Cincinnati.
Anyone in Cincinnati in the late ’40s was likely to hook up with King Records, the city’s premier label for country music and blues. Along with the thirteen-years-younger Raney, Glosson worked for a while with the Delmore Brothers. He also had a hand in writing Raney’s King record of «Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me», which vied for top spot on the country chart during 1949 with Hank Williams’s «Lovesick Bues».
When rock’n’roll began to crowd the airwaves in the later ’50s, Glosson and Raney went different ways, Raney to found his Rimrock label and build a recording studio in Concord, Arkansas, Glosson to a seemingly endless itinerary of personal appearances, mostly in schools. As well as his harmonica specialties of fox chases, train impressions, and “I Want My Mama» where he imitates a child crying «I want my mama…I want some water…», he would sing country and gospel songs with guitar. «I still play the tunes I learned when I was growing up in Arkansas», he said in a 1981 interview.

This is the less comprehensive story of Lonnie Glosson’s life, as written by Tony Russell and published in his book: «Country Music Originals – The Legends And The Lost»( 2010).
For more detailed information, here’s a link to a U.S. site devoted to Glosson: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~young/glossonl/lonnie2.htm

The first Lonnie Glosson recordings were cut in October 1936 in Chicago and are well in the « mountain music » tradition, although a rare Paramount issue did precede it from 1931. «Arkansas Hard Luck Blues” is indeed a medium-paced talking blues, while «Lonnie’s Fox Chase» is quasi-instrumental, or, should one say : harmonica (& guitar) instrumental with yells or interjections. The latter is a theme Glosson will re-record a few times during his career. And that Wayne Raney released (Nov. 1947, King 676) as «Fox Chase».

Glosson cut two sessions during 1947 for Mercury, probably in Chicago. The first one saw him record 4 tracks, backed by « his Railroad Playboys” among them I retain «Lost John» (Mercury 6057), a fast ditty (only detected accompaniment : vocal and harmonica, plus 2 guitars giving the rhythm) , which Wayne Raney chose next year as «Lost John Boogie» (King 719, Spring 1948), also taking the credit. Second song is «It’ll Make A Change In Business» (Mercury 6197, published in 1949). is more conventional honky tonk (bass and steel added + vocal and harmonica of course).

In November 1947, without doubt in expectation of the Petrillo ban (the call for strike of the recording personnel for the whole year of 1948), Glosson was called for a long, eight tunes session. One can retain «What Is A Mother’s Love», a shuffling weeper (steel) (# 6057) ; «West Bound Rocket» (# 6109), a train song, «You’ll Miss Your Dear Old Daddy» is a fine shuffler (# 6197), while «That Naggin’ Wife Of Mine» (# 6345, published 1950) is a fast ditty. «The Fox Chase Boogie» (# 6142) is very fast, not unlike the 1936 version.

The Decca years and the Delmore Brothers

In 1949, Glosson started an association with the Delmore Brothers by the time he was signed by Decca Records. They were playing guitar on some of his records, as himself played harmonica on theirs. They even had their own versions of his songs re-cut.
First coupling gave the lovely shuffling «I’ve Got The Jitters Over You» (Decca 46190) coupled with the more bluesier «Down At The Burying Ground». The cooperation between both Glosson and the Demore went as far as songs were cowritten; actually, Glosson sounds as he were a third Delmore. The target is hit with the following coupling;: «Pan American Boogie» and «Trouble Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues» (# 46215) was cut by Glosson and by the Delmore Brothers (backed by Wayne Raney) (King 823, December 1949), and both top versions are nearly identical, except for guitar solos in the Delmores’ one. The flipside is taken in the same mood; one can only recognize the Delmores’ harmony vocals.

In the meantime, several months earlier, Lonnie Glosson had contributed to the mammoth Delmore Brothers’ « Blues Stay Away From Me » (King 803, August 1949) and co-written « Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me » with his good friend Wayne Raney equally big hit (King 791)(which competed in 1949 with Hank’s « Lovesick Blues » for the best selling Country hit of the year).

Following year (1951) saw Glosson release in the same-format as before «I’ll Love You Till The Cows Come Home» and «I Want you To Know That I Love You» (# 46361), both written and backed by the Delmore Brothers: that’s when their partnership came to an end. Glosson also issued a rather weird instrumental, “Del Rio Blues” named after the radio station location where he worked as a D.J.

In 1950, without doubt because of his contract with Decca, Glosson issued two records on U.S. London (ironically U.S. Decca was originally a sublabel to English London) under a collective name, that of «Hank Dalton and the Brakemen», with the Delmore Brothers and Wayne Raney in disguise. «Hummingbird Special» (London 16032) and Lefty Frizzell’s «If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time» , again good shufflers.[according to a visitor, Alain Nicholas, London 16050 was done by Ray Smith on vocal, without Glosson, Raney or the Delmores]

1957-58 records

Then Glosson didn’t record until 1957 on Acme Records in Ohio (2 issues). «The Old Dutchmans Prayer» is half-sung and goes back to 1937 «Arkansas Hard Luck Blues», while «Get In Line With God» is a powerful sacred song (Acme 1145). The second Acme (# 1140) is unheard: first versions of «I Want My Mama» and «Train And Cat Chase Imitation».

On his own label Gloss, he cut an EP in 1958 (Pep-213). «The Fast Train» and «Ozark Fox Chase» are new versions of tunes already played and sung, but «Poppin’ the Blues» is a very fast harmonica/guitar instrumental and the new theme «I Want My Momma» shows Glosson’ versatility. He was about to recut it at least 2 times («No Name» and Starday labels).
Later on Lonnie Glosson released several cassettes of material unavailable elsewhere and are untraced, maybe sold at his gigs.

Two final notes and corrections (Jan. 11th, 2019)

An important visitor (you’re welcome, Alain!) does point that, as early as late December 1947 Wayne Raney had had his version of “Lost John Boogie”. So the meeting of the two men was solid and fruitful.

The same visitor thinks that the vocal on “If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time” (London) is not at all sung by Glosson, but by Ray Smith.

Continental, Coral, National artist

This essay is, I’m afraid, far of complete. I tried hard however to set up the fullest story possible of a giant in his own time. Many a record was unavailable, although credited in the HBR tentative encyclopedia of Hillbilly (letter “G”) of Mr. Allan Turner. Several people were of great help: Alain Nicolas (and his great site “Les Delmore Brothers” [in French], alas presently out-of-the-way) for several clippings and images unavailable elsewhere. Merci Alain! The collaboration with Ronald Keppner and Karlheinz Focke, both out of Germany, was also fruitful, as usual. They opened for me their vast library of old and precious 78rm (Mercury, Decca and London soundfiles). The biography was written, as said in introduction, by Tony Russell, and extracted from his book “Country music -the legends and the lost”(2007). And probably one or two other persons who gave me some help at one time or another. This was a labor of love, and took well 2 months to be released. So I hope you will find something of interest in this rough work.

Cowboy Howard Vokes, Pennsylvania’s King of Country Music (1958-60)

del-ray vokes "prison

howard vkesThe Honorable ‘Cowboy’ Howard Dean Vokes is born in Clearfield, PA. on June 13, 1931. His father works in the coalmines to provide the needs of his big family, wife, 6 girls and 7 boys.
His mother handles her children in a firm education. Anytime uncles and cousins turn up at the family’s house it’s with their mandolin, harmonica and guitar. No wonder why young Howard
got his inspiration to use a broomstick as a guitar.
In this musical world, the Grand Ole Opry or the Supper Time Frolic shows fit very well the introduction to music of the multi-talented artist to come. He also lends an attentive ear to Buckshot Morgan, Rusty Herman or Slim Bryant on the local radio airwaves.

Howard started to play harmonica when only 6 years old to give it up for guitar 5 years later, right after the Vokes family set up in New Kensington, PA. in 1941.
When 15 years old, he got his first start on local shows and entertained on various radio programs such as WKPA, New Kensington or WAVL, Apollo.
A hunting accident broke his right ankle in 1948 and put him for 6 weeks in a hospital. His personal therapy is in writing songs and improve his guitar playing.
When ready he forms his first own group, The Country Boys. Together they travel throughout northern USA and some parts of Canada.

On March 1955, Wanda Jackson is in the Bradley’s Recording Studios in Nashville with a song written by the young Howard : «Tears at the Grand Ole Opry », issued on Decca 29514.

Wanda JacksonTears at the Grand Ole Opry

downloaddecca Jackson opry

This same year, he puts his songwriting talents to the service of Hank King (or Russian origin: rn Papalia) for two tracks to appear on the Blue Ribbon label # 1925, « Your Atom Bomb Heart »/« I Want To Know (Why You Don’t Care For me ). They also appear on Blue Hen 223.

blue-ribbon king  Atom

Hank King, “Your atom bomb heart

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Also, for the Cicero, IL. based duo Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null who record in October 1955 « Hank Williams That Alabama Boy »  issued on the Blue Hen label. blue-hen Null & duke Alabama

Denver Duke & Jeffery Null, “Hank Williams that Alabama boy

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Howard becomes their manager and main songwriter. He gets a record deal to his protégés with the Mercury label ; and he decides to handle his own career. So, in 1958 he cuts his very first single in the School House Studio in Jeanette, PA. backed by Johnny Drolz (steel), Skeets Martin (electric guitar) and Bob Rose (bass) issued as ‘Cowboy’ Howard Vokes : « Ghost Of a Honky-Tonk Slave », a pure medium honky-tonker with a strong Hank Williams influence, « This Prison I’m In »  is another honky-tonker, but slower and with a more driving vocal. Steel-guitar is omnipresent on both sides of this Del-Ray 204 single.

arcadia vokes slave

Canadian issue

del-ray vokes slave"Ghost of a honky tonk slavehward vokes

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This prison I’m indel-ray Vokes "prison

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Real success comes with his second single : « Willie Roy, the crippled Boy », cut in 1959 in Cleveland, OH, with the same musicians as on his first record with additional help from his friend Rudy Thacker on guitar. This leads to many tours throughout the USA and TV and radio shows.

del-ray Vokes Willie

Willie Roy, the crippled boy

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It’s not until 1961 that Howard meets with a second hit, « Mountain Guitar » (Del-Ray 205) after Rudy Thacker, writer of the song, cut the original version on Blue Hen 234. The great Roy Acuff also had his own version on Hickory 1134 in 1961.

Mountain guitar

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howard vokes ep

Full Howard Vokes’ repertoire, recorded between 1958 and 1960, is of a high quality in an authentic and traditional sound in this shifting area.

The love I once knew“(Del-Ray 211)

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“”Forever“(Del-Ray EP 250)

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Tears at the Grand Ole Opry“(Mountain LP 2002)

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Keep cool but don’t freeze“(Mountain LP 2002)

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Down in the hollow“(Mountain LP 2002)

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After 4 singles and 1 EP on Del-Ray, Howard records an album for the Starday label in Madison, TN. The session is produced by Don Pierce on August 2, 1963. 14 songs are issued on the album « TRAGEDY & DISASTERS IN COUNTRY SONGS » (Starday LP-258).

On February 1st, 1969, Howard uses the same Starday recording studios for another Country session, backed by DJ.Fontana (drums), Al Gore (flat top guitar), Jeff Newman (steel guitar), Joe « Red » Hayes (fiddle), Bill Linneman (bass). The 12 tracks appear on the « HOWARD VOKES SINGS THE SONGS OF BROKEN LOVE AFFAIRS » (Folk-Variety FV 1212).

Completely devoted to the Country Music cause, Howard Vokes remains the big promotor of this style in the state of Pennsylvania. He launches 2 labels, Vokes and Country Boy, to support new talents without forgetting the old veterans happy to get attentive ears again.

A deserved homage is paid to him in 1987 with a song written by Ray D.Jones and recorded by Mel Anderson, « The King Of Country Music In Pennsylvania » (Country Boy CB-106).

 

This article was originally written in French, then translated by Jack Dumery.