The WEBSTER BROTHERS, a Bopping Bluegrass duet (1954-1962)

This Knoxville bluegrass brother group was largely overshadowed by the Brewster Brothers, with whom the siblings Audie and Earl Webster performed and recorded as part of a unit that was named with a great deal of brotherly love: the Brewster Brothers and Four Brothers Quartet. The implied confusion is enough to make one’s head spin along the lines of a deep shot of the liquor brewed in the hills above Knoxville. The band name suggests the presence of three sets of brothers, four of them related, but in reality there was only the combination of the Webster Brothers and the Brewster Brothers , totalling four. This is by no means the worst mistake in math in terms of bluegrass band names. That honor would probably go to the 7 Flat Mountain Boys, which was usually a quartet. At any rate, some bluegrass fans assume the Webster Brothers were like the Brewster Brothers in that they became prolifically recorded sidemen working in the bands of bigger bluegrass and country names, such as Carl Butler or Red Allen. This premise is normally based on the existence of players such as or Otis Webster or Jackie Webster, but neither of these old-time pickers nor any other Webster was a part of the Webster Brothers unit. Audie Webster played mandolin, guitar, and sang, while his more handsome brother Earl Webster was cut out to be a frontman, learning to handle lead vocals and rhythm guitar in order to live up to expectations. In tandem with the Brewster Brothers, it was the Webster Brothers who got to wear the light-colored suits and the former brothers got the dark stripes. Whatever meaning this might have in the bluegrass hierachy is unknown, but it seems important to mention. Singer Carl Butler, also a Knoxville lad, also formed a working combination with the Webster Brothers, cutting some records with them for Columbia, but owed no strict allegiance to the family. Butler also sang with other area brother groups, such as the Bailey Brothers – who, coincidentally appeared on the Grand Old Opry with the Brewster Brothers — and the Sauceman Brothers. In a sense, the basic concept of the lead vocal in a Knoxville bluegrass « brother » band of the ’50s can be likened to an old-time mystery: one can always assume the Butler did it. One he did with the Webster Brothers was « Somebody Touched Me » a bluegrass gospel warhorse that has been cut in nearly 50 different versions.

« Somebody touched me« 

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The Webster Brothers collaboration with Carl Butler was going on for a full year, between October 1954 and November 1955 – they had already cut themselves 4 sides in March 1954 . During this term they recorded 16 sides, either on the Okeh label (a subsidiary of Columbia), or on the main label. An half was made of religious songs, well settled in Bluegrass tradition, the other included rural Boppers that had an appeal to the white market. Their best songs were : « Kisses don’t lie »/ »I wouldn’t change you if I could » (Okeh 18052)

« Kisses don’t lie »

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« I wouldn’t change you if I could »

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(Carl Butler lead singer), « It’s all left up to you »/ « Till the end of the world rolls around» (Okeh 18056)

« It’s all left up to you »

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« Till the end of the world rolls ’round »

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 « Angel band » Columbia 21353, Carl Butler lead: fine vocal harmonies), the great hillbilly bopper « Road of broken hearts » (Columbia 21421) « 

« Angel band »

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« Road of broken hearts »

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« Seven year blues »

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Seven year blues » (Columbia 21421), the good medium-paced, Hank Williams styled « Watching the clock » (Columbia 21503)(Carl Butler lead singer) and the religious « Somebody touched me » (Columbia 21563). They had one of the best accompanying teams in the country : Dale Potter on fiddle, and Ernie Newton (or Jr. Huskey) on bass.

« Watching the clock »

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« My heart won’t let me forget« 

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Years later the Webster Brothers issued in 1962 on the Nashville Do-ra-me label (# 1432) a modern Bluegrass song, « My heart won’t let me forget». One more ’45 on the IHS label and that was it, they disappeared from music scene.

Sources : a biography by Eugene Chadbourne on AllMusic site. Ronald Keppner and 78-world for label scans. Willem Agenant (Columbia 20000 serie) for the music.

Early July 2015 fortnight’s favorites

Arlen Vaden was D.J. at WCKY out of Cincinati, OH, when he launched in 1958 his own Vaden label. The first issue (# 100) of the new label was by BOBBY BROWN & The Curios, who consisted of Brown (vocal, rhythm guitar), Shorty Stewart (lead guitar), Tommy Jones (bass) and Johnny Welker (drums). This record was cut at WCKY, and later on reissued on Vaden 107. « I Get The Blues «  is of course bluesy with a fine lead guitar (long solo).

« I Get The Blues« download

« Bobby’s Blues« download

vaden EP 107 bobby brown - I get the blues

vaden 109 bobbybrown - bobby's blues

 

 

Early 1959 saw Bobby Brown back for another issue on Vaden 109, this time cut at KLCN radio in Blytheville, Arkansas. Twin-lead guitars (J.C. Caughron & Tommy Holder), Larry Donn (bass), Johnny Welker (drums), but the most important and pulsating instrument is Teddy Redell‘s piano, who adds a brillant and pulsating flavor to « Bobby’s blues ». Thanks to Alexander Petrauskas who provided me with all the information. Do visit his great blogsite « Arkansas 45rpm records » or « Mellow’s Log Cabin« !

 

 

We go further East in North Wilkesboro, in N. Carolina, circa 1952-53, for a fine double-sider first on the Blue Ridge label (# 306) by LARRY RICHARDSON [banjo] & Happy Smith & the Blue Ridge Boys. Two songs are in discussion : « I’m Lonesome » and « Just Let Me Fall », both superior Bluegrass tunes, billed « Hillbilly » on the labels ! Thanks « 53jaybop » to have posted them two songs on Youtube. Later on, Richardson had on the MKB label, out of Virginia (no #) what it seems to be a rocking effort, »I’m Lonesome/I’ll Fall In Love With You » (alas untraced). We finally find him back on Blue Ridge 516 in 1960/62 for « The Nahville Jail », again a fast and fine Bluegrass number or « Wild Over Me » (great fast mandolin by Clinton Bullins?) on MKB 130 from 1968.

« I’m Lonesome« download

« Just Let Me Fall« download

larry richardson

Larry Richardson

blue ridge 306 larry richardson - I'm lonesome
blue ridge 306 just let me fall

larry richardson2

Larry Richardson on banjo

« Nashville Jail« download

« Wild Over Me« download

 

 

 

Way up North now for the Omaha, Nebraska Applause label : the TERRIFIC TABORS (with their leader Paul Tabor ? He at last holds the credit) offer a pretty weird mix of Bluegrass (unisson chorus) and garage rocker on « Rockin’ The Boat » from 1961. There’s even what sounds a steel behind the backing of guitars. The flip side, which sounds an instrumental (« Tabor Tromp ») remains untraced.

applause 1251 terrific tabord - rockin' the boat

« Rockin’ The Boat« download

 

 

 

 

 

 

charlie bowman

Charlie Bowman

 

Real old Hillbilly now by CHARLIE BOWMAN & His Hill Billies on the Brunswick label. Bowman was a fiddler and a banjo player on several sides cut in New York with the Hopkins Brothers between October 1926 and May 1927 : « East Tennessee Blues » and « Riding That Mule ».

« East Tennessee Blues« download

« Riding That Mule« download

Finally a SHORTY LONG, who has apparently nothing to do with the S. Long I discussed thoroughly earlier in this site, does a romping R&B rocker (saxes), although the voice sounds white, with « Redstone John » on the K-Son label (# 7283). Location unknown.
k-son 7283 shorty long - redstone john

« Redstone John« download

Sources : YouTube, www.Arkansas45rpm-records,Tony Russell’s Country Music Records 1921-1942. Any correction or addition welcome !

 

Early November 2014 fortnight favorites: a bunch of Bluegrass 78rpm!

Howdy folks ! With just an exception, only 78rpm this time.

Let’s begin with the legendary JIM EANES in one of his earliest efforts on the Blue Ridge (#301) label. It’s happy hillbilly bordering to bluegrass (sometimes difficult to distinguish, but who cares?) : « A sweeter love than yours I’ll never know ». Fine solos : banjo, mandolin over chorus vocals.

blue ridge 301 a sweeter love
Smilin’ Jim Eanes « A sweeter love than yours I’ll never know »download

Lucky Leroy « Now get join' »download

Lucky Leroy « All tied up »download

go-lish 100A

Thanks to Hillbilly Researcher and Allan Turner, LUCKY LEROY and two sides on the Illinois Go-lish label « Now get goin’ » and « All tied up ». Solid hillbilly from 1955.

On the Mutual label (uncertain origin), CLAUDE YATES & Bowes Brothers for « Stop knocking at my door » (#214) : as label implies, « hot banjo picking ».

Same label, FRED MURPHY for the very inspired « I want to be ready » (#210).

Bowes Brothers « Stop knocking at my door »download
Fred Murphy « I want to be ready »download
 

 
mutual 214B bowes brothers - stop knocking at my doormutual 210-B fred murphy I want to be ready
 

 

A return to Blue Ridge with LARRY RICHARDSON (& Happy Smith) (#306) and « I’m lonesome ». High-pitched vocal, again that mix of hillbilly and bluegrass music.

Finally for the season, HAPPY WILSON on M-G-M 10877 « The haunted house boogie ».
Larry Richardson « I’m lonesome »download

Happy Wilson « The haunted house boogie »download
blue ridge 306 I'm lonesome
mgm 10877 happy wilson

early February 2014 fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks. Excuse me, a little bit late…

First on the D label (#1034), the very Hollyish « Sady » by DOUG STANFORD. Very nice Rockabilly guitar and vocal hiccups. A medium bluesy « Separate ration blues » by BILL FREEMAN (later on All-star)(vocal « Buddy » Young): good piano, sax and fiddle.

d 1034A doug stanford sady

tex-talentwinkler 88Hillbilly boogie with AL WINKLER for « Show boat boogie » on the Winkler label # 45-88 . Boogie guitar, mandolin, and call-and-response format.

Doug Stanford, « Sady »download

 Bill Freeman (Bddy Young) « Separate ration blues » download

 Al Winkler, « Show boat boogie » download

 

 

 

 

 

From Indiana, a fast blegrass, « A use to be » by BRYANT WILSON on Adair 620. A nice atmospheric (steel led) « Stoney mountain » by BOBBY BROWN on Backwater 945.

And finally CHUCK GODDARD on the famous Georgia Trepur label (# 1005) with the piano-led « The moon won’t tell« .

adair 620 bryant wilson A use to be Rblackwater 945 bobby brown Stoney-mountaintrepur 1005 Bryant Wilson « A use to be » download
Bobby Brown « Stoney mountain » download
Chuck Goddard « The moon won’t tell » download
There will be next fortnight in early March only.

early March 2013 fortnight’s favourites

Hello folks ! Hi to returners, welcome to newcomers…

This is my bi-monthly choice of stomping, shuffling hillbilly boppers, sometimes rockers, and by surprise, R&B rockers.

Let’s begin on the West Coast, but I am not sure, as the Sage label used to sweep products largely from other areas along: the gentle rocker « Seven Come Eleven » by Al Muniz (# 262). It seem date from 1958. A prominent piano, a bit jazzy guitar solo. All this transpires laziness !

 

 

 

Then in Ohio, (Cincinnati) by Miss Joy Whittaker. She seems to have been a good seller, as she has records as soon as 1955 on M and J, and Esta in 1957. Excellent 215 is a label owned by Mrs. Estel Scarborough as the others. Dating this record « Toe Tappin Rhythm » has proven difficult : the only other I know is # 279 (Logan Valley Boys) from May 1957. So I’d assume this one as being from late ’55/early ’56. As from the bass beginning instro, we have a a mix of hillbilly bop (fiddle has its solo) and a rock-a-billy guitar. Exciting firm voice and many breaks. Could please to Rockabilly fans.

 

 

 

Down to Texas with the Corpus Christi DJ Kenny Everett, who does a fine country-rocker (1958) on All Star 7173 with « What Is It ». Accompaniment is a typical Houston one : fiddle (solo), steel (2 solos), piano (solo) and drums.

Marshall Lail then from Atlanta, Georgia for two tracks. On Sunrise first (# 001) for the energic late ’50s complaint « I need You So » (More Than You Know), before a more melodic and sentimental «Countless Hours Of Heartaches », podcasted by a certain « Mr. Honky Tonk » on his channel. No indication of the label. Finally way up North, in Hammond, Indiana, for the great bluegrassstune on the Mar-Vel 355 label by the Thomas Brothers, Melvin and Elvin, « Way  High , Way Low« . Great interplay between the three voices (falsetto and barytone). A classic !

Billboard 17 Nov. 58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Billboard 8 Aug. 56

 

March 28th, 2013. Dan Nail wrote the following line: « Marshall Lail was my Father. He recorded « I Need You So » and « Countless Hours of Heartache » in 1960 at NRCO Studios in Avondale, Georgia. He printed up 500 copies on his own label called Sunrise Records. »