early May 2010 fortnight

Hi! Here are my new favorites, be it Hillbilly bop, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Country rock-a-ballad, or even a bit of Western swing. CARL BUTLER was on Capitol, and cut mainly unclassifiable Hillbilly/Bluegrass sides. I’ve chosen his great « No Trespassing » from 1951, complete with hiccups and banjo/fiddle. Then to early Honky tonk with WEBB PIERCE. One of his very early sides on Decca (1951): « California Blues » (78 rpm – I will be moving soon, so already packed all my precious shellacs and can’t have a label scan). Back to Hillbilly bop with a fairly obscure artist, JACK HUNT (Capitol, 1953) and lazy vocal on « All I Can Do Is Sit Ad Cry ». A short insight into MERLE LINDSAY’s career. He fronted the Oklahoma scene from the mid-forties, and had numerous sides on many labels; here we hear « Mop Rag Boogie » (MGM). A nice Country Rockaballad from 1958 on the Sandy label out of Alabama by JOHNNY  FOSTER « Locked Away From Your Heart » (# 1028). I love his sincere vocal. Finally a late 60s Hillbilly Bop by KED KILLEN (Western Ranch), « Hey Pretty Mama ». I don’t know an awful lot of him, except that his style dates from at least 15 years earlier. Couldn’t find his work except on a Cattle LP moons ago, or a Tom Sims Cassette. Enjoy the selections! Bye…

Hillbilly Boogie!

HILLBILLY BOOGIE !

Essential component of Rock’n’Roll, this Country stream goes as far as the 30’s. Following the Boogie Woogie wave (1928, Pinetop Smith), everyone includes a boogie in his repertoire : swing big bands (Count Basie : « Basie boogie »), western swing orchestras (Spade Cooley : »Three way boogie », or smaller combos – Country (Tennessee Ernie Ford : « Shot gun boogie », 1951) or Blues (Amos Milburn : « Amo’s Boogie », 1946 – one of thousand artists). And the phenomenon will last a good twenty years. Fast tempo is good for dancers, as in « Hillbilly Boogie » (Jerry Irby, 1949 –Pete Burke at the piano).

Piano style was transposed to

guitar (Arthur Smith, « Guitar Boogie », 1945),

harmonica (The Milo Twins, « Truck Driver’s boogie », 1949),

mandolin (The Armstrong Twins, « Mandolin Boogie », 1949),

– violin (Curley Williams, « Fiddlin’ Boogie », 1949),

– steel-guitar (Speedy West, « Stratosphere Booie », 1954),

– accordion (Nathan Abshire, « Lu Lu Boogie », 1947),

– banjo (The McCormick Brothers, « Red Hen Boogie », 1954),

– vocal too of course (Wesley Tuttle, «Yodelin’ Boogie », 1949).

pee-wee-king

You can recognize a Hillbilly boogie by the presence of a powerful stand-up bass, often slapped : you can hear here the monumental « Bull Fiddle Boogie » by PeeWee King (Redd Stewart on vocal)(1949).

Numerous other instruments can be found in hillbilly boogie such as saxophone, muted trumpet or clarinet.

donnie-bowshier-tight-shoe-boogiebobby-soots-boogie-woogie-blues
hardrockmy-honky-tonk-baby
milo-twins-truck-drivers-boogie

And until now I’d only speak of titles including « boogie » ! There were thousands others on this tempo, not always fast, but « uptempo ». Finally it became the standard in hillbilly music, what we call now Hillbilly Bop. One example between hundred is  Downie Bowshier’s « Tight Shoe Boogie » (King, 1953). The song complains about shoes too tight to dance to the bop. It is doubly ironic, since Bowshier was confined to a wheel chair.

Recommended listening :

We are well treated these times, because there is a plethora of compilations.

– « Country boogie 1939-1947 » (Frémeaux et associés 161) – 36 classic recordings just before and after WWII, from « Oakie Boogie » (Jack Guthrie) to « Square Dance boogie » (Johnny Lee Wills), to « Saturday night boogie » (Al Dexter). A good choice from Gérard Herzaft, the famous compiler.

– « Hillbilly Bop, Boogie & The Honky Tonk », a serie of 3 double-CDs from Jasmine (UK) at bargain price. Buy in confidence, you won’t be sorry !hillbilly-bop-jasmine

– « Hillbilly Boogie » Proper (UK) boxset (4 CD). 100 tunes for £ 10.99. All the greats are here.

– « King Hillbilly Bop’n’Boogie » (UK Ace 854) does concentrate on one of the genre’s best postwar labels. Many uncommon tracks.

king-hillbilly-bop-Hillbilly Boogie » (Columbia Legacy 53940) – 20 essential tracks (1990)  hillbilly-boogie-cd

– If you are looking for something else, try to find (remoted from current catalog) « A Shot In The Dark – Tennessee Jive », a 7-CD Bear Family boxset devoted to Nashville’s small labels from 1945 to 1955.

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