TEXAS RUBY 24 Original Recordings

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Texas Ruby Owens was one of the great female vocalists of early country music. The sister of "Tex" Owens, the composer of "Cattle Call", deep-voiced Ruby was called "the Sophie Tucker of the Cowgirl Singers" when she first appeared on radio.
Though she hit her stride before the LP came on the scene, her sudden death in 1963 prompted two tribute LPs, one on the King label, the other on Columbia's Harmony imprint.
In March of 1963, her husband Curly Fox went to the Opry to play his fiddle for the Opry's union guarantee. While he was gone, Ruby passed out with a cigarette and set their mobile home on fire. Ruby did not survive the blaze.
This post includes the complete contents of both the King and Harmony LPs, plus one bonus song from both the King and Columbia labels. I have included jacket scans for both, King honcho Syd Nathan's notes on the King LP seem movingly sincere. Hope you enjoy!


1. It's Over Forever
2. Teardrops And Empty Arms
3. It's Your Time To Be Blue
4. The Code Of The Mountains
5. It's Raining Teardrops In My Heart
6. The Wreck Of The 1256
7. Falling Leaf
8. Those Dreams Are Gone
9. Soldiers Return
10. You Don't Love Me(But I'll Always Care)
11. If You Don't Want Me Then Set Me Free
12. You've Been Cheating On Me
13. You'll Remember And Be Blue
14. Ain't You Sorry That You Lied
15. Nobody Else But You
16. I'll Take Back All I've Said About You
17. Would It Make Any Difference To You
18. Have You Got Someone Else On The String
19. Travellin' Blues
20. Even Though I'll Shed A Million Tears
21. The Letter That Broke My Heart
22. We Live In Two Different Worlds
23. With Tears In My Eyes
24. Don't Let That Man Get You Down

*download here*


A wonderful, edgy Starday album by some old-timers of the traditional country genre, recorded in the early '60's. Curly Fox and Texas Ruby first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in the late '40's, and went on to numerous other locales before returning to the Opry. They recorded this album for Starday in early 1963, Ruby passing away in March of that year.
Here Starday features much of Fox's way with a microphone (he snorts a lot, is he on coke?) while four tracks feature Ruby. Although that's not enough, she proves she's still a master of country ballads at the end of her life, as "Shanty Street", "Big Silver Tears" and the yet-more-poignant "Love Me Now" prove. As an added bonus, I have included Curly's late 1940's King recording of "Come Here Son".

Includes jacket scans thanks to Lefty's pal, Andyrama.


1. Curly Fox-The Old Grey Mule
2. Texas Ruby-Shanty Street
3. Curly Fox-Fire On The Mountain (Black Mountain Rag)
4. Curly Fox-Chasin' The Fox
5. Texas Ruby-Love Me Now
6. Curly Fox-The Mockingbird Reel
7. Curly Fox-Wink Your Little Eye
8. Curly Fox-The Model T And The Train Race
9. Texas Ruby-Big Silver Tears
10. Curly Fox-Whistlewood
11. Curly Fox & Texas Ruby-The Front Door Key
12. Curly Fox-The Twilight Waltz
13. Curly Fox-I Don't Love Nobody
14. Curly Fox-Curly's Talkin' Blues
15-Curly Fox-Come Here Son (Fire On The Mountain)

*download here*


Twelve 1950's tracks from "Mama Maybelle and her little daughters", Helen, June and Anita. They are drawn from early television broadcasts of the "Stars of the Grand Ole Opry" series produced by Al Gannaway. During the late forties to mid fifties, Maybelle and her daughters were an act that found some success on radio, but never recorded to the best of their abilities. Despite the less than hi-fi nature of these recordings, they present what is probably the only collection, on CD or blog download showcasing this particularly varied and vivacious era of Carters in the country music industry.
This post is worthwhile if only for the chance to hear the voice of Anita, the treasure of the second generation Carters. Many of these are timepieces, "Don Juan" is very fifties, and Anita is at the peak of her vocal prowess. She is stunning on "The Parting Of The Way" as well. The girls do a great job on Marvin Rainwater's "I Gotta Go Get My Baby". Maybelle, who sings so much of the seminal catalog of Country music it's first time on records, sings "Humming Bird" to the same high standard as the afore-mentioned performances. A young Chet Atkins on guitar can be heard throughout.
All of this group has now passed on, in fact, none of the second generation Carters survive. The Maybelle, Helen, June and Anita of this era never made an album as such, so it is hoped that this folder of performances from their heyday will serve to initiate many who were not around the first time to enjoy the delights of "Mama Maybelle's little daughters", the Carter Sisters.


1. It's My Lazy Day
2. Love, Love, Love
3. Don Juan
4. Hearts Of Stone
5. Music, Music, Music
6. The Parting Of The Way
7. No More
8. I Gotta Go Get My Baby
9. I'm All Right Now
10. That Ain't The Way I Heard It
11. Sweet Talking Man
12. Humming Bird

*download here*


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Here's an album that may come in handy over the holiday season. When friends and relatives insist on Christmas tunes, and you can't stand the thought of another minute of vocally altered pap by cosmetically altered "singers", throw this on instead. They'll either love it, or it will offend their waxed over ears and they'll leave. Either way, mission accomplished...
18 seasonal tracks here from the Starday, Starday-Mercury, King and Gusto labels. The genesis of this collection was a 1980's budget cassette that was loaded with great country and bluegrass artists, along with some lousy easy-listening banjo schlock. Here's the best of that collection, sans schlock.
Being a Starday comp, I had to include a little George, so I added "A New Baby For Christmas". Also of note is the Stanley Brothers' "Christmas Time Is Near". This version includes the original ending, during which some tape dropout occurs on the master. By contrast, the version on the "Early Years" box set has had the ending shortened to avoid the dropout. That is not the case here, collectors rejoice!


1. Reno & Smiley-Christmas Reunion
2. Mac Wiseman-Christmas Time's A Coming
3. Jimmy Martin-Old Fashioned Christmas
4. Hylo Brown-Christmas In The Hills
5. George Jones-A New Baby For Christmas
6. Jim Eanes-Christmas Doll
7. Reno & Smiley-Frosty The Snowman
8. Benny Martin-Droopy Little Christmas Tree
9. Jimmy Martin-Christmas Is Everywhere Except In My Heart
10. Stanley Brothers-Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem
11. Jimmy Martin-To Mother At Christmas
12. Reno & Smiley-I Can Hear The Angels Singing
13. Stanley Brothers-Christmas Time Is Near
14. Jimmy Martin-Jingle Bells
15. Jim Eanes-It Won't Seem Like Christmas
16. Reno & Smiley-It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
17. Benny Martin-Santa Claus Is From The South
18. Lulu Belle & Scotty-The Empty Christmas Stocking

*download here*

MOLLY O'DAY Legend of Country Music

While going through cassettes looking for Uncle Am Stuart I ran across some tapes I bought years ago of old Starday albums reissued on the Hollywood label.This is one of them, "The Living Legend of Country Music" by "the female Roy Acuff", Molly O'Day. First released on LP as SLP-367 in 1966, it offers twelve gospel songs played by O'Day and her husband, Lynn Davis.
Along with Davis, Molly was a great hillbilly star in the years immediately following the second world war. Despite success, in the early '50's O'Day and Davis abandoned a thriving career in secular music when they converted to Christianity. They fulfilled their contract to Columbia records by recording only sacred material and upon fulfillment of their recording and performing obligations refused to play for several years. By the time of this album, they had worked music into their missionary efforts and were again performing on local radio.
It was Molly O'Day, indeed, who in the early '60's convinced a skeptical Wade Mainer that singing and playing the banjo could be constructive if used in doing the Lord's work. Molly O'Day passed away in 1987.

Click here for more information about Molly O'Day


1. I'm Going Home On The Morning Train
2. I'll Face Nobody's Record But Mine
3. I'm Going To Walk Right In
4. Coming Down From God
5. When My Time Comes To Go
6. King Jesus Will Roll All Burdens Away
7. I'd Like To Talk It Over With Him
8. Traveling The Highway Home
9. I Have But One Goal
10. Living The Right Life Now
11. He Has Called Me By My Name
12. When The Angels Rolled The Stone Away

*download here*


According to Archie Green:

"Uncle Am" Stuart (was) a 73-year-old safe and vault salesman, champion fiddler, and raconteur from Morristown, Tennessee. In the first week of June (1924) he was in Manhattan recording "Cumberland Gap/Grey Eagle" (14839). While in the Aeolian Hall studio, he favored New York's WJZ radio audience with a program – perhaps the first Tennessee mountain music to be broadcast in the metropolis."

Other than this reference, there has been scant information through the years about this Tennessee fiddler who recorded sixteen sides for Vocalion records in 1924, twelve of which are featured here. He is often seen in pictures of old Tennessee fiddler's conventions, but I don't believe there was ever an LP on County, Old Homestead or Rounder featuring his playing. This album was put together by the late Graham Townsend and issued privately by him. My copy is on cassette, there may have been LPs of this as well but very few if any.
These were exceedingly raw transfers, they sounded very noisy. I have done as much as possible to clean them up without impairing the original performances. I constantly referred to the raw transfers while performing the process. Considering that the source was at least third generation recordings of less than perfect originals, I feel the result is a great improvement.
I hope you enjoy one that never made it to the County 500 series!

A couple of pages from a descendant of Uncle Am Stuart:

Uncle Am

Full Circle


1. Old Liza Jane
2. Cumberland Gap
3. Grey Eagle
4. Forki Deer (River)
5. Sourwood Mountain
6. Wagonner
7. George Boker
8. Leather Breeches
9. Dixie (with variations)
10. Old Granny Rattletrap
11. Rye Straw Or Unfortunate Pup
12. Sally Gooden

*download here*


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Originally Starday SLP-138 in 1961, this excellent steel comp was reissued on the budget Nashville label in 1965. When it comes to Starday instrumental collections, you can really never go wrong. Just look at the names, need I say more...

Includes jacket scans.


1. Pete Drake-Star Gazing
2. Jimmie Day-Pushin' Pedals
3. Pete Drake-For Pete's Sake
4. Don Helms-Big News
5. Herbie Remington-Station Break
6. Dick Stubbs-Wired For Sound
7. Al Petty-Steel Guitar Wobble
8. Little Roy Wiggins-Ting A Ling
9. Jimmie Day-Liberty Drive
10. Pete Drake-Southern Sunday
11. Little Roy Wiggins-Wiggins Wiggle
12. Don Helms-Theme Time
13. Pete Drake-Steel After Hours
14. Al Drake-Steel Guitar Special

*download here*

WADE MAINER Soulful Sacred Songs

Two gospel albums here from the mighty Mr. Wade Mainer, who turned 101 years old on April 21, 2008. Wade and his late brother J.E. are among the very originators of the country music industry, and much has been written and documented about them.
I've always had particular fondness for Mr. Mainer's music, and in 2004 I had the great pleasure of attending his 97th birthday concert in Fenton, Michigan. There were lots of great bands and musicians playing, but I was floored when Wade and his wife Julia played beautifully for just over an hour!
The first album featured here is "Soulful Sacred Songs", a 1962 King LP comprised of 16 tracks. This is prime stuff, with Julia being featured solo on some numbers such as the incredible "Streamlined Religion". I have added a bonus track to this folder, "He's Passing This Way", another of Mainer's King recordings featured on a 1970's Gusto compilation.
The second LP, "Rock Of My Soul" was first issued in 1972 on the Irma label and was later reissued on Old Homestead. It seems not to have been recorded at one time, as there is noticeable variation in the sound quality between tracks, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless. The track listings on the LP jacket and record label are not consistent with the program on the actual record, the tracks in the folder here are the titles and sequence from the disk itself. Julia is featured solo on a song here as well, "I'll Live Again".



1. Mother's Prayers Have Followed Me
2. Don't Write To Mother Too Late
3. The Hill Lone And Gray
4. No Place To Lay Your Head
5. I'm Glad I'm On The Inside Looking Out
6. He Signed My Pardon
7. That Star Belongs To Me
8. Home In The Rock
9. Dust On The Bible
10. The New Bright World
11. My Soldier Boy
12. Standing Outside
13. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
14. The Little Brown Church
15. Building On That Rock
16. Streamlined Religion
17. He's Passing This Way


1. Home In The Rock
2. Diamonds In The Rough
3. Hide Me Rock Of Ages
4. Great Caravan
5. Walking The Sea
6. Scarlet Purple Robe
7. Gate Is Straight
8. Keep Walking
9. My Home Sweet Home
10. Mainer's Melody (Inst.)
11. When I Reach Home
12. Home In The Solid Rock
13. I'll Live Again
14. I Love God's Way Of Living, He Set Me Free

*download here*

EARL JOHNSON Red Hot Breakdown

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twelve 1927 recordings are featured on this album by the great Georgia fiddler, Earl Johnson. Another gem from County's 500 series, this one issued in 1976. Sound quality is fantastic for 1927, they must have had amazing copies of the originals.
If you've never heard Johnson you're in for a treat. His fiddling stands up incredibly well to modern ears, he is clever, inventive and aggressive, three traits that make for the pinnacle of the art. The blending of Johnson's vocals with banjoist Emmett Bankston's piercing falsetto is also a high point here, and "I Get My Whiskey From Rockingham" has got to be one of the greatest hillbilly records of the twenties.

Includes jacket scans with full notes by Donald Lee Nelson.


1. Leather Breeches
2. Ain't Nobody's Business
3. Hen Cackle
4. Johnson's Old Grey Mule
5. John Henry Blues
6. Red Hot Breakdown
7. I Get My Whiskey from Rockingham
8. Earl Johnson's Arkansas Traveller
9. Little Grave in Georgia
10. Shortening Bread
11. Bully of the Town
12. Old Grey Mare Kicking Out of the Wilderness

*download here*


"Doctor" Lew Childre (1901-1961) was a legendary radio singer, slide guitarist, personality and pitchman from the golden era of southern broadcasting. He was on countless stations, but spent his later years in Nashville associated with the Grand Ole Opry. He may be seen in action on several of Al Gannaway's 1950's "Star of Grand Ole Opry" shows, in full colour, no less.
This download contains two folders, one containing Lew's 1962 Starday album recorded with assistance from Cowboy Copas, Josh Graves and Junior Huskey (!). As a bonus, this folder also contains his 1951 Mercury recording of "Riding The Elevated Railroad".
The second folder contains a 1981 LP of radio transcriptions from 1946, just Dr. Lew by himself, though he's never stuck for words. It's a really wonderful document of a bygone era of American radio. Both albums are continuous programs, so I have included each of them as single uninterrupted mp3s.

Includes jacket scans for both albums front and back

Program on the mp3s:

OLD TIME GET-TOGETHER - Alabamy Bound, This Train, Everybody's Fishin', Strawberry Roan, Sister Lucy Lee, Alabama Home, Wreck Of The Old 97, Hog Callin' Blues, Rock My Little Baby To Sleep, Lew's Theme, Southern Hospitality, George Colum, The Front Door Key, Blue Ridge Mountain Blues, Little Joe The Wrangler, Moonshine Blues, Mountain Feudin' (The Martins And The Coys), My Dream Of The U.S.A., BONUS: Riding The Elevated Railroad

ON THE AIR 1946 - Alabamy Bound (Theme)/Elevated Railroad, I'm Heading for the Blue Horizon, Big Eyed Rabbit, Maple on the Hill, When the Fog Forms on the Rio Grande, Everybody's Fishing, Rock All Our Babies to Sleep, When the Sweet Azelias Are Blooming, Hang Out the Front Door Key, Don't Say Aloha When I Go, Alabamy Bound (Theme)/Are You From Dixie, When You Said Yes; Yesterday, Horsie Keep Your Tail Up, Silver Dollar, This Train, Little Old Church In the Valley, It Don't Do Nothing But Rain, My Red Haired Lady, Moonshine Blues, How I Miss You Tonight/Alabamy Bound (Theme)

*download here*

CARSON ROBISON 1930's Radio Broadcasts

This is a fantastic LP from 1978 on the Glendale label. It features 1930's radio recordings by Carson Robison and his Pioneers, consisting of Robison and John, Bill and Pearl Mitchell. This is great vaudeville hillbilly, and while it's not the authentic mountain stuff (Carson was Vernon Dalhart's old partner) it is exceedingly entertaining. The songs, playing and vocal arrangements are top notch and much of this material is ripe for revivalists. Because the record plays continuously as one show, I have transfered this as one mp3 rather than chopping it up.

Includes jacket scans.

Click here for a great page about Carson Robison

Program on the mp3:

1. Opening Theme
2. The West Ain't What It Used To Be
3. Aura Lee
4. Rovin' Gambler
5. Sittin' By The Fire
6. Cowboy Romeo
7. Birmingham Jail
8. Return Of Barnacle Bill
9. Lonesome Road
10. Prune Song
11. Happy-Go-Lucky Me
12. Wait For The Wagon
13. I Left My Gal In The Mountains
14. There's A Bridle Hanging On The Wall
15. Hear Dem Bells
16. Carry Me Back To The Lone Prairie
17. I Left Her Standin' There With A Do-Dad In Her Hair
18. Careless Love
19. Whistling Solo
20. Home On The Range
21. Closing Theme/Red Wing

*download here*


A wonderful collection from County's old 500 series of reissue LPs. Consisting of A.P. Thompson on guitar, Bob Cranford on harmonica, Paul Miles on banjo and Guy Brooks on fiddle, the "Red Fox Chasers" recorded between 1928 and 1931. In addition to the twelve tracks from the original LP, I have included "Wreck On The Mountain Road" from another early County anthology.

Includes jacket scans with detailed notes by Richard Nevins.


1. Pretty Polly
2. Mississippi Sawyer
3. Stolen Love
4. Naomi Wise
5. The Blind Man & His Child
6. Katy Cline
7. Goodbye Little Bonnie
8. Little Darling Pal Of Mine
9. Did You Ever See The Devil, Uncle Joe
10. Devilish Mary
11. Honeysuckle Time
12. Sweet Fern
13. Wreck On The Mountain Road

*download here*


More hard to find old time music, this time in the form of a 1966 Decca LP from '30's radio transcriptions by Asher and Little Jimmie Sizemore. Asher Sizemore began featuring his son on his depression era radio shows over Nashville's WSM and as a duo they proceeded to become a phenomenon. I found these recordings very enjoyable, and I'm usually not much into "kid" singers. Asher is very much a radio crooner, while Jimmie sounds more old timey. In fact, on "Sweethearts of Strangers" the younger Sizemore's singing reminds me of Sara Carter.

Click here for another great page about the Sizemores including more songs

Click here for "Kids On Record", an article about child singers which includes the Sizemores


1. Sweethearts Or Strangers
2. The Last Letter
3. Wildwood Flower
4. I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven
5. How Beautiful Heaven Must Be
6. Home In Tennessee
7. By The Grave Of Nobody's Darling
8. Don't Wait Till Mother's Hair Has Turned To Silver
9. Give Me That Old Time Religion
10. Our Indiana Home
11. Jesus Loves Me
12. My Tennessee Home

*download here*

WILF CARTER Christmas In Canada

From 1965 comes the ultimate Canadian Christmas album. I'm sure this was a household tradition for many.
Wilf, or "Montana Slim" as he was known south of the border recorded seven tunes for this album, including the self-penned title track. The remaining three titles are older recordings, probably from the early '50's. The most interesting of these is the story of "Punkinhead", the sad little bear. "Punkinhead" was an attempt by Eaton's, the Canadian department store chain to emulate the success of post-war Christmas marketing creations like Rudolph and Frosty. Opinions vary on how successful they were, and today in Canada "Punkinhead" is little but an obscure memory.

Click here for more about "Punkinhead"


1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
2. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
3. An Old Christmas Card
4. Silver Bells
5. Blue Christmas
6. Ting-a-Ling-a Jingle
7. White Christmas
8. Christmas Time in Canada
9. Silent Night
10. Punkinhead (The Little Bear)

*download here*

WARD ALLEN Maple Leaf Hoedown

Monday, November 24, 2008

The late Ward Allen was one of the great Canadian fiddlers of all time. Despite this, very little has been written or observed about either the man or his music. He is most often recalled as having written "Maple Sugar", the enduring two-step that has become virtually an anthem in Canadian fiddle culture. While this has certainly kept his name in circulation for over fifty years, very little of his life and work outside of his association with this famous tune are documented in any significant way. With the passing of years there are fewer people who remember the days when Ward Allen was a major Canadian star.
Warden Ambrose Allen was born on a farm near Kirkton, Ontario on May 11, 1924. A village on the border between Huron and Perth counties, the area continues to be considered by some as "fiddle country" even today. Square dancing can still be found on Saturday nights if one knows where to look, as can many weekend fiddle jamborees where the Old Ontario repertoire of tunes is still favoured. No doubt this was even more so in Ward's day. If publicity from the height of his fame is correct, he was immersed in the old music from the very start. The notes from his first LP state:
"At 4, he was clambering up on the piano stool in the parlour of his family's home near St. Mary's, Ont. and playing old time favourites (Flowers of Edinburgh, Haste To The Wedding, etc.)
"At 5, while on a month's visit to Regina, he daily entertained his cousin's kindergarten with mouth-organ and step-dancing - his first public appearances.

"Music was in his blood. On both sides of his family, uncles and grandfathers were noted for their ability in fiddle-playing and step dancing. His four older brothers all played fiddle, and when unobserved, Ward would lovingly tune and play the forbidden instruments. His talent could not be hidden for long. By the age of 12, it was known that young Ward had a flair for the strings and his older brother Lorne started him out as a partner on barn dance dates, Ward playing twin fiddle and sometimes "doubling" on piano."

 At some point in his youth, Ward suffered a debilitating injury. Varying accounts recall it as either an automobile accident or an encounter with a kicking horse. It is during this period of convalescence that Ward is said to have begun to excel beyond the abilities of the average fiddler. He must have made a full recovery, as for a farm boy from southwestern Ontario he apparently got around quite a bit in his youth. The above quoted LP notes go on to say:
"In his teens, Ward won many local fiddling contests, but it was not until after a soujourn in the West (harvesting in Manitoba and logging for several years at Port Alberni, B.C.) that Ward Allen became a name of national significance."
By the late forties, Ward was back in Ontario and at some point became associated with radio station CKNX in Wingham, Ontario. CKNX was home at the time to what was billed as "The World's Largest Travelling Barn Dance", a live country music showcase that was broadcast from a different location in the surrounding area every Saturday night. With the CBC sometimes picking up the show for national transmission, it became somewhat of a Canadian equivalent to the American "Grand Ole Opry". Artists from all over the country relocated to Wingham for a chance at national exposure. Many artists who later went on to fame started their careers there, including CBC veteran Tommy Hunter and Gordie Tapp of "Hee-Haw" fame.
The exposure that this station would have given Ward, especially in Canada's rural regions, cannot be overstated. In addition to the Barn Dance, there was an almost endless stream of country music programming produced at the station by artists such as Earl Heywood, Cactus Mac, Jack Kingston, etc. Ward participated in many of these shows. At CKNX, Ward was part of a group of back-up musicians that included among others pianist/accordionist Bill Mankiss, steel guitarist Lloyd Bank, and fiddler Mel Levigne. Ward and Mel Levigne often performed as "twin fiddlers", and there are surviving recordings from Earl Heywood broadcasts with the two playing "western" style fiddle in close harmony.
However, Ward's renown was as much more than just a back-up fiddler. The postwar era in rural Canada was in some ways a golden era of fiddle music. At a time when Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Canadian ex-patriot Hank Snow were the huge country stars in the U.S.A., fiddlers playing reels, jigs, two-steps and waltzes were headlining their own shows in Canada. Spurned on by the phenomenal success of Don Messer during the war years, the 1950's saw the rise of regional and sometimes national fiddle stars such as Ned Landry, King Ganam, Andy Dejarlis, and an extremely shy adolescent prodigy from Toronto named Graham Townsend. These players headlined with clean, rolling renditions of old jigs and reels, as well as many new tunes composed in the old forms. Singers on these shows were often considered a secondary attraction; the rural population came out first and foremost to hear how well a pro could ornament, slide, and double stop the tunes rural Canadians had grown up hearing.
This zest for fiddling amongst Canada's rural people led to the strong resurgence of the fiddle contest in those postwar years. With automotive travel now commonplace, what had once been mostly local affairs grew to become regional and national gatherings. The first great contest in Ontario was at the Canadian National Exhibition, or "C.N.E.", and Ward won this contest in both 1949 and 1950. In 1953 he became the second fiddler in history to win the annual contest held at Shelburne, Ontario after his partner Mel Levigne had won it in 1951 and 1952, it's first two years of existence. Based on his 1953 win at Shelburne, Ward was chosen to represent Canada the same year at the International Fiddling Contest held at the Louisville State Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. One of Ward's tune books claims that legend of his Shelburne win spread so far that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II requested a recording of his winning performance for her royal library.
With this kind of exposure, Ward was definitely poised to sell records, and he made his first 78 rpm sides for Toronto's small Alvina label in the early 1950's. In 1954 he began recording for Sparton records in London, Ontario. Sparton pressed records under contract for many American labels, including at one time the mighty Columbia. Ward benefited from the excellent distribution the company could provide, and his records found their way into homes in all corners of the nation. In 1956 Sparton released a record of Ward playing the old Ontario tune "Back Up And Push" (not to be confused with the American breakdown tune of the same title) and as the B side they included a fairly simple two-step Ward had composed titled "Maple Sugar". In a classic case of the flip-side eclipsing the intended A side, "Maple Sugar" went on to become a bona-fide jukebox and radio hit in Canada, and achieved enough attention in the States to get Ward's records released on Pappy Daily's small "D" label out of Houston, Texas. Based on the popularity of the record, Sparton released a long playing album of Ward's tunes, titled "Maple Leaf Hoedown".
Of course, Maple Sugar was only one of the many great tunes Ward composed. Tunes of Ward's that are still played commonly by fiddlers today include "The Old Box Stove", "Maple Leaf Two-Step", "C.N.E. Breakdown", "Back To The Sugar Camp", "Frenchie's Reel", "Frisco Waltz", etc. It is probably not fully appreciated how much of a stylistic influence his playing has been in Canada and beyond. His playing stands up today for it's flowing phrasing, strong tone and beauty of expression. In retrospect, he fits neither into the school of "Down East" devotees of Don Messer or the generation of Canadian fiddlers who attempted to copy the hoedown fiddling that came via Nashville. He played many of the tempos and phrasings that are still heard in southwestern Ontario today. He doesn't use double stops excessively, but does not avoid them. He makes great use of drones by playing the fourth finger as well as the next highest open string. His fiddle often achieves a unique deep woody tone, which has rarely if ever been duplicated. His recordings can evoke a spirit of the Canadian landscape at times equal to great works like the songs of Gordon Lightfoot, or the paintings of the Group of Seven.
It is only a matter of speculation at this point as to where Ward Allen found such inspiration. As mentioned, he was known to travel extensively about our country. He completed many years of Canadian tours, first with the legendary Wilf Carter, and later with the group "The Happy Wanderers". How much of a toll this kind of travelling might have taken on him is unknown. It is known that by the mid fifties he had developed a reputation for consuming alcohol, and this too has become part of his legend. There are some who feel it was his burned bridges from drinking on jobs that caused him to leave CKNX and relocate to Ottawa in 1955.
If this is indeed true, his troubles seem not to have followed him, at least at first, for he became truly legendary in the Ottawa Valley. Ward is so associated with the Ottawa Valley that many people believe him to be from there, when in fact he was born and started his career on the other side of the province. He became part of the CFRA "Happy Wanderers" who were stars of regional radio and dances for a decade leading up to Ward's death. Ward continued to record, producing numerous singles and two more volumes of "Maple Leaf Hoedown" LPs as well as two volumes of the printed collection, "Ward Allen's Canadian Fiddle Tunes". The Wanderers were on CFRA radio from 1955 to 1964, and on CJOH TV in 1964 and 1965. Fiddle stars like Don Messer and Graham Townsend recorded Ward's compositions, and Maple Sugar became a standard in his short lifetime.
Nevertheless, apparently Ward's busy schedule combined with his drinking took its toll. In late summer of 1965 Ward played on a recording with the great American bluegrass star Mac Wiseman. Mac was recording an album of songs composed by Canadian artists with distinctly Canadian themes. One of the tunes was Ward's own "Maple Sugar", with words that had been written by the Ottawa Valley's Hank LaRiviere. The album, titled "Mac Wiseman Sings at the Toronto Horseshoe Club", was released by Sparton in Canada and by Wiseman's own Wise records label in the U.S.A. Unfortunately it would be Ward's last recording as two weeks after it was finished he passed away while playing a show in Hull, Quebec on August 3, 1965. Ward left behind a wife and two sons, as well as a country full of fans and aficionados of his artistry. His nephew, Lorne's son Jim, as well as Ward's protégé Graham Townsend recorded tribute albums of his tunes. Mac Beattie wrote and recorded a tribute song, "The Maple Sugar Blues". In 1983 Ward was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame. Ward Allen is interred in a small church cemetery near his boyhood home.
His records continued to sell into the 1970's, kept in print on the GRT label after Sparton became defunct. Eventually the GRT releases went out of print, and his original, unaltered recordings have been absent from the shelves for decades now. His old records are practically family heirlooms, especially the rare singles. Because of this, many young fiddlers are no longer familiar with his work or his style, even if they've learned his tunes from books. Perhaps in the future all Canadians from our governments and cultural organizations on down will be more mindful of our own great heritage and Ward Allen's influence will once again be stronger felt. In the meantime it is hoped that this profile will expose many old fans and new converts once again to Ward Allen's "Maple Leaf Hoedown" fiddling.


Back To The Sugar Camp, Back Up And Push, Big John McNeil, Blue Pacific Hornpipe, Bread N' Butter, C.N.E.Breakdown, Chain Lightning, Dancing Slippers, Fairy Lake Waltz, Fiddler's Dream, Fishing Rod Reel, Frank Ryan's Hornpipe, Frenchie's Reel, Frisco Waltz, Grizzly Bear, Heather On The Hill, Iroquois Gathering, Joys Of Quebec, Londonderry Hornpipe, Macton Reel, Maggie & Jiggs Two Step, Maple Leaf Two Step, Maple Sugar, Mary Anne's Reel, Mengie Of McBride's Hill, Mountain Girl, Mountain Park Breakdown, Mowing The Hay, Mr.& Mrs.Maple, New Scotland, Orange Blossom Special, Pappy Daily's Breakdown, Peek-A-Boo Waltz, Pretty Betty, Redwing, Snowflake Breakdown, Sunset Waltz, The Braes O'Mar (Highland Fling), The Flowers Of Edinburgh, The Hunter's March, The Old Box Stove, The Red Haired Boy, The Road To Boston, Two Step Polka

*download here*


'Tis the season, and between now and December 25th I'll be posting some hard to find Christmas classics. First up is this very fine collection of R & B Christmas tunes on the Hollywood label. The original LP was first released in 1956, comprised of tunes from Hollywood's great roster of artists. I found this little gem on CD in a bin in Shopper's Drug Mart over ten years ago. I imagine the original issue is an out-of-reach collector's item for most, so I hope this post allows each and every one a chance to savour this unavailable classic. Merry Christmas, baby!


1. Merry Christmas Baby - Charles Brown
2. Lonesome Christmas (Part 1) - Lowell Fulson
3. Lonesome Christmas (Part 2) - Lowell Fulson
4. Sleighride - Lloyd Glenn
5. Christmas Eve Baby - Johnny Moore's Blazers
6. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus - Mabel Scott
7. Christmas Everyday - Johnny Moore's Blazers
8. Christmas Blues - Jimmy Witherspoon
9. Love For Christmas - Jackson Trio
10. Christmas Letter - Johnny Moore's Blazers
11. Jingle Bell Hop - Jackson Trio
12. Christmas Dreams - Johnny Moore's Blazers

*download here*


Sunday, November 23, 2008

This post is follow up to "Smilin' Jack Silvers". I came into this some time after the previous album, and though it's not nearly as well recorded, it is an interesting bit of Quebec country.
The album features each of the five members presenting two songs each. It leads off with a good steel guitar performance on "West of Semoa(sic)" by Red Larocque. Red also closes the album with the novel "Hawaiian Tattoo".
Jack Silvers is back with a cover of Benny Martin's "Ice Cold Love" and "Your Name Is Beautiful", a 1958 hit for Carl Smith. Unfortunately the vocals are at times buried in the mix throughout this album and "Ice Cold Love" suffers this fate worst of all.
The album has two songs in French, both performed by Roger Bellair. "Mes Chers Vingt Ans" is a Paul Brunelle song, and "Diggy Giggy Lie" is the French lyrics to Rusty and Doug Kershaw's ersatz Cajun novelty "Diggy Liggy Lo" credited here to J. D. Miller.
Gaetan Gagner, who is apparently the "Kid" alluded to in the band's name performs the honky-tonkers "Leave Me Something To Remember You By" and "Heartaches By The Number", originally performed by Buck Owens and Ray Price, respectively. Despite a thick French accent I rather enjoy Gagner's sincere delivery.
Finally, Andre Gagner fiddles two tunes here, the traditional American tune "Sally Goodin'" and Don Rich's "Tum Water Breakdown". Clearly, Gagner was following American fiddle records as much as any traditional Quebec fiddle he must have heard.
Although this doesn't quite match up to the quality of Jack Silvers' earlier album, it is an interesting snap-shot of a working Quebec country band of it's era. The album proclaims it was "Produced by Tex Lavallee Enterprise" and based on the back slick is from c.1971.


1. West Of Semoa - Red Larocque
2. Ice Cold Love - Jack Silvers
3. Mes Chers Vingt Ans - Roger Bellair
4. Leave Me Something To Remember You By - Gaetan Gagner
5. Tum Water Breakdown - Andre Gagner
6. Your Name Is Beautiful - Jack Silvers
7. Diggy Giggy Lie - Roger Bellair
8. Sally Goodin - Andre Gagner
9. Heartaches By The Number - Gaetan Gagner
10. Hawaiian Tattoo - Red Larocque

*download here*

Smilin' JACK SILVERS and his Sons of the Plains

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is one of the best Canadian honky-tonk albums I've ever heard. I bought it in McKay's Corners, Ontario over fifteen years ago when I was first looking for vintage Canadian country records. Although it's not exactly mint, I've never encountered another copy, and have really treasured this album I've known so little about.
On the obscure "Acadia" label, it was distributed by London and has the generic back slick used for the Banff label listing Banff LPs ranging from RBS. 1032 through RBS. 1110. The jacket certainly has the look of early London, Rodeo and Banff LPs.
I've never been able to find any information on Jack Silvers. I suspect he may have been from the Ottawa Valley, but this is speculation on my part. A few of the songs on the album are composed by noted Canadian country artists of the period such as Bob King (from the Valley), Will Odo (who recorded "Roses and Rings" himself for Rodeo), Dusty King (from Quebec) and three are by Jack Silvers himself. Silvers turns up on another album in my collection, a mid 60's Quebec country LP by "Kid and His Green Mountain Boys" which features two songs by Jack along with solos by other members of the group (this will be the next post).
Silver's vocals, songwriting, backup band and the recording quality of this album all floor me. I'd put the recording date about 1960 or so, based on the sound and material as well as the back slick which features Banff albums of this vintage. This album really does stand up next to anything Nashville was doing, this could just as easily have been done on Starday. Where it was recorded and who the players are on the album are both unknown to me.

Anyone with information on Smilin' Jack Silvers is welcomed to comment or to contact me by email at lonesomelefty@yahoo.ca

UPDATE! - May 20, 2011 - Since this post, I have learned a lot about Smilin' Jack! Steel Guitarist Terry Sutton, who plays on this 1963 album, sent me a wonderful audio recording of one of Jack's TV shows. Click here!

Includes front cover and label scans.


1. I'm The One To Blame
2. Crazy Me
3. Hey Baby (Can't Take Another Chance With You)
4. The High Cost Of Living
5. Roses And Rings
6. (Hey Boy) Stop Kissing My Sister
7. Anytime
8. (If You Love Me) Please Tell Me
9. Stop Foolin' Round
10. Nine Pound Hammer

*download here*

JENKS TEX CARMAN On Crown & Design

A baker's dozen from this star of early country music television. A controversial figure, he seems to straddle that slippery gray area between genius and hack. His playing and singing are erratic to say the very least, but there is something compelling about his originality.
I bought the Crown album (CLP 5324) in Harrow, Ontario some years back, having heard of him but never having heard his music. Nothing could have prepared me for Carman's bizarre phrasing (he makes Hank Snow sound like Pat Boone) and his, uhhh, questionable sense of both meter and intonation. I wanted to dismiss it, but to be truthful I find myself continually drawn back to it.
These files consist of the ten tracks from the Crown LP plus three more instrumental tracks from the Design LP "Kings Of The Steel Guitar", DLP-196.

Click here for a biography of Jenks Tex Carman


1. Beverly Ann
2. Wreck Of Old #9
3. Wild And Wooly West
4. Pal Of My Heart
5. Wondering
6. Wolf Creek
7. Get Along Pony
8. My Baby I'll Be There
9. Border Town
10. My Hawaii Calls
11. Hilo March
12. Kahila March
13. Hillbilly Hula

"Wildwood Flower" is listed on the jacket of CLP 5324 but not included on the record.

*download here*

BLUE SKY BOYS Starday Recordings

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just wanted to thank everybody for all the support so far, I really appreciate all the great comments. Thanks as well to all who have linked and posted messages in promotion of the new blog. It makes it feel like the time spent transferring is "worth it".
Here we have the two LPs Bill and Earl Bolick, the Blue Sky Boys recorded new for Starday in the early '60's. Starday had released some old recordings (this album will be featured soon) by the duo and response had been so great the Bolicks were prevailed upon to make new recordings for the label. These two albums, the first one secular, the second gospel, were the result. The gospel album is straight up Blue Sky fare and "Why Should You Be Troubled And Sad" is beautifully haunting, while tracks like "Why Not Confess" are surprises, definately the closest the boys ever got to honky-tonk.

Includes jacket scans.


1. Are You From Dixie
2. In The Pines
3. Don't Trade
4. The Little Paper Boy
5. Why Not Confess
6. The Wednesday Night Waltz
7. Kentucky
8. Just Because
9. Your Brand Will Remain On My Heart
10. Mommie, Will My Doggie Understand
11. Sweetheart Mountain Rose
12. A Satisfied Mind
13. Radio Station S-A-V-E-D
14. Why Should You Be Troubled And Sad
15. Precious Moments
16. My God, Why Have Forsaken Me?
17. Come To The Saviour
18. The Promise Of The Lord
19. The Last Mile Of The Way
20. God Is Still On The Throne
21. The A B C Song
22. Boat Of Life
23. Whispering Hope
24. Beautiful

*download here*


Not to be confused with the pop crooner of the same name, "Country" Johnny Mathis is perhaps most remembered for being one half of the duo "Jimmy & Johnny" along with Jimmy Lee Fautheree. In the sixties he temporarily ceased performing secular music and became a gospel act. His raw country style didn't falter though, as this 1965 LP on the Stampede label bears out. He's in fine voice here and the unknown steel guitarist nails it as well. This folder will make a great companion to the Jimmy & Johnny CD on Bear Family and all fans of his earlier work will want to check this out.

Click here for a biography of Country Johnny Mathis

Click here for a short review of the Hilltop edition of this album

Click the banner below for a great Country Johnny Mathis website:


1. In The House Of The Lord
2. Standing On The Promises
3. When They Ring Them Golden Bells
4. Welcome Home
5. I'm Gonna Thank Jesus
6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
7. Heaven Is The Place
8. Precious Memories
9. Old Time Religion
10. An Old Account Settled
11. Take My Hand Precious Lord
12. Where We'll Never Grow Old

*download here*

OPRY OLD TIMERS McGees & Crook Bros

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More great old time music on Starday SLP 182 from 1962. It seems almost every veteran from the pre-war era Opry that was still kicking around by the early '60's made an album for Starday. When this album was recorded Sam and Kirk McGee and the Crook Brothers were still being featured on Saturday nights to represent the early Opry string band sound. Added to the mix is Jerry Rivers, the fiddler with Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys.
I bought this album in a flea market over ten years ago and have enjoyed it thoroughly, hopefully you will too!

Includes jacket scans.

*Track #15 is a bonus I added, "Lost Indian" by the Crook Brothers. It's from the same session as this album, and was first featured on the Starday LP "Fiddler's Hall Of Fame", SLP 209 in 1963.


1. Sam & Kirk McGee - Roll On Buddy
2. Crook Brothers - John Henry
3. Sam & Kirk McGee - Hung Down My Head And Cried
4. Crook Brothers - Black Mountain Rag (Instrumental)
5. Sam & Kirk McGee - Freight Train Blues
6. Crook Brothers - Soldier's Joy (Instrumental)
7. Sam & Kirk McGee - Roll Along Jordan
8. Crook Brothers - Ragtime Annie (Instrumental)
9. Sam & Kirk McGee - My Gal's A High Born Lady
10. Crook Brothers - Lost John (Instrumental)
11. Sam & Kirk McGee- Coming From The Ball
12. Crook Brothers - Liberty (Instrumental)
13. Sam & Kirk McGee - Chittlin' Cookin' Time In Cheatham County
14. Crook Brothers - Will The Circle Be Unbroken
15. Crook Brothers - Lost Indian (Instrumental)*

*download here*


Monday, November 17, 2008

28 files by the great Don Messer and His Islanders. These are from broadcasts of his 1960's top-rated television show, "Don Messer's Jubilee". I promised lots of Old Time Fiddling in this blog, and if you're going to talk about Canadian fiddling, Don Messer is pretty much the place to start. Not only was Don the pre-eminent fiddler in the Canada in the mid-twentieth century, he was also one of our most popular bandleaders. Don's exact, ornate style became the standard by which other fiddlers were measured, and every fiddler strove to mold their accompaniment into a seamless organization which could pound the thundering chords and bass runs of the Islanders. Drummers added woodblocks to their kits and guitarists added pickups under their strings to try and get the booming bass that seemed never to rest behind brother Don's crooked fiddle tunes.
Some special treats here include a rare performance of the Backwoods Trio. Although Charlie Chamberlain was rarely seen playing a guitar by the time the Islanders were fixtures of 1960's Canadian television, he and bassist Duke Neilson had been Don's original backup on radio back in 1929. They never recorded commercially as such, but every so often would present the original incarnation of the trio as a nostalgic look back at their radio roots. Charlie's guitar playing is particularly fine, and I once remember seeing the late Graham Townsend on television, enthusing about Charlie's prowess as a backup guitarist for fiddlers. Charlie and his singing partner, Marg Osburne take a vocal chorus on the Messer favourite, "Silver Bell". The stepdancing heard in the background of "Kiley's Reel" is none other than a very young Buster Brown!
I hope these recordings will help many of you relive the Don Messer show, and that others who've never been able to hear why Messer was such a big deal will finally be exposed to this great Canadian musician. Yours truly was weaned on his playing, and learned many of my favourite tunes off a stack old Apex 78's by Don and the Islanders (posts of these recordings will follow).

"Don Messer's Jubilee" ran 1958-1969 on the CBC TV network.

Personnel on these tracks is as follows:

DON MESSER - Fiddle and leader
CECIL MacEACHERN - 2nd Fiddle and Electric Guitar
RODDY DORMAN - 2nd and 3rd Fiddle on "Country Serenade Two Step", "Grandfather's Reel" and "Ragtime Annie"
RAE SIMMONS - Clarinet
VIC MULLEN - 5-String Banjo
DUKE NEILSON - String Bass
BUSTER BROWN - Step-Dancing on "Kiley's Reel"
UNKNOWN - Harp Solo


DUKE NEILSON - String Bass


1. Rambler's Hornpipe (Backwoods Trio) (Trad.)
2. Barren Rocks Of Aden (Trad.)
3. Blind Man's Reel (Trad.)
4. Christmas Jig (comp. D. Messer), Old Red Barn (Trad.), Vic's Jig (comp. V. Pasowisty)
5. Churning Butter (Trad.)
6. Country Serenade Two Step (comp. Roddy Dorman)
7. Dashing White Sergeant (Trad.)
8. Dick MacDougall's Reel (comp. King Ganam)
9. Dill Pickle Rag (Trad.)
10. Grandfather's Reel (comp. John Durocher)
11. Kiley's Reel (Trad.)
12. Leprechaun's Jig (comp. J. Durocher), Harp Solo, Erin Go Braugh (Trad.)
13. Maple Sugar (1st version) (comp. Ward Allen)
14. Maple Sugar (2nd version) (comp. Ward Allen)
15. McNabb's Hornpipe (Trad.)
16. On The Road To Boston (Trad.)
17. Out The Buckhorn Way (comp. Llewellyn Sexsmith)
18. Parry Sound Reel (comp. Jim Magill)
19. Plaza Polka (Trad.)
20. Ragtime Annie (Trad.)
21. Silver Bell (Vocal by Marg Osburne & Charlie Chamberlain) (Trad.)
22. Sister Elder's Reel (comp.Jimmy Shand)
23. Snowflake Breakdown (comp. Wally Traugott)
24. St. Anne's Reel (Trad.)
25. Texas Quickstep (Trad.)
26. Three Men On A White Horse (Trad.)
27. White River Stomp (Trad.)
28. Zaporozhets (Trad.)

*download here*


Cliff and Bill Carlisle are featured in this post, which contains 90 tracks in three separate folders. This comprises pretty much my entire collection of Carlisle recordings, culled from two Cliff LPs on the Old Timey label, an early King LP, assorted LP anthologies and some of Bill's recordings I was fortunate enough to download sometime back. Please forgive the varied bitrates of the files, they were transfered at different times and gathered from different souces and I really don't like to resample. Anyway, this is wonderful stuff, early hillbilly blues doesn't get any better. Enjoy!

Click here for a biography of Bill Carlisle

Click here for a biography of Cliff Carlisle


BILL CARLISLE: A Dollar's All I Crave, A Mouse Been Messin Around, Baby You Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me, Bell Clappin' Mama, Big At the Little Bottom At the Top, Blue Arizona Moon, Blue Eyes, Ditty Wah Ditty, Don't Be Ashamed Of Mother, Don't Let Me Worry Your Little Mind, Don't Tell Me Your Worries, Dreamy Eyes, Feet Don't Fail Me, Flag That Train, Go On And Leave Me If You Wish To, Gonna Raise A Ruckus Tonight, House Cat Mama, I Believe I'm Entitled To You, I Done It Wrong, I Never See My Baby Alone, I Saw My Future In A Rainbow, I'm Cryin' Tonight Over You, I'm Wearing The Britches Now, Jumpin' And Jerkin' Blues, My Little Sadie, Rattlin' Daddy (1st version), Rattlin' Daddy (2nd version), Rockin' Chair Money, Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down, She Won't Be My Baby No More, Shine Your Light To Others, Sparkling Blue Eyes (Decca), Sparkling Blue Eyes (King), Ten Or Twelve Times Maybe More, That Guy's Out Gunnin' For You, Three Women To Every Man, Wabash Cannonball, What Does It Matter To You, When Snowflakes Fall, You Wouldn't Understand, You're Just Like A Dollar Bill
CARLISLE BROTHERS: Beneath The Old Pine Tree, Dollar Bill Mama Blues (Part 1), Dollar Bill Mama Blues (Part 2), Empty Arms, I Hope You See The Same Star That I Do, I'm Sorry Now, Lost On A Sea Of Sorrow, Love In The First Degree, Maggie Get The Hammer, Old Joe Clark, Rainbow At Midnight, Rainbow Follows Rain, Skip To My Lou, Sugar Cane Mama, The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band, Tramp On The Street, Wedding Bells, Wheels Of Destiny, Where There's A Will There's A Way
CLIFF CARLISLE: A Wild Cat Woman & A Tom Cat Man, Black Jack David, Cowboy Johnny's Last Ride, Gambling Dan, Get Her By The Tail, Goodbye Old Pal, Handsome Blues, Hobo Blues, I'm Saving Saturday Night For You, It Ain't No Fault Of Mine, Mouse's Ear Blues, My Traveling Night, Nevada Johnny, Onion Eating Mama (as Bob Clifford), Payday Fight, Rooster Blues, Shanghai Rooster Yodle #2, Shot The Innocent Man, That Great Judgement Day, That Nasty Swing, The Hobo's Fate, The Rambling Yodler, Tom Cat Blues, Trouble Minded Blues, Two Little Sweethearts, Uncloudy Day, Waiting For A Ride, When The Evening Sun Goes Down, Wigglin' Mama, You'll Miss Me

*download folder #1 here*

*download folder #2 here*

*download folder #3 here*


20 original recordings from the '30's and '40's by the Callahan Brothers. This is great rowdy depression era hillbilly music featuring the Callahan's harmony yodeling. Songs range from sentimental to bawdy, and their version of "She Came Rollin' Down The Mountain" is worth the price of admission.

Click here for a biography of the Callahan Brothers


1. Gonna Quit My Rowdy Ways
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Corn Licker Rag
4. She's Killing Me
5. On The Banks Of The Ohio
6. Little Poplar Log House On The Hill
7. Take The News To Mother
8. Rounder's Luck  (Rising Sun Blues)
9. Maple On The Hill
10. Way Out There
11. The Dying Girl's Farewell
12. I Want To Be Where You Are
13. She's My Curly Headed Baby No. 3
14. She Came Rollin' Down The Mountain
15. I Got Her Boozy
16. John Henry
17. Brown's Ferry Blues #2
18. A Jealous Woman Won't Do
19. Just One Year
20. Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye

*download here*

MERLE TRAVIS Live TV & Interview

If anyone knows the exact source of these recordings please let me know. I seem to recall they are TV soundtracks from the '60's but I am unsure of what show they might come from.
The bit where Merle and Jimmy Wakely dramatically but sincerely spin Merle's life story is priceless. These turned up on an obscure 1980's budget cassette with no real info to speak of. A good example of why no junk store should go unscavenged.


1. Texas Tornado
2. Guitar Rag
3. Interview and Sixteen Tons

*download here*


Saturday, November 15, 2008

This little gem was a great discovery. I found this in a bargain bin in a local department store, and it seemed interesting. I was blown away by the presentation, selection and remastering of this collection. The recordings span 1906(!) to 1938 and present an anthology of the greatest artists of British Music Hall.
Despite the age of the performances, they are still entertaining, especially as the remastering is so brilliant one never has to strain to hear or follow the songs at all. These are not only the origins of novelty songs, they are really the roots of modern show business as we know it. Amazing. Includes liner scans.


1. Will Fyffe-I Belong To Glasgow (17th October 1929)
2. George Formby - The Window Cleaner (27th September 1936)
3. Gus Elen - 'Arf A Pint Of Ale (2nd December 1931)
4. Charles Penrose - The Laughing Policeman (22nd April 1926)
5. Lily Morris - Don't Have Any More, Missus Moore (6th November 1928)
6. Tessie O'Shea - Nobody Loves A Fairy When She's 40 (2nd November 1928)
7. Stanley Holloway - The Lion And Albert (1932)
8. Harry Lauder - Keep Right On To The End Of The Road (26th October 1925)
9. Charles Coburn - Two Lovely Black Eyes (2nd September 1929)
10. Billy Bennett - The League Of Nations (January 1934)
11. Marie Lloyd - When I Take My Morning Promenade (19th November 1912)
12. Leslie Sarony - Ain't It Grand To Be Bloomin' Well Dead! (2nd April 1932)
13. Gus Elen - It's A Great Big Shame (2nd December 1931)
14. Lily Morris - Because He Loves Me (7th June 1929)
15. Charles Coburn - The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Cristo (2nd September 1929)
16. Will Fyffe - I'm 94 Today (17th October 1929)
17. Arthur Askey - The Bee Song (1938)
18. Gus Elen - A Nice Quiet Day (24th May 1932)
19. Billy Bennett - Daddy (24th August 1929)
20. Marie Lloyd - A Coster Girl In Paris (23rd July 1912)
21. The Western Bros. - The Old School Tie (7th June 1934)
22. George Robey - I Stopped ! I Looked! I Listened! (1916)
23. Gus Elen - Wait Till The Work Comes Round (4th September 1906)
24. George Robey - What Was There Was Good (1915)

*download here*

GEORGE JONES Don't Stop The Music

A fantastic collection of Jones' Mercury-Starday recordings, now out of print. Some of the tunes here seem to be previously unavailable alternate versions, including "You Gotta Be My Baby". Includes liner scans.


1. Into My Arms Again
2. Who Shot Sam
3. You Gotta Be My Baby
4. Mr. Fool
5. Time Lock
6. Candy Hearts
7. What'cha Gonna Do
8. Vitamins L-O-V-E
9. Don't Stop The Music
10. Accidentally On Purpose
11. All I Want To Do
12. Giveaway Girl
13. Cup Of Loneliness
14. A Wanderin' Soul
15. My Sweet Imogene
16. The Likes Of You
17. What Am I Worth
18. Boogie Woogie Mexican Boy
19. I'm With The Wrong One
20. With Half A Heart
21. Ship Of Love
22. The Honky Tonk Downstairs

*download here*

RUSTY & DOUG KERSHAW Hickory Recordings

A collection of 12 original Hickory recordings by Rusty & Doug Kershaw from Tiel Ridge, Cameron Parish in Louisiana. Recorded 1956-1962, they span the genres of honky tonk, rockabilly and cajun music. Doug Kershaw later rose to prominence via his guest appearances on the "Johnny Cash Show".

Here are links to some other great Rusty Doug Kershaw albums over at Uncle Gil's:


Rusty, Doug & Wiley


1. Louisiana Man
2. Kaw Liga
3. Diggy Liggy Lo
4. (Our Own) Jole Blon
5. Cajun Joe (The Bully Of The Bayou)
6. The Love I Want
7. Oh Love
8. Why Don't You Love Me
9. Hey Mae
10. Your Crazy, Crazy Heart
11. Sweet Thing (Tell Me That You Love Me)
12. I Like You Like This

*download here*

ROY HALL 8-Track

Another curious 8-track that's somewhat of a mystery. I purchased this tape at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Chatham, Ontario. It is a seemingly self-produced album by the legendary rockabilly and country boogie piano pounder Roy Hall. Titled, confusingly, "Thank You Sam", it gives no other information than this strange title, Hall's name, and the address 493 Annex Ave in Nashville with a phone number. The front is not actually singed by Hall, but appears to be reproduced like the rest of the label.
The material ranges from numbers featuring only Hall and some sort of drum machine (Alley Cat, Orange Blossom Special, Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms, Under The Double Eagle, Misty, Vaya Con Dios, Down Yonder, Jambalaya) to songs that seem to be lifted off old 45's or 78's (John Henry, Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On) with a few sounding like '60's or '70's studio recordings (One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, Slowly, Some Folks).
The drum machine tracks are at the very least amusing, often featuring wry spoken vocals by Hall, and comments on his piano solo of "Orange Blossom Special" like "Eat your heart out, Benny Martin!"
The studio take of "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" is not the same one as was included on his Barrelhouse LP. At one point during the song he calls guitarist Jimmy Bryant by name. The tracks "Slowly" and "Some Folks" both credit Boots Randolph on the label, apparently for providing backup. "John Henry" may be one of his early record releases, or a demo. The very scratchy transfer of "Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On" seems to be an example of Hall bootlegging his own '50's release. I like to imagine that this was a copy he had carried around in his suitcase for twenty years without a dust sleeve!
If anyone has anymore information about this odd find, I'd be delighted to hear about it.

Click here for a biography of Roy Hall


1. Alley Cat
2. John Henry
3. One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
4. Orange Blossom Special
5. Rollin In My Sweet Babies Arms
6. Slowly
7. Under The Double Eagle
8. Misty
9. Von Yon Con Dios
10. Down Yonder
11. Jambalaya
12. Whole Lotta Shaking Goin On
13. Some Folks

*download here*


This recording comes from an 8-track tape my friend Andy gave me one year as a Christmas present. He had found it in his travels and thought it looked promising. It is a very home-made production by the late Renfro Valley comedian and banjoist Manuel "Old Joe" Clark and his son. The recordings sound like someone put a portable tape recorder on a table in front of the stage and pressed "record". Despite being extremely low-fi, these recordings are enjoyable, featuring Old Joe telling jokes and stories, many ribbing Terry, who mock-argues with his pa. Terry also contributes some more modern, "Scruggs-Style" banjo picking, and they all sing some songs. There's even a dobro solo by Cotton Gaylon, who is best remembered for having played with Carl Story. The only information given on the tape is "Recorded at Various Times and Locations With Live Audience. Produced by JimAnn Music, P. O. Box 178, Danville, Kentucky".
I did my best to make these very rough recordings more listenable. There were no track names, so I have listed them as I think they were intended.

Some links about Old Joe Clark:

Renfro Valley website article

Johnson City Press article


1. Intro
2. Baby Son
3. Mountain Dew
4. Soda Tablet
5. New Highway
6. Lady Killer
7. Post Office
8. Let Me Be Your Salty Dog
9. Corn Crop
10. Foggy Mountain Breakdown
11. Mail Order Diploma
12. Lost Indian
13. Mother-In-Law
14. Pig In A Pen
15. Dobro Solo, Cotton Gaylon
16. Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy All The Time
17. Poetry Contest
18. City On The Hill
19. Bill Cheathum, Closing

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BILL MONROE Live Recordings

This set of twelve live recordings seem to have been issued many times through the years. I first purchased them on cassette several years ago. I recently came across this version on CD at a local "Dollarama" store, and for a buck couldn't pass it up.
I've never been able to pin down when these recordings were made, where, or who the Blue Grass Boys are on them. They sound to me like either the mid to late '60's or early '70's. Bill is in good form, and his chop mandolin comes through better than on some of his records. Mostly Monroe standards here, I particularly like this version of "The Prisoner's Song".
If anybody has any more information about these recordings, please drop me a line and I'll include it here.


1. Orange Blossom Special
2. Uncle Pen
3. Footprints In The Snow
4. Bluegrass Breakdown
5. I Saw The Light
6. Shady Grove
7. Shenandoah Breakdown
8. Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)
9. The Prisoner's Song
10. Blue Moon Of Kentucky
11. Can't You Hear Me Calling
12. Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy

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A 1987 collection of live radio by the legendary Louvin Brothers.

"To us, joining the Opry was the ultimate thing. When we got to Nashville, we went to see Jack Stapp at WSM. He was WSM Program Director and top banana of the Opry's NBC network Prince Albert Show. Ken Nelson, our producer at Capitol Records, had just bluffed Stapp into hiring us as regulars. Ken told him, 'now, if you don't want 'em, the Ozark Jubilee does.' We had auditioned, I guess, two dozen times for Jim Denny, who was head of WSM's booking office, but we had never done a guest shot. The first time we sang on the Opry we were members of it. That was February 26, 1955.
"After we met Mr. Stapp, he took us back to see Denny. We must've sat in Denny's office for fifteen minutes, just being totally ignored. He was busy making phone calls, going through the Opry roster. Finally, Ira stood up and said, "Well, Mr. Denny, we'll see you tonight." Denny looked up and said, "Boys, you're in tall timber.' Ira said, "We got the saws; you just show us where the woods are."
"That night, I was scared to death. There's just something about the Opry stage that's different from any other stage you'll ever be on. But we did what Ira said we'd do. The fans accepted us, and for the next few years we were really heavy. Naturally, the Opry boosted our career quite a bit. It was a great kicking-off place for our records and a great place to plug our road shows. That was our absolute heyday - no doubt about it."


1. The Gospel Way
2. They've Got The Church Outnumbered
3. God Bless Her (Cause She Is My Mother)
4. If We Forget God
5. Just Rehearsing
6. That's All He's Asking Of Me
7. Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself
8. You'll Forget
9. Childish Love
10. When I Stop Dreaming
11. I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby
12. Hoping That You're Hoping
13. You're Running Wild
14. I Wish You Knew

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

From 1962 comes the great Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1898-1971) on Starday SLP 202. Here are the original liner notes in full...

Whenever country music fans talk about fiddlers, the name of Fiddlin' Arthur Smith is mentioned as one of the all time greats. His Career over a period of 30 years in the country music entertainment field has brought him recognition as "The King of the Fiddle". His many hit recordings helped to make country music history, and although he has been retired for several years, he consented to make this album.
The dexterity and technique of this fine artist, recorded in new high fidelity sound, will bring joy to the vast number of people who appreciate the fine art of country fiddlin'. This album contains a memorable collection of melodic fiddle tunes that Fiddlin' Arthur Smith gathered together during his long and colorful career. Although Arthur is a great hoedown fiddler, we felt that his talents could be better expressed by playing the rare old fiddle tunes that have a strong melody line and that have the country and mountain flavor. Of course, no Arthur Smith album would be complete without the immortal ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL and this Arthur Smith specialty is included along with his very unique arrangements on LOUISE, INDIAN CREEK, WHISTLER's FEVER, K. C. STOMP, DICKSON COUNTY BLUES, CUMBERLAND WALTZ and many others.
We are indebted to Alton Delmore of the famous Delmore Brothers for the following nostalgic words about Arthur Smith - Tennessee's Dixieline Fiddler.

you have ever made the trip from Nashville to Memphis on Highway 70, you've been through Dickson, Tennessee. That's the home of one of America's most famous old time fiddlers, none other than Arthur Smith. It also happens to be the hometown of Tennessee's popular governor, Frank Clement, who is an ardent country music fan."
"You will also remember the peaceful rugged hills, the cold Spring water, and the clear rippling brooks, that ramble lazily through the green pastures. It is truly a wonderful country and somehow it seems to blend with Arthur Smith's style of fiddlin'. The people in the hills know good music when they hear it. Arthur learned when he was a youngster and he learned right. He practiced every night after his days work was through until he had perfected the style for which he has become famous."
"When George D. Hay, 'the solemn old judge' started the Grand Ole Opry, a country music show which has now become an international institution, Arthur was one of the first old time fiddlers to appear on the program. Each Saturday night, Arthur Smith and Sam and Kirk McGee would come into Nashville and play over Radio WSM on the Opry. They became more popular each week and Arthur decided to call his band the Dixieliners. He was working then as a lineman on the N.C. & ST. L. Railroad known as 'The Dixie Line' - hence the name for his entertainers."
"It was about this time that my brother Rabon and I came to WSM and the Opry. We had listened many times to Arthur Smith and his Dixieliners so we asked Arthur to make some phonograph records with us. At first he was shy but after considerable persuasion, we were able to get him to record. Arthur was modest and didn't think he was good enough to make records. Bluebird had brought a portable recording outfit, and it was there that Arthur Smith made his first records. Since then he has made many best selling records that have been played and enjoyed throughout America and wherever country music is enjoyed."
"Arthur plays by ear and doesn't read music. Rabon and I did a lot of the singing on Arthur Smith's records for bluebird back in the 20's and 30's. Rabon and I enjoyed singing with Arthur both on records and on radio."


The open string Martin guitar background is by Earnest Smith, Arhtur's son who is pictured with Arthur on the front cover of this album. This album by Arthur Smith is an important contribution to the heritage of American country music.

DON PIERCE, President


1. Orange Blossom Special
2. Paris Waltz
3. Dixieliner's Ramble
4. North Carolina Breakdown
5. Cumberland Gap
6. Dickson County Blues
7. K. C. Stomp
8. Louise
9. Indian Creek
10. Darling Honey
11. Whistler's Fever
12. Maple Leak Waltz
13. Tulsa Hop
14. Cheatham County Hoedown

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HAL "LONE PINE" Arc Recordings

Here is a 37 track collection containing the complete solo recordings of Hal "Lone Pine" on Toronto's Arc label. Originally released as three Arc LPs in the early to mid 60's (Arc 535, 564 and 600) these tracks stand up well against much of his 1950's RCA Victor work. As well as tributes to his home state of Maine, there are tunes in praise of the Canadian maritimes, where Pine had a large following.
Harold Breau (famously, Lenny's dad) was based out of Regina, Saskatchewan when the first of the albums was released. By the time the third album was released he was back in Maine at WABI-TV, Bangor.
It is to be imagined Lenny was present for at least a few of these sessions. Fiddlin' Harold Carter is credited with a fiddle solo on "Devil's Dream", other than that there is no indication of who plays backup on these sides. They generally have a great feel, an interesting mix of traditional old time songs and the more worldly postwar brand of country music.

Originally released as:

Hal "Lone Pine" Sings His All-Time Favorites - Arc 535
More Show Stoppers - Arc 564
Coast of Maine and Other Favourites - Arc 600


1. Prince Edward Island Is Heaven To Me
2. Frankie And Johnny
3. Poor Ole Me
4. Who's Been Here Since I've Been Gone
5. Hannah
6. Lucky, Lucky Someone Else
7. Apple Blossom Time In Annapolis Valley
8. Call Me Up And I'll Come Calling On You
9. Hold Fast To The Right
10. Pretty Blue Eyes
11. One More Time
12. Oh Lonesome Me
13. Pretty As A Queen
14. Alabam
15. Come Back To This Heart Of Mine
16. Down By The Railroad Track
17. Softly And Tenderly
18. Barefoot Boy
19. Foolin' Around
20. Shotgun Boogie
21. Precious Little Baby
22. Down By The Riverside
23. The New Brunswick Song
24. Rattle-Snakin' Daddy
25. Devils Dream (featuring Fiddlin' Harold Carter)
26. A Winding Lane On The Coast Of Maine
27. Walk Me To The Door
28. I Joined The Navy
29. Cattle Call
30. Daddy Gave My Dog Away
31. Time Goes By
32. A Million Years Or So
33. Winter Time In Maine
34. Six Days On The Road
35. Talk Back Trembling Lips
36. Little Ole You
37. Jealous Lover

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