late October 2011 fortnight favorites

Here I am again, and I arranged a nice (I think) program for you all.

First an unknown artist (as often during the Fifties), who cut several marvelous Hillbilly bop sides between 1955 and 1957. I didn’t find anything on LUCKY HILL, though he may have been from the Cincinnati area. A fine, entertaining singer, and because the fiddle is always to the fore, he may also have been playing it. First selection: both sides of COUNTRY 501, a King label custom pressing (hence the Cincinnati possible connection), the fast « I’m Checkin’ out« , the flipside being a weeper, « I’m Missing You« . He apparently re-recorded the latter song for Starday 329 (flipside « Wait For Me« , a very great Hillbilly bop – part slow, part fast). Thanks to « HillbillyBoogie1 » (YouTube), I’ve got some personal details. From a 1957 article,

« Lucky remembers that his first radio show was over WTFM in Tiffin, Ohio in 1947. He was nervous back then that the audience wouldn’t like his music. And remained so as he knew music was constantly changing. Back in 1947 he mentioned, you were either ‘established’ or you weren’t. »

He had a few recordings released, too – songs such as « That Old Sweetheart Of Mine« , « Now You Know« , « Technical Love » (all untraced).

Then he had in the Starday custom serie (# 622), the great uptempo « Fickle Baby » in March of 1957. After that, Hill disappeared, at least on my part.

country 501 lucky hill I'm checkin' outstarday 622a lucky hill fickle baby

The ARMSTRONG TWINS were one of the last duets to master the great harmonies of the traditonal country music that came from ’30s and ’40s. The twins, guitarist Lloyd and mandolin player Floyd, were born in DeWitt, Arkansas but were raised in Little Rock. They made their radio debut at age five and by the age of nine were hosting their own radio show. Greatly influenced by the Blue Sky Boys and the Bailes Brothers, the Armstrongs were appearing on two daily radio shows and on the Arkansas Jamboree by 1946. Between then and 1951, they cut over a dozen songs, most of which were bluegrass covers. Here I’ve chosen their furious « Mandolin Boogie » (4 * 1231) from 1947, here taken from an old Arhoolie album which gathers all of their 4 * output. Buy it in confidence, if you can find. It’s re-released on CD 9046 « The Armstrong Twins – Mandolin Boogie » ).

armstrong twins front

(from the notes to the CD – year unknown – « Keepin’ It Country » (Wedge Entertainment):

RALPH JOHNSON was born in the Clinch Mountains of south West Virginia. south west virginia

He began developing his musical career at the age of six, after receiving his first guitar.  At the age of

fifteen, his singing and musical talent had developed enough to enable him to put together his own band.  Ralph and his band auditioned for a radio show in Richlands, VA. They landed the job on WRIC radio.  During this time, his band played schools, halls and theatres in the area.  They later auditioned for a spot on a new TV station in Bluefield, WV.  Some time later, they had earned the privilege of performing two shows on WOAY in Twin Oak Hill, WV.  It was here that he recorded his first record, « Henpecked Daddy » (released on his own abel, RALPH JOHNSON records)

ralph johnson 639B henpecked daddy

Hillbilly meets old Country Blues! Solid rhythm guitar, assured vocal. A timeless Rockabilly…  After appearing on different radio and TV stations throughout the country, he moved his operation to Baltimore. MD.  While in Baltimore, he launched Wedge Records, Dome Records and Fleet Records.  Along with all of his record labels, he opened his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music.  He released all types of music from the Washington and Baltimore areas.  He later moved his operation to Vineland, NJ where he became the co-owner of WDVL Radio.  As a DJ, he played country music five hours a day, every day.  He went on to develop and book country music acts from Nashville, TN into Palentein Park every Sunday.  In 1976, he decided to move to Nashville, TN, where he proceeded to record and promote records on his Wedge Entertainment record label.  He used songs from his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music.  As you can see, Ralph Johnson has made a big splash in the music industry.

His  CD can be found direct from his address: http://wedgeentertainment.net/keepinitcountry.htm

Last artist, FUZZY LOFTON, recorded his solitary single for the Lagrange, GA, Trepur label (# 503),

Trepur 503 Fuzzy lofton Bounce, baby, bounce « Bounce Baby Bounce« , from ca. 1957. A fine, interesting hick vocal, propelled by a nice guitar (the player has apparently much heard Chet Atkins, Eddie Hill and Merle Travis). He takes a very good solo, then a shy steel player enters for a short solo. A nice, relaxed shuffler.

Keep bopping, folks. Enjoy the selections! Comments welcome.

Mar-Vel’ label from Hammond, Indiana (1950-1959): Honky Tonkin’ Rhythm

GET WITH THE BEAT – The Mar-Vel’ Masters – A Lost Decade to American Rock and Roll (Rykodisc, ,1989) –  notes by Carl Schneider

Marvel2 (suite…)