Indiana Rockabilly and Bluegrass (late ’50s): the Blankenship Brothers

Indiana is not the first American state you’d associate wih primitive Rockabilly, but it was there, hidden away among the steelworks and the industrial areas. Indianapolis was seething with young, spotty hopefuls, all wanting to be Elvis and looking more like the greek next door. Eddie Smalling, Tommy Lam, Van Brothers, Tex Neighbors, Dennis Puckett…All true blue Indiana boppers.

 

 

 

 

The Blankenship Brothers certainly weren’t the next « Teenage sensation ». Hell, this small but tightly packed band didn’t even pretend to cut Rockabilly. Led by Floyd and Dennis Blankenship, this small outfit cut some of the best primitive rock north of Tennessee, but to them it was more like country and bluegrass music., blended with a little rough Johnny Cash edge. They played all the local honks and jukejoints, entertaining the masses of factory workers who were looking for entertainment after a hard week of being frazzled by the burning steel mills. Hell, maybe these guys worked there too…

(suite…)

early July 2012 fornight’s favourites

Howdy folks, we embark for a new serie of obscure hillbilly bop records. TED WEST is not an unknown artist. He cut 1952 for Republic in Nashville the fine « She Bent My Pole » and the equally good (with sound effects) « Parking Worries » (see in the site the article on Republic Records, from July 2011). He cut two sessions in 1953-1954 for M-G-M, which I did extract the nice « Call Of The Devil’s Ride » (# 11539) from. Backing accompaniment may be by the Drifting Cowboys. A good shuffler from the days before Nashville was not rotten neither too commercial. (suite…)

early April 2011 fortnight’s favorites

Hi! there all, friends, visitors, listeners. This is not April fool! Another batch of good ole’ Hillbilly Bops, Hillbilly Boogie and Honky Tonks from the golden age, and various sources.

Let’s begin with the earliest track, from Texas, 1950-51. TILMAN FRANKS was an entrepreneur, bassist, and associate with various labels and artists. For example, he launched the carrers of very young WEBB PIERCE (Pacemaker label, before 4 * and Decca) and FARON YOUNG, recording them in Houston, then placing the products with East Coast labels. FARON YOUNG made his vocal debut on Philly GOTHAM with this « Hot-Rod Shotgun Boogie N0. 2« . Way before Young specialized on Capitol with sweet ballads, this is raw Hillbilly Bop, Texas style!

gothem 8141 franks

merle travis

capitol 3316 huskey

Second then, a legend, the great MERLE TRAVIS, with a little known opus, « Louisiana Boogie » – fabulous piano by Capitol session man Billy Liebert. Indeed Travis takes his solo too…

More on Capitol with very recently deceased FERLIN HUSKEY, who disguised under 3 personas. As a comedian, as Simon Crum. As Honky-tonker (early in carreer) as Terry Preston. Here he’s attempting as FERLIN HUSKEY on Rockabilly in 1955 with the famous classic « Slow Down Brother« .

More Hillbilly Bop from Detroit, 1953- almost Rockabilly in spirit: FOREST RYE and « Wild Cat Boogie » on the Fortune label. Like the sparse instrumentation and lyrics! More on « Cat music » on the site with the « research » button above right!

fortune 172 rye

aracadia 110B curley langley

wesholly78 pic

Wes Holly

iowana 807 wes holly

1956, from Louisiana, hence his name, CURLEY LANGLEY (l’Anglais, in French) and the minor classic, « Rockin An’ A Rollin » on the Arcadia label. Fine backing. Langley made more quiet Hillbilly on the same label.

Finally, a 1957-58 disc from Indiana (Iowana label) by WES HOLLY, « Shufflin’ Shoes« . Holly had already cut the same song as « Shuffling Shoes Boogie » in 1952 for the Nashville TENNESSEE label (see elsewhere in the site the story to this label).

Enjoy the selections, folks! You also can see what’s available for sale from my collection (overstocks, as new) on « Contact Me » button.

See you, as always, comments welcome. Bye!

late March 2011 fortnight favorites

Hello folks! Being a bit late, I am coming back from Corsica a day late. This is the first time I post two tracks by the same artist, but both tunes are so good I hope you will agree with me. From Florida, 1959 or 60, on a custom label, Arvil, ARVIL MEERS cut two very special songs, accompanied by his own guitar, « Muddy River« , with yodel overtones, and « The Future I Hold« . The disc was reissued by Dixie.

arvil 3001 arvil meers muddyarvil 3001 arvil meersarvil meers picdixie 1072A Meers future

A good bopper on Starday (custom serie), late 1955, « Puttin’ On The Dog » by JOE GIBSON. Is this the same guy, JOE D. GIBSON, who had « Good Morning Captain/21 » on New York Tetra label in 1957?

starday 535 joe gibson

One of the most enduring images in Hillbilly is the singing brother act. They were litterally thousands in the genre, one of the most famous being the Delmore Brothers. Robert and J.C. Andrews, the ANDREWS BROTHERS were no exception, hailing from Alabama. They had numerous records on MGM, the best being « Hot To Trot » from 1955. Fine banjo and close vocal harmonies. mgm 12007 andrews bros

Another brothers combo, by far less known, actually a one-off venture, comessurprisingly in 1963 from Indianapolis on the Nabor label from Indianapolis. The RUSSELL BROTHERS do offer a superior rural hillbilly vocal, guitar and steel solos with « You Cheated On Me« . That is the proof that Hillbilly was not dead even at the beginning of British invasion.

Finally, a curious mixture of R&B and Jazz by the SLIM GAILLARD QUARTETTE, from 1945, on the Atomic label: « Atomic Cocktail » seems to be a strange beverage. I appreciate the swing of the combo, and I hope you do the same!slim gaillard

Enjoy the selections!

late September 2010 fortnight

Howdy, folks! I didn’t have a particular « theme » chosing the selections this time (as I did sometimes in the past): just a few songs I like at the moment.

Early September I posted something about the ubiquitous Mr. DIXON. Since then, I did not find something new on him, be it at hillbilly-music.com or with google, under his 3 aliases (Walter, Mason, or Ted). There is even on Youtube a bishop named Walter Dixon, and I wonder if this is the same person! I even found a Mason Dixon Country 45 on ebay. This time you will be exposed to a 1961 rendition for the Alabama based REED label, and a great shuffle by MASON DIXON, « Hello Memphis« .  reed 1064 Mason Dixon oct 61

Staying in the South with a minor classic by SPECK & DOYLE , the Wright Brothers, « Music to my ear » on the Columbus, Georgia based strangely named SYRUP BUCKET label. A nice guitar, a medium beat for this relaxed Rockabilly/Hillbilly Bop from 1959.

syrup 1000

On to, probably, Texas, with a fast romper by JIMMY STONE on the IMPERIAL label from 1951, « Midnight Boogie« . I’ve never heard Stone had another record, but what’s this one? Entertaining lyrics, and most of all, a wild bluesy Rockabilly guitar! Who may the player be? Fine piano and even a short fiddle solo, Texas style. We are pursuing the musical journey to Indiana with a very young GAYLE GRIFFITH (he was fourteen when he cut his solitary record) and the out-and-out romper « Rockin’ And A Knockin’ » for the EMERALD label, from 1954. Griffith was at one time associated with WFBM Indiana Hoedown, although despite this promising first platter, he seems to have soon disappeared from the music scene.

gayle griffith pic

Gayle Griffith

gayle griffith Emerald 2003

51 Drifting

Billboard 1951 advert for "Drifting Texas Sand"

Now to California for the Louisiana-born EDDIE KIRK (1919-1997), who was consistently working with the Los Angeles musicians’ cream for CAPITOL records. Here he delivers a fine rendering of the 1936 Tune Wranglers‘ classic (also cut around the same time as Kirk by Webb Pierce) « Drifting Texas Sand » (Capitol F 1591). The backing is sympathetic, although ordinary. Harmonica player could be George Bamby, who cut with, among others, Johnny Bond.

As a bonus, we go to an end in Chicago with the underrated LITTLE MAC SIMMONS, singer-harmonica player (altho’ no harp heard here) and the frantic (great piano throughout, with usual Honking saxes, and a nice guitar) « Drivin’ Wheel » (PALOS label) from 1961.

mac

I hope you enjoy the selections. Don’t miss the other « regular » posts: recently Bopping had had Jack Bradshaw story, the Daffan label, Roy Hall and Riley Crabtree, to name just a few. Not to mention in the « hillbilly profile » section, Chuck Murphy. Till then, bye!

As usual, pictures from various sources. Excellent Terry E. Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style site, or ebay. Sounds from my collection, or various compilations. I can name for every track who provided me! BUT you CAN download everything!