Early December 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the latest batch of bopping goodies – and the penultimate 2019 selection. You will have to be comprehensive with label scans, that don’t match the usual bopping.org criteria : as a matter of fact I am experiencing the latest Photoshop version and not completely familiar with it. Anyway the music is still intact and ready for listening/downloading. So let’s go.

Ted Daffan’s Texans

TED DAFFAN (1912-1996) was a bandleader and prolific songwriter (and steel guitar player) since the mid-30s. Backed by his Texans, he wrote many hits and classics: just one among others, the abundantly revised later « Born To Lose » from 1941. Here he is with « Car Hop Blues », orginally published on Okeh 6452, then reissued in June 1947 on Columbia 37438 then 20165 : a fine shuffler, indeed adorned by Daffan’s steel, plus accordion and a bluesy guiar. The vocal is done by the disillusioned Chuck Keeshan. A short note : Daffan had his own label in ’55-’58, which released fine records by Jerry Irby « Clickety Clack »), Jerry Jericho (« These Hands »), Fidlo (« Triflin’ Heart ») or William Penix « Dig That Crazy Driver » .

Jimmie Ballard

As vocalist for Buffalo Johnson & His Herd on Kentucky 520 (1950, Cincinnati), JIMMIE BALLARD cut the two risqué « Tappin’ Boogie » and « T’ain’t Big Enough ». Great boppers, the fastest being the A-side – great walking bass for a combination of guitar and steel over a non-sense vocal. The B-side is slowier, although equally good.

Billboard Sept. 27th, 1952

Billboard, Dec. 20th, 1952

This time two years later on King, as JIMMY BALLARD, he once more had very fine records. The double-sided « I Want A Bow-Legged Woman » and « Shes Got Something » are both superior boppers, drums present – actually pre-rockabilly tunes. Nice steel and vocally fluent.(King 1118). His later amusing « The Creek’s Gone Muddy (And The Fish Won’t Bite ») (# 1143) is done in a similar style. The agile guitar player in these sides could be the great Al Myers, who adorned several days before a Bob Newman session (« Phht ! You Were Gone »).

Adam Colwell, Tex White & the Country Cousins

Less and less known are both next artists. ADAM COLWELL is delivering in 1962 (Cincinnati) the fast « Open the Door » (some chorus, but great steel) on Ark 219, while TEX WHITE — is doing a medium nice uptempo on Nayco 2526 (location and date unknown – do you have any clue, Drunken Hobo?) with « You’re Wasting Your Tears ».

“Little Willie” Littlefield

Finally we got fabulous piano walking basses and tremendous high-pitched notes by LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD : his first record from 1948 on Houston’s Eddie’s 1202, « Little Willie’s Boogie » is very reminiscent of Amos Milburn great Aladdin wildies like « My Baby’s boogeing » or « Amo’s Boogie » ; Littlefield’s « Jim Wilson Boogie » on Federal 12221 is done in the same style.

Sources : HBR « Kentucky label » ; Will Agenant « Columbia 20000 serie » for Ted Daffan ; King Hillbilly Project (Jimmy Ballard) ; Gripsweat (Tex White, Adam Colwell) ; my own archives.

Houston’s Daffan Records (1955-58)

DAFFAN records (1955-1958) (from Kevin Coffey’s notes to “The Daffan Records  story”, Bear Family BCD 15878, 1995)

Ted Daffan
Ted Daffan was at a crossroads both in his life and his career in the fall of 1955.

His days as a best seller for Columbia were behind him, his last recent big hit was as recent as 1950: “I”ve Got Five Dollars And It’s Saturday Night”. He’d had a decade of enormous success following his 1941 departure from Houston’s Bar X Cowboys to form his Texans. (…)  He found himself back where he started in 1952, teamed for a time with old buddy Jerry Irby, who had also fallen on hard times (see elsewhere in the site for Jerry Irby’s story). By 1955, he’s reached a seeming standstill.

He had recently purchased the house and recording studio on Robert E. Lee street from Floyd Tilllman. (…) Eddie Noack sought him out that fall: he had written the somewhat uncharacteristic “These hands”, but could get no one interested in doing anything with it.

“I knew it was a hit”, said Daffan. “I couldn’t get anybody to record it.” So Daffan put together a studio band, brought in vocalist Jerry Jericho – and Daffan Records was born.

It was actually a partnership between Daffan and the late Herman Shoss, an old friend from high school days who played first violin in the Houston Symphony. Both they were part of the ‘house’ band that Daffan had put together for recording sessions, a band rounded up with old cohorts Buddy Buller on lead guitar and Lew Frisby on bass. Buller had been part of Daffan’s first band in 1933 and had lent his solid, distinctive lead guitar to all of Daffan’s prewar sessions; Frisby was one of the ‘hillbillies’ Daffan had joined in the Blue Ridge Playboys in 1934. He was later a long-time member of Floyd Tillman’s backing band and a busy recording session player, as well. Daffan added pianist Pete Burke, another veteran who had played with the Blue Ridge Playboys, the Bar X Cowboys and Jerry Irby’s Texas Ranchers. Daffan himself would alternate between steel guitar and baritone ukulele. He decided against using drums on his sessions (…) and his unusually but highly rhythmic uke adds a distinctive touch to many sides. “I’m a pretty good rhythm man,” he says. “My success was due to my ability to set up jazz patterns…That’s why I played ukulele. You can get great rhythm out of it.”

The combination of sounds – Daffan’s distinctively thin-toned steel or catchy baritone uke rhythm; the graceful violin of Shoss; the tasty jazz guitar of Buller; the unmistakable whorehouse piano of Burke – was singular, sparse and clean, all qualities that were trademarks of Ted Daffan. If Schoss’s violin sometimes defeated a song’s momentum – it felt particularly out of place on the uptempo Irby sides – its unintentional evocation of turn-of-the-century parlor romance sometimes actually worked to a performance’s advantage (at times it blended well with some of the old-fashioned qualities of Jericho’s voice, for example). “It’s funny,” says Daffan. “He could play first violin in the Houston Symphony but couldn’t quite cut country.” On the other hand, Buddy Buller’s excellent and sophisticated guitar work strengthened every session. Sadly, this underrated musicians’s best work with Daffan, recorded in Hollywood in 1942, remains for the most part unissued.

Daffan made interesting choices, too, in the artists he chose to record, recruiting seasoned vets rather than untried up-and-comers, until he recorded William Penix in 1958. (…) The fact that singers Irby, Jericho and McBride also played their own rhythm accompaniment was a plus. “That way, I saved a musician.”

The first Daffan Records releases, Jericho’s These Hands and the Daffan/Irby Tangled Mind, were successful beyond Daffan’s wildest expectations: both hit big regionally.(…) Unfortunately, when he could get distribution, Daffan could rarely get payment for records delivered. (…) Daffan’s hopes of leasing his masters to bigger labels were thwarted when those labels simply covered the songs: Hank Snow hit big with both These Hands and Tangled Mind. (…) By the end of 1957, Daffan had given up. He accepted an offer to go to Nashville to work with Hank Snow in a publishing venture. He revived his label out of frustration briefly later in the year, when he found and recorded William Penix, a singer-songwriter he felt had potential to be “another Hank Williams”, but couldn’t find a label interested in the sides. (…) He issued a second Penix release in ’62, then there was a flurry in the mid-sixties (Margaret Elliott, Johnny Bundrick) followed by a last try, with the Pickering Brothers (who were “The Picks” on the overdubbed Buddy Holly sessions in Clovis, NM) in 1971.

No comment about the tunes: honest Texas honky-tonk music from the mid-50s. Don’t miss anyway Fido’s “Trifling Heart”: just about one of the best ever boppers ever cut!

    Ted Daffan

Jerry Irby