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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Tuesday, March 1, 2022

WIBW Round Up

The Country Voice of Kansas
The WIBW Round-Up from Topeka

The WIBW Round-Up was one of the hundreds of thousands country music live stage shows that were held all over the United States during the golden age of radio, the 1920s until the 1950s. The WIBW Round Up seems to be one of the longer running and bigger shows than many of its competitors.

Radio stationWIBW, "The Voice of Kansas", was based in Topeka, Kansas, and went on the air in the 1920s. With its signal, the station served areas in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. During this time, programming of radio stations was mostly done live and it proved that live country music entertainment on Saturdays was successful and popular with the listeners. It appears that there is not an exact date reported when the WIBW Round-Up first aired but a forerunner of the show was on the air as early as 1936, judging from a promotional picture from that year. Apparently, the show was called intially "Kansas Round-Up" at that time and the name was later shortened to simply "Round-Up".

Cast of the WIBW Kansas Round-Up, postcard from the mid 1930s

It seems that World War II interrupted the Round-Up but at the end of the war in 1945, the show was soon on the air again. Billboard reported on June 16 that "Doc and Esther Embree are still at WIBW, Topeka, and Doc is editor of the station's new mag, WIBW Round-Up." This magazine was published by the station in uniform with the show and included stories and interviews by the artists, reports from the studio, plus programming of the station. It was published once a month.

Photo story of "Uncle Ezra" Hawkins in the WIBW Round-Up magazine,
August 1947 issue


The show was held live on Saturday nights in Topeka and WIBW carried portions of the show from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. The cast of the show also went out in the country and appeared at fairs. Like the National Barn Dance from Chicago, the WIBW was not strictly limited to country music but was more of a variety show and featured also performers of other genres. Dude Hank, though being also a country singer, was noted for being a trumpet player and his wife, Miss Maudie, was a longtime performer on the station, often accompanying other acts on the piano.

Artists of the show included at one time or another Colonel Combs, Uncle Ezra Hawkins, the Holden Brothers, Emory Martin, Al Clauser and the Oklahoma Outlaws, Jimmie Pierson and his Novelty Boys, and many more. The radio station also set up its own record label in 1947, WIBW Round Up Records, which recorded many of the artists featured on the show. I was able to determine a couple of these records (see discography below).

1955 was the year that brought an end to the Round-Up, a show that apparently has lasted for nearly 20 years. Music tastes and radio were changing. TV was becoming more and more popular, DJs were taking over airwaves and the show closed even before rock'n'roll music came along and shocked the country music world. The last Round-Up magazine was published in March 1955. WIBW featured country music well into the 1970s and is now a talking format. Its sister station, WIBW-FM features a country music programming nowadays.

WIBW Round-Up Records Discography

1072: Holden Bros. featuring Emory Martin - Mother's Not Dead, She's Only Sleeping / I'm Doing My Time (1947)
1073:
1074: Edmond Denny - Rainbow of Happiness / A Song - a Dream and You
1075: (Miss Maudie) Maudie Carlson - Holliday Polka / Escapades
1076: Dude Hank - Cry Baby / Corn Cob Schottische
1077:
1078:
1079: Holden Bros. featuring Emory Martin - Dust on the Bible / Parcel of Love (1947)

Sources:
WIBW Wikipedia entry
Hillbilly-Music.com entry
• various Billboard issues, see depicted article

Recommended reading
World Radio History (monthly WIBW Round Up magazine issues)
Kansas Historical Society (picture of 1941 WIBW Round Up calendar)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Hezekiah Goode - Humansville review

 

Hezekiah Goode released “Humansville” in 2021. The singer with the strange sounding name has grown on nothing but Americana music in its finest forms. He comes from an Ozarks based musical family and old-timey, country, and blues were the main influences on him. Goode is active as a musician ever since but his first album came not until 2011.

“Humansville” is his third studio album and a mixture of old-time, bluegrass, and traditional country music with influences from other genres audible here and there. If you expect a down-home folk album a la Black Twig Pickers, you’re wrong (although it gets really down-home). If you expect something like The Country Side of Harmonica Sam, you’re wrong either. It’s something in between and yet very different.

The album kicks off with “Rocky Mountain Line”, an enjoyable bluegrass song with guitar, dobro, mandolin and fiddle. It is followed by a slow ballad, “Ozark Valentine”, and the piano is surprising here. “Son in Law Yodel” and “Big Taters” are more of traditional nature with the former being clearly Jimmie Rodgers inspired and the latter representing a great fiddle tune. On “Laramie County Jail” and “Your Weary Bones”, Goode heads more towards traditional 50s and 60s country music. And the title track is another fun number in the old-time music style.

Goode is surely criss-crossing the musical influences of his youth and does this in an appealing style. The traditional numbers on this album are better in my opinion. However, it should work for both modern bluegrass and country music fans alike.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Okie Jones on Majestic

Okie Jones and the Sunset Starliters - Kiss Away (Majestic 10-1358), 1958

I didn't really buy this record because I needed it but I was curious because the label design looked liked to be one of Major Bill Smith's productions. And what can I say? I really is. You can identify it prominently because of the Lebill publishing but also because of the distinctive design of the yellow label. Actually, this appears to be one of Smith's earlierst works. His name should be familiar with every collector who is familiar with 1950s and 1960s local music and so am I but I did not deal with his story until my work about Curley Jim Morrison, who worked with Smith in the 1960s and 1970s in Fort Worth.

However, today we want to pay attention to the artist of this disc, Okie Jones. He was born Otho Eugene Jones on August 14, 1930. He was a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and his parents Howard Rufus Jones and Ina Rue Francis Jones had a total of four children.

In 1949, Jones made his first recordings for Bill Quinn's Gold Star label out of Houston. "Stop, Look and Listen" b/w "Foolish Heart" were released as by "Gene Jones" (Gold Star #1382). Possibily through Quinn, Jones landed a recording contract with major Columbia Records and recorded a total of three sessions for the label - two in Nashville, one at Jim Beck's studio in Dallas. It was on Columbia that he first appeared as "Okie" or "Oakie" Jones. Columbia released Jones' recordings between January 1951 and August 1952, however without noteworthy chart success. At some point in the early 1950s, Jones joined the US Army and served in the Korean War. Upon his return, he resumed his career in the music business and became a member of Little Jimmy Dickens' road band, performing with such noted musicians as steel guitarist Buddy Emmons. This engagement lasted probably until early 1956.

Promotional picture of Okie Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens

During the 1950s, Jones appeared on such big shows as the Louisiana Hayride, the Big D Jamboree, and the Cowtown Hoedown from Fort Worth. Major success eluded him, however, much likely also due to a missing recording contract with a major label. From early 1956 until around April 1957, Jones was working in Detroit as part of Casey Clark's Lazy Ranch Boys. It was during this time that he recorded his next single for the Sage & Sand label, backed by the Lazy Ranch Boys. After his engegament with Clark, Jones returned to Texas circa in May and worked the Red River Jamboree out of Paris, Texas.

Billboard May 13, 1957

Today's pick from 1958 falls into this time frame. The Majestic label, based in Jones' hometown of Fort Worth, seems to be Major Bill Smith's first venture in the recording business, prior to his leaving of the US Army and the subsequent founding of LeCam Records in 1959. "I Borrowed from Peter (to Pay Paul)" b/w "Kiss Away" (Majestic #1358) was released by Smith at the end of 1958 with Billboard reviewing the disc on November 24 that year. The band on the recordings, dubbed as the Sunset Starliters, may be Jones' regular band, which had been known as the Western Starliters a year before. Distribution was likely non-existent at that stage of Smith's venture and aside from this, the song material's questionable quality added possibly to the failure of this record.

Catalog of Copyright Entries

Billboard C&W review November 24, 1958

Jones was also a bit of a songwriter and composed a lot of his recorded songs on his own. He also co-wrote "Strictly Nuthin'" with Frankie Miller, who recorded the song for Starday in 1960. Jones moved away from his Texas stomping grounds in the 1960s and concentrated on his ties to the Nashville scene. He worked as Marty Robbins' bus driver (as well as his unofficial business counselor) for ten years and later drove bus for Hank Williams, Jr. for another five years. Jones recorded his last single in 1966 for Red Wortham's Sur-Speed record label, which was based outside of Nashville in Bon Aqua (see here for Sur-Speed's history). After his retirement from the music business, Jones enjoyed working on his farm and lived outside of Nashville in Readyville with his wife Madeleine, whom he married in 1985.

By then, Okie Jones was hardly remembered outside the hardcore country music record collectors scene. Two albums of his works appeared in more recent years: one compiled by the Hillbilly Researcher team issued in 2003 and another one in 2012 by the archivists of the British Archive of Country Music, which was a joint release with Neal Jones. That same year, Jones attented the release event of Diane Diekman's Marty Robbins biography "Twentieth Century Drifter" at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jones had contributed valuable information to the book through a phone interview with the author.

Okie Jones died on November 20, 2017, at his home in Readyville, Tennessee, at the age of 87 years. He is buried at Coleman Cemetery in nearby Murfreesboro.

Billboard March 3, 1956

Jim Bulleit Music Corp. advertisement in Billboard Febuary 23, 1952

Discography
For discographies of Okie Jones' 78rpm and 45rpm releases, see 45worlds and 45cat.

Sources
Find a Grave entry
Rockin' Country Style entry
Hillbilly-Music.com entry
Session and record discography at Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies

See also
Steel Guitar Forum
Audio file of Okie Jones at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

New Star and Gaylord Records

New Star and Gaylord (Goodlettsville, Tennessee)
Pamper Music and Its Labels

In our little series spotlighting smaller Tennessee based record labels, the New Star and Gaylord labels were a bit different compared to the other companies we have documented. New Star and its sister label Gaylord belonged to Pamper Music, one of Nashville's hottest music publishing firms in the early 1960s. Therefore, this is not only a story about these record labels but also about Pamper as well. Much has been written about Pamper and its staff songwriters like Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, and Willie Nelson but little attention has been paid to the two labels that were founded to handle not only the publishing rights to songs but also to release the recordings independently. Many future Nashville stars recorded for these outlets but chart success largely eluded both companies.

The Founding of Pamper Music
In order to explore the activities of New Star and Gaylord Records, we have to go back in time to the founding of Pamper Music. The founding date of Pamper is usually given as 1959. Though, the roots of the publishing firm run back to summer 1955. Claude Caviness, a baker from Rivera (now Pico Rivera, Los Angeles), California, and turned record producer, had started his Pep label that year but initially relied on song material for the first two releases that was published by American Music. Caviness' wife, who went by the stage name Marilyn Kaye, was a singer (though not a good one) and Caviness was looking for a hit for her. Ralph Mooney, at that time already a well-known steel guitarist in California's country music scene and acquaintance of Caviness', suggested to establish also a publishing arm to handle original material. In addition, Mooney brought in his compositions "Crazy Arms", which he had written along with befriended songwriter Chuck Seals, as the firm's first work. Caviness took the name Pamper from a shampoo company tube he noticed in a bathroom. Pamper Music was born.

Billboard May 21, 1955

In the summer of 1955, Caviness brought his wife, along with Pep recording artist Kenny Brown and Brown's Arkansas Ramblers in the studio to cut a duet version of "Crazy Arms." Coupled with the Seals composition "Throw a Little Wood in the Fire" as a solo performance by Kenny Brown, the disc appeared in June 1955 on Pep #102. Despite Kaye's limited vocal abilities, "Crazy Arms" gained some airplay, especially on WALT in Tampa, Florida, from DJ Bob Martin. Martin played the song to Ray Price, who in turn recorded the song in 1956 for Columbia and turned it into his first #1 country hit. Many cover versions were cut over the years, including one by Jerry Lee Lewis, who recorded the song at Sun Records for his debut release. 

"Crazy Arms" did not only support its writers Ralph Mooney and Chuck Seals with a lifelong financial income but must have also boosted Pamper Music's financial situation. Caviness continued to operate Pep and Pamper out of Rivera and recorded several local artists, including Buck Owens. However, the years 1956-1958 are only sketchy documented. It was probably not until late 1958 that Ray Price and James H. "Hal" Smith, a Nashville based fiddler and booking agent, decided to join the venture. The official founding date is given as January 1, 1959, by Kent Henderson in the CMA's Encyclopedia of Country Music book.

Pamper Moves to Music City, U.S.A.
Hal Smith had played in various bands before, including Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys and Carl Smith's Tunesmiths (along with his wife Velma, who was a studio musician herself). With Smith and Price being Nashville based, therefore headquarters of Pamper moved to 119 Two Miles Pike in Goodlettsville, twenty miles north of Nashville, where Hal Smith owned a small building. Caviness' own headquarters on 9652 Winchell Street in Rivera served as the company's West Coast office. In 1959, Pamper signed country music singer Hank Cochran to a songwriting contract. Cochran had started his career in 1955 with Eddie Cochran as the Cochran Brothers and was living in California at that time. He moved to Nashville in January 1960 and discovered another young but failing singer-songwriter at the infamous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Willie Nelson. The latter presented Pamper with its first Nashville era hit: "Four Walls", recorded by Faron Young. With such additions as Nelson and Harlan Howard to its roster, Pamper developed into Nashville's hottest music publisher in the early 1960s. Cochran and Howard's "I Fall to Pieces", recorded by Patsy Cline, or "Crazy", from the pen of Willie Nelson and also recorded by Cline, became two more chart stormers.


Billboard December 31, 1960


New Star and Gaylord
Soon after Pamper Music took off, the owners decided to expand their activities in the music business by forming their own record labels. Obviously, Caviness' Pep label in Rivera was not considered to be a proper outlet for releasing own productions. Pampers' move to establish labels on their own was clever but by no means was the company the only music publisher in Nashville with this strategy. Acuff-Rose had founded Hickory Records already in the 1950s and such rivals as Cedarwood or Tree would follow the same path. The publishers were eager to gain more control in the recording process, artistically but moreover financially. It is profitable to publish a hit song - but it is even more profitable to put it out on disc on its own.

Billboard November 3, 1962

Billboard December 15, 1962

Billboard February 9, 1963

The first of the two labels was New Star. While the founding of Gaylord has been documented in the press very well, the New Star label was largely ignored and we have no insight in its creation therefore. It is even uncertain if the label was a direct subsidiary of Pamper but it is obvious that the companies were somehow associated. It appears that the first known New Star release came out in 1961 by Buck Owens. An overdubbed version of his rockabilly favorite "Hot Dog" b/w "Sweethearts in Heaven" appeared on the label (New Star #6418). The recordings were obviously drawn from Claude Caviness' catalog, as they both first appeared in 1956 on his Pep label.

Ginger Callahan followed up with "A Sinful Soul" b/w "In Love Out of Love" (New Star #6419). Both songs were composed by Callahan and no need to say that they were published by Pamper. New Star released more singles until at least 1969 without much notice from the press, including recordings by such more famous artists as Dave Dudley, Chuck Howard, and David Price, among others. From 1966 onward, steel guitarist Howard White, who had turned to song plugging, promoting and publishing since 1964, was in charge of production for the label.

In contrast to the silent live of New Star, Gaylord Records was created with much more fanfare in late 1962. On November 3, 1962, Jack Maher reported in Billboard that "[...] Pamper Music and its affiliate Gaylord Music have signed a deal with Monument Records to produce and distribute disks. The deal is being negotiated between Pamper-Gaylord topper Hal Smith and Monument President Fred Foster. The label has tentatively been named Gaylord Records and first product will probably be issued around the first of the year. [...]" 

The first release on Gaylord appeared (contrary to what was written in above mentioned Billboard article) already in November 1962 by Linda Manning, "Johnny Kiss and Tell" b/w "Thanks a Lot for Everything" (Gaylord #6425). The disc was reviewed by both Billboard and Cash Box in December but was not mentioned in the various reports that Billboard carried in late 1962 and early 1963. This honor went to Hank Cochran's "Yesterday's Memories" b/w "When You Gotta Go (You Gotta Go)" (Gaylord #6426), which was announced in Billboard's February 9 issue to hit the store shelves around February 15, 1963.

Billboard April 16, 1966

During the years 1963 and 1964, recordings by Manning, Cochran, and David Price and others appeared on Gaylord. Rusty York's rendition of "Sally Was a Good Old Girl", written by Harlan Howard of Pamper, was released on both New Star and Gaylord. Billboard reported on this issue: "Pamper Music's Hal Smith, who also operates Gaylord Records, Monument affiliate, has acquired the  Rusty York master on Newstar label of 'Sally Was a Good Old Girl'. It was released this week through Monument." This brings me to the question if New Star was a Pamper affiliate at all? Nevertheless, it would be too coincidental that all New Star releases carried song material published by Pamper, shared the same numerical system as Gaylord for some time, and was located in Goodlettsville.

Claude Caviness left Pamper in the mid 1960s, which caused the company to lose its West Coast office. As a replacement, Hal Smith worked out an agreement with Joe Allison from Los Angeles, also owner of his own publishing firm Nashville Music (although much smaller than Pamper at that time), and new offices were opened in April 1966.

The End of New Star and Gaylord
The high hopes never materialized into record sales, at least almost none of the issued discs on New Star or Gaylord reached Billboard's C&W charts. The only one hitting the charts was Hank Cochran's "A Good Country Song" (Gaylord #6431, #25) in 1963. 

In the spring of 1968, another of Pamper's original founders turned his back on the company. Ray Price sold his 43 percent of shares to the company's staff writers Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran. Also remaining with Pamper were Hal Smith and R.B. Parker, the latter being the attorney for the company. Apart from New Star and Gaylord, Pamper had acquired Bobby Bobo's Boone record label out of Union, Kentucky, in 1968. Boone released discs until summer 1969.


Billboard April 13, 1968

While Gaylord was already discontinued in late 1963 or 1964, New Star Records kept on releasing discs until 1970. By then, Pamper had been taken over by Tree International Publishing, losing its independence in April 1969. New Star's last few releases were produced already under Tree's ownership and supervision. With Tree acquiring Pamper, all compositions went over into Tree's catalog and are now part of Sony/ATV.

In the 1980s, Hal Smith sold the property at 119 Two Miles Pike. The building was subsequently used as an animal hospital but was demolished in 1994 in favor of a new building for the hospital that suited the purpose better. Shortly before, Hank Cochran acquired the gear out of the building's garage, in which Willie Nelson had written one of Pamper's top hits, "Hello Walls". Nelson had recorded a slew of demos of his songs while signed to Pamper. These tapes were finally released in 2018 on a CD entitled "The Pamper Demos".

Many of the key figures of Pamper/Gaylord/New Star have already passed away, so it is difficult to document the history of these companies in detail. Hal Smith died September 2008 at age 84. Hank Cochran followed in 2010 and Ray Price in 2013. Claude Caviness is probably no longer with us, too, although details escape us on this issue. The only surviving person would be Willie Nelson. So, Willie, or anyone else out there who worked with Pamper, share your memories with us!

Discography
• See entries on 45cat of both Gaylord and New Star for comprehensive discographies.

Sources
• Various Billboard issues (see depicted articles)
• Country Music Hall of Fame: The Encyclopdia of Country Music (Oxford University Press, 2012), page 403
• Michael Kosser: How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A. (Hal Leonard, 2006), pages 71-74
Gaylord and New Star entries on Discogs

Monday, January 31, 2022

Shelby Follin and the Memphis Four

Shelby Follin and the Memphis Four

During my research on the Snearly Ranch Boys, I was newly intrigued by another country music band, Shelby Follin and the Memphis Four. A rather unknown act like Doc McQueen or Bob Williams' Mid-South Playboys, I was able to puzzle together and create a short biographical sketch on Follin. Additions or memories on this act are highly appreciated.

Shelby C. Follin was born on April 23, 1916, in Mississippi. Details on his life are scarce but what we know is that he served in the Marine Corps during World War II in South Pacific and after his discharge, became a Tennessee highway patrol officer. Eventually, he became a special officer at Memphis Municipal Airport (now Memphis International Airport).

Kansas City Times November 29, 1951

By the late 1940s, Follin had assembled a little country band that was called “Shelby Follin and the Memphis Four”. In later literature, which mentions Follin, it was often simply referred to as “The Shelby Follin Band”. The group played Ernst Tubb like honky-tonk music around Memphis and in January 1952, Follin and the band landed a spot on local radio station KWEM, hosting a 30-minute program each day (before Howlin’ Wolf’s slot).

Billboard May 24, 1952

Guitarist Paul Burlison was a member of the band from around 1950 until the band’s break-up around 1954. Pianist Smokey Joe Baugh joined the band in 1952, playing with them for about a year before switching to Clyde Leoppard’s Snearly Ranch Boys.

The band disbanded around 1954. They left behind no recordings, as they were out of business before the Memphis recording industry had developed – the only significant labels being Sun and Meteor but they were blues and rhythm & blues based prior to 1954, likely being reluctant to commercially record amateur country music. The only possibility of recorded documents of the Shelby Follin Memphis Four would be live on-air tapes of their regular KWEM broadcasts but there are no tapes known and, to be honest, it is doubtful there ever existed some.

Being only part-time musician, Follin retained his day job at the airport until his sudden death. On January 27, 1959, Follin and a friend were driving in their car from a hunting trip in Olive Branch, Mississippi, a little south of Memphis, when Follin missed a curve and the car hit a tree. Follin was instantly dead, his friend survived. Shelby Follin is buried at Oak Hill Church of Christ Cemetery near Corinth, Mississippi.

Sources
Various books, online entries and liner notes mention Shelby Follin but mostly only refer to him in association with Paul Burlison or Smokey Joe Baugh.

Find a Grave entry
Tales from the Woods
Dorsey Burnette biography on Bear Family Records

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Bonnie Lou on King

Bonnie Lou - Wait for Me, Darling (King 45-1365, 1954)

Bonnie Lou was a star of WLW from the 1940s up to the 1970s and had a few hits in the 1950s, mixing country with R&B on many of her recordings for King Records. Apparently, she was one of the first women to sing rock'n'roll or rock'n'roll tinged songs. Today we feature one of her country releases for the label.

She was born on November 27, 1924, in central Illinois as Mary Joan Kath. She spent her early years in Towanda, Illinois, but when the family's home burned down, they relocated to Carlock, where Kath's father worked as a farmer. She was interested music already as a child and initially learned violin before taking up the guitar at the age of eleven years. Influenced by such cowgirl singers as Patsy Montana or the Girls of the Golden West, she learned to yodel from her grandmother (who originally hailed from Switzerland and had immigrated to the US).

In 1939, at age 15, Kath had her first radio appearances under her given name and also soon played public appearances. A year later, she was part of Bill Barlow's Kentucky Ramblers and upon finishing high school in 1942, she moved to Kansas City a year later, where she appeared on radio KMBC as "Sally Carson". She played such programs as the Dinnerbell Round-Up and the station's big live stage show, the Brush Creek Follies.

In 1945, Kath transferred from KMBC to WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it was there that she took the stage name "Bonnie Lou" (which she got from fellow WLW performer and station executive Bill McCluskey). At WLW, Kath featured her own band, known as the Trailblazers, and soon became a regular performer on the station's successful Midwestern Hayride. Her popularity grew through the years and in 1953, she signed with the local independent label King Records. Already her first release, "Seven Lonely Days" b/w "Just Out of Reach" (King #1192, March 1953), became a #7 country hit.


Billboard June 19, 1954

Kath had a follow-up hit that same year with "Tennessee Wig Walk" (#6) but was absent from the charts the next two years. "Wait for Me, Darling", an uptempo country side, was recorded May 30, 1954, at the King Recording Studio with an unknown band. King coupled the song with another recording from the same session, "Blue Tennessee Rain", and released it on King #1365 in June 1954. However, the disc did not reach the charts.

Billboard June 26, 1954, C&W review

Despite her popularity on the Midwestern Hayride and guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, her next hit came not until fall 1955, when her "Daddy-O", a R&B flavored country number, reached #14 on Billboard's charts. She had another hit with "La Dee Dah" early in 1958, a duet with fellow King recording artist Rusty York. Her records were also released in Europe, including successfully in England. Two of the reasons that she never achieved enduring chart success may have been the facts that WLW did not let her take off from the station to go out on tour and promote her records and, to her own account, that she mixed country and R&B genres, so people did not know which style she was actually singing.

Sheet music for "Daddy-O"

After her King contract expired, she signed with local Fraternity Records, as she did not want to leave Cincinnati, and released two unsuccessful singles, including the rock'n'roll number "Friction Heart". In the following years, she would also record for Todd, Studio 4, and Wrayco. When television became more popular than radio, she made the transistion from WLW to its TV counterpart WLWT and starred in the TV edition of the Midwestern Hayride until its ending in the 1970s. She also became part of various other TV programs of the station, including the Paul Dixon Show. After Dixon's death in 1974, she semi-retired from TV and music business, only performing occasionally.

She hosted a country radio show on WPFB in Middletown, Ohio, during the 1980s. Mary Joan Okum (she had married her second husband Milton J. Okum in 1966) aka Bonnie Lou passed away December 8, 2015, at the age of 91 years in Cincinnati.

Sources:
Hillbilly-Music.com
Rockin' Country Style entry
45cat entry
Wikipedia

Monday, January 17, 2022

Linco Records

Good Times in Fayetteville
Ernest Tucker and the Preservation of Rock'n'Roll



Our journey through the green lands of Tennessee takes us a little west, about 130 miles to be more precise. We stop in Fayetteville, a city that has not much to brag about. With 7,000 habitants, the city is the largest in Lincoln County and also its county seat. The highlight of the year is the Lincoln County Fair in Fayetteville. Back in the late 1950s, the city had a population around 6,800.

Fayetteville was the home base of local DJ Ernest Jackson "Ernie" Tucker, who was a radio personality on WEKR for many decades. He was born on May 31, 1923, in Lincoln County to Elmer A. and Ina R. Tucker. Ernie Tucker was musically inclined as he learned to play the fiddle and mastered the instrument on a high level. He married Grovene Dyer from Fayetteville in 1946 and eventually began working as an engineer and disc jockey for the local radio station WEKR.


Billboard January 18, 1960

Tucker decided to form his own record company, which came into existence in the spring of 1959 in form of Linco Records. He also set up Linco Music to handle the publishing of original song material. But before Tucker was able to release recordings on his own label, he formed a short affiliation with blues and R&B guitarist Jimmy Liggins. Liggins formed his Duplex label in 1958, releasing the first record by Mattie Jackson and Ervin "Big Daddy" Rucker that were produced by Tucker in January 1957 in Fayetteville. In extend to that, Tucker continued his association with Liggins as he was involved in more of the early Duplex releases. The first discs of the imprint even had a Fayetteville address on the record labels.

By May 1959, Tucker had gone back to running his own label. The debut release on Linco was the raunching "Swing It Little Katy" b/w the country tune "The Last Bouquet" by an act called Clyde Owens and the Moonlight Ramblers. Owens recorded for a plethora of labels from the late 1950s until the 1980s, including for the Great and Chart imprints in Nashville.


Billboard June 16, 1962
Was this a mistake by Billboard or was Ernest Tucker
really distributing DJ copies for Sun Records?

Billboard June 29, 1963

Tucker recorded a slew of local rock'n'roll talent for Linco, including Curtis Long, Hollis Champion and Clayton Hillis. Their recordings became minor cult favorites among rock'n'roll collectors nowadays. Copies of particular releases can be worth 200-400 $ (or more, depending on what you are willing to pay).

After Tucker released the Johnson Boys & the Jay Dees' record record in late 1960, Linco fell dormant until 1962. Then, suddenly, Tucker revived his operations to record Charlie Waggoner, a Fayetteville native, who was a member of the Rocky Mountain Jamboree from Denver, Colorado, at the time of his Linco recordings. The most notable of his four cuts for the label was a 1963 country rocking version of the old song "One Eyed Sam", that was also recorded by such artists as Eldon Baker & his Brown County Revelers (Vocalion, 1938), Tommy Spurlin & the Southern Boys (Perfect, 1956), Tex Williams (Capitol, 1960) and more recently, by Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan on their album "Happy Hour" (2005).

Neither of Tucker's productions became a hit nor were even near to be a hit. But they were preservations of authentic, unique music. Tucker closed down Linco, at least the label but possibly not the publishing arm, in 1963 after Charlie Waggoner's last single. There was another, later, Linco label from Greensboro, North Carolina, which is not connected to Tucker's label, however. Ernie Tucker continued to work for WEKR during the next decades and, being an accomplished fiddler, won the 1973 Athens Fiddler's Contest.

Ernie Tucker passed away April 19, 2010. There has not been a proper reissue of the Linco recordings, although Cees Klop devoted a LP to selected Linco recordings (White Label 8808 - Rock-a-Billy from Tennessee, Vol. 2, 1979). A compilation featuring Tucker's complete recordings is still missing, however.

Discography

45-1313: Clyde Owens and his Moonlight Ramblers - Swing It, Little Katy / The Last Bouquet (1959)
45-1314: Curtis Long and the Rhythm Rockers - Hootchey Cootchey / After All (1959)
45-1315: Alton Delmore - Good Times in Memphis / Thunder Across the Border (1959)
45-1316: The Four Sons (The Johnson Boys) - Little Rock / Midnight Sun (1959)
45-1317: Hollis Champion and the Secrets - Old Red Devil / Conscience Be Our Guide (1960)
45-1318: Danny Carmichael - Duck Wobble / Fast Train (1960)
45-1319: Clayton Hillis and the Rocket City Rockettes - Rocket City Rock / Don't You Know I Love You (1960)
45-1320: The Johnson Boys / Vocal by the Jay Dee's - With a Vanessa / Mystic Madonna (1960)

45-502: Charlie Waggoner - Dying Love / Just Like Before (1962)
45-503: Charlie Waggoner - One Eyed Sam / An Old Memory (1963)

Sources
Ernest Tucker obituary
Linco Records discography at 45cat
Linco entry at Rockin' Country Style
Blue Eye: Ervin "Big Daddy" Rucker

Recommended reading
That's All Rite Mama: Roger Wilcoe on Unicom

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Happy Birthday Luther Perkins!

 In Honor of Luther Perkins
(January 8, 1928 - August 5, 1968)


Today would have been Luther Perkins' 94th birthday. Perkins, who was a member of Johnny Cash's band, the Tennessee Two, right from the start in 1954 until his untimely death in 1968, was an integral part of the Cash sound and the success of Johnny Cash. Cash, Perkins, and Marshall Grant started playing gospel music in Memphis, Tennessee. Their musical skills were limited, yet they had a passion for the music. In addition to Perkins' rudimentary skills on the guitar, his instrument was a bit beaten-up. This led him to keep it simple and stick to picking the bass strings of the guitar and muted them with his right hand. The "boom-chicka-boom" sound was born. It was simple but effective.

On stage, Perkins was shy and seemed emotionless due to his fear to make a mistake. During the years, his skills on the guitar improved and he became much better than in 1955 (which can be spotted on recordings and live performances) but his fundamental sound remained the same.

I have chosen a couple of live peformances from the early years of Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two (or Three, with the subsequent addition of drummer W.S. Holland) that show not only Perkins' uncomparable style of "performing" but also the perfect imperfection of these young musicians that producer Sam Phillips always searched for.

So Doggone Lonesome - Grand Ole Opry (1955)
Introduced by Little Jimmy Dickens and Hank Snow. The gamblers in front of the band are Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.



Folsom Prison Blues - Town Hall Party (1959)



Big River - Star Route (1961)
Introduced by Charlie Williams.



Bonanza - Grand Ole Opry (1962)
Introduced by T. Tommy Cutrer.



Ring of Fire - prob. Jimmy Dean Show (1964)
Introduced by Jimmy Dean.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Jeffrey Halford & the Healers – Beware of Worthless Imitations, Volume 1 review


„Beware of Worthless Imitations, Volume 1“ is not a exactly a new release. First of all because it was already released in 2020 (we received a promo copy not until recently) and secondly because it is a compilation of old material, spanning the years 1999 until 2019. Jeffrey Halford is a Texas born but California raised singer, musician, and songwriter who has criss-crossed the United States with his band, the Healers, for more than 20 years now. This “Best of” album not only promises to include “songs that had the magic” – it does have the magic.

With a voice reminiscent of Hank Williams III and a style that is a cross-over between Williams and Shooter Jennings, Halford is right on point with his Americana, country-rock style. The opening track “Bad Luck” is a killer and sets the right tone for the album. “Creole Moon” and “Radio Flyer” (the latter featuring Chuck Prophet) are of more staid nature but quite enjoyable. Noteworthy, the music sounds authentic and “live” on all tracks.

More highlights on the 20 track CD include the bluesy “Satchel’s Fastball” (a collaboration with the Gospel Hummingbird), “Watching the Trains” featuring great electric steel guitar work, “In a Dream” (dominated by an organ played by no other than Augie Meyers of Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados fame), “Rainmaker” with an Doors-like intro, “North Beach” or the western-flavored “Deeper Than Hell”.

This is a great album for Americana fans and highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Stash - Walk the Walk review

Hiding behind the band name “Stash” are no others than Ted Russell Kamp, Rich McCulley, and Joey Peters. All of them are well-known figures in Los Angeles’ Americana scene and have worked with big names in the business. So this is a bit of a super group for west coast Americana terms. We recently reviewed Ted Russell Kamps’ solo album “Solitaire”, which saw release earlier this year. But “Walk the Walk” comes along fast, though not on every track, tighter, different.

The first track “Smoke and Mirrors” is a mid-paced number, though this remains an acoustic atmosphere due to the presence of acoustic guitars and a banjo. “Catch Me If You Can” is of a total different approach. It certainly rocks and features a nice harmonica solo. Its follow-up, “Queen of the Highway”, is again different altogether. A great country song that easily could have been from a 1970s Waylon Jennings album.

“One Step Ahead of the Law” is a nod to Kamps’ old band mate Shooter Jennings in parts and another great track. Other highlights include “One Track Mind”, “What I Need” and “By Your Side”. The “Hey, Hey, Hey” song’s intro sounds like Katrina & the Waves’ big hit “Walking on Sunshine” and is likely what the band describes as “power pop”.

This is another high-class outing from Ted Russell Kamp’s portfolio. Recommended for Americana and outlaw country fans.