Starday Custom series, part 3 (# 551 to 575) (April to July 1956): from Hillbilly bop to Rock-a-Billy

For introduction on « Starday Custom » series, see the feature : « Starday Custom series: an introduction ».

This article takes the third place, after « Starday Custom Series », part 1 (1953-1955), part 2 (1955 to March 1956), to be found in this site. Just type in the research bottom, upper right.

MID WEST RECORDS 551 MOWEE JOHNSON (April 1956)

Wichita, KS

551-A – I Hope Tomorrow Never Comes

(No Writers Credit) (No Publ. Info)

551-B – What Am I Going To Do

(No Writers Credit) (No Publ. Info)

Yet again, another artist had slipped past my radar and vanished into that « Bermuda Triangle » of obscure artists.

STARDAY RECORDS 552 LUCKY WRAY (April 1956)            lucky wray & palomino ranch gang

(Artist based at time of disc in Washington, DC)

ST-2421 – It’s Music She Says552a 2

(Cindy Davis / Larry Stone) (Starrite BMI)

ST-2422 – Sick And Tired552b sick & tired

(Cindy Davis / Joe Drew) (Starrite BMI)

Lucky, Doug and the more famous sibling, Link hailed from North Carolina, although by the early 50’s they were playing in and around Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. Lucky (real name Vern) took the name ‘lucky’ because of his luck at gambling. The original band were called Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, playing mainly C&W / Hillbilly music. They worked mainly at the Fernwood Farms Dance Hall in Virginia. By 1955, they had renamed themselves Lucky Wray & the Palomino Ranch Hands and had relocated to Washington, DC, which included Shorty Horton on bass. The tracks above (and the other two singles) were cut at Ben Adelman’s studio. The A side on this disc bops along with Links’ guitar to the fore and an unknown steel guitarist – a hillbilly bopper that’s almost Rock-A-Billy. Flip is more mainstream hillbilly with Vern in fine vocal form and nice harmonies in the chorus. Both sides sport a Starday matrix which makes wonder if Starday were considering placing this in their main series instead of pressing it up as a custom.

ARKANSAS RECORDS 553 ALTON GUYON and his Boogie Blues Boys (April 1956)

Box 336, Judsonia, AR

45-553-A – River Boat Blues  553a river553b leave

(K Murphy / A Guyon)    (Starrite BMI)

45-553-B – Leave My Baby Alone

(K Murphy / A Guyon)    (Starrite BMI)

Tough as old boots hillbilly bopper, bordering on early rock-a-billy from Alton and his Boogie Blues Boys from Judsonia, Arkansas. About a year after this disc was pressed, Guyon’s manager sent Starday four more sides for consideration which were (sadly) rejected. Quite why they didn’t press these onto a Starday Custom is anybody’s guess. As an aside, the A side was recorded by Buddy Phillips for the CKM label from Bald Knob, AR, with the flip (Coffee Baby) also written by K Murphy and Alton. I wonder if this track is also one of the remaining unissued sides, the last one being « Bop Bobby Sox Bop » (first time the word « bop » appears on a Starday recording).

STARDAY RECORDS 554 MARTY LICKLIDER (April 1956)

(Artist based in OH at time of release)

45-554-A – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

(Licklider)    (Starrite BMI)

45-554-B – Our Anniversary Day

(Licklider)    (Starrite BMI)

Mr. Licklider was business manager, singer, guitarist and song writer for a band called the Fox Hunters. Marty was also a DJ on WICA (Ashabula, OH) in 1952. The Fox Hunters consisted of Marty, Buell Licklider (Marty’s brother) on mandolin and bass fiddle, Andy Hill (violin), Eddie Allen (accordian) and Marty’s son, Larry who also played a violin. Marty had at least one disc issued on Coral (64126) (« Down By The Missouri River » / « I Don’t Want My Darlin’ To Cry. ») The A side of this disc is a very pleasant hillbilly bopper with good steel & lead guitar. Flip is a ballad about the joys of marriage. Billboard described this disc on the 28th April, 1956 as:- « Cold hands, Warm Heart » – Licklider, new to the label, has a deep voice and relaxed style that reminds the listener of the incomparable Ernest Tubb. He employs his voice to good advantage on this humorous, bouncy tune. » « Our Anniversary Day » – « The singer portrays the feelings of a couple that has been happy in marriage for many years. A thoughtfully presented reading that many country deejays will want to program. »

STARDAY RECORDS 555 LUKE GORDON Acc by C. Smith and the Tennessee Haymakers.     (April 1956)

(Artist based possibly in Quincy, KY at time of release.)

45-555-A – Let This Kiss Bid You Goodbye

(Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

45-555-B – Baby’s Gone

(Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

Another offering from Luke. The A side is more in the sad Hank Williams vein. Flipside is a superior country rocker with some fantastic lead guitar bubbling behind his vocals. . Luke’s got one of those voices a cross between Hank Williams and Luke McDaniels.

555b refait


H and C RECORDS 556 OKLAHOMA MELODY BOYS 556b your heart

Vcl by Jearl Ritter (April 1956)

Tulsa, OK

45-556-AWasted

(Goldie Hood) (Starrite BMI)

45-556-B – Your Heart And Mine

(Thelma Conrad / Goldie Hood) (Starrite BMI)

Nothing on this band. Possibly T. Texas Tyler’s band that he used on some of his 4-Star recordings. Nothing again on Jearl Ritter or Goldie Hood (who penned both sides.) Both sides of the disc is pleasant hillbilly.

SULLIVAN RECORDS 557 THE LEWIS FAMILY

(No known location)

557-A – Lights In The Valley

(No credits) (No publication info)

557-B – My Jesus is the one

(No credits) (No publication info)

SULLIVAN RECORDS 558 THE LEWIS FAMILY (April 1956)

(No known location)

558-A – Did You Do What The Lord Said To Do

(No credits) (No publication info)

558-B – Wait a little long please Jesus

This and the previous disc are yet another in a long line of blanks where info is concerned. The « Lewis Family » were a reasonably successful gospel band, but there may have been two different groups with the same name so I’m not sure which one is which – without hearing them and seeing the discs of course which, after 20 years, I’m still waiting to do.

STARDAY RECORDS 559 DON OWENS and the Circle « O » Ranch Boys

(Artist based around Arlington, VA)                    (May 1956)                   559a something

45-559-A – Somethings You Cannot Change

(Owens) (Starrite BMI)

45-559-B – Adios Novia

(Owens) (Starrite BMI)

This Don Owens was a DJ who broadcasted over WARL (Arlington, VA)and he once appeared on a Jimmie Rogers Memorial Show with the likes of Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. (Billboard lso mentioned that attendance was very good despite the almost torrential rain that poured from the heavens that day. He also appeared before the Pastore Senate Subcommittee in 1958, saying that  » … The strongest condemnation of rock & roll and country music comes from people who have never spent five minutes paying attention to it. » (Good for him, although, as a DJ & musical director of Arlington’s only country music station, I doubt if he was defending R&R – but still … kudos to the man for speaking his ind in public.) A further tale from this artists was mentioned in Billboard in Oct 55 which states … « Don Owens, WARL, Arlington, VA debuted a new ballad recently on one of his shows that was composed by a local detective and his prisoner. The unusual writing team got together when detective Alvin Fuchsman picked up 24 year old Ted Borrelli of Hoboken, NJ on a vagrancy charge. Upon discovering that the prisoner had with him some 50 odd poems that he had written, the detective put music to a few, tape recorded one of them (« Underneath The Lamp Post ») which was later played by dee-jay Owens.

Sadly, Don Owens was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel of his car (this was the second, or third time he had fallen asleep at the wheel.) It is said this was due to the long hours as a DJ, and his TV Show.

Musically, Don almost talks his way through the A side instead of singing. It’s a nice love song I guess and the band are excellent. Flip side is more of the same really. I could hear Hank Williams singing this song better.

STARDAY RECORDS 560 JERRY HANSON (May 1956)  560a cry560b doing

45-560-A – Cry

(Jack Rhodes / Jerry Hanson) (Starrite BMI)

45-560-B – I’m Doing All Right

(Jack Rhodes / Jerry Hanson) (Starrite BMI)

In 1954, Hanson was appearing on the « Western Star Serenade » Hillbilly show out of Tyler, TX and somehow ended up at Jack Rhodes cozy little motel out of Mineola, TX, where he probably cut these sides. Sometime later (or even perhaps earlier), Jerry cut a faster take of B-side (issued on « Gene Vincent Cut Our Songs » CD.

« Cry » is a nice song, more country than anything else and Jerry and Jack Rhodes were hoping to pitch it to a good and known country singer through Capitol Records. « I’m Doing All Right« , on the other hand is a tight, moody rockabilly classic with a threadbare feel, fronted by Hanson’s assured vocals. Although I can hear quite a few artists covering « Cry« , Jerry OWNS the B side and I can’t quite imagine anyone else covering the song as well as Hanson does.

Hanson later appears on Ed Manney’s Bluebonnet and Manco labels (Both are good vocally, especially the Bluebonnet 45) and on Colpix and then he disappears into thin air.

STARDAY RECORDS 561 JIMMY JOHNSON (May 1956)

45-561-A – Woman Love

(Jack Rhodes) (Central Songs BMI)

45-561-B – All Dressed Up

(J Rhodes / D Carter / D Nalls) (Starrite BMI)

Born in 1930 in Smith County, Jimmy Johnson played guitar, fiddle and sang in Jack Rhodes Ramblers(sometimes known as the Lone Star Buddies). Whilst appearing on RD Hendon’s Western Jamboree Club in Houston, he was approached and offered a recording contract by Solomon Kahal, who owned the local Freedom label. (« Salt Your Pillow Down » being recognised as a classic example of East Texas honky-tonk/hillbilly.) After a couple of sessions, Jack Rhodes got him signed up for Columbia records where he recorded some great tunes (« Eternity » & « Mama Loves Papa » being the best of the bunch.) Then the Korean war came along and Jimmy was drafted. He came back a changed man, haunted by what he experienced on that war torn peninsula. He married Billie Jo Spear’s sister (Betty Lou), had three children and worked for a local oil drilling company, with all the hopes of cashing in on his Columbia recording contract fading rapidly.

Like Jerry Hanson, Jimmy was frequently found recording at Jack Rhodes’s motel in Mineola, TX. For the session (recorded probably in March 56), Jimmy sang and played lead guitar, his wife on rhythm and Leon Hayes played an upright bass. Jack Rhodes mailed copy tapes to Cliffie Stone who had acetates made up for Ken Nelson, A&R supremo for Capitol Records. Whilst impatiently waiting for Ken to put the record out by somebody – hell, ANYBODY, Jack got 300 copies pressed up by Starday, who put it out on their custom series instead of on their main series . « Woman Love » was eventually recorded by Gene Vincent, although it was « Be-Bop-A-Lula » that became the hit, which brought in some nice royalty checks for Rhodes.

Johnson recorded many demos for Jack Rhodes but quickly faded from

musical history. (Some of these demos appear on the CD « Gene Vincent Cut Our Songs« . He passed away on Jan 8th 1980.

561b dressed561A (Starday) jimmy johnson woman love

« Woman Love » is a brooding shuffler with Jimmy’s deep and urgent vocals grabbing most of the attention. « All Dressed Up » is the faster side (but not by much) with Leon & Betty Lou joining in on the choruses. Quite why Jimmy didn’t go on to cut more records with that great voice of his is beyond me really. Still, I suppose cutting one of the most famous « Starday Customs » is something worth being remembered for.

GIBSON RECORDS 562 KING STERLING (May 1956)

(No Location)

45-HD-562-A – Slippin’ Out – Stealing In

(R L Blythe / J M Alstatt) (Starrite BMI)

45-HD-562-B – Alone, Lonesome And Blue                                                                             562a slippin'

(R L Blythe / J M Alstatt) (Starrite BMI)

Apparently, this artist became Sterling Blythe who recorded for Sage & Sand (can anybody confirm this?) A quick trawl through Billboard magazines found a few titbits on this artist. He was signed up to the KWKH Artist Services Bureau, run by Horace Logan, (booking manager of the Louisiana Hayride), and around Feb. ’57, he was listed as one of the Hayride’s personnel. By March 57 he was also appearing over KRBB (El Dorado, AR) on the King’s Corrall Show. By then, he’d managed to get on the Starday main series with « What Will The Answer Be » / « Not Much » (#298) which was reviewed by Billboard on the 3rd of June that year. (They described the A side as a … »highly effective weeper. »

That description pretty much described the A side of this disc as well. Sterling’s got a nice voice for these kind of songs, a little like Werly Fairburn in places. Flipside is a mid-tempo hillbilly number with nice steel and lead guitar with fiddle filling up the spaces behind the vocals. (I especially like the slight miss-fingering by the guitarist on the solo.

STARDAY RECORDS 563                             HOYT SCOGGINS and the Saturday Nite Jamboree Boys              (May 1956)

45-563-A Why Did We Fall In Love    563b tennessee

(Scoggins) (Starrite BMI)

45-563-B Tennessee Rock

(Scoggins) (Starrite BMI)

Having not heard the A side, I make up for it with having the B side all lined up for me to swoon over. Not the usual gospel stuff, just a clear stab at breaking into this new fangled « Cat Music. » He sounds a little unsure of himself while he’s wailing away at this type of music but it’s a winner of a song. Band provide good support (as Billboard would say).

STARDAY RECORDS 564 TEX DIXON (May 1956)     Tex Dixon(rcs)564a lies

(Possibly a Tennessee Artist)

45-564-A – Your Lovin’ Lies

(Jimmie Atkins / Walter Dickey) (Starrite BMI)

45-564-B – I’m Just Feeling Sorry For Myself

(Jimmie Atkins / Walter Dickey) (Starrite BMI)

This artist was pretty prolific during the 50’s and early 60’s. His real name was Walter Dee Dickey and he recorded under the name Mason Dixon for Reed Records (but the Mason Dixon on Meteor is a different artist), Walter Dixon on Erwin Records and Tex Dixon on this release and also on Zone and Stompertime Records from Memphis, TN. He was a regular on the Dixie Hayride (Florence, AL). Walter was blessed with a voice that could do stone-cold country and Rock-A-Billy in a blink of an eye. Both tunes here were co-wrote by Jimmie Atkins, an artist he shared billing with on a 45rpm on Alfa Records. Both sides represented here are similar, heartbreaking hillbilly songs with steel guitar being the main instrument.

Mr. Joel Russell wrote (Jan. 25, 2014) that: « I saw the record and the photo of Tex Dixon on your site.  The writers of the song was listed as Jimmie Adkins and Walter Dickey.  Walter Dickey was his real name and Tex Dixon was ONE of his pseudonymns.  My dad was Speedy Russell, and back in the fifties, dan and Walter were best buds and they played all the honkeytonks together.  Dad was THE steel guitar player back in those days in the Bessemer, Alabama area.  That is where Walter did most of his music.  Walter had high hopes of becoming a big nashville star, but he never made it.  There are several 45’s out there of him, and he paid to record every one of them.  My mom and his wife would go with them sometimes to gigs and walter would tell them to stay away from them so the women in the bar would think they were single.  Dad an walter used to go out, play music, dad would get drunk and go home with some whore night after night and when he would finally come home, he would beat up my mother.  Of course she was a bitch and deserved it.  I was born during all that.  Thought I’d give you some history of Walter « tex dixon » Dickey from Bessemer, Alabama. »

STARDAY RECORDS 565                                                 LUKE GORDON and his Lonesome Drifters

(artist based in Quincy, KY)           (label scans untraced — sorry!)                                                                                         (April1956)

ST-565-A Big New Dance

(L Gordon) (Starrite BMI)

ST-565-B Just Doin’ What’s Right

(Unknown Credits) (Starrite BMI)

Another fine offering by the excellent Luke Gordon. The A side fully embraces the new music style that was frequently pushing aside country music at the time, whilst staying true to his musical roots. The band once again are excellent. Once again, Luke ventured to Ben Adelman’s cool little studio on Cedar Street in Washington DC to record these tracks. I haven’t heard the flip side as yet, nor have I seen the record.

MOVIE CRAFT 566 ROD BURTON – Moviecraft Orchestra

930 West 7th Place, Los Angeles 17, CA                                                                  (June 1956)

566-A – I’d Like To Be A Baby Sitter

(Morris-Gerard) (Golden State Songs BMI)

566-B – « I’m Dolling You Up For » Somebody Else

(Morris-Gerard) (Golden State Songs BMI)

Another musical blank. Possibly a song-poem.

STARDAY RECORDS 567 FRANK EVANS and his Top Notchers

(Artist from Tampa FL at time of release.) (June 1956)

45-567-A – Go On And Be Carefree st 567B frank evans what is it

(Gene Rutland) (Starrite BMI)

45-567-B – What Is It (That I’m Too Young To Know)

(Gene Rutland) (Starrite BMI)

By the time Frank came around to recording another disc for Starday (albeit on the custom series), he had organised his own backing band – the Top Notchers. The band were Arnold Newman (ld gtr), Roland Newman (fdl), Pip Studenberg (bs) and Colin Thomas (Stl gtr – who doesn’t appear on this disc). The drummers name is long forgotten. This was recorded at WHBO in Tampa FL.

The A side is a pleasant enough hillbilly disc, but it’s the flip side that catches your attention. Taken at a fast clip, this has an almost « bluegrass » feel to it. Pretty cool stuff for a bunch of youngsters!

MOONLIGHT RECORDS 568                            CARL TANNER and IVENA BUCKINS and the Southern Pine Boys (June 1956)

Box 745, Waycross, GA

45-568-A – Together  Me And You

(Tanner) (Starrite BMI)

45-568-B – We’re In Love

(Tanner / Buckins) (Starrite BMI)

568a together A second offering from Carl, this time supported by one Ivena Buckins. A side is a slow hillbilly disc with sawing fiddles and Carl & Ivena take turns in singing portions of the song. Ivena’s voice is a little flat here and there – (in fact, Carl struggles a little too – almost like the key is slightly too low for him to sing in.). The flip side is taken at a breath-taking tempo, with both singers sound much more comfortable with the song. The band cook up a storm throughout this side.

STARDAY RECORDS 569                                           COUSIN ARNOLD and his Country Cousins           (June 1956)

(Artist located in Rock Hill, SC at time of release.)

45-569-A – Be My Baby, Baby Doll   569a baby

(A E Baynard) (Starrite BMI)

45-569-B – What is Life To You

(A E Baynard – Glenn Martin) (Starrite BMI)

Billboard reveals that Cousin Arnold is one Arnold E Baynard who was the commercial manager of WTYC, Rock Hills, SC (Summer 56). BB (August 13, 1955) mentions that Arnold and his band are  » … new to the South Carolina area and are doing a weekly half-hour sponsored show over WTYC. They were also doing a weekly bard dance at a lodge in Rock Hill. By November 1955 he was also doing « Day Break In Dixie » which was a 6:00 – 6:30 am segment in addition to his 1:00 – 2:00 over the same radio station. It also mentions he has penned two songs « Be My Love » & « If I Were A Millionaire » which he ‘s trying to get recorded. Did he ever record these? Anyhow, by the summer of 1956, he’d recorded the two tracks above and had them shipped to Starday for a pressing run of 300 copies.

The A side is a jolly old hillbilly song with a banjo as the main instrumental. It’s a bit of a « sermon » rather than an actual song, but pleasant enough I guess. Flip side is a torrid Country / Rock-A-Billy cross over which flies along at a fast pace. Good guitar and steel throughout with that rather annoying banjo threatening to take over at the slightest provocation. Marvelous stuff indeed! (MC)

STARDAY RECORDS 570                                                ARNOLD PARKER and the Southernairs

Cuerco, TX (June 1956)

45-570-A – People Laugh At A Fool570a people Arnold Parker

(A Parker – W Adams) (Starrite BMI)

45-570-B – Find A New Woman570b find

(W Adams – J Hill) (Starrite BMI)

Arnold was born on January 25th 1936 in Cuerco, TX and has been singing since standing up in his local church and belting out a song as a small child. Once Arnold graduated from high school, he became the featured vocalist for a popular dance band called The Southernairs, playing mainly around the south Texas area.

With regards to the record above, I’m gonna let Arnold do the talking – well – writing – which he sent to me by email:

« The musicians on the record were the exact 8 piece band that we had in the 1950s. The intro and the second guitar lead is Ken Williams. The first guitar lead is Jack Hill who actually wrote « Find a New Woman ». We recorded this at ACA Studios in Houston, Texas in 1956. Walter Adams was my so called manager at the time and he set up the recording and handled everything. I don’t remember the exact amount but I know we got quite a few copies to begin with and then went back and got more later. Radio stations in Texas and some in Louisiana played the song and we did perform it live quite a bit on our dance jobs. I also made some trips around to a number of radio stations plugging the record. There were a couple of local stations that conducted a weekly hit parade and the record showed up in the top 10 on those. »

sarg 106A arnold parker One way love

Parker first ever record, 1954

I’ve never heard the A side. But the flip is one of the best, killer Rock-A-Billy records ever pressed on Starday – some achievement when you think they also issued Sonny Fisher, Truitt Forse, Bob Doss and many, many others. Parts of the solo has an almost western-swing – twin guitar feel to it but it’s the biting intro and end part of the solo that gets my heart a-pounding. Arnold’s got one of those voices which can make a plain country record great and effortlessly slip into RaB without almost no effort at all! (His Sarg recordings are also darn good, although not as great as this disc) Billboard described this disc as follows: (17 Nov 56) « A side – Wistful warbling on an appealing weeper » B side –  » Parker sells a bouncy rock and roller with verve and good beat » Understatement of the year! In December of that year, it also mentions that he had joined the deejay staff at KULP, El Campo, TX. Again, in BB, on the 4th August, it mentions the members of the Southernaires.

BB Arnold Parker  4 Aug 56 starday 570

About the same time as the recording, Arnold and the band made their first appearance on the Louisiana Hayride. (He also met Elvis Presley here and discussed Arnolds home-made shirt his mother had made for him.) In February 1957, he met the love of his life – Jeanette Catherine Wendt in El Campo, TX and 3 months later he left the band and got married. The early 60’s finds him in Victoria, TX and he was fronting a band called The Mustangs and recording for Charlie Fitch’s Sarg Records. (He had recorded with the Sarg label before this disc too.) He continued playing until 1973 when he decided to spend more time with his family. But, as the music bug seems to linger in all true musicians, even today he steps up on stage and belts out a country tune and the odd RaB number for the crowd. Arnold also recorded for Wildcat Records.

ALABAMA GOSPEL RECORDS 571 THE TOM HARMON TRIO

(Unknown Location) (June 1956)

(Pno Acc: by Dan Garrett)

45-571-A – I’d Like To Know

(T Harmon) (Starrite BMI)

45-571-B – God’s Miracles

(T Harmon – J T Clark) (Starrite BMI)

Pleasant Gospel Music, spoilt perhaps by the « recorded at home » sound quality of the disc. Who ever the female vocalist is, her voice cuts through everybody else’s efforts.

BIG STATE RECORDS 572 572a tomorrow JACK FROST and his Band

No. 8 Manchester Road, Wichita Falls, KS (July 1956)

45-572-A – There Is No Tomorrow

(Ken Blackridge) (Starrite BMI)

45-572-B – Crying My Heart Out

(Ken Blackridge) (Starrite BMI)

No knowledge about Jack Frost and his Band. Both sides are western swing, like an early Texas Playboys with trumpet, guitar, fiddle – the whole nine yards of western swing sophistication. The B side is the better of the two in my opinion but they are kind of similar so it’s hard to chose on from the other.

MARYLAND RECORDS 573 LUCKY CHAPMAN and the Ozark Mountain Boys (July 1956)  Lucky Chapman

(No Address – Artist based in Frederick, MD)

45-573-A – I’ve Waited So Long

(Lucky Chapman) (Starrite BMI)

45-573-B – Blue Grass 573b blue grass

(John Duffy) (Starrite BMI)

Lucky Chapman came from Frederick, Maryland – moved to Florida in the 1960’s – died around the late 60’s. Other info: The band re-cut the side ‘Bluegrass’ on the Fonotone label, which Joe Bussard owned – it was cut down in Joe’s basement on July 26, 1959 – the flip side being the Bill

Monroe classic ‘Put My Little Shoes Away‘ (Fonotone 617) Lucky Chapman – guitar; Bill Berry* – mandolin; John Duffey – mandolin. The band were working out of WFTR, Royal, VA in 1951, where Frank Esworthy was the bass player. The band consisted of Lucky, Frank (???) & Bill Poffinberger at this time.

(B-573 is an instrumental featuring John Duffy on mandolin. The B side was reissued on STARDAY EP-258.)

The Maryland issue was cut down in Lucky Chapman’s basement – when they received, and listened to the record, they were not happy with the sound – Joe says that Lucky Chapman said that they wished they had cut the sides at Joe’s.

*Paul Chaney, *Bill Berry: They were Bill & Paul The Bluegrass Travelers – who cut an EP on Dixie 981 (Doin’ My Time, Bluegrass Hop, Change Of Heart, Cumberland Valley Special)

Bill Berry was killed over at Brunswick, when coming out of an exit his car was hit by another.

They also cut a record on their own Traveler label: ‘Banjo Stretch’/’Cherished Memories‘ (Traveler 500), cut at Joe Bussard’s Studio.

MISSISSIPPI RECORDS 574HODGES BROTHERS574a rock

Box 101, Osyka, MS (July 1956)

45-574-A – I’m Gonna Rock Some Too

(Ruth Thompson) (Starrite BMI)

45-574-B – Because I Loved You So

(Ruth Thompson) (Starrite BMI)

The Hodges Brothers were one of many old time bluegrass / hillbilly bands that lived in a musical time warp deep in the US south. Rediscovered by Chris Strachwitz of the famed Arhoolie Record Co in 1960, their music still harked back to the twenties and thirties before the great depression.

Originally recording for Lillian McMurray’s Trumpet label, rockabilly fans will be more aware of their gut-kicking monster « Honey Talk » on Whispering Pines 201 from Indianapolis, IN .. But recently, this disc appeared out of nowhere and it knocks that disc into the bleachers. A solid arse kicking country bopper with great guitar work and lovely back-in-the-woods vocals.

All three brothers were born and raised in a small rural settlement called Bogue Chitto, MS. Felix (1923-1979) was the fiddler in the brothers band. Ralph (1927-1976) was the guitar / mandolin player and did most of the singing. James (1932- was the rhythm player. He was still alive in 2003.

STARDAY RECORDS 575 LUCKY WRAY

Washington, DC area

45-575-A – What-Cha Say Honey   575a wray whatcha say honey

(C Davis / J Drew / J Williams) (Action Music BMI)

45-575-B – Got Another Baby 575b got

(L Wray / Cindy Davis) (Starrite BMI)

Another great hillbilly offering (on the A side) and a chugging, almost threatening rocker on the B side. The B side is certainly a musical highlight in anybody’s life. This is the second of 3 45’s they had issued on Starday, leaving the best one ’til last (Starday 608).


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All appreciations from Malcolm Chapman’s blogsite devoted to « Starday Custom series ». Used by permission.

Sounds from various sources, mainly from own collection, « Starday Custom » virtual CDs and YouTube.

Frank Evans & his Top Notchers: Tampa, FL., Hillbilly/Rockabilly/Rock’n’Roll (1955-1959)

Frank (born 1940) was singing as a child on WHBO in Tampa, FL. (According to Frank, the radio station was so small, the signal “ … just barely made it over the tree tops”. He was 15 years old when he cut this, his first recording, at the Burdette Sound Studios in Tampa, backed by the Western Hayriders (who were already an established band by this time & included Pete Howell on lead guitar & Dusty Robbins on steel guitar). Frank plays the banjo on these sides. The A side, « I’m Different » (Starday 540), is a nice uptempo number with Frank soloing on the banjo with nice support from both lead & steel guitar. The flipside is a hillbilly weeper. It’s a great debut from an underrated artist.   540a refait

Soon after, Frank formed his Top Notchers and cut « What That Is (That I’m Too Young To Know » (Starday 567) in the spring of 1956: it’s an uptempo ditty with a bluegrass feel (banjo and fiddle upfront), recorded at the tiny WHBO radio station in Tampa. A brief write-up in the June ’56 issue of Country Song Roundup mentions that « Frank Evans and his B-Bar-B Ranch Hands (the name they used when they appeared on TV in St. Petersburg) have recently returned from Nashville where they appeared on the Grand Ole Opry… » It was actually the Junior Opry they appeared on.

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The Top Notchers’ next release, « Barrel of Heartaches (Bucket Of Tears » (Starday 602), from late ’56, is their most primitive. Colin Thomas’ steel can be heard for the first time, and Arnold Newman’s lead gets in a few licks, but neither the song nor the performance show much inspiration.

The guys got things together for their next record, however. « Pull The Shades Down Ma » (Starday 645), released around June 1957, is Fifties country music of the sheerest excellence. « Now this city’s dwellin’ just ain’t cut out for me… » sings Frank in his most exuberant vocal on record and the band lays down an infectious rhythm that complements the lyrics perfectly. The song is reminiscent of the cool stuff Little Jimmy Dickens was cutting at the time: fun, full-blooded country that was uncompromisingly rural sounding.

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Frank’s next release came only three or four months later. « I’ve Got A Patent (On My Kind Of Love) » (Starday 674) is an uptempo swinger built around a fine « twin guitar » riff from lead and steel (which also gets in a good solo). Like all their records, « I’ve Got A Patent » got little notice except on WHBO. One of the deejays in Tampa who regularly played Frank’s records was Bill Floyd, who recorded the excellent « Hey Boy » for Starday. Local Mack King recorded for Starday as well, and Dixie records Benny Joy was also from the area.

Up to this time, the Top Notchers had pretty much side-stepped rock’n’roll. But in late ’57 or early ’58, Colin Thomas left the band and the guys added a drummer, moving closer to a rockabilly sound. Their final Starday single, « The Ain’t Got Blues » (Starday 719), recorded in the spring of ’58, could be described as low-key rockabilly. Frank’s vocal is not as strong as the previous two releases; nonetheless it’s a good effort. As with Frank’s previous five records, it’s highly probable that only 300 copies were pressed, the standard quantity for Starday customs.

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In early ’59, Frank and a guy named Byron Clark set up a small recording studio and label in Tampa called Nugget (Lonzo & Oscar handling the song publishing). The label issued local rock’n’roll bands. The second Nugget release was the Top Notchers’ last, but they went out blazin’ with « Gotta Get Some Money » (Nugget 1001), a solid rocker with guitar and drums to the fore – you wouldn’t know by listening to it that these guys were purely country just a year or so earlier. Alas, it was the poorest seller of their releases: in 1960, it had sold 132 copies! Disillusioned, Frank sold his rights to Byron Clark. He later appeared weekly on Ernie Lee’s TV show.


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The ticket out of Tampa came from a phone call from Bill Carlisle, who wanted Frank as thumb-guitar player for a tour. It helped establish him with Nashville musicans. He played circa ’62 with Skeeter Davis and Hawkshaw Hawkins. Later he joined ex-Drifting Cowboys Jerry Rivers in a country-folk-bluegrass band, even cutting an album in ’65 for Starday. Next 25 years saw him in Nashville, both as a musician and a businessman, before returning to Tampa, outside of the business completely. He diied in 2000.

Source: article by Andrew Brown in Hillbilly Researcher # 24 (’80s)

Thanks to Udo Frank for label scans. Nugget scan comes from YouTube.

Starday custom series: part 2 (# 526 to 550)(August 1955 to March 1956)

Driftwood 526               KEN ROPE (July 1955)

Soft Spot in My Heart / That Same Old Lie

Untraced

Starday 527                DON PAYNE (August 1955)

Kickaroo / The Game Of Breaking Hearts

Alas, once again I have turned up empty on the info front. Apart from this disc, I’ve seen “Pogo The Hobo” / “Forever” – Starday 150 – on a record list as a $10 rocker – but I’ve not heard it so couldn’t possibly comment. A side is a nice kicking hillbilly tune with a western swing flavour, with nice guitar solo, alongside steel guitar & piano. B side is a weeper with steel guitar & piano to the fore. Andrew Brown states that there was a country singer named Don Payne who was from Austin, Tx. He assumes that Don Payne is the same one who recorded for Starday

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Starday 528 WANDA BALLMAN with Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Mo (August 1955)

Think It Over/ I’m Gonna Keep My Eye On You

I know a little regarding Wanda – she was from Jonesboro, AR and one of her compositions (“I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry”) was recorded by Carl Perkins as a flipside to “Dixiefried” (Sun 249). Oh, and she recorded a few demos at Sun Records. She seems to have been a reasonably prolific songstress as she has had her tunes covered by the likes of Loretta Lynn , Kitty Wells & Charlie Pryde amongst many others. Both sides of this 45rpm are pretty good tonkin’ stuff. and anybody who sings Honky Tonk as “Hawnky Tawnk” will always get my vote. Sadly, Wanda passed away on Sept 21st 2005 at her home in Goodlettsville, TN.

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New Star 529 OTIS PARKER (August 1955

They Don’t Have To Operate (They Just Pull The Zipper)/ False Love Affair

Covington, Georgia

The A side is a fast paced comedy-hillbilly with piano & guitar accomp. B side is a typical country “broken-hearted” song. I found a mention of a record on Holiday 109 by an Otis Parker (« Bugle Call From Heaven » / « Many Times« ) – rev by Billboard on 29th Sept 1951, but I can’t say if it’s the same artist.

Corresponded with Cheryl Parker, the daughter of Otis.(2009) Here’s her story ….Before I answer your questions, let me provide you with a little history. My father and mother divorced when I was 12 years old after 25 happy/unhappy years together. There were 8 children, I am next to the youngest (I am 51). My father was the typical country music person……. »sacrifice everything for the love of it ». He knew everyone who was anybody in the late 40s and early 50s. He worked behind the scenes at the Grand Ole Opry back before the people who sang there made the big bucks they make today. Many of them visited our home after the shows, were over to eat and drink. Jim Reeves was a frequent visitor and friend (through their mutual work in radio)……..he held my sister on his lap and sang « Roly Poly » to her. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were good friends of my father (my other sister remembers having the biggest crush on Scruggs, she said she would sit at his feet and stare at him……she was only about 4 at the time)…….as was Tex Ritter. He was at my fathers home in Reno not long before he (Tex) died. My parents went through alot together and loved each other………they just couldn’t live together. My father remarried, my mother never did.

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I didn’t see my father from the time I was 12 until I turned 25 when I heard he was back in Tennessee and that he was ill. Two of my brothers and I made the trip to see him. We visited with him for a few days and then the next time I saw him was at his funeral. My father was a talented man………just not good at being a father. Sounds like a country song doesn’t it? I don’t hold it against him though…….none of us are perfect.

My mother had several of his recordings but in 1972 someone broke into our home and trashed it, shattering all of his records « for fun »………I guess. I have no idea if any of them survive anywhere else. One that he did stands out in my mind because it was so beautiful……..it was called « This Is My Life »…….I haven’t heard it since I was a child, but I still remember the tune and some of the words. It turned out to be the story of his life as it went….it was about being gone and forgotten What a shame that I don’t know if a copy exists somewhere.

I do have a couple of 45s that he gave me when I visited him……….he recorded them under the name of Jimmy Parker……..the name he went by later in life. His full name was James Otis Parker.

I just wanted to share this info with you so that you would understand why I don’t have many photos of him……..or know much about his life as a whole.

Just a little trivia………..he spoke fluent Spanish, was self taught on the piano and guitar, taught college courses for a time, and…..he stuttered. Not all the time……..just when he got excited or upset….then he stuttered badly.

Even though I didn’t get to spend the time I would have liked with my father, I am proud of his talent …………he just had to dream……..which isn’t entirely bad.

I am glad that something of what he did remains………….I am sure that more of his music is out there somewhere, I just don’t know where………or how to find it. I guess I will have to treasure what I have. I am sure you probably know that the « Zipper » song is on a CD being sold on Amazon. It’s on there with other songs by other artists of the era and was released by Jasmine Music out of the UK. I contacted them about it and was informed of the « public domain » law……..which I was already aware of. My father didn’t protect what he created. It may be the law………but it doesn’t make it right.

Anyway………..on to your questions……………………

Where and when was Otis born?

He was born on March 19, 1920 in Brush Creek, TN He was the son of a tobacco farmer. His mother died when he was young but his father outlived him by several years.

Can you remember the bands he played in?

Unfortunately, I do not know of any bands, other than one he lead in the 1970s. My father did mostly solo work.

Was he ever on TV and radio performing in the 50’s?

I don’t know if he was ever on tv (I know he was later in life in Reno) but he worked for the Grand Ole Opry in the late 40’s. And he also co-owned a radio station with Grandpa Jones and worked for several radio stations. It was while working in the radio station field that he made most of his recordings.

Can you remember who was in his band?

No, sorry. Other than the one in later years, I have no info.

Where was the disc recorded and when?

My older sister seems to remember that the « Zipper » song was recorded while they lived in Beaumont, Tx. (before I was born) They lived in several places…..Nashville, Athens, TN, Athens, Ga, Rome Ga,, Atlanta, Ga., Beaumont, Tx. and Mobile, Al (where I was born)

Can you remember how many copies were pressed?

I have no idea how many copies were made of the recording. Nor any of the many others he did. Zipper was not the only song he wrote and recorded.

Who paid for the recording and the record?

I would imagine my father did. He might have had some backing but I believe most of the money would have been his.

What did he do after the record musically? Was he still performing?

My father was what some call « a jack of all trades »…. and he was full of « wander lust »…he worked for many years in the music industry and then decided he wanted to see the world so he became a chef and joined the merchant marines and traveled the world for several years before going back into the business in the late 60’s/early 70s. His life WAS a country song……….full of drama, pain, sadness. In later years he went by Jimmy…….a nickname for James, his real first name……..Otis was his middle name.

When and where did he pass away?

He passed away on November 28, 1984 in Carthage, TN which is about 60 miles east of Nashville. He is buried in a cemetery on a hill with Tennessee hills all around. At his funeral they played one of his songs « Will There Still Be Country Music », it’s about dying and wondering if there would be country music in Heaven and would he have a place there. It was a fitting song.

I thank you for your interest in my father………..he would have been impressed that his music was still interesting to someone.

Cheryl Parker

Gee, not often do I get to add more than a few lines on any artist listed here.

Starday 530 THE MUSICAL-AIRES (September 1955)

Hop-a-Long Sister Mary / Wildcat Boogie

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The Musical-Aires were Rich Mauney, Carol Dills & Jim Waller. “Hop-A-Long Sister Mary” was also issued as “Skip Along Guitar” on STARDAY ep-258. It was then subsequently issued on STARDAY LP 176 as “Skip Along” and credited to TOMMY HILL. Both sides are nice country / hillbilly guitar led instrumentals. Reminds me of early Chet Atkins.

Starday 531 JOHNNY SUTHERLAND (October 1955)    531a refait

We’ll Have A Time, Yes Siree / I’m in Love

Two fine uptempo fiddle-led hillbilly sides with a fine band backing Sutherland’s slightly flat vocals. It has been suggested that this recording came from the Gulf Coast part of Texas. He had in the early fifties an issue on John Erikson’ Talent 777 . I’m kinda curious to find out what doing the “Willy-Wuck-Wick” means as mentioned on the A side, but perhaps it’s better that I don’t know at my age.

Georgia 532 CLYDE BEAVERS (October 1955)

I Won’t Always Love You / My Baby Is Gone

Tennga, Georgia

The Starday Custom series continues with it’s apparent love of naming a record label after the state that the recording was from. Perhaps it was a coincidence that each artist chose this, or Starday suggested it to them. Anyhow, compared to many artists in this listing, there’s info I can mention on this artist. Clyde was born in Tennga, GA on the 8th June, 1932 and was a DJ on WJAT from Swainsboro, GA. As a young boy, Clyde Beavers never let anyone know that he wanted to be singer, and he has stated « his biggest thrill as a recording artist was meeting people » Both sides are pleasant hillbilly with perhaps the B side being the better of the two, although for me, the accordian solo spoils what could’ve been a better disc. He also recorded “The Black Knee Socks” / “Susie Darlin” – WONDER 105 & “Crying For My Baby” / “ The Man In The Glass” – MERCURY 71185 amongst others. Wonder Records was from Atlanta, GA and was owned by Bill Lowery. Clyde also formed KA$H RECORDS with Tom Reeder in Nashville during February 1963. His entertainment experience included WCGA – Calhoun, Ga. (1957), WBRO – Waynesboro, Ga. – (1959) and WENO in Nashville besides playing clubs and appearing US Military bases throughout the States. There’s a huge amount of info on Clyde in Billboard magazines, but it’s all from the 60’s and, at this time, I’m not sure if there is more than one artist of that name.

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Indiana 533 ROY FISHER (November 1955)

Just Suppose / I’ve Got A Feeling

Michigan City, Indiana

Well, I may well have a label shot, but as yet I haven’t heard this disc. (Oct. 16th, 2012. Yup, thanks HillbillyBoogie1 – Youtube – « I’ve Got A Feeling » is a good bopper, fine lead guitar) As for the artist – once again I have as much info as a UK bank manager has integrity. There was a Roy Fisher who recorded for the New England record label in 1961 (« Pool Stick Window » /  » Moon Powers » – #1004) which could be the same guy, but I’m clutching at straws here really. (New England was out of Houston, TX circa 1961/2 and owned by Dan R Andrade.)  533a refait533b refait

Moonlight 534 CARL TANNER (November 1955)

Sweet Talkin’ Baby / What Makes The Blues

Waycross, Georgia

Another pleasant hillbilly disc which kinda borders on a rockabilly feel, especially with the lovely guitar solo on the A side, but he struggles vocally with the slower tempo of the flip. Carl was a semi-regular presence on the « Peach State Jamboree » on WJAT from 8:15pm ’til Midnight and MC’d by Johnnie Bailes. He has another release on this label coming up later (# 568)

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Starday 535 JOE GIBSON (December 1955)

Puttin’ On The Dog / Oh Brother

On the 3rd December 1955, Billboard mentions a Joe Gibson who was still fronting the Georgia Peach Pickers for Curley Williams, having his first record released on Starday so I’m presuming this is the same guy. I can’t say more than that at present. The A side is a tough, Texas infectious rhythm shuffler with a nice guitar & steel guitar solos. The B side is pleasant uptempo hillbilly with a honky tonk piano, fiddle and steel guitar all taking small solos.

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Starday 536 LEO OGLETREE (December 1955)

Crooked Dice / You Done Got Me

Lee was from Tucson, AZ where this disc was recorded. He also worked at WGAC out of Augusta, GA for a spell. The A side is a mid paced hillbilly bopper with Lee boasting of his dice rolling prowess (although by the end of the song he gets caught with dice up his sleeve). This side was penned by Jimmie O’Neal (see COAST 500) and Johnny Tyler, who performed over WGST in Atlanta, GA in 1954 and also recorded for Starday (main series) and for O’Neals’ Rural Rhythm label. Flipside is more of the same, penned by the great Eddie Noack. Nothing on WM Minor either. This sounds like a Texas recording to me. The steel player is Hal Rugg.

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Lucas 537 FRANCIS RODGERS (December 1955)

Jolly Old Fellow / Oh Gee – Oh Gosh – Oh Golly

Never seen or heard this disc. I presume Ray Lucas owned the label (or at least paid for it.)

Starday 538 TOMMY CASTLE (January 1956)

Wanderlust / I’ve Done More Accidentally

Possibly one of the great unknown Rock-A-Billy discs in the Starday Custom catalogue. Jack Rhodes (more on him later on Starday 560/561) had set up a small recording / demo studio at the back of a hotel he owned in Mineola, TX where artists could come along and record demos, especially ones that Jack had written. The unknown Tommy Castle probably cut this Rhodes-penned disc at the hotel with (possibly) Freddy Franks (bs) and Al Petty (steel guitar) and an unknown guitar player who hops all over the disc like a man possessed.   538a refait

The A side is a great shuffling, two-chord ditty with Tommy claiming to suffer from “Wanderlust” – an inability to settle down in one place. This song that could’ve gone onto greater things if picked up by a seasoned country star (Hank Williams, had he lived long enough would have been a good bet), or perhaps even Luke McDaniels. The flipside is a great bopper with a super, finger-picked guitar solo (he also cuts loose whilst Tommy is singing to; almost threatening to take over on occasions). This side was co-written by Freddy Franks. A fantastic 45rpm! According to Tom Lincoln, Castle is Tommy Cassel (of Cassel Records), although at least one other collector says they are two different artists.

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Big State 539 ROY ROBINSON (January 1956)

I Told It To Jesus / Little Romeo

This disc was issued twice. The first release is vocal with accoustic guitar accompaniment. The second release is vocal with guitar, steel guitar, bass and fiddle accompaniment. The only means to distinguish between the two releases is that the second issue has the letters RE in the dead wax / run off after the A & B designation. In a way, I think I prefer the accoustic version, especially the religious A side (gospel, in my mind, should always be sparse in instrumentation). Flipside is a happy little ditty about a young (some say very young) “Don Juan” who chats up the girlies with the aid of candy bars and bubble gum. Kinda cute. This disc would have perhaps made a good demo, though I’ve yet to discover if anybody covered it. Perhaps that’s why he rerecorded it with a full hillbilly band and reissued it a few months later. The gospel track loses something with the band behind him but the B side comes off better with instrumentation. I drew a blank on Roys’ identity – a familiar story where these artists are concerned. I did find an artist with the same name on TRC (Texas Record Company) with songs entitled « Blood Weed » / « In Your Arms » – TRC 8457 – which was reviewed by Billboard on 15th Sept 1962, but I have no clue as to if it’s the same guy. Both of these sides were published by Glad Music which is a tenuous link.

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Starday 540 FRANK EVANS and the Western Hayriders (January 1956)

I’m Different / Another Love Like You

Tampa, Florida

Frank was singing as a child on WHBO in Tampa, FL. (According to Frank, the radio station was so small, the signal “ … just barely made it over the tree tops”.) He was 15 years old when he cut this, his first recording, at the Burdette Sound Studios in Tampa, backed by the Western Hayriders (who were already an established band by this time & included Pete Howell on lead guitar & Dusty Robbins on steel guitar). Frank plays the banjo on these sides. The A side is a nice uptempo number with Frank soloing on the banjo with nice support from both lead & steel guitar. The flipside is a hillbilly weeper. It’s a great debut from an underrated artist. Soon after, Frank formed his Top Notchers (more on them later on Starday 567).

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Starday 541 JACK MORRIS (January 1956)   jack Morris

My Pony Wants To Go / Cooing On The Wrong Pigeon

A great West coast swinger from Morris and his band which (to my ears) sounds like it included Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. The A side is a fast-paced hillbilly bopper with clever, humourous lyrics – the type of song I could imagine Tennessee Ernie Ford covering with great aplomb. 541-B was picked up and recorded by Merrill E Moore on Capitol Records 3311. Jack also turns up on Sage Records from Hollywood, CA (“White Line” / “Stop Teasing me” – SAGE 228, “”Four Wheeled Bungalow” / “Glad I’m Looking Back On You” – SAGE 232)

Starday 542 HOYT SCOGGINS and the Saturday Nite Jamboree Boys (February 1956)

What’s Gonna Happen To This Old World / Kneel Down With Jesus

The second disc by Hoyt bemoaning the state of the world as it turns its back on God.. Nice accompaniment by lead guitar, banjo, fiddle & dobro. Not heard the B side as yet. No label shots either.

Rondo 543 HAROLD SMITH with Slim Green & the Trailriders and Danny Clark (February 1956)

Waiting For Someone / Listen To Me Baby

Savannah, Georgia

Nothing on Harold Smith at present. The slow A side is another tale of a broken heart with some nice & simple steel guitar through the solo, accompanied by a competent piano player. Flip is a fast “call-and-response” disc which reminds me of a typical early hillbilly disc from Fortune Records (Detroit, MI). Great boogie piano throughout with nice fiddle, steel & guitar breaks. On the label, it states « A DC-HS Production », which is Danny Clark and Harold Smith.

Hoyt’s 544 RANSOM GOSPEL SINGERS (March 1956)

I’ll Tell It / I’ll Make It Home Someday

Yet another in a long line of Starday Custom discs I haven’t seen, heard, or know nothing about.

Sage 545 DON REDFIELD and The Sage Dusters (March 1956)

I Can’t Go Back / Montana Waltz

Thanks to Al Turner who not only managed to hear the record, but he also found a snippet on the artist in a Country Music Round-Up magazine. I’ll quote it here in full. “Young Don Redfield’s background is about as unusual as the come for folks in the country music field. For Don is a native of Boston, MA and began his musical career by studying classical violin for four years. All this changed however when he moved out to Montana in 1945. There, he traded two rabbits and six phonograph records for his first guitar, and has stuck with that instrument ever since. In high school Don organized his first dance orchestra known as the Tune Timers. While attending Rocky Mountain College, he rounded up a vocal trio known as the “Three Bears,” which appeared on a series of radio programs in Billings. This group was so well received that in no time at all they become greatly in demand for personal appearances throughout the Billings area. In the winter of 1952, Don carried two half-hour broadcasts from the Amvets in Billings and had two fifteen minute shows a week on KOOK. At present, he’s keeping quite busy by participating in an occasional stage show, playing over KMON in Great falls and teaching guitar.”

All that besides, “Montana Waltz” is exactly as it says on the label – a waltz. He’s got a pleasant voice but the recordings are slightly muddy, which is a shame really. “I Can’t Go Back” is taken at a fast clip with fine instrumental support from fiddle, steel guitar & lead guitar. The sound is more muffled here than the slow B side; not so much that it spoils the disc but enough to detract from what is a fairly decent record, especially the nice Chet Atkins / Ronnie Durbin guitar solo.

Hoyt’s 546 WALTER PONDER, Jr. (March 1956)

I Had A Chance / Carry On

A nice piano led gospel-type number, sung with feeling (as almost all gospel records are). Both sides are slightly similar to each other and that’s a good thing cos it’s a great record. I found a Walter Ponder Jr listed on the net as having a CD release in 2001 where he sings 14 gospel songs. The brief bio says he was a two time winner of a contest at the Apollo Theatre in NYC (no dates). He also had his own TV show in Jacksonville, FL and has been singing since the age of four. He also had his own prison ministry and apparently received high recognition for his rendition of the National Anthem. He was last heard of running & organizing « Thunderbolt Ministrys » out of Jacksonville.

Starday 547 MACK KING with the Western Hayriders (March 1956)

This Is Your Life / No Wings – No Halo

This is the same Mack King who also appears on Nugget Records (“No Special Reason” / “You Better Get Going” – NUGGET 1004), and is also backed by the the Western Hayriders (who also backed Frank Evans -who also appears on Nugget). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves as Nugget 1004 was pressed in 1958. By the time Starday 547 was issued, Mack had served in military and was at this time, located in Tampa, FL. Mack also played 3 shows supporting Elvis Presley in Tampa. For some reason they issued this 45rpm with Starday matrix numbers instead of the usual A/B prefix. Anyhow, The A side is a nice country ballad. The flip is a mid-paced hillbilly/country swinger with fine guitar and steel guitar support. Mack’s got a nice voice for this kinda stuff; melodic but slightly lazy vocals. Cool stuff!

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Gulf Coast 548           TOMMY TOLLESON and the Western Playboys from Palacios, Texas (March 1956)

Warm Spring Waltz / Think Of Me

Palcios, Texas

Tommie was born on the 5th July 1936 – one of six children. Blind from an early age, he attended the Texas State School for the Blind (although Tommie could differentiate between day and night but not much more) which could boast other such luminaries as Leon Payne & Hub Sutter. Learning not only how to play but to tune a piano, he formed the Western Playboys to perform in bars when he was home from the school. Aged 19, this is his first record release – 300 copies pressed and another 100 shipped out to DJ’s , Radio Stations etc – the standard Starday Custom deal. « Warm Springs Waltz » was dedicated to the Warm Springs Foundation which was a cure centre. He was 22 when he graduated from the school and returned to Palacious, TX where he took up music pretty much full time. He recorded for Dan Menchuras’ KOOL label before operating his own record label – Gulfcoast Records – where he released polkas, waltzes, boogie woogie and the torrid rocker “Carla Blues” (Gulfcoast 101). He died April 23rd 1997. “Think Of Me” is a ballad whilst the flip has a cajun/waltz feel. Not as torrid as « Carla Blues » or « A Gal Named Sue », but nevertheless a nice little tune.

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Rambler 549 CURLEY MONEY and the Rolling Ramblers

(March 1956) Playing The Game / Why must I Cry

Unlike many of the artists in the Starday Custom series, Curley was quite a prolific artist, though this seems to be his only Starday pressing. Curley was born Robert Earnest Money in Halesburg, Alabama in March 1925. He moved to Columbus in 1942 and passed away in 2003. Quite a few of his Rambler Record releases were pressed by RCA. The A side is a nice country bouncer, with guitar, steel guitar and sawing fiddles. Flip is a waltzy-little number.

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Curley Money & Rolling Ramblers


L & C 550           LUKE GORDON acc by C. Smith and the Tennessee Hayriders (March 1956)

Goin’ Crazy / Married Life

Washington, D.C.

550 Luke Gordon BB 7 Apr 56

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 550 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 (see his story elsewhere in the site).   550a refait

Married Life” is a Luke The Drifter type monologue 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. “Goin’ Crazy” is a nice shuffling country ditty, supported by a fine lead guitarist.

All appreciations do come from excellent Malcolm Chapman’s site: Starday Custom. Visit him!