Howdy folks, the first serie of the two selections for May.
The exuberant « It always happens to me » by RUFUS SHOFFNER & JOYCE SONGER (wife of Earl) cut in Detroit in 1962 seems stylistically go back to the mid to late ’50s. It’s a great fast bopper (piano, guitar and an energetic rhythm, and an exulting duet vocal), which was issued on Fortune’s label subsidiary Hi-Q 14, and can still be found on various recent compilations, as in Boppin’ Hillbilly vol. 5. Shoffner made several fine sides on Hi-Q or Fortune, or earlier on Kentucky’s Countryside label. More on him later in this site. « It always happens to me »
More famous from the West coast is TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD (1919-1991),who cut a fine string of Hillbilly boogies from the end of the ’40s (« Milk ’em in the morning blues« ) to the mid-50s, when he crossed the marked with the top-seller « Sixteen tons » (written by Merle Travis). Here he delivers from July 1950 on Capitol 1295 the much acclaimed « The shot gun boogie » (which had many, many versions later by others, even during the R&R era, f.e. Jesse Lee Turner), backed by the Cliffie Stone crew, among them the excellent Speedy West (steel), Billy Liebert (piano) and Jimmy Bryant (ld guitar).
For the rest of the selections, we’re turning to obscure artists. From Pennsylvania in 1958 on the Skyline label (not to be confused with the Indianapolis label: the Blankenship Brothers) # 106 comes BOB ENGLAR and » Always dreaming« , a very nice bopper (guitar/steel/fiddle solos). FRANK DARRIS had in 1963 the same energy as Englar for an honest Rockabilly, his personal version of Marty Robbins’ « Ruby Ann » on the Roy label. The wizardry is the same two-sided disc came on two other labels, Thunder and Advance. Another Rockabilly we find from Alabama, early ’60s, « Baby I don’t care » (not the Elvis’ song) by DAVID GREGG on the McDowell label.
Finally the same song, « Blue eyed baby » is a yodeling bopper first issued in 1956 on Esta 284 (untraced)and later recorded twice by DEMPSEY SIMS in 1957 on Huber (time 2’39 ») and Sam (time 2’07 »). The Sam version seems more polished. Dempsey later had « Blues tomorrow » in 1967 on the Nashville label.
I feel sorry for the light defaults of the scans: my sight is failing (too much reading microscopic master numbers on records!)
Indiana is not the first American state you’d associate wih primitive Rockabilly, but it was there, hidden away among the steelworks and the industrial areas. Indianapolis was seething with young, spotty hopefuls, all wanting to be Elvis and looking more like the greek next door. Eddie Smalling, Tommy Lam, Van Brothers, Tex Neighbors, Dennis Puckett…All true blue Indiana boppers.
The Blankenship Brothers certainly weren’t the next « Teenage sensation ». Hell, this small but tightly packed band didn’t even pretend to cut Rockabilly. Led by Floyd and Dennis Blankenship, this small outfit cut some of the best primitive rock north of Tennessee, but to them it was more like country and bluegrass music., blended with a little rough Johnny Cash edge. They played all the local honks and jukejoints, entertaining the masses of factory workers who were looking for entertainment after a hard week of being frazzled by the burning steel mills. Hell, maybe these guys worked there too…