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…
Howdy folks. This time we are mostly staying in Texas. First with the legendary bandleader CLIFF BRUNER and « San Antonio Blues« , a late ’40s tune. He saw among his band members Moon Mullican or Link Davis.
Then GENE HENSLEE, aimed at Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly circles for his « Rockin’ Baby » on Imperial. He also had this jumping « Dig’n’And Datin‘ » with fiddle, piano and steel. Henslee was a resident D.J. at KIHN from Hugo, Oklahoma.
BASHFUL VIC THOMAS was one of these Country outfits jumping on the Rock’n’Roll bandwagon in 1956. He delivers here the fine romping « Rock and Roll Tonight » on the Premium label.
From the Sage label out of California comes now BOB NEWMAN (see elsewhere his story in this site), disguised under the family name « GEORGIA CRACKERS » and a remake of « Hangover Boogie » in 1957. He had already cut the song for King during the early ’50s.
The tune « Big Door » was published twice by 4 Star in 1958. One version, as a Rocker, was sung by GENE BROWN (with a possible Eddie Cochran connection). Here I offer the other version by JACK TUCKER, more Country.
Finally, way up North (Richùond, Indiana), here is JIMMY WALLS and the amusing title « What A Little Kiss Can Do » (from 1965!) for the Walton label, which also had Van Brothers‘ issues.
Howdy, folks! I didn’t have a particular « theme » chosing the selections this time (as I did sometimes in the past): just a few songs I like at the moment.
Early September I posted something about the ubiquitous Mr. DIXON. Since then, I did not find something new on him, be it at hillbilly-music.com or with google, under his 3 aliases (Walter, Mason, or Ted). There is even on Youtube a bishop named Walter Dixon, and I wonder if this is the same person! I even found a Mason Dixon Country 45 on ebay. This time you will be exposed to a 1961 rendition for the Alabama based REED label, and a great shuffle by MASON DIXON, « Hello Memphis« .
Staying in the South with a minor classic by SPECK & DOYLE , the Wright Brothers, « Music to my ear » on the Columbus, Georgia based strangely named SYRUP BUCKET label. A nice guitar, a medium beat for this relaxed Rockabilly/Hillbilly Bop from 1959.
On to, probably, Texas, with a fast romper by JIMMY STONE on the IMPERIAL label from 1951, « Midnight Boogie« . I’ve never heard Stone had another record, but what’s this one? Entertaining lyrics, and most of all, a wild bluesy Rockabilly guitar! Who may the player be? Fine piano and even a short fiddle solo, Texas style. We are pursuing the musical journey to Indiana with a very young GAYLE GRIFFITH (he was fourteen when he cut his solitary record) and the out-and-out romper « Rockin’ And A Knockin’ » for the EMERALD label, from 1954. Griffith was at one time associated with WFBM Indiana Hoedown, although despite this promising first platter, he seems to have soon disappeared from the music scene.
Billboard 1951 advert for "Drifting Texas Sand"
Now to California for the Louisiana-born EDDIE KIRK (1919-1997), who was consistently working with the Los Angeles musicians’ cream for CAPITOL records. Here he delivers a fine rendering of the 1936 Tune Wranglers‘ classic (also cut around the same time as Kirk by Webb Pierce) « Drifting Texas Sand » (Capitol F 1591). The backing is sympathetic, although ordinary. Harmonica player could be George Bamby, who cut with, among others, Johnny Bond.
As a bonus, we go to an end in Chicago with the underrated LITTLE MAC SIMMONS, singer-harmonica player (altho’ no harp heard here) and the frantic (great piano throughout, with usual Honking saxes, and a nice guitar) « Drivin’ Wheel » (PALOS label) from 1961.
I hope you enjoy the selections. Don’t miss the other « regular » posts: recently Bopping had had Jack Bradshaw story, the Daffan label, Roy Hall and Riley Crabtree, to name just a few. Not to mention in the « hillbilly profile » section, Chuck Murphy. Till then, bye!
As usual, pictures from various sources. Excellent Terry E. Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style site, or ebay. Sounds from my collection, or various compilations. I can name for every track who provided me! BUT you CAN download everything!
Howdy, folks! Here we go with 6 « new » Hillbilly Bop goodies from various sources, spanning nearly 20 years from 1949 to 1967. Let’s begin with Indiana’s BLANKENSHIP Brothers. They were a group doing Bluegrass and Rockabilly, as late as 1960. I’ve chosen « I Just Got One heart« , the B-side to their most famous and best tune « That’s Why I’m Blue » (Skyline 106). Way up North in the Detroit, Michigan area. Hillbilly was concentrated on Fortune Records (Jack & Devorah Brown), and the label saw many, many fine releases by Southerners who did entertain the Ford car workers. Many good Fortune sides are to be found in the excellent NL Collector serie « Boppin’ Hillbilly« (« Detroit in the 50’s« , 3 volumes), and here we have one of the earliest sides (Fortune 141, 1949) by EARL SONGER, « Mother-In-Law Boogie« . Songer himself was from West Va. and came to Detroit in the late 30’s; being a fan of Bill Cox, he was a one-man band (vocal/guitar/harmonica), before teaming with Joyce (born in Tennessee). Together they recorded many songs on Fortune: 7 disks within 2 years. Immense success.
Next we have TOMMY JACKSON and « Flat Top Box » from Lexington, KY (Sun-Ray 131) as late as…1967. Great guitar, very modern in style, altho’ the Hillbilly spirit remains untouched. Back to Indiana with the prolific Hodges Brothers Band, fronted by RALPH HODGES for a little classic on Whispering Pines 201, « HONEY TALK » with the buzzing guitar and swirling fiddle. That’s a crossover between Hillbilly and Rock’n’Roll, what they call sometimes Hillbilly Rock. They had a good amount of albums recorded by Chris Strachwitz for Arhoolie in the 1970’s.
And then we have a woman – and God knows they were THAT uncommon in Hillbilly! JEANIE CHRISTIE on the Blue Sky label out of St. Cloud, FLA from 1958: « Flying High« . Great and firm vocal, a solid steel-guitar throughout. A nice record!
Finally in Virginia for the tiny Liberty label (no connection with the California concern), HENDER SAUL, « I Ain’t Gonna Rock-Tonite« , one of my all-time faves in Hillbilly Rock. Forceful vocal, nice lyrics, great interplay between guitar and fiddle.
I really hope you will enjoy the selections, and you will comment after a listen or two. You can download everything, of course!
« Lâche pas la patate » (Don’t loosen the potatoe) to quote Cajun Jimmy C. Newman, and keep on Bopping!
Sources: various CDs. Pictures as usual from the excellent Terry Gordon’s site « Rocking Country Style ». Take a look at it!
Hi! You all. I am a bit early this time, coming back from a trip to find a flat in Vienne, Vallée du Rhône (where I belong), and soon moving from Brittany, before parting early next Friday 14th of May to Paris’ area to meet my girl friend for a few days. All this is a mess! But a whole lotta fun indeed. Here we go with some more music. From 1946-1947 come JERRY IRBY (see his story elsewhere on the site) and one his his early offerings on GLOBE (Pete Burke at the Rolling piano) for « Super Boogie Woogie ». Next we go to a famous entertainer for 6 or 7 years before his suicide (?) I’m told, R.D.HENDON & His Western Jamborees, from Houston. Here is his guitar picker (superb!) CHARLIE HARRIS and the shuffling « No Shoes Boogie » from 1951 (Freedom label), reissued on UK’s Krazy Kat label. On the West Coast with JACK GUTHRIE, too soon deceased, who made superior Hillbilly music as early as 1944 for Capitol records. I chose his « Troubled Mind Of Mine ». Location unknown: Texas maybe. LEON CHAPPEL on Capitol. He begun his career as LEON’S LONE STAR CHAPPELEARS on Decca during the 30’s. You can hear his great « Automatic Mama » (1953), fine Honky Tonk style. On to Louisiana, 1955, with the underrated JIMMY KELLY and « Dunce Cap ». The record came out from Monroe, first on the Jiffy label. It was so good that Imperial picked up and reissued it (more affordable). I finish with a beautiful JACK BRADSHAW 1958 ballad from 1958, way up North in Indiana. Backed by the Morgan Sisters (chorus unobstrusive), his « It Just Ain’t Right » can be found on Mar-Vel’. Enjoy the music. ‘Till then, bye, boppers!