Hi there, let’s begin this second fortnight for 2018 with a Louisiana platter, that « I blowed my top » by PAUL MIMS on the Shell label (# 121) ; nice call-and-response format shuffler, and the steel guitar is well to the fore. Barry K. John doesn’t ignore this record, but adds nothing else (location, date..) than its price : $ 50-60.
Two selections do follow on the Debute label (# 0500) by DENNIS GOODRICH & the Music City Boys. Both were cut in Lorain, OH. They are two Bluegrass styled tunes, one medium, « All alone » where banjo and steel are battling each other. Second side is slowier, although equally good : « My love for you » (with a mandolin to the fore). The vocal here does remember Andy McRae on Ranger 823, and his song « Me and my love », published here in a fortnight dated…June 2011 !
More of a double-sider, by TOMMY MOONEY with Bob Mooney & his Automobile Babies on the Floto label (# 78002). Both « Bingo boogie » and « That’s my baby » are Hillbilly boogies from 1953: good guitar, and a real ‘hillbilly’ styled vocal. Bob Mooney was an artist in his own right, e.g. his « A sucker born everyday » on Kentucky 575. The band’s name came from Bob’s record, « Aubomobile baby » [sic] in 1953 on Cozy 317.
We remain in social games with « Bingo blues », which is a good medium Rockabilly by JIMMY WERT on the Skyline label (# 752), another Starday custom apparently cut in 1959 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
At last a rocking chick ! This is ROXIE WILLIAMS on the Flint, MI Lucky 11 label (# 1112) : « Fifteen seconds » is a good Rockabilly ; unobstrusive chorus, some echo, and a long guitar solo, cut in 1961, and valued $ 50-60. Roxie had another disc on Lucky 11. “Fifteen seconds”
Finally Thomas Johnson, aka The LONESOME DRIFTER. We finish with a Louisiana record, « Honey do you think of me » on Ram 1738. Great guitar by probably George Mercer, as on « Eager boy » on the ‘K’ label. Intense Rockabilly, lot of echo. Valued at $ 125-150.
En route for this new April batch of Hillbillies and Country rockers. First from Louisiana, the fiddler LARRY BAMBERG (rn Bamburg) does the fine relaxed medium bopper « Cheating on me » from 1956 on the Mira Lewis’ Shreveport, La. Ram (Royal American Music) label # 104. It has a very young James Burton, quite unusually, on the steel guitar and Leon Smith at the piano. Bamberg, whose name was not easy to pronounce, changed it to Lincoln for the bluesy (with sax) equally fine « My baby went away », cut at Ram, but issued on his own Fido 011 label (not posted here).
Next three tracks do come from Laeger W.Va. (at least the label) as late as 1969 by the one FLOYD FLETCHER on the F.A.F. label. « Daddy sings the blues » (# 26252) is a fast bluesy track with urgent vocal. « Move on down the track » does fetch to Rockabilly, while its flipside « You’re telling me goodby » [sic] is more in a sort of garage Honky-tonk vein (# 26282).
RILEY WALKER next is no newcomer, as his « Uranium miner’s boogie » from 1955 is already a minor Hillbilly bop classic from Salt Lake City, Utah. See elsewhere in this site at the entry of his name. « It’s a little late (to come knocking on my door » goes by the same vein : a relaxed rural vocal, a nice steel throughout and a romping piano (# 703).
Next and last tracks of this fortnight do come from the B-W label, presumably a Nashville one, in 1961. PHIL BEASLEY and « Itchin’ to love you » (# 624) : a nice crisp guitar over a decent country rocker. KENNY BIGGS and « There’s no excuse » (# 615) has a mellow steel, an harmonica and some chorus and sounds a bit poppish.
“Itchin’ to love you”
The Lonesome Drifter was born Thomas Johnson. His recording of “Eager Boy” on Mira Smith’s K record label is one of the most sought-after records among Rockabilly fans.
In tbe late 50s, Thomas, an established Hillbilly performer, got word of a new recording company, Ram records, that had just opened for business in Shreveport, 70 miles from his home in Monroe, Louisiana. Johnson recalls that first release for Ram: “I had been to Mira Smith’s studio to record and she asked me what name I wanted on the rcord. I didn’t want Thomas Johnson. As I was driving back to Monroe tbat night I thought about one of my idols, Hank Williams, and he had made records as ‘Luke The Drifter’. I was sort of a rambling man in those days, so when I got to Minden, it came to me, I got out of the car and phoned Mira and said “Call me the Lonesome Drifter”.
“Eager Boy” and “Teardrop Valley” were released in 1958 on K records, a subsidiary of Ram, named after Mira’s sister. On “Eager Boy” Thomas’ friend Tom Bonnet, who had accompanied him to the studio, plays the lead guitar. The success of the flip, “Teardrop Valley”, featuring Shreveport musician George Mercer on lead guitar, secured the Lonesome Drifter his wish to appear on the Louisiana Hayride.Johnson was born on 6 December 1931 on a cotton farm in Bastrop,Louisiana. As a youth he worked as a water boy for the cotton pickers on the pantation and recalls hearing his first blues music while watching on old black man playing a slack string guitar outside a Bastrop general store. Other influences included Jimmie Rodgers and Bill Monroe,and bluegrass music was the foundation of his style.
Johnson was not a professional musician and worked in the steel business as an erector and welder and this took him as far afield as Chicago and Kansas City. Today Johnson lives quietly in Monroe where he owns a small recording studio in which he records artists in the gospel music field.
Collector LP (NL)
Notes by Ray Topping to Ace 818 CD “Shreveport High Steppers”