Cat music: the roots of rockabilly – What does mean « cat » ?

‘Cat’ has been used as a term in popular music since the Jazz years of the 1920’s. Revered by the ancient Egyptians, cats have a mystique and grace all over their own – no wonder these independent and mysterious animals became such a byword for ‘Cool’ in music from Hep Cats, jazz be-boppers of the ‘40s, and right through into 1950’s Rock’n’Roll.

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early October 2010 fortnight

hank garland pic

Hank Garland

Howdy, folks! We start this fortnight with a stalwart version of the classic Honky Tonk « I’m Moving On » (Decca)  by the great HANK « Sugarfoot » GARLAND (1930-2004). He appeared at 19 on RED FOLEY records, and never gave up backing on thousands sides cut in Nashville. Fine Tommy Jackson fiddle backing, and a short but brilliant guitar solo.

Then I go on with JIMMY MYERS and an unissued tune for the Super label out of Georgia, « Go Cat Go » (recently published on an European anthology). I wonder if this is the same as the one JIM MYERS who cut marvelous sides for the FORTUNE label in Detroit (the frantic « Drunkman’s Wiggle » for example). Here it is raw, crude Rockabilly…

Leiber/Stoller’s « Hound Dog » (Willie « Big Mama » Thornton, 1952) was an enormous hit, and no one could know how many Country versions were made of. This time I chose the humorous version on King by CHARLIE GORE and LOUIS INNIS, « (You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Female) Hound Dog« , both artists I’d like very much set the story up in future articles.

innis

BB 11 mars 50 L.W.Evans London

Billboard March 11, 1950

Already a Country star, both under his own name, and as harmonica player for the DELMORE BROTHERS, WAYNE RANEY had many sides on KING. He also had sides on London under the disguise of LITTLE WILLIE EVANS, hence « Lonesome Railroad Blues« , in 1950.

One of the highlights of the regular Starday label: LONNIE SMITHSON for his double-sider « Me And The Blues« / »It Takes Time » (# 330) from 1957. Fine lead guitar and a firm vocal. Nothing is known about Smithson, who had another Starday disc, « Quarter in The Jukebox« , in 1958.   lonnie smithson Starday 330

RUDY THACKER, a Kentucky guitar player, appeared on the Cincinnati, OH, Lucky label (with his String Busters). Here we have an instrumental (a rare opportunity in Bopping…), the romping « Guitar boogie Shuffle« .

Finally a Rocking Blues by ROBERT NIGHTHAW. 1964, Chicago, Chess label. Backed by Buddy Guy on guitar and Walter Horton on harmonica, he delivers a very nice « Someday« .

Hope you enjoy the selections. Comments welcome! Till then, bye-bye…

Riley Crabtree, star of the Big « D » Jamboree (1949-1959)

RILEY CRABTREE     Riley Crabtree portrait

Riley was born on his parents’ farm in Mount Pleasant, Texas, in 1912 as the youngest of eight brothers and sisters. At age two, he contracted infantile paralysis (polyo), so he depended on crutches for the rest of his life. Perhaps this handicap forced him to make a career in country music. His bluesy voice is genuine and comes from the heart. The life he lived is reflected in his songs, as he had a lot in common with his idol Hank Williams.

mount pleasant

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