An Hillbilly impersonator? – not just that: RED GARRETT (1953-1956)

Red Garrett is another classic Hillbilly singer of the golden 50s who missed the boat to fame. Not only his own personality was excellent, he was also a fantastic impersonator which he proves in “They Got Me Singing That Way”. He also copies Hank Williams in “May You Never Be Alone” to insert his tribute recitation of “A Bed Of Roses”. At first listen you think it is an alternative take of the ole master because the original Drifting Cowboy Don Helms was employed on the steel guitar. Also Bud Isaacs is audible along with Chet Atkins . Other possible musicians are Tommy Jackson and Dale Potter .
(Notes from « The complete Red Garrett » Cattle 331)

Red Garrett was born in Barston, Tennessee. He developed a fondness for the music with a country flavor early in his life. Later, he formed a band called the “Tennessee Pioneers”. He started his singing career in 1945. A late 1953 magazine article, Cowboy Songs magazine included him as one of the “Stars On the Horizon”. It also indicated he was working broadcasts back in Vincennes and Princeton, Indiana. In 1951, folks from the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville had heard of him and sent for him. By 1953, he was still a member of the Opry. During his time with the Opry, he appeared on the same billing with such stars as Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold, Elton Britt, Slim Whitman and Webb Pierce among others.

Around that same time, he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor. His first release for them was “Blame It On The Moonlight” b/w “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Past”(47-5242, issued March 26, 1953).

But, shortly after that it seems, another article mentioned he had disappeared from the music scene, but by about 1955, he had come back to performing.

In 1956, he had a record out on the Decca label entitled, “May You Never Be Alone – and A Bed of Roses”. The song was a tribute to Hank Williams – it was said he actually imitated Hank when he sang the tune “May You Never Be Alone” but in the middle of the tune, he does a recitation, “and a Bed of Roses”. The article that mentioned this tune also told us that the flip side, “Clear Sailing” was “weak.”

(Red Garrett: an appreciation – by bopping’s editor)

To be frank, I’ve not taken a great pleasure listening to Garrett’s music. The vast majority of his output is the same in a review of rhythm: medium paced uptempos. No track us some apart from the others, except for two Louisiana inspired tunes (with a rhumba beat): “Papa Joe’s Place” and “Please”. The rest is quite ordinary, in truth typical Nashville honky-tonk or the 1950’s. This perhaps explains why his recording career was so short.

It appears he also did some songwriting, too as we found he co-wrote a tune with Boudleaux Bryant called “Moon Tan”. We found a hint as to the type of artist he was for they wrote in the article, “..never refused to play in a town just because it was small and lacked celebrities to take notice of him.”

Sources: Cattle and HillbillyBoogie YouTube chain for biog. details. Sounfiles from Hillbilly Researcher # 67, entirely devoted to Red Garrett (his complete output); labels from 45cat or 78world.

Discography (from Praguefrank)

SINGLES
RCA Victor (1953)
47-5242 Blame It On Moonlight / Don’t Be Shamed Of Your Past – 26-03-53
47-5363 They Got Me Singin’ That Way / Please – 07-53
47-5499 Moon Tan / Smoke Screen – 11-53
47-5621 Too Late To Plow Now / Bullseye – 01-54
47-5692 That’s Why I’m Happy / You Played Taps To My Heart – 04-54
47-5783 Tell Me Again / Long Gone – 07-54
Decca (1955-56)
9-29742 Papa Joe’s Place / Standing At The End Of The World – 11-55
9-29811 Don’t Believe A Thing I Say / My Search On Earth Is O’er – 01-56
9-30047 Clear Sailing / May You Never Be Alone;A Bed Of Roses – 09-56

Early February 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the third « fortnight » for 2019 : early February selection of 9 Songs cut between 1953 and ’63, a good part coming from Ohio river neighboring states.

Walt Cochran & His Holly River Boys

Here we go first with WALT COCHRAN & His Holly River Boys (lead guitar Billy Strawser) ; they released in 1963 a single on the Cincinnati, OH Olimpic label (# 249), comprising first a jumping uptempo tune « What Am I Gonna Do » and a new version of the evergreen (HOW many singers did cut this song since its original issue in 1930 by the Mississipi Sheiks? « The lyrics of the original song convey a stoic optimism in the face of emotional setbacks, and the song has been described as a “simple, elegant distillation of the Blues”[Wikipedia]) « I’m Sittin’ On Top Of The World ». Both sides are very nice boppers for the era.

Jim Wilson on Dot Records

On the Gallatin, TN Dot label, we turn now to a Western swing flavored bopper « Big Fat Mama », a good fast bopper full of enthusiasm sung by JIM WILSON (# 1167) (released in May 1953). The flipside « Unwanted Love » show a neat tendency to crooning on a slow ballad (steel and fiddle), certainly forgettable. The singer went really pop on later Mercury sides (1956), but the Dot A side has fantastic fiddle and steel solo, and the singer is OK.

Big Bill Johnson

In Manchester, Kentucky BIG BILL JOHNSON does offer a fast bopper (steel solo and a good guitar) « That’s The Way I Like You Best » on the Acme label # 1275 in 1957. Johnson also had on the Nashville label later (1963) « Alimony » (# 5150) and the minor Rockabilly classic « Umm Boy, You’re My Baby » (# 5133), also « Hot Rod Car » on Blue Angel 2004 (1964), and REM until the early ’70s.

Jimmy Settle & the Blue Grass Rangers

On the same Acme label (# 1295) from 1958, we hear to JIMMY SETTLE & the Blue Grass Rangers for « I Don’t Need Your Kind Of Love », a fast ditty with strong baritone voice, guitar and fiddle solos. Settle also had « Admitting Defeat » on Pier-Wats #301 (1957), a nice uptempo cut in Louisville, Kentucky.

May Hawks

MAY HAWKS from Detroit, Michigan, had a full career in the ’50s, and surely deserves an essay. Here she offers « Meet Me Down In Nashville » (Fortune # 179) in 1954 : a fast tune, an acid/sweet voice and a good guitar.

Kenny Lee

Finally probably cut in Nashville, KENNY LEE offers a good uptempo bopper (extrovert vocal, steel and fiddle solos, good string-bass) on RCA-Victor 47-5629 with « That’s My baby’s Kisses ». He had further boppers with « Flame Of Fire » (RCA 5733) and « Holding Hands » (RCA 5816) recorded between September 1953 and January 1955.

Sources : 45cat, HMC compilation (thanks UncleGil’s Rockin’ Archives), Karlheinz Focke, my own archives. Michel Ruppli for Kenny Lee RCA files.

Late March 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is late March 2020 fortnight’s favorites’ selection. 7 discs only this time but great ones, published between 1952 and 1961. Some originals, some covers.

Jack Turner

« Everybody’s Rockin’ but Me » is already a Rockablly classic of the genre as performed by BOBBY LORD in June 1956. Yet it had its original Hillbilly bopper in the hands of JACK TURNER, cut in Nashville April 1956. Topical lyrics (references to « Blue Suede Shoes » and « Alligators »), released by Hickory (# 1050). Turner was born in Haleyville, Alabama,in 1921 but had moved to Nashville in 1942, prior to marrying and entering in U.S. Navy. Later he became hooked to Hank Williams’ sound, and it was Williams’ mother, Mrs. Lilian Stone, who turned attention of Acuff-Rose editions to his songs.

Billboard Aust 8, 1956

Out of Cincinnati, Carl Burkhardt’s label Kentucky specialized in copying hits of the time. Here’s « Detour » (1952, (Kentucky 561) which was first cut by West coast Jimmy Walker {see his story elsewhere in this blogqite}and became a standard. So the song is copied here Hillbilly bop style : guitar, steel and double vocal.

Later on the Echo Valley Boys did the backing to Bill Browning on Island Records.

Melvin Endsley was more known for his compositions given to others; nevertheless he made some few very good records on his own.

Melvin Endsley

Here he performs the strong rocker “I Like Your Kind Of Love” (1957), backed by the cream of Nashville’s musicians. Later on, a nice sincere ballad “Sarted Out A-Walkin'” (1961). The detail has some importance, since one knows that Endsley was confined to a wheel-chair (polo).

Jerry Newton

Jerry & Wayne Newton, Virginia born (Roanake) went rarly at music (listening on Grand Ole Opry) and practicing very yon steel and guitar. Later, their family relocated in Arizona and soon they aired from a station in Phoenix. They even had their first record as The Rhythm Rascals on the Rnger label. How they came to the attention of an ABC talent scout is open to speculation. “Baby, Baby, Baby” is a showcase of their talent on electric guitar and steel. They were later booked with a long-term contract in Vegas.

The Armstrong Twins

Lloyd (guitar) and Floyd (mandolin) were exact twins, out of Little Rock, Arkansas, where they had their own radio show. In 1947 they relocated in California and soon appeared on Cliffie Stone show; around the same time they began to cut records for Four Star. “Alabama Baby” (1386) is a fast vocal duet, an impeccable tempo; solos of fiddle and mandolin: a really stomping thing.

Carl Story

CARL STORY had a long steer of sacred recordings (Old Homestead), but he failed too to the Rockabilly/Country Boogie craze with this disc “You’ve Been Tom Cattin’ Around” (Columbia 21444 – one of the very last items in the 20 000 serie). Good boogie guitar, a driving chanter.September 1955.

Sources: Willem Agenant (20 000 Columbia serie); DJM album notes to “Hillbilly Rock” (Jack Turner’s personnel); YouTube Hillbilly Boogie1 (Echo Valley Boys); Praguefrank (Bobby Lord disco); KarlHeinz Focke (“Jumpin’ Charlie”) for Melvin Endsley soundfiles.

Late January 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites (10 records)

Hello everybody ! Here are ten more selections for this late January 2020 fortnight’s favorites. Very different ones, and they date from 1950 to early ’60s.

Texas Slim

TEXAS SLIM – I dare say we’ll never know who he actually was – cut in 1964 two superior sides for the Ark label (# 309) in Cincinnati. They do present a surprising and good combination of banjo and steel guitar : « Look What You Gone And Done To Me » and « When I’m Old And Gray » . This man has nothing to do with one Texas Guitar Slim (early ’60s La. blues) on Jin Records.

Chuck Manning and the Rhythm Ranch Boys

Now a late ’50’s (stylistically) Rockabilly out of Arcadia, California on the small Corby label (# 103 or 232) by CHUCK MANNING and the Rhythm Ranch Boys. « Let’s go », a train song, has a strong rhythm guitar, a cool vocal ; a good steel guitar all the track along, and a fabulous lead guitar : no less than 4 solos ! Excuse the somewhat ‘muddy’ sound, which was on original record. Value $ 200-250 for Tom Lincoln, $ 100-150 for Barry K. John.

CECIL CAMPBELL’s Tennessee Ramblers

The veteran CECIL CAMPBELL (backed by his Tennessee Ramblers), today unjustly neglected, cut his first records as vocalist, and most of all, as steel player, in 1934. Here is from December 1950 the « Spookie Boogie », as expected a ghost song. The story goes as to make rattling bones sounding, Cecil was looking for an “…unusual hollow type of rattling sound designed to send cold chills rushing down the spine.” He couldn’t find that sound on the musical instruments. But as fate would have it, one of the members of the Tennessee Ramblers had false teeth and that mysterious sound that appears on the tune “Spookie Boogie” was made by a pair of chattering false teeth. The tune has a nice steel, a loping bass and fiddle and a good piano (RCA-Victor 48-0409).

Later on, Campbell adapted well on new trends. He offered the instrumental « Go Man Go » in 1955, to be found on the Cactus comp’ « M-G-M Hillbilly » vol. 4 (not listed here, neither « Beaty Steel Boogie », issued on Super Disc 1004, reissued on YouTube). Here however I release his « Rock And Roll Fever » from 1957 issued on M-G-M 12482, a fine Rockabilly on its own.

DESSIE FAULKNER (1903-1993) cut at the tail end of the ’50s and early ’60s a nice string of Honky-tonk bopping songs, among them I chose her offering of « I Dare You Yo Love Me » on D 1159 (issued August 1960) : an assured vocal for a fast bopper with fiddle all along and a steel solo. The song was first reissued on U.K Cascade (1983) « 20 Country Great Recordings » that included George Jones and Joe Carson among others.
Second Dessie Faulkner selection is a good weeper on a stroller rhythm issued on Big 6 138 : « I Cried Again » is mid-paced and has a crying steel. Faulkner also had « You Can’t Stop A Heart From Lovin’ », a good Honky tonker from 1967 issued by Cincinnati’s Arvis (# 1) label (not selected.

The Bridge Brothers

More of late ’50s wih the BRIDGE BROTHERS and « Stick-A-By-You » on A-B-S 119 (which stands for « America’s Best Sellers ») : a good duet, nice bass chords played guitar, the whole is refreshing and ernergetic. Thanks CheeseBrew Wax Archive YouTube chain to unearth such fine songs.

Out of Shreveport, La. on the Ram label (# 101) and released in 1956, here’s CAROL WILLIAMS an her great, fast « Just For A While ». Has a fresh vocal, and a good guitar (solo).

Luke Gordon

Finally the superlative, and him also unjustly neglected (although he never did a bad record) LUKE GORDON on Blue Ridge 502. His usual style for « You May Be Someone (where You Come From) » – a great, great dobro (solo), fiddle and discreet mandolin + a good bass.

That’s all folks for this time. Research goes on many artists, such as Fairley Holden, Iry LeJeune, Johnny Foster, Bill Hutto, Jerry Irby, Cowboy Sam Nichols among others. Let’s keep plugged to bopping.org !

Sources : YouTube (Hillbilly Boogie1 for Carol Williams pic), 45cat and 78-worlds ; hillbilly-music.com for pic of Cecil Campbell and the story of the rattling bones ; an old Tom Sims’ cassette for Texas Slim Ark release (label scan from 45cat) ; my own archives.

Early January 2020 – regular bopping sides and seasonal greetings..

Rex Zario & Country All Stars

Howdy folks ! I sincerely wish you all a happy New Year full of good mood and bopping exciting music.

The first artist ends up the alphabet : REX ZARIO & the Country All Stars did release in 1968 for the Philly Arcade label (# 202) a very fine double-sider. « Blues Stay Away From Me » is sung in unison vocal, on a strong rhythm guitar and a discreet lead guitar (which has itus own solo). The flipside « I Saw You Cheatin’ Last Night », an uptempo is a good bopper, despite an electric bass. The lead plays its solo on the bass chords for good effect, and the vocal is relax. A good disc to begin the year.

Leon Payne

Then the veteran well-known blind singer/songwriter (also as « Pat Patterson » on early Starday releases) LEON PAYNE for an all-time classic (even Hank W. had his version) from October 1948 on the Nashville’s Bullet label (# 670). « Lost Highway » is a very fine bopper, done as a shuffler : great steel and a fiddle solo. Singer is convincing to say the least.

Next records by RAMBLIN’ RED BAILEY on a Starday Custom from April 1957, Peach 653. Side A offers a mid-paced, very melodic « The Hardest Fall » ; good piano and vocal, a too-short guitar solo. Side B in complete contrast, is really very fast. The guitar player does a real showcase of his dexterity on « You’ve Always Got A Frown », in my mind an inferior track to side A. Bailey had also an EP on Peach, then turned out on Heap Big and Bethlehem labels between 1957 and 62 (untraced).

Lee Bell

Cut in 1953, the already unknown LEE BELL releases « Beatin’ Out The Boogie (On The Mississipi Mud) » (RCA 20-5148). A fabulous gas ! What a romping piano ! A great boogie guitar (plus a fantastic solo) ; steel and fiddle have also their solos ! Bell also did « I Get The Biggest Thrill » (RCA 20-5024), also interesting, but less than the first side reviewed. He was also to have two issues on Imperial, 8000 serie (untraced).

« Quarter In The Juke Box » was sung on the Louisiana Hayride in 1958 by LONNIE SMITHSON. The original, a bit like Johnny Cash, was released earlier on Starday 359. The guitar player sounds consciensly like Luther Perkins !

Finally we get to Louisiana, with two latter tracks. In 1967 the BALFA BROTHERS (Dewey, lead vocal and fiddle) released on the « Earl Gibson Transport, Inc. » a good « Indian On A Stomp ». Good Cajun music (let’s get attention to the rhythm given by the ‘ti’fer’ (= small iron triangle).

And now the rollicking « Mowater Blues » (sung of course in French) by the multi-instrumentist ROBERT BERTRAND from 1971-72 on the Goldband label # 1221 (Lake Charles, La.) : “Cajun style” steel guitar, fiddle, el. bass, accordion and solid, impeccable/implacable drums + great vocal and fiddle by Bertrand .

That’s it, folks.

Sources : Gripsweat for Lee Bell second issue ; YouTube for Lonnie Smithson, Leon Payne and Rex Zario ; Starday project for Ramblin’ Red Bailey ; 45cat and 78-worlds ; my own archives