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. »
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…
Read the rest of this entry »
The Steeldrivers « Reckless » Rounder 0624-2 (2010)
Steeldrivers’ singer (Chris Stapleton) left the group and his replacement, Gary Nichols, will be in Craponne. Stapleton, beside being a good vocalist, is first a Nashville songwriter. One can surely see this new group on YouTube. I prefer personnally the fiddle player Tammy Rogers (already seen in Nashville, and 2 times in Paris) and Mike Henderson, mandolin and, most of all,dobro.
Better sides of this hybrid bluegrass band : the powerful fast « The Reckless Side Of Me », the bluesy (great dobro) « Peacemaker », the lively classic bluegrass sound of « Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives » and the haunting (fine vocal by Stapleton) « Ghosts Of Mississipi ». Buy it in confidence !
Tim Hus « Hockeytown » Stony plain (2010)
Tim is a Canadian honky-tonk singer, whose compositions are very promising and interesting. The instrumentation is of classic origin, even comprising accordion (« North Atlantic Trawler ») and the inspiration includes references to trucker’s culture (« Canadian Pacific »). Also noticed were « Picture Butte Charlie », classic honky-tonk sound, and the « Talkin’ Saskatoon Blues ». An artist to look for in the future !
Howdy, folks. It’s hot over there (South of France), nevertheless I am determined to offer you once more your bi-weekly dose of Hillbilly bop! This time I will give you mostly Bluegrass oriented Hillbilly, and banjo woll be prominently used. Let’s begin on the famous Dixie label (although quite uncommon one to find), with Malcolm Nash and the good « I Guess I’m Wise » (# 833). We go on further with Pinky Pinkston, an artist already surveyed in a recent fortnight. Here he cut a marvelous Bluegrass version of « Blue Moon Of Kentucky » (Fine-R-Tone # 6). The Wilburn Brothers are already a well-known successful brother duet: here I offer their fine rendition of another brothers duet, the Shelton Brothers‘ ’30s classic »Deep Elem Blues« . Well, I know, this version date from 1956, and is very main country-Nashville sounding. Nevertheless, it’s a good version to be heard while playing
On to West Coast and for a very interesting artist: Black Jack Wayne. I am gathering information on Mister Wayne for a planned feature. I post today his very nice « Shallow Water Blues« , cut with Cal Maddox (of the Maddoxes) on his own Black Jack label (# 104). We return to another recently covered artist, Dennis Goodrich, for a ballad - actually the flipside to « All Alone« , « My Love for You » on the Debute label (# 500).
Let’s go further in Bluegrass style with a Bryant Wilson and the Kentucky Ramblers issue, « A Use To Be » on Adair 620, a small label from Edinburg, Indiana..
And we come to and end with the fabulous piano-led « Slow Down Baby » by Bob Gaddy on the Harlem label. The guitar player is none other than Larry Dale for this NYC 1953 issue.
Hello folks! This is the new serie of mostly obscure Hillbilly bop and/or late ’50s Country-rockers. About the majority of the artists, they disappeared into obscurity without leaving any trace, just after the release of their record. Anyway, most important is the music they left behind them, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I chose the tunes.
We’re beginning with LEE NICHOLS on the Allied label for a nice shuffling Hllbilly bop from 1954, « Baby, You’ve Got Everything » (# 5016). Just where Nichols came from or even label’s location I have been unable to find any snippet. To add a little more confusion, the name Allied must have been pretty common for, I bet, a Southern record label.
A less unknown artist was LUCKY BOGGS. I don’t know exactly where he came from, but it seems, from the spare details I’ve got on him, that he very often traveled through the U.S., from Ohio to Texas, then Georgia and Texas to Michigan. Here, taken from hillbilly-music.com, his biography:
When he was just 16, Lucky Boggs began his professional musical career in 1946, working with a band called the Rhythm Rascals over WPAY out of Portsmouth, Ohio. From there, he moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1947. In 1948, he was working with Chess Davis’ Chicago Follies and touring throughout the south. Later, he moved to Saginaw, Michigan and to radio station WKNX, playing with Don Boots’ band. In 1949, he was playing with Chuck Bridges’ Ohio Playboys over WHTN in Huntington, West Virginia. and later at KRIC in Beaumont, Texas. Lucky then formed his own band and became a member of the staff at WSAZ-TV in Huntington, West Virginia then moved to WNXT in Portsmouth, Ohio again. February of 1956 saw him sign a three year record contract with Buddy Record Corporation in Marshall, Texas. They said his first single included « Once I Went To Town » b/w « Tears In My Heart« , that was released in April of 1956. In that same month, Lucky rejoined WSAZ-TV in Huntington and was the vocalist with Dean Porter and the Country Rhythm Boys and was also on the Saturday Nite Jamboree show. Note that Buddy records saw also first Tommy Blake release (« Kool It », a crude Rockabilly), same guy was later to cut marvelous Rock’nRollers for Sun in Memphis.
Here I am offering his great shuffler from 1959, « Drillin’ Rig Boogie » (label unknown).
Next artist is now more well-known than during his short life (he died at the early age of 26). IRY LEJEUNE was born 1928 in a modest sharecropping farm near Church Point, La. Unable to work in fields because of a bad sight, he began at an early age playing accordion, and made his life’s earnings entertaining for local sharecroppers in his area. WWII years were tough, as work was missing, all the troopers being gone. When they returned, they were angry to hear their own Cajun music, and Iry LeJeune was ready to satisfy them. This induced him to record in 1948, along with the fiddler Floyd LeBlanc, « Evangeline Special« , a loud, heavy piece of Cajun accordion-led hillbilly, on Opera 105, in Houston, Texas (backing provided by Virgel Bozman’s Oklahoma Tornadoes). His career was well on its way. Alas, on October 1955, he was killed upon returning from a gig; in Eddie Shuler‘s own words: « They had a flat where they were widening the highway and they couldn’t pull off. They were trying to change the tire when a guy came along going about 90 MPH. He hit him (LeJeune) and knocked him into a field. That was the end of Iry. »
The name of HARMONICA FRANK is indeed familiar to many ’50s music lovers. Born 1908, he toured extensively with the last medicine shows during the ’30s, and set up a sort of one-man show, singing, playing guitar and blowing harmonica, all at the same time! He recorded first in 1951 for Sam Phillips, who leased tapes to Chess in Chicago, because he sounded black. « Howlin’ Tomcat » (Chess # 1494), cut December 1951 (just 60 years ago) is a nice piece of folk-blues. Floyd had a fine voice, and his growlings are very convincing. Phillips used to call him « his favorite son« , and actually hired Elvis 3 years later in seach of a new Frank Floyd.
From Madisonville, TN, comes the completely unknown (to me, at least) HOYT STEVENS on the obscure Log Cabin label, for the good Rockabilly »55 Chevy » (# 617). A lot, thousands, dozens of thousands of those artists were to record a one-off record at the turn of mid ’50s, then disappeared; and someone very often finds a gold nugget – thanks to internet, the collectors do offer now very freely their finds.
Finally, NELSON YOUNG is a relatively well-known artist, whose career was concentrated in the Cincinnati, OH area. He had in late 1957 the famous « Rock Old Sputnick » out on the Lucky label. In 1958, he offered us a more Hillbilly bop tune, although Bluegrass flavored, on Starday 341, with « Sunrise« .
That’s all, folks, for this time! Enjoy the selections, and, as usual, comments welcome. Bye-bye
The pictures below (Iry LeJeune with Virgel Bozman‘s band in 1947) couldn’t find their room at the right place:
Iry Lejeune & Nathan Abshire
Howdy, folks! We do embark for a new musical journey into Bluegrass, old-time Hillbilly, and border Rockabilly Hillbilly bop.
First from North Wilkesboro, Western North Carolina, do come the CHURCH BROTHERS. Three brothers, Ralph, Bill and Edwin (each’s instrument unknown) and a fourth partner, Ward Eller, provided on the Jim Stanton’s Rich-R-Tone label, later on Drusilla Adams’ Blue Ridge label, a nice serie of enthusiastic tunes between 1951 and 1953, before they were disbanded by the mid-’50s. The elder Bill was playing (certainly guitar) with Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers before the WWII, and was joined later by younger brothers. Alas, they were reluctant to travel very far, and, being modest and straightforward country boys, they were less and less involved in music – and more and more tied in their farms and families. Here you can hear the fabulous banjo-led « I Don’t Know What To Do« , which I don’t even know the original issue number of, having picked it from an old Tom Sims’ cassette. This track escaped to Rounder LP 1020, a shame because in my mind it’s by far their best track ever. Final note: the Church Brothers backed Jim Eanes on his regional hit « Missing In Action » (1952).
GRANDPA JONES (Born Louis Jones, 1913 – died 1998) was a banjo player, comedian, and long-time associate with Grand Ole Opry. He had adopted the name ‘Grandpa’ at 22,because he sounded old on the radio. He recorded with Merle Travis and the Delmore Brothers as Brown’s Ferry Four for King (religious sides). Here you can hear his hilarious and stomping « Grandpa’s Boogie » (King 822) from 1948.
CHARLIE MONROE along with famous brother Bill was at the very beginnig of Bluegrass music, but he deliver also some very good Hillbilly, as here with « Down In Caroline » from the ’40s (RCA 48-0391B ). Note the boogie guitar for a song much covered afterwards, e.g. the Church Brothers.
From Texas and a bit later. The first issue on the Gainesville Lin label (Buck Griffin…) by a rather unknown WAYNE JETTON and « A Crazy Mind Plus A Foolish Heart » (Lin 1000). A good average uptempo ballad. Then, on the San Antonio TNT label, a bordering Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly bop, « Be Bopping Baby » (TNT 9009) by RANDY KING, from 1956. Good topical lyrics, and fine backing.
Finally a belter from 1956 by a R&B lady (unusual on Bopping!), « Alabama Rock’n'Roll » by MABEL KING on the Rama (# 200) New York label. Enjoy the selections! ’till then, bye-bye!
Luke Gordon picture on Dutch Collector CD (90's)
Luke Gordon was born Gordon Brown in Quincy, Kentucky on Friday 15th April, 1932; and was next to the youngest of 6 boys and 2 girls. Luke started his music career on radio station WPAY in Portsmouth, Ohio with the Rhythm Rascals and became good friends with Zeke Mullins who was a DJ at WPAY. Luke served in the US. Army during the Korean conflict and upon his discharge in 1953 he headed for Norfolk, Virginia where he met up with Jimmy Dean and did a show with him. He then went from there to Warrenton, Virginia with Jimmy and they won the ‘Best Vocalist’ at a JC contest. He also appeared on the ‘Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia. Luke then went to Tennessee and entertained the folks with Ray Price & The Western Cherokees.
After his stint in Tennessee he returned to Virginia and the Washington D.C. area to work with fiddler Curley Smith at radio station WGAY, Silver Springs, Maryland and do personal appearances. Curley set up a number of recording sessions for Luke with Ben Adelman and the result was released on L & C & STARDAY during 1956.
Luke started his own QUINCY record label which was based in Quincy, Kentucky. He also appeared on ISLAND, BLUE RIDGE, EMPIRE & NASHVILLE amongst others.
note "The Rock and Roll Boys" backing
Empire EP issued 1961
“Married Life” is a Luke The Drifter type monolog which bemoans how bad married life can be. I class this type of song as “Bar Room Advice”, the wisdom of an unhappily married man. (Then again, if they were so smart ……. ) “Goin’ Crazy” is a nice shuffling country ditty, supported by a fine lead guitarist.
DARK HOLLOW lyrics
Mount Vernon LP 156 (Ben Adelman's sides)
And that is all I know on LUKE GORDON! His Starday sides are easily available on the Dutch compilation above. What happened to such a talented guy afterwards? He has records even in 2005!
Biographical information gathered from excellent Malcolm Chapman’s Starday Custom Series site.
Discographical data from Dick Grant’s researches on Ben Adelman’s archives and from famous Praguesfrank’s site http://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/search?q=luke+gordon
Pictures, as usual, from various sources, e.g. Rockin’ Country Style.
bopping editor’s notes:
Luke Gordon’s records are difficult to find, without doubt being poor sellers at the time. I couldn’t find but the Dutch compilation above.
The standout track is « Goin’ Crazy« , which is par to what Memphis had best to offer in 1955/56: name Bud Deckleman or other Meteor artists. Raw, crude medium Hillbilly bop; firm barytone vocal, top-class backing of fiddle, guitar and steel. BUT one thing: I first heard this track via a Tom Sims’ cassette way back in the 1980′s on the L&C label, and it has a dobro…not heard on the Starday track on Collector. Not same timing too. However, to my knowledge, nobody has ever noticed the difference. The dobro-backed « Goin’ Crazy« , which has a sort of Bluegrass feel to it, is superior, at least to me, to the « regular » Starday version. The voice is higher too. To confuse a little more tracks, « Dark Hollow » from 1958 (Blue Ridge label # 502) has also a dobro…It is indeed the Bill Browning tune issued on Island, and revived, among others by, by Jimmy Skinner who hit with it in 1958 on Mercury. Can anyone shed some light on this story? You can judge by yourself, since the two versions are podcasted below.
Note (November 14, 2011) on « Goin’ Crazy« . Praguefrank discography list this very first song recorded by Luke Gordon as « unissued ». But it mentions Buzz Busby on mandolin and John Duffey on dobro (+ the Stonemans Bros. on bass and fiddle), that’s exactly the aural line-up I did detect on the L&C issue (# 555) (as transferred from the Tom Sims’ cassette). Since, still according to Praguefrank, L&C 555 was reissued on Starday 555 (in its ‘Custom’ serie), one must admit that both versions of « Goin’ Crazy » (one with mandolin/dobro, the other without) were issued with the SAME number…Anyway you can hear the great difference between both versions in the podcasts below.
Quincy 932 has until now eluded my research, and must be the rarest Gordon’s record. However the mention of « The Rock and Roll Boys » as backing band sounds interesting, and proves that Gordon had well adapted to new trends. Note that in the discography he cut his sides during a split session (same backing band apparently) as Billy Adams. « Lonely Heartache » from 1961 is as fine as Gordon’s earlier sides: a nice Hillbilly uptempo weeper (fiddle/steel solo) propulsed by a loping bass. Don’t miss it in the podcasts.
Some 80′s issues on the World Artist Productions. I’ve still have to hear them yet!
FLASH: Luke Gordon died Tuesday September 14th, 2010 after a long illness. Hillbilly-Music.com has already published a biography on him at http://www.hillbilly-music.com/news/story/index.php?id=8932
Revised on November 14th, 2011. Thanks to a visitor, Bill Hancock, we now know the name of the dobro player on « Goin’ Crazy« : « Lew Childrey played Dobro in Goin Crazy » . So it could be not John Duffey? Also, I put my hand on Mount Vernon LP 156 (thanks YouTube), so I can now podcast 6 more fine Hillbilly bop tracks from late 1954 to 1959, cut in Washington, D.C. Among them is « Christmas in Tennessee« , whose lead guitar player is none other than young Link Wray!
Later addition (December 26, 2011). I got the 1980 album « Picture Show » on World label 5000. Very nice Country rockers, Gordon in fine voice, sympathetic backing (steel well to the fore). So I add in the podcasts two numbers: « Oblivion » and « Alimony« .
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Hello folks! This is REALLY a hot summer over there in France, lot of heavy clouds but…no rain at all. Perfect time anyway to keep oneself well dry inside and stomp to that good ole’ Hillbilly beat. We begin with a very elusive artist from the Cumberland Valley/Cincinnati area. I’ve told before in this site about him, and did promise I should post everything I gathered for one year and a half. This could be later this year, so watch out for the fullest possible story on Mr. JIMMIE BALLARD. The first cut in this fortnite is Ballard’s own version of « Birthday Cake Boogie » (Kentucky 508)
of course, the same song was also recorded by, among others, BILLY HUGHES and SKEETS McDONALD, and stands out as a classic ‘risqué‘ or ‘double-entendre‘ song. Ballard was the front man then of BUFFALO JOHNSON‘s Herd (who was active in the D.C. area, and a full story on him is on the line. And he keeps the vocal duties with the also ‘risqué‘ (Kentucky 520 ) « T’ain’t Big Enough« . Both songs are from 1953/1954, fine uptempo Boppers, altho’ just above average, except for lyrics.
Back to a Wildcat out of Texas, a very long career as steel guitar player as soon as 1936, then singer and front man of his band, the XYT Boys, BILLY BRIGGS. I will have some day a complete story on him. He was (maybe he’s still alive, I dunno) to have a sound on his own, and produced very strange ditties from his steel in 1951 for his greatest success (much covered) « Chew Tobacco Rag N° 2 » . Here I’ve chosen the amusing « North Pole Boogie » (Imperial 8131, late Forties), complete with icy wind effects (on steel), and Briggs’ own barytone voice imitating a sort of ‘polar bear’ .
Back to Cincinnati and BILL BROWNING. I’ve written about him elsewhere in the site with the story of the LUCKY label. Today I listen to his composition « Dark Hollow« , which was a hit in 1958 when picked up by JIMMIE SKINNER, before the very nice version on BLUE RIDGE by LUKE GORDON (watch out for his story later in 2010), then even by The Grateful Dead in 1973, among others. I particularly like the recent version made by FRED TRAVERS (90′s) which I’ve included in the podcasts; almost falsetto urgent vocal and great dobro.
More from Cincinnati. BOBBY ROBERTS (I think there were at least 2, or 3 personas by the same name during he 50′s). Here he’s the great Hillbilly singer, who cut late 1955 4 sides for KING records. I cannot rememeber if I posted earlier his great « I’m Gonna Comb You Out Of My Hair » (what a title!). This time, I offer the second KING (4868, unverified – Ruppli’s book still stored) « I’m Pulling Stakes And Leaving You », same lyrics format. Great, great Hillbilly Bop. Later in 1956, Roberts (or one of his aliases) had « Big Sandy » or « Hop, Skip and Jump« , pure Rockabillies. I still wonder if it’s the same man; if so, he would have adapted very well and quickly (within some months) from pure Hillbilly vocal to almost Rock’n'Roll. By the way, he would not have been the first to do so: SKEETS McDONALD, GEORGE JONES, MARTY ROBBINS did very well the transition early in 1956.
Another elusive artist: guitar player/singer PETE PIKE. Recently deceased (2006) just after a CD ‘back to roots’ (Bluegrass) issued in 2005, he was active both in Virginia and D.C. areas from 1947 onwards, and associated several years with another interesting man, BUZZ BUSBY (Busbice). Pike had Hillbilly Bop records on FOUR STAR and CORAL in 1954-1955, among them I’ve chosen the superior ballad »I’m Walking Alone« . Another future entry in www.bopping.org, research is well advanced.
Finally, on the Rocking Blues side, you’re in for a treat with L.A. ‘black Jerry Lee Lewis’ (as the Englishmen call him when he visits their shores), WILLIE EGAN and « What A Shame » from 1957 (Vita label). Pounding piano, wild vocal, strong saxes, heavy drums, the whole affair rocks like mad, althoug relaxed. Enjoy, folks. Comments welcome. ‘Till then, bye-bye.
Not enough time to have long comments this time; Just the music, various styles…
Darby & Tarlton open the sequence with « SWEET SARAH BLUES » from the Hillbilly early days; WILD dobro. Then onto Bluegrass with Frank Hunter from Tennesse for « TENNESSEE BOY ». West coast, and Terry Fell (singer & songwriter) and the classic Hillbilly Bop « GET ABOARD MY WAGON » (Harold Hensley on fiddle, Speedy West on steel, Jimmy Bryant on guitar!). Back to Kingsport, Tennessee, with Reece Shipley and the original to Red Foley’s « MILK BUCKET BOOGIE », complete with clockwork alarms and that wonderful sound of the milk pouring in the steel bucket…On to Blues? Elmore James with « LOOK ON YONDER WALL » (Sammy Myers on harmonica). We come to an end with Steve Young’s recent « ALABAMA HIGHWAY ». Comments welcome, folks!
Howdy folks, here I am back with some goodies. First, Ole’ Buck is back for a song he recorded late in career for kids, IF YOU CAN’T FIND A REASON TO BE HAPPY. Romping Country rocker à la Buck Owens, of course! Then back to late 50s, early 60s, the unknown (to me) Doug Davis on the obscure Nite Star label (from Texas, I think) and the beautiful Country-rockaballad ALL BY MYSELF – lot of nice steel and heavy bass, rich vocal too. Joe Franklin next had a rich career by himself, and I still wonder what instrument he plays here, since the piano is to the fore – maybe him? The nice HITCH-HIKIN’ BLUES on MGM (1953). A romper now with Hardrock Gunter and his first version (on Bama, out of Birmingham, Alabama, 1951) of GONNA DANCE ALL NIGHT (he recut the same track in 1954, and leased it to Sun). In 1950 there were Country singers chanting « Gonna Rock and Roll, gonna dance all night », yes sir! Something different now. A fine duet Bluegrass style, already a classic of the genre, ROAD OF BROKEN HEARTS, by the Webster Brothers, from 1954. We come to an end with a Prestige recording of Otis Spann – he lays down a very atmospheric OTIS IN THE DARK on the 88; Enjoy the selections!