Early March 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! This is the 5th bopping fortningt’s favorites selection of the 2019 year, that of early March. Mostly made of late ’40s and very early ’50s recordings in very various styles.

Blue Ridge Playboys (Moon Mullican)

Let’s begin with a San Antonio recording from November 1936 : « Swing Baby Swing » is a Blue Ridge Playboys tune, described on the label (Vocalion 034160) as « Hot String Band And Singing » : Moon Mullican (vocal and piano) is driving the Blue Ridge Playboys with this lively tune, only a pretext for piano, fiddle (Leon Selph) and guitar solos.

Moon Mullican

Further on with two later sides by MOON MULLICAN on the King label (recorded in Cincinnati on March 6th, 1953), : « Grandpa Stole My Baby »(written by a R&B giant, Roy Brown) and « I Done It » are obvious attempts to sound R&B (a lovely saxophone and drums, played by Boyd Bennett) and predate vintage Rock’n’roll by 3 years. Lazy rhythm, haunting tracks at every listen, of course the piano is great.

Billy Hughes’ Pecos Pals

Next artist is a legendary songwriter, with classic songs from the 1946-48 era like « I’m Tellin’ You », « It’s Too Late To Change Your Mind », « Tennessee Saturday Night » or « Stealin’ The Blues ». Bopping.org devoted him an article (in October 2014), and here’s a tune that escaped to the post, BILLY HUGHES’ PECOS PALS and « Out Of Town Boogie » (4* 1202 from 1947) : it’s an uptempo mid-paced, vocally halfspoken.

Walt McCoy

WALT McCOY was a West Coast artist : he was backed by his Western Wonders, and had records on Cristal and Broadway among others. Here he delivers first a « Cowboy Boogie », a solid rhythm over a boogie guitar pattern, taken over by an uninspired steel solo, and piano, issued on the rare O and W label (# 237). Then on a 4* custom OP- record (on Pacific 145), « I’m Gonna Get A Honky Tonk Angel » is a slow thing, a bit crooning and disillusioned vocal over a good steel.

Eddie Marshall

Then on a major label (RCA-Victor # 21-0357 cut –), a cheerful, although on a bluesy type tempo, « Tom Cat Blues » by an unknown but prolific artist : EDDIE MARSHALL & His Trail Dusters. The steel-guitar goes throughout the song, and the vocal is yodeling at times.The dude had several other good records, namely « Mobilin’ Baby Of Mine » (also by Gene O’Quinn on Capitol 2075), « Honky Tonk Blues » (not the Hank Williams song), a version of « Coffee, Cigarettes & Tears » (also by Charlie ‘Peanuts ‘ Faircloth on Decca 46271) . Eddie Mashall really deserves a complete research and a publication.

Al Brumley

Later on Ohio’s Acme 1230 (1950’s, it’s difficult to date this particular issue), AL BRUMLEY & The Brumley Brothers do release « You’ve Been Tellin’ Me Lies », a good uptempo with steel present (+ solo), over a vocal well suited to this rural type of song.

Snake River Outlaws

Finally a great fiddle and mandolin led bopper from a very unusual place : Missoula, Montana. The Snake River Outlaws do « I Won’t Go Huntin’ Jake (But I’ill Go Chasin’ Women)[vocal Orville Fochtman] with good fiddle and mandolin (solo), I’d assume a ’50s disc, but may also be a ’60s one ! On their own label, Snake River Outlaw 101.

Sources : 78-world for most label scans, google for several pictures, sounds from various origins (HBR # 45 for Walt McCoy, for example)

The Harmonica Boogie Woogie Man: AUBREY GASS (1939-1965)

Nothing is known about this important, although quite obscure artist of the 1940’s and ’50’s. Even not any statistic of birth or death, although he was certainly livng in the aubrey gass pictureDallas, TX area, and was born there during the ’20s. Nothing more is known about his childhood and beginnings in music, so we are forced to deal only with the records he appeared on.

From 1939 until 1952 he was closely associated with another Texan, AL DEXTER and worked with him either as washboard player (in the ’30s), sometimes harmonicist, and in some cases held the vocal duties into the Dexter’s band, « The Troopers », not forgetting he was also songwriter : he was co-writer (with Tex Ritter) of the all-time Hank Williams‘ classic, « Dear John ». But more about that later.

al dexter picture

Al Dexter

In 1939, he was a member of the Al Dexter’s Troopers, as said before, and offered the group a good selling disc : « Wine, women and song » – recorded in December 1939 and issued on Vocalion 5572, it was covered by Texas Jim Lewis in September 1940 (Decca 05875), and by the Prairie Ramblers (Decca 05878) – the song must’ve looked to Decca’s executives a lucrative seller). When re-recorded by Dexter on Columbia 37062 in April 1945, he was a second time covered (a reissue) by Jim Lewis (Decca 46021). It attracted two more versions in 1946 by Frankie Marvin (San Antonio 107) and Dick James (Coast 234).

Gass gave Al Dexter (or co-wrote with him) two more songs in 1941/42 : « The Money You Spent Was Mine » (Okeh 6206) and « Honky Tonk Chinese Dime »(OKeh 6604). He played the harmonica on « Diddy, Wah, Diddy With A Blah !Blah ! » (Vocalion 6255) – which Dexter re-recorded later on King as « Diddy Wah Boogie » (# 885). Gass also held the vocal duty for « Sunshine » (Vocalion 04988, reissued in 1946 on Columbia 20240), both coming out of a long 8-track June 13th 1939 session.

Al Dexter, “Diddy, Wah, Diddy With A Blah! Blah!

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Aubrey Gass, vocalSunshine

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vocalion Dexter Diddy columbia Gass Sunshine

As far at it concerns records, Aubrey Gass disappeared from the music scene between 1941 and 1946. Was he drafted in U.S. Army during W.W. II such a long time is improbable. Anyway, his first record under his real name was issued mid to late 1946 in Houston by Gold Star (# 1318) and coupled a then-famous for veterans couplet, « Kilroy’s Been Here » and «  Delivery Man Blues ». Backed by the Easterners (guitar, bass, fiddle, steel and piano), Gass on alert vocal and harmonica delivers a joyful A-side, although the bluesy B-side is equally at home. Indeed both sides were written by Gass, who saw the following year a reissue of his Gold Star disc on the new DeLuxe (#6001) label, a proof of the popularity of the record.

Kilroy’s Been Here

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Delivery Man Blues

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gold star Gass Delivery gold star Gass Kilroy's Kilroy’s been here  lyrics

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Paul Page

It must also be noted that a song « Kilroy Was Here » was recorded and released by Paul Page on Enterprise; reviewed by Billboard on August 31, 1946, no one can say who came first for sure.

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Tex Ritter

« Dear John » […] was his biggest song ; in fact, it was the only hit he ever wrote. The first version was by Jim Boyd, younger brother of Dallas-based western swing artist Bill Boyd. Gass apparently knew Jim Boyd, offered him « Dear John », and Boyd recorded it on March 11, 1949. Soon after, Tex Ritter got his finger in the pie. Ritter probably promised to get the song cut by a big name, like himself, or to get Gass a contract with his label, Capitol, if he could get a piece of the song. The fact that Gass recorded « Dear John » for Capitol (# 40239, or # 1427) some five months after Boyd suggests that Ritter lived up to his half of their convenant. Hank Williams later picked (early 1951) up the song, this time co-written « Ritter-Gass ». Note : Jim Boyd’s version is already written by Gass and Ritter…

Jim Boyd, “Dear John” (original version)rca-victor boyd john

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The session for Capitol took place in Dallas on August 9th, 1949 (Billboard announced both the contact signing and the recording session on Sept. 17) and supplied four more Gass-written songs. The backing of Wesley Tuttle and Group (specially come to Dallas) was made of Gass himself (vocal/harmonica), probably Tuttle (rhythm-guitar), a steel, a bass player and a drummer. First came the already discussed « Dear John » : Gass is full of energy on harmonica, has a husky voice, as on the fast « Look Me Up » and (by far the most hard-rocking tune of the lot) « K.C. Boogie ». The last song, « Gee But I’m Lonely Tonight », is a slowie and Gass doesn’t seems at ease here.

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Billboard Nov. 12, 1949

Dear John

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Gee But I’m Lonely Tonight

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copyright June 15,1950

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Look Me Up

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K. C. Boogie

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« Dear John » had numerous versions, among them an R&B rendition by Dinah Washington, which climbed at n°3 in the charts. It also had a follow-up in 1953 as « A Dear John Letter », first by Jean Shepard (Capitol 2502).

Next recording session Aubrey Gass collaborated for was done on May 19, 1950 by Al Dexter and his Troopers again. Gass was present, and played some harmonica on several tracks, but still being contracted to Capitol, could not sing at all. He plays (distinct style easily recognizable) on « Blow That Lonesome Whistle, Casey » (King 875)[very near in essence to “K. C. Boogie“], « Walking With The Blues » (which he co-wrote) (King 884), then both sides of King 913 : « Diddy Wah Boogie » and « You’ve Been Cheatin’ On Me ».

Al Dexter & His Troopers, “Blow That Lonesome Whistle, Casey”

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Walking With The Blues

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Diddy Wah Boogie

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You’ve Been Cheatin’ On Me

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At unknown dates he cut several demos at Sellers Studio in Dallas, between 1950 and late 1951. Three of them found their way on the British/Nederland Boppin’ Hillbilly compilation n° 2810. Due to legal rights, we are not allowed to offer these great sides. They are : « Columbus Stockade Blues », « Here Today And Gone Tomorrow » and « Walkin’ Out Of Town ».sellers Gass Fishermansellers Gass Teardropsdecca Dexter Teardropsdecca Dexter Fisherman's

But « Counting My Teardrops » and « Fisherman Boogie », cut late 1951 or early 1952, were issued under Gass’ own name by Sellers as acetates, and released just as they were under Al Dexter’s name (« Vocal by Aubrey Gass ») on Decca, respectively 28345 and 28137 during the first half of 1952. Both tracks were probably recorded (given date by Michel Ruppli’s book « The Decca label » as Feb. 7, 1952) with the Al Dexter band : trumpet, rhythm-guitar, piano (particularly rolling in « Fisherman’s boogie»), steel, bass and drums and no harmonica at all. This 14 tunes session has no less than 8 unissued tracks, and could well reveal some surprises.

Aubrey Gass Vocal“, “Fisherman’s Boogie

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Billboard August 23, 1952

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Aubrey Gass & Al Dexter,Counting My Teardrops

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A recent discovery on eBay has surfaced an unissued Audiodisc dated (as handwritten on label) May 23,1956. « Garbage Man » by Gass is a strange novelty : only vocal, harmonica and rhythm guitar. The acetate was gone on December 19, 2017 for $ 118,00.

Garbage Man“(acetate)

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In 1962 (June) Aubrey Gass gave Tom O’Neal « Two Many Tickets » (released first on Cheatham 104, then reissued on Starday 607), a country rocker ; it’s probably Gass who played the harmonica in this song, as well as on the flipside « Sleeper Cab Blues ».

Tom O’NealToo Many Tickets

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Tom O’Neal,Sleeper Cab Blues

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cheatham O'Neal Ticketsstarday o'neal tickets

We now jump to one of the most famous Aubrey A. Gass records (backed by the Hel-Cats), this is on the Irving, TX Helton label released in 1965. « Corn fed Gal » is present in two recent compilations : a rocker with swooping piano (# 671-103), backed with a new version of « Kilroy’s Been Here ».(a good guitar ; piano is replaced by a discreet steel). Same label had Grady Owen (ex-Gene Vincent‘s Blue Caps bass player in 1958) (# 102) with « Vietnam Blues ».

Further research has unearthed a demo of « Corn Fed Gal », cut for the « Boyd Recording Service » in Dallas. The strange thing is that this version runs at 2 mn 05, while the Helton version has a duration of 2 mn 22. So then, are they the same ? Could it be that the lucky owner of the Boyd record please stand up and say the truth about this point. I am inclined personnally towards two different versions. This demo was sold on eBay in 2010 for $ 136,00.

boyd gass galhelton Gass Kilroy's helton Gass Gal

 

 

Corn Fed Gal“(Helton version)

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“Kilroy’s Been Here

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Last record is on the Swansee label # 1908 (mid-’60s) by Mr. G. « Pork-N-Beans » and « Sittin’n’Thinkin’ » are unheard, both written « Aubrey A. Gass », so cannot comment. Remember (see above) his actual name was Aubrey Andrew Gass.

Sources : my sincere thanks to UncleGil for Bronco Buster, the King Project, the Starday project and BACM music ; many (if not all) label scans do come from 78rpm-worlds ; thanks to ole’ Ronald Keppner for Sellers acetates ; Dave Sichak of hillbilly-music.com for Aubrey Gass only known picture ; Gripsweat site for 1956 acetate ; Colin Escott, « Hank Williams, The Biography » for the « Dear John » story. Billboard books for notifications of releases (Thanks Imperial!).

Your comment is welcome: use the “Submit a comment” button below. Thanks!

Early August 2017 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, this is a full Summer 2017 (early August) fortnight favorites’ selection, with 10 tunes. The first two are by an unknown artist on a famous label. HARRY CARROLL on the Starday label # 277 (issued December 1956). A waltz tempo for « Checkerboard lover », a mid-paced sentimental « Two-timin’ » for the flipside. Typical Starday atmosphere, but nothing exceptional. Carroll seemingly co-wrote « The trail of the lonesome pine » for Jimmy Donley (Decca 30392), and that was over.Checkerboard lover

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Two-timin‘”

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starday Carroll Checkerboardstarday Carroll timin

GLENN & JODY, the Singing Buddies were backed by Larry Nolen & the Bandits for this fine WS flavored bopper « I’m even with you » on the San Antonio label Eagle # 3772. It’s for you, Bill S.     Larry Nolen was a veteran of the S.-A. scene, having records issued on Sarg as early as 1954 (« Hillbilly love affair »), Starday in 1956-57 (« Lucky lady », « King of the ducktail cats »), then later on Eagle (apparently his own label, or one he was involved in – backed by Herby Remington on steel) or Renner in 1961.

larry nolen picture

Larry Nolen

I’m even with youeagle Glenn & Jody even

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A solid Hillbilly boogie now with « Dog house boogie » on King 720 (from July 1948) by a young HAWKSHAW HAWKINS. A strong boogie guitar (agile solo), a lemley & hawkins pictureking Hawkins Dogfine steel solo done by Herman « Jiggs » Lemley.hawkshaw hawkins picture

Dog house boogie

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RED MANSEL had previously cut for Starday custom # 523 (« I’ve crossed you off my list ») in July 1955, and was the first to appear on Dan Mechura’s new label, All Star # 7165, with a fine medium paced ballad, « Changing heart ». Very great vocal.

KEN GABBARD & The Hilltop Ramblers cut in 1965 on the Trenton, OH Harp label (no #) the very nice « Thing’s can’t be as they were » (sic). Uptempo ballad, and typical early ’60s hillbilly sounds.

allstar Mansel heartChanging heartharp Gabbard Thing's

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The same Harp label had another disc of interest : Don Ward and « How much I owe ».

Thing’s can’t be as they were

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Helen Hunt is leading vocally THE NITE OWLS with a bluesy « Married man blues » on Vocalion 03987 from November 1938. The steel well to the fore is played by Bob Symons.

A good female mid-paced bopper follows on the Stardale label (# A 006) from Morris, OK by GALE SOUTHERN and « « Trusting heart « in 1956. Nice piano throughout.

vocalion Nite Owls, Married

csy 78-Ron..

Married man blues

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stardale Southern heartTrusting heart

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« Hillbilly lovin’ «  comes next. A fast vigorous piece of hillbilly bop by BAILIN’ WIRE BOB on the Pittsburgh, Pa. Fee Bee label # 208 from 1957.fee bee Wire Hillbilly

Finally GENE STACKS on the Pine Bluff, AR Cooper label (no #) , « I know (my baby loves me) ». It’s perhaps the fastest of all the tracks here and a very fine Rockabilly bopper.

Hillbilly lovin’

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cooper Stacks know I know (my baby loves me)

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Early June 2017 bopping and rocking fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the early June 2017 bopping fortnight’s selection, between 1937 and 1947, with some projections in the very early ’60s.

Here we go before WWII with BILL NETTLES & his Dixie Blue Boys for his first recording session, held in vocalion Nettles OxfordDallas, TX on June 22nd, 1937 (nearly 80 years ago…) His story has already been written in this site, and I will focus on one track, « Oxford (Miss) Blues », described on the label as « hot string band with singing ». Really hot fiddle (Dock Massey, who’s also singing, among cheers and yells) and strong slapping bass (by Nettles’ brother Luther). They didn’t do such great tracks so often, even in the ’40s and ’50s.

Oxford (Miss) Blues

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ALSIE « REX » GRIFFIN (1912-1959) made most of his career during the ’30s on Decca, as a follower of Jimmie Rodgers, and a fine yodeler too. Here on the decline (one of his last records) in Cincinnati on King 584 (February 1947), I chose « I’m as free as the breeze » : nice hot guitar player (obviously inspired by the late Django Rheinhart) and a discree steel for a good mid-paced bopper.

I’m as free as the breezerex griffinking Griffin free

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Griffin was also responsible for three classics, « Everybody’s trying to be my baby » (one feature in this site is devoted to this song and its continuation), « Won’t you ride in my little red wagon » (the signature song of Hank Penny), and the morbid « The last letter ».

HANK STOLLINGS went on the RCA-pressed 1961 Versatile 101 « Date with the blues » (vocal Chuck Louis) with a deep-voiced country rocker ; 2 fine fiddle solos, and a good loud guitar too.

versaile Stollings Date

Date with the blues

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From the same or similar era (late 1959) we find also BEN JACK & Country Boys for «I’m entitled to your love», a mid-paced light country rocker with fiddle emanating from Tulsa, OK, to be found on the Cimarron label # 4048. This label was owned by Leon McAuliffe, former steel player in the Bob Wills’ Playboys.

I’m entitled to your love

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Back to TOMMY FAILE (reviewed early May with « That’s all right » on Lawn 104, NYC label) and the flipside of this December 1960 issue, « The rest of my life ». Arthur Smith is seemingly on lead guitar (on bass chords) for this baritone-voiced, female chorus backed (unobstrusive) country rocker.

lawn Tommy  life

The rest of my life

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Indiana born, on a Chicago label, comes BOB PERRY for two tunes. First a famous small Rockabilly classic,« Weary bandera perry epblues, goodbye » on the Bandera label (# 1303, from 1959), valued at $ 150-200, it has a very strong rhythm guitar (obviously played by Perry himself) and a fantastic steel guitar solo . So tame in comparison is the second Perry issue on Cool 158, « Gone with the wind », which is a gentle Rockabilly/rocker (all the same attaining $ 75-100). Perry went later on Top Rank and BandBox.

Weary blues, goodbyebandera Perry goodbyecool Perry Gone

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Gone with the wind

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Finally JIMMY DALE on Continental 8025B from June 1947 (70 years ago!) for a furious « Guitar boogie woogie » played by the lead guitarist Lee Ciuffreddi.

Guitar boogie woogiecontinental Dale Guitar

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Jimmie Dale got his start in hillbilly music with the guidance of Dave Miller, who was a famous New Jersey-Newark disc jockey.

He organized his own band and they made personal appearances in the New York night club circuit. Jimmie also appeared at Carnegie Hall, Frank Daly’s Meadowbrook and the top spot on Dave Miller’s television show. By 1953, he was being heard over radio station WAAT in Newark, New Jersey.

Dale had other boogies in the same style.

Sources : 45cat and 78rpm-worlds, YouTube (e.g. Rockin’ TomKat for Bob Perry on Cool) ; Hillbilly-Music.com (picture of Rex Griffin and Jimmie Dale) ; also Wikipedia for Rex Griffin bio. My own archives.

BILL NETTLES & His Dixie Blue Boys (1935-1965): three decennies of Louisiana hillbilly, “Hadacol boogie”

The little historical town of Natchitoches lies on the banks of the beautiful Cane River (Louisiana), and it was there that Bill Nettles was born on 13 March 1903 (another source mention 1907)

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Natchitoches town (red button) in Louisiana

Bill was a member of U.S. marine and he took a part in World War I. Then he got a job as brakeman on the Pacific railroad line and around this time he met his future bride, Emma Lou Rich from Arcadia, Louisiana: on 19 December of 1922 in Shreveport they were married. He and his wife had four children, the eldest of whom, Bill Jr. (1926), enlisted in the Marines in 1943, reported missing at Okinawa albeit surviving and returning home in 1945. He was the inspiration for Bill writing « God bless my darling he’s somewhere ».

Emma Lou Rich was Bill’s dream maid, tireless manager and director of his Fan Clubs, she wrote the paper “Nettle ’em” which would significantly support his success.

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Bill’s interest in music was initially satisfied by purchasing records of his favourite singer Jimmie Rodgers, as well as buying platters by Jimmie Davis, Gene Autry and Cliff Carlisle.

Then in 1934 Bill teamed up with his brother Norman to form the Nettle Brothers, with Norman on guitar and himself on mandolin. Unlike many popular duos of the time (Shelton Bros, Monroe Bros, Callahan Bros or Blue Sky Boys, etc.) Bill and Norman refrained from duetting on vocals, which made them stand out from the run of the mills outfits trying to imitate the well known names. Thus it was not long before an offer came their way to appear on radio in Shreveport on KWKH, at that time starring a favourite artist of Bill’s, Jimmie Davis. It was he who got their recording contract with Vocalion (1937).

 

The first session, held in Dallas in June 1937, yelded their first single, « Shake it and take it (like the doctor said – on later issues) »/ »My cross-eyed Jane » which saw Bill vocalising as well as playing mandolin. Augmented by brothers Norman on guitar and Luther on bass with Doc Massey on fiddle, Bill produced a lively performance, reflected in the sales of the record.

The group recorded another session in San Antonio as well as another in Dallas, and all in all eleven singles (a total of 22 sides) were recorded between 1937 and 1938. While their record sales did not set the world alight, their popularity on the radio continued to increase with appearances on KRMD and KXBS (both out of Shreveport, La.), KALB (Alexandria, la.) and KVDL (Lafayette, La.)

Shake it and take it (1937)

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No daddy blues (1937)

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Early morning blues (1937)

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Gradually the membership of the band increased to the stage where it became known as the Nettles Brothers String Band, and early in 1941 they were signed to the Bluebird label, cutting their first session on June 3rd. Once again the venue for recordings was Dallas with Lonnie Hall (violin), Reggie Ward (string bass) and Jim King (steel guitar) making up the five pieces band. By the time of the second session in October, the line-up had changed to the extent that the steel was gone, Hershell Woodall was on bass instead of Reggie Ward. A lead guitarist and a banjo player were also featured.

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Nettle Brothers: Fannin’ Street blues

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She’s selling what she used to give away (1938)

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Sugar baby blues (1938)

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Bill had started writing songs as early as 1924 when trying to appease his wife after a domestic tiff and writing « My sweet pot of gold ». His pen gained more prominence as his group’s name spread, and other artists started recording his songs. Among the first were Red Foley and Wilf Carter who, as Montana Slim, cut « Too many blues » on Victor (20-2364). Bill’s original version came on Bullet 637 in 1946. Despite being a prolific writer, Bill had failed to copyright any before « Just before we said goodbye ».
Too many blues (Bullet 637):

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It is worth noting that whilst the first records to appear on Vocalion in 1937 were credited to « Bill Nettles & his Dixie Blue Boys », the Bluebird recordings were credited to « the Nettles Brothers ». Bill had in fact played mandolin on a Vocalion session as early as 1935, backing Jimmie Davis and Buddy Jones. Also the Jimmie King who played steel guitar on the first Bluebird session was the father to Claude King, the C&W singer/songwriter of « Wolverton mountain » fame.

Nettles’s beautiful “Have I Waited Too Long?” was introduced at KWKH in 1943 by Radio Dot and Smoky, and later became Faron Young‘s theme song. Along with Harmie Smith, Bob Shelton, Dick Hart, young Webb Pierce, and host Hal Burns, Nettles & His Dixie Blue Boys helped to launch a twice-weekly Louisiana Hayride program on KWKH in the summer of 1945 that predated the more famous auditorium show by almost three years.gotham young hwaited

Faron Young: Have I waited too long (Gotham 415-A)

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After the Bluebird sessions Norman retired from the band, which late in 1945 was signed to RCA-Victor, reverting his name to « Bill Nettles & his Dixie Blue Boys » with brother Luther back on bass. However the rest of musicians were local Dallas sidesmen from the musicians’ union. « They were long haired usicians and did not fit in with Bill’s style. He hated these Victor records », wrote his widow Emma Lou. RCA’s and Bill’s personal conceptions differed completely, in fact recordings were by then “mainstream pop ». So greatly was he disillusioned with RCA that Bill broke his contract and went to Bullet Records.

 

It’s not clear whether this experience with RCA persuaded Bill to reform his own band, but he went to Bullet with a radically new line-up. Danny Dedmon joined as lead guitarist and became a mainstay of the Dixie Blue Boys along with fiddle player Robert Shivers. In between changing of recording labels, Bill moved the family from Shreveport to Monroe, La., where with the exception of short breaks he woud live for the rest of his life. He also started appearing at the local radio station KMLB, where he was to record sometimes. By this stage Bill and his wife had four children. The eldest, Bill Jr. never got deeply involved in his father’s musical career. However one of the remaining children, Loyce (born 1929), became a featured singer in her dad’s band, billed a « The Little Dixie sweetheart ». She became a permanent along with her piano playing husband, Pal Thibodeaux, when the Dixie Blue Boys recorded for Imperial.

 

Nettles & His Dixie Blue Boys helped to launch a twice-weekly Louisiana Hayride program on KWKH in the summer of 1945 that predated the more famous auditorium show by almost three years.

 

Bill cut three sessions with Bullet from Nashville. The first date for Bullet was already on 7 July 1946, probably at Jim Beck’s studio in Dallas, as Beck had a tie with Jim Bulleit. « High falutin’ mama » (# 637) was a prime example of uptempo bluesy country. “Too Many Blues” was recorded by Wilf Carter, as told earlier. Other two songs of the session, « You’re breaking my broken heart again » and « Hungry » (#638) were equally good. Both later sessions held in Jackson, Ms., and in Houston, Tx. remained unissued.

bullet nettles many bullet nettles mamabullet nettles broken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High falutin’ mama (Bullet 636) bullet nettles flyer

High falutin’ mama (Bullet 637)

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Hungry (Bullet 637)

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Danny Dedmon: Gin drinkin’ mama (Imperial 8065)

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Bill Nettles: “Ain’t no tellin’ a woman will do” (Imperial 8032)

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Danny Dedmon: “The blues keep hangin’ on” (Imperial 8058)

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After a fleeting stay with Red Bird, an affiliation which failed to produce any released material, Bill Nettles then signed with Imperial, as did Danny Dedmon, recording in his own right with a band credited as « The Rhythm Ramblers », actually the Dixie Blue Boys. Dedmon recorded 19 sides for Imperial, albeit only 9 were with Bill Nettles, all cut in Beaumont, Tx. On a couple of Bill Nettles’ singles, daughter Loyce was allotted the vocal duties.

Euell was the third of the Nettles’ off-spring. He too was born in Shreveport in 1935. Thus he was barely fourteen when he played on Bill’s first Mercury session in April 1949, giving the family a 50% share in the group personnel. Not only did he pay guitar, but Euell also doubled as chauffeur and handyman. His versatility extended to playing bass, fiddle and drums. During his three years stint in U.S. Army in Paris, France, he met his Spanish wife to be.

At the first Mercury session Bill recorded the highly promising « Hadacol boogie ». Covered by Jesse Rogers on RCA (32-0001), whose version outsold Bill’s, It had also a version by Professor Longhair (Roy Byrd), who combined it with Bill’s third Mercury session « Hadacol bounce ». 

A tune he wrote and recorded for that label, “Hadacol Boogie“, in a Monroe radio station in 1949, was a celebration of Dudley LeBlanc‘s restorative elixir. It went to # 9 on the country charts. (“Hadacol Boogie” is alleged to be the first song that Jerry Lee Lewis performed in public, in 1949. Occasionally Jerry will perform the song on stage, though he never recorded it.)

 

Presumably encouraged by this hit, Mercury had on 3 February 1950 ensured in Cincinnati, Ohio that their musicians parade horses (Jerry Byrd, Tommy Jackson and Zeb and Zeke Turner) were sent into the ring for « Push and pull boogie » (Mercury 6330). Turner’s guitar intro is similar to that of the Delmores’ “Blue stay away from me” or early Hank Williams’.

Yet another recording session could not bring more hit. Bill took his residence at radio station KLMB, Monroe on with their own group. The only new name was Sam Yeager who played the guitar. Although “Hadacol bounce” should been even better than the “Hadacol boogie” according to Mercury, it failed.

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Hadacol boogie (Mercury 6190)

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Do right daddy (Mercury 6209)

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Push and pull boogie (Mercury 6330)

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In 1953 Bill had one of his short spells away from Monroe when he was sponsored by the Surety Gas Co. To appear on WRBC out of Jackson, Miss. Whilst there he cut a session for the local Trumpet label. Sadly nothing was ever issued from these recordings and undoubtedly « When my kitten starts cattin’ around » sounds intriguing. Maybe it was due to the fact that Bill moved on to another radio station elsewhere that caused Trumpet to lose interest, for it was around this time that he moved to KOGT in Orange, Texas, then to KOBX inBeaumont, Texas, finally KFRO in Long View, Texas. It seems likely that this exposure around the Texas area brought Bill to the attention of Starday Records, where he cut the fine « Wine-o-boogie » and « Gumbo mumbo » (# 174). The session included an unissued re-recording of « Shake it and take it » and was probably held at Gold Star studio in Houston (1954), with regular local musicians, Hal Harris (lead guitar), Doc Lewis (piano), Red Hayes (fiddle) and Herbie Remington (steel) providing the backing.

 

 

Wine-o boogie (Starday 174)

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Whilst the advent of rock’n’roll put a brake on Bill’s recording activities, perhaps inspired by his youngest daughter Shirley (born 1936) married to Rev. Gerard Lewis (a first cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, and a fine piano player in his own right), Bill was « saved » and

baptized in 1958, subsequently becoming a devout Christian. Around 1957/58 The Dixie Blue Boys were performing on radio as a sacred group, before Bill disbanded the group and effectively retired from business.

 

Early 60s he cut in Monroe a whole lot of tracks for an unknown label (private recordings?), all of which do remain untraced and unissued.

 

In 1965 he was talked into a comeback and appeared on his own Nettl label. His preoccupation with the Vietnam War caused him to re-do his old song as « God bless my darling he’s somewhere in Vietnam ». Sadly this revival (3 singles) was short lived : Bill Nettles died on April 5 1967.

Old age pension blues (Nett 10005)nett nettles pension

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Throughout his life he wrote over 300 songs, and had 155 published by leading publishers. It is worth looking at some of the artists who made use of Bill as composer :

Be nobody’s darling but mine – Roy Acuff

Old age pension check – Roy Acuff

Old age pension blues – Shelton Brothers

I just can’t say goodbye – Pete PyleBill+Nettles+songb3b

Louisiana moon – Gene Autry

I still believe in you – Charlie Mitchell

It’s nobody’s fault but my own – Will Johnson

Our last goodbye – Stanley Brothers

Honky tonk blues – Al Dexter

Just forgive and forget – Jimmie Davis

Nobody’s darling but mine – Jimmie Davis (huge 1941 hit) 

Answer to blue eyes – Johnnie & Jack

No time for tears – Bill Boyd

Too many blues – Montana Slim, Red Foley

Have I waited too long – Faron Young

I just don’t know why but I do – Jenx Carman.

 

Of the Dixie Blue Boys, Danny Dedmon, Pal Thibodeaux and Norman Nettles recorded in their own right.

 

Nettles loved to write “answer” songs, such as “Answer To Blue Eyes”, “It’s Your Turn To Walk The Floor For Me”, “I Hauled Off and Loved Her”, and even answered his own songs: “(I Want To Be) Somebody’s Darling” and “Hadacol Bounce”. 

 

 

Reprinted (with written permission) from Adam Komorowski’s article in Hillbilly researcher n° 7 (1988), based on a unpublished text written by Emma Lou Nettles for the 60’s magazine « Western Coral ». Many thanks to Ronald Keppner (Germany) for the loan of rare 78 rpm.

Discography (from Praguefrank): Bill Nettles

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