Late November 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

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 .

Late September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello folks, back from Summer holidays ? En route for the late September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites’ selection.

Doug Poindexter

June 1954, exactly 18. A newcomer with his first recording. DOUG POINDEXTER came from Vendale, Arkansas. Several months ago, as he had went to Memphis, he had been noticed by a guitar player, Scotty Moore – surely the name rings a bell – and hired as front guitar man of his group, the Starlight Wranglers. His voice was very nasal, without doubt as imitation of his idol Hank Williams. On this day, he cut two sides, whose I retain « Now She Cares No More» under the producer Sam Phillips, hence Sun 202.

The record, albeit reviewed by the famous Cash Box magazine, went nowhere, and Poindexter earned his life later as a successful insurance man. « Now She Cares… » is pure hillbilly bop heaven. Fiddle and steel to the fore, and heavy bass (Bill Black). Less than 2 weeks later Black and Moore backed young Elvis. The rest is history.

Bobby Wayne

From the Washington State in 1963, here’s the very Johnny Cash styled BOBBY WAYNE. « Big Train » first on Jerden 709. During the flipside, « The Valley », the guitarist even adopts Luther Perkins (Cash’ guitarist) licks. Good vocal on both sides, and discrete chorus.

In the December 2016 fortnight I came with Californian Western swing artist EDDIE DEAN and his « Rock’n’Roll Cowboy » on Sage from 1957. Here is a quieter thing (Sage 188) : « Impatient Blues » as its name doesn’t imply is a bluesy thing, nice steel and a bit of crooning.

Eddie And Chuck

« The Louisiana Ramblers », EDDIE AND CHUCK came in 1954 with a bouncing thing, « Boogie The Blues » on the Chicago Chance label (# 3012). Weird and savage steel, great vocal and solid bass. How they were acquainted with an otherwise Blues/jazz label (1100 serie with already known artists like Wllie Nix – ex- Sun Records, or J.B. Hutto) is open to conjecture.

These sides were not unknown to Stan Lewis, owner of KWKH in Shreveport, La., who also acted as talent scout for Northern companies : Dale Hawkins and Sonny Boy Williamson came from his stable of artists and were recruited by Chess/Checker.Chance had apparently a 3000-C&W serie, but I never ever heard of any more record than this in this serie.

Dottie Jones & Winston O’Neal

A real male/female duet now with DOTTIE JONES & WINSTON O’NEAL. A fast bopper , « I’ll Be Yours » has a prominent guitar – the solo comes a la Carl Perkins ! To be found on TNT 134 (San Antonio, Texas).

From unknown source, I picked up on YouTube a nice slice of fast Hillbilly bop wih « Me And My Fiddle » by BENNY MARTIN, apparently in 1954-55. Martin cut records on Pioneer, Mercury and M-G-M. One one side he was backed with  »Hilllous Butrum & his Tennessee Partners », ex-bass player for Hank Williams, and was of rural Tennessee extraction. Nevertheless a very fine Hillbilly bopper.

Cliff Waldon & his Westernaires

Not owning Boppin’ Hillbilly vol. 15, I can’t say nothing about CLIFF WALDON & His Westernaires. His « My Baby Doll », issued on Mark 107, has an agile fiddle (+ solo), a great steel, even a bass solo. Vocal is OK for this fast Bopper.

Cash Box Aug. 31, 1957

CashBox June 25, 1955

Is there any need of presenting the MADDOX BROS. & ROSE ? I chose two tracks from their mostly creative period (Columbia, 1952 onwards). « No More Time » is a fast opus, which is still near to their Four Star product. « I’ve Got Four Big Brothers (To Look After Me ) » has Rose on lead vocal, with funny lyrics, in a true Rockabilly : Columbia 21405 from June 1955.

Sources : YouTube for Benny Martin ; W. Agenant’s Columbia 20000 serie » for the Maddox tracks ; Eddie & Chuck from various good compilations ; Bobby Wayne from 45cat. Starlite Wranglers image from “706 Union Avenue” site. My own archives.S

Early September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

For early September fornight’s favorites, Very different things this time, from 1947 to 1961.

Al Rogers With his Rocky Mountain Boys

Al Rogers and his “The Hydrogen Bomb” do come from June 1947. Rogers was a native from Pennsylvania (later on WKPA radio). During WWII, he entertained the troops in the Pacific. Later he relocated in Amarillo, Texas. From 1946 onwards, he was back on WJAS in Pittsburg, Pa.

For early September fornight’s favorites, Very different things this time, from 1947 to 1961.

June 1954, exactly 18. A newcomer with his first recording. DOUG PONDEXTER came from Vendale, Arkansas. Several months ago, as he had went to Memphis, he had been noticed by a guitar player, Scotty Moore – surely the name rings a bell – and hired as front guitar man of his group, the Starlight Wranglers. His voice was very nasal, without doubt as imitation of his idol Hank Williams. On this day, he cut two sides, whose I retain « Now She Cares No More For Me » under the producer Sam Phillips, hence Sun 202. The record, albeit reviewed by the famous Cash Box magazine, went nowhere, and Poindexter earned his life later as a successful insurance man. « Now She Cares… » is pure hillbilly bop heaven. Fiddle and steel to the fore, and heavy bass (Bill Black). Less than 2 weeks later Black and Moore backed young Elvis. The rest is history.

Doug Poindexter with the Starlight Wranglers

Bobby Wayne

From the Washington State in 1963, here’s the very Johnny Cash styled BOBBY WAYNE. « Big Train » first on Jerden 709. During the flipside, « The Valley », the guitarist even adopts Luther Perkins’ (Cash guitarist) licks. Good vocal on both sides, and discrete chorus.

In the December 2016 fortnight I came with Californian Western swing artist EDDIE DEAN and his « Rock’n’Roll Cowboy » on Sage from 1957. Here is a quieter thing (Sage 188) : « Impatient Blues » as its name doesn’t imply is a bluesy thing, nice steel and a bit of crooning.

Cash Box March 3, 1955

Eddie & Chuck, the Louisiana Ramblers

« The Louisiana Ramblers », EDDIE AND CHUCK came in 1954 with a bouncing thing, « Boogie The Blues » on the Chicago Chance label (# 3012). Weird and savage steel, great vocal and solid bass. How they were acquainted with an otherwise Blues/jazz label (1100 serie with already known artists like Wllie Nix – ex- Sun Records, or J.B. Hutto) is open to conjecture. May I put forward this ? These sides were not unknown to Stan Lewis, owner of KWKH in Shreveport, La., who also acted as talent scout for Northern companies : Dale Hawkins and Sonny Boy Williamson came from his stable of artists and were recruited by Chess/Checker.Chance had apparently a 3000-C&W serie, but I never ever heard of any more record than this in this serie.

Cash Box, Feb. 15, 1954

A real male/female duet now with DOTTIE JONES & WINSTON O’NEAL. A fast bopper , « I’ll Be Yours » has a prominent guitar – the solo comes a la Carl Perkins ! To be found on TNT 134 (San Antonio, Texas).

From an unknown source, I picked up on YouTube a nice slice of fast Hillbilly bop wih « Just Me And My Fiddle » by BENNY MARTIN, apparently in 1954-55 on Pioneer 630. Martin cut records on Pioneer, Mercury and M-G-M. On one side he was backed with  »Hilllous Butrum & his Tennessee Partners », ex-bass player for Hank Williams, and was of rural Tennessee extraction. Nevertheless a very fine Hillbilly bopper.

span style=”color:#77OOO”

TONY DOUGLAS was released in 1958 on the very first D label records (# 1205, issued June 1958). « Baby, When The Sun Goes Down » is typical of mid-fifties Houston Hillbilly bop : solid steel, fine piano and guitar, and great vocal. Douglas had several other tracks on D, before switching in 1961 to « United artists »), more than 40 records between 1958 and 1965.A good seller.

Maddox bros. & Rose>/h2>

That’s it, folks. Sources: 45cat and 78worlds as usual for label scans. Several tunes do come from YouTube. My own archives, too.

Late February 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! It’s the second fortnight of February 2019, and there are already in this blog 5 issues since January 1st, that of two bopping fortnight’s favorites selections, and two throroughly researched hillbilly profiles, that first of the North Carolina Church Brothers and second of the harmonica extraordinaire Lonnie Glosson. Now we embark for the late February bopping selection. Latch on, folks !

Lacy Kirk

A very fast 1961 Hillbilly rocker bt LACY KIRK, « This Is Saturday Night » – guitar played on the bass chords, too short steel-guitar and fiddle solos. Singer in a good voice. This record was released on Ohio Karl 3022, a label of Clay Eager bopping is now actively researching on (see « I’m Looking For » section) . The man had many good records to his credit, and maybe you can help to share your knowledge of him with me and all the readers of the blog. « This Is Saturday Night » will cost you $ 270 if you can locate a copy in good shape.

Carson Willis

CARSON WILLIS is rightly interesting for more than one reason. He hailed from South Carolina it seems, and released the fast Hillbilly rocker « Sal’s House # 1 and # 2 as talking songs on Dixie (another of this name) # 121 (duet with Goldie Norris) complete with animals’ yells. Actually it was a reworking of « Going Down To Sal’s House » issued on the Starday custom Dixie # 903 in September 1959 under the name BILL WILLIS.

The flipside « Poor Man » is similar in style.

Bill /Harmon R. Willis

And Willis (if he’s really the same man) was to publish in 1958 as « HARMON R. WILLIS & Family », again on Dixie-NC [=North Carolina, one can assume] 123, « Crossing Over Jordan », a very good sacred Hillbilly. Finally Bill Willis also issued the fine double-sided « Boogie Woogie All Night »/ »Where Is My Baby », a classic Rockablly on Dixie 825 (value $ 300 to 400).

Another Rockailly bopper, « Wanted, Dead Or Alive » comes next on the G. B. 406 label by CURTIS WILSON : urgent vocal, and a good rhythm guitar. Other records of interest are : « Teenage Party Line » (Canary 6417) and « My Heart Is Made Of The Blues » (Cherry 1014 – the very same Scottsville Kentucky label which did bear Art Adams, Judy Capps or Johnny Hargett and Tommy Holmes – phew ! what a Rockabilly poster!). Alas, Wilson’s records didn’t live up to their promises, as they were teen rockers.

Carl Perkins

On to a star, which is unusual in bopping. CARL PERKINS in May 1955 cut the Hillbilly bopper (very near to Rockabilly) « Let The Juke Box Keep On Playing ». A very great Rockaballad, warm voice, guitar and bass – steel by Stan Kesler and fiddle by Bill Cantrell, both stalwart accompanists on more than one Hillbilly session at Sun or Meteor. This record is perfect !

Wayne Busbice

Frankie Short & Dee Gunter

Finally from Baltimore, MD the frantic voiced duet « Country Boy Trock And Roll » (mandolin, fiddle and banjo) by FRANKIE SHORT and DEE GUNTER on the Wango label (# 201), which bopping researches on. Short (with Green Valley Boys) had another interesting record, « No Longer Sweetheart Of Mine » during the early ’70s. Indeed the original to “Country Boy..” had been cut late 1956 by Don Reno & Red Smiley on King 5002: Short and Gunter do frankly copy this original.

And that’s it for this late February 2019 selection. My thanks go to CheeseBrewWax YouTube chain ; to 45-cat for several label scans, as « Ohio River Records » site ; Tom Lincoln’s book for the value of Rockabilly/Rock’n’roll records ; consulting also Michel Ruppli’s book « The Mercury Discography » was also helpful (Merle Lindsay record) ; finally my own archives.

The bouncy music of SLIM RHODES: Memphis, 1950-1956

For over twenty years, the Slim Rhodes Show was an institution on Memphis radio. Starting out as a family group, the Rhodes maintained this characteristic through three generations despite a continually changing supporting cast.

Originally from Arkansas, James K. Rhodes formed a group called tte Log Cabin Mountaineers in Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 1936. At the core of the group were James’ three sons;: Ethel Cletus ‘Slim’ Rhodes, vocalist and guitarist ; Hillburn ‘Dusty’ Rhodes, vocalist and fiddle player ; and Gilbert ‘Speck’ Rhodes, bass player and comedian. The early group was completed by Dusty’s wife, Bea, a singer.
Slim was the eldest of the sons, born in 1913 in Pocahontas, Arkansas and the leader of the group. Working in Missouri – Arkansas border, the Log Cabin Mountaineers drew upon the sounds of Western swing emanating from Texas and the south west, together with the musical traditions of the Ozark mountains.

From the outset, though, the band was also a localised purveyror of prevailing music trends. Particularly after Slim gained a regular radio show on KWOC in Poplar Bluff in 1938, he came to recognize the value of balancing his natural feel for western swing with a responsiveness to public demand. Two decades later, Slim Rhodes’ Memphis recordings would form a chronological illustration of changing musical times in Memphs, from western swing to hillbilly to rock’n’roll.

The Rhodes band continued to operate as the Log Cabin Mountaineers during the early part of the 1940s, appearing not only on KWOC but on KLCN, Blytheville, Arkansas and KARK in Little Rock, Arkansas. Then, in 1944, the band joined WMC in Memphis and commenced a noontime country music show that ran almost daily until Slim’s death in 1966. For the latter half of this 22 year residency, the Rhodes Show also appeared n WMC TV and provided a platform for many aspiring local musicians. This experience came in useful when Speck later joined the nationally networked Porter Wagoner TV show out of Nashville in the 1970s and 1980s.

By the time they moved to Memphis, the Log Cabin Mountaineers had obtained the sponsorship of a floor company. They worked on WMC as the Mother’s Best Mountaineers. Their popularity increased through the 1940s to the point in 1950 when they were a natural target for Sam Phillips and his newly-opened recording enterprise.

Let’s take then the shortest possible digression from Slim Rhodes and his brothers, to introduce their guitarist : Brad Suggs (also called “Pee Wee”, “L.B.” or “Junior”) had his first professional affiliation with the Loden Family, around 1950. Sonny Loden, the later Sonny James, sang and played fiddle with the group. He wanted Suggs to go on the road with him, but Brad was married and had family obligations, so he chose not to.

Brad Suggs

Instead, he went to work with the Slim Rhodes band, once again joining a family group of musicians. Suggs played with them when he first got to Memphis until he went into the Army. They were going to send him to Korea, but he had two brothers who had already died in the war (Suggs came from a family of twelve), so he was allowed to stay Stateside. After his demob, probably in 1954, he went back to work for Slim Rhodes.

Suggs played guitar with the Rhodes band on all their Sun recordings, appearing as a featured vocalist on three of them in 1955-56: “Don’t Believe” (Sun 216), “Are You Ashamed Of Me” (Sun 225) and “Bad Girl” (Sun 238), all country ballads.

Like several other Sun alumni (Charlie Feathers, Malcolm Yelvington, Little Milton, Jimmy Haggett), Suggs also made a brief trip across town to record a rockabilly single for Lester Bihari’s Meteor label in 1956 (“Bop Baby Bop”/”Charcoal Suit”, Meteor 5034). But his true home territory was 706 Union Avenue. Brad hung around Sun a lot in those days. One thing led to another and he started doing studio work as a guitarist. Among the records he plays on are “Ubangi Stomp” by Warren Smith and “Hillbilly Music Is Here To Stay” by Jerry Lee Lewis.

UBANGI STOMP
(Charles Underwood)
WARREN SMITH (Sun 250, 1956)
Well I rocked over Italy and I rocked over Spain
I rocked in Memphis, it was all the same
Well, I rocked through Afrika and rolled of the ship
And seen them natives doin’ an odd lookin’ skip
I parted the weeds and looked over the swamp
Seen them cats doin’ the Ubangi-stomp
Ubangi-stomp with the rock and roll
Beats anything that you’ve ever been told
Ubangi-stomp, Ubangi-style
When it hits, it drives a cool cat wild
Well I looked up the chief, he invited me in
He said, a heep big jam session’s ’bout to begin
He handed me a tom-tom, I picked up that beat
That crazy thing sent shivers to my feet
I rocked and I rolled and I skipped with a smile
I done the Ubangi-stomp, Ubangi-style
Well we rocked all night and part of the day
Had a good rockin’ time with the chief’s daughter May
I was makin’ good time and a-gettin’ to know
Then the captain said son, we gotta go
I said that’s alright, you go right ahead
I’m gonna Ubangi-stomp ’till I roll over dead
Courtesy Black Cat Rockabilly Europe
http://blackcatrockabillyeurope.com

Phillips recorded eight sides with the band under Slim’s name in 1950 for release on Gilt Edge Records of California. Concentrating on boogie and swing based styles, the Gilt Edge discs featured Slim and Dusty on vocals with fine fiddle and steel support spiced with energetic electric solos from Pee Wee Suggs.

download” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>download

In 1955, Sam Phillips recorded the Rhodes band again, this time for Sun. Despite a similar line-up to that of the Gilt-Edge era, the sound of the band was now much more hillbilly influenced. Subsequent sessions developed further, toward a rockabilly sound, and Slim’s vocalists changed from the swing balladeers (Slim, Dusty and Brad) to rockabillies like Sandy Brooks and Hayden Thompson (*).

1958. Perhaps Sandy Brooks on mike

Under the competition of a newer generation of rockabilly combos, Slim Rhodes soon found himself dropped from the Sun label. Although he did make several other recordings for labels like Cotton Town Jubilee, including an interesting promotional disc for Hart’s bread on the Hart’s label, Slim mainly concentrated on radio and TV work. New generations of the family came through, from sister Dot (who also recorded as Dottie Moore on King) to Slim’s niece Sandra Rhodes who at one time pursued a solo career with Fantasy Records, and sang as a backup singer on countless sessions at Hi Records.

download” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>download

The full story of the Rhodes band would take more space than is available here, and much more work remains to be done in interviewing members of the Rhodes band and fleshing out the contribution they made to country music in the mid-south. (Martin Hawkins, 1986)
(*) It is probably an error from Mr. Hawkins, as it is highly improbable that Hayden Thompson, out of Tupelo, MS., ever sang with Slim Rhodes.

Aknowledgements: Martin Hawkins (“Good Rockin’ Tonight”, book of 1996); generous use of 78worlds; music from various sources; Hillbilly-music.com for several details and pictures.

Try to find the 1996 CD on Gee-Dee

Discography of Slim Rhodes is available on the Praguefrank site: https://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/2011/02/slim-rhodes.html