Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 8/11/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 8/11/13

Recording Artist – Song Title/Album Title (year of release) Record Label 0:00

Leroy Pullins – I’m a Nut/I’m a Nut (1966) Kapp 2:27

The Levee Singers – Take Me Home/Take Me Home (1965) Levee 2:39

l-r Bob Christopher, Ronnie Dawson, Smokey Montgomery, Ed Bernet. photo from homepage of Ed Bernet.


Smokey Montgomery of The Light Crust Doughboys formed the Levee Singers to capitalize on the folk boom and work The Levee, a Dallas venue of the 1960′s. In addition to Ronnie and Smokey, members at that time were former Pittsburgh Steeler Ed Bernet and Lewis and Clark College music major and future financial planner Bob Christopher.

Fred Sokolow – Two Part Invention #8/Bluegrass Banjo Inventions (1977) Kickin Mule 0:50

John Stanfeld – Brown/Carolina 12 String (1977) Philo 3:58

The Levee Singers – 88 Days in the County Jail/Take Me Home (1965)  Levee 2:32

Ronnie Speeks – Lonesome Me/single (1966) Fraternity 2:25

Lonnie Mack – Wham/The Wham of That Memphis Man (1963) 2:12

Ronnie Dawson – Wham Bam Jam/Monkey Beat (1994) No Hit 2:18


Born in Waxahachie, Texas on August 11, 1939 and raised in Corsicana and Waxahachie, Ronnie broke into show business at the Dallas Sportatorium’s “Big ‘D’ Jamboree” in the late 1950′s. The Jamboree’s impresario, Ed McLemore, led Ronnie to Dick Clark, leading to two releases on Swan in 1959 and 1960. Alas, fallout from the “Payola” scandal would stall Ronnie’s career, as Swan and Dick Clark were constrained severely by the scandal. Click here for a nice summary of Ronnie’s career.

The Farmer Boys  Cool Down Mame/single (1956) Capitol 2:32

Ronnie Dawson – Veronica/Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ (1996) 3:36

Kenny Smith – I’m Gonna Be Gone/single (early 70′s) MCM 3:07

Ronnie Dawson – Sucker For Cheap Guitar/Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ 3:12

Ronnie Dawson, circa 1959
Ronnie Dawson, circa 1959

Ronnie Dee (Dawson) – Action Packed/single (1959) Back Beat 2:10


Ronnie Dawson – Shim Sham Shimmy/Rockinitis (1989) No Hit 2:50

Jimmy Edwards
Jimmy Edwards

Jimmy Edwards – Love Bug Crawl/single (1957) Mercury 1:58

He was born James Wiley Bullinton in Mississippi, but was working in the General Motors Buick plant in Flint, Michigan when he first cut Love Bug Crawl in 1957. It was issued on the local Wednesday label before getting picked up by Mercury.

Two more Mercury singles failed to chart despite My Honey and Do That Again being mighty fine records. RCA took a chance with him but they too couldn’t get him on the hit parade. (from Rockabillyville BlogSpot.)

Ronnie Dawson – Rockin’ Bones/Rockin’ Bones (1959) Rockin’ Records 1:54

Ronnie Dawson – Ain’t That a Kick in the Head/single (1960) Swan 2:34

autographed circa 1995, Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN
autographed circa 1995, Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN

Hymn Time

The Levee Singers – Oh, What a Beautiful City/Take Me Home (1965) Levee 2:40

The Gospel Ways Trio – I Find Peace in a Prayer/single (1967) Circle “D” 2:26

Vinyl Frontier playlist, 8/4/13

Vinyl Frontier playlist, 8/4/13

Recording Artist – Song Title/Album Title (year of release) Record Label 0:00

Porter Wagoner – Itchin’ For My Baby (1955) RCA 2:30

Fiddlin’ Burke Barbour – Dance All Night/Blue Ridge Mountain Music (1970) Kanawha 2:13

Wry Straw – I Get the Blues/From Earth to Heaven (1978) June Appal 2:17

Alex Bevan – Silver Wings/Springboard (1976) Fiddler’s Wind 3:29

Clem Myers – Whiskey Before Breakfast/NE Regional Oldtime Fiddle Champion (1974) Philo 1:45

Buddy Rose & the Country Tune Twisters: Buddy Rose, banjo; Jim Farmer, fiddle; George Hazlewood, mandolin; Jack Pate, guitar (?); Glendell Norris, bass; Edwin Tayor, piano. Jimmy Smith, announcer.  Elizabethton, TN-based Buddy Rose had played with the Sauceman Brothers before this period.

Buddy Rose

Careless Love – George Hazelwood, vocal

Walking on New Grass – Buddy Rose, vocal

We Shall Meet Someday – Jimmy Smith, lead vocal

Turkey in the Straw – Jim Famer, Fiddle

The Lonesome Rhodes – The Least You Could Have Done/The Lonesome Rhodes (1967) RCA 2:36

Jerry Douglas – Time Gone By/Under the Wire (1986) MCA 2:47

Willis Alan Ramsey – Painted Lady/Willis Alan Ramsey (1972) Shelter 3:02

 lonesome rhodes

The Lonesome Rhodes (Sandy and Donna) were the daughters of Dusty and the nieces of Porter Wagoner Show comedian Speck Rhodes. I played this song on this show on May the 5th and all I know about these singers is in the post for that program.


Should you require an introduction to Jerry Douglas, here it is: he got his professional start early with a slot in the Country Gentlemen at 17 and after a couple of years moved on to stints with JD Crowe, Boone Creek and The Whites, never for more than a year or two. “Under the Wire,” his third solo album, followed a couple of “supergroup” outings: the Dreadful Snakes and the Bluegrass Album Band. With only one released album to his credit,


Willis Alan Ramsey is a cult figure for some. He recorded tracks for a second album which has never seen the light of day. Supposedly, if you ask him about his “other” album he will reply, “Why? Don’t you like this one?”

Connie Hall – The Bottle or Me/single (1959) Mercury 2:20

Bobby De Pagter – I’m Helpless/single (1955) DeLuxe 2:12

George McCormick – Doubt/single (1954) MGM 2:12

Jimmie Osborne – Married on Paper (1957) King 2:30


From the hamlet of Walden, Kentucky (located between Williamsburg and Corbin), Connie Hall had a few medium hits on Decca in the early to middle 1960′s.


Bobby De Pagter recorded a session for DeLuxe in 1955 an then disappears from the annals of country music. Even the exhaustive discographies of Praguefrank at are silent. Fortunately, the 45 I have is a white label biography pressing, something Sid Nathan’s labels did a lot. From the label: Out of the hundreds of auditions held by DeLuxe A&R man Henry Stone held in Miami, Florida, recently, the voice of Bobby De Pagter stood out above all  others. Bobby is from Tampa, Florida and is married. He writes most of his own material and sings the songs with a feeling seldom heard in today’s market. When he was quite young, Bobby De Pagter was blinded in an accident but he has not let that interfere with his first love – music. If anything, it has helped him concentrate more on his writing and singing. Bobby is only twenty-three years old and he devotes many hours a day to his music. With the aid of his lovely wife and his own strong determination, Bobby will be a big star.


George McCormick was played rhythm guitar and was a backing vocalist for Porter Wagoner for many years and sang featured solos on the Porter Wagoner Show regularly. The songwriter credit for “Itchin’ for My Baby” is Wagoner/George Earl. Presumably, “George Earl” is a pseudonym for George McCormick and Earl Aycock who performed as “George and Earl” in the 50′s.


Jimmie Osborne, “The Kentucky Folk Singer,” was a very popular singer-songwriter on King in the 50′s, oddly neglected today. His own song “The Death of Kathy Fiscus” was his biggest hit. Sadly, Osborne took his own life in 1958 at age 35.

Hymn Time

The Homeward Way Quartet – Stepping on the Clouds/Redemption Draweth Nigh (mid 70′s) 1:55

The Dunsmore Family – I’ll Have a New Body/Country Church House (early 70′s) Mission 2:00

The Homeward Way Quartet – I’m Just a Pilgrim/Redemption Draweth Nigh (mid 70′s) 2:31

The Gospel Three Singers – I’m Ready to Fly Away/Inside the Home Gate (1970′s) Jordan 2:00

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 7/21/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 7/21/13

Don Gibson & King Cotton Kinfolks- Carolina Breakdown (RCA Victor) 1951

Old Time Tunes

Clayton McMichen & Georgia Wildcats- Wild Cat Rag (Columbia)1931

Sam McGee- Knoxville Blues (Vocalion) 1926

Two Poor Boys- Old Hen Cackle (Perfect) 1931

Real Country Music

Blue Sky Boys- Kentucky (RCA Victor) 1947

Armstrong Twins- I Wonder Where You Are Tonight (Four Star) 1950

The Armstrong Twins: Floyd, left and Lloyd, right

Harry Truman said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” I guess that makes the Armstrong Twins a new group, for me anyway.  Floyd played guitar and sang lead and Lloyd played mandolin and sang the harmony part. Lloyd played guitar as well, but switched to mandolin when the boys father “…took me to the Square Deal Pawnshop .  I’ll never forget It .  Daddy took me over there and had me to pick something out.  They had a whole row up on top.  I said I’ll take that little thing right there.  I didn’t even know what it was.  It’s a wonder I didn’t pick out a tuba.  It just happens that a mandolin goes with the guitar.”

Rebe & Rabe- Helen (Tennessee) 1952

Rare Bluegrass

Chief Powhatan- Are You Lonesome Tonight (Salem) 1965

Chief Powhatan- Rosie (Salem) 1965

 chief powhatan


If staying power made stars, bluegrass musician Chief Powhatan would be in the hall of fame. But it doesn’t and he isn’t. For 45 years he’s played everything from pastoral college picnics to the smokiest Southern roadhouses with only one regret: “If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t do the rough places,” he said. Oh, the drunks he’s seen and the fights they’ve fought — sometimes with him. Like the time he defended himself from two troublemakers with his feet because he didn’t want them to break his new Gibson guitar, which occupied his hands. Two gut kicks did the trick, he said with a grin. “There’s things I would turn down now that I couldn’t turn down 40 years ago,” said Powhatan, who’s 65 and barrel-chested as ever. “But I’ve seen it all.” Chief Powhatan’s real name is Floyd Powhatan Adkins. Raised by Chickahominy parents in Providence Forge, Adkins taught himself to play the guitar by watching others. He took the stage for the first time when he was 13 and hasn’t stepped down since. At 8 p.m. Friday, Chief Powhatan and his Bluegrass Braves will perform at the Chesterfield County Fair, an event he has played many times over the years. There won’t be any heavy smoke or airborne beer bottles, just the Chief and his band of pickers. Best known and recognized for the colorful Indian headdress he wears over his shaven head, Adkins said, “People have told me, `Powhatan, don’t you ever rob a bank in Virginia because they’d find you in a second.’ People never forget me.” Indeed, he’s one of a kind in these parts. Drafted in October 1945, Adkins was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., where he was inspired to write his one and only hit — a heartbreak ballad called “Rosie,” which was about a soldier’s sorrow after reading a Dear John letter. That soldier was really a man in Adkins’ unit, and Adkins said the song practically wrote itself. Released almost 20 years later in 1964 on the Salem label, “Rosie” was a regional success. “You couldn’t find a jukebox between Roanoke and Winchester that didn’t have it,” Adkins said. “I had 10 or 11 states that really played it, like the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Iowa and Kentucky.” A recent royalty check totaled $17, so “Rosie” is still being played somewhere, said Adkins, whose last album came in 1972. Adkins became a truck driver after his military discharge and scheduled performances for his layovers, playing nights through Tennessee and Virginia and driving freight all day. “You could go into any town and find a band to play with you in 30 minutes,” he said. Now, five days a week, Adkins is a cashier at the Crown gasoline station across from Cloverleaf Mall. “I bet five people don’t know my real name at that company and I’ve been working for them since 1976,” he said. Over the years, he said, he’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jim Reeves, Chet Atkins, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. He includes many of the Grand Ole Opry stars’ songs in his act. Slowed by chronic sinus problems and a delicate throat, and living on one kidney since 1986, Adkins said, “Many times on stage you are so sick you can hardly perform . . . but I don’t think there’s anything that compares with the applause.” So Chief Powhatan lives comfortably in South Richmond and plays on into his 60s. Still touring as far south as Florida, Adkins said he will perform as long as his health allows and the public wants his brand of bluegrass music. When people come up to the bandstand after his show to say they liked it, “that’s your pay right there.” (Chief Powhatan did release at least one LP after 1972, entitled “More in ’84.” – ed)

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH Copyright (c) 1992, Richmond Times-Dispatch Wednesday, August 26, 1992 By John Maloney. Accessed 7/19/13,!topic/alt.appalachian/846zfz96LyI Originally online at Guv Bob Report.

Church Brothers- A Sweeter Love I’ll Never Know (Rich-R-Tone) 1950 Lucky Chatman & Ozark Mtn Boys- Blue Grass (Maryland) 1957 (John Duffy’s first record)

Jazz The World Forgot

Cliff Jackson & His Crazy Cats- Horse Feathers (Van Dyke) 1930 Henry Red Allen- It Should Be You (Victor) 1929


Frank Hart- I’d Rather Lose My Life Than Jesus (Twin City) unknown year

Red Rector -  Shout and Shine (from the LP “Ballads and Instrumentals” on the Old Homestead label) 1973

Frank Hart – I Realized Last Night I Was Lost (Twin City) unknown year

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 7/14/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, Sunday 7/14/13

Artist – Song Title/Album Title (Release Year) Record Label 0:00 Smilin’ Eddie Hill – Bless Your Little Thumpin’ Gizzard/single (1949) Decca 2:53

l-r: Ira Louvin, Eddie Hill and Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin on Eddie Hill: He offered us a job he didn’t even have yet. He’d gone to Memphis and convinced them people that he had the best duet in the business and the best band in the business. He had nothin’ but just talk. So only after that did he ask us if we’d come down…and we did. And the Louvin Brothers were, I suppose, were the hottest that we ever were when we were in Memphis. That was in 1947. (from

Kelly Jones – Angus Campbell/Authentic Old Time Tunes (1975) SPBGMA 1:56 Pete Pyle – It’s So Hard to Be Just a Pal to You (1940) BB 3:00 Red Speeks – Mountain Boy/Nashville Sounds of Country (1972) Red Hed 3:03

Shorty Long – Who Said I Said That/single (1953) Valley 2:35 Johnny Reno – Naughty Mama/single (1958) Valley’s Meadowlark 2:45 Shorty Long – Nine Little Kisses/single (1953) Valley 2:33

Shorty Long
Shorty Long

Well, I was wrong about Shorty Long’s “Western” image. Since I last looked him up, a lot more information has become easily available. It appears that his “Santa Fe Ranch” was in his home state of Pennsylvania. I had to laugh.

John Henry III – Go Dan Tucker/single (unknown date) Boogertown 2:35 Jim Epperson – Jungle Boogie/single (1976) Dogwood 2:15 Con Hunley – Columbus Stockade Blues/single (1976) Prairie Dust 2:25

The Boyd Brothers & Buffalo – Dunlap/single (unknown) Ridge 3:18

boyd bros

If you like this side as much as I do, you’ll be glad to know there is a video to go with it – and a downloadable mp3 on the Vinyl Frontier Blog at

Charlie Rich – River, Stay Away From My Door/She Loved Everybody But Me (1970) RCA 2:48 Charlie & Willie – Hello, Bottle/single (1969) Valley 2:04

I’m not sure who Charlie & Willie (The Johnson Boys) were, but they were on the Jim Clayton era Valley Records label. The Kountry Kings band is credited as the backing on this disc. The Kountry Kings were the house band for Jim Clayton’s Startime television show. In regards to the Startime record label and it’s sister, the reactivated Valley label, Brad Reeves of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) had this to say in 2011:

Yes, the Startime Label  belonged to Jim Clayton, and was a sister label to Valley Records. The engineer…Ray Rose, has worked for Channel 6, WATE since the 1950s, and still employed there at present. Rose played with The Kountry Kings, the house band for Clayton’s local tv show , also called “Startime” during the 1960s and 1970s. The show mostly aired on WATE-TV 6 during the 1960s and 1970s.

Clayton bought out local Knoxville record label Valley Records in the late 1960s. Valley was started by Jack Comer, owner of the Deane Hill Country Club, during the early 1950s, and for a few years, released a slew of good local records in all genres. The label had one good-sized hit, the first version of CRYING IN THE CHAPEL, sung by Darrell Glenn. The studio was located on Deane Hill Country Club property. Clayton continued releasing recordings by local artists (many of whom appeared on his television show), on Valley and Startime through the mid-1970s. A few records feature Clayton himself.

Lucille Starr – Crazy Arms/The French Song (1964) A&M 2:41 Doug Jernigan – Orange Blossom Special/Uptown to Country (c1974) Emmons 2:24

Bill Phillips (with Dolly Parton) – Put It Off Until Tomorrow/single (1965) Decca 2:30

Jimmy Arthur Ordge – Old Country Church/Tears From a Country Heart (late 60′s) Point 2:30


JIMMY ARTHUR ORDGE – Jimmy was born and raised in the Donalda area where he started picking and playing for school house dances. Jim moved to Edmonton in his teens and was a regular on “Old Dad Taylor’s Jubilee Jamboree.” Jimmy did shows and dance jobs around the area and in the early 50′s, he started doing radio and television shows. While playing a club in Whitehorse, he met Al Oster who wrote Jimmy’s first hit, “Irena Cheyene.” “Irena” won him his first Moffat Award. Jim’s other big hits include “Muk Tuk Annie” and “Hershel’s Hemi Half-ton.” When country music hit a decline for a few years, Jimmy diversified and bought himself a business that keeps him busy when not entertaining. Jimmy continues to entertain folks with “That Voice” in the the traditional country style that hasn’t changed in the last four decades and is often a guest artist for the Alberta Country Music Legends touring throughout Alberta.

(From The Association of Canadian Country Music Legends website:

Shady Grove Band – Don’t Put Off ’til Tomorrow/On The Line (1987) Flying Fish 3:50 (written by Pete Pyle and Bill Monroe) The Reverend Charley McGill – Wait a Little Longer, Please, Jesus/Have You Met My Friend (1970′s) Portland Sound

Vinyl Frontier Playlist 7/7/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist 7/7/13

Artist – Song Title/Album Title (Release Date) Record Label 0:00

Clint Howard – Fifty Cents/Looking Off Down the Road (1983) Old Homestead 2:37

Clint Howard
Clint Howard

Clint Howard was part of the group on the seminal LP “Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s.”

Graham Townsend – Gilles Roy/…and His Country Fiddle (1967) Banff 2:30

Tracy Nelson – Stay As Sweet As You Are Now/Tracy Nelson Country (1969) Mercury 2:30

Pete McMahan – Reuben’s Ridge/Missouri Fiddin’ No. 2 (early 70′s) none – self-produced

New Dawn – Wild Horses/Single (1979) Thunderhead 3:00

The Dismembered Tennesseans – Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong/Singing Their Greatest Hits (c1988) none – Self-produced 3:30

New Dawn – I Don’t Know You (c1980) Herringbone 2:38

New Dawn – This Heart of Mine (1979) Thunderhead 2:30

The Dismembered Tennesseans – Crossville Breakdown/Singing Their Greatest Hits (c1988) 2:50

the Dismembered Tennesseans today
the Dismembered Tennesseans today

The Dismembered Tennesseans have been a East Tennessee institution forever it seems. Actually, fiddler Fletcher Bright, banjo player Doc Cullis and lead vocalist and guitarist Bobby Martin joined forces as high school students in 1945. Other members have been added over the years, but these recordings mostly feature the core group.

New Dawn – Ramblin’ Fever/single (c1980) Herringbone 2:46

New Dawn at the 1982 World's Fair, Knoxville, TN l-r Phil Leadbetter, Darryl Wolfe, Kent Leadbetter, Jimmy Milsaps
New Dawn at the 1982 World’s Fair, Knoxville, TN l-r Phil Leadbetter, Darryl Wolfe, Kent Leadbetter, Jimmy Milsaps. photo from Bobby Wolfe

I know that Kent Leadbetter and legendary dobro player Phil Leadbetter were members of New Dawn. Former Knoxville Grass mandolin player Darryl Wolfe was a member at one point as well. If you know who the rest of the band was at the time these recordings were made, please leave a comment below. I would be most grateful.

Johnny Dollar – Cold, Cold Heart/Mr. Personality (c1967) none – Self-produced 2:45 (Kilgore, TX, 1922)

Johnny Dollar
Johnny Dollar

Johnny Dollar was a significant, if unrecognized, figure in Texas Rockabilly. Author of songs such as “Rockin’ Bones” and “Green Eyed Cat,” Dollar never received the success he deserved.

Ray Sanders – Beer Drinkin’ Music/single (1969) Imperial 2:59 (born in Saint John, KY, 1935)

Johnny Hardy – Hold Your Feelings Back (1983) F&L 2:17 (apparently born in Rockmart, GA, mid 40′s)

Autry Inman – You Don’t Live There Anymore/single (1965) Jubilee 2:00 (born in Florence, AL, 1929)

Red Sovine – Bottle, Bottle/Tell Maude I Slipped (1968) Starday 2:36

John Patrick – She’s You and More/single (c1969) Dogwood 2:30

Cedar Ridge – He Wrote My Name/Jesus Wants to Be Your Everything (1980) Thunderhead 1:54

The Emmanuel Trio – Lord Lead Me On/Must I Go Empty Handed (1970) Sing 2:00

The Emmanuel Trio – Born To Serve the Lord/Must I Go Empty Handed (1970) Sing 2:30

The Emmanuel Trio of Griffin, Georgia c1970
The Emmanuel Trio of Griffin, Georgia c1970

LaVerne Tripp – Try a Little Kindness/Sings Country Soul (1973) 1:44

Vinyl Frontier Playlist 6/30/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist 6/60/13

Artist – Song Title/Album Title (Year) Record Label 0:00

luke baldwin 2

Luke Baldwin – Tattoo on My Chest/Tattoo on My Chest (1976) Flying Fish 2:26

   1950 – 1998

Luke Baldwin. An original, that’s for sure. The following research (and idiosyncratic spelling) is from Johnny Westurn.

Luke Baldwin, called a hard drinking wild man by some of his Compadres in the early day’s. Bodie Wagner told me that luke was a guy with a heart of gold, and a songwriters, songwriter. I for one have spent many good hours listening to lukes songs, he has taken me on mental feild trips with his songs, and i charish those moments, Bruce Phillips (U.Utah Phillips) has spoke of luke in the liner notes to luke’s only LP, Tattoo on my chest,where he states, Not content to have lived the lives of a dozen men, how audacious – nay, how fitting it is – that this prince of vagabonds should attempt the pinnacle, the supreme height, the final ascent to that bastaion of all that is good and noble and wise; in aphrase: the writing of songs. And what songs the are !! Luke Baldwin Portrait of a gentelman.

On June 14, 1998, Luke Baldwin Passed away. He was 47 years old. He leaves his wife Corinne, and his children, Wilson and Olivia. His death was unexspected and it is very hard to exept that he is gone to many of his co workers and old music friends. At the time of his death, Luke was Lesley College‘s Interm Provost. During his 15 years at Lesley Collage, he served as a member of the faculty and administrator. As an academic, Luke examined areas such as adult education and reading. He co-authored “The Reading Crisis: Why Poor Childern Fall Behind,”published by Harvard University Press in 1990. Both his masters degree and doctorate where earned in the Graduate School of Education of Harvard University.

Luke was a fine musician, singer and song writer, as well as social activist guided by an unbreakable commitment to social justice. At Lesley College he worked hard on issues od diversity and community service. He had a great sence of humor and a passion for colorful shirts.

Kenny Baker & Joe Greene – High Country/High Country (1967) County 3:00

Norman Blake & Red Rector – Lorena/Norman Blake & Red Rector (1976) County 2:40

Bashful Brother Oswald – Kansas City Kitty/Brother Oswald  (1972) Rounder 2:41

Upland Express – For What It’s Worth/Upland Express (1979) Leather Records 3:56

upland express

l-r: Ronnie Simpkins, Barry Collins, Rickie Simpkins, Tonya Gibson and Ken Farmer

By the time they produced this album for Leather Records, Upland Express was a smooth, solid Progressive Bluegrass band who had been working together for 3 years and more.

Bassist Ronnie Simpkins went on to become one of the most-respected bassists in Bluegrass, moving from this band to The Heights of Grass, The Bluegrass Cardinals, The Virginia Squires and finally, the pinnacle: The Tony Rice Unit. Although he now works with The Smithsonian’s Folkways Records, he still plays music at a high level as a member of The Seldom Scene.

Brothers Rickie Simpkins and Ronnie competed in fiddle contests and played together in a family band, then joined Upland Express. When Ronnie left in the early 80′s to join The Bluegrass Cardinals, Rickie joined the McPeak Brothers as their fiddler. They were reunited musically when, along with the McPeaks, they formed the Heights of Grass, which with the addition of the Knoxville Grass’s Mark Newton became The Virginia Squires. Rickie and Ronnie went on to play together in The Tony Rice Unit. Today, Rickie is one of the most highly-esteemed guest artists and instructors in fiddling.

Banjoist Barry Collins was a contest powerhouse who repeatedly took the blue ribbon at Galax and Union Grove. Now a music dealer, he spreads the gospel of Classic Banjo: fingerstyle, nylon strings and written arrangements. He also continues to lead a different version of Upland Express in Floyd County, Virginia.

Today, guitarist Ken Farmer is also a dealer,  but in antique instruments. He is the stringed instrument expert for the PBS television program “Antiques Roadshow.”

I believe that vocalist Tonya Gibson is now a financial advisor living and working in Kentucky, but still apparently an avid lover of Bluegrass music.

The Bailey Brothers – The Sweetest Gift/Have You Forgotten (1971) Rounder (recorded for Rich-R-Tone, circa 1948) 2:45

Buddy Rose – Bud’s Chimes/single (1960′s) Rich-R-Tone 2:16

Darrell Glenn – Hang Up That Telephone (1953) Valley 2:25

Brewster Brothers – I Never Knew (1966) Gold Standard 1:56

Jim Edwards – Talk to Your Heart (1966) Re-Echo 3:48

Connie Cato – Super Skirt/single (1973) Capitol 2:41

Born in St. Louis in 1955, it was Connie Cato’s misfortune to come of age when what she did best – hard-core Honky Tonk and dramatic Nashville Sound Country – was just about to fall off the table, as Pop Went the Country and John Denver “burned up” the country charts for a while.  “Super Skirt” is a real Honky-Tonker; “Hurt” (in the video) is the other side of Connie.

Lewis Pruitt – The Worst Is Yet To Come/single (1964) Vee-Jay 2:27

Billy Henson – No One But Me/single (early 1964) Nugget 2:21

Country Johnny Mathis – Come Home to My Heart/single (1969) Little Darlin’ 2:41

Jeanette Weeks – I Would Like to See You Again/single (early 70′s ?) 2:40

Hymn Time

True Gospel Quartet – Reach Down Lord and Lead Me On/A Visit With (1966) Jayla 2:00

The Bridges Quartet – Lord It’s Just Another Hill/same (1973) Jewel (OH) 2:55

The Summers Trio – I Heard From Heaven/This Is Why We Sing (1970) Tri State 3:07

True Gospel Quartet – I Made a Vow to the Lord/A Visit With (1966) Jayla 3:00

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/23/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/23/13

Artist – Song Title/Album (date) Record Label 0:00

Lonnie Glosson – I Want My Mama/single (1962) Starday 2:00

Slim Whitman – Curtain of Tears/single (1956) Imperial 2:17

Frazier Moss – Sugar Tree Stomp/Fiddler’s Dream (1978) Royal American 2:46

Martin, Bogan & Armstrong – Blue Ridge Mountain Blues/Martin, Bogan & Armstrong (1974) 2:00

JT Perkins – The Jig/Just Fine Fiddling (1974) Davis Unlimited  2:15

Slim Whitman – Darlin’ Don’t Cry/single (1953) Imperial 2:40 (recorded at KWKH)

Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman

Tampa, Florida native Ottis Dewey “Slim” Whitman passed away last week, so I thought I should pay tribute in this week’s Vinyl Frontier radio show. His as-seen-on-TV records were a fixture in the late 1970′s and 80′s, severely damaging his credibility as a Western singer. But before this lapse into self-parody, his 1950′s output on Imperial was solid.

Knoxville Grass – A Broken Heart and Memories/Knoxville Grass (1977) Attieram 1:47

Knoxville Grass – Song for Susan/Darby’s Castle (1978) Thunderhead 2:18

Knoxville Grass – Tennessee Blues/Knoxville Grass (1977) Attieram 4:24

Blake Bynum & Roy Harper – Hurrying Home/Echoes of the Past (early 70′s) Pine Mountain 2:09

Hearts & Flowers – Legend of Ol’ Tenbrookes/Of Horses, Kids and Forgotten Women (1968) 2:30

Pinnacle Boys – Latin Leprechaun/High Lonesome Bluegrass (1980) CHM 2:30


Jackie Bair & The Cubs – You’re in Love/single (1964) Spot 2:15

Don Bradford’s Spot Records of upper East Tennessee didn’t put out many records, but the ones I’ve heard have usually been pretty interesting. I found this one back in the very late 80′s or early 90′s at the American Council for the Blind thrift store in Knoxville, TN, then on North Central. I remember this because it was a great day for a young record collector – a Spot, a “D,” (Jimmy Dry) and several white label promos: Capitol, Dot (Hank Thompson) and United Artists (George Jones).

Bob Collins – You Don’t Know/single (mid 60′s) Mark IV 2:33

Rusty Bryant – Riding with Rusty/single (1955) Dot 2:15

Rusty Bryant '50, Regal
Rusty Bryant, sax; Jimmy Carter, piano; Harry Ross, bass and Jimmy Rogers, drums. photo courtesy of Arnett Howard.

Ersel Hickey – Bluebirds Over the Mountain/single (1958) Epic 2:00

Original sheet music cover
Original sheet music cover

Johnny Maddox Orchestra – Hop Scotch Boogie/single (1955) Dot 2:00

Johnny Maddox, aka Crazy Otto no. 2
Johnny Maddox, aka Crazy Otto no. 2

Charlie Rich – Time and Again/single (1962) Phillips Int’l 3:04

Hymn Time

Gospel Ways Trio – I Find Peace in a Prayer/single (1967) Circle “D” 2:26

The Southern Gospel Trio – Thank God I’m Free/The Prodigal Son (mid 60′s) Jewel (OH) 2:30

Gospel Ways Trio – Beautiful Valley/single (1967) Circle “D” 2:30

The Gospel Ways Trio – Ronnie, Homer and Bill – recorded for Dave Owens’ Circle “D” record label of Speedwell, Tennessee. On their Circle “D” records, The Owens family is accompanied by Lafollette, Tennessee‘s Blue Valley Boys, but the Gospel Ways are accompanied by a more typical sound for a Southern Gospel trio/quartet: piano, bass and electric guitar. Of course, it’s easily possible that the musicians who accompanied the Gospel Ways were drawn from the Blue Valley Boys and other participants in the Tennessee Jamboree – John Hunley and Carlos Henderson were both accomplished electric guitarists, according to their profiles at the Friends of the Cumberland Trail website.

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/16/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/16/13

Artist – Song Title/Album Title (date) Record Label 0:00

Bob Bovee – Yuba Dam/The Roundup (1979) Train on the Island Records 1:53

Bob Bovee & Pop Wagner – Whiskey in My Glass/Pop Wagner & Bob Bovee (1977) Train on the Island 3:56

The Singing Mountain Boys – Bunker Hill Special/single (early 60′s) Re-Echo 1:36

Merle Everts & The Hilltop Harmonizers – Little House on a Hillside/single (mid 50′s) Hilite 2:30

Although he was born on July 20th, 1917 in Gilman, Iowa, Merle Everts billed himself in the early days of his career as “The Little Man With The Big Guitar From Kentucky.” He sang with the Silvertone Melody Boys, Hilltop Harmonizers and performed on the local radio stations of WARK, WJEJ and WAYZ. He was an announcer on Greencastle WKSL radio station and performed on a Harrisonburg Va., television show. In his later years, he performed at local hymn sings with his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters. In addition to performing, Merle did some songwriting; “Little House on the Hillside” is a Merle Everts orginal.

In his younger years, he worked at the former Walck Hatchery of Greencastle and retired from the Greencastle-Antrim School District, having worked as a custodian in Shady Grove School. He was a member for more than 70 years of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Greencastle where he taught Sunday School, served as Junior Sunday School superintendent and on the church council. (from obituary, sourced from

Fiddlin’ Art Wooten – Fiddlin’ Art’s Waltz/A Living Legend (1976) Homestead 2:00

Carl Sluder & His Starlight Band – Kansas City (aka “KC Lovin’,” hit by Little Willie Littlefield) 2:44

Carl Sluder & His Starlight Band – Tennessee Waltz (hit for Pee Wee King & Redd Stewart) 2:56

Carl Sluder & His Starlight Band – Whole Lotta Woman (hit for Marvin Rainwater) 2:40

Carl Sluder & His Starlight Band – How Do You Feel (hit for Hank Thompson) 3:28

Carl Sluder & His Starlight Band – Instrumental 2:45

Carl Sluder

Carl Sluder

Carl was from Johnson City, Tennessee. Born on September 29th, 1923, Carl passed away on Febuary 5th, 2012.

According to TAMIS records, this material was recorded in live performance in Detroit in 1956. This is a fairly representative slice of a performance by a working Country band in the era when Rock ‘n’ Roll was making inroads into the audience for Country music, but before the “Ray Price Beat” had really begun to define the response to this threat. Therefore, we have an interesting mix of Hillbilly, R&B and instrumental rock.

Carl’s band was the opening act for Patsy Cline, Doc Watson and many others. He played the guitar with several bands, including Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark, Hank Thompson, Billy Grammer and Doc Watson. (from obituary)

Frank James – From the Bottom of His Bottle/A Man and His Music (1992) 3:38

Frank James (Frank Sprouse)

Frank James (Frank Sprouse)

Red Sovine – Bottle, Bottle/Tell Maude I Slipped (1967) Starday 2:36

Bobby Austin – Knoxville Station/single (1972) Triune 3:02

Bobby Barnett – The Finished Product of the Brewer’s Art/Lyin’ Lovin’ and Leavin’ (1968) Columbia

Hymn Time

The Singing Mountain Boys – Springtime in Heaven/single (early 60′s) Re-Echo 1:54

Rev Buck and Mrs Elva Ledford – A Shut-In’s Prayer/A Shut-In’s Prayer (c1972) Lasting Faith 2:30

Rev Buck and Mrs Elva Ledford – Then I’ll Settle Down/Heavenly Mansion (c1972/73) Lasting Faith 3:00

Rev Buck and Mrs Elva Ledford – Glory Road/Glory Road (c1974) Lasting Faith 2:37

Pastor and Mrs Ledford have been in the Lord’s Work since 1945, full-time. They have been on the radio with the Gospel for most of this time and, at the present, are heard on several radio stations daily, singing these old songs and preaching the gospel.

Brother Ledford is Pastor of the Morning Star Baptist Church at Maryville, Tennessee, where he has been Pastor since 1958. The Ledford’s Prayer is that this album will Bless the Hearts of God’s People. (from the liner notes, “Heavenly Mansion”)

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/9/13

Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/9/13


Artist – Song Title/Album (date) Record Label 0:00

John Biggs – Send Me to Glory in a Glad Bag/single (1979) Blue River Valley 3:32

 Barefoot Movement – My Little Darlin’/Footwork (2011) 3:40

The Barefoot Movement on The Blue Plate Special at WDVX

The Barefoot Movement will be at the Meadowlark Music Festival at Ijams Nature Center in South Knoxville on June the 29th. Complete lineup and ticket information here.  For a link to a video of a performance on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, click here. (I can’t seem to get the video to play in the blog. Sorry.)  If you love Old-Time and Bluegrass, you’ll surely love The Barefoot Movement.

Fiddlin’ Burk Barbour – Forked Deer/Blue Ridge Mountain Music (1970) Kanawha 2:15

Trapezoid – Do You Love an Apple/Now & Then (1980) Flying Fish 4:11

Leslie Keith – Peacock Rag/Black Mountain Blues (1974) Briar 2:15

Stripling Brothers Interview

The Stripling Brothers – Horse Shoe Bend/Old Time Fiddle Tunes 1928-36 (1971) County 3:00

Stripling Brothers Interview 5:58

Stripling Brothers Interview 5:46

The Stripling Brothers – Red River Waltz/Old Time Fiddle Tunes 1928-36 (1971) County 3:00

The Stripling Brothers, Charlie and Ira
The Stripling Brothers, Charlie and Ira

This interview was conducted in 1963 by Bob Pinson, later of the Country Music Hall of Fame. In fact, Mr. Pinson is a big part of why the Hall of Fame is the asset it is for the serious scholar of Country Music. Thanks to Benny Ellis for sharing this material.

Vintage Country

Frank James – Ring Around the Rosie/Just a Man and His Music (1992) Swamp Rabbit 3:00

Frank James (Frank Sprouse)
Frank James (Frank Sprouse)

I found an old 45 rpm single by this artist a few years ago and always wondered what the story behind it was. I posted an mp3 of that single along with the information that Mr. Sprouse kindly shared with me one evening. Look for the post entitled “Frank Sprouse – Going Easy Band” for a fresh mp3 and the post entitled “Going Easy Band” for a little information about this group. Truly one of the undiscovered gems of Country music.

Pete Drake – Steel After Hours/Nashville Steel Guitar (1962) Nashville (Starday) 2:30

Peggy Sue – Games People Play/Dynamite (1969) Decca 2:40

Bobby Wright – There She Goes/Here I Go Again (1971) Decca 2:30

Hymn Time

Brown, Sullivan & Company – In God We Trust/Brown, Sullivan & Co (c1976)  Sequatchie 2:40

Knoxville Grass – Driftin’ Away/Darby’s Castle (1978) Thunderhead 2:46

The Gospel Three – Let Us Walk and Talk and Jesus/I’m Going There (early 70′s) Gospel Light 2:15

John Paul Waters – I See the Morning Breaking/Plain and Simple (1983) The Good Times 2:30

John Paul Waters

I really don’t know anything about John Paul Waters, except that I really like this album. I played around a little with a movie-making program to make a video for this song - check it out at Let me know what you think. I may just do that some more – it was fun!

Vinyl Frontier Playlist 6/2/13

The Vinyl Frontier Playlist, 6/2/13

Artist – Song Title/Album (date) Record Label 0:00

  •  Jim Nesbitt – Living Offa Credit/single (1962) Dot 2:12
  • The Stripling Brothers – The Lost Child/The Lost Child & Other Original Fiddle Tunes 1928-36 (1971) County 3:00
Stripling Brothers
The Stripling Brothers, Charlie and Ira

The Stripling Brothers were one of the best old-time string bands of the 1920′s and 30′s. In 1963, Bob Pinson, later Country Music Hall of Fame director of record acquisitions, recorded an interview with Charlie and Ira (yes, there was another singing Ira and Charlie from Alabama). My friend Benny Ellis kindly shared a copy with me and I will be playing part of this interview next week.

  • Stoney Point – Heart Made of Stone /The Train Never Stops (c1982) Mountain&Grass/Mag 2:40
  • Frazier Moss – Red Apple Rag/Fiddler’s Dream (1978) Royal American 3:06
frazier moss
Frazier Moss photo: David Holt

A fine tune well and stylishly played by a fine fiddler. Frazier Moss was a respected and feared contest fiddler who did not record nearly enough. On this album, Frazier is accompanied by Smoky Mountain Boy Charlie Collins on guitar, Larry Sledge on bass and daughter Mary Lewis Baldwin on piano. Those old-time fiddlers seemed to prefer daughters as piano accompanists.

  • Alex Bevan – Silver Wings/Springboard (1976) Fiddler’s Wind 3:26
  •  The Pinnacle Boys – Take a Look/Take a Look and Listen to the Pinnacle Boys (1974) Atteiram 2:03
  • The Pinnacle Boys – Let Me Live My Life Again/The Award Winning Pinnacle Boys (1975) Attieram 2:08
  • The Pinnacle Boys – Wheels/High Lonesome Bluegrass (1980) CMH 2:40
Rear, l-r: Mike Pearson, Rob Mashburn, Jim Smith, Larry Collins, Jerry Moore. Front: Bud Brewster.
Rear, l-r: Mike Pearson, Rob Mashburn, Jim Smith, Larry Collins, Jerry Moore. Front: Bud Brewster.

The Pinnacle Boys were one of the very best Bluegrass bands around in the 1970′s and 1980′s.  Although East Tennessee possessed an embarrassment of riches in the form of Bluegrass wizards in those days, their only local competition in terms of popularity were the Knoxville Grass. Bud Brewster, of Carl Story’s Rambling Mountaineers, played guitar and sang lead; Randall Collins and Jerry Moore played fiddle; long-time WNOX picker Larry Mathis played banjo for most of this period, succeeded by Mike Pearson and Rob Mashburn played bass for the majority of the band’s lifespan, taking over for Ray Rose in about 1975.

  • Frank Sprouse – Just Close Your Eyes/single (1980′s) The Sounding Board 4:10
  • Brown, Sullivan & Co – The Essence of Sequatchie Valley (c1972) Sequatchie 2:50
  • Kay Tolliver – I’m Coming Back You/A New Singing Star in Country Style (1968) Musicor 2:13
  • Frank Sprouse – Country Fever/single (1980′s) The Sounding Board 3:33

 Going Easy Band 1

I contacted Frank Sprouse recently, and the results of that conversation are a fresh copy of this record and a CD as well. He was extremely warm and generous. Of course, what else would you expect from a Southern gentleman from South Carolina?

  • Bonnie Guitar – Get Your Lie the Way Want It/Miss Bonnie Guitar (1966) Dot 2:22
  • Buddy Cagle – Honky Tonk College/The Way You Like (1966) Imperial 2:24
Buddy Cagle

Buddy Cagle racked up a few minor hits in the 1960′s, but his career never took off. He recorded Wynn Stewart’s “Sing a Sad Song” at about the same time as Merle Haggard did, but it was Merle who got the hit. Buddy had a smooth and powerful voice, almost in the Marty Robbins manner, but he was possibly too smooth for Bakersfield.

  • Dick Curless – Heart Talk/Tombstone Every Mile (1965) Tower 3:14
  • Speedy West – Rippling Waters/Guitar Spectacular (1962) Capitol 2:40
  •  The Emmanuel Trio – I Believe There’s Heaven/Must I Go Empty Handed (c1970) Sing 2:00
emmanuel trio
The Emmanuel Trio

From Griffin, Georgia, The Emmanuel Trio were sisters Phyliss Gilreath, Grace English and Hilda McGhee. Preacher’s kids, their parents were the Rev Hoyt McGhee and Mrs Laura Edwards McGhee. Their accompanist was Margaret Gillis who was not a sister. Sadly, lead vocalist Hida McGhee passed away in 2011, at the age of 61.

  • The Happy Travelers – Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (early 70′s) 3:02