This fortnight’s favorite selection begins in a State not usually associated with Hillilly bop, that of Connecticut in the North east part of the U.S. Issued on the Starday custom Coxx label (# 588, September 1956), it hailed from Coventry and was allocated to SLIM COXX and his Cowboy Caravan. I remember the notes to Coxx 588 from the « Starday custom # 575-600 » study I had back in January 2012. « Slim’s real name was Gerard A Miclette. He played with his younger brother, Roland “Rocky” Miclette in various bands. By the time Roland came back from serving in the Navy, he joined Slim (who played fiddle like his father, George) playing bass in Slims’ Kentucky Ramblers. Eventually they came to the attention of the Down Homers, which featured Bill Haley (and Kenny Roberts) and joined them on the tidy sum of $200 a week wages. Once the Down Homers had disbanded, Slim & Rocky were playing at Lake Compounce in Slim’s new band, The Cowboy Caravan. »
»Lonely nights » is a perfect hillbilly shuffler: the vocalist has a top notch « hillbilly » voice, and steel/fiddle are both great. Rocky died on the 6th of May 2004 and Slim passed away October 13th 1999. The actual band singer was a Jimmy Stephen, who led vocals also on the other issue (either 1955, either 1957) by Coxx on the Maine Event label (# 4267), »Sitting here all alone ».
On to Dallas, Texas, and the great JOHNNY HICKS & the Country Gentlemen, recently evoked in my study of Hank Thompson’s « The Wild Side Of Life » and his sequels. Here he delivers a proto-rockabilly with « Pick up blues », great vocal and fine guitar (Columbia 21064) cut late 1952.
Talking of « The wild side of life », here is an unusual Cajun version sung in French by MARIE FALCON fronting Skuk Richard‘s band, The LA. Aces, under the title « Le cote farouche de la vic », which was issued early in 1953.
Then a completely unknown artist by the name of TIM McCLOUD on the Chesterfield label #362 on the West coast. McCloud reminds vocally one of Rex Allen for two selections, « Down Down Down » and « Mountains and mountains of lies » , both urban hillbilly style with a distinct California Western savour. Young Buck Owens had a record on that label too. The writer, Virginia Richmond, was also the owner of the label.
Back to Texas, Houston area with the singer/fiddler COTTON THOMPSON. He already had the fast Western swing-tinged « Jelly Roll Blues » in 1949 on Freedom 5010, and later went as front vocalist for Johnny Lee Wills (« Oo Oooh Daddy » on RCA 5243). Here after train effects Thompson sings with urgency a fast song – already a small classic – « How Long » (Gold Star 1381) ; flipside « Hopeless Love » is a fine shuffler : fiddle is well to the fore. Thompson is backed by an otherwise unknown to me “Deacon (Rag Mop) Anderson” and his own Village Boys.
Hillbilly BILL HALEY used to adapt race songs to his Country repertoire. Here he goes strong with the Saddlemen on Holiday 105 (July 1951) with «Rocket “88” », which has been often cited as the first Rock’n’roll record by Ike Turner‘s band (The Delta Cats) fronted by JACKIE BRENSTON on Chess 1458.
The story of Khoury’s Recordings starts in 1949 with a man named John Harvey “Virgel” Bozman. He was a rustic singer/guitarist and part-time comedian who sometimes billed himself, with tongue-in-cheek, as “The Arkansas Sinatra”. He and his brother, Harmon Bozman, were auto mechanics and had apparently been a staple on the San Antonio country and western music scene for some time. By the end of 1945, he was in Houston recording for Bill Quinn. While stationed at a San Antonio military base near the end of WWII, Cajun fiddler Floyd Leblanc befriended Bozman. Together, they had joined Bennie Hess’ Oklahoma Tornados country hillbilly band as a guitar player but Virgil also dabbled in his own material as well. In mid 1947, Floyd had helped Iry Lejeune record a two tunes with the band on Hess’ label “Opera” and they had him touring with the group for quite some time in 1948. Cajun music was well on it’s way back and while selling cow horns in Lake Charles, Virgil ended up moving from Texas to Louisiana in order to record it.
The O.T. Years
Then came George Khoury, a Turkish-American businessman from Lake Charles and record store owner. In 1947, as an owner of a record shop, he noticed a lack of Cajun music being recorded in south Louisiana and decided to open a business to compete with Ed Shuler’s Goldband Records and J. D. “Jay” Miller’s Fais-Do-Do and Feature labels. His base of operations was just around the corner from Ed’s on Railroad Ave in Lake Charles.
Khoury never had his own studio, however; he would rent out other studios and press the records in other places. He had his record shop in Lake Charles and many agree he helped Virgil finance his new record label “O.T. Recordings”, named after Hess’ band. Together, Virgil would try to find new talent for producing records and Khoury would sell the records in his shop. Even his “O.T.” logo resembled a cattle brand. According to author John Broven:
Khoury was [Virgel’s] sponsor, so to speak, because he didn’t have that much money. He was a good salesman, he had a log of gab because being a cowhorn salesman he had to have a log of gab.2
Virgil kicked off his label with his own recordings, which were a hillbilly tune “Tell Me If You Love Me” and a Cajun tune “The Cameron Waltz” (#101), but he knew he needed other groups. It would be Eddie that would help Bozman get his first major outside recording artist. Eddie Shuler, a record producer in Lake Charles, had been approached by Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire to record on his label after seeing the success Iry Lejeune’s recordings. Nathan had been playing at the Avalon Club when the owner Quincy Davis thought having Nathan record would be good for business. Eddie Shuler, who worked for the KPLC radio station, was too busy with the promotion of Iry LeJeune and put Nathan’s band in touch with businessman Virgil Bozman. Also, Vigil had been familiar with Nathan’s music since Floyd had played in Nathan’s band years before. Virgil had noticed how Eddie Shuler produced his records for Goldband. According to Eddie Shuler:
He kept the pot boiling by selling cowhorns (the famous Longhorns) and it is how he landed in Lake Charles one day. He discovered fast how I managed to get artists recorded by a third person and he decided to follow my steps. He arrived at the station studio, gave a bottle of booze to the sound engineer, asked him to cut an acetate, left with it and got it pressed somewhere else.2
He sold cow horns. In fact, I still have one of his cow horns over the entrance to my door there that he gave me back at that time. I let him sing on my radio show. Anyway, he went then and teamed up with George Khoury and then he went out and found Nathan Abshire.1
Pine Grove Blues Success and Aftermath
In May of 1949, Virgil gathered Nathan Abshire with Earl Demary ‘s backup band in the KPLC studio, located inside the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, to cut 8 tracks; the first of which was the legendary “Pine Grove Blues” for the O.T. label (#102). The melody was his version of Amédée Breaux’s “Blues du ‘Tit Chien” recorded for Vocalion Records in 1934. Nathan’s 1935 recording “One Step de Lacassine” clearly anticipates the melody. There are some similarities with Bob Wills‘ “Milk Cow Blues” recorded in 1946 and even a loose similarity with “In The Pines“, which some have credited as Nathan’s source. His Pine Grove Boys band included Roy Broussard and Ernest Thibodeaux on vocals, Earl Demary or Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Atlas Frugé on lap steel, Jim Baker on bass guitar, Oziet Kegley on drums, and either Will Kegley or Wilson Granger on fiddle. The flipside contained a less-than-impressive “Kaplan Waltz” based on Angelas Lejeune’s 1929 recording of “Pointe Noir”. Since most Cajun 78s usually reached a pressing figure of 500, it was a big hit, pressing around 3,200 copies of the single. Virgil sold boxfuls of “Pine Grove Blues” from the back of a large hearse.2
Earl Demary, Wilson Granger, Elridge Guidry, unk. dms, Nathan Abshire, Ernest Thibodeaux
However, Virgil kicked the label off with a string of tunes containing a discography of Cajun songs such as Nathan’s cover of Leo Soileau’s “Grand Mamou” (#106), “Lake Charles Two Step“(#106), “New Orleans Waltz” (# 110), “Hathaway Waltz” (# 111), a re-recording of his pre-war “French Blues” (# 110), and an improved swingy version of his first hit called “Pine Grove Boogie” (#111). At one point that year, Virgil and Khoury convinced the hit artist of the area, Harry Choates, to wax a record, trying to capitalize on his fame giving it “Jole Blon’s Gone” (#107) and the obscure “Lake Charles Waltz” (#107). Neither Nathan nor Harry could recreate the success of the Pine Grove Blues O.T. recording.
Other musicians Virgil managed to get were Cleo Harves and Jerry Barlow on his listings. (# 103, # 105). The label would eventually move to San Antonio, run by James Bryant and Bennie Hess (former partners at Bill Qunn’s Gold Star records), however, by the end of 1949, O.T. suddenly dried up.
He released his last 4 recordings he was holding onto, outsourcing the pressings by mailing his masters to Stephen Shaw and George Weitlauf in Cincinatti, OH. The records contained Nathan performing covers of the Breaux tune “Step It Fast” (# 114) and a rendition of Harry Choate’s famous Jole Blon hit called “Jolie Petite Juliette” (# 114). The other one labeled as Sandy Austin was the stage name for Abe Manuel when he and his brother Joe played Corpus Christi in 1950. They recorded “Scrambled Eggs” and a Joe Falcon cover called ” Madame Saustain” (# 113). The O.T. label only produced 14 records that are known to exist.
Meanwhile, realizing Bozman is out of the Cajun music market and with the help of Eddie Shuler, George Khoury decides to continue Virgil’s recordings by creating two labels simultaneously, Lyric and Khoury’s, in 1950. The reason for both names is unknown, but he set aside the 600 series for Cajun music and 700 series for hillbilly. It’s also possible he bought out all of Virgil’s material and signed Nathan Abshire exclusively.
NOTE: Keeping track of George’s numbering scheme is confusing and leads to plenty of misinformation when creating a complete discography. His reasoning for jumping around issue numbers, repeating numbers and missing numbers completely can frustrate anyone researching the label. Over time, he would have two sets of 700 series, using several different logo styles. Some numbers are issued only with “Lyric” name and some only with “Khoury’s” with a few issued on both. He followed up with R&B issues using the 800 and 900 series. However, this didn’t prevent him from using the number “1” once, issuing one “500” once on Khoury’s, issuing a “100” on Lyric, and later issuing a “1000” and “5000” both on the Lyric name. As far as anyone can tell, there were no session sheets that remain to prove any particular session dates. Most of the discography work is speculation based on historical recordings and personal interviews with musicians. Dates here are approximates at best.
There are a number of batches of records by artists which were probably assigned and then released at intervals. The location of some of the larger gaps do suggest that the missing numbers could have been deliberately skipped.
The Early 1950s
During the first year in 1950, he recorded Lawrence Walker, Horace Lebleau, Crawford Vincent with Will Kegley, and Jimmie Choates. Walker was a Cajun accordion player who had a history of playing music with his brother Elton, Norris Mire and Aldus Broussard before the war. He even hosted a group of musicians at the National Folk Festival for the Texas Centennial in 1936. By 1950, he was back in the studio interested in recording again, this time with Khoury. Lawrence’s songs such as “Mamou Two Step” (# 601),
“Country Waltz” (# 601), “Wandering Aces Special” which was Joe Falcon’s “A Cowboy Rider” (# 606), “La Valse Kim Fe Du Mal” (# 606), ” Tu Le Du Por La Mam” (#607) which was a Fawvor Brothers original and “Ton Papa Ta Mama Ma Sta Da All” (# 607) first appeared here.
All of these recordings appear on Khoury’s early 600 series as Cajun artists. It’s possible the Texas Melody Boys with Pee Wee Pitre may have been recorded during this period which was given the only # 500 for “Ain’t No More”, a version of “Step It Fast”, and an old Creole melody they called “Old Time Waltz”. Jimmy Choates band recorded “Lonesome For You” and “Belle Isle Waltz” and the band also appears on the country 700 series as #705. Crawford Vincent, who played with Leo Soileau for years, teamed up with Will Kegley of the Pine Grove Boys for two tunes “Chere Petite Blun” (# 605) and the J.B. Fuselier classic “Lawtell Two Step” (# 605). They were listed as Vincent & Kegley. Horace “Ricky” Lebleu was a hillbilly musician from the Lake Charles area that teamed up with Nookie Martin of Eddie Shuler’s band for two songs “Korea Blues” and “Basile Girl” (# 603).
Meanwhile, Virgil was back in San Antonio pressing songs by Cajun musicians he had previously recorded; most of them being Nathan Abshire’s band members. While in San Antonio, Bozman and Hess set up the Hot Rod label with local record man Bob Tanner of T.N.T. records. There, between 1950 and 1952, they recorded a few of Virgil’s artists such as Nathan’s lead singer, Ernest Thibodeaux on “Jennings Two Step” (# 105) and Nathan’s fiddler Wilson Granger on “Bayou Chico Waltz”. He released his last recordings of Nathan himself with “Hathaway Two step” (# 103) and “Chere Te Mon” (# 103). The recording quality wasn’t particularly impressive and could have been the reason for their unpopularity. During this timeframe, Bob had also launched his Allied label, releasing several recordings of Harry Choates.
He also pulled in little known Cliff Lemaire and the Kaplan Swingmasters for the song “Cow Island Special“. Obscure artist Tan Benoit also recorded two songs, “Iowa Two Step” and “Gueydon Waltz”. Outside a few recordings by Virgil himself, the label did not last long. Virgil’s attempt at the recording business was over. Bob continued his TNT label well into 1953, pressing records for Eddie Shuler’s band as well as for Aldus Roger and Iry Lejeune.
The following year, with Nathan no longer working for Virgil’s label, George contracted him to re-record “Pine Grove Blues” (# 611). It didn’t sell nearly as well as Virgil’s recording two years earlier, but it produced several titles popular with Nathan’s band such as “Belezere Waltz” (“La valse a Belezere“) (# 610) based on the tune “A Precious Jewel” by Roy Acuff and “Choupique Two Step” (#610) based on Amede Ardoin‘s “Amede Two Step“. These were pressed on both the Lyric and Khoury label. Other songs were completed such as, “Valse de Hollybeach” (# 611), “Iota Two Step” (# 612) and “Valse de Bayou Teche” (# 612), a tune originally recorded by the Segura Brothers in 1929. Nathan’s career with the Pine Grove Boys was taking off.
1951 would round off the year with Lawrence Walker again, this time recording “Johnny Can’t Dance” (# 615), the bluesy “Evangeline Waltz” (# 615), “Bosco Stomp”(# 616), “Waltz Of Sorrow” (# 616), “Creole Waltz” (# 617) and an upbeat version of Joe Falcon’s Lafayette as the “Lafayette Two Step” (#617). It’s around this point when George began to switch labels from black to blue.
By 1952, George’s label is doing well enough for him to attract other obscure local bands. He invites Lawrence Walker back again for “Reno Waltz” (#623) and an old Joe Falcon song “Madam Sostan” (#624) but Lawrence feels the pressure to record some of his English country favorites including “Little Bitty Girl” (# 623) which was a 1946 comical jazz recording by Velma Nelson and “Keep Your Hands Off It” (# 624). Khoury tries his luck with recording two rather unknown groups, one being Shuk Richard with Marie Falcon. Marie was Joe Falcon’s niece and played music in some of the same venues in which Joe had played. She sang her version of “Jole Blon” called “Jole Brun” (#621) and did her Cajun version of “The Wild Side Of Life” (#621)(“Le cote farouche de la vic“). The group cut “Madam Entelle Two Step” (# 622) and “Chere Vere Naig” (# 622) during the same session. But it would be Elise Deshotel’s group which would feature a rather unknown singer and fiddler known as Dewey Balfa. Possibly recorded in late 1951 or early 1952, they waxed some of the best known tunes with a young Dewey on vocals such as Leo Soileau‘s “Quand Je Suis Bleu” he called “La Valse de Bon Baurche”, Cleoma Breaux‘s “Crowley Waltz” he called “La Valse de Tepetate”, and “La Valse da Courage” which is very similar to Nathan’s “Bayou Teche”. The flipsides were instrumentals such as “La Two Step De Villeplatte“, “Two Step De Avalon“, and “Two Step De Kindergarden” (# 618, 619, 620). However, Khoury failed to latch onto marketing the bluesy vocals and powerful fiddle solos which Dewey would make famous ten years later.
The following year seemed to slow down for Khoury and his recordings. Jimmy Newman would be George’s brand new artist but his recordings only sold moderately. Nathan’s group was in turmoil due to band member changes and they were looking for more material to record. Jimmy recorded his country tune “Darling” which somehow landed on the Cajun 600 series while the 700 hillbilly series seemed to fade away. Nathan recorded “Musical Five Special” (# 631), a cover of Joe Falcon‘s “Fe Fe Ponchaux” and “Avalon Waltz” (# 631) but also recorded some cover tunes, “The New Jole Blon” (# 636) and “Tee Per Coine” (# 636), a version of “Keep A Knocking But You Can’t Come In“. Crawford Vincent, who had played for years with Leo Soileau and other members, headed to the studio with Horace Lebleau and recorded “Tippy Tee Tippy En” (# 640), an old traditional Cajun ballad known as “T’es Petite et T’es Mignonne“.
By 1954, things seemed to remain slow. His 600 series seemed to employ more country music from Cliff Lemaire and Rick Johnson with one record by Nathan containing “Texas Waltz” (# 645), a slightly different version of his Kaplan Waltz and “”Point De Lou” (# 645), a rendition of “Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin” in which Iry Lejeune had famously made into his “J’ai Ete Au Bal”. Strange enough, he would try to resurrect his Lyric label with Amar Devillier’s “Shoe Pick Waltz” and “Durald Two Step” using number #1 but never continued the series. He kicked off his second 700 series again, this time with Eddie Shuler covering “J’ai Passee Devant” (#700) and re-issuing Floyd Leblanc’s “Louisiana Stomp”(#700), a tune Virgil had recorded previously on O.T.
George reverted back to his original recording artists that he trusted and in 1955, released a string of tunes by Nathan Abshire and at least one by Lawrence Walker such as Nathan’s “Casa Blanca Waltz” and, “Lu lu Boogie” (# 647), “Shamrock Waltz” (# 652) and “Carolina Blues” (# 649). The unusual songs, “Boora Roomba” (# 649), Dewey and Nathan’s version of “La Cucaracha”, and “Mama Rosin” (#652), also known as “Ay Mama Inez”, were attempts to cash in on the briefly popular Cuban rhumba influence which entered mainstream country music that year. However, George was now pressing his records using different logos and label styles, some in California. Lawrence followed up with “Waltz of Regret” (# 648) and the “Brunette Two Step“.One inventory listing by Nathan’s band shows them covering some Happy Fats tunes but it seems to never have been released. The 600 series seemed to be fading away as we
By the end of 1955, the writing was on the wall. The influence of rock and roll was taking a toll on Cajun music sales. R&B and country music was on an up hill swing and Cajun music sales weren’t the same as they were almost 10 years earlier. He wouldn’t record any Cajun music until about 1956 with Nathan Abshire, both “Crying Pine Grove Blues” (# 701) and “L.S.U. French Waltz” (# 701), and in 1957 Cleveland Crochet with Shorty Leblanc, both on 45RPM and both on his new second 700 series. But by the time Cookie and the Cupcakes released their huge R&B hit “Mathilda”, George wasn’t interested in Cajun music anymore. He would occasionally issue out a Cajun record to keep sales up. He released one more Nathan Abshire on 45RPM in 1958 containing “Cannon Ball Special” (# 704) and “Red Rock Waltz” and a 45RPM of Pee Wee Broussard containing Angelas Lejeune’s “Perrodin Two Step” (# 709) and “Jolie Te Brun”.
Between 1956 and 1958, Cajun music recordings across Louisiana were on the decline. Needing more exposure, Lawrence Walker heard a man named Floyd Soileau was starting up a recording label in Ville Platte. Having already recorded Austin Pitre and Adam Hebert, the Khoury recording artist was eager to switch over to Floyd’s new Swallow label. This ended the relationship between George Khoury and Lawrence Walker. Nathan would eventually follow suit.
Eddie Shuler, George Khoury, Phil Phillips
The following year, Khoury would land an even bigger R&B hit with Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love” and yet only released two Cajun records that year, Pee Wee Broussard’s “New Iberia Stomp” (# 720) with “La Valse De Bons Amies” (# 702). The other one being “La Robe Barre” (# 725) and “Elton Two Step” (# 725) by Lawrence “Blackie”Fruge in 1959.
He would only re-release an earlier Cleveland Crochet “Sha Meon Waltz” in 1961 when he restarted his 1000 series as an R&B label which lasted until 1966. Finally, in 1966, Wilfred Latour recorded “Bye Bye Cherie” and “Te Julie”, a couple of zydeco based tunes, believed to be George’s last French recordings.
Howdy folks, a happy and bopping New Year to everyone. As a seasonal gift, I will post no less than 15 selections, as on the Xmas fortnight.
First a mystery with GEORGE BOWE & the Travelers. It has proved impossible to find any detail on him neither even the location of the label, Eagle – a common label name during the ’50s/60s. A very small clue is to be detected in the deadwax, « Rimrock » – which leads one to Arkansas Wayne Raney‘s label of the ’60s. Anyway Bowe delivers a Rockabilly styled opus with « Big man » (Eagle 110A) – the whole thing is quiet and lazy. B-side (« Do you remember ») is a melodic ballad, a bit sentimental, over sympathetic backing.
Note: Alexander Petrauskas did advise me that the Eagle label was definitely associated with Rimrock, the latter pressing the Eagle products.
DON WHITNEY (incomplete bio statistics – he died in 1985) was a D.J. associated with Arkansas radio stations KLCN in Blytheville, then KOSE in Osceola (1957) ; he’s been too on WELO in Tupelo (MS), and cut a whole string of boppers for 4*. Where he cut them ? Probably Nashville. I chose from 1950 « Red hot boogie » (# 1471), call-and-response format (girl chorus). Steel and piano are barely audible, while the guitar player does a too short but wild solo. « Move on blues » (# 1588) from 1951 is a fine bluesy tune over a boogie guitar. Discreet steel and piano.
On Adco records (# 781), cut in Cincinnati, OH, next comes GLEN CANYON and a rocker from 1965, « I won’t be able to make it » : a shrilling guitar thoughout, and the disk is valued $ 50 to 100. I couldn’t locate the flipside « Still in love with you », reputedly a bopper. Canyon appeared also on Acorn and Boone (Kentucky).
The Sandy label out of Mobile,AL. is interesting for many records issued between 1957 and 1962 and highly revered by Rockabilly/Rock’n’roll buffs : do Ronny Keenan, Happy Wainwright, Jackie Morningstar (« Rockin’ in the graveyard »), Ray Sawyer (« Rockin’ satellite ») or Darryl Vincent (« Wild wild party ») ring each a bell to you ? Well, the label also had its hillbilly boppers, like Johnny Foster (more on him next fortnight, late January 2016) or WADE JERNIGAN. Both his sides (# 1010) are high quality boppers penned by label bossman Johnny Bozeman in 1958. « Road of love », medium paced, has a very « hillbilly » type vocal (high pitched at moments), over a prominent fiddle and good steel, while its flip « So tired » uses the same format, just a little bit slower. A good record for Hillbilly lovers.
Now on to Louisiana. The Khoury’s label began activities in 1951 to cease them in 1955 (last known is # 647, « Lu Lu boogie » by Nathan Abshire, which I owned moons ago before selling it – I am biting my fingers now..). We find here on # 700B (not in numerical order, this one is from 1954) a fabulous Cajun wildie « Louisiana stomp » by LEBLANC’S FRENCH BAND (an unidentified singer yells and encourages by his yells the whole fiddle led orchestra). Reverse is by Eddie Shuler, the founder of Goldband. Second La. selection : by GENE RODRIGUE, who had other releases on Folk-Star, Houma and Rod (the Cajun Rockabilly « Little cajun girl” from 1959). Here is his « Jole fille » (Meladee 101, cut in New Orleans), full of energy and « joie de vivre », Cajun style. Nice fiddle, steel and piano. This comes from the late ’50s apparently.
More from Louisiana with PAL THIBODEAUX (also known as Little Pal Hardy on Imperial) and « Port Arthur boogie » (Sky Line OP-154). Call-and-response, sung in French and English. Fiddle solo, sympathetic backing, two good guitar solos encouraged by the singer a la Bob Wills.
“Port Arthur boogie”
GEORGE GREEN & The Missouri Ranch Boys comes next with a good 2-sider on Zeylon . The medium paced « I don’t love you anymore » is backed by a welcome accordion, and sounds its late ’40s recording, although its prefix (J80W, an RCA pressing, dates from..1958). The flip « Be a little angel » is a jumping little thing, which grows on you at each playing. Good fiddle.
« Just because « is a classic Sun side, only issued on RCA, by ELVIS PRESLEY. We conclude this fortnight with his version (RCA 47-6640, early 1956) and the original by the SHELTON BROTHERS (in the ’30s). Great lyrics. Elvis does a very fine job on it.
Sources : Somelocaluser blogspot (George Bowe, Wade Jernigan, George Green), Youtube for several tunes (Don Whitney – scans from 78rpmworld) ; Robert Lunn on a 3-CD compilation of country music on Mercury, picture from “hillbilly-music.com”. Hope you enjoy this selection. Comments welcome. ‘Till then, bye.
Note: important addition on Khoury records by Louisiana tireless researcher and faithful friend Wade Falcon (Feb. 5th, 2016):
I read your latest article on Leblanc on Khoury. The musician is Floyd Leblanc. Fiddle player that originated with Bennie Hess and Virgil Bozman and the Oklahoma Tornadoes. Floyd had recorded the song Louisiana Stomp first with Virgil’s label O.T. Recording Company (#104-B)
After Virgil folded the label, Khoury who helped finance it, picked it up along with his artists and started Khoury and Lyric. Khoury re-released the song on his label. (700-B)
I actually know Floyd’s daughter. Very nice person.
Also, Khoury’s 600 series label ended with #652 in 1955. He started his 700 series again (which we’ll refer to as the “second 700 series”). There, you have the 700-B side you mention in your blog with Shuler on one side and Leblanc on the other. That lasted till about 1962. His last Cajun in the series was #720 Pee Wee Broussard.
STARDAY RECORDS 626 BILLIE and GORDON HAMRICK with the Low County Gospel Band April 1957
45-626-A – Gonna See My Lord Someday
(Nell Palmer) (Starrite BMI)
45-626-B – Jesus Is The Name
(Nell Palmer) (Starrite BMI)
Another slice of Gospel heaven from the talented Billie & Gordon Hamrick.
A side is a torrid Blue Grass / Gospel number with nice harmonies. Very nice banjo solos, accompanied by a fiddle player. B side is slower with a Dobro more to the fore. Perhaps this is my favourite 45 by the artists so far. Almost makes me want to go to church! (except, in England, we’d have no music like this being performed.)
STARDAY RECORDS 627 BOB and CINDY DEAN
45-627-A – I’m Knocking On The Door (To Your Heart)
(Garland Cline) (Starrite BMI)
45-627-B – One Life To Live
(Garland Cline) (Starrite BMI)
I never managed to get the Cattle LP (#87) entitled “The Sweethearts Of The Air Sing Hillbilly Music”, so if there’s any sleeve notes, I’ve obviously missed them. The duo appeared on the fliside of a KAY EP, with the other side being two great mumbling rockers from Link Wray.
A side of this disc is a fast hillbilly number with threads of bluegrass influence (probably because of the banjo solo). Nice harmonies from Bob and Cindy. B side is much slower and again has nice harmonies from the duo.
They’ll appear later in this series (Starday 688) (MC)
Bob and Cindy Dean were a popular Country and Western team who were based in Elkton, VA and made some stunning records throughout their musical career. Bob was born on the 26th October 1919 in Elkton (Cindy Morris was born December 24th 1924).
Bob’s musical career started in 1956/7 after he found a lead guitar picker, Leon Baxter, with whom he formed a band. Their first job was just a plain beer joint in NW Washington, DC, where they picked their music three nights a week. Through their popular live performances, Bob got a recording deal with DC Records. He remembered that in Virginia there was a good fiddle player, so he got in touch with him and talked over their would-be music venture. His name was Hank Dean and he also sang tenor. (Hank was no relation to Bob). Bob hired Hank and along with Leon, the three of them recorded “Maple On The Hill” and “I’m Sheddin’ Tears Over You” on DC 8049. The sessions took place at the Paragon Studios in Washington, DC.
DC Records were interested in releasing two more sides, as 8049 was selling well locally, thanks in part to Connie B Gay’s radio program “Town And Country Time”, and Bob’s personal appearances. Their next recordings were “Back To Old Smoky Mountain” and “I’ll take Her From The Valley” (DC 4101). By this time, Bob was opening up for acts at the Constitution Hall for Connie, being followed by the likes of T. Texas Tyler and the Sons Of The Pioneers.
In 1948, after the death of his father, Bob (and Cindy, who was his wife – the sleeve notes don’t mention how they met) moved to McGaheysville, VA to be with his mother. Bob worked for a while at a chemical plant, but once he was laid off, he decided to get into the music business full time. By now, Cindy was singing along side him. They formed a new band featuring his old school friend Eddie Michael on fiddle and Cindy learned how to play the stand-up bass. Carroll Ray was on electric guitar.
By 1955, Bob and Cindy Dean were winning first prize on a Connie B Gay show with a song entitled “Walk, Walk, Walking Blues”. This track, along with “When You Cross Your Heart” were eventually issued on Ben Aldeman’s KAY label from Washington, DC, with the flip side of the EP being taken up by two manic vocal recordings from Link Wray (“I Sez Baby” / “Johnny Bon Bonny”). According to the sleeve notes, these tracks were recorded in 1955.
How Bob and Cindy found themselves on Starday is a bit of a mystery as it’s not really explained in the sleeve notes. According to the session details listed on the LP, these were recorded in 1958 and their next Starday release (#688) was recorded in December 57. It mentions that a Frank Merica was on banjo at the session and Carroll Ray was still on guitar.
WILLIE NELSON RECORDS 628 WILLIE NELSON
Vancouver, WA May 1957
45-628-A – No Place For Me
(Willie Nelson) (Starrite BMI)
45-628-B – Lumberjack
(Leon Payne) (Hill and Range BMI)
Willie Nelson was born 30th April 1933 and is by far, one of the most well known artists to cut a disc for the Starday Custom series. After studying music at home, he joined the Bohemian Fiddlers as their singer and guitar player. After graduating from high School in 1950, he joined the Air Force where he was eventually discharged for having back problems. After stints as a musician (he played bass for Ray Price) and as a DJ, he signed a contract with Pamper Music as a songwriter. He wrote some of the best known country classics, such as “Funny How Times Slips Away“, “Hello Walls“, and “Crazy“.
But back to this little gem. Both sides are dominated by an acoustic guitar (presumably by the man himself) and the vocals have a fair slab of echo added to it, giving it a slight haunting feel. There is a steel guitar nestled in the background – well, almost in the next room to be honest. The flip is okay; a nicely sung cover of a Leon Payne song. But it’s the A side that really sticks out.
FAITH RECORDS 629 THE RELATIVE QUARTET
Conover, NC May 1957
45-629-A – A Home For My Soul
(J Q Deal Jr. / Rheda L Strickland) (Starrite BMI)
45-629-B – Heavenly City
(Rheda L Strickland) (Starrite BMI)
Lovely far-back-in-the-hills Gospel from what sounds like a white quartet. I can only hear an accoustic guitar being played, no other instruments and no solos. No personnel details, except perhaps the names listed as song writers.
The FAITH label turns up a fair bit later in the series with various addresses. I’ve wondered if FAITH was the gospel version of the DIXIE label. Can’t be sure.
DALE RECORDS 630 DARNELL MILLER
Bluefield, VA May 1957
45-630-A – Waiting Game For Love
(D Miller) (Starrite BMI)
45-630-B – Gettin’ Out Of The Woods
(Cecil Surrat) (Starrite BMI)
I’m assuming this is the same Darnell Miller who recorded for Starday Records (# 349, « She’s gone/Cardboard Sweetheart », 1958 and “Royal Flush“, # 422, 1960), as they sure sound similar. A side is a slow weeping hillbilly song; probably not one for the memory banks, but Darnell sings with feeling. Flipside is a medium tempo ditty with fine vocals from Darnell, ably backed by some fine fiddle playing.
STARDAY RECORDS 631 KEN CLARK and his Merry Mountain Boys
45-631-A – Ho! Ho! Love ‘Em Joe (Clark) (Starrite BMI)
Okay, so I know darn all about Clark, except he recorded for Starday main series (« Buckskin Coat/Pretty Love », # 442, 1959), and for the Nashville label (assoc. with Starday) : « Truck Driving Joe » (# 5009).
A side is a nice uptempo number with fiddles, steel guitar, dobro and lead guitar and some lovely Starday sounding echo. Some call it country, some call it Rock-A-Billy. Whatever the musical tag, it’s a lovely record. B side is more country/hillbilly and there’s a little less echo. Another uptempo side and very nice it is too. Cowboy Copas recorded at least one song of Clark’s.
KENTUCKY records 632 MAC O’DELL
Garrard, KY May 1957
45-632-A – It Was Springtime (When I Met You) (Walter Brock) (Starrite, BMI)
45-632-B – When I Was Young (Dewey Brock) (Starrite, BMI)
Untraced. O’Dell recorded prolifically, e.g. on King (« Penicillin »), Intro (« Diesel Smoke ») and Exclusive.
GULF Records 633 TRICE GARNER
Route 4, Tupelo, MS May 1957
45-633–A – Tombigbee (Garner) (Starrite, BMI)
45-633-B – Lover’s Hill (Garner) (Starrite, BMI)
Artist already unknown. The A side has yet to be heard. B side is a very fast Bopper, some could say Rock’n’Roll, but it has no drums, only two very effective guitars (no solo). Vocal is very impressive, fine Southern accent, words almost impossible to understand for me, French speaking !
ROBIN Records 634 ZEKE WILSON & the Prairie Playboys
Macon, GA May 1957
634-A – My Heart Needs A Vacation (F J Beskidniak)(Starrite, BMI)
634-B – I’ve Just Said Goodbye (F J Beskidniak)
Vocal on A side is by Zeke Wilson and Lenn Dries ; on B side, Zeke Wilson solo.
NIGHTHAWK Records 635 JIMMY STEWART & The Nighthawks
Argo, IL May 1957
45-635-A – Dream World (J Stewart) (Starrite, BMI)
45-635-B – Nuthin’ But A Nuthin’ (J Stewart) (Starrite, BMI)
A side has yet to be heard, while the B side is one of the greatest Rock-a-billies ever comitted to wax. Cool vocal, some growling, a very nice lead guitar and sparse backing of acoustic and bass. Stewart also had another slab of Rock’n’Roll with « Rock On The Moon » in 1959 on the Eko label.
OLD DOMINION RECORDS 636 SLIM and ORNA BALL
45-636-A – Mother’s Prayers (Were Not In Vain) (No info)
45-636-B – When I Get Home (I’m Gonna Be Satisfied) (No info)
STARDAY RECORDS 637 MEL PRICE & his Santa Fe Rangers
45-637-A – I Miss You So
(John Suite / Mel Price) (Starrite BMI)
45-637-B – Midnight Whistle Blues
(Mel Price) (Starrite BMI)
Mel (or Melvin) Price had only fine records on Blue Hen (“Nothing Seems To Go Right Anymore” and “I Ain’t Got Time“), regular Starday (#186 and 226, respectively “The Pace That Kills” and “Gonna See My Baby“), Dixie (“Until” and “Little Dog Blues“) and Regal (“For You My Love“). His story is intended for a future issue. The record although here is unheard.
DEL-MAR RECORDS 638 DELMAR WILLIAMS SINGERS
Dayton, OH June 1957
638-A – Lonely Tomorrow
(D Williams) (Starrite BMI)
638-B – I’m Not Angry Now
(D Williams) (Starrite BMI)
RALPH JOHNSON RECORDS 639 RALPH JOHNSON & the Hillbilly Show Boys
Box 4, Minden, WV June 1957
45-639-A – Reality
(M Pack) (Starrite BMI)
45-639-B – Henpecked Daddy
(M Pack) (Starrite BMI)
Ralph Johnson was born in the Clinch Mountains of south West Virginia. He began developing his musical career at the age of six, after receiving his first guitar. At the age of fifteen, his singing and musical talent had developed enough to enable him to put together his own band. Ralph and his band auditioned for a radio show in Richlands, VA. They landed the job on WRIC radio. During this time, his band played schools, halls and theatres in the area. They later auditioned for a spot on a new TV station in Bluefield, WV. Some time later, they had earned the privilege of performing two shows on WOAY in Twin Oak Hill, WV. It was here that he recorded his first record, “Henpecked Daddy“. After appearing on different radio and TV stations throughout the country, he moved his operation to Baltimore. MD. While in Baltimore, he launched Wedge Records, Dome Records and Fleet Records. Along with all of his record labels, he opened his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music. He released all types of music from the Washington and Baltimore areas. He later moved his operation to Vineland, NJ where he became the co-owner of WDVL Radio. As a DJ, he played country music five hours a day, every day. He went on to develop and book country music acts from Nashville, TN into Palentein Park every Sunday. In 1976, he decided to move to Nashville, TN, where he proceeded to record and promote records on his Wedge Entertainment record label. He used songs from his own publishing company, Big Wedge Music.
MISSOURI RECORDS 640 ERNIE NOWLIN and Blue Shadow Boys
5508 Wells Ave, St Louis, MO June 1957
45-640-A – Tally Ho
(Nowlin) (Starrite BMI)
45-640-B – Tell Me Why
(Nowlin) (Starrite BMI)
A fine Hillbilly bop, in the average category. Duet vocal at times, a borderline rockabilly with fine inventive guitar on a solid beat (snare drum). Flip unheard.
BLUE GRASS RECORDS 641 BOB VARNEY and Stone Mt Boys
31 Pine St, Logan, WV June 1957
45-641-A I Hear You Calling
(No info) (No info)
45-641-B Stoney Mt. Boogie
(B Varney) (Starrite)
B-side : good boogie guitar instro, fine southern vocalizing from Varney. Whole thing is propelled by a strong rhythm guitar.
STARDAY RECORDS 642 BUDDY SHAW
45-642-A – Don’t Sweep That Dirt On Me
(Ruth Snider / Buddy Shaw) (Starrite BMI)
45-642-B – Second Place
(Ruth Snider / Buddy Shaw) (Starrite BMI)
Fast Hillbilly bop, again bordering on Rockabilly. Welcome tinkling piano (fine solo), urgent lead guitar (two solos). A classic ! Shaw had “No More“, a fine CountryBilly on Starday 618 (see elsewhere in the site for this number)
LINCOLN RECORDS 643 CARL TRANTHAM and the Rythm All Stars (sic)
Peoria, IL June 1957
45-643-A – Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way)
(Trantham) (Starrite BMI)
45-643-B – After I Go Away
(Trantham) (Starrite BMI)
A side : Hillbilly bop/rockabilly. This is where Hillbilly boys were doing Rock’n’Roll, nice guitar licks a la Scotty Moore, cool vocal (some hiccups), fine bass, and an almost unheard drum kit. Another classic ! For the B side, the boys return to a more Hillbilly approach, this time with a good steel. Vocal changes too, in a more rural way of phrasing. Again that fine lead guitar. Trantham also had “Deedle Deedle Dum” on Starday 336 (1958), a very fine Country rocker.
CRESTWOOD RECORDS 644 MARVIN JACKSON
Box 49 Route 1, Cadet, MO July 1957
45-644-A – Someday You’ll Be Sorry
(Jackson) (Starrite BMI)
45-644-B – My Crying Heart
(Jackson) (Starrite BMI)
Unheard record. Jackson had “Gee Whiz, Miz Liz“, a good rocker, on Crestwood 200 (backed by Ozark Toppers). Collector records issued a full CD of Rock’n’Roll sides of his, fine although average rockers.
STARDAY RECORDS 645 FRANK EVANS and his Top Notchers
(Artist based in Tampa, FL) July 1957
45-645-A – Pull The Shades Down Ma
(Jimmy Dunklin) (Starrite BMI)
45-645-B – Would You Believe Me
(Owen Wilson) (Starrite BMI)
« Pull The Shades Down Ma » is Fifties country music of the sheerest excellence. « Now this city’s dwellin’ just ain’t cut out for me… » sings Frank in his most exuberant vocal on record and the band lays down an infectious rhythm that complements the lyrics perfectly. The song is reminiscent of the cool stuff Little Jimmy Dickens was cutting at the time: fun, full-blooded country that was uncompromisingly rural sounding.
COWTOWN RECORDS 646 GENE RAY
Fort Worth, TX July 1957
45-646-A – I Didn’t Mean (To Fall In Love)
45-646-B – I Lost My Head
B side is a fine shuffling Hillbilly with stop-starts, steel, guitar (uninspired solo) and fiddle. Singer is in fine voice however. Ray had an EP on Cowtown 677 (moreover in the serie) with « Rock’n’Roll Fever ».
UNKNOWN RECORD LABEL 647 (UNKNOWN ARTIST)
UNKNOWN RECORD LABEL 648 (UNKNOWN ARTIST)
July 19 57
KHOURY’S RECORDS 649 NATHAN ABSHIRE and his Pine Grove Boys
Lake Charles, LA July 1957
45-649-A – Boora Rhumba
45-649-B – Carolina Blues
STARDAY RECORDS 650 CLARENCE BAKER
650-? – Hear My Plea
(No info) (No info)
650-? – Soon I’ll Hear My Saviour Calling
(No info) (No info)
As usual for these series, many details do come from Malcolm Chapman’s site devoted to Starday Customs. This time, label pictures were easier to find than music: actually this serie does not contain, but exceptions, rockabilly classics, so many records escaped to reissue programs. Note a good percentage of sacred recordings.
Hello folks, here I am again, back in wonderful Vallée du Rhône (where I lived for more than 40 years): Roman monuments, wines, goat cheeses, near Lyon, the second city of France (rivalling Marseille). Here in Vienne we have one of the foremost Jazz Festivals all around Europe (1rst fortnight of July), held in a marvelous Roman theater (fantastic acoustic!). Among all artists will be this year Joe Cocker – he’s not a Hillbilly yet, you know, but one of the truly Soulful artists ever. The show is booked…
All my records are still in boxes, and the library has yet to be set up, later this Summer. So this early July fortnite will be made up of tunes stored on my Macintosch for accidental use like this one. No label pictures, no spare time left to research in my files, only the music. After all, it’s only music we all love that got importance, isn’t?
Here we go.First from Indiana (Ruby label) comes WALTER SCOTT and the fine Hillbilly bop “I’m Walkin’ Out” (1956) complete with swirling fiddles and steel-guitar. Then to Texas, I think (I may be wrong!), with the great HYLO BROWN, whose career was firmly dept in Bluegrass but flirted with Hillbilly at times. I’ve chosen his 1951 rendition of “Lonesome Road Blues” (Four Star). Down in Louisiana, here comes the Pope of Cajun accordion, NATHAN ABSHIRE and one of his first records (although he had already recorded in 1939) under his name, the fine instrumental “Lu Lu Boogie” (Khoury’s label, 1947). On to Nashville, and JIMMY MARTIN, one of the founding members of the Bluegrass style (he’s been once guitar player for Bill Monroe). The song herein is Bluegrass, indeed, but Jimmy has hiccups in his voice…that predate (in my mind anyway) Rockabilly! “Hop, Skip and Wobble” (Decca) Complete with fiddle, banjo, string-bass. Back to the real roots of Hillbilly of the Thirties: (Tom) DARBY & (Jimmy) TARLTON – the haunting “Sweet Sarah Blues” (may be from 1928? 1931? I cannot verify at the moment). Great, strange vocal, and wild dobro.
We finished with two very different tunes, separated by at least 50 years. BIG MACEO (Merryweather) was a fine piano player and intimate vocalist of Chicago in the early 40s. Hear his “I Got The Blues” (backed by Tampa Red on the fluid electric guitar). Then MAURA O’CONNELL (late 1990’s) and the beautiful (both melody and lyrics) “It’s A Beautiful Day”. Enjoy, folks!