Friday, May 20, 2011

Courtesy of the Attic's pal Andyrama comes this interesting 1963 budget LP on Crown, "Guest Star of the Grand Ole Opry" (CST 329). As is typical of such cheapie albums of its era, it brings together a noted artist and a mysterious one with no apparent rhyme or reason.
The first side it comprised five of excellent late 40's/early 50's tracks by Louisianian Jimmy Newman. These were recorded originally for Feature, a Lake Charles, Louisiana label owned by the legendary J.D. Miller. The sixth track in the folder was not on the LP, but is transferred from another bargain bin album, the 1967 Design compilation "The World of Country Music" (SDLP-640). I believe this is the original version of "Cry, Cry Darling", recorded in 1953 for the Khourys label, also in based out of Lake Charles. The tune was a regional hit, and became a National one when re-recorded for Dot the following year. Jimmy C. Newman went on to a career as a legendary country and Cajun singer, and was, indeed, a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It is his later success that this album seems to be intended to capitalize on.
The remaining five tracks are credited to Billy Carson, and I find them rather enjoyable. They're obviously from a later period than the Newman songs, as they're in true stereo. I am unsure if Billy Carson is the Bill Carson who was a legendary employee of Fender guitars. It seems logical, however I can find practically no reference to these recordings or song titles anywhere other than in regards to this LP; very often budget records would utilize recordings that otherwise never made it to release. It's also possible that Billy Carson was a completely fictitious identity used for this release and was not the actual artist's name! An article/obituary with details about the above mentioned Bill Carson can be read here.

On May 25, our friend "Country Boy Lance" commented that the Billy Carson on this and other Crown LPs is in fact Glen Cass. See comments for details. Thanks, Lance!


1. Jimmy Newman - What Will I Do
2. Jimmy Newman - Let's Stay Together
3. Jimmy Newman - Don't Say Goodbye
4. Jimmy Newman - If You Lose You'll Understand
5. Jimmy Newman - I'll Have To Burn All The Letters
6. Jimmy Newman - Cry,Cry Darling
7. Billy Carson - The Big Wall
8. Billy Carson - I'll Always Love You
9. Billy Carson - Just In Her Way
10. Billy Carson - Window That I Look From
11. Billy Carson - Lost Vein Of Love

*download here*


A bit of a departure from my recent posts, today I feature the legendary Joe Sanders (1896-1965) and Carleton Coon (1894-1932), who led one of the first widely successful radio bands, the Nighthawks. Legend attributes their collaboration to a chance meeting while trying out sheet music in a Kansas City music shop, a meeting which led to the formation of the "Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra". The group struck pay-dirt in 1922 when they began a series of late night broadcasts on WDAF originating from Kansas City's Muehlebach Hotel. Re-christened "The Nighthawks", the band began a decade long run that carried them to Chicago, and eventually New York. A very "publicity oriented" organization, the Nighthawks astutely exploited the new medium of radio, with stunts like setting up a ticker-tape machine on the bandstand to register requests during broadcasts. At one point the band traveled to engagements with each member piloting his own expensive Cord automobile.
Despite such flamboyance, Coon and Sanders' exiting, highly detailed music was the real basis of their popularity. The orchestra set a very high standard for the era; the Nighthawks were a disciplined collection of solid musicians, both men were exceptional vocalists, and Sanders' skills as a truly gifted and inventive composer/arranger gave the band a quality that is still evident on their recordings today. The Nighthawks' fame, influence, and legacy may have continued beyond the "roaring twenties" if the hard-living Carleton Coon had not succumbed to complications from blood poisoning in May of 1932.
While never again achieving the success of the Nighthawks, Joe Sanders continued to work, leading respectable Orchestras until retiring in 1959. The pictured "Radio's Aces" LP was in preparation when Sander's passed away in 1965, and released later that year. It features sixteen of the band's Victor recordings, some of which used alternate masters to the original 78rpm versions. Also included in this post is a small run 1974 LP featuring a 1945 broadcast by Joe Sanders' Orchestra on Coca-Cola's "Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands". This performance provides an interesting contrast to the Nighthawk's 1920's work, while the latter is of course more subdued, we do hear a flash of the old energy on Sander's vocal performance of "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?". The seconds side of this LP features an appearance on the same series by the Orchestra of Henry King, more about whom can be found here.

Coon-Sanders Nighthawks
"Radio's Aces"


1. Here Comes My Ball And Chain
2. I Ain't Got Nobody
3. Little Orphan Annie
4. Darktown Stutter's Ball
5. High Fever
6. Alone At Last
7. Tennessee Lazy
8. Deep Henderson
9. Alone In The Rain
10. Wabash Blues
11. What A Girl!What A Night!
12. Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
13. Roodles
14. After You've Gone
15. Sluefoot
16. Rhythm King

includes jacket and label scans

*download here*

Joe Sanders & His Orchestra/Henry King & His Orchestra
"Victory Parade Of Spotlight Bands Volume 4"

1. Joe Sanders - Part 1 - Honeysuckle Rose, Wish You Were Waiting For Me (Joe Sanders - vocal), Saturday Night (Mary Malloy - vocal), In The Middle Of Nowhere (Joe Sanders - vocal)
2. Joe Sanders - Part 2 - Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? (Joe Sanders - vocal), Don't You Know I Care? (Mary Malloy - vocal), Blue Skies3. Henry King - Alexander's Ragtime Band, (medley) The Day After Forever, There Goes That Song Again (Virginia Jackson - vocal), Tico Tico, (medley) Waiting, Don't You Know I Care? (Tommy Smith - vocal), You've Got Me Where You Want Me (Virginia Jackson - vocal), Why Don't You Kiss Me? (Tommy Smith - vocal), Accentuate The Positive (Virginia Jackson - vocal), Tea For Two

includes jacket scans

*download here*


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back in November of 2008 I posted an LP by Smilin' Jack Silvers and his Sons of the Plains (click here). I knew nothing about the album or the artist, other than that it was superb. I mentioned in the post that if anyone knew anything about Smilin' Jack to drop me a line. I'm glad I did, as I not only learned a good deal about him, I was able to obtain the audio recording of one of his TV broadcasts that I now (finally!) present here.
All in all, I exchanged emails with four people, three of whom played with Jack, and two of whom played on the LP. It started when I received an email from Gerry Forget, who's former brother-in-law was Bob Vall ée, the group's fiddler. He in turn put me in touch with Terry Sutton, who played steel with Jack. I also received an email from Bill Gokey, who played bass and banjo.
Rather than rewrite Jack's story, I'll reprint some excerpts from the emails, so you can learn the story as I did:

Gerry Forget

"My former brother in law (Robert "Bob" Vallée) was a member of the group "Smiling Jack Silvers' Sons of the Plains" for a time. I remember this from when I was 6 or 7 years old. They used to have a TV show from Cornwall, Ontario way back then that was called OK Jamboree...

I remember meeting Jack and hearing the band play. I also remember meeting Dusty King Sr. who was very popular. This was very, very good to listen to.
Another very good local musician from a slightly later time was Johnny Mooring, that I heard playing many times along with my wife of many years. He met an untimely death in, I believe, 1974 during an attack after a gig...

I made a few calls to my sister today regarding the band to check my recall as a young boy. Smilin' Jack's birth name apparently was Leo Boisclair. Some of the other members of the band besides Bob Vallee (fiddle) were Terry Sutton (steel guitar- can be heard on the Stone-Canyon web site), Don Mitchell, Dollard "Vic" Huneault (bass).
In the early '70's when I was about 18, my steady girlfriend (now my wife) used to go out every Saturday night to the hotels in the Valleyfield or Rivière Beaudette Qc. area and listen to Johnny Mooring playing (he would occasionally come over to our table because another one of my former brother in-laws used to play from time to time with Johnny). Another good (French) country singer from the area was Marcel Laframboise. We always had a good time on Saturday night, and the booze was cheap."
Bill Gokey

"Back in the early 60's I played for a brief time in Jack's band - he was from Lancaster, Ontario, and his last name wasn't Silvers. He had a weekly TV show on CJSS in Cornwall, Ontario, called "The O.K. Jamboree". Band members were: Terry Sutton (McElroy), steel; Don Mitchell, electric guitar; Dusty King (Bruce Dustin), flat-top rhythm & vocals; Bob Vallee, fiddle; and Bill Gokey on electric bass & 5-string banjo.

The show was cancelled in 1962 when CTV Network took over Channel 8 and turned it in to a satellite station.
I believe the album was cut about 1963."

Terry Sutton

"Hi, my name is Terry Sutton and I was the steel player with Smilin' Jack from 1957 to 1960-61. We started on a Cornwall radio station CKSF in 1957 as "The Sons Of The Plains" then when channel 8 went on the air we moved over to it for about two years and played Northern New York State, Eastern Quebec and many Eastern Ontario gigs...

Smilin' Jack (Leo Boisclair) was born in Cornwall Ont. but moved to the Valleyfield QC. area at a young age and lived for many years in St Stanislaus QC. I came to work for Jack from the Smiley Willette Show on Channel 5, Plattsburg N.Y. He always had good players with him and was very popular around the east. The Smilin' Jack record was recorded in the RCA Victor studios in Montreal, and around the same time Dusty King recorded an album with the same musicians, i.e. Don Mitchell on Lead Guitar, Yours Truly on Steel, Bob Vallee on Fiddle, Sandy Parr on Bass and Jack on acoustic, and as there were no drums then we had a person named "Wave" on acoustic guitar with paper through the strings to make a snare sound. I produced the album with every ones help.
I'm still playing quite often here in Connecticut where I moved in 1965, spent some years in Nashville with various artists."
Robert Vallée

"Hi Mike. Congradulations for your research on an old country album. According to the info from Terry & Bill they gave you all the info that I know. By the way, I was the fiddler on that first album."

Receiving the above information and reflections was wonderful. If that wasn't enough, Terry told me he had a reel-to-reel tape of one of the "OK Jamboree" television shows, and he was willing to send me a copy. This amazed me, as there is so little live broadcast material of vintage Canadian country kicking around. I have found this recording fascinating, to say the least.
The "OK Jamboree" was broadcast Saturday nights on CJSS-TV Cornwall, a station that had a short run, 1959 to 1963, as a private CBC affiliated broadcaster. It was sponsored by O'Keefe Ale (hence the "OK" - get it?) and fortunately the commercials are included on the recording. The guest on this episode is "Miss" Terry Parker, a fantastic singer and yodeler who's Banff recordings I will try to feature in the future. I hope you all enjoy this great treasure as much as I have.


NOTE: The half-hour show is included as a single mp3. Please be aware there is some noticeable tape drop out near the beginning of the show, a small concern considering the rarity of this type of recording.


Intro, Theme (host, Roger D.)
O'Keefe Tune
Crazy Creek (fiddle solo, Bob Vallée)
Excuse Me, I Think I've Got A Heartache (vocal, Smilin' Jack & Vic Huneault)
Please Help Me, I'm Falling (vocal, Terry Parker)
O'Keefe commercial
The Pickup Reel (fiddle solo, Bob Vallée)
Goofus (guitar solo, Don Mitchell)
Tumbling Tumbleweed (vocal, Terry Sutton & Smilin' Jack)
Personal appearance announcements
The Yodeling Bird (vocal, Terry Parker)
O'Keefe commercial
Fraulein (vocal, Terry Sutton)
Smoky Mountain Rag (instrumental, The Sons of the Plains)
O'Keefe Tune
Theme, Closing

*download here*


Friday, May 13, 2011

The response to the first Graham Townsend album I posted (World Champion Folk Fiddler) was so positive I have decided to present a few more. The majority of Graham's albums before the 1970s were on Rodeo Records' Banff label, but the present two albums, both from the early 1960s, are exceptions.
Like most LPs on the Arc label, "Fancy Fiddlin'" (Arc 576) has circulated widely and is not all that difficult to find. It contains Graham's first recordings of the novelty tunes "Listen to the Mockingbird" and "Dragging the Bow", as well as the Townsend compositions "Rocking Chair Jig" and "McDowell's Breakdown" (named for his frequent piano accompanist, Phyllis McDowell). By comparison, "Championship Fiddle Favorites" on the London label (GA. 1006, reissued in "stereo" as EBX 4128) is somewhat of a rarity, which is a shame as it's a wonderful album. Like the previously featured Banff LP, these albums were highly influential and inspirational to me, with tunes like "Caber Feigh", "Bows of Oak Hill" and "Lug O' The Spade" remaining an important part of my repertoire to this day. Perhaps in putting these transfers out there, another generation can absorb them as I and so many others did.

Fancy Fiddlin'
Arc 576


1. Blue Water Hornpipe
2. Teenagers' Waltz
3. Listen to the Mocking Bird
4. Rocking Chair Jig
5. Cuckoo's Nest
6. McDowell's Breakdown
7. Caber Feigh
8. Town & Country Schottische
9. Dragging the Bow
10. Peek A Boo Waltz
11. Carnival Hornpipe
12. Hurricane Hazel

Championship Fiddle Favorites
London GA. 1006, also issued as EBX 4128


1. Orange Blossom Special
2. Old Rose Waltz
3. Speed The Plough Reel
4. Bows Of Oak Hill
5. Sugar Tree Stomp
6. Lug O' The Spade
7. Billy In The Low Ground
8. Jack Pine Reel
9. High Level Hornpipe
10. Our Last Waltz
11. Pop Corn Reel
12. Faded Love

*download here*

DON MESSER & NED LANDRY 78s @ archive.org

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I have posted some 78 era tunes by Don Messer and Ned Landry at the Internet Archive (archive.org). I was motivated to do this after downloading a particularly atrocious rip of Messer's old recording of St. Anne's Reel... If there is a significant response to these, I may do more. Enjoy!

The links are below:

Don Messer and His Islanders - Don Messer's Breakdown, Johnny Wagoner's Breakdown
Apex 26222-A (78rpm)
April 8, 1942
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - Favorite Polka, By The Fireside
Apex 26220-B (78rpm)
March 9, 1942
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - Flanigan's Polka
Apex 26272-A (78rpm)
December 1943
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - Little Burnt Potato
Apex 26273-B (78rpm)
December 1943
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - Rippling Water Jig
Apex 26297-B (78rpm)
December 16, 1947
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - Soldier's Joy
Apex 26290-A (78rpm)
March 8, 1947
*click here*

Don Messer and His Islanders - St. Anne's Reel
Apex 26291-A (78rpm)
March 8, 1947
*click here*

Ned Landry (Violin with piano accompaniment by Bruce Holder) - Soldier's Joy
RCA Victor Bluebird Series 55-3254-A (78rpm)
*click here*

Ned Landry (Violin with piano accompaniment by Bruce Holder) - Devil Among The Tailors
RCA Victor Bluebird Series 55-3254-B (78rpm)
*click here*

Incidentally, back on February 2 of this year, Ned Landry celebrated his 90th birthday! There's a great article about it here.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Two 1970s LPs are presented here by the great New Brunswick fiddler Gerry Robichaud. The first is 1973's "Down East Fiddling" on the Voyager label, the second is "Maritime Dance Party", a 1978 offering on Alcazar.
Robichaud was born in St. Paul, NB in 1931 and absorbed both the local Acadian style as played by his mother, and the popular "down east" tunes popularized on Maritime radio by fiddlers like Don Messer and Tommy Linkletter. He played extensively in his native New Brunswick until moving to Boston in 1955. There he continued as an expert exponent of this music, playing at the city's French club from the year of his arrival onward, as well as participating in (and often winning) numerous contests throughout the years. A pair of 1960s LPs on the Banff label established his reputation in Canada, much as the present albums did in the US in the next decade. Robichaud was featured in the 1983 documentary film "New England Fiddles" (see link below), and in 1996 Rounder records produced "The Slippery Stick", a spectacular CD featuring Gerry accompanied on guitar by his brother Bobby, playing tunes from their childhood.
Gerry Robichaud is one of the great surviving fiddlers from Canada's "golden age" and is a highly respected player. Much to my delight, a search of youtube finds videos of the 79 year old performing beautifully as recently as March of this year. Some of these clips feature Gerry playing alongside his granddaughter, so we can rest assured his great music will live on through generations.

Click here to see a youtube clip of Gerry and his granddaughter Melissa playing together on March 3, 2011

Click here to stream the 1983 film documentary, "New England Fiddles"

Click here for the detailed biographical notes on Gerry from Rounder's 1996 CD, "The Slippery Stick"

Gerry Robichaud, "Down East Fiddling"
Voyageur VRLP 310-S, 1973


1. Slope Road Jig
2. Golden Wedding Reel
3. Centennial Waltz
4. Sandra's Jig
5. Ottawa Valley Reel
6. Uncle Louie's Clog
7. Don Tremaine's Jig
8. Grand Valley Waltz
9. Rocket Richard's Reel
10. Prince County Jig
11. Mother's Day Waltz
12. Dickie Rogers
13. Peace River Jig
14. Daffodil Waltz
15. David's Jig
16. Twin Sisters

*download here*

Jerry (sic) Robichaud, "Maritime Dance Party"
Alcazar/Fretless FR-201, 1978


1. Walker Street Reel, Temperance Reel
2. East Coast Jig, Buchta Dancers' Jig
3. Shelburne Reel
4. Spider Island Jig, Sue's Jig
5. Maxime Leblanc's Reel, Angus Robichaud's Reel
6. Debbie's Jig, Cadeau's Jig
7. York County Hornpipe, Shelburne Rotary Breakdown, Cuckoo's Nest
8. Gold And Silver Waltz
9. New Brunswick Hornpipe, Rainy Reel
10. Cotton-Eyed Joe, Pacific Slope Reel

*download here*