Howdy folks. If you are there, you’re in for a musical journey in Hillblly bop music. Here we go for more obscure or lesser known names, who one cannot now anything about, except what it’s in the grooves, or what I gathered – and most of the time the harvest is a meager one. Talking about harvests, let’s not forget the « contact me » section: here are for sale excellent CDs or vinyl records (very nice condition) for sale from my collection. Don’t overpass this occasion!
Chuck Bowers did hail from Arkansas, where he was born in 1921. He was a regular of the St. Louis, MO. Ozark Jubilee and had a spot on KWTO. His acclaimed shuffler « Pig Pen Boogie » on the Kansas City Choice label (# 845) is one of the serie he did for radio or TV appearances. Actually you can find 3 songs by him that contain « boogie » in the title on Youtube! Later Bowers was on Decca for two Nashville produced pop rockers, the better being « Blabber Mouth Sidewalk Stroll » (# 30578) from 1957. I don’t know anything on Bowers afterwards.
Way up North and Michigan, on the Bart label. One Billy Martin has the really fine Hillbilly bop ballad « Tears I Couldn’t Hide » on the Bart label (# 7G28). Prominent steel over a very sincere vocal. The same Billy Martin had also « Angel »/ « If It’s Lovin’ That You Want » (Lucky 0009, 1960) and « I’m Home Again » (Fortune 198). . There were also issues on Happy Hearts, D, Cannon and Misty in the 70’s.
The very small – Kentucky based, as said in an old Hillbilly Reserarcher issue – Dixiana label was launched in 1953, and do seem to have only lasted six months or so. From his 7 issues I chose The Renfro Brothers‘ « Just Over A Girl« , a fast romper led by a boogie pianist and showcased by an accordion (# 103). On the same label was issued Odis Blanton & his Blue Star Rangers, who I will post later the great « Steppin’ High Wide And Handsome« . On Dixiana 105, there is still a Cliff Gross to be found yet (both titles sound interesting).
Walter Scott‘s great « I’m Walking Out » (see Ruby # 240, else where in this site) was cut in 1968 by a L. C. Angel with Coye Farmer on the microscopic Baron label (no # number) out of Trenton, OH. The record gives full personal (steel-guitar-bass); so which instrument was played by Farmer or Angel? Incidentally the very same record was reissued twelve years later on the A & A label (still no #) out of Hamilton, OH. A fine version nevertheless, but the artist is completely out of sight!
Ben Hall has the fine « Moo Mama » Rockabilly on the Cord label (# 101). Very rare one; even rarer is the unissued at the time « Be Bop Ball« , saved from oblivion by the Dutchman!
Finally from a February 1932 session do come the very sexual « Red Nightgown Blues« , cut by Jimmie Davis for RCA-Victor (with sublime slide guitar by Oscar Woods) and issued in the Bluebird serie (# 5699). A tune that suits exactly to Jerry Lee Lewis‘ way of life, and one may wonder how he has not recorded this song (remember « Long Legged Woman » cut for Sun?)
Flash (January 23rd, 2012). I received a mail from JIMMY RENFRO. His Dad Jim had not heard their songs within a very long time, so he was stunned and happy. His uncle Raymond did the same. Thanks Jimmy! I include in the posts the flipside of their Dixiana 103, « Ever Ready« . Alas, I don’t know any other record by them.
I’ll try to give the story the best I can. My dad’s family were farmers: grandad was a dutch/german immigrant and grandma was cherokee indian. When my dad was old enough, he couldnt wait to get off the farm, so towards the end of the second world war, he joined the air force where he worked in the hospital and was involved with the u.s.o. My mom and dad met in the service; mom had just returned from being in Japan for four years as part of the occupation force. They met, fell in love and got married, mom became pregnant and I was born at Bowlings Air Force base in Washington, DC. My dad wanted to break into the music business, as he already had been doing u.s.o. shows for the troops, so it was decided to get out of the service and head to southern California: it was 1951 and the beginning of hillbilly and rockabilly, although they didnt call it rockabilly, they called it country and later as the honky tonks started poppin’ up everywhere, they began to call it honky tonk music and because many of the artists themselves came from the country and the hills, they also called it hillbilly, for the purest though I call it honky tonk music. Papa nicks, the blue room, the hitching post, jubilee ballroom, the palomino are just a few of the many honky tonks, that my dad and others like him played everynight, dad drove a truck for his day job and worked the honky tonks at night. As at two a.m. in the morning all the bars in southern california close, so its grab a bottle and everybody head over to the house for a jam session. I can tell you they all came through our house at one time or another, everyone from Little Jimmy Dickens to (Ralph) Mooney on steel to Eddie Drake, Ferlin Husky to Hank Snow. In the garage they would play until the sun came up, those were the days when they created what they call today the Bakersfield sound, working in those small recording studios like Aggie and Toppa, two of the labels my dad was on as well as M&M and Mercury and Sundown. I remember this old honky tonk piano my dad got somewhere, it had a very unique sound and they had it in the garage, so they could jam all night after the honky tonks closed. So when it was time to record « Make Room For The Blues », my dad wanted that true honky tonk sound, so they took the piano to the studio and that’s the one you hear on the song as well as on « World’s Champion Fool », I really loved that old piano and always will wonder what became of it. In 2008 Dick Miller passed away, but what he left us is something that we can all cherish, good old honky tonk music that you can still dance to today. God bless and thanx for your interest & love of this wonderful music, feel free to edit this to suit your needs at your blog, also have many more pics and have 8 tunes on my hard drive and a big cardboard box full of reel to reel tape from the old days, am working on a best of compilation of Dick Miller and his band to release on compact disc in the very near future. Please stay in touch, am always around and love to chat, Roger. (suite…)
For this new rendez-vous, I’ve chosen three tracks from the ’50s, then one from…1978, the remainder being from the ’30s.
First, JOHNNY NELMS on Azalea 015/016 (Houston label), « After Today » is his finest hour, raw, emotional honky tonk. The uncredited backing band here is Peck Touchton‘s Sunset Wranglers, which includes Doug Myers (fiddle), Herman McCoy (guitar), Hoyt Skidmore (steel guitar), and George Champion (piano). I add in the podcasts his Starday offering, « Everything Will Be Alright » (# 228) from 1956. He already had records on Gold Star, Freedom, and later (briefly) on Decca. Nothing but a plain Country boy, who never made it…
Then, from the Cincinnati area, one JIMMIE WILLIAMS, I know nothing about, except this little record on the Acorn label (# 153). Here it is his original « Hey, Hey Little Dreamboat« , a nice, uptempo Hillbilly bop. Apparently the man had nothing to do with later Arkansas rocker of « You’re Always Late » fame.
From Nashville TN, April 1954, when young ERNIE CHAFFIN entered the Hickory studios, nothing really happened with his four sides; I somehow find some freshness in his « I Can’t Lose The Blues » (# 1024). Shortly after, he was to launch, with his steel player Pee Wee Maddux, the Fine label in Biloxi, MS. before moving in 1956 to Sun in Memphis.
That’s it for the ’50s! Now with a legend, ROSE MADDOX, taken live from Youtube (I just kept the sound track), for an old Jimmie Rodgers’ song, « Muleskinner Blues« . The Lady does it perfectly!
Onto the ’30s. First with ex-Governor of Louisiana (twice!) JIMMIE DAVIS. He sang Hillbilly as early as the late ’20s. Here you get his rendition of the traditional « When The Saints« , under the title « Down At The Old Country Church » (recorded Charlotte, NC, 1931), with Ed Shaffer on the lap-steel guitar. Full of emotion…
Finally, from 1936 comes a one-time associate to Davis, his Black bottleneck guitar player, OSCAR WOODS. Here he sings, on a funny cartoon, « Don’t Sell It – Give It Away« . The whole thing, recorded in New Orleans, sounds very much Western swing! Magic of internet to find those gems…