Georgia to Tennessee: CHARLIE ‘Peanut’ FAIRCLOTH

My first exposure to Charlie Faircloth was on late ’70s, when I’d put my hands on the fabulous hillbilly tapes of Bert Martins. Things like “Coffee, Cigarettes and Tears”, “Mississipi River Blues” made me wanting for more.
It was however not before recently that I’d began to gather all available material about him, and I’ve been lucky. So here it is the result of my researches. It’s how I intend to pay homage to a relatively unknown hillbilly artist.

Biography (as from Hillbilly-music.com)

Charlie ‘Peanut’ Faircloth was known as a zany disc-jockey from Macon, Georgia (1946) over WNEX. His efforts weren’t just limited to the usual duties of staff announcer and spinning records. He emceed several programs. Among others, he was on « Farm Frolics », designed for the early morning risers of the day. Another was called « Hillbilly Hit Parade » show. In between he would call the plays for « Peanut’s Salon Concert » – a daily show which featured the top tun of the day in Macon. On Saturday nights, he could be heard ot as they wrote « …really lets loose » on a sow called « Heaps of Corn », which had its share of comedy. Saturday also meant that Peanut and his band, « The Georgia Crackers «  (nothing to do with the ’30’s old-time combo,, neither with the Newman brothers, which included the soon-to-be King recording star Bob Newman).
Peanut recorded for Decca in 1950 in Nashville. And if it wasn’t enough, he was a writer for Hill & Range Publishing Company.
In 1951, he was D.-Jaying for WRDV in Augusta (Ga.) and in 1956 for WAPO in Chattanooga (TN.)

He died in 2010.

Charlie ‘Peanut’ Faircloth: an appreciation (by bopping.org editor)

The Decca session (Nashville, April 5, 1950)
Faircloth (vo, rh.gtr), ld gtr, p, steel, b (probably an house band)

Fast bopper, steel solo

Mississipi River Blues. The original song had been done by Jimmie Rodgers in 1929, then by Big Bill Broonzy in 1934. Without doubt, Faircloth had heard both versions.

medium paced hillbilly blues, some yodel. rinky dink piano solo

I'll Sail My Ship Alone (Decca 46237B)

by Charlie 'Peanut' Faircloth

Moon Mullican had a million seller in 1950 and everybody wanted to have his version of this song, Red Sovine, Ferlin Husky, Skeets McDonald among others. Faircloth’s version is not bad at all: medium to slow tempo, classic honky tonk instrumentation.

Faircloth’s last song cut bt Decca, “F-O-O-L-I-S-H Me” is a fast ditty with a lot of steel.

During the next years Faircloth did D. Jaying in M-Georgia first, then having relocated in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he issued a disc on the microscopic H-R-H label, # 502 in 1956. A side is a good Country-rocker, some say Rockabilly, “It’s Always Time For Love”, while the B-side was a slowie “I Know How Lonesome An Old Lonesome Can Be”. The record was issued with the name “Peanut” Faircloth And The Hot Roasted Hillbillies” and indeed sent nowhere.

Later on, except for two occasions, Peanut Faircloth never released any new records. One was issued on The Tres Bien label # 12 (Chattanooga, TN label) in 1983:”Cho choo Spit Tune”, a revamp of the ever-popular Billy Briggs’ “Chew Tobacco Rag” (Imperial and Colmbia, 1950), the other on Bibletone # 1514: “I Know The Lord Will Stand By me” (date unknown, New York label).

The magic of Internet still works. Peanut’s son posted on Youtube two important documents. The first was a recording of a show done early ’60s at the Turner Club (Peanut being drummer): one side fast fiddle tune, then a good slow, towards a version of Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle And Roll”.The second ws an long interview given in 1999 covering his entire career. Finally a recording (studio cut?) “The Kind Of Love I Can’t Forget” with the banjoist Randall Franks. And that was the last tune of Faircloth: he died in 2010.

Sources: mainly from Internet. Of great help were Ronald Keppner (78-Ron) for the Decca files; HBR Allan Turner for H-R-H sides. Many thanks to both of them!

Walter “Tex” Dixon: from Hillbilly Bop to mainstream Country (1950 to Seventies)

Mason Dixon, here is an artist who went under a number of different sobriquets, billed variously during his career as “Tex” Dixon, Walter Dixon, Walter “Tex” Dixon, and of course Mason Dixon. Although he is not the Mason Dixon who recorded for the Memphis METEOR label, that was Merle “Red” Taylor.

The Mason Dixon here is one Walter Dickey, regular on the Dixie Hayride from Florence, Alabama, who made his recording debut, as
Walter Dixson, for the Birmingham, Alabama BAMA label in 1951 Both sides (« Honky Tonk Swing » is a rockin’ bopper. The B-side, « i’m Feelin’ Sorry » is an uptempo ballad. Years later, “Hello Memphis” was obviously a popular song as Dixon re-recorded the number for the Memphis ZONE label a few years later .

Although a thorough research, no biography data ever surfaced about him. So all we must consider is his music.And his recording history is far from complete, his records in some cases (1960’s) seemingly are quite uncommon, and it’s been quite a task to discover several of them, sorry.

His first record was issued on Bama 2200 under the adventurous name of Walter Dixson {sic}, it’s a romper (fabulous piano) « Honky Tonk Swing » on the very same label that « Sydney » Hardrock Gunter made also his debut with « Gonna Dance All Night », Bama # 201. One can assume, sudging aurally from the sounds, that they shared the same band on their first record. A second issue by Dixon is rumoured to exist, but never came to light. Then came his rarest records, on Dixie : . nobody seems to own them. Even a great collector of Hillbilly in U.S., Dave Sax didn’t answer to me about these Dixie records. Hell, maybe he’s got them !

Then Atkins relocated later employed Dixon for gigs.
Next Dixon was in 1957 on Starday (regular serie) # 564 (« Your Lovin’ Lies » / »I’m Feelin ‘ Sorry For Myself ») as « Tex Dixon ». Both songs are very good uptempo ballads. Steel guitar is prominent, and both are well sung with some extrovert vocal. His only known picture was taken during his stay at Starday.

We now jump ro 1959, on Reed Records (out of Alabama), and Dixon went on this Alabama label and cut 5 records, picking again his name of « Mason Dixon ». The highlight was the first version of one of his successes, the renowned « Hello Memphis » (Reed # 564) : it’s a an uptempo adorned by a fine steel and a lowdown backing. Other good tracks of this era do include « Somebody Else Is Taking My Place » (# 545), a nice fast bopper (with trumpet backing), the flipside, « I Wanr My Baby Back » is a rocker, nice guitar. Then « Big Blue Waters » (# 1060) has a folky taste, while its flipside « Open the Door (Liza Jane) » is a folk rocker. # 1064 do couple the already discussed « Hello Memphis » and « Queen Of My Heartaches » (doubled vocal).

Col Cold Heart

by Mason Dixon

(unheard -not found)(

I Don't LIKE This Kind Of Living

by Mason Dixon

(unheard - not found)

Cold, Cold Heart

by Mason Dixon

(unheard -not found)

I Just Don't like This Kind Of Living

by Mason Dixon

(Unheard -not found)

In 1960 Walter Dixon relocated in Memphis for 4 records, respectively on Zone and Stomper Time labels. The first has # 1150, a good rendition of two Hank Willllam’s songs, « Cold, Cold Heart » and « I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Living », # 1150. «  I Had To Let You Go » and « Mind Full Of Memories » # 1158: two passable country-rockers (double vocals) – in 1962 – « She Can’t Stand The Light Of Day »/ a very good revamp of « Hello Memphis » (Zone # 520) suming at 2’43, instead of the Reed 1015 version.

There begins a serie of 4 non-secular tunes cut for Loyal Records under again the name Mason Dixon  : « Precious Memories »/ »There’s A Light Guiding Me » issued on Loyal # 112, (and the Datson Brothers, as backing vocal chorus?)

Erwin : « Slowly Dying » # 212), « Funny How Love Can Be » (750) and « Goodbye She’s Gone » (# 1100), one of his best rockers on Zone 1093

From then on, Dixon always cut mainstream country until the early ’70s . Things like « Radar Blues »/ »Running The Grapevine » (Brite Star 2458) « Big City »/ »Little Bitty Woman »(Crown 128), « i’m Crying Happy »/ »Just You» All those sides « Just Outside The Door » (GMG 187) and Macho 7803 « The Po ‘Man’s Blues ») are only of interest to hard-core country music fans, I guess. His Macho single seems the latest, and he disppeared afterwards, record-wise.

For several years I have been looking for material (biographical and/or records) of this important, although unknown nowadays, artist. The resulting story is quite meager, and I am conscious of his relative modesty. But it’s been all those recent years to gather material and setting up this story, indeed far from complete. Meanwhile, this is all I can say about Walter/Tex Dixon, and i hope someone will care and share his knowledge about him, in order to complete this story.

Aknowledgements: Big Allan Turner (Bama, Alfa sides); various compilations for 60’s material; a a special big ‘thank you’ to Kent Heinemann for later sides (60’s and 70s).

Indiana Rockabilly (Bluegrass too: The BLANKENSHIP BROTHERS

Indiana isn’t the first American state you’d associate with primitive Rockabilly, but it was there, hidden among the steelworks and the industrial areas. Indianapolis was seething with young, spotty hopefulls,, all wanting to be Elvis and looking more like the greek next door. Eddie Smalling, Tommy Lam, Van Brothers,, Tex Neighbors, Dennis Puckett.. .all true Indiana boppers.

The Blankenship Brothers certainly weren’t the next « Teenage Sensation ». Hell, this small but tightly band didn’t even pretend to cut Rockailly. Led by Floyd & Dennis Blankenshipthis small outfit cut some of the best primitive Rock North of Tennessee, but to them it was more like Country and Bluegrass music, blended with a little rough Johnny Cash edge. They played at the local tonks and jukejoints, entertaining the masses of factory workers who were looking to entertainment after a hard week of being frazzied by the burning steel mills. Hell, maybe these guys worked there too !

« Don’t Tell Me Your Sorry » {sic} and « Easy To Love – Hard To Forget » (Syline 105) is certainly closer to Bluegrass than Rockabilly, especially with the typical mountain harmonies from Floyd and Dennis, and the use of a mandolin and a fiddle.

ssue # 106 (« That’s Why I’m Blue »/ « I Just Got One Heart ») sits on the fence between the two styles. « That’s Why I’m Blue » is a fabulous, primitive stomper with Luther Perkins type picking and jangly acoustics filling out the sound. Hidden almost inaudible is a fiddle player, which you can only hear with earphones and only in the breaks. Flip is back to the bluegrass beat and the fiddle player is right up against the mike to make up for lost time.

Issue # 106 (« That’s Why I’m Blue »/ « I Just Got One Heart ») sits on the fence between the two styles. « That’s Why I’m Blue » is a fabulous, primitive stomper with Luther Perkins type picking and jangly acoustics filling out the sound. Hidden almost inaudible is a fiddle player, which you can only hear with earphones and only in the breaks. Flip is back to the bluegrass beat and the fiddle player is right up against the mike to make up for lost time.

# 107 (« Hard Time Blues »/ »Waiting For A Train » are both full-blooded boppers that any back-in-the-hills cat would be proud of. ((The fiddle player obviously is gone for a cigarette break or something) . The bass player, (although mostly off-mike) is riding the hell out of the fretboard on this 45.

download train

On to Brothers’ own custom label, « Bluegrass », « Tears I Cried For You »/ « Mary »( Blue-Grass # 773) with a Indianapolis address in the Summer of 1959. Backed by the Sundown Playboys (that once featured Russell Spears who cut « Beggin’ Time » on Yolk Records # 128; also on Nabor# 135 and 138). Blue-Grass 773 finds the band back in blue-grass mode, but te guitarist is romping a fine line bordering on Rockablly. Flip has a banjo filling out the spaces. Although the band cook, the vocals aren’t as self assured here (unlike the Skyline tracks).

On to Brothers’ own custom label, « Bluegrass », « Tears I Cried For You »/ « Mary »( Blue-Grass # 773) with a Indianapolis address in the Summer of 1959. Backed by the undown Playboys (that once featured Russell Spears who cut « Beggin’ Time » on Yolk Records). Blue-Grass 773 finds the band back in blue-grass mode, but te guitarist is romping a fine line bordering on Rockablly. Flip has abanjo filling out the spaces. Although the band cook, the vocals aren’t as self assured here (unlike the Skyline tracks).

« Lonesome Old Jail » was issued as # 816 (released approx. March 1960) and we’re back into Johnny Cash bopper/prison song mode. « Too Late » is a standard Blue-Grass B-side.

« Lonesome Old Jail » was issued as # 816 (released approx. March 1960) and we’re back into Johnny Cash bopper/prison song mode. « Too Late » is a standard Blue-Grass B-side.

The final 45 release « You Went & Broke My Heart »/ « The Story »(issue # 870)(end of 1960/61), the Brothers regress back into the comfy womb of blue-grass music, without a hint of rebellious Rockabilly.

The Story (The World Will Never Know)

by The Blankenship Brothers

The final 45 release « You Went & Broke My Heart »/ « The Story »(issue # 870)(end of 1960/61), the Brothers regress back into the comfy womb of blue-grass music, without a hint of rebellious Rockabilly.

You Went And Broke My Heart

by The Blankenship Brothers

From anonymous notes to « Bluegrass and Rockabilly Kings of Indiana » (Blue Sky LP 100, issued 1999).Additional music (Russell Spears) ws drawn from YouTube. All labels (Skyline and BlueGrass) from Rockin’ Country Style.

Texas Hillbilly bop (and Country ballads): COYE WILCOX (1950-1980)

Tire plant worker by day, honky-tonk singer by night, He had been born in Rusk, Texas, and had been performing around Houston since the mid-1940s. In late 1949 or 1950, he was drafted by the ubiquitous Jack Rhodes for a short time. His recording debut was made with Rhodes for Freedom in 1950. A solo release followed the next year, « I Need Someone Tonight » (Freedom 5006) is a very good mid-paced bopper, fiddle well to the fore. Flipside « One More Mistake » is a well done ballad and sounds promising for the things to come (steel to the fore).

In 1951-52, he released the fine double-sided Freedom 5040 with the same formula : « It’s Nobody’s Business  (What We Do)» and the wonderfully rural sounding of the uptempo « Look What Your Love Has Done To Me ». Apparently Wilcox held the violon.

He cut (unreleased at the time) in 1955 or 56 “Bird’s Nest On The Ground” (a Southern colloquialism meaning “a good thing”) which is pure Hank Williams, drawing out the best in both wonderfully rural Wilcox’s voice and the unindentiified musicians – probably some configuration of the Gold Star house band – accompanying him. It would have made a fine single for Sarg in 1956, but by this time Charlie Fitch was looking for material that encapsulated the present rather than pay homage to the past.

In 1959 he resurfaced this time in modern style on Azalea records. « You Gotta Quit Cheatin’ » was a mid-paced rocker (prominent piano solo) of first quality # 117). Flipside « I made A Mistake » (this man had apparently things to blame on himself for) does return to the old days, with the fiddle well to he fore and a bluesy Rockaballad nicely done.

On Azalea 123 Wilcox had his best ever rocker, the novelty « Zippy, Hippy, Dippy », backed by the folkish « Song Of Jesse James. »

Later on, he cut on Lu-Tex the ballad « Old Man Job » (1212) and the similar styled « Please Play Me A Song » (lot of steel).More Lu-Tex with « I’m Just Teasin’ Me » – good vocal, sensitive ballads (# 505) and « Path Of Tomorrow » (# 325) in 1976.

Then the last recordings on Orbit 1001, « I Just Laughed Till I Cried » and the countryish bopper « Old Hand Me Down ».

Sources: Andrew Brown for biographical details (Sarg Records Anthology); Ronald Keppner and Allan Turner for Freedom B-sides sound files – many thanks to them; Kent Heinemann for a Lu-Tex issue; 5cat for Lu-Tex label scans; YouTb for Azalea sound files and labels. My own archives: Google images.

An Hillbilly impersonator? – not just that: RED GARRETT (1953-1956)

Red Garrett is another classic Hillbilly singer of the golden 50s who missed the boat to fame. Not only his own personality was excellent, he was also a fantastic impersonator which he proves in “They Got Me Singing That Way”. He also copies Hank Williams in “May You Never Be Alone” to insert his tribute recitation of “A Bed Of Roses”. At first listen you think it is an alternative take of the ole master because the original Drifting Cowboy Don Helms was employed on the steel guitar. Also Bud Isaacs is audible along with Chet Atkins . Other possible musicians are Tommy Jackson and Dale Potter .
(Notes from « The complete Red Garrett » Cattle 331)

Red Garrett was born in Barston, Tennessee. He developed a fondness for the music with a country flavor early in his life. Later, he formed a band called the “Tennessee Pioneers”. He started his singing career in 1945. A late 1953 magazine article, Cowboy Songs magazine included him as one of the “Stars On the Horizon”. It also indicated he was working broadcasts back in Vincennes and Princeton, Indiana. In 1951, folks from the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville had heard of him and sent for him. By 1953, he was still a member of the Opry. During his time with the Opry, he appeared on the same billing with such stars as Cowboy Copas, Eddy Arnold, Elton Britt, Slim Whitman and Webb Pierce among others.

Around that same time, he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor. His first release for them was “Blame It On The Moonlight” b/w “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Past”(47-5242, issued March 26, 1953).

But, shortly after that it seems, another article mentioned he had disappeared from the music scene, but by about 1955, he had come back to performing.

In 1956, he had a record out on the Decca label entitled, “May You Never Be Alone – and A Bed of Roses”. The song was a tribute to Hank Williams – it was said he actually imitated Hank when he sang the tune “May You Never Be Alone” but in the middle of the tune, he does a recitation, “and a Bed of Roses”. The article that mentioned this tune also told us that the flip side, “Clear Sailing” was “weak.”

(Red Garrett: an appreciation – by bopping’s editor)

To be frank, I’ve not taken a great pleasure listening to Garrett’s music. The vast majority of his output is the same in a review of rhythm: medium paced uptempos. No track us some apart from the others, except for two Louisiana inspired tunes (with a rhumba beat): “Papa Joe’s Place” and “Please”. The rest is quite ordinary, in truth typical Nashville honky-tonk or the 1950’s. This perhaps explains why his recording career was so short.

It appears he also did some songwriting, too as we found he co-wrote a tune with Boudleaux Bryant called “Moon Tan”. We found a hint as to the type of artist he was for they wrote in the article, “..never refused to play in a town just because it was small and lacked celebrities to take notice of him.”

Sources: Cattle and HillbillyBoogie YouTube chain for biog. details. Sounfiles from Hillbilly Researcher # 67, entirely devoted to Red Garrett (his complete output); labels from 45cat or 78world.

Discography (from Praguefrank)

SINGLES
RCA Victor (1953)
47-5242 Blame It On Moonlight / Don’t Be Shamed Of Your Past – 26-03-53
47-5363 They Got Me Singin’ That Way / Please – 07-53
47-5499 Moon Tan / Smoke Screen – 11-53
47-5621 Too Late To Plow Now / Bullseye – 01-54
47-5692 That’s Why I’m Happy / You Played Taps To My Heart – 04-54
47-5783 Tell Me Again / Long Gone – 07-54
Decca (1955-56)
9-29742 Papa Joe’s Place / Standing At The End Of The World – 11-55
9-29811 Don’t Believe A Thing I Say / My Search On Earth Is O’er – 01-56
9-30047 Clear Sailing / May You Never Be Alone;A Bed Of Roses – 09-56

JERRY IRBY: 2nd part (1949-1975)

The latest M-G-M’s, then Humming Bird, 4* and Daffan Records (1949-1956)

When the recording ban was lifted, late in 1949, Irby was back in the studio recording once again for M-G-M. However, his days with M-G-M were numbered. He cut just two sessions for the company before leaving the label in search of pastures new. His search for a new recording contract took him first to BillMcCall’s 4 Star label, where he cut two singles, then to his old friend H. B. Crowe in Houston, who had just formed his own label – Hummingbird .

Irby was reunited wih an old friend, Ted Daffan, a few years later, when he joined the rost of artists who had been signed by Daffan. Irby recorded for his new formed Daffan label: according to the era’s trends, he recorded Rock’n’Roll (“Clickety Clack”) and a revamp of his oldie “Forty Nine Women” on Polly records.

Following his span on Daffan, Irby recorded for a slew of small concerns, most of which were based in the Houston area, like Hi-Lo, Polly, J+B and Jer-Ray.

Then there followed a period of inactivity, as far as the recording scene was concerned, before Irby resurfaced in the early ’70’s cutting material for Bagatelle. Unlike his earlier recordings, Irby’s Bagatelle material was of a non secular nature. Irby had become a born again christian and was using his talent as a singer/songwriter to praise the works of the Lord . Why after all, as someone once said, should the devil have all the good tunes.

When Jerry Irby died in 1983, he left behind him a wealth of recorded material, that makes out of him one of the great Western Swing performers.

Sources: for the mot part (1942-1951) the 78rpm (sound files and label scans) do come from the huge, amazing Ronald Keppner’s collection. Thanks, Ron, for the help and care taken with the fabulous 78rpm sound. YouTube was used for later 45rpm, as well as Hillbilly Researcher (Humming Bird, # 06) for Irby and Pete Burke sides. Gripsweat for “Hurricane” (Jer-Ray, 1959).BF for “The Daffan label”. 45cat for label scans. Anonymous biography (certainly from Allan Turner’s hand) from Boppin’ Hillbilly series, volume devoted on Jerry Irby.