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

• New info on Happy Harold!
• 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!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mike Whitten day

Mike Whitten may not be one of the popular Atlanta old-time musicians - in fact, he isn't even more than a footnote in the history of Old-Timey in Atlanta. Though, Whitten recorded and played with some of the most influential and popular artists in that area, including Clayton McMichen and Lowe Stokes. Where, when and to whom Whitten was born is not known. As far as I'm concerned, he had two brothers by the names of Charles ("Charlie") and W.S., who also were active as musicians. It's probable that Mike was a frequent participant in the Atlanta Fiddlers' Conventions and he first appeared on the scene in 1922, when he had his first radio broadcast as a member of Clayton McMichen's Home Town Boys. During the next years, Whitten remained a member of the Home Town Boys and recorded in the second half of the 1920s also with Lowe Stokes. It's possible that Whitten also played on tours with the Skillet Lickers, but I have no info on that. After 1930, he vanished from the radar. I don't no where or when he died.
The picture shows (from left to right): Charlie Whitten (tenor banjo), Clayton McMichen (fiddle) and Mike Whitten (guitar) in the WSB studio on September 18, 1922, before or after their first radio broadcast. Missing in the picture are Boss and Ted Hawkins, who also were part of the Home Town Boys at that time and who also took part in that particular radio appereance.


Here are two songs Whitten recorded with Lowe Stokes:

1. Katy Did
2. Take Me Back to Georgia

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gene McKown story

Another of the KC rockers:

Gene McKown was a local Kansas City artist, who had at least four releases on two different labels, but there are more singles by him, for sure. McKown first appeared as a recording artist in the spring of 1958 with his release "Rock-a-Billy Rhythm" b/w "My Dream Girl" on the California based label Aggie. A second record followed on Aggie, but then, McKown disappeared for a while. He returned in 1964 on the radar cutting "Ghost Memories" b/w "Incidentally" for the KC label Brass. Both songs were re-issued that same year on Brass again (Brass 238) for unknown reasons. I have no other info on McKown after 1964.


Discography:

Aggie A-1001: Rock-a-Billy Rhythm / My Dream Gril (1958)
Aggie A-1003: Little Mary / You and I (1958-1960)
Brass 209: Ghost Memories / Incidentally (1964)
Brass 238: Ghost Memories / Incidentally (1964)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blues set

Here is a bunch of blues recordings I was listening to during the last week. The set kicks off with Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground", one of the most beautiful recordings I ever heard. This song was included on the Voyager Golden Record that was shot into the space in 1977 to demonstrate possible other life forms our culture. We also have Chicago blues guitarist Hound Dog Taylor's awesome recording of "Sitting Home Alone" here that was featured during one scene in the video game "Driver 2 - Back on the Streets", among other recordings. Also listen to "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning", very good guitar work by unknown amateur guitarist Bob Heaton. Have a great week everyone!

Download

1. Blind Willie Johnson - Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground
2. Hound Dog Taylor - Down Home Special
3. Hound Dog Taylor - Kitchen Sink Boogie (live)
4. Bob Heaton - Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning
5. Hound Dog Tayl0r - Sitting Home Alone

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fiddlin' Doc Roberts day

Fiddlin' Doc Roberts is one of the more famous old-time musicians with a recorded work including more than 80 songs for threee different companies. Roberts was born in 1897 in Madison County, KY. When Doc was very young, his father died so he and his brothers had to take over the farm. As a child, Doc and his older brother learned from a black fiddler called Owen Walker to play the fiddle. In 1925, Roberts was invited by Dennis Taylor, also a farmer in the county and talent scout for Gennett, to record a session in Richmond, Indiana, with Welby Toomley and Edgar Boaz. These were the first commercial recordings by Fiddlin' Doc Roberts and in 1927, more sides followed for Paramount. Between 1927 and 1934, Roberts recorded for the American Record Corporation and Gennett countless other songs. His musical partner during these days was guitarist Asa Martin, also from Kentucky, with whom he also did personal appereances all around Kentucky and was heard over radio (mostly WLAP in Lexington). In 1928, Doc brought along his by then 10 year old son James to the studio - the Doc Roberts Trio was formed. Roberts later became known as James Carson and was a star on the WSB Barn Dance, along with his wife Martha Carson. Doc Roberts himself retired from the music business in 1934, returning to farming. In the 1960s, Roberts was rediscovered by the young folk music fans, but refused to perform. Finally, in 1974, he gave one reunion concert with Asa Martin and his son James at Berea College. Roberts died in 1978.

Here are three tunes by Roberts:
1. Cumberland Blues
2. Devil in Georgia
3. Waynesboro

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jimmy Dallas story

Dallas was a long, long time part of the KC scene, beginning in the early 50s. Read his story:

Jimmy Dallas was born on July 26, 1927, and started his career in music probably in the early 1950s. I first heard of him as a member of KCMO's "Cowtown Jubilee", a live stage show much in the style of the "Brush Creek Follies", only lesser popular. He made his first recordings in 1955 for the local Westport company, cutting straight country music. Dallas never got much into other genres like rock'n'roll that was popular during the 50s, he always played downhome country. In 1959, he hosted the Jimmy Dallas Show on KMBC-TV that had also guest appereances by other artists like the Country Styleers, Cherokee Johnnie and Mary Bee. Around the same time he also worked as a DJ on KANS in KC.

The following years saw Dallas working around Dallas, often as a DJ but also as a live act. During the 1970s, he recorded several singles for local labels and had also an LP issue later on. Dallas died on September 28, 2004.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riley Shepard RIP

Riley Shepard, long-time country musician and recording artist for various labels, died on November 6, 2009, in Portersville, California, at the age of 90. Shepard was married six times and had several children.

Shepard was born in 1918 in North Carolina and is maybe best remembered as a member of the Dixie Reelers, an old-time group that recorded for Bluebird in the mid-1930s. Other members included guitarist Daddy John Love, Ollie Bunn and Clarence Todd. Shepard also worked on several radio stations in NC during the decade. The 1940s saw him starting his solo career - during the next years, he recorded on many labels such as King, Majestics, Signature and others.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Miami Rockabilly, Volume 3

The last LP of this series. This one was dedicated to Jimmy Voytek (pictured), who died, one year before the release of this LP, in 1980. Also great songs on in, check it out. A great thanks again to Uncle Gil and Willie, without them I wouldn't be able to post this great record.

Download


1. Jimmy Voytek - Close Your Eyes
2. Buck Trail - Honky Tonk on Second Street
3. Bobby Gay - Let's Dance
4. Jimmy Voytek - Sweetest Gal in Town
5. Rhythm Rockets - Everybody's Gonna Do the Rock'n'Roll
6. Jimmy Gale's Imperials - Dandy Sandy
7. Wally Dean - Rockin' with Rosie
8. Jimmy Voytek - Don't Be a Square
9. Curley Jim Morrison - Rock'n'Roll Itch
10. Bobby Gay - You're Nice
11. Jimmy Voytek - Kitten
12. Roxsters - She's Mine
13. Jimmy Gale's Imperials - We're Gonna Rock All Night
14. Wally Dean - I'm Tellin' Ya Baby

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Georgia Organ Grinders day

The Georgia Organ Grinders were a short lived group that consisted of Skillet Lickers members. The name was used by Clayton McMichen, who recorded under various pseudonyms for Columbia between 1926 and 1931. McMichen also recorded with several musicians (such as Riley Puckett, Lowe Stokes, Claude Davis, Bert Layne and more) under the names of Bob Nichols and Oscar Ford. "My Carolina Home", a hit record in 1931, was recorded by McMichen with Riley Puckett under the name of "Bob Nichols". However, the Georgia Organ Grinders held their only session in 1929. The line-up featured Clayton McMichen (fiddle), Bert Layne (fiddle), Lowe Stokes (organ), Fate Norris (banjo), Melvin Dupree (guitar) and Dan Hornsby (vocals). All six recordings the group made were issued on Columbia. The photo shows some of the Grinders members: Bert Layne, Lowe Stokes, unknown, Clayton McMichen and Claude Davis (left to right).

Here are three songs of them:
1. Charming Betsy
2. Four Thousand Years Ago
3. Smoke Behind the Clouds

Monday, November 9, 2009

Miami Rockabilly, Volume 2

Volume two of this great series. I posted the Rhythm Rockets tracks featured here also on my self-made comp, see here, with some nice liner notes and so on. Here are also real gems on it, check it out.

Download

1. Rhythm Rockets - My Shadow
2. Jim Holt - Paralyzed
3. Rhythm Rockets - The Slide
4. Rhythm Rockets - Boppin', Strollin' & Messin' Around
5. Art Law - Kitty Kat Rock
6. Ross Minimi - Oh! Janet
7. Rhythm Rockets - Who Knows
8. Rhythm Rockets - Lucky Day
9. Rhythm Rockets - My Shadow
10. Rhythm Rockets - My Love Is Gone
11. Art Law - Big Train
12. Rhythm Rockets - Here, There, Everywhere
13. Ross Minimi - Baby Rock
14. Rhythm Rockets - Donny's Boogie

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ernest Thompson day

Ernest Thompson (in the picture's center), a blind multi-instrumentalist, is mainly forgotten today, although he was one of the first southern mountain muscians to record. But that wasn't all - many of the songs he recorded became later standards in country music. Thompson was born in 1892 and lost his ability to see because of an accident in a sawmill. He then attented a school for the Blinds and played on the streets to earn some money. He was spotted by Williams Parks of Columbia Records in 1924 and recorded his first session in April of that year in New York, which produced "Are You from Dixie" and other songs. Do you remember the mysterious "Charlie Jones" I presented you two weeks ago with "Old Dan Tucker" and "Snow Deer"? That was maybe Ernest Thompson! Although this pseudonym isn't listed anywhere, it's possible he's the same person, because Thompson also recorded "Snow Deer" (not "Old Dan Tucker") and many of his sides were also issued under pseudonyms on Harmony and Velvet Tone. Eva Davis, a musician who accompanied Thompson to New York, was also known as Eva Jones. However, Thompson's records didn't sold well and after another session in September 1924, Columbia dropped him. It was not until 1930, that Thompson recorded again - this time for Gennett. From the 14 recorded numbers, only two were issued. This was the last time Thompson went into a studio. He got married in 1931 and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Ernest Thompson died in 1961 in High Point, North Carolina.

Here are two songs of Thompson (both recorded for Columbia in 1924):


1. Frankie Baker
2. Lightning Express

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New stars on the Music City Walk of Fame

The Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, will have five more stars on it. The awarded persons are Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Charlie Daniels, Kid Rock and Hattie Louise Bess. On November 8, 2009, the new stars will be presented to the public in the Hall of Fame Park. Every honored person (except Tubb, who died in 1984) will be there. The Music City Walk of Fame is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Bear Family releases

The new releases of Bear Family Records, coming out soon, include some very good stuff, here they are:

1. The Browns: "A Country Music Odissey" - a best of compilation including 36 tracks by the famous Country/Pop crossover trio, the Browns.

2. Charlie Rich: "Ballads of Charlie Rich" - another comp that gathers the tear jerker ballads of Charlie Rich recorded for Sun, RCA and Smash.

3. Five more releases by Bear Family's outstanding series "Country & Western Hit Parade". The discs, one disc for one year, include hit songs and some more unknown country songs from the "Golden Age of Country Music".

4. Also scheduled for release is another monster project focusing on the legendary John Wayne. Ten CDs will contain the soundtracks of his films and music inspired by them and, in addition to the music, a booklet with rare photos and posters and a biography book.

Vistit bear-family.de.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Miami Rockabilly, Volume 1

Here's a the first volume of an LP series you'll like very well I think. This put out by AFS Records in 1979 and featured Rock'n'Roll and Rockabilly recordings from the vaults of Miami labels cut in the 1950s and early 1960s. AFS was a sublabel of Art that recorded many of the songs featured here. AFS was re-activated for re-issuing these treasures - you will like it. Highlights are Wesley Hardin's "Anyway", the Roxsters with "So Long" and Buck Trail's outer space hymn "Knocked Out Joint on Mars". Many thanks to Uncle Gil for supplying the LP and Willie, the original ripper. Have fun!

Download

track list:
1. Wesley Hardin - Anyway
2. Buck Trail - Knocked Out Joint on Mars
3. Roxsters - I Was Doint It, Too
4. Mike Shaw - Long Gone Baby
5. Tommy Spurlin - No Time for Heartaches *
6. Kent Westberry - My Baby Don't Rock Me Now
7. Tommy Spurlin - Hang Loose
8. Roxsters - So Long
9. Wesley Hardin - Honky Tonk Man
10. Buck Trail - The Blues Keep Knockin'
11. Mike Shaw - Frankie and Johnny
12. Tommy Spurlin - One-Eyed Sam
13. Kent Westberry - No Place to Park
14. Tommy Spurlin - Heart Throb *

* Although they are marked as "unreleased" on the back cover of this release, both songs were released in 1957 on Perfect, another label associated with Art.