Hello everyone ! This is the selection for early November 2019 fortnight’s favorites. Every track will be within the 1954-57 period, except the odd item from early ’60s or even later.
RILEY CRABTREE was born in Mount Pleasant, TX in 1921, and followed first the steps of Jimmie Rodgers on his Talent sides from 1949. Later he adopted the Hank’s pattern, and was an affiliate of the Dallas’ Big Jamboree. Here on the very small Ekko label, he’s backed by the young Cochran Brothers Eddie and Hank for the bluesy strong « Meet Me At Joe’s » (# 1019) from late 1955. Nice piano, and of course fine guitar.
In 1957, he emerges on the Dallas’ Country Picnic label (# 602) with the fast « Tattle Tattle Tale ». Great ‘bar room’ piano, a good steel, and a Scotty Moore styled solo. Crabtree was confined on a wheel chair, and died in 1984 from a fire caused by an electric blanket.
In 1970 SHORTY BACON released his version of the Billy Barton small classic « A Day Late And A Dollar Short » on the Chart label # 5104. Despite the late period, it’s a nice country-rocker : great fiddle and steel are battling.
Way up North on the Ruby label (first issue, # 100 out of Hamilton, OH) then WALTER SCOTT and the really fine bopper « I’m Walking Out » : a lovely swirling fiddle and a surprisingly good banjo. Scott had also « Somebody’s Girl » on an Audio Lab EP 35 (untraced).
‘RED’ HAYS (also sometimes named Joe ‘Red’ Hayes) was a fiddler as early as 1950 in the Jack Rhodes’ band in Mineola, TX. He offers here a nice and fast « Doggone Woman » on Starday 164 from October 1954. Good vocal for this jumping call-and-response bopper ; of course a fiddle solo, and all the way through a bass chords played guitar. The flipside « A Satisfied Mind » (a very sincere ballad) was covered first by Porter Wagoner, then had nearly 100 versions, among them Jean Shepard Capitol 3118), even Joan Baez’s or David Allan Coe’s. Hayes – according him being the same artist – went later on Capitol in 1956 for a ballad more (« I’ll Be So Good To You », # 3382 and an uptempo « Every Little Bit », # 3550).
DeLuxe was apparently a short-lived, small sublabel to the giant King, which issued some fine music. I’ve selected « Strange Feeling » by JIMMY THORPE (# 2006, from December 1953), who was seemingly more at ease with lowdown and medium-paced items (DeLuxe 2016 and 2018). Here is a solid bopper, although not a fast one. Good assured vocal and guitar, and a nice fiddle solo.
On the West coast, on the Sage label in 1956, BOBBY LILE « with music by Bob and Laverne » (who are they?) delivers « Don’t You Believe It » (# 222), a fine fast tune. The guitar player reminds me a bit at times of the great Joe Maphis – although it’s definitely not him there.
He was on the C&W serie of the big New Jersey concern Savoy, and bopping.org featured RAY GODFREY and his « Overall Song » (Savoy 3021) in the March 2013 fortnight’s favorites. Not a great singer, he had a good uptempo (« Wait Weep And Wonder ») on Peach 757, then the pop-country « If The Good Lord’s Willing » on Tollie 9030. Here he releases on the Yonah label # 2002 (March 1961) the passable « The Postman Brought The Blues » (good early 60s styled steel and fiddle).
Finally a very good double-sided country-rocker by Houstonian DANNY REEVES on ‘D’ 1206 (between July and September 1961). A nice baritone voice for the fast « I’m A Hobo » (great although too short guitar solo, very sounding 1956) and a fine guitar for « Bell Hop Blues ». This record was recently auctioned at $ 760 ! Reeves had also in 1975 his own version (untraced) of « My Bucket’s Got A Whole In It ». Before that he released in 1962 the double-sided rocker “Spunky Monkey/Love Grows” (San 1509) and, at an unknown date, the Countryish “Little Red Coat” on the obscure label L. G.Gregg 1001.
Sources : « Armadillo Killer » for Ray Godfrey ; Google images and the Starday project for Red Hays. Jimmy Thorpe from HBR # 50 Walter Scott and Shorty Bacon found on YouTube and Ohio River 45s site Riley Crabtree from an HMC compilation; Gripsweat for Danny Reeves San issue.
Born Noble F. Stover on Nov. 16, 1928 in Huntsville, TX, Smokey had his own band and was playing the honky tonks of Texas at 16. In 1949, a new radio station went on the air in Pasadena, TX where he landed his first deejaying job at KLVL-AM, an on-the-air learning experience. A year later, KRCT-AM in Baytown, TX lured him away. Over the next year, Smokey’s show became so popular, the station changed their format to country and hired two more deejays. Meanwhile late 1951, backed by his band, The Stampede Wranglers, he cut his first sides for the Kemah, TX Stampede label (# 101)[Galveston Cty, Houston vicinity] : « I’m planting a rose/It’s the natural thing », two good boppers – side A is mid-paced, side B is a fine Hank Williams inspired Honky tonker. Of course this label was that of a future promising Rockabilly & Country performer, Glen Barber. Imperial picked the Stampede masters up and reissued them (Imperial 8141) in December 1951. According to Michel Ruppli, the fiddler was Sleepy Short.
In 1954, he moved on to KBRZ-AM in Freeport, TX where he stayed for three years except for a six-month interval in 1956 when he helped launch KLOS in Albuquerque, NM.
In the meantime he was signed by producer J.D. Miller out of Crowley, La. on his Feature label, and recorded two songs, among them the better side was « Go on and leave my baby alone », a fine uptempo with great steel a la Don Helms (Drifting Cowboys’ member). Flipside is a quieter mid-paced ballad, « That’s how true my love is for you »
The initial pressing order by J. D. Miller (dated January 1954) for “Go on and leave my baby alone” was for 800 78s and 500 45s – rather more than Miller’s usual order. Fiddle and guitar are by Doug and Rusty Kershaw respectively (later cutting records on Hickory on their own right), with steel guitar by Louis Fourneret.
Later he became a well-known Texas D.J., remembered by Eddie Noack as having played Elvis Presley’s first Sun release twenty times a day! He had a fan-club in Baytown, Texas, in 1954 and two years later had a show, “Smokey’s Big Stampede” on KRBZ, Freeport, Texas, switching to KVET Austin later in the same year
Circa May 1955, Stover entered the Starday studio in Beaumont, TX, and recorded two songs in the same pattern as the previous ones : once more a mix of slow and fast sides. The A side «You wouldn’t kid me, would you » is the good bopping one ; now the B side was a ballad, on a theme that seemed to please him, because he made another version of «It’s easier said than done » 4 years later on Ol’Podner. “You wouldn’t kid me, would you, baby“
In 1958, he moved to KCIJ-AM in Shreveport, LA to be near the Louisiana Hayride, hoping the move would push his singing career. Seven months later, the station changed owners who brought in their own deejays. With the help of a friend, Claude Gray, Smokey found a job at WDAL in Meridian, MS where he stayed until late 1959 when he received a call from his old Freeport boss, Ken Ferguson. Ken was opening KMOP in Tucson, AZ and wanted Smokey to be his sign-on man. Smokey hit the airwaves there in Jan. 1960 and remained there for eight years when he took a couple of years out to concentrate on his singing and songwriting.
In the meantime (1959), he recorded 6 sides for the small Ol’Podner label located in Lake Jackson, TX. All these sides are pretty traditional for the era (fiddle omnipresent). Stover’s voice reminds one at times of Eddie Noack, while « Ballad of Jimmy Hoffa » is a rocker sung in duet, like George Jones’ « White lightning ».”My building of dreams” is another song to watch.
Other songs during the ’60s are more and more country-pop oriented, and one can retain the better ones, like «One thing in common » (Sims 172), or the fine Indian country-rocker « On the warpath » (Toppa 1061) from 1962, and « I want the cake, not the crumbs » (Boyd 153) . His most elusive record was made for Na-R-Co (# 105) and « Remember me/This hurt inside me ». He succeed as a songwriter when George Jones in 1962 chose his « Sometimes you just can’t win » he had already cut on Toppa #1061.
On Jan. 1, 1970, Smokey went back on the air at KRZE in Farmington, NM. A year-and-a-half later, his mother’s illness forced him back to Houston, TX. He more or less retired from radio then until 1992 when a friend built a new station, KVST in Conroe/Huntsville, TX. Smokey went on the air there in early 1993 and ran a midnight ’til 6 am show for a year until it “got old” and he re-retired. In 1995, Ernie Ashworth lured him to Gallatin, TN to get the “Country Classic” station of WYXE off the ground. Smokey enjoyed romping and stomping with the Oldies for about eight months when he hung it up and returned to his native Texas where he’s retired from radio, but still pickin’ and singin’ every weekend. His latest recording is titled, « I May Be Getting Older, But I Ain’t Stopped Thinking Young ». Also Eagle in Germany issued a White rocker « Let’s have a ball » by him, but I doubt he ever cut this song. You can judge by yourself.