The first of 7 artists is the Virginian KED KILLEN on the mythic (in Bluegrass circles) Rich-R’-Tone label (# 1064, from 1953). With the tight accompaniment of the Bright Brothers, he delivers « Crying Blues » : bluesy hillbillly bop, with wailing vocal and a very great guitar ; hooking rhythm. The flip is a fast bopper, with the same type of vocal : « No End To My Loving You ». Killen can also be found on Kyva (Kentucky-Virginia) # 707 (« You Better Take Time », elsewhere in this site), a Starday custom from 1957, as in the ’60s on Western Ranch.
From Memphis, 1957, a classic « I’ve Got Love If You Want It » by WARREN SMITH (Sun 286), crisp lead guitar (Al Hopson or Roland Janes). Typical Sun rockabilly rocker. The original had been done by Slim Harpo on Excello (swamp blues).
SMILEY WILSON next (Hamilton, K. Wilson – 1922-1988) for two tunes very, very different. On the Nashville Republic label # 7033 (cut in October 1953, according to Billboard), he launched « Barnyard Blues », an heavy bluesy, R&B influenced song ; nice vocal and insistent guitar. On now to April 1947 on the Apollo label (# 141) for the funny « Red Silk Stockings And Green Perfume », a fast typical late 40s Hillbilly which combines accordion, steel and fiddle + a short guitar solo. Wilson was a native of Gadsden, Alabama, as the well-known (at last to me, nd you faithful readers!) Lee Bonds.
« Hog Tied And Branded » (Columbia 21391, recorded or released April 1955) by BONNIE SLOAN (b. 1937). Here she is backed by the Town Hall Party Gang of Los Angeles, for example Joe Maphis on guitar and Fiddlin’ Kate (you know what she’s playing). Energetic vocal, and a welcome banjo. Typical mid-50s Country music, however she never got it big.
The next artist, CLIFF GROSS, had worked as early as 1931 with the Hi-Flyers : he was a mountain style fiddler. He recorded in duet on Conqueror. Here we find him on the Kentucky Dixiana label (# 105) « and his Texas Cowboys », (probably recorded in Dallas) for the great fast talking blues « Hog Pen Hop » in 1954 : a hot bopper with accordion and steel (short fiddle and guitar solos too).
From Mobile, Alabama, in 1959- or shortly later, here’s JOHNNY FOSTER for a great Rock-a-balllad, « Locked Away From Your Heart » on Sandy 1028. Great haunting vocal, fine steel, good piano and fiddle. Later Foster went on Capa.
Then a Rockabilly/rocker « I’ll Keep On Lovin’ You » by the VARIATONES. An average rocker, late ’50s or early ’60s, without something really cracking. Production by Billy Harlan. Is this the « I Wanna Bop » artist (Brunswick 55066)?
sources : my own archives ; Martin Hawkins notes for Warren Smith, Smiley Wilson – picture from « A shot in the dark) ; Bonnie Sloan from Columbia 20000 serie (thanks W. Agenant) ; a Tom Sims cassette for Johnny Foster .
Hello, folks ! This is the first 2018 (early January) fortnight’s favorites’ selection. As usual, a mix of Hillbilly boppers, Rockabillies and Country rockers.
First come WADE JERNIGAN for « So tired », a fine Rockaballad on the Mobile, AL, Sandy label (# 1010). Good steel and extrovert vocal. Despite some research, he didn’t cut any other record.”So tired” was written par Johnny Bozeman, apparently the owner of the label, who recorded “She’s my bayou babe” on the Biloxi, MS. Fine label 1006, and also had “How many/The blues and I” (pop ballads) on Sandy.
Then four tracks by the Virginian KEN LIGHTNER and the Hay Riders. He recorded in 1961 on Dixie (a Starday custom label) # 913 his most well-known track (it even appeared on a volume of the late Cees Klop Dixie CD series), « The Corner of love ». Some would call it a teen rockabilly. It bears though a nice steel battling with a good guitar, even a short piano solo, and to be true, a light vocal. Slowier is the flipside “Am I still the one“, once more with a mellow steel. The same goes for the short (less than 2 minutes) « Mary Ann » on the Wheeling, Wva. Emperor label 220 from 1959 ; again a fine steel, and a very alluring rhythm. Finally on the Kingston # 418 label, the song « Big big love », which is a easy-going country-rocker led by steel again.
On the Kentucky label (# 575) from Cincinnati, BOB MOONEY has an amusing talking blues, « A sucker born every day », which is a tour de force for the steel guitar : it’s litterally cracking and howling. He already had cut “Aubomobile baby“[sic] on Cozy 317/318 in 1953, and “Sucker” was reissued on REM 350 in 1964.
From Louisiana now, two tracks by BUCK WHEAT (rn C.M. Wheat, from San Antonio, Tx). Backed by the Wheatbinders. A lazy Rockabilly/country rocker first with « Texaswoman » on the Goldband label (# 1093, from 1959) ; then « Twitterpated » on the Folk-Star label (# 1303, a subs. to Goldband) : a great piano led shuffle beat, a bluesy guitar solo.
We come to an end with both sides of Columbia 21031 (October 1951) by the MERCER BROTHERS, Charlie and Wallace. They originated from Metter, south of Georgia, and began to appear at the Louisiana Hayride in 1948. « It ain’t no use » and « Tell me who » have a distinguished Delmore Brothers appeal. No surprise, since Wayne Raney himself backed them on harmonica for the session.
This fortnight begins with a heck of wildness: MICHAEL RAYE & Judy Shaye (“two voices and four hands” on the label) do offer the storming “Rockin’ Jamboree” on Arcade (Philly) # 112. Boogie woogie pano, trombone and guitar combine for this from 1953.
JOHNNY FOSTER (announced a month ago) from Alabama offers the perfect rock-a-ballad “Locked away from your heart” on the Sandy label (# 1028). Good steel and sincere vocal. 1958. He had an earlier issue (# 1014) on the same label, which sounds promising (alas untraced): “It’s a hard life/You gotta be good“. I don’t know if he’s the same artist who appeared later on Capa and Carma during the early ’60s. Anyone can confirm, or deny?
MAX LOWE enters for two issues, both came out from Morristown, TN. First “Ain’t got a nickel, ain’t got a dime”, a banjo led bluesy ballad, is to be found on Waterfall 502. More of the same on J-F-K-L 701 and “Little Lou”, from 1961 (thanx to Youtube Cheesebrew Wax Archive chain).
The “REAVES WHITE COUNTY RAMBLERS” go back to the late ‘20s on Vocalion 5218 for the romping “Ten cent piece”. It’s a fast raw hillbilly, showing prominent fiddle and a strong vocal. Courtesy 53jaybop on Youtube.
From Wichita, KS, emanate the Kanwic label on which OWEN McCARTY & His Troubadours cut “Key to my heart” (# 145), an uptempo ballad with nice steel, in 1968. McCarty was to have two other known records: on Show Land (produced by Benny Hess) and Air Cap.
AL URBAN doesn’t need introduction. He cut the great Hillbilly bopper (1957) “Looking for money” (Sarg 148), and the fabulous twin-sider Rockabilly “Gonna be better times/Won’t tell you her name” (Sarg 158), without forgetting his two issues on Fang 1001 and 1003 (untraced). Here he appears on a “manufactured by Tanner ‘n’ Texas [T.N.T.]” A.P.U. 201, which shows two addresses: Gonzales (hometown to Urban) and San Antonio, TX. His “Run away” is similar to his Sarg sides, with a heavy Starday sound: a piano player sounding like Doc Lewis, a fiddle sounding like Red Hayes. Could it be that this record has actually been recorded in Houston?
Howdy folks, a happy and bopping New Year to everyone. As a seasonal gift, I will post no less than 15 selections, as on the Xmas fortnight.
First a mystery with GEORGE BOWE & the Travelers. It has proved impossible to find any detail on him neither even the location of the label, Eagle – a common label name during the ’50s/60s. A very small clue is to be detected in the deadwax, « Rimrock » – which leads one to Arkansas Wayne Raney‘s label of the ’60s. Anyway Bowe delivers a Rockabilly styled opus with « Big man » (Eagle 110A) – the whole thing is quiet and lazy. B-side (« Do you remember ») is a melodic ballad, a bit sentimental, over sympathetic backing.
Note: Alexander Petrauskas did advise me that the Eagle label was definitely associated with Rimrock, the latter pressing the Eagle products.
DON WHITNEY (incomplete bio statistics – he died in 1985) was a D.J. associated with Arkansas radio stations KLCN in Blytheville, then KOSE in Osceola (1957) ; he’s been too on WELO in Tupelo (MS), and cut a whole string of boppers for 4*. Where he cut them ? Probably Nashville. I chose from 1950 « Red hot boogie » (# 1471), call-and-response format (girl chorus). Steel and piano are barely audible, while the guitar player does a too short but wild solo. « Move on blues » (# 1588) from 1951 is a fine bluesy tune over a boogie guitar. Discreet steel and piano.
On Adco records (# 781), cut in Cincinnati, OH, next comes GLEN CANYON and a rocker from 1965, « I won’t be able to make it » : a shrilling guitar thoughout, and the disk is valued $ 50 to 100. I couldn’t locate the flipside « Still in love with you », reputedly a bopper. Canyon appeared also on Acorn and Boone (Kentucky).
The Sandy label out of Mobile,AL. is interesting for many records issued between 1957 and 1962 and highly revered by Rockabilly/Rock’n’roll buffs : do Ronny Keenan, Happy Wainwright, Jackie Morningstar (« Rockin’ in the graveyard »), Ray Sawyer (« Rockin’ satellite ») or Darryl Vincent (« Wild wild party ») ring each a bell to you ? Well, the label also had its hillbilly boppers, like Johnny Foster (more on him next fortnight, late January 2016) or WADE JERNIGAN. Both his sides (# 1010) are high quality boppers penned by label bossman Johnny Bozeman in 1958. « Road of love », medium paced, has a very « hillbilly » type vocal (high pitched at moments), over a prominent fiddle and good steel, while its flip « So tired » uses the same format, just a little bit slower. A good record for Hillbilly lovers.
Now on to Louisiana. The Khoury’s label began activities in 1951 to cease them in 1955 (last known is # 647, « Lu Lu boogie » by Nathan Abshire, which I owned moons ago before selling it – I am biting my fingers now..). We find here on # 700B (not in numerical order, this one is from 1954) a fabulous Cajun wildie « Louisiana stomp » by LEBLANC’S FRENCH BAND (an unidentified singer yells and encourages by his yells the whole fiddle led orchestra). Reverse is by Eddie Shuler, the founder of Goldband. Second La. selection : by GENE RODRIGUE, who had other releases on Folk-Star, Houma and Rod (the Cajun Rockabilly « Little cajun girl” from 1959). Here is his « Jole fille » (Meladee 101, cut in New Orleans), full of energy and « joie de vivre », Cajun style. Nice fiddle, steel and piano. This comes from the late ’50s apparently.
More from Louisiana with PAL THIBODEAUX (also known as Little Pal Hardy on Imperial) and « Port Arthur boogie » (Sky Line OP-154). Call-and-response, sung in French and English. Fiddle solo, sympathetic backing, two good guitar solos encouraged by the singer a la Bob Wills.
“Port Arthur boogie”
GEORGE GREEN & The Missouri Ranch Boys comes next with a good 2-sider on Zeylon . The medium paced « I don’t love you anymore » is backed by a welcome accordion, and sounds its late ’40s recording, although its prefix (J80W, an RCA pressing, dates from..1958). The flip « Be a little angel » is a jumping little thing, which grows on you at each playing. Good fiddle.
« Just because « is a classic Sun side, only issued on RCA, by ELVIS PRESLEY. We conclude this fortnight with his version (RCA 47-6640, early 1956) and the original by the SHELTON BROTHERS (in the ’30s). Great lyrics. Elvis does a very fine job on it.
Sources : Somelocaluser blogspot (George Bowe, Wade Jernigan, George Green), Youtube for several tunes (Don Whitney – scans from 78rpmworld) ; Robert Lunn on a 3-CD compilation of country music on Mercury, picture from “hillbilly-music.com”. Hope you enjoy this selection. Comments welcome. ‘Till then, bye.
Note: important addition on Khoury records by Louisiana tireless researcher and faithful friend Wade Falcon (Feb. 5th, 2016):
I read your latest article on Leblanc on Khoury. The musician is Floyd Leblanc. Fiddle player that originated with Bennie Hess and Virgil Bozman and the Oklahoma Tornadoes. Floyd had recorded the song Louisiana Stomp first with Virgil’s label O.T. Recording Company (#104-B)
After Virgil folded the label, Khoury who helped finance it, picked it up along with his artists and started Khoury and Lyric. Khoury re-released the song on his label. (700-B)
I actually know Floyd’s daughter. Very nice person.
Also, Khoury’s 600 series label ended with #652 in 1955. He started his 700 series again (which we’ll refer to as the “second 700 series”). There, you have the 700-B side you mention in your blog with Shuler on one side and Leblanc on the other. That lasted till about 1962. His last Cajun in the series was #720 Pee Wee Broussard.
Go to a map of the U.S., search « Biloxi », and you’ll find this small city in the Harrison county, down south of Mississipi. That’s where the Fine label story begins. But before that and its debuts, we must look at its founders. Professor Marion Carpenter had a recording studio open to local facilities in Biloxi and was associated with steel guitar player Murphy Monroe « Pee Wee » Maddux (born 1923)[The visitor Linda Maddux corrected this: “He played the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and harmonica, not steel guitar”]. The latter’s name had over the years several changes : from « Pee Wee » to « Pee-Wee », even « PeWee ». He was also a songwriter (Kitty Wells in 1956 ; or « Fools like me » for Jerry Lee Lewis, or more « Rocky road of love » for Curtis Gordon, even Fats Domino : « What a price »), and his earliest efforts as recording artist (at least he is credited as such on the labels) are to be found in March 1952 on M-G-M records, cut in Nashville : « My hobo heart » and « Lover’s crime ». The vocals were done by a certain Al Britt for two average boppers. Maddux penned a good percentage of the songs on Fine, among them the Ernie Chaffin ones.
In 1954 the pair Carpenter/Maddux launched a microscopic label, Gulf Coast, which they issued a certain DAN SEAL on : « You gotta walk that line » (# 1012) is a lively little opus, but nothing particular, and it sinked into obscurity. But SEAL reemerged next year on the new comperes’ label, FINE for two ballads, « I wake at dawn (with you on my mind ) » being the best one (# 1003).
JIM OWEN then came with the rollicking « Sie Simon shuffle » (# 1004) : it’s a jumping hillbilly rocker with a fiddle solo and one from Pee Wee Maddux on steel well to the fore. Owen had late ’50s his own Owe Man label where he issued « The key’s in the mail box » (see below). On to JOHNNY BOZEMAN and the good « She’s my bayou babe » (# 1006). Bozeman went afterwards in 1957 on Mobile, Alabama, Sandy label, which he co-founded with Paul Bose, and saw a classic horror rocker « Rockin’ in the graveyard » by Jackie Morningstar in 1959. Bozeman himself had « Blues and I » (# Sandy 1001)(alas, unheard) and what is described in a sale list as « doo wop rockabilly », « How many ».
Other artists on the Fine label included ANN RAYE and his fine (co-sung with Jim Owen) bopper « Our wedding band » (# 1001). Raye had also had earlier 2 singles on Starday and 1 on Decca in 1956. Incidentally she was the daughter of local promoter Frank « Yankie » Barhanovich, and through her father’s activities, went on to share in 1955 some Elvis Presley shows in Biloxi. Moreover on Fine, HANNA FAYE had the ballad « It pays to be true » (# 1008). Other men : J. W. THOMPSON and the good honky-tonker « It’s your turn » (# 1007) – later he cut « When you’re honky tonkin’ » on the Toledo label (# 1003) out of Alexandria, Louisiana. Or B. F. JOHNSON : the fine bopper « I wish I could believe you » (# 1011)(great mandolin!).
Ernie Harvey on steel guitar (according to Linda Maddux)
The most important artist however was ERNIE CHAFFIN who made his recording beginnings on Fine with « The stop look and listen song »b/w « The heart of me » (1010), before Carpenter and Maddux went with him to Nashville to meet country promoter Jim Denny and A&R man Paul Cohen. A deal with Decca never concluded but Fred Rose took Chaffin on his burgeoning Hickory label. 4 sides were issued without success, then Chaffin came to Sun, and Maddux backed him on such a classic as « Feelin’ low » (Sun 262).