Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jimmy Smith on Wonder


"Pinch Me Quick", Wonder 110 (1958)


Jimmy Smith was primarily a country/western swing musician working around the Atlanta area. In late 1958, he tried his hand at the new music called rock'n'roll. He probably thought that an up.tempo western swing song with hep cat lyrics is all you have to throw in to get a good rock'n'roll record - judge yourself if you succeeded.

Smith was born on April 8, 1914, and was influenced by the Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers. Before becoming a musician, Smith worked in the construction business. Around 1937, he decided to start a career and music and eventually became a member of the WSB Barn Dance out of Atlanta, Georgia. On this show, he also sang with his wife.

In the fall of 1953, he founded a new group, billing it "Jimmy Smith and his Texans". Johnny Tyler (of "Oakie Boogie" fame) and Smith's wife were also partially members of this group. Smith played around the Atlanta club scene most of the 1950s, including the Silver Slipper and the Joe Cotton Rhythm Ranch. Smith also appeared on WSB-TV and WGST in Atlanta. John  Elder got him a recording contract with RCA Victor, which issued a couple of country outings by Smith.

Smith's 1958 Wonder recording of "Pinch Me Quick", written by Smith and Atlanta musician Ray Pressley, was his only rock'n'roll record. Wonder Records was owned by Bill Lowery, who was the most powerful man in the Atlanta music business at that time. Lowery also operated the much bigger National Recording Company and the NRC label, which also distributed the Wonder singles. "Pinch Me Quick" has a very catchy western swing feel to it, with a freewheeling piano style and great guitar work. Unfortunately, this outstanding song never became a hit for Smith. Billboard rated it as a one-star single in its December 29 issue:

Routine rock & roll blues is handled nicely here.

Although Smith never rose to national fame, he was nonetheless a popular and important figure on the Atlanta country music scene. He was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

Sources: Hillbilly-Music.com, various Billboard issues, Rob Finnis

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