EARL & JOYCE SONGER Early Detroit Country

Monday, April 2, 2012

As many followers of the Scratchy Attic are no doubt aware, I have featured many posts of vintage Canadian country music. This post, while not Canadian, is nonetheless of great "local" significance to me. I live in the border city of Windsor, Ontario, mere blocks from the Detroit River, which is also the international border line. I can literally see the great towers of Detroit out of my window.
I therefore was most pleased when I discovered this fine LP of original recordings by Earl & Joyce Songer and The Rocky Road Ramblers, who were active in the Detroit country scene in the postwar era. Earl & Joyce were transplanted southerners who like countless others, both white and black, migrated northward to find work in the area's automotive industry. Informal music making eventually led to local careers as the demand for "hillbilly" music was driven by the waves of white southerners arriving in the area.
The Songer's music is definitely unique and transitional, far more old timey than the typical major label country of the time. As the liner notes state "This is delightful, genuine music displaying roots of considerable diversity and Joyce recalls that they were given a completely free hand. There are reflections of early bluegrass stylings as well as 30's string band music, displaying the origins of the Songer's music. At the same time, their considerable writing skills are demonstrated in imaginative new honky-tonk and up-tempo songs."
Perhaps the very contrast between the old rural and new urban life that marked the Songer's music is what led to their eventual musical and marital breakup; they divorced in 1955. The full account of Earl & Joyce's career is contained in this LP's wonderful and well written liner notes, scans of which are included in the download, along with sixteen original recordings. The notes also give approximate recording dates and session personel, and although no original labels are indicated, it is my understanding that these sides were originally released on the Fortune and Coral imprints.


1. We're Satisfied
2. Fire In My Heart (Will Be Drowned In Tears)
3. Honky Tonkin' Blues
4. My Wife And Sweetheart Too
5. Whose Naughty Baby Are You
6. I Won't Confess I'm Sorry
7. Will There Be Any Flowers On My Grave
8. Fox Chase
9. West Virginia Waltz
10. Mother In-Law Boogie
11. Spanish Fire Bells
12. Someone To Call My Own
13. In A Broken Heart No Love Is Found
14. Blue Mountain Girl
15. Dissatisfied
16. Smiling Through The Years

*download here*


Andyrama said...

Thanks for this Lefty.

John said...

Caravan Gardens

Six Mile Road at East Davison Street, Detroit

Whether they played bluegrass, Western swing, honky-tonk or a forward-looking amalgamation of those styles, an astounding number of country musicians found work in Detroit in the early '50s, following the same hillbilly highway that brought so many Appalachians here for work. Caravan Gardens catered to the best of them, including Roy Hall, Skeets McDonald, Eddie Jackson and the York Brothers. Guitarist Joyce Songer worked as a hostess here when she wasn't waxing strikingly original records for Imperial, Coral and Fortune with her husband Earl and their band the Rocky Road Ramblers.

Andyrama said...


What you wrote came from the Metro Times.


Robin Kelly said...

Joyce is my Aunt. Growing up we loved to listen to her sing and pick. We learned songs we probably shouldn't have. She came back home to Tenneessee where she still is picking and singing.

Robin Kelly said...

Tennessee. Finger twitch.

Kathy Duckett said...

Yes, I miss the get togethers where we'd all sit around listening to Joyce and the rest of them picking and singing.

Irene Kinder said...

Earl was my brother who left this world much too soon. He left behind one brother Gene, three sisters Evelyn, Elaine and Faye. We loved having him return to the family home where he would pick and sing for us. I loved his music then and still do some 74 yrs later. Thanks for giving people a chance to hear his music.

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