Valley Records was owned by Jack Comer and Dave Garrison and located somewhere in Knoxville, east of Tennessee.
The label lasted for a little more than twelve issues from 1953 to 1954, then several years later changed to Valley’s Meadowlark, taking the same numbering system since the start (not avoiding confusion).
Best records were done by Lonnie Smith, Reese Shipley and Shorty Long. Its biggest hit came in 1954 with Darrell Glenn and the weeper « Crying in the chapel », written by his father Artie. But even Glenn did some hillbilly too.
Lonnie Smith offers a lovely Hillbilly bop tune, « You’re my honky tonk angel » (# 103) : swirling fiddle and a good steel. Flip is nice too : « Gal’s below the Mason Dixon line » (sic). « In the valley by the mountains » (# 100) by Archie Campbell is a fast ditty with yodel vocalizing while its flipside « Blue memories » is an average medium paced one.
Born February 7, 1928. JOE STUART was the most versatile bluegrass musician ever. He was the son of Joe,Sr. and Rena Best Stuart. His musical career started out in Knoxville, TN on shows such as Cas Walker’s radio program. From there he went on to work as Bass Fiddler for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and their Foggy Mountain Boys. Along the way, he worked with about all the GOOD bands and finally landed a job with Bill Monroe as a Blue Grass Boy on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville,Tennessee.Joe played all the bluegrass instruments and due to a broken collar bone, Joe’s first job was as a fill-in Mandolin player. Later he played and recorded on all the other instruments with Bill Monroe. Joe was not only a « picker »; he was a terriffic « picker-upper. » He always had a smile and kept everybody in good spirits on the road, regardless of the situatioAlthough he never made great fame or fortune, he was nearby in the shadows of many of those gleaning the glory. Joe once tried professional stock car racing but quit after he had fairly won at Talladega, only to be disqualified by crooked officials.
Joe fought cancer, appearing to win that battle for a while, but succomed to head tumors in September of 1987. Ironically, he passed away on Bill Monroe’s birthday. He left behind a wonderful wife, Kathy, and two lovely daughters, Jenny Lynn and Brendaline. Joe had often told us, « I want Bill Monroe to sing John Henry at my funeral; and sing all the verses. » As Joe had requested, Monroe sang 25 verses at the funeral at the Forest Lawn chapel just North of Madison, Tennessee on Dickerson. His remains are buried there. Joe’s own number, « It’s A Lonesome Road To Travel On » tell his story best. The photo of Joe was made at Bean Blossom, Indiana around 1974 by Jim Moss. Joe died September 13, 1987..(additions by Boppin’s editor on Feb. 26th, 2017)
His other sides are in the « Crying in the chapel » vein. He had later on Dot 15476 his own Rock’n’roll version of « My little red wagon ». I much prefer REESE SHIPLEY‘s sides, « Catfish boogie » and « Middle-age spread » (# 106), both very fine Boppers, the former having nothing in common with Tennessee Ernie‘s song. Both songs have a fine and clear lead boogie guitar over a nice piano, « Catfish boogie» being to me the better of both not to forget a stunning (although too short) steel solo.
ROY SNEED is also a crooner in « I’ll be so blue tomorrow » (# 111), but has a nice guitar. He was also on a Four Star custom , Scenic OP-238, with « Blue hillbilly ».. Finally the fast « I’ll never tell » by Mary Jane Johnson retain the feeling of Darrell Glenn with a fine guitar.
Hello folks. The link between the 8 songs this time would be either the BREWSTER Brothers, either the WEBSTER Bros, either Knoxville, TN, and would last from 1954 to 1962/63.
In Manchester, KY, circa 1957-59, there were the BREWSTER Brothers. Originally from Tennessee, the elder Willie G. (mandolin and vocal) had begun late ’40s as sideman for the Bailey Bros. He even replaced Dan Bailey when the latter was gone to service duties. In 1953, the Brewster Bros. and the Smokey Mountain Hillbillies found much success on Scottsboro, AL. WROS radio. Not so long after that, joined by younger Franklin « Bud » Brewster (guitar and banjo, plus vocal), the brothers backed in 1957/58 Carl Story for recording sessions on Mercury, Starday, or small companies like Wayne Raney’s Rimrock label. Willie estimates they cut three hundred songs with Story! Around the same time, they went to perform on a regular basis for the Cas Walker radio & T.V. show in Knoxville, TN. They backed Red Rector among others. That’s when they recorded for Acme Records 1776, out of Manchester, KY. two sacred songs in bluegrass style, among them « I’ll Be Happy In My Home« . They were joined by the FOUR BROTHERS QUARTET, which was composed of Audie (mandolin and tenor voice) and Earl (guitar and lead vocal) WEBSTER. More on them below.
The BREWSTER Brothers, as the Jaguar’s (sic), went on to record Rock’n’roll in 1959 on Janet, in Manchester, KY, too, which was simply Acme revived after being sold. Bud Brewster had the fine « I Coud If I Would (But I Ain’t) », on Janet 201, along with the vocalist Harold Harper on the average White rock (insistant guitar riff) flipside « The Big Noise ». After that I lost their trail.
The WEBSTER Brothers, Earl and Audie, started in Philadelphia, TN., playing in schools and churches. They joined WNOX in Knoxville, TN and made 6 sides for Columbia/Okeh in 1954, all great boppers. Let’s begin with the earliest « Till The End Of The World Rolls ‘Round » and « It’s All Left Up To You », issued in January 1954 on Okeh 18056. Fast, fiddle-led (a short steel solo), with Earl on guitar and lead vocal being joined by Audie on harmony duetting chorus.
In October 1954, they joined in Nashville Carl Butler for a long Columbia recording session, and that’s when they cut their best tune ever, the great « Road Of Broken Hearts » – urgent vocal, fine fiddle by Dale Potter, a barely audible Don Helms on steel (Columbia 21421). The same session saw them cut the fine flipside « Seven Year Blues ». Later on (November 1955) they joined Carl Butler (leader) for two religious sides, « Looking Through The Windows Of Heaven » and « Walkin’ In God’s Sunshine » (Columbia 21473). Very nice fast sacred hillbilly.
We found them much, much later (1962/63) on the Nashville Do-Ra-Me label for a far less interesting « My Heart Won’t Let Me Forget », almost pop-country (# 1439).
As usual, comments welcome. You know, these sides are thrown as the best I know today. Indeed they can be rare (they come from my collection or from the net), but it’s the quality that matters !
From the notes to Old Timey LP 126 « Classic Country Duets » and « Early Days Of Bluegrass, vol. 2 » (Rounder 1014, 1976).