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Midnight Boogie Blues/Wild cat Boogie: the Forrest Rye story (1941-1960)
nov 23rd, 2013 by xavier

Forest Rye’s trail from Detroit to the ‘Grand Ole Opry’

 

forrestRye 1930s

Forrest Rye, 1930s

 

By craig maki

 

A long line of men dressed in rugged suits filed past iron gates on Manchester Street in Highland Park, Michigan, as they did every morning, into the . One by one, they flashed their Ford badges at the guard stationed in a small shack. Ford Motor Company facility Outside the gate, a 15 year-old boy stood near the shack, hands in his trouser pockets, chatting with the uniformed man inside, who interrupted the conversation every so often to check someone’s identification.

I brought ya some apples,” the young man said with a Tennessee drawl, and handed a paper sack to the guard, who gave one apple back. After sharing a snack together, the young man asked, “Say, what are my chances today? Like I said before, I’m ready to work at anything.”

The guard tolerated his daily appearances, eventually warming up to his friendly personality and persistence. It was obvious the young man, who showed up at the morning whistle every day, intended to stay in Detroit. “Well,” said the guard while keeping his eye on workers entering the property, “There’s a small opening in the fence about sixty feet east of here. It may be wide enough for you to slip through. I reckon I can’t stop you, if I don’t see you.” He took his eyes off the shuffling plant workers long enough to look the kid in the eyes and say, “I know you won’t cause me no trouble.”

No, sir!” The wide-eyed young man continued chewing apple.

I just happen to know a foreman who’s looking for a welder,” said the guard. “If you get in, look up Fred Walker.” The young man thanked the guard, who nodded, too preoccupied to look up. Then he strode east to the gap in the fence, slipped through, and secured a position at Ford.

Working man, day and night

Trained on the job as a welder, Forest Rye had grown up in Erin, Tennessee, west of Nashville. Born December 19, 1910, Rye learned to play fiddle and guitar before he left home in 1924. When Rye was a small boy, champion fiddler Walter Warden, from McEwen, Tennessee, and an early influence on Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, schooled him in music. Warden lived up the road from the Rye household, and thought so highly of Rye that he gave him a fiddle. When Rye came to Detroit, he found a room in a boarding house, and doggedly spent about a week talking his way into Ford’s Highland Park facility.

A pioneer country music bandleader in Detroit, Rye entertained at house parties through the 1930s, eventually leading groups of musicians in local cafes and bars. In 1937 he married, and moved back to Erin, where he started a grocery with his savings. He visited friends in Detroit occasionally, and after divorcing in 1939, Rye returned to Detroit’s east side, near Chrysler facilities where he worked the day shift.

The area surrounding East Jefferson Avenue near St. Jean included neighborhoods of white Southerners who had moved for work in local factories. In this environment, Rye formed Rye’s Red River Blue Yodlers, and gigged steadily at the Torch Club on East Jefferson. They may have performed on Detroit radio as well.

In early 1942, the band cut a record for the Mellow Record Company, based in the Mellow Music Shop a few blocks away from the Torch Club. “You Had Time Think It Over” backed with “On Down The Line” were pressed on the Hot Wax label (with Mellow catalog number 1616 – it was pressed on Mellow, too). Vocals on the Hot Wax label were attributed to “Conrad Brooks,” a fake name Rye used on the record – perhaps to avoid public association with the hot lyrics of “On Down The Line,” a risqué song made strictly for jukebox plays in bars. The band included Rye’s fiddle, Hawaiian (lap) steel, rhythm guitar, and bass. Side 1 (« You had time ») was uptempo while the B-side (« On down the line » was medium paced. 
hot 1616B forrest rye on down the line rethot wax 1616-B on down the line ret

Rye’s Red River Blue Yodelers, « You had time to think it over » <a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Hot-Wax-1616-Ryes-Blue-Yodelers-You-had-time-to-think-it-over-nettoyé.mp3″ target= »_blank »>downloaddownload
Rye’s Red River Blue Yodelers, « On down the line »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Hot-Wax-1616-Ryes-Blue-Yodelers-On-down-the-line-netoyé.mp3<a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Hot-Wax-1616-Ryes-Blue-Yodelers-On-down-the-line-netoyé.mp3 » target= »_blank »>download

Forrest Rye

Rye’s stage show included humor, and as early as 1942 he was making appearances on the WSM Nashville radio’s “Grand Ole Opry” as comedian Little Willie Rye. This made him the first Detroiter to perform with the “Opry.” Many Detroit musicians would follow Rye’s path, beginning with the York Brothers after World War II. Not to mention a few musicians who moved to Detroit after first performing at the “Opry” (e.g., Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, Okie Jones, and Chick Stripling).

Rye moved back to Tennessee in 1945 and married again. He returned to Detroit in 1947 as his family began to grow, remaining through 1955. Soon after this third move to Michigan, Rye secured a gig at WXYZ radio with his Sage Brush Ranch Boys, a band that included bassist Earl “Shorty Frog” Allen, who led his own band in Detroit several years later.

Around 1945/46 he cut with his group two sides for the Detroit based Universal company (the York Brothers also recorded for this label). Yet Rye still handles the vocals as disguised « Conrad Brooks« , and very assured. Steel guitar is wild, and Rye is even yodeling a bit. Both sides are very nice uptempos for the era. « Snake bite blues » and « Don’t come crying around me mama« , both written by Rye.

universal 1002-A snake retuniversal 1002 don't coe ret

Rye’s Red River Blue Yodelers, « Snake bite blues » download Rye’s Red River Blue Yodelers, « Don’t come crying around me mama » http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Universal-1002-Ryes-Red-River-Blue-Yodelers-Dont-come-crying-around-me-mama-Conrad-Brooks-vo.mp3<a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Universal-1002-Ryes-Red-River-Blue-Yodelers-Dont-come-crying-around-me-mama-Conrad-Brooks-vo.mp3 » target= »_blank »>download

 

 

For a couple of years during the late 1940s, Mountain Red appeared with Rye’s Sage Brush Ranch Boys in Pontiac area nightclubs as a featured singer. Red also appeared with Rye on WXYZ, when he wasn’t performing his solo programs at WCAR radio Pontiac.

sageBrushRanchBoys (forest rye) late 40s

Sage Brush Ranch Boys, late ’40s – Rye on fiddle

 

 

 

Rye often let other musicians sit in with his band in Detroit nightclubs. Joyce Songer recalled performing with the Sage Bruch Ranch Boys several times, when she and husband Earl started their musical career, around 1949.

Early 1951 Rye cut four sides in Detroit, apparently, for Mercury, two uptempos « Crying my eyes out » (# 6328) and « Won’t you give me a little loving » (# 6329), coupled with the great medium-paced « Midnight boogie blues » (great steel solo!) and « After all these tears ». These 4 sides have not been reissued, except « Midnight boogie blues » on some English compilation.

mercury 6328 crying retmercury 6328 after all retMercury 6329A Midnight boogie blues ret

mercury 6329 won't you give ret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forrest Rye, « Crying my eyes out » <a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6328-Forrest-Rye-Crying-my-eyes-out-nettoyé.mp3″ target= »_blank »>download
Forrest Rye, « After all these tears » <a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6328-Forrest-Rye-After-all-these-years-nettoyé.mp3″ target= »_blank »>download
Forrest Rye, « Midnight boogie blues »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6329-Forrest-Rye-Midnight-boogie-blues-nettoyé.mp3<a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6329-Forrest-Rye-Midnight-boogie-blues-nettoyé.mp3″ target= »_blank »>download
Forrest Rye, « Won’t you give me a little loving »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6329-Forrest-Rye-Wont-you-give-me-a-little-loving-nettoyé.mp3<a href= »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Mercury-6329-Forrest-Rye-Wont-you-give-me-a-little-loving-nettoyé.mp3 » target= »_blank »>download

 

Rye maintained ties to Nashville, including relationships at WSM with announcer George D. Hay and many performers. Singer Pete Pyle, a 1940s recording artist (Bluebird label) and one-time member of the Bill Monroe and Pee Wee King bands, was a fast friend, eventually moving next door to Rye’s house in Taylor, Michigan. They appeared together in local nightclubs, such as the West Fort Tavern on West Fort Street in Southwest Detroit. In 1953, Rye and Pyle cut sessions for Fortune Records. Rye’s “Wild cat Boogie” and Pyle’s “Are You Making A Fool of Me?” were combined on a single record (Fortune 172). Al Allen (el. g) and Chuck Hatfield (steel) were present on Pete Pyle’s session.

 

fortune 172-B forest rye wildcat boogie ret

Forest Rye, « Wild cat boogie » download

In 1955 Rye and Pyle moved their families back to Tennessee. As Little Willie Rye, Rye worked on Nashville radio as a solo comedian, and with the band of Big Jeff Bess. He wrote songs, operated a song publishing company (Geraldine), produced and made his own recordings, and issued music on his own record label (Forest – 3 known records by other artists in a 5600 serie) , besides playing music in studios and on stages. He also booked acts for WSM radio and Nashville area venues. In 1967 Rye left behind his activities in country music to become a Christian preacher. He passed away April 24, 1988.

pace 1007 B retouchéLittle Willie Rye, « Road of happiness« ,  pace A download
Little Willie Rye, « Make believe girl »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/PACE-1007.2-rye-make-believe-girl.mp3download
Reprinted from carcitycountry.com, the site of Craig Maki See http://carcitycountry.com/2013/forest-ryes-trail-from-detroit-to-the-grand-ole-opry/. Additions by Xavier (Mercury, Universal), bopping editor.

Thanks to Ronald Keppner of Frankfurt am/Main, Germany, for the loan of his rare Forrest Rye ’78s on Hot Wax, Universal and Mercury. Without him, this article would have proved impossible to write. Thanks also to Allan Turner, out of England, for getting me the mp3/scans of the rare Pace 45.

late May 2011 fortnight’s favorites
mai 15th, 2011 by xavier

aggie 1002 dick miller Now I'm goneFirst from the West Coast, a fine crossing between Hillbilly Bop and Rock’n'Roll (because of the drumming): DICK MILLER and « Now I’ Gone« . I’ve added a second song from him, very different, this time, 1957 on Mercury Records, « My Tears Will Seal It Closed« .mercury 6347 hill

mercury 71658 dick miller my tears will seal it closedEddie Hill and « The Hot Guitar » was combination of various guitar stylings, Merle Travis, Hank Garland, Chet Atkins.Very nice fast tune.

hi-q 17 rufus shoffner it always happen to mekyva 707 ked killenphilmon 1000 hiram

Rufus Shoffner is not a stranger. Here on Detroit’s HI-Q label, he delivers an energetic   »It Always Happens To Me« , backed by his sister/wife (I don’t know) Joyce Shoffner.

A real mystery now. Ked Killen was cutting Hillbilly Bop as late as 1969 on WESTERN RANCH. Bopping has recently posted a track by him (Fortnight’s favorites, May 2010). Here « You’d better Take Time« , on a Starday Custom pressing, has welcome gospel overtones. The name HIRAM PHILMON isn’t that common: he cut on his own PHILMON label the fine Hillbilly « I‘m Lonesome Baby« . Just to finish with someone who, with is biting guitar sound, was very close to Rock’n'Roll, FRANKIE LEE SIMS – he cut for Specialty, here on Johnny Vincent’s VIN label, the great « She Likes To Boogie Real Low« .

frankie lee simsvin 1006 frankie lee sims she likes to boogie real low

The Clix records story (Troy, Michigan): late Fifties Rockabilly & Bluegrass bop
oct 14th, 2010 by xavier

The Clix Records Story: Hidden Gems from the Early Days of Detroit Rock ‘n’ Roll

DetroitBy Michael Hurtt, Metro TimesOctober 3, 2008

Hidden next to I-75 in Troy, just south of the Big Beaver Road exit, they sit, surroundedby strip malls, corporate high-rises and recently constructed apartment complexes. What we’re looking at is a smattering of old farmhouses — some still heated by oil furnaces and kerosene heaters — on a two-block stretch of dirt and gravel road accessible only through an abutting parking lot.

49_MUSIC_Clix_guysStanding in stark opposition to its recently overly developed surroundings, one has the eerie feeling that this rural enclave won’t be here much longer. But even after the last old homestead has been mercilessly uprooted and the final skyscraper is finished — indeed after even it meets its bitter end — one aspect of Troy’s countrified past will remain, and that is its status as the hometown of Clix Records, one of the most elusive, seamless and sought-after imprints in all of early rock ‘n’ roll. Those now-ancient abodes once housed the early Michigan label.

troy

Read the rest of this entry »

Roy « The Hound » Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1949-1959)
août 28th, 2010 by xavier

Roy Hall, Pumpin’ and Drinkin’!      roy hall pic

James Faye « Roy » Hall was born on May 7, 1922, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. An old colored man taught him to play piano, and to drink. By the time Roy turned twenty-one, he knew that he was the best drunken piano-player in Big Stone Gap, and armed with the pride and confidence that this knowledge gave him, he departed the town of his birth to seek fame. Roy made it to Bristol and farther, pumping boogie-woogie in every Virginia, Tennessee, or Alabama beer-joint that had a piano. He played those pianos fast and hard and sinful, like that colored man who had taught him back in Big Stone Gap; but he sang like the hillbilly that he was. He organized his own band, Roy Hall and His Cohutta Mountain Boys (Cohutta was part of the Appalachians, in the shadows of whose foothills he had been raised up). It was a five-piece band, with Tommy Odum on lead guitar, Bud White on rhythm guitar, Flash Griner on bass, and Frankie Brumbalough on fiddle. Roy pounded the piano and did most of the singing; but everybody else in the band sang too. Read the rest of this entry »

Skeets McDonald
mar 18th, 2009 by xavier

Biography by Jason Ankeny
Best known for his self-penned chart-topper « Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes, » Skeets McDonald was a honky tonk singer and songwriter whose work helped serve to bridge the gap between country and rock & roll. The youngest of seven children, Enos William McDonald was born on October 1, 1915, in Greenway, AR, and earned his nickname after an incident involving a swarm of mosquitoes. He became interested in music at a young age and, according to McDonald family legend, even traded his hound dog for a guitar and six dollars. When his older brother moved to Michigan several years later, McDonald followed and joined his first band, the Lonesome Cowboys, in Detroit in 1935. He continued to perform on local radio stations until he was drafted to serve in World War II in 1943.skeets-detroitAfter returning from battle, McDonald began performing on a Detroit-area television program and in 1950 cut his first records with fiddler Johnnie White & His Rough Riders. In 1951, McDonald and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was signed to perform on Cliffie Stone‘s TV program Hometown Jamboree. Soon after, he joined Capitol Records and in 1952 released « Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes, » by far his biggest hit. McDonald remained with the label until 1959, the year he released the LP Goin’ Steady With The Blues, and while he scored few chart successes, his music’s evolution from honky tonk to straightforward rockabilly proved to be influential with other musicians. Meanwhile in 1956, he teamed wth the aspiring Honky tonk singer Wynn Stewart. The pair recorded « Slowly But Surely » (with a young Eddie Cochran on rhythm guitar), backed by « Keeper of the key » (later cut at Sun by Carl Perkins).

In 1959, McDonald signed with Columbia, which mandated that he return to country music. In the early ’60s, he notched a handful of hits, including « Call Me Mr. Brown » which reached the Top Ten in 1963. A year later, he issued the album Call Me Skeets!. As the decade wore on, he began branching out from the West Coast music scene, recording in Nashville and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Despite the country industry’s shift towards slicker, more pop-oriented productions, McDonald remained a purist throughout his career; he died on March 31, 1968, after suffering a massive heart attack.

Recommended listening: Heartbreakin’ mama (Bear Family)  skeets-bf-gonna-shakeDon’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes (6CD boxset Bear Family)

article revised December 5th, 2011. It still doesn’t please to me! It was one of my very first articles, and I didn’t know Photoshop and page mage make-up…Someday I will have to write it again entirely.skeets-coffretskeetswithhrosegro
capitol 2774-78 skeets Remember you'remine
capitol 3215-78 skeets strollin'

smoke

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