Howdy folks ! Very different things this time, and the recordings do go from 1936 until 1960.
Let’s begin with the unknown (surely a one-offer) GLENN KIRBY and his good, gentle shuffler « I love blue eyes » issued in Texas on TNT 138 in July 1956. A steel and piano solo plus throughout fiddle, although nothing exceptionnal.
SHORTY ASHBURN, our second artist, was equally unknown despite his 3 records issued on Nashville labels at the turn of 1950-51. Without doubt he only cut 4 songs at the same session for the Bullet label, which were issued upon # 749 « Triflin’ heart », a nice shuffler with piano and steel solos. The guitar player is rather uninspired (or too badly paid trying to shine). Ashburn went the same way with « More & more » (# 752) ; all his sides were written (or co-written) with Jimmy Rule, a mathematics teacher mostly famous for ghostwriting Hank Williams‘ booklet, « How to write folk and western music to sell ». The 3rd Ashburn record was written by Autry inman, who found himself in the position he had prophetically shown up, when he was arrested by the FBI in 1972 for bootlegging records : « You’re under arrest » was given to Ashburn and issued on the small Jamboree label (# 514).
PETE PIKE is a rather well-known figure in Hillbilly and Bluegrass circles. His incomplete story was given in this site in January 2011, and many facts have been thrown to light since then. I’ve chosen the fabulous slice of Hillbilly bop from 1960, « Cold gray dawn », issued on Rebel (Maryland) # 228 : great steel and expressive vocal.
As a change, we move to March 1936 for a New Orleans session by MILTON BROWN& His Musical Brownies. The song may be vaudeville or poppish, the backing is splendid : nice fiddle by Cliff Bruner, and a fabulous lap-steel solo (40 seconds!) by the late Bob Dunn. The song is « Ida ! sweet as apple cider », originally on Decca 5325, and reissued on 46002 in 1946.
From Metter, south of Georgia came Wallace and Charlie, the MERCER BROTHERS. They were young farmers and bought their first Sears & Roebuck guitar in 1939 with the money from picking cotton. They had soon after the WWII a show on WMAZ, then entered the Louisiana Hayride in April 1948, as The Blue Ridge Boys. Columbia signed them and recorded the duet, augmented by the harmonica of Wayne Raney, in August 1951. After seemingly sufficient sales, they had a second session in May 1954, backed by Doyle Strickland on fiddle. They sounded like the Delmore Brothers. Here is their « What’s he got that I ain’t got » (Columbia # 20978), you can judge by yourself. After their departure from Columbia, they went to WIBB in Macon where they did alternate country and sacred radio shows.
The last artist was very young, only 18 and still in high school when he entered WRJW radio station in Picayune, MS. to record his double-sider for D Records in September 1958. Pappy Daily had a contact in Picayune, Fred Henley (the local Colonel Parker) who sent up for DOUG STANFORD. His record « Sady/Won’t you tell me » (D 1034) had a gifted guitar player, Billy Fred Stockstill, even younger than Stanford : « He could do that Chet Atkins stuff good as Chet », he said.
Sources : « A shot in the dark » boxset, notes by Martin Hawkins ; « The complete D singles…collection, volume 1 », notes by Colin Escott. « Columbia 20000 », the site of Willem Agenant. My own archives. YouTube and 45rpm-cat.
Let’s begin this new fortnight with a seemingly Virginian. CARLTON LINK had on the Freeman label (# 100) the fine uptempo bopper « Lovesick and sorrow », of unknown origin. But he issued a single on the Virginia Lark label in 1970 yet untraced (sound at least, even the actual label).
Then from Paoli, Indiana, on the Four Wheels label (# 0001) KENNY HOLIDAY with « Little heart don’t be disgusted » (1961) : an agreeable tune with a jumping little guitar. « Little heart don’t be disgusted« download
Down South in Houston, on the Gold Star custom serie, we find V. CECIL WILLIAMS on the Gilbert label (# 1004/1005) for the nice uptempos, « Two timin’ baby » and « Maurine », typical of the Houston sound of 1952-53, that was to evolve in the Starday sound in the following years.
« Two-timin’ baby » download
Howdy friends from all around the world ! This new batch will return to a more conventional time for Hillbilly bop, the years 1950-1960. Lack of time and inspiration I’m afraid. So commentaries will be short ! First we can listen to JOHNNY GITTAR, a.k.a. Johnny Henderson (I posted two tracks under this name recently, fortnight early April) in the famous « San Antonio boogie » (High Time 173). A call-and-response format, the steel guitar well to the fore, a touch of piano : it’s a shuffler, the sort of hard-rock tunes we can hear on the Houston Freedom label (I recently told the story of this important altho’ short-lived label). « San Antonio boogie« download « Nine o’clock« download
Two medium-paced numbers, back-to-back of the Bennie Hess Spade # 1929 label, and they both are close to Rockabilly, «Nine o’clock » and « Is there no love for me, Love » are light, cool sung. A minimum instrumentation and a gliding guitar. They appear to have been issued in Autumn 1956 by JOHNNY McADAMS.
Next LITTLE MIKE MORTON offers a jumping Hillbilly bop « Midnight hoe-down » on Esta H-9592 from 1955. The location of Esta is Hamilton, OH. And the youthfullness of the voice immediately reminds that of Little Doug [Sahm] on Sarg, or on Westport that of Cowboy Bobby.
From 1957 on the Cincinnati, OH Seven Star label (# 2511B) let’s listen to « Why did you go away » by ART RODGERS (without any doubt no connection with Jimmie or Jesse). Nevertheless Rodgers has a hillbilly pronunciation, and a strong rhythm guitar, backed by the K.C. Ramblers.
CUZIN ROSCOE next on the Avery, TX Cowtown label (# 803A) delivers the fast « Sing me a song », accompanied by a sawing fiddle (1960, according to the YouTube uploader).
A baritone vocal, strongly a la Johnny Cash, that of RAY PRIDIE for « Lonesome broken hearted me » on the C.A.R. label # 102A, from Bellingram, Washington. Steel guitar plus echo.
First three are exceptions to the rule. CAL DAVIS does a shuffler, with a bit of echo on the steel for »Loving lifetime » on the Mack label (# 258). No indication at all of its origin. A RCA Custom of 1954.
Second dates from 1957 on the Hilton label, yet still unknown origin. RAYBON BUSBY does the complex, half slow, half fast « I reckon so » (# no #) : A sort of talking blues, steel phrases on the slow side ; fast side reminds me much of the Blankenship Brothers.
Note: Hilton was based in Louisiana, according to DrunkenHobo.
TOMMY RIDDLE with « Rayford line » pertains apparently to the late ’50s/early ’60s on the Staircase label (# 6651), from where I don’t know. Good fast honky-tonk, a lot of echo on the lead guitar.
With a classic theme – either in Blues or Country – « Walking blues », RAY BEACH couldn’t go wrong in 1968. Solid guitar and light drums for a good uptempo. 3 backing members are listed on label (Ray Beach, really?), which don’t give any clue to the origin of this record.
Picked from my good friend Alexander’s site « Mellow’s log cabin», here is the nice « After I have broke your heart » by LEO GRAY, from Mt. Healthy, OH, in 1965, issued on Log Cabin 903. Good steel over a jumping tempo.
On the presumably Ohio Harron label, here are two fine Bluegrass duets (male/female) led by ERNEST STACEY (great vocal) and backed by HARLIN KAZY on vocal and fiddle, the fast « I do » and the dynamic « I made up my mind » from 1962 (# 995A). They had also at least one other record, « Lonesome road » on Arvis, another label from Ohio. Usual Bluegrass backup : dobro and bass.
Howdy folks ! Eleven selections (yes, 11) this time of small labels and very minor artists, who made for the most part of them only one known record then vanished into obscurity or did something else than a career in music.
From California on the Pico Sundown label (# 113, very late ’50s, let’s hear at BOBBY AUSTIN‘s « Fool, fool, fool » : a jumping little tune, very expressive vocal – the singer knows what he’s talking about, of course. A prominent steel guitar, whose style must BE Ralph Mooney‘s.
A lively « It’s money » by MIKE CLAY follows on the National Sound label (# 1501), mid ’60s. It’s an uptempo with a harsh guitar. The record itself is produced by « Jack Rhodes », famous producer and songwriter residing in Mineola, TX.
From Louisville, KY, here they are, back-to-back of the Hood label # 1031 by CARL DIXON. More ‘Country’ than hillbilly, however two fine medium-paced Country rockers : « Carry me back to Ark. » and « Hunting out of season ». Surely Dixon has to watch for gamekeepers.. A harmonica throughout is the main instrument.
DICK BILLS began seemingly his career in Arizona on the Vicki label in 1954-55 (an OP- custom issue, « Beggars can’t be choosers »)[see elsewhere in this site my feature on the Four Star OP-serie]. We find him later on the Morgan label (# 107) in California for two medium paced numbers (one is sung by Buzz Burnam – I can’t for Heaven’s sake remember him where/when, but his name rings familiar to my ears). Tracks are « Lost without you », an ordinary bopper, while « Old dusty sun » has a surprising hawaiian-style steel guitar.
Finally Bills reappears in 1961 on the Crest label for a solid « Rockin’ and a rollin’ » (# 1091), backed on the lead guitar by his nephew Glen Campbell.
JIMMY RINGO next artist offers a very nice bopper as late as 1958 on the big concern W.C. Dot (reputed for its pop orientation). « I like this kind of music » (# 15787) has everything Boppers’ addicts could wish for : a nice guitar (a short solo), an interesting vocal, a prominent fiddle, of course no drums and even a banjo solo.
The following artist had a long career as Red River Dave, mostly songwriter, he takes here his real name of DAVE McENERY for a solitary single on a subsidiary label to T.N.T., the aptly named Yodeling # 500. I wonder if they are more numbers in the serie. Both tracks are unusual. « Did the gypsy lie ? » is an intense ballad, while « Jailhouse blues » (backing is made of 2 guitars and a bass) is a sort of folkish hillbilly, very pleasant with its yodel efforts.
Note: Phil Watson, a visitor, had noted what follows: « I heard this was recorded when T Texas Tyler was jailed in 1958 for a drugs offence (he was found carrying weed) and, quick off the mark as always, Red River Dave wrote a song about it – Jailhouse Blues. The lyrics mention a couple of Tyler’s songs. ». Thanks Phil!
Last artist is a completely unknown from Kansas City, MO : ROY BEEMER comes with a shuffler, « Cheatin’ don’t count » has a guitar solo « a la Hank Garland », solos of steel and fiddle. A real good disc on the Artist label # 1459.
« Cheatin’ don’t count« download
Enjoy the eleven selections, comments welcome !
Sources : Internet (Youtube) or my own collection.