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).
Founded at 1354, Wright Street, LA, California, in 1954. It is believed by Hillbilly Researcher Al Turner that the label was possibly owned by George Wilson, who wrote or co-wrote most of the material used by both Excel and Rodeo. He would have made a small fortune in royalties from writing « Hot Rod Race » for Arkie Shibley in 1951 (see elsewhere in the site for his story), certainly enough to put into a small record company. Read the rest of this entry »
A popular artist with country and western fans, Jim Flaherty performed often and helped organize and promote country music in New England with his concerts as well as through his position as manager of the successful Belmont Record Shop in Hartford. Jim recorded a country-ish cover of Elvis Presley’s hit « Are You Lonesome Tonight » (vocals by Howie Stange) / « My Foolish Heart » with vocals by Morey Dubois on Frankie Records FR-7. He cut more on Frankie, the forgettable double-sider « My Darling Rosie »/I’ll Never Be The Same » by Lou Dee. Jim also recorded two fine rockabilly/rockers tunes on a rare single on Jenn Records (J-101), « Real Gone Daddy« / »This Old Bomb of Mine » with vocals by Howie Stange. Finally Connecticut born Stange recorded on the New York Mell label (# 120) the fine double-sider ballad « Baby I’m Sorry/You Never Had It So Good« .
Howdy, folks. It’s hot over there (South of France), nevertheless I am determined to offer you once more your bi-weekly dose of Hillbilly bop! This time I will give you mostly Bluegrass oriented Hillbilly, and banjo woll be prominently used. Let’s begin on the famous Dixie label (although quite uncommon one to find), with Malcolm Nash and the good « I Guess I’m Wise » (# 833). We go on further with Pinky Pinkston, an artist already surveyed in a recent fortnight. Here he cut a marvelous Bluegrass version of « Blue Moon Of Kentucky » (Fine-R-Tone # 6). The Wilburn Brothers are already a well-known successful brother duet: here I offer their fine rendition of another brothers duet, the Shelton Brothers‘ ’30s classic »Deep Elem Blues« . Well, I know, this version date from 1956, and is very main country-Nashville sounding. Nevertheless, it’s a good version to be heard while playing
On to West Coast and for a very interesting artist: Black Jack Wayne. I am gathering information on Mister Wayne for a planned feature. I post today his very nice « Shallow Water Blues« , cut with Cal Maddox (of the Maddoxes) on his own Black Jack label (# 104). We return to another recently covered artist, Dennis Goodrich, for a ballad - actually the flipside to « All Alone« , « My Love for You » on the Debute label (# 500).
Let’s go further in Bluegrass style with a Bryant Wilson and the Kentucky Ramblers issue, « A Use To Be » on Adair 620, a small label from Edinburg, Indiana..
And we come to and end with the fabulous piano-led « Slow Down Baby » by Bob Gaddy on the Harlem label. The guitar player is none other than Larry Dale for this NYC 1953 issue.
Since 1955, Central City’s WMTA radio showcased every Saturday night a live show named « The Saturday Jamboree« . Among the performers Royce Morgan can be found ; also Eddie Gaines from White Plains, Billy Harlan (the « I wanna bop » cat) on double-bass – in the late 50′s he also worked as disc-jockey on WMTA and WNES. Also Tag and Effie Willoughby, and Jimmy Piper. Read the rest of this entry »
There are very few things known about Jimmie Dawson. He was born in 1924 in Haynesville, La ., and died in 1992. Real name Tommy Latham, legally changed to Jimmy Dawson in 1956. He never hit it big, although having written and cut great songs, which he « recycled », sometimes years after, on other labels or under different names. Even specialized press like Billboard did mention him very little. So nearly all I know do come from his records. His story may be a bit intricated, so let’s begin once by the end. Read the rest of this entry »
Howdy, folks! Back from holydays on Italian Ligurian Riviera. Believe me, it’s hot over there, nice small towns beyond the sea but not bopping music at all, aaargh! A nice not-feeling-at-home anyhow, that’s the most important. Hope you all had good holydays too, and ready to embark for more work, more trouble – world do seem to go head-over-heels. Fortunately we have the music!
Let’s begin this favourites’ return with a strange item: a fair Hillbilly on a Boston, East Coast label. Al Hawkes had launched his Event label in Feb. ’56, recording first only Country, thus KEN FAIRLIE (# 4264) for « The Table’s Turned » – nice fiddle, and smooth vocal for a very short (1’42) tune. Later on, Hawkes would have on his stable Rockabillies/Rockers Curtis Johnson, Ricky Coyne, even young Dick Curless. Recently I posted the LLOYD McCOLLOUGH story, and repeat here one of his finest songs on the Nashville/Los Angeles EKKO label (which published in its short existence very important discs by the likes of Jess Willard, The Cochran Brothers or Johnny Tyler): « Until I Love Again » (# 1023). Entire output of McCollough can be found on a U.K. Stompertime CD. Next record he had was Rockabilly on the Nashville Republic label. This Ekko release is from ’55.
From Raymondville, Texas comes FLETCHER HANNA, with Joe « Red » Hainer and the Ozark Playboys, for the nice shuffling « Hepcat Boogie » – topical lyrics, references to « Heartbreak Hotel » and « Blue Suede Shoes« , and a very short slap bass solo – on the Valley 101 label (not to be confused with the Tennessee label of the same name – remember Reece Shipley or Darrell Glenn). Very good atmospheric (steel guitar) record. Must be from ’56.
From California on the Happy Hearts label (a very rich and interesting one), JIMMY HAYES with the Coney Ridge Ramblers for « Tom Cat Boogie » (# 141) from as late as 1961. Another shuffler with a good guitar player, who makes some nice licks.
Now on the legendary Dixie label. BILL WILLIS had Starday custom releases, such as « Boogie Woogie All Night » or « Goin’ Down To Sal’s House » (Dixie 502) (respectively on Ace or Collector CDs). Here, he is vocal duetted (Goldie Norris?) on a rattlesnake-drummed « Where Is My Baby« . Nothing spectacular, just an ordinary ’57 Southern record.
Finally a real R&B blaster! YOUNG JESSIE in a New York session with Mickey Baker on guitar and Sam « The Man » Taylor on tenor saxophone – added by (unknown) baritone sax, bass and drummer, for the fantastic « Hit, Git And Split » for the Modern label. Why this was not a hit is a mystery: without doubt, the barrier of racism in ’56 and the savagery of the record, which must have been banned by radio stations, even in the Alan Freed’s territory. One of the real all-time R&B rockers classics!
Hope you enjoy the selections! Comments welcome. Bye
Next fortnight early October – I will be out of town by mid-September.
Hello, folks, howdy, visitors! Below are my favorites of the last 15 days which I’d like you (maybe) discover, both by music and my own words – what I know about these records, sometimes nearly nothing!
We begin in Nashville, early Sixties, with the DIXIELAND DRIFTERS and « HOT TO TROT » cut for the B.B. label. The presence of a dobro, and an unusual infectious rhythm, plus the unisson vocal, make this record very particular. I know the tune had a commercial impact, because, without doubt, its unlikely Bluegrass nature.
Then a decade earlier in Texas. JIMMIE STONE had this solitary « MIDNIGHT BOOGIE » on Imperial (8000 serie) in 1951. Firm vocal, a fine backing, and a completely stunning guitar solo. Surely the man knew the Blues!
On to Memphis and Meteor label. BARNEY BURCHAM is a real unknown, only for his solitary « CAN’T STEAL MY WAY AROUND« . Typical Memphis Hillbilly bop from 1955.
Next two choices are more Rock’n'Roll oriented. First, GRAHAM B. and « ROCK AND ROLL FEVER« . It’s been suggested that the man had connection with Buzz Busby, so a Washington, D.C. location is possible.
Second, for the well-known Bandera label out of Chicago, we find another unknown, certainly a pseudonym: LONESOME LEE and the cool 1958 « CRY OVER ME » – very nice guitar solo.
Finally a R&B classic, « CALDONIA« , sung and played on piano by the 8-years old wonder SUGAR CHILE ROBINSON in 1951. He disappeared afterwards.
DIXIE 2000 serie (Madison, Tennessee)(1958-1960)
Dixie – The very name evokes pictures of the Southern areas of the USA. Dixie records have been fascinating collectors for over 35 years now . Of course the word Dixie was used by many different labels throughout the States, anyway it is the main 2000 series that I am interested. Formed as an offshoot of Starday in late 1957, the idea seemed to be trying out new artists who, if successful, were transfered to Starday or using label as a custom one. Shelby Singleton seems to have been the man in charge at the beginning. Three of the first five discs were recorded in Daz Dood’s TRI-DEC label studio (Miami, Florida) and BENNY JOY’s « Spin The Bottle » was actually released on TRI-DEC 8667 in ’57 with « Hey High School Baby » on the flip. The Dixie release (2001) does sound slightly different, but as the vocal comments are same, it would appear that Starday re-mastered and the bass and drums sound more muffled on this hot slab of Rockabilly. Of a number of tracks recorded at this session, « Steady With Betty » was placed on flip of the Dixie issue and has some outstanding guitar in the break.
The other two discs recorded at TRI-DEC were GENE WATSON’s I’ll Always Love You/Little Valley (2003), a couple of ballads of little interest, and the marvelous rockin’ JIMMIE LEE « Three Little Wishes » (2005), one of the better but lesser known items on the label. With his band « The Playboys », Jimmie lays down a fine rocking opus that has a superb break split between a hot pumping piano and a very biting guitarist, and with handclaps and vocal comments, all making for a quality item.
Sandwiched between these Florida recordings are the first Texas recordings, both by DOUG BRAGG and probably recorded at Seller’s Recording Studio in Dallas. Issue 2002 couples « Red Rover/Lovin’ On My Mind », both tracks being slowish pounders of which the latter is the better of the breaks which combines piano and guitar, although to be fair the vocal is tougher on « Red Rover ». It is the second Bragg release that is the better of the two with « Pretty Little Thing » (2004) being an excellent fast rocker that has a very good break from the guitar and piano. There is a chorus in this that fits in well and the guitarist solo’s on to the end of the record. Doug recorded for quite a few Texas labels such as D during the 50’s and 60’s.
The next three releases on Dixie are all by Texas artists. DEE (Mullinax) & PATTY (Timmons) have a nice duet Bopper with « Don’t Tease Me » (2006) on which the band are very solid behind their relaxed vocalising. They were also on D and Mercury. ORVILLE COUCH, a Country singer from the Dallas/Fort Worth area had discs on boty Starday and Dixie in 1958 and his « Easy Does It » (2007) can best be described as a Rock ballad with obstrusive chorus, but he has a good voice and the guitarist is excellent on this one, although he always sounds more at home on Hillbilly material he cut for Starday and I assume that the Dixie release, probably arranged by local producer/manager Jim Shell, was a deliberate attempt to sell to the teenage market.
The very next release is one of the all-time Rockabilly greats with DERRELL FELTS & The Confederates : « Playmates/The Weepers » (2008). A crashing guitar intro and Derrell’s urgent vocal supported by driving bass and frantic drummer all combine to make « Playmates » so damn good with a superb guitar break. Texan Derrell Felts slows it down for the flipside « The Weepers » but it’s still top quality Rockabilly with lead and rhythm guitars combining for a really fine break. KEN HAMMOCK (also on Starday) offers an instrumental « Blue Guitar Jump» (2009).
The next disc is one of the least known, and arguably one of the best on the label with BILL CARROLL’s brilliant « Feel So Good » (2010) which came out at the end of 1958. I am very intrigued by the songwriting credit of Shuler/Hunter (Eddie Shuler of Goldband, and Pete Hunter, a Southern D.J. ?). The sound on this one is very similar to many of the classic rockabilly platters on the Goldband label. A real ‘lived in’ vocal on this an dit is a very catchy song with a piercing guitar break as Bill tells his tale helped by a couple of backup voices.
EDDIE SKELTON had three Dixie records as well as at least two on Starday itself. Strangely they being issued at the same time too. Eddie who was from the Virginia’s had formed a band with his brother called the Rhythmtones and their first one on Dixie « Keep It Swinging » (2011) is a much sought after rocking gem that has a hot guitar behind a good vocalist and a cat who jumps all over the piano in the second break. Great one.
Yet another elusive disc has been DEE JOHNSON’s « Just Look Don’t Touch » (2012) which has been described to as a solid Country rocker. There is no (2013) : unlucky number ?
Following the gap comes « Your Lying Ways » (2014) by BILL GOODWIN & His Western Ramblers. This is not as strong as his « Teenage Blues » (Starday) but is none the less a solid Country rocker with fine steel guitar, an dis a lot better than the later 60’s releases he had on Bandbox in Denver, Colo.
EDDIE SKELTON returnsfor an instrumental work out on« Rebel’s Retreat » that rocks along showcasing guitar/piano/sax and has a slow rocker « Love You Too Much » (2015) that has a nice brooding sound to it with some excellent bluesy piano and guitar.
The disc by MEL PRICE that comes next « Little Dog Blues » (2016) is the best rocking record I’ve heard by him. The first important ingredient is that the song has something going for it. Mel’s voice suits this self penned song and the backin, was the Santa Fe Rangers, is of high standard with brilliant guitar. I wonder why two of the tracks cut at this session were issued in Dixie 800 series. Mel had a number of releases on Starday, Blue Hen and Regan, and despite the name of his band, appears to have been active along the North Eastern seaboard of the USA.
CATHY KELLEY’s « Blues Hanging Around » (2017) is a Country rocker that sounds very Nashville and lives up to its title, and came out in mid-59.
Right from the opening notes of GROOVE JOE POOVEY’s famous « Ten long Fingers » (2018) with C.B. Oliver’s piano pumpng behind Joe’s assured vocal and a growling sax player who gets a good and dirty sound from his horn. An absolute classic whose rarity pales when one considers how rare his « Move Around » (Dixie 733) just a year before.
Use of the word rare, very overused with records brings us nicely to ART ONTARIO and his « It Must Be Me »(2019) which is a very fine bluesy rocker with an unusually toned guitar that has two excellent breaks. Mind this one is certainly not as rare as this son of Ohio’s « Queen From Bowling Green » issued under the name of ART BUCHANAN (Dixie 823).
For a chunk of good old Rock’n’Roll you’ll have to go a long way to beat « Blast Off » (2020) by the unknown ALDEN HOLLOWAY. Set at a fast jive pace, this one has some blisering guitar work and a good old honking sax before the guitar returns. The other side is an instrumental « Swinging The Rock » featuring both the above ; I wonder is his « Loving Is My Business » (Starday 714) was cut at the same session.
I have been unable to throw any light on HUGHEY BUNCH & The Bradley Farm Hands and their « South Wind » on Dixie 2021. It is not the same « South Wind » that was cut by the late Billy Wallace on REPUBLIC, but is a nice Hillbilly Rock side that has a very prominent banjo on this side and also on the flipside « Cry Tomorrow » which just gets the edge with me as the guitar work is better.
By now, the latter months of 1959 signs of pop rock begin to show up as on DEE JOHNSON’s « Back To School » (2022), which was probably cut at an earlier session. A basic line up of guitar and rhythm section aided by handclaps, a chorus and tinkling piano ; it is quite pleasant.
I was impressed by JAY GALLEGHER and his « Crazy Legs » (2023). A fast tempo’d rocker opened by a heavy drummer, a rocking guitar and a really pumping piano. There is a chorus on this but it suits the song and the guitarist cuts loose a great break amidst the handclapping. The flip is a bit of a shock too : « Steady Flame » is not so fast but I almost prefer this side with it’s clever guitar break that is followed by the pianist who is really enjoying himself. Dixie 2024 (Larry Streeter) unheard.
EDDIE SKELTON goes instrumental once more with « Curly » (2025). Mid paced guitar/piano/sax that is pleasing rather than exciting as it takes too long to get into its stride. And so we come to the end of the DIXIE 2000 series with BOBBY MACK and his « Who Put The Blues In Your Heart » (2025) which is a nice piece of Nashville Country.
(reprint from Phillip J. Tricker’s article in Roll Street Journal # v8, Summer 1984)
Recommended listening: Collector CD 4411 and the Dixie Collector series (2222 to 4444)
Maddox Brothers & Rose
They promoted themselves as «The Most Colorful Hillbilly Group In America », and no one would deny that their various western stage outfits emcompassed all the hues of the rainbow. They were a reasonably talented bunch of singers and, albeit rudimentory musicians, they were filled with an endless stream of adrenaline, a riotous sense of humour and vitality, which was leavened with just the right blend of musical exuberance. In Rose Maddox the band had a totally atypical female vocalist. No shy retiring song thrush she, Rose had grown up the rough edge of town, she was street wise and took no shit from anyone. Her whole demeanour was a gal who would smack you one in the mouth if you stepped out of line. Read the rest of this entry »