Earl Songer was born in 1915 (nearly a century ago..) in Ruth, W. Va. His father was a miner, and none in his family was interested in music, but at an early age Songer became hooked to guitar and harmonica. As a fan of Bill Cox, he developped a one-man band formula.
Later on in the late ’30s, he secured employment with the Ford Motor Co. In Detroit, Michigan. Never playing professionnally, he nevertheless found opportunities to entertain friends at parties and local functions. It was on such an occasion (a party given by Ford Motors) that he met Joyce (rn Miami Florida) Goode (born in 1924 in Polk Cty, Tennessee), herself being a guitarist : she was so impressed by Songer’s one-man show, that they became close friends. She had been listening closely to Grand Ole Opry and particularly Bill Monroe‘s « Mule skinner blues », so to mastering the instrument.
Earl and Joyce maintained their friendship during his war service and were married in 1945. Settling down in a Detroit suburb, Dearborn, Earl returned to work at Ford while they continued to develop their music, at first for their own pleasure, and gradually more seriously. The professionnal name « Joyce » was chosen for their first 1949 record for Fortune (# 129). They organized their band, the Rocky Road Ramblers. Joyce’s brother Chester played bass, and remained the most consistent member during the five following years.
« The fire in my heart » is intense, with the lifting intro provided by two guitars and great vocal harmonising; this was covered later by Mac Wiseman. The reverse side « Honky tonkin’ blues », an original composition, has a fiddle solo taken by Elton Adams. « Fox chase », second record (# 131), may be boring, as everybody has heard it but once. « Will there be any flowers on your grave », a gospel tune, finds Songer playing harmonica on a rack together with his rhythm guitar, a rare occasion heard although he regularly performed live in this format.
« The fire in my heart«
« Honky tonkin’ blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/03-Honky-Tonkin-Blues.mp3download
« Whose naughty baby are you?« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/05-Whose-Naughty-Baby-Are-You.mp3download
Mid 1950 and the third session: a proficient mandolin player, either Bobby Sykes (part of the band in 1953-54) or Ray Taylor, who often sat with them. The latter of course recorded for Clix in the late ’50s (see elsewhere in the site). The amplified mandolin is heard to excellent effect on « Who’s naughty baby are you ? » (# 144), which combine with the boogie guitar provided by Joyce.
More of that session saw « My wife, and sweetheart too » (# 141). It may look a sentimental song, but it turns out that Earl Songer is singing about two persons ; and the only answer is « to build a cottage for them both, with the rose ’round the door ». Fine solos from mandolin and guitar. The mandolin sets the pace for the frantic « Mother-in-law boogie » (# 141). Amusing lyrics, and, although not being a hillbilly boogie stricto sensu, it could well be the fastest piece of its type ever recorded, highlighted by Chester Goode’s slapping bass solo. « Mother-in-law boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/10-Mother-In-Law-Boogie.mp3download
Possibly from the previous session, but without the mandolin, « Spanish fire bells » (# 144) is a joy to hear – a subtle piece of guitar artistry: a friend of Joyce had introduced her to a Chet Atkins piece that impressed her. Elton Adams returns with two fiddle solos, the second one being plucked to sound like a banjo. Also important: the event of a light double-time strumming of the rhythm guitar, which sounds as if there were a third guitar playing the bass runs.
On the next recording date, they chose to bring Walter Atkins (a neighbor) on harmonica. « I won’t confess I’m sorry » (# 155) quite reminiscent of Wayne Raney on his earlier sides (who copied who?) « In a broken heart no love is found » (# 151) finds Earl Songer in good voice, while Bill Monroe‘s « In the pines » is recalled as Joyce joins to duet on « Someone to call my own » (# 155).
Elton Adams returns at his best on a mid-1951 session on which Joyce’s guitar is amplified effectively to a full sound. The guitar and the fiddle basically duet together on the hilarious « Dissatisfied » (# 160), which paints a doomsday scenario when women take over the world. Earl tells us of a day where there will be « a mayor lady in every town » and « women policing the streets« . Worst of all is the prospect of « having to obey to your mother-in-law« . The actual title doesn’t appear until the last line and « I guess they’ll always be dissatisfied » seems to infer that such events will never actually happen.
« Dissatisfied« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/15-Dissatisfied.mp3download
A November 17th, 1951 date for Coral (recorded in New York or Chicago) saw « We’re satisfied » (# 64127), unusual for string effects, and the vibrant, boogie instrumentally « Smiling through the years« . With the same opportunity they recorded late 1952 another session for Coral: best tunes were the fine « Sansoo » (# 64149) and « Too free with your love » (# 64167), same style as on Fortune.
« We’re satisfied« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/coral-64127-Earl-Joyce-Songer-Were-Satisfied-1952.mp3download
« Sansoo« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Coral-64149A-Earl-Songer-Sansoo.mp3download
Finally relocated in Dallas, Texas, on May 16th, 1954 (the very same day that Gene Henslee cut « Rockin’ baby« ), they recorded four tracks for Imperial, whose best is the fast « Whoopie baby » (8259). Joyce played steel guitar on them, and sang « It’s a cold, cold love« . « I want your love » (8292) is a fine part-time duet bopper.
« Whoopie baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Earl-Songer-Whoopie-baby.mp3download
Sad reality: they parted ways and divorced in 1955. Personal and professional problems caused Earl’s increasingly frequent bouts of excessive drinking and Joyce to feel that their career was set back and opportunities were lost because of his unreliability. After the break of the band, Earl got into real estate and car sales and unfortunately dropped out of music. He moved to Charleston, W. Va. in 1969-70 and passed away in 1972. Joyce teamed up with Rufus Shoffner, a popular local artist who also recorded (« It always happens to me« , Hi-Q, 1962, or « Orbit twist » (American Artist, 1962). She formed a new band similar to those she had organized with Earl, further records followed and she was in demand to many a country, bluegrass, or rock’n'roll session during the later half of the ’50s and early 60s.
It has to be noted that, as far as I know, Earl Songer wrote all his songs.
Freely adapted from Dave Sax’s notes to « Earl & Joyce Songer & the Rocky Road Ramblers – early Country from Detroit vol. 1″ on Old Homestead LP 338 (1991). Never seen a volume 2, supposing gathering the rest of the Earl Songer sides. Thanks to Craig Maki for his help with several Fortune label scans.
I try to be complete with music presented. If you wish some more tracks, please let me know which ones and I’ll try to satisfy.
Addition (Jan. 22nd, 2015). Craig Maki points out that mandolin player Bobby Sykes is not the singer Bob Sykes, and that a second volume of Earl & Joyce Songer sides was published but only on cassette.
Tom Beamon Forse, « You better go now » on Rodney 514 (Starday custom), 1954-55 : great rockabilly guitar led, slap bass bopper featuring Beamon on vocals, his brother Ted on lead guitar, JT “Tiny” Smith on bass, Charlie Craddock on steel guitar and a unknown piano player. Born Beamon Tom Forse on 4th December 1934 in San Augustine, TX, he had a radio show with his brother Ted at KTXJ (Jaspar, TX) and he knew George Jones since he was a child.This disc was cut at Gold Star Studios, Houston TX., and it was inspired by hearing Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right Mama” being played over the radio. Flipside is an equally good medium paced bopper « The rest of my life ». The disc was financed by Rodney Spaford (hence the label name I guess) who was a rich guy from Sabine, TX.
« You better go now« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Beamon-Forse-You-Better-Go-Now-.mp3download
« The rest of my life« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Beamon-Forse-The-Rest-Of-My-Life25-.mp3download
Beamon moved to California after this release, and he recorded as Tom Forse on Rich-Vein Records (owned by Terry Fell) : « I’m gonna tell your conscience on you » and « They call you a small fry » are superlative 1955-56 medium boppers. Beamon/Tom on vocal, Eddie Cochran on rhythm guitar, Connie « Guybo » Smith on bass and Ralph Mooney on steel. Beamon also booked top acts on the west coast and wrote songs for Terry Fell, who would pay him cash for them. Beamon died in 2004. Tom and Truitt Forse were cousins.
« I’m gonna tell your conscience on you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/rich-vein-101-Tom-Forse-Im-gonna-tell-my-conscience-on-you.mp3download
« They call you a small fry »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/rich-vein-101-tom-forse-they-call-me-a-small-fry.mp3download
Eddie Cochran, « Cradle baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Liberty-eddie-cochran-cradle-baby-.mp3download
Then Eddie Cochran revamping Tom Forse’s « They call me a small fry » on Liberty LRP 3060 « Singing to my baby » as « Cradle baby », a pop rocker from mid-1957.
Finally both tracks of Johnny Vincent‘s Ace 528 (June 1957) by Mercy Baby (rn. Jimmy Mullins). He was a drummer/singer for Frankie Lee Sims ; actually Sims handles the lead guitar duties on the haunting « Marked deck » and the energetic « Rock and roll baby ».
« Marked deck« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ace-528-mercy-baby-marked-deck.mp3download
« Rock and roll baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ace-528-mercy-baby-rock-and-roll-baby.mp3download
Sources: Malcolm Chapman’s « Starday custom site »; 45rpm.com for Mercy Baby sides. Have a Bopping New Year!
For this last 2014 fortnight, I’m lacking time and imagination so I’ve chosen several particular records. We begin listening to BILL HICKS and the Southerners on Fortune 188 (from 1956) for two well driven rockabillies/boppers « She’s done gone » (slow) and « Blue flame » (fast).
« She’s done gone »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Bill-Hicks-Shes-Done-Gone.mp3download
« Blue flame »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Fortune-188-Bill-Hicks-Blue-Flame-.mp3download
A real rarity now on the Family Library 1021 label : it’s GENE LAVERNE and what I think is an original « Hot rod mama » on a 6-track 78rpm record.
« Hot rod mama« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/family-libraey-1021-gene-Laverne-Hot-Rod-Mama-Gene-Laverne.mp3download
The following artist has a long recording story behind him : he can be found as early as 1951 on Blue Bonnet, as part of the Texas Round-Up Gang. Later, DEWEY GROOM went to Mercury, then founded early ’60s his own Longhorn label, where he cut among other tunes « Butane blues » (# 517). I didn’t verify if this is the same track as Gene O’Quin‘s one.
« Butane blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/longhorn-517-Dewey-Groom-Butane-Blues.mp3download
Surprising Bluegrass music from Texas by PAUL HUFFMAN and « T-e-x-a-s » on the Abilene Winston (# 1034) label : nice banjo led.
Back to Louisville, Kentucky and the Pier-Wats label (# 1200), and the fast bopper (nice fiddle and steel) by F. EDDY PIERCE, « Your kisses don’t thrill me anymore ».
Finally GENE DAVIS, who meddled almost at any style of music since his beginnings in 1954 on the West coast : hillbilly, rockabilly (as « Bo Davis » on Crest), rock’n'roll (on R-Dell), finally back to Country on various labels. I’ve chosen both sides of his solitary TOPPA ’61 record (# 1110). « When he let’s her forget »[sic] and « I won’t care » are top notch California country-rockaballads (sublime Ralph Mooney on steel).
Paul Huffman « T-e-x-a-s« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/winston-1034-Paul-Huffman-T-E-X-A-S-Winston-1034-1.mp3download
F. Eddy Pierce « Your kisses don’t thrill me anymore« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/pier-watts-1300B-F.-Eddy-Pierce-Your-Kisses-Dont-Thrill-Me-Anymore-1956.mp3download
Gene Davis « When he let’s her forget« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Gene-Davis-When-he-lets-her-forget.mp3download
Gene Davis « I won’t care« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/I-Wont-Care-Gene-Davis.mp3download
As usual, various sources : ebay, YouTube, my virtual collection. Have a Bopping Christmas !
From the Hillbilly Researcher # 13 (late 90s)
Allan Turner. Additions by Bopping’s editor
Nothing is ever as simple as it would appear, take for example the Harrington, Delaware based BLUE HEN label. Just another independant concern would be a fair description of this particular outfit, albeit with one or two above average offerings on the label from the likes of Mel Price and Lanie Walker.
BLUE HEN was owned, according to Galen Gart’s A.R.L.D., by one Sam Short, Jr ., ably assisted by A&R man Hugh Lee Stevenson. That, and the fact that the company was located on Center Street in Harrington, is the sum total of our knowledge of the label.
Over the 6 years or so that BLUE HEN was active the company ran at least three different numerical series. There was a rather obscure 3000 series, which appears to have been the earliest ; the regular 200 series, which was the « main series » ; and an odd ball 500 series (two issues). However, it is neither the 3000 or 500 series which concern us here, but the 200 « main series ».
The first release was Betty Coral‘s « Chili dippin’ baby » (# 200), backed by Raymond McCollister. He had the same number on the Raymor label, also the flipside « Texarkana waltz ». Many master numbers were prefixed RM: does it mean McCollister was involved in Blue Hen?
« Chili dippin’ baby » was very popular : it was covered by Vernon Way on the Hillbilly All Star label, and in a more Rockabilly way by Joyce Pointer on Goldenrod Records.
Betty Coral « Chili dippin’ baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-200-Betty-Corral-Chilli-Dippin-Baby.mp3download
As for the artists who recorded for BLUE HEN were fairly obscure regional acts, altough the label did record a number of relatively well known artists. Billy Wallace, for example, probably better known as a songwriter than a singer, had a release on the label : # 210, « You can’t ride on my train ».
Billy Wallace « You can’t ride on my train« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/blue-hen-210-You-Cant-Ride-On-My-Train.mp3download
Donn Reynolds « Don’t tell me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/05-207-Donn-Reynolds-Dont-Tell-Me.mp3download
Billy Wallace « I still love you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/12-210-billy-wallace-I-Still-Love-You.mp3download
Donn Reynolds, who made something of a name for himself as a yodeling cowboy out on the East coast, also turned up on the label (# 207, « Don’t tell me ») before moving to London, England, to work for Radio Luxembourg ! Tommy Lloyd and his Strolling Cowboys, an outfit who certainly lived up to their name, having played virtually everywhere in the U.S.A. (#204 « Now I know why »), and local lad Tex Daniels (#206 « Give your heart a chance », among three or four more releases, note « Blue hen boogie » from late ’55) were two of the more experienced, yet lesser known artists to record for the label, both with a half dozen or so record releases to their credit before joining BLUE HEN. Local promoter/songwriter Howard Vokes was responsible for getting Hank King , Rudy Thacker (« Mountain guitar » ; also on Lucky) and « The Hardin County Boys » Jeffrey Null and Denver Duke onto the label. The latter, who had something of a hit on Blue Hen with their Hank Williams tribute « Hank Williams that Alabama boy » (#214) went on to enjoy some degree of success on Mercury and Starday.
Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « Hawk Williams that Alabama boy »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/13-214-Denver-duke-Jeffrey-Null-Hank-Williams-That-Alabama-Boy.mp3download
Howard Vokes, Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « When the snow came« (#222)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/24-222-Cowboy-Howard-Vokes-When-The-Snow-Came.mp3download
courtesy Pasi Koskela
Was Vokes involved in the singing of the former song? A visitor told me his doubts.
Tex Daniels « Blue hen boogie« (#212 )http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/11-212-Tex-Daniels-Blue-Hen-Boogie.mp3download
Mention should be made of course of Mel Price (who’s story is on this site) and Lanie Walker, of whom we know very little, who were arguably the best Hillbilly artists to record for BLUE HEN.
Mel Price « Nothing seems to go right anymore« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/201-mel-price-Nothing-Seems-To-Go-Right-Anymore.mp3download
Walker had 5 issues on Blue hen (and one in 1960 on Kingsport, TN Three Stars label , the stunning « Early every morning ») : both hillbilly boppers on # 209 (« Side-track daddy »), one gospel two-sider (« When you meet your Lord » # 218), a non-cover of George Jones‘ « Why baby why », very good Hillbilly bopper, in 1956 (a nice bluesy « Drop in » on flipside, # 219), then a back-to-back Rockabilly/Rocker « Ennie Meenie Miney Mo/No use knocking on my door », # 230 (Mort Marker on lead guitar), finally a 1959 rocker (# 235) « Jumpin’ the gun/Tonite I walk alone ».
Lanie Walker « Side-track daddy« (# 209)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/07-209-Lanie-Walker-Side-Track-Daddy.mp3download
Lanie Walker « When you meet your Lord« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/218-Lanie-Walker-When-You-Meet-Your-Lord.-45.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Why baby why« (#219)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/19-219-Lanie-Walker-Why-Baby-Why.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Drop in« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/20-219-Lanie-Walker-Drop-In.mp3download
Lane Walker « Ennie Meenie miney mo« (#230)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-Eenie-minie-miney-mo.mp3download
Lanie Walker « No use knocking on my door« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-No-Use-Knocking-On-My-Door-1958.mp3download
Larry Lee (Pasake) fronted his own band, The Echo Valley Kinfolk and played locally to good reviews. Originally, the band were called the Glen Mountain Boys (according to Billboard on 24th March 1956). Larry and the band performed over WCRV, Washington, NJ about this time. It was reported that Larry drowned while trying to save the lives of a younger brother and friend when their boat capsized. This seems to have occurred sometime in september 1956. His solitary single is a good bluegrass (A-side) « Time just flies »(# 215), while « Our love affair » is good uptempo piano-led Hillbilly bop.
Larry Lee ‘Time just flies« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/15-215-Larry-Lee-Time-Just-Flies.mp3download
Larry Lee « Our love affair« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/16-215-larry-Lee-Our-Love-Affair.mp3download
Another wizardry : Hank King (of Russian origin, rn Papaila) had in October 1955 « Atom bomb heart » on Chicago Blue Ribbon label. This was re-cut (re-issued?) next year on Blue Hen 221.
Hank King « Atom bomb heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/21-221-Hank-King-Atom-Bomb-Heart.mp3download
That more or less concludes the story of the BLUE HEN label. Virtually all the releases in the 200 series, with the exception of the odd rock & roll/rockabilly offering from the likes of Jimmy Stayton (« Hot hot mama »), Cecil Cline (« Do drop in ») and even Lanie Walker, were Hillbilly of one style or another.
Sandy Harrison & Tommy Lloyd « A package of heartaches« (#225)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/28-225-Sandy-Harrison-A-Package-Of-Heartaches.mp3download
Earl Stuart Quintet « Action’s speak louder than words » [sic](#216)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/17-216-Earl-Stuart-5tet-Actions-Speak-Louder-Than-Words.mp3download
Millard Pressley « Jesus my saviour« (#228)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/228-Milliard-Presley-...-Jesus-My-Saviour.mp3download
Sounds from Cactus CD. Pictures from various sites: Youtube, 45cat for example.
Mel Price « I ain’t got the time« (#208)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/18-208-mel-price-I-Aint-Got-The-Time.mp3download
courtesy Ronald Keppner
listing Blue Hen label
Howdy folks, over a period of 15 years, here are the selections of this fortnight.
The earliest track on a strange label, Atlantic, mostly known for R&B and Jazz. They had a short-lived (1 year, 1949-1950) « Folk and Western series », and the very first issue was by LOY GORDON & his Pleasant Valley Boys, for a revamp of the then-popular Sticks Mchee’s original « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee o-dee » (Atlantic 721). Here they are very true to the original. No solo taken by any instrument, but a fine Hillbilly romper. A mean fiddle and steel, and a fine boogie guitar. This was billed as « Folk ballad » on the label !
Loy Gordon « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/atlantic-721-Drinkin-Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee-Loy-Gordon-his-Pleasant-Valley-Boys.mp3download
From Marion, Ohio, 1960. The ROUND UP BOYS (hidden identity) do offer « Rock and Roll baby » on Hark 504. Like the title says, it’s rockabilly with a chugging rhythm. The composer, a Mz . Edna Bright, doesn’t help much.
Round Up Boys « Rock’n'Roll baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/hark-round-up-boys-rock-and-roll-baby.mp3download
Next is by two brothers who had a career of at least 30 years, Bob & Joe, the SHELTON BROTHERS. They recorded as early as 1935 a first version of « Deep Elem blues » [the Red Light quarter of Dallas]. The song had been done in 1933 by the Lone Star Cowboys (Leon Chappelear), and was cut by numerous artists later, including a second version (there) by the Sheltons in 1947 on Decca 46008.
On the flip side they had their own « Just because », revived in 1955 by Guess Who. Chugging rhythm, great mandolin. Next Decca 46009 was another nugget : « Ida Red » later renamed « Maybelline » by Chuck Berry. That’s how popular the Sheltons were.
Shelton Brothers « Deep Elem blues »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/DEEP-ELEM-BLUES-by-the-Shelton-Brothers.mp3download
Shelton Brothers « Just because »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/decca-46008B-Shelton-Brothers-Just-because.mp3download
A Gene Simmons production then from Memphis on the Tupelo label (# 2984) from 1964, a good rockabilly by CHARLES K. « The Right bird ».
Way up North in Detroit on the Michigan label Elm 724 : BETTY PARKER does offer « Love is even colder », a fine Bopper backed by Eddie Jackson & Swingsters (of « Rock’n'roll baby » fame on Fortune). Piano led, steel, guitar, an organ solo. Whole thing reminds me of another artist of the area, Palford Brady.
Finally PAUL MIMS, from Louisiana. He delivers « I blowed my top », a call-and-response format, medium paced ditty (long guitar solo and fine steel) on the Shell 121 label.
Charles K « The right bird« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Charles-K.-Right-Bird-Baby.mp3download
Betty Parker « Love is even colder« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Love-Is-Even-Colder.mp3download
Paul Mims « I blowed my top« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/shell-121-Paul-Mims-I-Blowed-My-Top.mp3download
This time, very various records. SLIM DOSSEY hailed from Kentucky, but settled in Kirkland, Washington, late ’40s, where he had his own TV show. He was at one time a member of Smokey Rogers Western Caravan. Here you will find his Tubb (Ernest?) penned « Don’t stand just there« . on the JR (Seattle) label. Romping music!
Slim Dossey « Don’t just stand there« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/JR-1001-slim-dossey-dont-just-stand-there.mp3download
From Ohio, and in 1965, RALPH BUSH and the Brushwackers. He had one 4-track session for C-Flat (distributed by RCA), and three tracks are offered there. All fine Hillbilly boppers. « I’ve got the bluest feeling » (8543), « Troubles » (8544) and « My eyes don’t cry » (8545).
Ralph Bush « I’ve got the bluest feeling« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/c-flat-RALPH-BUSH-IVE-GOT-THE-BLUEST-FEELING.mp3download
Ralph Bush « Troubles« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/c-flat-8544-ralph-bush-troubles.mp3download Ralph Bush « My eyes don’t cry« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/RALPH-BUSH-MY-EYES-DONT-CRY.mp3download
From Washington state does come FRANK OLE’SHAY (real name Oleachea). With his brother Ernie, they had 12 issues on Four Star Blue Mountain OP- customs. Here are his best sides, »Love , love, love me, honey do » and « My baby’s not here in town tonight » (# 293) from 1958. Fine hillbilly rockers.
Frank Ole’shay« Love, love, love me, honey do« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/blue-mountain-OP-293-Frank-OleShay-Love-love-love-me-honey-do.mp3download
Frank Ole’Shay « My baby’s not here in town tonight« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/blue-mountain-OP-293-Frank-OleShay-My-babys-not-here-tonight.mp3download>
From Texas, COTTON THOMPSON (« Jelly roll blues« ) on Houston’s Freedom 1010. Thompson also had the great « How long » on Gold Star.
Cotton Thompson « Jelly roll blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/freedom-5010-cotton-thompson-jelly-roll-blues.mp3download
Jim Fullen « I’ve gone crazy« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/deluxe-2015-Jim-Fullen-Ive-Gone-Crazy.mp3download
Finally JIM FULLEN on the Deluxe label # 2015 and « I’ve gone crazy » from 1954. Fullen later recorded as Jimmie John, »Rosie’s back again » on Dot. It is not at all sure he’s the same Jimmie John who had « Solid rock » in 1958 on the Newark, Ohio, ZZ label.
The Four Star custom series were, as did Starday from Beaumont or Houston, known to include many Rock’ & Roll sides played by Hillbilly bands and it was a music that most artists would easily relate to, including the older musicians who had been playing boogie and blues for years anyway. Countless bands were active and the only way they could relate to was release their records on Four Star OP (Other People) custom records.
The tapes would then be sent in and the widely advertised custom service would handle, for a fee, the manufacture of the records and distribution of a number of copies to selected radio stations. Otherwise than this, promotion and distribution was a left up to the the artist or his agent. The number going to the radio stations was probably a percentage of the total number pressed, which varied considerably. Some were produced in relatively large quantities while other artists ordered as few as 99 copies. The rarity of these records varies widely as, of course, does the quality of the music (but not in the same condition). The artist coud choose his own label name, which hopefully often also gives a location. They could also have the record issued under the company’s own logo (as in the case of « Texas » Bill Strength), perhaps at extra cost. Several record labels started as custom pressings before becoming actual independant companies later. Example : Erwin and Rural Rhythm (not represented in this selection). All are generally uptempo sides, with prominent fiddle and walking bass. It must also be noted that many artists were one-off, i.e. they had only one record issued by Four Star OP- service, and never had the chance to cut another one.
HBR did issue two volumes of Four Star OP- custom records. I deliberatly chose to issue unknown sides from 1950 to 1958, and various Western regions (Oklahoma to Oregon), not to exclude Eastern areas like even Florida.
Eddie Snell (on the aptly named Promotional # 242 label) has more of a West coast sound to him, with a « Rockin’ rhythm » similar to Sammy Masters’ early sides. Alden Holloway had also famous releases on Dixie and Starday (« Blast off » or « Swinging the rock »). Here is what he recorded in 1956 seemingly on the West coast for Northwest # 263 : « Woodpecker love ». He had previously issued on # 214 « Beaumont blues » as Shorty Holloway. Veteran Dick Bills, also later on Crest (« Rockin’ and rollin’ » in 1961 with nephew Glen Campbell on lead guiar ) had on Vicki « Beggars can’t be choosers » (# 198, 1954-55). Went also on Morgan (with vocalist Buz Burnam).
Eddie Snell « Head over the hills »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OP-242B-Eddie-Snell-Head-for-the-hills1.mp3download
Alden Holloway « Woodpecker love »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/01-Alden-Holloway-Woodpecker-Love.mp3download
Dick Bills « Beggars can’t be choosers »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vicki-198-dick-bills-his-arizona-drifters-beggars-cant-be-choosers.mp3download
A favorite of Ray Campi, « Quit your triflin’ (on me) » (Hi-fidelity 211), from 1954-55 by Gene Snowden, is a good uptempo probably of West coast origin, while Hank Crow and his Raven River Ramblers do come surely from California: the fine « Baby, baby me » on Southwest 204 from 1954.
Gene Snowden « Quit your triflin’(on me »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Gene-Snowden-Quit-Your-TriflinOn-Me-HI-FIDELITY-OP-121.mp3download
Hank Crow « Baby me, baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/southwest-204-Hank-Crow-Baby-me-baby.mp3download
From Texas, Doc Bryant & National Jamboree Gang on his own Doc Bryant label (# 155) for « Cotton pickin’ boogie », from 1952-53. In 1958, an « old » Texas artist – he first recorded in the late ’40s for Macy’s, i.e. « Cornbread boogie » -, Art Gunn had on his own (?) Arga (# 288) label the fine relaxed « Pickin’ ‘n singing ». He had also previously cut for Revel and V&G Records. The mysterious Phantom Rider Trio does « Peekin’ thru your window » on the K-Pep label # 264 from San Angelo.
Doc Bryant « Cotton pickin’ boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Doc-Bryant-National-Jamboree-Gang-Cotton-Pickin-Boogie-Doc-Bryant-OP-155.mp3download
Art Gunn « Pickin’ ‘n singin’ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/17-Art-Gunn-Pickin-n-Singin.mp3download
The Phantom Rider Trio « Peekin’ thru your window »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/24-The-Phantom-Rider-Trio-Peekin-Through-The-Window.mp3download
Candy Rowell « Ain’t gonna say hello »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/20-Candy-Rowell-His-Western-Swingsters-Aint-Gonna-Say-Hello.mp3download
From Florida, Candy Rowell on the Du Ro #254 label with « Ain’t gonna say hello ». Oklahoma is represented by Al Sweatt and « Fo-Mo-Co » on Keen 262, from 1956. Indeed he was to have the two rockers later « I hate myself/Let’s paint the town red » (Keen 288). Al Sweatt « Little Fo-mo-co »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/keen-OP-262Al-Sweatt-Little-Fo-Mo-Co-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
From Louisiana Pal Thibodeaux and an earlier issue (# 154) « Port Arthur Boogie ». on Skyline (partly sung in French).
Pal Thibodeaux « Port Arthur boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/07-Pal-Thibodeaux-Port-Arthur-Boogie.mp3download
Arizona is represented with the very first recording Duane Eddy was involved in, and it’s a duet with Jimmy Delbridge on the Phoenix label Preston #212. « Soda fountain girl » and « I want some lovin’ baby».
Jimmy & Duane « Soda fountain girl »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Jimmy-Delbridge-Duane-Eddy-Soda-Fountain-Girl-PRESTON-212-4-Star-OP-acetate.mp3download
Unknown origin : Alaska 194 by Betty Jo and Johnny Starr « Peach pickin’ time in Georgia » (# 194). « Peach picking’ time in Georgia »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/alaska-OP-194-Betty-Jo-Johnny-Starr-Peach-Picking-Time-In-Georgia.mp3download
Archie Jefferies « G.I. Talking blues » (Blue Flame # 107) « G.I. talking blues »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/blue-flame-107-Archie-Jefferies-The-Blue-Flame-Boys-G.I.-Talking-Blues.mp3download. Majesty 251 by Tommy Farr (« If »).
Also Buddy Thornton on his own Thornton OP-186 « Ole Santa is coming to town ». »Ole Santa is coming to town- »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/thornton-OP-186-Buddy-Thornton-Ole-Santa-Is-Coming-To-Town.mp3download
Four Star OP- serie continued well over until the late ’50s with the odd Hillbilly bop issued : Sonny LeBarron and « Jack and Jill » (#Mecca 252), Paul McGhee (« You are my sunshine » Flame 305) or 267 Sonny Thibodeaux (Pacific), Leo Gosnell from 1959 on Mountain 298/299, to name just a very few.
Several early issues did appear untraceable although highly desirable, like Tex Bloye’s « Talkin’ blues » on Gavotte 116 (a version of Robert Lunn’s song on Mercury, 1949), or Frank Ole’Shay, who appear to be one of the greatest from his song on a Dixie/Collector CD, « My baby’s not here tonight » (Blue mountain). Addition (Dec. 2nd): Tex Bloye, « Talkin’ blues » (Courtesy Ronald Keppner) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Tex-Bloye-Gavotte-OP116A.mp3download
Howdy folks ! With just an exception, only 78rpm this time.
Let’s begin with the legendary JIM EANES in one of his earliest efforts on the Blue Ridge (#301) label. It’s happy hillbilly bordering to bluegrass (sometimes difficult to distinguish, but who cares?) : « A sweeter love than yours I’ll never know ». Fine solos : banjo, mandolin over chorus vocals.
Smilin’ Jim Eanes « A sweeter love than yours I’ll never know »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/blue-ridge-301-Smilin-Jim-Eanes-and-his-Shenandoah-Valley-Boys-A-Sweeter-Love-Than-Yours-Ill-Never-Know.mp3download
Lucky Leroy « Now get join’ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/GOLISH.mp3download
Lucky Leroy « All tied up »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/GOLISH_B.mp3download
Thanks to Hillbilly Researcher and Allan Turner, LUCKY LEROY and two sides on the Illinois Go-lish label « Now get goin’ » and « All tied up ». Solid hillbilly from 1955.
On the Mutual label (uncertain origin), CLAUDE YATES & Bowes Brothers for « Stop knocking at my door » (#214) : as label implies, « hot banjo picking ».
Same label, FRED MURPHY for the very inspired « I want to be ready » (#210).
Bowes Brothers « Stop knocking at my door »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/mutual-214-Bowes-Brothers-Stop-Knocking-At-My-Door.mp3download
Fred Murphy « I want to be ready »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/mutual-210B-Fred-Murphy-And-The-Blue-River-Boys-I-Want-To-Be-Ready.mp3download
A return to Blue Ridge with LARRY RICHARDSON (& Happy Smith) (#306) and « I’m lonesome ». High-pitched vocal, again that mix of hillbilly and bluegrass music.
Finally for the season, HAPPY WILSON on M-G-M 10877 « The haunted house boogie ».
Larry Richardson « I’m lonesome »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/blue-ridge-306-Larry-Richardson-Happy-Smith-Blue-Ridge-Boys-Im-Lonesome.mp3download
Happy Wilson « The haunted house boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Haunted-House-Boogie-Happy-Wilson.mp3download
Here it is, a new selection of hillbilly bop goodies, mostly from the early to mid-60s.
RED MANSEL is the earliest, from 1957, on a very early All Star label issue (# 7160) . This is hillbilly rock at its best, topical lyrics.
Red Mansel « Johnny on the spot« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ALLSTAR-7160-Red-Mansel-...-Johnny-On-The-Spot-...57-Hillbilly-Rock.mp3download
RED LEWIS on the Kasko label (# 1643), from 1965. « I’ll move along » sounds well 7 or 8 years earlier. Great slapping bass, guitar all along. A discrete steel takes a fine solo.
Red Lewis « I’ll move along« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/KASKO-1643-Red-Lewis-Ill-Move-Along.mp3download
From Michigan and 1963 on a Starday custom Dixie label (#1056) comes FRANK ZOLTON and « Cats eyes ». A medium ditty with an unusual for the era accordion solo.
Frank Zolton « Cats eyes« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/45-1056A-Dixie-frank-zolton-cats-eyes.mp3download
Valparaiso, Florida. HAL ANDREWS offers « Brown-eyed girl », a medium opus, on the Choctaw label (# 6001).
Hal Andrews « Brown-eyed girl »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/choctaw-8004-hal-andrews-brown-eyed-girl.mp3download
Rex Zario « It’s nobody’s fault but your own« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/arcade-163B-rex-zario-its-nobodys-falut-but-your-own.mp3download
REX ZARIO even had a full album on Arcade. Here he delivers the fine « It’s nobody’s fault but your own » from 1959-60 (# 163). Indeed in 1956 he had had « Go man gone ».
Finally a wonderful rural duet by the VANDERGRIFT BROS. On the Cozy label from W.Va., « Sitting here a-crying » (# 447).
Vandergrift Bros. « Sitting here a-crying« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cozy-447-Vandergrift-Brothers-Sittin-Here-A-Crying.mp3download
All selections taken from the net.
David Ray, a top singer and song stylist of Texas/Oklahoma Rockabilly and Honky-tonk, was born Oscar Ray Smith in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 14, 1934. When he was at an early age, his faùily moved to Roswell, New Mexico. At age 8, he learned to play guitar, and in his youth became friends with Lefty Frizzell, who on many occasions invted David to his recording sessions. In 1950, the family moved back to Duncan, and David formed a country music band. Early employment included aD.J. Program on radio station KRHD, and a live show on Channel 12, KXII-TV. How he got the forname « David » is unknown.
David Ray got his first records on Heart (# 245), a Four Star custom label out of Oklahoma, in 1956. Two fine sincere Hillbilly duets by himself and Johnny Doggett, « Farewell goodbye » and « Maybe I should have cheated too » ; then two Rockabillies (Ray Smith solo) « Gone baby gone » and « Swinging boogie », both fine rockers (# 250). Many thanks to John Burton (53jaybop) for posting these songs on Youtube.
Johnny & Ray « Farewell goodbye« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Johnny-And-Ray-Farewell-2Goodbye-HEART-RECORDS-OP-244-45.mp3download
Johnny & Ray « Maybe I should have cheated too« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Johnny-And-Ray-2-Maybe-I-Should-Have-Cheated-Too-HEART-RECORDS-OP-244-45.mp3download
Ray Smith « Gone baby gone« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ray-Smith-Gone-Baby-Gone.mp3download
Ray Smith « Swinging boogie« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ray-Smith-Swinging-Boogie.mp3download
In 1957 he signed a recording contract as David Ray with Gainesville, Texas recording executive Joe M. Leonard, Jr. His early recordings of « Jitterbugging baby » and « Lonesome baby blues » (Kliff 101 and 105) were instant successes on the Kliff Records label. Not only did Ray’s first records releases sell well in the United States, but they attained immense success in Europe when reissued by Ronnie Weiser on his Rollin’ Rock label. Personal for these sessions were Johnny Baggett or Joe Dean Evans on guitar and Paul Jorgenson on bass, including a wild piano player.
David Ray « Lonesome baby blues » (original version)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Lonesome-baby-blues-ORIGINALE.mp3download
David Ray « Lonesome baby blues »(Kliff)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Lonesome-baby-blues-.mp3download
David Ray « Jitterbugging baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jitterbuggin-baby.mp3download
Other songs were « Lonesome feeling » and the less fast, almost poppish « I’m a fool », while « All the time », « Why can’t you and I », « No, oh no », all ballads, « Too fast, too wild » and the original gutsy, less fast « Lonesome baby blues » were withheld until their release on Collectables.
David Ray « Lonesome feeling« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Lonesome-feeling.mp3download
David Ray « Why can’t you and I« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Why-cant-you-and-I.mp3download
In 1962 Ray Smith had a Country-rocker « A place within my heart » on the Toppa label (# 1071), honest honky tonk, a far cry from his Kliff sides (Thanks to Uncle Gil to have provided this song). Alexander Petrauskas points out this may be a different artist, because of songwriting credits. Thanks, Alex!
Ray Smith « A place within my heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Toppa-1071-Ray-Smith-A-Place-Within-My-Heart.mp3download
Since David Ray’s voice has remained strong and vibrant over the years, Leonard productions decided to record him on some new Texas songs. In August 1993 a session was held in Tyler, Texas. The songs were « Long cold winter », « You make my day », « Ways of a woman » and « Package deal ». The musicians were Ronnie Redd (keyboards), Jim Holley (bass), Greg Hough (drums), Bobby Garrett (steel guitar), Donny McDuff and Jerry Tiner (electric guitars), Ken Shepherd harmonica and rhythm guitar) as well as Lonnie Wright (producer, engineer and rhythm guitar). Back-up vocalist : David’s ex-wife, Lavinia Smith.
David Ray « You make my day« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/You-make-my-day-aout-93.mp3download
David Ray was then living near Ft. Worth, Texas, where he continued to compose and entertain. He died in 1997.
Freely adapted from the notes to Collectables CD 5770.