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.
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)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 ».
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.
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.
Smilin’ Jim Eanes « A sweeter love than yours I’ll never know »download
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.
Hillbilly boogie with AL WINKLER for « Show boat boogie » on the Winkler label # 45-88 . Boogie guitar, mandolin, and call-and-response format.
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. »