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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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ken Hammock on Starday-Dixie

Ken Hammock is certainly not a household name in music history - even in collector scenes he is an obscure figure. Only two record releases - one on Dixie and the other on Starday - were his contribution to American music but nevertheless, these recordings are now sought after collector items.

Hammock first appeared in the late 1940s, when he was a member of the Tennessee Valley Boys led by Clyde Grubb. This group was possibly the same that was a featured act on the Grand Ole Opry and recorded on Victor sometimes after 1942. May it as it be, Hammock left the band around the summer of 1948 and founded his own act, which he called the "Tennessee Valley Gang." Members of the gang included H.J. Keck (fiddle/guitar), Ray West (guitar), Jimmy Wisher ("hot guitar" as called in Billboard), Jimmie Brewer (guitar), Johnnie Brewer (bass) with Hammock possibly on lead guitar.

In 1948, they performed on a tent show and joined WGAP in Maryville, Tennessee, in January 1949. The next nine years are a blanket in Hammock's career since there is no mention of him performing. He appeared in 1958 on the Dixie label with a rockabilly instrumental called "Blue Guitar Jump" with Hammock taking over the lead guitar. By then, a singer called Hugh Lewis was a member of the group and he is the one who can be heard on Hammock's second single, "Now or Never" b/w "Gotta Find Some Way" for Starday. Both tracks were solid Country performances. These tracks were possibly recorded in Ashland, Kentucky.

Hammock again disappeared for a while. In 1970, there was a Ken Hammock who accompanied the Bailey Brothers on some of their recordings in Knoxville, Tennessee, backing the duo up on string bass. There's no indication that this is the same musician.

Discography 
Dixie 45-2009: Blue Guitar Jump / Angel in Person
Starday 45-370: Now or Never / Gotta Find Some Way

Recordings with the Bailey Brothers
These recordings were released on Old Homestead LP OHCS 138 in 1982

Knoxville, Tennessee, in June 1970
Charlie Bailey (vcl/mand), Danny Bailey (gtr/vcl), Ken Hammock (bs)

"Mary of the Wild Moor"
"Jack and Mae"
"Alabama"
"The Sweetest Gift"
"Where No Cabins Fall"
"He's Still Knocking"
"Step Out in the Sunlight"
"I'd Rather Have Jesus"
"Blow Your Whislte Freight Train"
"Knoxville Girl"

4 comments:

Dave said...

If the Hugh Lewis you referred to is Hugh X. Lewis, he's still around, you can contact him through his website and possibly find out more about Hammock.

Mellow said...

Thank you Dave, I did not thought about that. He is certainly Hugh X Lewis and I will contact him!

Anonymous said...

My Father Ken Hammock Whom I loved so much went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 14, 1996 at his home in Knoxville, Tn. He was the Greatest Steel Guitar Player that I have ever known as well as the GREATEST DAD that I could have ever wanted..I love him and miss him still today (Jan 29, 2015) 19 yrs later.
Larry Hammock Knoxville, Tn.

Mark Aubrey said...

I found out a bit more about Ken Hammock and wrote about it at Old Knoxville Stuff.