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Late October 2014 fortnight’s favorites
oct 15th, 2014 by xavier

Here it is, a new selection of hillbilly bop goodies, mostly from the early to mid-60s.

RED MANSEL is the earliest, from 1957, on a very early All Star label issue (# 7160) . This is hillbilly rock at its best, topical lyrics.

allstar 7160 red mansel
Red Mansel « Johnny on the spot«  download

 

RED LEWIS on the Kasko label (# 1643), from 1965. « I’ll move along » sounds well 7 or 8 years earlier. Great slapping bass, guitar all along. A discrete steel takes a fine solo.

Red Lewis « I’ll move along« download
kasko 1643
dixie 1056 frank zolton

 

 

 

 

 

From Michigan and 1963 on a Starday custom Dixie label (#1056) comes FRANK ZOLTON and « Cats eyes ». A medium ditty with an unusual for the era accordion solo.

Frank Zolton « Cats eyes« download

Valparaiso, Florida. HAL ANDREWS offers « Brown-eyed girl », a medium opus, on the Choctaw label (# 6001).
choctaw 610L

Hal Andrews « Brown-eyed girl »download

arcade 163B rex zario
Rex Zario « It’s nobody’s fault but your own« download

 

 

REX ZARIO even had a full album on Arcade. Here he delivers the fine « It’s nobody’s fault but your own » from 1959-60 (# 163). Indeed in 1956 he had had « Go man gone ».

Finally a wonderful rural duet by the VANDERGRIFT BROS. On the Cozy label from W.Va., « Sitting here a-crying » (# 447).
Vandergrift Bros. « Sitting here a-crying« download

All selections taken from the net.

cozy 447 vandegrift

Jitterbugging baby: the short story of David Ray Smith (1956-58)
oct 9th, 2014 by xavier

David Ray, a top singer and song stylist of Texas/Oklahoma Rockabilly and Honky-tonk, was born Oscar Ray Smith in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 14, 1934. When he was at an early age, his faùily moved to Roswell, New Mexico. At age 8, he learned to play guitar, and in his youth became friends with Lefty Frizzell, who on many occasions invted David to his recording sessions. In 1950, the family moved back to Duncan, and David formed a country music band. Early employment included aD.J. Program on radio station KRHD, and a live show on Channel 12, KXII-TV. How he got the forname « David » is unknown.

David Ray got his first records on Heart (# 245), a Four Star custom label out of Oklahoma, in 1956. Two fine sincere Hillbilly duets by himself and Johnny Doggett, « Farewell goodbye » and « Maybe I should have cheated too » ; then two Rockabillies (Ray Smith solo) « Gone baby gone » and « Swinging boogie », both fine rockers (# 250). Many thanks to John Burton (53jaybop) for posting these songs on Youtube.
heart 244 farewell

heart 244 maybe

heart 250 gone baby gone

heart 250 swinging boogie
Johnny & Ray « Farewell goodbye« download
Johnny & Ray « Maybe I should have cheated too« 
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Johnny-And-Ray-2-Maybe-I-Should-Have-Cheated-Too-HEART-RECORDS-OP-244-45.mp3download

Ray Smith « Gone baby gone« download

Ray Smith « Swinging boogie« download

In 1957 he signed a recording contract as David Ray with Gainesville, Texas recording executive Joe M. Leonard, Jr. His early recordings of « Jitterbugging baby » and « Lonesome baby blues » (Kliff 101 and 105) were instant successes on the Kliff Records label. Not only did Ray’s first records releases sell well in the United States, but they attained immense success in Europe when reissued by Ronnie Weiser on his Rollin’ Rock label. Personal for these sessions were Johnny Baggett or Joe Dean Evans on guitar and Paul Jorgenson on bass, including a wild piano player.

kliff 101 lonesome baby

 

kliff 105 jitterbugging baby

 

kliff 105 lonesome feeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Ray « Lonesome baby blues » (original version)download

David Ray « Lonesome baby blues »(Kliff)download

David Ray « Jitterbugging baby« download

 

 

Other songs were « Lonesome feeling » and the less fast, almost poppish « I’m a fool », while « All the time », « Why can’t you and I », « No, oh no », all ballads, « Too fast, too wild » and the original gutsy, less fast « Lonesome baby blues » were withheld until their release on Collectables.
David Ray « Lonesome feeling« download

David Ray « Why can’t you and I« download
In 1962 Ray Smith had a Country-rocker « A place within my heart » on the Toppa label (# 1071)
, honest honky tonk, a far cry from his Kliff sides (Thanks to Uncle Gil to have provided this song). Alexander Petrauskas points out this may be a different artist, because of songwriting credits. Thanks, Alex!

toppa 1071

 

Ray Smith « A place within my heart« download

Since David Ray’s voice has remained strong and vibrant over the years, Leonard productions decided to record him on some new Texas songs. In August 1993 a session was held in Tyler, Texas. The songs were « Long cold winter », « You make my day », « Ways of a woman » and « Package deal ». The musicians were Ronnie Redd (keyboards), Jim Holley (bass), Greg Hough (drums), Bobby Garrett (steel guitar), Donny McDuff and Jerry Tiner (electric guitars), Ken Shepherd harmonica and rhythm guitar) as well as Lonnie Wright (producer, engineer and rhythm guitar). Back-up vocalist : David’s ex-wife, Lavinia Smith.

David Ray « You make my day« download

 

David Ray was then living near Ft. Worth, Texas, where he continued to compose and entertain. He died in 1997.

 

Freely adapted from the notes to Collectables CD 5770.david Ray Smith

early October 2014 fortnight favorites: a short survey of King records
oct 1st, 2014 by xavier

 

King Records was a very important label run by Syd Nathan in Cincinnati, Oh. It had a C&W serie (500-1500), a Federal serie (10000) and a Deluxe serie (2000 or 5000).

 

First artist is Cowboy Jack Derrick, whose story is on the site. « Truck drivin’ man » is a very early trucker gay song.(King 633)

king 633-B cowboy jack derrik truck drivin' man
Cowboy Jack Derrick, « Truck drivin’ man« download

 

Paul Howard from Arkansas (1908-1994) was leading his Cotton Pickers on a long string of releases on Columbia and King. He was a resident at WSM in Nashville. « The boogie’s fine tonight » and « Texas boogie » are two of his best sides.

king 779-A paul Howard texas boogie

king 871-AA DJ paul howard the boogies fine tonight

Paul Howard « Texas boogie« download

Paul Howard « The boogie’s fine tonight« 
Clyde Moody is also well represented with a personal entry in Bopping.org. Here is presented one of his best platters, « The blues came pouring down », with very strong rhythm guitar. (# 943)

 

Clyde Moody « The blues came pouring down« download

king 943-AA Blues came pouring down

 

Ocie Stockard is the most Western swing styled artist of the selection. The instrumental »Cow town boogie » evokes Texas and Oklahoma (King 634)
Ocie Stockard « Cow town boogie« download
king 634-A ocie stokard cow town boogie
Jimmie Thomason was a West coast D.J. and had a string of releases on King of the same high standard. « I’ll drown in my tears » is a true Country blues, that is not often heard.(King 1132)
king 1132 jimmy thomason Ill drown in my tear
Jimmy Thomason « I’ll down in my tears« download
Ramblin’ Tommy Scott had a career covering from the 40s until the 90s. He is presented here on Federal 10026 with « Uncle Sammy », usual style.

federal 10026-AA Tommy Scott - Uncle Sammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy Scott « Uncle Sammy« download

Finally a R&B Rocker by Big John Greer on the « regular » serie : « Come back uncle John », apparently based on « Long tall Sally » from early 1956.
king 4941 big john greer 600 - come back uncle John

Big John Greer « Come back uncle John« download

Late September 2014 fortnight’s favourites
sept 15th, 2014 by xavier

Howdy folks, back from holydays. All the selections will be out by obscure artists. Once more uninspired, only music!
ED JUNOT on the Robstown, Texas O-T-O (One-Thousand-One) label comes first with « Give you’re love back to me » [sic]. Uptempo hillbilly fiddle led.

Ed Junot « Give you’re love back to me » download

o-t-o junot
pride guyton

Bill Guyton« I’ve got a little time for loving » download

 

Then BILL GUYTON on the Pride 3000 label, « I’ve got a little time for loving ». Guyton had been vocalist on Curley Rash « Humble road boogie » (Macy’s). This is medium hillbilly bop with a touch of Starday feel.

 

Lefty Pritchett « Just an ole has been » download
bama lefty
 

 

 

 

An haunting « Just an ole has been » on Bama (not the Alabama label) # 0001 by LEFTY PRITCHETT. Hillbilly bop Memphis style.

Then the most recent track of the selection on Toppa 1098 from 1961 : «All those lies» by ELTON TRAVIS. Uptempo Country rocker.

JOHNNY GITTAR offers on High Time 173 « San Antonio boogie », obviously a Texas recording. Medium boogie guitar led and heavy drums.

Finally a train song, « I’m going to roll » by CURLY COLE on Gilt-edge 5029. Nice guitar and piano solo.
Elton Travis « All those lies« download

Johnny Gittar « San Antonio boogie » download

Curley Cole, « Im going to roll« download

 

toppa travishigh time gittargilt-edge cole

Late August 2014 fortnight favorites: What a line! (another minor classic)
août 15th, 2014 by xavier

Howdy, folks !

First selection is a fine bopper (sincere vocal, strong rhythm and good fiddle, even pizzicato played) : « I was standing too close to a heartache » (sounds familiar?) by BILLY TIDWELL, who cut a very good version of « Folsom prison blues » on the White Deer, TX Ko Co Bo label in 1964.

kocobo 1009
Billy Tidwell, « I was standing too close to a heartache« download

 

 

 

 

 

Second odd issue is first ever Tommy Collins‘s song, « Campus boogie », when Collins was still known as LEONARD SIPES in his native Oklahoma. The song can be found on Morgan 106, and is very Hank Williams styled.

 

campus boogie

 

Leonard Sipes « Campus boogie« download

 

 

 

 

Then we enter in back-to-back series. JIMMIE DAVIS, also politician for Louisiana Governoship, cut a whole string of early boppers in the ’30s. Here I selected « You’ve been tom cattin’ around », issued on Bluebird in 1933.

A good 22 years later, CARL STORY had his own version, although the mandolin player is himself, on Columbia 21444 (1955). The flipside is the equally good, Rockabilly style, « What a line ». Strong boogie guitar, a fiddle solo. Really a masterpiece.

bluebird 5425

 

columbia 21444 tom
Jimmie Davis « You’ve been tom cattin’ around »

download

Carl Story « You’ve been tom cattin’ around »
download

 

 

 

« What a line » derives from the original by JIMMIE WIDENER, who had this on his first King session in 1946 (# 536B) on the West coast, backed by such luminaries as Joaquin Murphy on steel or Jimmy Wyble on electric guitar. Harold Hensley is also present on fiddle, and co-wrote the song with Merle Travis. Widener had had been vocalist for Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills.

Jimmie Widener « What a line! » download

king 536-B widener

 

 Clyde Moody « Whatta line« download

 

Carl Story « What a line« download

 

 

The song was revived first in 1953 by CLYDE MOODY on Decca. Usual style. Moody does it fast, with fiddle and guitar solo. Then in the mid-60s by GLENN THOMPSON, the most obscure artist of them all, who came from North Carolina. Guitar player is modern, but has a fine bluesy solo.

 

Glenn Thompson, « What a line »download

 

 

Main source for this issue: Internet.

tornado 101

decca 28785

columbia 21444 line

early August 2014 fortnight’s favorites: usual hillbillies and sad news
août 1st, 2014 by xavier

Hello, this is early August 2014 fortnight. Some new tunes, some already published a few years ago for newcomers, and finally sad news.

 

REDD STEWART was during long years the lead vocalist for PEE WEE KING. The latter (with the Golden West Cowboys) was allegedly under exclusive contract with RCA-Victor, but not Stewart: he was signed by King records and recorded several tunes in Cincinnati (February 1950), among them the very fine « Brother, drop dead (boogie) » King 843-AA). He is indeed backed by the Golden West Cowboys, disguised under the name of « His Kentucky Colonels » ! Great Hillbilly boogie, good steel and piano.

 

king 843AA Redd stewart brother drop dead boogie

Redd Stewart « Brother, drop dead (boogie) »

redd stewart (bebopcapitol)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another well-known artist (he has his own entry in bopping.org) from Mississipi is JIMMY SWAN, or « Colonel Jim » as he presented himself on a Baton Rouge, La. TV-station in 1952. He was signed on the Lilian McMurray Trumpet label in 1952, and recorded for her at WFOR Radio station in Hattiesburg, MS. I retain particularly, among many fine sides, « Juke joint mama » (Trumpet 176), with nice steel (a la Don Helms, Hank Williams’ steel player) and fiddle, and «Lonesome daddy blues «  (Trumpet 198). « Juke joint mama » was first cut by the veteran Denver Darling for Decca in 1946 ; Darling, active in Denver, IN, is the co-writer of, among others, « Choo choo ch’boogie », a hit for Louis Jordan as well as Bill Haley, and more recently for Clifton Chenier. « Lonesome daddy blues » is not the same track as Bill Johnson‘s on a Starday custom – which I will discuss about in another article.

 

swan

Jimmy Swan

denver darling

Denver Darling

Denver Darling « Juke joint mama »download

trumpet 176-78

Jimmy Swan « Juke joint mama »download
trumpet 198 450p

silon 201

 

 
Jimmy Swan « Lonesome daddy blues »download
 

 
Sonny Starns, « Baton Rouge, L.A. »download
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Let’s stay down south. The unknown SONNY STARNS delivers a romping, piano-led « Baton Rouge, L.A. » on the small Hammond, La. Silon label (# 202). 

 

 
Jimmy C. Newman « Lache pas la patate »download
 

 

Sad news now. The death (on June 21rst) of a giant of Country and Cajun music, Mr. JIMMY C. NEWMAN. Born 1927, he began his career vocally fronting the band of Papa Cairo on Modern sides – I think he sings « Kooche kooche », to be found on an old U.K. Ace compilation (« Swingbillies »), in 1949-50. Then he was cutting for Jay D. Miller in Crowley, La. and his first label Feature : songs like « Wondering » – later covered by Webb Pierce on Decca. He had records on Khoury’s too, before entering in Randy Wood’s stable on Gallatin, TN Dot label. A huge hit in 1956, « A fallen star » : then he was an established star. However he never denied his Cajun ancestry and roots and, in 1973, recorded on La Louisiane label the much acclaimed « Lâche pas la patate » in French, also known as « The potato song » (written by Clifford Joseph Trahan, better known as Pee Wee Trahan, or Johnny Rebel…). The song went n°1 in Quebec on the Deram label, and had not since then disappeared from his repertoire, always in demand by Cajun speaking folks until recent times. Newman died of cancer. I will have a survey later of his entire career. Let’s get his music ! 

 Lâche pas la patate (lyrics in French)(« Don’t drop the potato »)

 

Hey! Lâche pas la patate mon neg. Hey! Lâche pas la patate? Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire mais j’lâche pas la patate??-?J’vas au bal tous les samedis, pour escouer mes vieilles pattes? J’danse avec toutes les belles filles… Mais j’lâche pas la patate – ?J’fais tous les clubs que je peux faire ent’Lafayette et la Ville Plate? Oublie-moi pas des fois ça chauffe… Mais j’lâche pas la patate?? Refrain :? Hey! Lâche pas la patate mon neg  Hey! Lâche pas la patate? Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire mais j’lâche pas la patate??-?Chu pas marié, j’ai pas personne pour m’tenir le fond d’culotte? Quand j’veux partir chu « gone vieux j’ton » Mais j’lâche pas la patate ?J’vas là tout seul la moitié du temps mais quand l’idée me frappe? J’appelle Marie la chère p’tite fille mais j’lâche pas la patate?? Refrain :? Hey! Lâche pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâche pas la patate? Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate??-Un soir au bal un tout p’tit boguet et un gros a pris à s’battre ?J’voulais que le petit gagne et j’criais « Lâche pas la patate »? Le gros bougre m’a r’gardé et dit: Espère que j’te rattrape ?J’mé viré de bord… J’ai couru fort… J’ai lâché la patate??  Refrain :? Hey! J’ai lâché la patate mon neg Hey! J’ai lâché la patate? Une chose qu’est claire, j’fais mon affaire J’ai lâché la patate??Hey! Lâche pas la patate mon neg Hey! Lâche pas la patate? Une chose qu’est claire, j’ faist mon affaire Mais j’lâche pas la patate…?  [translation in English on personal request]

jimmy C.Newman pic

Roy King, yodeler in Detroit and Chicago (1949-51)
juil 28th, 2014 by xavier

photoRoy King is a completely unknown artist from the very early ’50s, who acted in Illinois (Peoria, WWXL), and whom about anything is unknown today about. London16031 roy king freight train blues 

London 16031B roy king everybody knewLondon 16049B roy king new tennessee babyLondon16049 roy king mule skinner blues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

« Yodelin’ way up there » download

 

« Rambling » download

He had a string of releases, probably cut in Detroit, MI, or Chicago, on the London and Mercury labels between 1949 and 1951, and disappeared after this year. He was billed as a yodeler, and eventually yodeled a lot throughout his records, « Yodelin’ way up there » or « Yodelin’ polka ». He was backed by a regional outfit, Hal Fuller’s Tennessee Ho-Downers, usual guitar, bass, fiddle, and steel. Billboard cited him as a promising artist between April and October 1951, although there were no hits. He used to sing old favorites, as Jimmie Rodgers ’s « Mule skinner blues », Roy Acuff’s « Freight train blues », a fine hillbilly shuffler, « Rambling » or old-timey songs like « St. James infirmary ». His voice is always smooth, a lead guitar is well to the fore, but the whole thing is certainly not hillbilly boogie, although nice yodeling songs. Indeed his style is similar to that of Kenny Roberts.

mercury 6338B yodelin'Mercury6401 roy king st. james infirmary

Any help to document this artist would be welcome!

As usual, Ronald Keppner’s help was indispensable. Thanks Ronald. Also Peter Mohr of Switzerland for the disco and support.
« Freight train blues« download

« Mule skinner blues« download

 

 

 

 

 

Roy King-Billboard-Aug-51

early July 2014 fortnight favorites: traveling way up north from Mississipi to Nebraska, via Kentucky and Indiana!
juil 1st, 2014 by xavier

Howdy folks,
Hope you’re all well and ready to visit some more boppers and rockabillies. The name JAMES MASK isn’t that familiar (he had not big hits), although he appeared on Bandera (Illinois), Arbet (Tennessee, « I miss my teen angel », a teen rocker), and later (1972) on MGM-Sound of Memphis (the country rocker « Humpin’ to please »).
Here we find him on the Pontotoc, MS (where he was born in 1932 – Tupelo area) Tom Big Bee label (# ) with a fine early ’60s version of the Rocky Bill Ford‘s classic, « Beer drinkin’ blues ». Honest country rocker. He had some tunes (unissued in the ’50s) on an old White label LP  2305 « Mississipi R’n'R ». The Dutchman wrote there that Mask was backed by his two brothers Charles and Willie.

tom big bee
James Mask « Beer drinkin’ daddy » download

Let’s stay in Mississipi with an otherwise very well known artist, at least in Europe (he drives, latest news, a taxi at Chicago Int’l Airport), Mr. HAYDEN THOMPSON. I offer his first record, on the Booneville, MS, label, Von [which issued Lloyd McCollough and Johnny Burnette's first records,] « Act like you love me«  b/w « I feel the blues coming on« . (original in 1951 by Elton Britt, although not credited on the label) Great slow Hillbillies, whispering vocal over confident backing. Same last tune was done (but it’s a different song) by Loy Clingman on the Arizona Elko label in 1956. Penned byLee Hazlewood, it’s a soft Country-rock effort. The third Thompson track is taken from his sessions at Sun in Memphis, and he retains the same feeling with « Blues, blues, blues » (U.K. Charly 605B) – although more echo, as usual from Sam Phillips’ manner.

Von B 1001

von A1001605B

Hayden Thompson, « Act like you love me« download

Hayden Thompson, « I feel the blues coming on« download

Hayden Thompson, « Blues, blues, blues« download
Elton Britt « I feel the blues coming on » (RCA, 1951)download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s get up north in Lancaster, KY, and with HAROLD MONTGOMERY. His fine sides on Sun-Ray were documented in the site (see « Sun-Ray » label). Here he comes once more with a good side, similar style, on Wolf-Tex 103, « How much do you miss me », from the ’60s. Great mumbling vocal, similar to early Elvis!

Way north a little further. Muncie, Indiana on the Poor Boy label. A small one, but important artists, the best known being its owner Wayne Raney (« We need a whole lot more of Jesus (and a lot less of Rock’n'Roll »!) ; others are the Van Brothers (« Servant of love », to name only one) and Les & Helen Tussey (already recently posted in fortnight’s favorites).
Harold Montgomery, « How much do you miss me« download

The artist was named DANNY BROCKMAN & the Golden Hill Boys, on Poor Boy 107. First side is Hillbilly bop, « Stick around » from 1959, when Brockman was D.J. at WTMT in Louisville, KY. Great Starday sound, a powerful rhythm guitar, great interplay between lead guitar and steel during the solo, fabulous (altho’ too short) fiddle solo. A ‘must ’ record for Starday sound lovers. The flipside is sung in unisson duet with a certain Carl Jones. Nothing exceptional with « Don’t you know it’s true », a real Everly Bros. -alike. With fine steel and fiddle solos. Brockman also appeared on Dixie 859 (« Big big man »), more on him in a future fortnight.
Danny Brockman, « Stick around » download

Danny Brockman & Carl Jones, « Don’t you know it’s true« downloaddanny brockman

Finally in Omaha, Nebraska (frontier to Canada). 1958, with the wild double-sider « The itch/Baby doll » by CARL CHERRY on the Tene label. « Baby doll » is a typical White doo-wop rocker, good although average. THE side is the garage Rockabilly « The itch » (Tene 1023), prettily sensual. Cherry has got the feel and itch, and the drummer and lead guitar player (RaB HOF says the guy was legally blind!)  too ! Fantastic garage sound…They don’t play this way anymore, even with the wilder neo-rockabilly European bands.

Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « The itch » download
Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries, « Baby doll »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/tene-1023A-CARL-CHERRY.-BABY-DOLL..mp3download

tene CarlCherryphoto1

Carl Cherry & Wild Cherries

SHORTY LONG & the Santa Fe’ Rangers: Pennsylvania hillbilly by a former Italian immigrant and classical violinist!
juin 26th, 2014 by xavier

 

shorty long & SF  Ranchers

Shorty Long, upper left

200px-Map_of_Pennsylvania_highlighting_Berks_County

Reading, Berks Cty

 

200px-Map_of_USA_PA

Pennsylvania

 

shorty long 

A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Shorty Long was the leader and organizer of the Santa Fe’ Rangers. When he was just 14, his parents, who were musically inclined, sent him to study music at the College of Rome where he got an education in classical music. They said he graduated cum laude as a violinist. During that time it seems he had formed a hillbilly music band that shocked his ‘serious- minded’ parents and the professors. That classical musical training just added to the bands musical sounds.

Shorty Long could also play the accordion, and sang both solo and tenor lead in his combo. He was with radio station WEEU in Reading from about 1946 and by 1951, seemed to be still there. His fan mail was said to be phenomenal.

Prior to returning to his hometown of Reading, he had also appeared on the WSIL Hayloft Hoedown and also the WLS National Barn Dance during the Alka-Seltzer sponsored portions. He also played to rave reviews at New York City’s Paramount Theatre when he was featured with the Foy Willing Trio on the Andrew Sisters’ « Eight-To-The-Bar Ranch Show ».

Shorty spent his summers at his Santa Fe Ranch which was on Rt. 422 just outside of Reading. It may have been some place where entertainment was held as they mention he played host to the big names in the entertainment field. He also appeared in the movie, « Powder River Gunfire ».

He had also just signed a recording contract with RCA Victor then, too. And in his song folio of 1951, was a recent addition to the King record label.   (BIOGRAPHY TAKEN FROM: hillbilly-music.com)

Shorty Long, Country Musician, Composer

 (an obituary)

By Nathan Gorenstein, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: October 27, 1991

Shorty Long, 67, a country-and-western musician whose songs were played by Roy Acuff and who backed up Elvis Presley on recordings of « You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog » and « Don’t Be Cruel, » died Friday October 25th, of complications from cancer at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Reading, where he was born.

Mr. Long, whose real name was Emidio Vagnoni, lived in Exeter Township and for many years ran the Santa Fe Ranch, a 20-acre family entertainment park. He played country and gospel, and staged family comedies with his wife, the former Gladys Ulrich, whose stage name was Dolly Dimples.

Although Mr. Long never officially changed his name, most of his fans only knew him as Shorty Long, a stage name he adopted 50 years ago.

Mr. Long’s original music training was in the classical tradition, and included a stint at the Conservatory of Rome, where his parents enrolled him for violin studies when he was 16.

Despite that – and playing violin with the Reading Symphony Orchestra for a period – he decided to pursue « hillbilly and western music, » as country music was called in the 1940s.

Only 5-foot-6, Mr. Long told interviewers how he’d gotten his name.

In the 1940s, at the start of his career, a fan approached him for an autograph. Because friends had already given him Shorty as a nickname, he signed « Shorty » – only to have the fan complain that the autograph was inadequate without a second name.

« So I wrote Long, » he recalled in a 1956 interview. « That happened to be the name of a girl I was going with at the time. »

Mr. Long opened the Sante Fe Ranch in 1948, emphasizing country music. In 1967, he and his wife purchased a 67-acre tract in New Tripoli, Lehigh County, and opened Ontelaunee Park, where top-name country music entertainers performed.

He sold the second park in 1982.

Mr. Long played steel guitar, wrote songs and recorded for a number of major labels. He also played violin, piano, bass, organ and banjo in recording sessions for a number of artists, including Presley.

His songs were recorded by Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Jimmy Dickens, Pee Wee King, Jim Reeves and Hawkshaw Hawkins.

In 1955 he was cast as the lead in a Frank Loessner musical, The Most Happy Fella, and was declared a « showstopper » by columnist Walter Winchell.

Long stayed with the Broadway production for about four months, but later said homesickness for his wife and his country-and-western group, « The Santa Fe Rangers, » brought him back to Berks County.

It was during his stay in New York that he played piano and other instruments on such Presley songs as « Hound Dog » and « Don’t Be Cruel. »

In 1984 Mr. Long was presented the Outstanding Italian American Citizenship Award of Berks County by the Spartaco Society.

In a 1982 interview, Mr. Long said, « I wanted to be remembered as someone who always wanted to be with my family, the thousands of people who let me entertain them. »
———————————————————————————————————————–

It has not been very easy to assemble a story of Shorty Long. Indeed the biography and the obit above did help a bit. But what more ? Virtually all I know about him came from his records, and luckily they are quite a lot, in very different styles. Let’s try at one go a classification and an appreciation of Long’s music.

His first Signatures/Hi-Tone sides from 1947 (with Riley Shepard) are exuberant: lot of accordion (Long?), lot of reels (« Sheppard’s Scottische ») or traditionals (« Boil them cabbage down »). I really would like to listen to their treatment of the blues standard « Sweet Corinna blues » (untraced – someone can help?). Anyway nice songs are also present, typical ’40s hillbilly : « Airmail special on the fly » or « After all these years », which remind me a lot of the music that another Pennsylvanian cut at the same time : Bill Haley & His Four Aces of Western swing, early in his career (1949-50) on Keystone, or Cowboy label.

Hi-Tone 199B riley sheperd &shorty longHi-Tone 200B  riley shepard & shorty long

 

Riley Shepard & Shorty Long « After all these years » download

 

Riley Shepard & Shorty Long « Boil them cabbage down » download

 

On the Cowboy label, precisely, Shorty Long and the Santa Fe’ Rangers (at this point, not to be confused with Virginian Melvin Price‘s band, who cut on the Regal label as well as Blue Hen, among others, although later in the ’50s) recruited an already 30 to 32 years old singer (born 1918), Jack Day, or the alreay unknown Pee Wee Miller (although Day was present in the writers’ credit) for several sides. Fine uptempo sides with main instrument being accordion well to the fore (a fact which may wonder if Shorty Long was not playing it himself), good and firm singing by Day on « I round up the stars » and « I’ll go on loving you », or Miller in « You’ve got my heart in trouble ». Later on, Jack Day woud pursue a long career, although not very prolific recording-wise, on Coral ( his « Mule boogie [is this the Roy Hall tune on Bullet?]/Coyote blues » sounds promising..), Mercury (a cover of Bob Newman‘s « Lonesome truck driver’s blues »), and finally in late 1959 on Arcade 155: the fine « Rattle bone boogie » (flipside I’d like to hear is an instrumental, « Rappin’ the bass », well before the rap craze, of course).

Shorty Long and Santa Fe’ Rangers [Jack Day, vocal] « I round up the stars » download

Shorty Long and Santa Fe’ Rangers [Pee Wee Miller, vocal) "You've got my heart in trouble" download
Jack Day, « Rattle bone boogie » download

Cowboy 202B you've got my heart in trouble arcade 155

Cowboy 202A I round up the stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get back to Shorty Long – as he aimed to be called then by fans. We find him next on Decca in 1948 for very slow sentimental songs. Long has a fine voice, mellow and easy, but…no uptempo : he’s crooning. Best song to emerge is the standard « I love you so much it hurts ». In 1949-50, he went to RCA-Victor, and all the songs I’ve heard are similar in style and I can think in confidence that Long pursued on slow ballads on the label.  Decca 46139A I love you so much

We find him next on King Records, out of Cincinnati. It’s still now unclear where he recorded, either in Cincinnati or Nashville, TN. But he must have used studio musicians : on the labels, « The Santa Fe’ Rangers » have disappeared. All in all, he had better moments then, and went straight on the hillbilly bop bandwagon. My favorites are « Calm, cool and collected » (# 889) and the two-sided # 953. « Just like two drops of water » is a good uptempo ballad, well in the style of the King label circa 1950-52. The best side is however the powerful train song « Good night Cincinnati, good morning Tennessee » (my first exposure to Shorty Long’s music in 1978). Nice steel, infectious rhythm, a little classic !

Scotty Evans, « Three times seven » (Arcade 115) download
Shorty Long, « Just like two tear drops of water »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/king-953-just-like-two-drops-of-water.mp3download

 

Shorty Long, « Good night Cincinnati, good morning Tennessee » download

King 953A just like two drops of waterKing 953 good night cincinnati

 

 

 

 

I’d like to hear also « Hillbilly wedding » (# 949), which escaped to my research until now ; it must have had some success, since this tune was reissued on # 1076 in 1952. Shorty Long’s band must have been in demand, as they are backing Scotty Evans on one of the first Arcade issues (# 115), « Three times seven/What’s become of me« , both reasonable boppers.Arcade 115A shorty evans 3 times 7

1953, down in Tennessee ; first for the Gallatin Dot label ; « Pretend » and « Crying steel guitar waltz » (# 1153) are highly forgettable, slow sentimental ballads. « Crying » was covered by Pee Wee King with a reasonable dose of success in May 1953.

Second session is a lot more interesting for the Knoxville small Valley label. From then on, I guess it’s a turn in Shorty Long’s career. « I got nine little kisses » is a jivey little rocker, a la Bill Haley (Essex period – actually the song reminds me « Crazy, man, crazy »). Chorus, string-bass, lead guitar and a happy vocal by Long. Its flipside « Who said I said that » is an equally good jiver.

santa fe rangers

shorty long affiche

9 kisseswho said
Shorty Long « I got nine little kisses » download

Shorty Long « Who said I said that » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/valley-108-who-said-I-said-that.mp3download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Davis Sisters covered « Just like me » (RCA 47-5843) in 1955, and the pair offered Martha Carson « I just found God » (RCA EPA 674) in 1956.

 

 

Back to the big RCA-Victor label, this time I think in NYC in 1954, until 1957. Long went more and more pop, after 1956; anyway he had still fine sides, like the train song « Standing in the station » (with a male/female chorus doing train effects – Boudleaux Bryant had already given Long the song « Who said I said that » on Valley) or the mambo-beat « Make with me de love » or on the X label in 1955 ; Long teamed with Bob Newman as « The Dalton Boys » for the great two-sider « Roll, Rattler, roll » b/w « Just like me » (X 0045).

X-0024B standing in the stationX-0024A make with me de loveX0045dalton boys roll, rattler, roll
Shorty Long, « Standing in the station » download

Shorty Long, « Make with me de love » download

The Dalton Boys « Roll, Rattler, roll » download
Shorty Long, « I got it » download

Shorty Long, « Luscious » download

Shorty Long, « Redstone John » download

 

lusciousk-son 7285

 

 

 

 

The Davis Sisters covered « Just like me » in 1955 on RCA 47-5843, while the pair offered « I just found God » to Martha Carson (RCA EPA 674) in 1956.

 

 

Late January 1956 as pianist he backed Elvis Presley during the mammoth session with saw « Blue suede shoes », « Shake rattle and roll », etc. cut He maintained to have played on « Hound dog », although Gordon Stokes of the Jordanaires held the piano stool for this August 1956 session.

Apart from a fine, very Everly-ish « I got it » (unissued at the time – I don’t know where the Youtuber found it), and a big band-ish « Luscious » (I believe this is the Roy Hall song – B-side of « Blue suede shoes« : the writer is the same, Greg Callahan) , other tracks are « Vacation rock » (curiously issued as B-side to « I got nine little kisses » on the Valley bootleg issue in 1978) which is a belter, as « Burnt toasts and black coffee » (RCA 47-6572). Last good track Long could have cut was Cliff Crofford’s « Another love has ended », alas ruined (to my ears) by over-production and noisy brassy backing. Final track of interest came in 1958 on the Birmingham, AL. K-Son label (distributed by RCA): Shorty Long delivers an honest white-rocker with lot of saxes. Nothing of an earthquake however!

 

Shorty long issued several albums during the ’60s and ’70s along with his wife Dolly Dimples, and was active in music nearly until his death in 1991.

 

This article would have proved impossible to settle down without the invaluable help of collector Ronald Keppner, out of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Thanks Ronald for the sounds and scans.

late June 2014 fortnight’s favorites + 1935 hillbilly!
juin 15th, 2014 by xavier

Howdy folks ! Hope you will enjoy those selections of the present fortnight. Now it’s very hot in southern France, so is the music I choose.

From Harrington, KY., do come GORDON SIZEMORE on the Alvic label (no #. Thanks Mr. Dean C. Morris for the scan of the label!).  « Waddlin baby » [sic] is a Country, near Rockabilly from 1962. The voice of the singer is nasal and sounds a little old. The guy must have been the perfect Country boy. He his backed by (apparently) two brothers, Johnny and Casey Jones. One of them does a fine fiddle solo. The record, if you find it, will cost you between $ 100 and 200 !

arvic no# cool 135 label

Gordon Sizemore « Waddlin baby »download

Tom Wilson « Why’d you pick on me »download

 

To learn more about the COOL label, go to Dean C. Morris blogsite: http://anorakrockabilly45rpm.blogspot.co.uk

On the Harrison, NJ. Cool label (# 135B) we go now to TOM WILSON and « Why’d you pick on me », a fast Rockabilly flavored Country rocker, with fine slapping bass. The name of the singer sounds familiar to me, I know at least another Tom Wilson on the Crest label out of California, surely a different person. The disc is from 1960.

 

Next two tracks are sung and played by BUDDY ALLEN and his Drifting Vagabonds on the Driftwood label (# 1001) from Waynesboro, PA. « Driftwood on the river » is the side for hillbilly bop fans : a medium paced ditty, with a nice mellow voice, backed by a fiddle and steel-guitar (a solo). A great record from, I’d say, 1955. Allen had another issue, « Allegheny moon » on Driftwood 1002 (untraced)

The flipside is totally different. « God loves His Children » is a fast sacred hillbilly with a good touch of bluegrass : a mandolin solo per example. Hear the most the great falsetto vocal ! Is the singer the same Buddy Allen who did « Shine, shave, shower » on Tennessee 748?

driftwood labelBuddy Allen « Driftwood on the river »download

Buddy Allen « God loves His children »download

 

 

From Louisiana next two tracks by a relatively famous HOLLIS ALBIN, for the minor classic « Vee-eight Ford boogie » on the Hammond label, out of Baton Rouge (1959). Loud drums, nasal vocal, topical lyrics, all these make of the track a gem, a classic. (# 106A). The flipside is, in my mind, equally good, altho’ in a different manner. « Uncle Earl don’t stand alone » is a medium hillbilly bop, with a backing of banjo and fiddle, over amusic lyrics.

 

Hollis Albin, « Vee-Eight Ford boogie download

 

Hollis Albin, « Uncle Earl don’t stand alone »download

hammond earlhammond Vee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally two tracks by the legendary PRAIRIE RAMBLERS. They were Texans, but recorded (during a tour?) in NYC for the ARC label. First « Gonna have a feast here tonight » (on the reissue label Melotone 13412-B) is an exuberant number sung by Salty Holmes, who holds also the harmonica. Tex Atchison plays the fiddle. The orchestra sings in unisson on this song cut on April 18, 1935. Second, their greatest classic, « Deep Elem Blues » (about the events in the ‘hot’ quarter of Dallas) cut on August 15, 1935, has clarinet (solo), banjo, fiddle. The whole thing is a mess! (Melotone 5-11-51). What a slap bass, by Jack Taylor, ahead by 20 years on Sonny Fisher‘s « Rocking Daddy »…Same session saw also the first cut of « Just because« , later sung by Elvis on Sun!

melotone feastmelotone blues

 

Prairie Ramblers, « Gonna have a feast here tonight »
download

 

Prairie Ramblers, « Deep Elem blues »

download

 

 

 

Enjoy the selections, you can always post comments, corrections or additions. If you prefer a direct link, go to my email address : xavier.maire@free.fr. Bye, till next fortnight.

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