Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin, a blog about Country Music, Rockabilly & Hillbilly. The purpose of this site is to explore the aforementioned musical styles and to share the knowledge about obscure artists, labels, shows etc. If you have any additions or corrections, feel free to comment.

UPDATES

• A revised version of the Hap Records story is online.
Added a couple of Do-Ra-Me releases on the listing. Thanks to Derik and Steve Hathaway!
New info on Bobby Hollister.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jimmy C. Newman and Weldon Myrick R.I.P.

Two country music legends passed away last month. Jimmy C. Newman died at the age of 86 on June 21. He suffered from cancer. Steel guitar virtuoso Weldon Myrick died June 2 at the age of 76. Both were very influential in the development of country music and have been performed at the Grand Ole Opry for many decades.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ernie Barton on Phillips Int.

 
Ernie Barton - Stairway to Nowhere (Phillips Int. 3528), 1958

Ernie Barton always seemed to be a highly interesting figure in the history of Sun Records to me, although Sun experts are discordant. It is assured that Barton was a recording artist and worked as a session musician as well as producer for Sam Phillips. Though, it is controversial how important he was.

The son of a sea captain, he was born Ernest W. Barton in the year of 1930 in Tallahassee, Florida. When Elvis Presley bursted onto the scene, Barton decided sell his house in Daytona Beach and moved to Memphis. How Barton got in touch with Sam Phillips is not known but he was hired in early 1957 to work at the Sun Studio. His first session took place on April 6, 1957, of which nothing was released.


In March 1958, he was back in the studio and tried his hand at "Stairway to Nowhere" and "Raining the Blues," two rockabilly tunes Al and Jo Ann Wingate had written. On this day, Barton (rhythm guitar) was backed by Roland Janes (lead guitar), Sid Manker (guitar), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) with an additional male vocal chorus. Both songs were released in the summer of 1958 (Phillips Int. #3528), less than one year after the Phillips International label came into existence.

Co-writter Allan Wingate, who recorded under the name of Allen Page for Cordell Jackson's Moon label in Memphis, was a talented songwriter. Jo Ann Wingate was probably his sister or his wife. The duo also penned "High School Sweater," recorded by Wingate (Moon #301, 1957) and Kenny Owens (Poplar #45-106, 1958). Wingate turned to gospel music and preaching in 1963 and died in 1993.

Barton's second single for Phillips Int., "Open the Door, Richard" b/w "Shut Your Mouth" (Phillips Int. #3541, 1959), is heavily discussed by collectors and researchers. Recorded on February 25, 1959, with Roland Janes (lead guitar), Billy Lee Riley (bass, vocals), Martin Willis (sax), Charlie Rich (piano), and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) and Sun secretary Regina Reese doing some vocals on "Shut Your Mouth", no one has ever seen a copy of this single. Though, Barton later insisted it was released. It added to the confusion that "Open the Door, Richard" was re-released on a compilation as by Billy Lee Riley, who supposedly also recorded a version of that song in 1957. Riley later stated that both he and Barton sang on the 1958 "released" version and that it was one of those party sessions that took place at Sun often.

Things will possibly never clear up completely. However, this was Barton's last Phillips Int. single. He recorded several more songs at Sun but Sam Phillips refused to release any further material from Barton. Nevertheless, he agreed to record Barton's wife Bobbie Jean Farrabee, a lawyer from Little Rock, Arkansas. When Jack Clement and Bill Justis dropped out of the Sun staff in 1959, Barton slipped in as a producer, arranger, and studio musician. He worked with Phillips until 1961 and then left the Sun Studio.

After his affiliation with Sun, Barton recorded two Cash sound-a-likes on the Memphis based Honesty label, "The Ballad of Earl K. Long" b/w "The Man with a Heart of Gold" (Honesty #605). Barton had recorded two earlier versions at Sun before. In 1965, another disc followed on Earl Fox' E&M label from Little Rock, "Ain't I'm a Mess" b/w "Walk with Me" (E&M #1651).

Barton eventually moved to Midland, Texas, and dropped out of sight. In 1987, he was tracked down and interviewed by Colin Escott. Since then, he has again slipped into obscurity and may have died already. The Social Security Index lists a certain Ernest W. Barton (* November 21, 1930; † May 1, 2001 in Montezuma, Colorado).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jackie & Arlen Vaden

 
Jackie and Arlen, the Southern Gospel Singers - O Come Angel Band (Vaden EP-104), 
ca. 1958

"Angel Band" is one of the most beautiful gospel hymns ever written. I first heard it by the Stanley Brothers years ago and their version remains my favorite one. Many other artists, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Skeeter Davis, among others, have recorded this tune during the years. And Jackie and Arlen, the Southern Gospel Singers, of course.

Arlen Vaden was born ca. 1930 in Trumann, Arkansas, and was also raised there. He married Jackie in 1951 and it turned out they harmonized well together when singing gospel tunes. So they decided to try out a career in music. Jackie and Arlen began to travel all over Northeast Arkansas and sang mostly in churches. Then, the couple landed a spot on KOSE, a small radio station on Osceola, Arkansas.


Their popularity grew and soon, they found themselves singing over KLCN in Blytheville. They were now called "The Southern Gospel Singers" and taped their shows, so other stations all across the country could broadcast them. As one of the most popular gospel duos during that era, they could be heard on WCKY (Cincinnati), WLAC (Nashville), KXEN (St. Louis) and border town stations XERF (Del Rio, Texas) and XEG (Fort Worth, Texas), among many others. They also began selling song books on their shows and got so much requests and fan mail from their shows that it got Trumann a new and larger post office.

By 1958, Arlen had replaced popular DJ Nelson King at WCKY. King hosted the popular "Hillbilly Jamboree" show and sold countless mail-order budget records on air. This pattern and the advent of rock'n'roll music led Arlen to his decision to found a record label: Vaden Records in Trumann, Arkansas. It had neithern own recording facilities nor a wide distribution. But it soon had artists that became well-known in rockabilly collector circles later in the 1970s: Bobby Brown, Larry Donn, Joyce Green, Bobby Lee Trammell, Teddy Redell and a couple of other local Arkansas singers recorded for Vaden from 1958 up to 1961. In addition to producing rock'n'roll records, Jackie and Arlen also recorded many gospel EPs for the label, which were sold over WCKY.

One of those gospel recordings is featured today. "Oh Come Angel Band" was a popular gospel tune by the time Jackie and Arlen recorded it. Its lyrics were written by Jefferson Hascall, originally entitled "My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast." Because of the common metre of his poem, the lyrics could be set to many hymn tunes. The first to put a melody behind the words was J.W. Dadmun in 1862 but the song is today associated with William Batchelder Bradbury's melody. In my opinion, Jackie ruins the chorus on this version here - she sings to high. It could have been a pretty nice rendition with just Arlen singing it.

Arlen closed down his record label in 1961 because of disappointing record sales and divorced from Jackie around the same time. Arlen Vaden died on May 10, 2003, in Memphis, Tennessee, and is buried on the Jonesboro Memorial Park Cemetery.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bill Haney on D-B

 
SFC Bill Haney - On the Loose (D-B 6-6714), 1966

Here's my signed copy of Bill Haney's "On the Loose." "Good Luck - Bill Haney" - good luck for what? Finding him? Haney is still succssful at not being tracked down, that's for sure. By the way: for those of you who are not fimiliar with militaric shortcus, the "SFC" means "Sergeant First Class," which they probably used to do justice to the patriotic flip side "Call to Colors."

There has been some confusion about Bill Haney. There were several artists by the name of Bill Haney. This one was born in Haywood County, North Carolina, and played with Curtis Lee and his Dixie Buddies by 1957, including spots on WRVA's New Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia. They toured the southern East Coast and by the early 1960s, it seems Haney had taken over leadership of the Dixie Buddies. Supposedly, he did his first recordings for the Atlanta based Super record label and followed up with a single on the Dee-Bee record label in 1962 ("Wild Party Twist" b/w "My Time to Laugh," Dee Bee #RCR-69). That same year, Haney had two releases on the Newberry, South Carolina, based Jim Dandy label in 1962, including a superb version of "Crawdad Hole" entitled "Craw Dad Song" (See here for more info on the Jim Dandy label). In 1966, he appeared on the reactivated Dee-Bee label, now known simply as D-B. It coupled "On the Loose" b/w "Call to Colors" (D-B #6-6714), which is featured today. This disc was manufactured at Kay Banks' Charlotte, North Carolina, pressing plant.

There were several other artists working under the name of Bill Haley. One was a successful and now deceased Elvis impersonator, another was a soul singer from Atlanta plus several others that aren't really identified.

Thanks to Derik

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Houston Turner on Do-Ra-Me

 
Houston Turner - "Buenos Noches" (Do-Ra-Me 1437), 1963

Singer and songwriter Houston "Buck" Turner was born on April, 16, 1922, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. By 1950, he had build up a reputation as a talented singer in the Chattanooga area and was approached by band leader Tani Allen that year to join his band. Steel guitarist Allen had founded his own ountry outfit, "The Tennessee Pals," in Memphis shortly before. He contacted Bullet Records in Nashville, hoping to secure a record deal with the independent label. Bullet agreed to record the band on condition that Allen would exchange the vocalist. That's how Turner came in.

Turner recorded a total of six singles with the band for Bullet from 1950 up to 1952, including their debut "Tennessee Jive," a Turner original. This song somehow came to the attention of Bill Haley, who reworked it under the title of "Real Rock Drive" in late 1952. This version saw release on Essex in early 1953 (Essex #310) without any songwriter credits. Interestingly, "Tennessee Jive" was also covered by Johnny Horton in 1953 on Mercury under its original title (Mercury #70010-X45).

Jim Bulleit, owner of Bullet, offered Turner to record solo for the label but Turner turned down the invitation. Tani Allen, however, encouraged Turner to continue his solo career. In 1960, he began working with the Dixieland Drifters, a group also from Chattanooga. They had recorded earlier for Sun, Murray Nash's B.B. Records and Dub, when Herbert "Happy" Schleif and Peanut Faircloth (also member of the Dixieland Drifters) released two singles of the band on their Hap record label. One was "You Won't Fall in Love" b/w "Will Angels Have Sweethearts" in 1960, the other "Bongos and Uncle John" b/w "How Big a Fool."

Members of the Dixieland Drifters, ca. July 1961 (left to right):
Howell Culpepper, poss. Charlie Evans, Houston Turner,
and Norman Blake

"Bongos and Uncle John" was published by Murray Nash's Ashna Music and recorded at his studio in Nashville. He re-released the song on his Do-Ra-Me label twice and it must have been a good seller for the band, since it was picked up by 20th Century Fox in the US and Sparton in Canada. Turner also recorded solo for Do-Ra-Me, Eddie Bond's Millionaire label in Memphis, and Big Country. He also did personal appearances with his own band, the Town and Country Boys, which also included Norman Blake. The Dixieland Drifters disbanded around 1963 and Turner died in 1999.

Today's selection "Buenos Noches" was written by a team of blind songwriters. The married couple Floyd and Mary Biggs and session pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins also penned a couple of other songs for Murray Nash. Turner recorded it probably at Murray Nash's Sound of Nashville studio and released in July/August 1963. It also saw release in Canada on Sparton.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Doke label

 The Doke label
Columbia, Tennessee

H.B. Jones (alias Phil Barclay)
Doke Records was founded by Nashville booking agent H.B. Jones early in 1958. The label was based in Columbia, Tennessee, but moved to Nashville in 1960. Jimmy Key, , joined Doke in 1960 and became general manager as well as A&R manager, while Jones remained president of the company. At that time, Jones was seeking new talent and planned to expand his activities to overseas, as it was reported by a Billboard article on June 20, 1960.

Jimmy Key was an influential figure in the Nashville music scene of the 1960s. He owned New Keys music that published also a lot of the Doke releases, led his Key Talent agency, and was a DJ, too. He managed such artists as Linda Manning, Dave Dudley, George Kent, Jimmy Newman, Shirlee Hunter, and many more.

H.B. Jones' first release was "Young Lost John" b/w "It's Raining (Doke #101) in 1958 under the pseudonym of "Phil Barclay." He followed up with three more discs, all in the rock'n'roll style. Most of the material he recorded was composed by him. 

Linda Manning in 1968, Mercury publicity
photo
It was probably in late 1958 when Jimmy Key discovered Linda Manning from Cullman, Alabama, who was twelve years old at that time. According to Key, she "really belts out a song." He was searching for song material for Manning in early 1959 for her first recording session. Her debut single came in June 1959 with "I Don't Want to Say Goodnight to You" b/w "Puppet Lover" for Doke Records (Doke #105). At that time, Key was a DJ at WMCP in Columbia and probably had made connections with H.B. Jones earlier on. "Puppet Lover" was written by the blind couple Floyd and Mary Biggs as well as Jimmy Key. The Biggs were also writing songs for a lot of Murray Nash's singers on his Do-Ra-Me label. Manning had at least two other singles on Doke, before switching first to Bulletin ("Our World of Rock and Roll" / "Sweeter Than Sweet," Bulletin #1000) in 1961 and then Goodlettsville, Tennessee, based Gaylord Records in 1963 ("Johnny Kiss and Tell" / "Thanks a Lot for Everything," Gaylord #6425 and "Turning Back the Pages" / "Hello Little Lover," Gaylord #6429). She had her own radio show in Cullman from 1961 up to 1964 called "The Linda Manning Show" and also appeared on WAPI-TV in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1964, she signed with Key's Rice label and later also recorded for Roulette, Mercury, and Columbia.

Country singer David Price also recorded for Doke in 1960. He was later signed to Rice and Hickory.

Discography

101: Phil Barclay and the Sliders - Young Lost John / It's Raining (1958)
102: Phil Barclay and the Sliders - I Love Em All / Short Fat Ben (1958)
103: Phil Barclay and the Sliders - Hey Gang / Deep Desire (1958)
104: Phil Barclay and the Sliders - Loving Baby / Be Mine (1959)
105: Linda Manning - I Don't Want to Say Goodnight to You / Puppet Lover (1959)
106: Linda Manning - The Boy I Can't Forget / Walking on a Cloud
107: Paul Davis - One of Her Fools / When You Fall (1960)
108: Linda Manning - Gotta Run / My Heart's with the Angels (1960)
109: David Price - Between the Juke Box and the Phone / Could It Be (1960)

Notes:
- Doke 108 was also released on Forlin 501 in 1961.

Thanks to Bob.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arkansas Mountain Rag

 
The Arkansas Travelers - Arkansas Mountain Rag (Benz 1207), 1961

Another short one. It's to warm here to work on a detailed post, I guess. I have some nice discs by Bill Haney, Houston Turner, and Arlen Vaden lined up for you in the near future. Meanwhile, enjoy this little ditty. The flip has been covered here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Kenny Norton story

"I'm Just Trying to Find That One Song"
The Story of Kenny Norton 
Special thanks to Kenny Norton

Kenny Norton was one of the many artists produced and recorded by Murray Nash, a Nashville music scene all-around talent and man. "I can't say enough good about Murray Nash, an honest man in a sea of sharks. I received my education at the hand of Robey and Meaux as did many others. Murray Nash was a credit to the music business and the people he worked with were blessed to have him pass through their lives," remembers Norton about Nash. He was still a teenager when working with Nash, releasing his first 45 single on the MusiCenter label. Still, 50 years later, Norton recalls the short time with Nash with fondness.

The early years
Norton was born on June 7, 1947, in Elgin, Texas. At the age of eight months, he was adopted by Sue and Derril Norton from Mexia, Texas, who had a grocery store. Norton was mainly raised by his nannie, a black lady called Katie Brewer: "Katie was a very big influence on my life. She was cousins with Sam Hopkins from Houston. He was known as Lightning Hopkins and was a blues singer. He was recording for Don Robey. Sam always just recorded and took cash for the recordings."

While taking care of young Kenny, Katie used to listen to the radio. She always tuned in to a R&B station out of Dallas, Texas, so Norton grew up listening to such artists as Fats Domino, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Ray Charles, Irma Thomas, and of course Lightning Hopkins. Later on, when Norton was in his teens, he also listened to "Randy's Record Mart" in his car, another nighttime R&B radio show from WLAC, Nashville. In contrast to many other singers of his age group in rural Texas, Norton was not raised on country music but on rhythm and blues, quite different back then. One song which he still remembers today was Fats Domino's "Valley of Tears." He listened to that 78rpm so many times, he wore out the record. Later he also listened to the likes of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Katie encouraged Norton to take up singing, as he recalls: "Katie encouraged me to sing because I was always singing along with the radio. I soon had a simple studio set up in my room and spent a year recording and playing the recordings, trying to improve. The truth is I was never a great singer and I'm still not. But like Katie always said everybody can sing, they just have to find their song. So I stuck with it." Norton kept on practicing and also sang with Katie's niece Dinna.

How He Got to Nashville
Sometimes, Norton helped his parents at the store and delivered goods to people. One of the customers he supplied was the famous songwriter Cindy Walker, which he didn't know at first: "I had been delivering to two ladies for over a year and had no idea who they were. It was Cindy Walker and her mother Momma Walker. One day while at Cindy's house we got to talking and music came up. I told her I liked to sing and had a studio set up at home. She said she would like to hear some of the recordings. The next week when I delivered to her I brought a tape and she listened to it." She told Norton that she had a friend in Nashville, who had a recording studio and was just trying to build up a record label. That certain friend was Murray Nash.

"[...] It was then that she told me just who she was. She had written many hits for Ray Charles, Jerry Wallace, Jim Reeves and many others. She had traveled with Bob Wills in the early days." Walker called Nash and Norton travelled to Nashville by bus in order to meet with him. Nash rented a room at the Noel Hotel for Norton, which was not far away from the studio. The next day, Nash introduced Norton to Floyd and Mary Biggs: "Mary was blind and Floyd seemed almost so. Murray was one of the kindest people I have ever known as was the Biggs. After talking with Murray for about an hour he said he would like to record a song that the Biggs and Hargus Robbins had written. He let me listen to the song and I didn't like it at all. I felt it was three or four years too late for it." That song was "Oonie, Oonie, Yah, Yah, Yah," which saw later release on Norton's only single for Nash. 

The aforementioned Hargus Melvin "Pig" Robbins was a blind pianist who was a busy session musician back then. The Biggs and Robbins also collaborated on a couple of other songs that were recorded by some of Nash's artists for his Do-Ra-Me label, including "Someone Like You" by Audrey Bryant (Do-Ra-Me #1405), "Afraid to Answer" by April Clarke (Do-Ra-Me #1429), and "Buenos Noches" by Houston Turner (Do-Ra-Me #1437).

Norton in 1964/1965, taken from the
picture sleeve of his MusiCenter single.
Although Norton was not impressed with both "Oonie, Oonie, Yah, Yah, Yah" and the song Nash intended for the flip "To Know You", he agreed to record them. Nash gave him a tape of the song and Norton went back home to Texas, where he learned the tune. After three weeks, he was back in Nashville for his first recording session. He cut "To Know You" along with "Oonie, Oonie, Yah, Yah, Yah" with Hargus Robbins on piano. According to Norton, this took place in late 1964 or early 1965 at Nash's Sound of Nashville studio. About three or four months after the session, both songs were released in 1965 (MusiCenter #3104).

A couple of months later, Nash arranged a second session for Norton in order to lay down four more songs. Two of them, "All Night Long" and "I'm Getting Tired of You," had been recorded earlier by a group called "The Valiants" on MusiCenter (MusiCenter #3102). The other two were "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and "Get Back." Those four recordings turned out to be more R&B than Nash intended, who was more familiar with producing country music: "Murray was wanting me to go more country but I was in no way interested in country. These recordings were made at what I believe was Grower studios. I may have the name wrong. I do recall a guitar player named Eddie who Murray said played for Hank Snow. Murray gave me tapes of the recordings and I went back home."

The Crazy Cajun Years
After the release of the disc, Nash released Norton's contract to Don Robey (1903-1975), owner of Duke-Peacock Records in Houston, Texas, probably because Robey was a hit-making producer in the rhythm and blues field with such artists as Little Junior Parker, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Gatemouth Brown, and many others. " In about 6 weeks I got a letter from Don Robey from Duke Peacock Records in Houston. Don ask me to come to Houston and meet with him. I'm thinking that the sessions for the covers had been requested by Robey and as it turned out that was the case. From that time on I pretty much lost control of everything. Murray released me to Robey and a short time later Robey released me to Huey Meaux." Norton signed an exclusive recording contract with Meaux for six singles and a seperate songwriter contract. He stayed with Meaux for the next years.

However, Meaux was busy with producing Doug Sahm (and his Sir Douglas Quintet), Barbara Lewis, and B.J. Thomas. When Freddy Fender came along in the mid-1970s, "everyone else was put on the back burner," as Norton puts it. Norton grew desillusioned with the music business and quit music, while Meaux was imprisoned in 1967 for a violation of the Mann Act. "I had become a commercial pilot and flew for a corporation out of Waco, Texas. Actually I was a personal pilot for the owner of the corporation who was a gambler. I spent most of my time flying him to either Vegas or Hot Springs, Arkansas, to gamble," recalls Norton his later employment. The guy Norton worked for got killed in a car crash, so Norton switched to flying mail out of Memphis. That's were he met Murray Nash for the last time, who had quit the music business by that time, too: "One morning when I had flown into Nashville, when I opened the door of the 18 beech so they could unload and reload the mail, there stood Murray Nash. We both couldn't believe it. We were on a tight schedule and were only allowed around 20 minuets on the ground. We talked about 15 minutes and I never saw Murray again. This was in the summer of 1969 or 1970."

Kenny Norton in Mexico, 1976
Kenny Norton, ca. 1977
In the mid-1970s, with his contract still active, Norton began to work with Meaux again. He recorded several of his compositions for him, including "I Wish You Were a Hooker," "Try and Feel the Rain," "The Middle of April," and "Good Mornin' Sam." Meaux promised to release an album with Norton's recordings but din't follow through with it. "What ever music I wrote while with him, he claimed 100%. [...] I think my last recordings for Huey were in late 1975 or early 1976. By that time I had learned my lessons about the record business, I'm a slow learner." Norton then decided to take two of the master tapes, "You Left the Water Running" and "Your Picture," and sold them to independent producer Jimmy Bounds for 2500 $. Bounds released them on his Swamp label. 

Norton worked not only as a commercial pilot but also as a smuggler, transporting weed from southern Mexico. "I spent many years as a commercial pilot and a few as a pilot smuggling weed from southern Mexico. I had quit smuggling in 1977 and was busted a year later. I spent 86 days in the Federal Correction Instutite in Fort Worth, Texas," recalls Norton.

About two years ago, Norton started composing songs again after divorcing from his wife. Today, living on a 17 acres farm at the Brazos River in the woods, Norton has five songs on iTunes and works on a CD at the moment, which he hopes to release this year. Some of the songs he already wrote are about his time as a smuggler, hence the name of his album project "Smugglers Moon." Norton just wants to "[...] write and record and [I] will stay indie, it's never been about the money for me, after all these years, like Katie said: I'm just trying to find that song I can sing."


I want to express my gratitude to Kenny Norton, who was so kind to share his memories with me and supplied a lot of information.


Discography

MusiCenter 3104 
Kenny Norton 
To Know You (Biggs-Biggs-Robbins) / Oonie, Oonie, Yah, Yah, Yah (Biggs-Biggs-Robbins) 
SK4M-3563 / SK4M-3564 (RCA) 
1965

Country Side CS 102
Josea Hopkins
Strawberry Wine (Kenny Norton/John Stuckey) / Monday Morning Blues (Kenny Norton/John Stuckey)
CS-JH-02 / ? 
1975 (on label)

Swamp SR-3106
Kenny Norton and (Salvation Express)
You Left the Water Running (B. Lynn-K. Norton) / Your Picture (R. Gundie)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pat Parker on Skyland

 
Pat Parker accomp. by the Way Mates - Boy Watcher (Skyland 1000), 1962

I'm first and foremost interested in this disc because it was a version of Ronald Killette's lifetime effort "Boy/Girl Watcher." As the years rolled by, Killette placed this song with several artists, most notable with the O'Kaysions in 1968. Pat Parker's version was probably the first of all to come, although Killette stated in an interview with Gary Myers that he recorded the original version on his Trail label in 1958. According to Killette, it sold quite well regionally but no copies have surfaced yet. The fact that he claimed Wayne Grey recorded "Spaceman's Guitar" for Trail (which is wrong, confirmed by Grey) adds to the confusion and leads me to the assumption that there never was a Trail version of "Girl Watcher."

Pat Parker was around 15 years of age when recording "Boy Watcher" in 1962. There are two different versions recorded by her. The story told by Trail is that a Nashville producer took Parker to Nashville in order to cut "Boy Watcher." Accompanied by the Way Mates, this version was released in spring 1962 on the Skyland label out of Skyland, North Carolina (Skyland #1000). Killette didn't like the result and arranged another session for Parker, re-recording both "Boy Watcher" and "Warm Glow" and releasing it on the Heartbeat label out of Florida (Heartbeat #1000). This is the most probable course of action.

Pat Parker's sister recalled that their mother helped Killette with writing "Boy Watcher" but got no credit for it. A similar case later developed with the O'Kaysions' lead guitarist Wayne Pittman. The flip side of Pat Parker's Skyland single, "Warm Glow," was penned by Pat, Mary Parker (possibly her mother) and one certain Genevive Angel. 

Pat Parker's Skyland version became a good seller in regional markets but didn't break into the national charts. She had a follow-up on the label, featuring "Date with the Blues" b/w "Young Sweethearts" (Skyland #1005), the lattet being also a Killette composition recorded earlier by Helen Thomas on Trail. Interestingly, another artist named Norm Mello cut two more Killette songs for Skyland. "You're Something Special" b/w "Beneath Miami Skies" were again both recorded earlier by other artists. I assume that Killette was somehow involved in this label but haven't found any proof yet.


Skyland discography

1000: Pat Parker Accomp. by the Way Mates – Boy Watcher / Warm Glow (1962)
1001:
1002:
1003:
1004: The Way Mates – Little Lola / That’s a Boy’s Way (1962)
1005: Pat Parker Accomp. by the Way Mates – Date with the Blues / Young Sweethearts (1962)
1006:
1007: The Way Mates – Once in a Lifetime / Sunshine Rock (1963)
1008:
1009: Norm Mello – You’re Something Special / Beneath Miami Skies

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Rivertown label

Jimmy Evans and Jimmy Ray "Luke" Paulman- They began playing music
together in the 1950s at Sun Records. They played with Conway Twitty and
Ronnie Hawkins during the 1950s and 1960s. They also composed sevaral
songs together.





One of the many short-lived record companies in Memphis, Rivertown Records popped up in the 1970s during the Rockabilly Revival, when many of the original 1950s performers returned to their career - or to recording on and off, at least.

The label was probably too small for own distribution. This task was transmitted to other, larger, companies such as Memphis Records and Glolite. The first release was Rivertown #RTR-101 by Jimmy Evans (1938-2011), featuring "Between Midnight and Dawn" b/w "Turn Out the Lights, Pull Down the Blinds." It was recorded in 1972 at Jace Recording Studio in San Antonio, Texas (surprisingly not Memphis). The line-up consisted of Evans on vocals and probably guitar, Gerald "Jerry" Brennan on steel guitar, plus other members of Johnny Bush's band.

From 1972 up to 1979, more sessions took place at different Texas recording studios. On July 9, 1972, Evans was back in San Antonia at Texas Sound Studio in order to lay down his second Rivertown disc. In 1974, he recorded at the same location a string of songs that remained unreleased and finally went to Oakridge Recording Studio (Fort Worth, Texas) for his third Rivertown record. Released under the name of "Lattie Lane," it comprised "Nashville Woman" b/w "Untill."

In 1983, Evans used the Rivertown imprint one last time for his release of "Memphis 1955" b/w "If It's Love." It was recorded that year at American Sound Studio (827 Thomas Str. - Memphis, Tennessee) with Evans on vocals and lead guitar, C.W. Gatlin on lead guitar, Glen Rice on steel guitar, Jim Allen on piano, Byron Snyder on bass, and Tommy Gatlin on drums. "Memphis 1955" was one of those songs remembering the good ol' days back in 1955, when "the Memphis sound was comin' to life." It was written by Evans and Jimmy Ray "Luke" Paulman, with whom Evans had worked in the 1950s and early 1960s a lot.

Since all four Rivertown releases were by Jimmy Evans, I  suppose this was his own label. Read more on Jimmy Evans here.

Discography

RTR-101: Jimmy G. Evans - Between Midnight and Dawn / Turn Out the Lights, Pull Down the Blinds
RTR-102: Jimmy Evans - Mr. Blues / Top Ten Chart of Lonely Hearts
RTR-103: Lattie Lane - Nashville Woman / Untill
RTR-1028: Jimmy Dale Evans - Memphis 1955 / If It's Love