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.

UPDATES

• Amended the Beau Hannon and the Mint Juleps post.
• Added Big Style #101 to Big Style Records discography.
• Added more information to the Bob Taylor post, thanks to Jimmy Hunsucker.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

R.I.P. Don Maddox

Don Maddox, last surviving member of the famous Maddox Brothers & Rose, has died September 12, 2021, at the age of 98 years. Maddox had spent a great portion of his life, including his last years, on his ranch in Oregon. Although he was absent from the music business after the break-up of the family band in the 1950s, young fans rediscovered them and persuaded him to take the stage again in later years. He did his last performance in 2016 in Burbank, California.

The Maddox Brothers & Rose consisted of brothers and their sister Rose, gaining popularity across the USA from the mid 1940s until the mid 1950s. Their style was prototype rockabilly and influenced many of the 1950s rock'n'rollers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Ben Jack on Bejay

Ben Jack and the Country Boys - I Loved You So Much I Let You Go (Bejay 1301), 1962

One of the small record entrepreneurs that orignated out of Arkansas was Ben Jack, a part-time musician, who built his own recording studio and label. Jack allowed himself to have the debut release on his own label, Bejay (the name coming from Jack's initials B and J) that eventually served as an outlet to release the custom recordings he made at his studio. Actually, Jack became a local celebrity mainly because of his music shops in the Fayetteville region.

Jack was born Ben Hoyt Jack on December 27, 1933, to Frank and Rena Helen Jack. Jack's father Frank owned the local Jack's Motor Company in Van Buren. Ben Jack was musical inclined and learned to play pedal steel guitar at some point. It is said that he once performed with the likes of Bob Wills and Hank Thompson. By the 1950s, Jack was playing locally with a band. In 1959 and 1960, Jack and group recorded some country songs for Leon McAullife's Cimarron label.

Billboard March 7, 1960, C&W review

By the the early 1960s, Jack was also dabbling in recording and producing techniques, establishing his own recording studio in Van Buren. Out of this studio, he also operated his own Bejay label. The first release came in 1962, two country songs by Jack and his band: "I Don't Want to Go" b/w "I Loved You So Much I Let You Go." More releases followed but a fire destroyed the recording studio, causing Jack to move across the Arkansas River to the city of Fort Smith. There, he rebuilt his studio in an abandoned garage, turning it into a modern recording studio with top notch gear of the time.

Billboard January 6, 1962 C&W review

Although electric guitars were already popularized in the wake of rock'n'roll music in the mid 1950s, the mid 1960s saw a boom of electric amplified guitars due to the success of the Beatles and what followed as the "British Invasion". In 1965, Jack and his wife Shirley (1938-2017) decided to open up their first music store in Fort Smith, "Ben Jack's Guitar Center", which featured a guitar repair shop in the back and a music store selling guitars and other instruments in the front. The store became a success and a year later, the Jacks opnened a second store in Fayetteville. They eventually sold their store in Fort Smith (however, it retained Jack's name) but established more branches in Rogers and Bentonville. Ben Jack's stores became an institution in Northwest Arkansas, one of the most venerable and popular spots for musicians and those who wanted to become an accomplished one. The staff included only the most versatile musicians of the region, inlcuding Earl Cate, a local guitarist who had played with Ken Owens and the Del-Rays and his own band, Bruce Grubb, who worked for the Jacks for more than 20 years, or Larry Stark.

Jack continued the run his recording studio through the decades well into the 1980s. Mickey Moody was the studio's manager for years. Countless sessions took place in this studio, giving local musicians and bands the opportunity to release their own material. Some of them saw release on Bejay but many LP productions were published on small private labels.

Jack also owned one of the largest privtae collections of vintage guitars, was active in the charity field and other local businesses. He died unexpected on November 6, 2009, at the age of 75 years in Fayetteville. He is buried at Gill Cemetery in his hometown of Van Buren. Following his death, stores were closed exept for the Fayetteville branch. It was sold by Shirley Jacks in 2014 to Don Nelms and family, who run a local car dealership. Nelms and his chief financial officer Roy Shorter are also local musicians and songwriters. Shirley Jack died in 2017.

Discography

Cimarron 4045: Ben Jack and Country Cousins - I Only Want a Buddy / Book of Memories (1959)
Cimarron 4048: Ben Jack and Country Boys - Do I Love You / I'm Entitled to Your Love (1960)
Bejay 1301: Ben Jack and the Country Boys - I Don't Want to Go / I Loved You So Much I Let You Go (1962)

See also
Bejay discography at Arkansas 45rpm Records

Recommended reading
Ben Jack's recording studio
Ben Jack interview
That's All Rite Mama: The Hightide on Bejay

Sources
Find a Grave
Talk, Business & Politics: Music Stores Serve Diverse Clientele
Fayetteville Flyer: Local music store owner Ben Jack dies
Joel Walsh: Nelms Family Buys Ben Jack's Guitar Store in Fayetteville (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Teron Records discography

Teron Records was a label and recording studio based in Hollywood, California. It was owned by partners Terry Dunavan and Ron Solovay, both singers and artists in their own rights. Teron, derived from the first names of both owners, came into existence in circa 1963 and folded likely in 1967. One of its owners, Terry Dunavan, will be the subject of an article in a future American Music Magazine article.

The following discography is the most complete of Teron Records at the moment. If you have any additions, feel free to pass them along.

T-777: Margie Hobbie – Choo Choo Safari / Grown Up Blues (1964)
T 778: Gil Anthony – A Ring for Rosie / Green Eyes
T-779: Bill Pape – It’s Easy as A B C / Tomorrow
T-780: Michael Anders - Kid in Between / It's No Sin
T-781: The Four Queens – A Cider in My Eye / The Boy Next Door (1964)
T-782: Carol Hunt - Oh Tommy / Oh Baby Please
T-783:
T-784:
T-785:
T-786:
T-788:
T-789:
T-790: Bill Seagle - Moon Walk / No Letter Today
T 408: Steve Garza – Your Callin’ Me Now / Simple as A B C
T 409: The Samurais – Love Light / Watch Dog
T 410:
T 411: Terry & Ron – Saturday Night / My Funny Valentine
T 412: Mildred Harrison – Grown Up Blues / You’ve Got a Good Thing Goin’
T 413:
T 414: Gail Staddard - Dalil Sa Iyo / As the World Turns
T 415:
T 416:
T 417:
T 418: Connie Dupuis - I Wish I Were Wendy / My Mixed Up Heart
T 419:
T 420:
T 421:
T 422: Georgie Herk – Untrue / It’s Not Much Fun Being Lonely
T 423:
T 424: Natalie Dale – All Dressed Up / The Beginning and the End
T 425: Wes Boice - Don't Come Runnin' / ?
T 426:
T 427:
T 428: Gordon Morris – I Went Driving / You Callin Me Now
T 429:
T 430:
T 431:
T 432: Sherry and Larry - Darling the Moon Will Not Glow / Cuddle Up (has also CH-101 as cat.#)
T 433: Rod Keith - Wedding Bells are Ringing / Lenore (has also CH-103 as cat.#)
T 434: Gary Cruise - Mystery Train / ?
T 435:
T 436:

T 437:
T 438:
T 439:

T 440:
T 441:
T 442:

T 443:
T 444:
T 445:
T 446:
T 447:
T 448:

T 449: Efrem Musgrow - Waitin' All My Life / I Can't Believe
T 450: Tony Ywanciow - Sad Times / Cry Them for Me
T 451:
T-452:
T-453: Ona Marie Chaidez - He Didn't Deserve What Happened to Him (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) / I am Imagin'
T-201: Linda Lee - You Love Is Showin' / Miss Alone

Thanks to Apesville and Bob

Monday, July 26, 2021

Al Hendrix R.I.P.

Another original rockabilly artist has passed away. Al Hendrix, who recorded a couple of rock'n'roll and rockabilly singles during the 1950s and 1960s that founded his fame in the rockabilly scene, was active until recent years. He died peacefully on July 24, 2021, at his home in California.

Hendrix was born in 1934 in Miami, Florida, but later moved to Bakersfield, California, where he met the young and aspiring country musician Buck Owens. With another country band leader, Jolly Jody and his band, the Go-Daddies, Hendrix recorded his first single for the local Tally label, "Rhonda Lee" b/w "Go Daddy, Rock" that was picked up by ABC-Paramount for national release. The 1960s saw Hendrix recording more singles that became minor favorites among rockabilly enthusiasts, including "Young and Wild" and "Monkey Bite." Hendrix also recorded several albums in later years.

Today, we feature my favorite "Rhonda Lee" in honor of Hendrix.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Sanford Clark R.I.P.

Another legend has gone. Rockabilly and country singer Sanford Clark, best remembered for his 1956 hit "The Fool", died July 4, 2021, at the age of 85 years. He had been in hospital in Joplin, Missouri, due to cancer but died from an infection with COVID19.

Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but started his musical career in Phoenix, Arizona, where he soon became part of the lively music scene. He met later famous producer, songwriter and singer Lee Hazlewood, with whom he would work together on and off for the next years. Clark's debut was "The Fool", which became his first and biggest hit. He later recorded numerous singles and albums, including a cover of the murder ballad "It's Nothing to Me," which became an underground favorite, and a remake of "The Fool" with country star Waylon Jennings on electric guitar.

Recommended reading:
The Billboard: "Sanford Clark dead: Rockabilly Performer, Dies at 85 from COVID-19"

To remember Sanford Clark, we feature one of his later recordings today, the great "Just Bluesin'", a typical 1960s Lee Hazlewood production.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Jackie and Arlen on Southern Gospel Singers

Jackie and Arlen Vaden - The Beautiful Isle of Somewhere (Southern Gospel Singers 1000), mid to late 1950s

After finishing two articles about Red Kirk and Curley Jim Morrison recently for American Music Magazine, I'll turn my whole attention to finishing a project that has been in the making since April last year: Vaden Records. A detailed 60+ pages essay about the little Trumann based label, its owner Arlen Vaden, and recording artists is waiting to be published, furnished with high quality and rare photos, detailed discography and biographies.

Nevertheless, I am still in search of people who remember the Vaden label, Jackie and Arlen, any of the artists or everything else connected with the topic. I have guested on Marty Scarbrough's Arkansas Roots radio programm on KASU in January but unfortunately, there was next to no response to my inquiry. Therefore, if anybody is out there and is willing to contribute, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through the blog's Facebook page.

For today's post, I selected a recording by Jackie and Arlen on their Southern Gospel Singers imprint. This was Arlen's second label, sandwiched between he first branched out into the recording business with his private 78rpm label but likely before Vaden Records came into existence. "The Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" ranks among the best of their work with Jackie's crystal-clear solo vocal and Arlen's guitar accompaniment. The cut was eventually reissued on Vaden Records. These EPs were released by Vaden to sell them on his radio show, which they did indeed in great numbers.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Perk Williams on Allstar


Perk Williams - One Sweet Touch (Allstar A-7302), 1964

This is the last, belated, part of my series of Jimmy Heap/Melody Masters themed posts. Today, we will explore the life and times of the Melody Masters' main vocalist, Perk Williams. Williams was the band's fiddler and moreover, added to the groups' style with his distinctive voice.

Houston Perk Williams, to give him his full name, was born on November 19, 1926, on a farm near Chriesman, Texas, a small town in the middle of nowhere, 45 miles away from Taylor. Williams spent most of his life in Chriesman, which is today close to being a ghost town. Williams attended local school there and began playing the fiddle at the age of eight years, soon performing at local social events. A year later, he won first prize in a fiddle contest and another year later, could be heard on radio KTBC in Austin for the first time.

At age 16, Williams started playing in a band called the Texas Glee Boys. He would continue to perform with other local Texas bands for the next years. After moving to Brenham, he joined another group that was heard regularly on KWHI but eventually founded his own band that could be heard on KORA in Bryan and WTAW in College Station. In 1948, Williams married Jane Kornegay and the couple had one daughter. Tragically, his wife would be killed in a car accident in 1955.

By the late 1940s, Williams likely had gained some popularity in the area as a talented musician and in 1949, joined Jimmy Heap's Melody Masters, a band from Taylor that had been active for the past few years. They already had made some recordings for a local label and signed a recording deal with Imperial that year. Williams, who had limited himself to playing the fiddle in all previous bands, tried out as a vocalist on the Melody Masters' first session for the label and the debut record, "Today, Tonight and Tomorrow" sold well enough to earn Williams a spot as the main vocalist among the many talented singers in the band.

Williams would be part of the band until 1957, recording numerous sessions with the Melody Masters for Imperial and later for Capitol. It was Williams who sang on the band's most memorable recordings, "Release Me" (a chart hit for the group) and their original version of "Wild Side of Life," two songs that later turned out to be country music classics. Williams' voice and his style of singing became an integral part of the Melody Masters sound and helped the band getting popularity all over Texas.



By 1956, Capitol had dropped the Melody Masters from their roster but Heap and the band decided to continue, recording and releasing their songs independently. However, Williams recorded his last session with the band in the fall of 1957, subsequently leaving the Melody Masters. Heap went with the times and had begun transforming the Masters into a rock'n'roll dance band, which likely did not suit Williams' style and taste.

After leaving the Melody Masters, with whom he had performed for about eight years, he founded his own band, the Gold Star Playboys, performing around Bryan and College Station. Williams also recorded first time solo in 1956, a rare and often overlooked split-single with Cowboy Blair for the Echo label. He then would not record until 1960, when he cut two singles for Pappy Daily's D label, for which Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters also recorded one disc.

In 1963, Williams recorded a solo version of "Release Me" for the local Paradise label and a year later, had a single out on Houston's Allstar label that recorded a lot of Texas music. Both "One Sweet Touch" and "I'm That Fool" were uptempo numbers with an updated sound but clearly rooted in Williams' western swing background. Interestingly, "I'm That Fool" was co-written by Doug Dickerson, who was most likely dubious Dallas based songwriter/singer Dub Dickerson.


Shiner Gazette, September 5, 1975

Williams continued to record into the 1970s and performed in the area. He had a stroke in 1983, leaiving him unable to work and also limiting his skills on the fiddle. Nevertheless, he didn't give up and in the early 1990s, befriended with a young Taylor musician, Paul Schlesinger, whom he taught his first tunes on the fiddle.

Williams was diagnosed with cancer and died on January 3, 1994 at the age of 67 years. He had married a second time in the mid 1950s, Betty Jane Sherwood, with whom he had four children. Since 2000, an annual music festival is held in Chriesman as a tribute to the town's only popular son, the "Perk Festival." One of the mainstays is Williams' protégé Paul Schlesinger.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tony Wayne on Westport

Tony Wayne - Together Forever (Westport 134), 1956

Tony Wayne's name is mostly associated with rockabilly singer Alvis Wayne, who coincidentally shared half of the same stage name. From today's point of view, Tony Wayne stands in the shadow of Alvis Wayne, who in turn is often overlooked due to other bigger names in Texas rockabilly music. Tony Wayne was a local Texas based country music band leader, who mentored the young, aspiring Alvis Wayne for some time in the 1950s. In contrast to his protégé, Tony Wayne sunk into oblivion after the 1950s.

He was born Anthony Wayne Guion on January 1, 1924, in Rule, Texas, a small town located in the northern part of the state. By the age of twelve, Guion had taken up the guitar and modeled his style after the great Jimmie Rodgers, who had died just a few years earlier. He finished school in 1940 and became a National Guardsman afterwards, followed by a stint in the US Army. However, he was discharged from the service due to troubles with his ears. Upon leaving the military, he started a career in law enforcement and worked as a deputy sheriff nad as chief of police, among other occupations.

Tony Wayne (Westport promotional photo), 1956

However, music had always been on his mind. By the 1950s, Guion had made the move to Corpus Christie in South Texas. By 1955, he had taken up music on a professional base and founded a country music band, the "Rhythm Wranglers." He adopted the name "Tony Wayne" for performing purposes. In early 1956, he made connections with a 13 years younger singer named Wayne Samford, who was playing also bars around town. Guion had greater plans to go out on the road and invited Samford, who would change his name to Alvis Wayne eventually, to join the Rhythm Wranglers. Alvis Wayne, interviewed by John Kennedy in the early 2000s, remembered: "My mom and dad were not very happy about me going out on the road, but I had an opportunity to do so with a band, which was the only thing I ever wanted to do. As I said they weren't very happy about it at all and we talked about it for several days but I just had to go and they eventually went along with it all and didn't hold me back."

But life on the road wasn't as successful as they had imagined. The band played in a couple of spots that Guion had booked previously, though their commodations were far from being luxurious. In addition, payment was low and after some time, the band decided to quit touring and returned to Corpus Christie. Upon their return, Alvis Wayne left the Rhythm Wranglers and joined Al Hardy's Southernaires. Though, he stayed in contact with Guion.

By summer 1956, Guion had connected with Dave Ruf in Kansas City, Missouri, who owned a little record label called Westport Records there with his brother. The label had been originally started in 1955 as an outlet to release their children's music, known as the Westport Kids. However, the label developed into an outlet to release local talent. Alvis Wayne recollected: "Tony got, I don't know how, but he got in touch with them and he came up to me and said 'Hey I got us a recording contract with Westport Records in Kansas City, Missouri, and they want some rock'n'roll records. He said I got five songs already written for you and all you gotta do is go in there and sing. As far as I know Tony never sung or performed those songs on stage, he wrote them just for me. I had to sit down and drum them into my brain and learn them. I think it was probably Tony who suggested that I change my name from Wayne Samford to Alvis Wayne because he said Elvis has already got this thing going and your name is Alvis and all that. I said OK whatever, you know more about this than I do so let's go for it."

Alvis Wayne, ca. 1956-1958

Dave Ruf released "Swing Bop Boogie" b/w "Sleep Rock-a-Roll Rock-a-Baby," both composed by Guion, on Westport 132 around September 1956, credited to "Alvis Wayne / Accompaniment by Tony Wayne and his Rhythm Wranglers." However, Alvis Wayne had recorded the songs in July 1956 in a little local backyard studio with a totally different band, namely Al Hardy's.

The name mentioning on the label was possibly due to some contractual agreements that Guion had signed with Ruf or he simply masqueraded the band on the record as the Rhythm Wranglers when he sent the tapes off to Kansas City. Guion also had a release on his own on Westport, "Many Ways" b/w "Together Forever" (Westport 134), released at some point between September and November 1956. It were two straight country music performances as Guion likely never performed any rock'n'roll. Substantial recording date and location info on this release has been lost over the decades, unfortunately.

Alvis Wayne had another two records on Westport and although he didn't perform with Guion's Rhythm Wranglers anymore, they remained in contact and it was Guion who organized the last Westport session in 1958 in Houston: "[...] Tony had phoned over to Houston and arranged a recording session. James Bacon had written 'Lay Your Head On My Shoulder', offered it to me and said he would back me up on the record and that's what he did," Alvis Wayne recalled. The song came out in September 1958 but was not a hit, although Wayne's previous disc, another Guion song entitled "Don't Mean Maybe Baby," had proofed to be a strong seller in South Texas a year earlier. It even sold so good that it saw release in the summer of 1958 in Australia on the Bell label, wrongly issued under the name "Tony Wayne." Desillusioned with the music business, Alvis Wayne left the music business and in 1960, entered the US Air Force. By then, he had lost contact with Guion.

It is likely that Guion continued to perform around Corpus Christie with his band, as he had done the previous years, although no such activies are documented for the 1960s. In 1970, he cut a single at Cutler's studio in Corpus Christie, "An Angel Next Door" b/w "Our Dog Named Charlie," which was released on the local Billdale label in 1970. This is the last hint we find on Guion.

Tony Wayne Guion died on December 12, 1997, at the age of 73 years and is buried at Palms Memorial Garden in Portland, Texas. His personal life is even more hazy than his musical career: a 1956 Westport promotional text stated, Guion was living with his 74 years old mother in Corpus Chritie but a 1954 newspaper snippet found in the Corpus Christie Times suggests that he was already married and gave birth to a daughter in April that year. Guion was definitely married to Helen Georgia at the time of his passing.

Guion's fellow musician Alvis Wayne enjoyed some popularity during the Rockabilly Revival and played several gigs in Europe and the US from the late 1990s onwards as well as recorded two albums. He died in 2013.

Discography


Westport
134: Tony Wayne - Many Ways / Together Forever (1956)

Billdale
BD-1007: Tony Wayne - An Angel Next Door / Our Dog Named Charlie (1970)

Sources
Tony Wayne 45cat entry
Tony Wayne Find a Grave entry
Alvis Wayne Rockin' Country Style entry
Alvis Wayne biography/interview by John Kennedy (Rockabilly Hall of Fame)

Friday, May 14, 2021

Ted Russell Kamp - Solitair review

 

Ted Russell Kamp – Solitaire
Continental Song City CSCCD 1183
May 2021

Total playing time: 52:03

When I first learned of Ted Russell Kamp’s new album “Solitaire,” it dawned on me that I had to have this album. I was familiar with Kamp’s name through my fondness of Shooter Jennings, for whom Kamp played bass for years. However, Kamp has been active as a solo artist as well as producer and has released several albums over the years.

In May 2021, his new work “Solitaire” was released on Continental Song City. To be honest, I expected it to be something different. I have been familiar with all of Shooter Jennings’ work and thought, Kamp would deliver something in the same manner but it turned out to be quite different. “Solitaire” is calm, quite, soft and seldom the songs are pushers. This might be because Kamp recorded it mostly at his home during the pandemic months. It is an album to sit down, settle down, and listen.

To my ears, highlights of the 14 tracks strong record include the opening track “My Girl Now,” “You Can Go to Hell, I’m Going to Texas,” “As Far As the Eye Can See,” “Western Wind” and the great “Lightning Strikes Twice.” Kamp himself performed many of the instruments, although he also assembled a group of musicians that support him on different tracks. The sound is acoustic in its best sense, it’s pure and it’s grounded. In my very personal opinion, a few faster paced songs would have enhanced the track selection but the judgement is probably up to each individual.

Nevertheless, Kamp delivers an extremely well-produced and coherent album and I surely will occupy myself with more Ted Russell Kamp material. 

track listing:

1. My Girl Now (3:16)
2. Path of Least Resistance (2:52)
3. You Can Go to Hell, I’m Going To Texas (4:17)

4. Birds That Sing At Dawn (3:35)
5. As Far As the Eye Can See (3:37)

6. The Hardest Road to Find – (3:48)
7. Solitaire (3:14)

8. Western Wind – (3:51)
9. Be Your Man – (3:37)

10. A Rose or Two (4:11)
11. The Spark – (4:19)

12. Only a Broken Heart (3:04)

13. Exception to the Rule (4:43
14. Lightning Strikes Twice (3:32)

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mack Banks R.I.P.

Rockabilly pioneer Mack Banks has passed away on May 4, 2021, at the age of 86 years. Banks, who has secured his place in rockabilly history with his 1956 two-sider "Be-Boppin' Daddy" / "You're So Dumb," was active in music until recent years and was considered as a part of Mississippi's rich music scene. He was an ensemble member of the local "Sparta Opry" stage show for years. After his Fame single, Banks recorded a slew of strictly local 45s for the Vee-Eight label and other companies.