Victor on the Road: Ralph Peer Goes to El Paso (Summer 1929)

Press coverage of Ralph Peer’s summer 1929 visit to El Paso, Texas, gives a taste of the excitement that was generated when  Victor and other large East Coast record companies came to far-flung locations seeking talent. Three local El Paso artists had already been chosen to record by the end of June, in advance of the Victor team’s arrival, and auditions continued through the second week of July:

.

El Paso Herald (June 28, 1929)

.

Among those whose recordings were issued were M. S. Dillehay, the Rodeo Trio (D. A. Champaigne, Kenneth Deshazo, and Phil Smith), and the Maxwell family string band from New Mexico, which someone at Victor named the “White Mountain Orchestra.” But the artist who got the most attention from the local press was another member of the Maxwell family, Billie Maxwell Warner, whose records were released under her maiden name:

.

El Paso Herald (July 2, 1929)

.

The local reporters poked a little fun at a couple of unnamed cowboys who came to audition:
.

El Paso Herald (July 11, 1929)

.

In the end, four of Billie Maxwell’ songs were released in the  Victor V-40000 country-music series. True to form, Peer had her listed as the “arranger” of these numbers, enabling him to file for copyright on what were actually public-domain folk tunes. Here’s her “Haunted Hunter,” which was also issued in Canada on the Aurora label. Both editions are rare:

.

BILLIE MAXWELL, “THE COWGIRL SINGER” (vocal and guitar):
Haunted Hunter

El Paso, TX: July 11, 1929 — Released May 16, 1930
Victor V-40241 (mx. BVE 55234 – 1)
From a tape dubbing, courtesy of the late Gilbert Louey

.

El Paso Evening Post (Decemebr 5, 1929)

The Playlist • “Hot Nuts” and Others 1930s Bluebird Favorites / New Year, New Dog

MSP_BB-6278a_tinsley-WRK.

TINSLEY’S WASHBOARD BAND (as WASHBOARD RHYTHM KINGS)
(Vocal by TED TINSLEY): Hot Nuts

Camden, NJ (Church Studio 2): September 12, 1933
Bluebird B-6278 (mx. BS 77815 – 1)
Released: February 26, 1936

.

TEMPO KING & HIS KINGS OF TEMPO with QUEENIE ADA RUBIN
AT THE PIANO (Vocal by Tempo King): Papa Tree Top Tall

New York (Studio 3): August 21, 1936
Bluebird B-6535 (mx. BS 0232 – 1)
Released: September 9, 1936

.

GID TANNER & HIS SKILLET LICKERS (featuring TED HAWKINS, mandolin): Hawkins Rag

San Antonio (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-5435 (mx, BVE 82677 – 1)
Released: April 18, 1934

.

MODERN MOUNTAINEERS (Vocal by SMOKEY WOOD):
Drifting Along

San Antonio (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-6976 (mx. BS 07435 – 1)
Released: May 26, 1937

.

CLIFF CARLISLE: That Nasty Swing

Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Building): June 16, 1936
Bluebird B-6631 (mx. BS 102651 – 1)
Released: November 4, 1936
Accompanying personnel are not listed in the files or credited on the labels; published personnel listings are speculative.

.

TOMMY McCLENNAN: Bottle It Up and Go

Chicago (Studio A): November 22, 1939
Bluebird B-8373 (mx. BS 044241 – 1)
Released: March 1, 1940

Discographical data from the RCA Victor files (Sony Music archives, NYC) by way of John Bolig’s Bluebird Discography, available from Mainspring Press.

_______

New Year, New Dog!

nick1

On New Year’s Eve we welcomed Nick to his new home in the U.S. He’d been picked up as a stray overseas and was flown to Colorado by a local rescue group in December, after receiving a clean bill of health and his official doggie passport. He doesn’t understand any English yet — but he has a huge heart (and a huge head to go with it) and is already turning out to be the perfect gentleman and office companion.

The Playlist: Roots of Western Swing (1936 – 1938)

MSP_BB-6976-b_buff

.

THE RANGE RIDERS: The Range Riders’ Stomp

Hot Springs, Arkansas: March 1, 1937
Vocalion 03579 (mx. HS 1 – 1)

.

MODERN MOUNTAINEERS (SMOKY WOOD, vocal): Dirty Dog Blues

San Antonio, Texas (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-6976 (mx. BS 07436 – 1)

.

CLAUDE CASEY & HIS PINE STATE PLAYBOYS: Pine State
Honky Tonk

Rock Hill, South Carolina (Andrew Jackson Hotel): September 27, 1938
Montgomery Ward M-7707 (mx. BS 027737 – 1)

.

BOB WILLS & HIS TEXAS PLAYBOYS: Playboy Stomp

Dallas, Texas: June 7, 1937
Vocalion 03854 (mx. DAL 215 – 1)

.

WASHBOARD WONDERS (Harry Blair, vocal): And Still
No Luck with You

Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Building): June 22, 1936
Bluebird B-6463  (mx. BS 102803 – 1)

.

W. LEE O’DANIEL & HIS HILLBILLY BOYS: (Kitty Williamson as “Texas Rose,” vocal): I’ve Got the Blues

Dallas: May 15, 1938
Vocalion 04353 (mx. DAL 559 – 1)

_______________________________

Quote of the Week:

“[We have] been betrayed by the so-called ‘mainstream media,’ who fawned for months over the clearly unqualified candidate, giving him billions of dollars of free media, betrayed by cynical executives more interested in a buck than the facts of the matter…and by politicians who spoke to their base and did not venture from safe venues, that is to say, they stayed far away from the genuine hurt and the mistrust and the economic dead ends that afflict so many of us.

We must try to remember that this level of vulgarity, of blatant lying, of demonizing whole groups of people, nearly always backfires, that real change will come when middle class whites, Hispanics and blacks realize they share more in common with each other than those in whose interest it is that they stay divided…

What to do, you ask? A million things, of course. But it begins only with the first step of awareness and commitment… Just go forward. Engage. Don’t despair. Find like-minded people — not from your social circle, but everywhere. Change the opinions of others, not with ridicule, but reason. Finally, remember too that Barack Obama himself has said that the highest office in the land is not president, but citizen.

Be one.”

Ken Burns (Washington Post)
.

MSP_voc-04353_DAL559

.

The Playlist • Sonny Terry and Friends (1942 – 1944)

MSP_asch-terry-mcghee

Moses Asch, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee

.

BROWNIE McGHEE & SONNY TERRY: Red Cross Store

Washington, DC: May 11, 1942
Library of Congress transcription 6503-A-3 (recorded by Alan Lomax)

.

SONNY TERRY, “ALEK,” WOODY GUTHRIE, CISCO HOUSTON: Glory

New York: April 1944
Asch 432-2A  (mx. 689), from the 78-rpm album Folksay

.

SONNY TERRY (with uncredited guitarist): Lonesome Train

New York: 1944
Asch 550-3A (mx. 1210), from the 78-rpm album Blues

.

The Playlist • Mississippi Sheiks (1930, 1934)

MSP_OK-8807-403806

The Mississippi Sheiks were Walter Vinson (guitar and vocal; also spelled “Vincson” or “Vincent” at times, but Vinson is correct, according to the artist himself), with the Chatmon (a.k.a. Chatman) folks in various combinations, including Lonnie (violin and vocal), Bo (better known in solo work as “Bo Carter,” vocal and guitar) and Sam (vocal, violin, and guitar). None of the inspected recording files, other than those for the final three Bluebird sessions, list exact personnel.

.

MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS: Stop and Listen Blues

Shreveport, Louisiana: February 17, 1930
Okeh 8807 (mx. W 403806 – A)

.

MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS (as Walter Jacobs and Lonnie Carter):
The Jazz Fiddler

Shreveport, Louisiana: February 17, 1930
Okeh 45436 (mx. W 403804 – B)
Issued in Okeh’s white country-music series.

.

MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS (as Walter Jacobs and the Carter Brothers): That’s It

San Antonio, Texas: June 10, 1930
Okeh 45482 (mx. W 404136 – A)
Issued in Okeh’s white country-music series.

.

MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS: Somebody’s Got to Help Me [sic]

San Antonio (Texas Hotel): March 26, 1934 — Released October 3, 1934
Bluebird B-5659 (mx. BVE-82607– 1)

The Playlist • Dick Justice (1929)

MSP_bwk-395a

.

DICK JUSTICE: Brown Skin Blues

Chicago: May 20, 1929
Brunswick 336 (mx. C 3515 – )

.

DICK JUSTICE: Henry Lee

Chicago: May 21, 1929
Brunswick 367 (mx. C 3521 – )

.

DICK JUSTICE: Cocaine

Chicago: May 20, 1929
Brunswick 395 (mx. C 3516 – )

Selected takes are not noted in the Brunswick ledger nor visible in the pressings. “Cocaine” is a word-for-word cover of the Luke Jordan song, which Jordan recorded two years earlier for Victor. Whether Justice (a white performer from West Virginia) was in some way associated with Jordan (a black performer from central Virginia), or simply copied it from the record, remains a tantalizing mystery.

.

Three ARSC 2015 Awards for Mainspring Press Books: Eli Oberstein, Victor Special Labels, Ajax Records

We’re honored to announce that three Mainspring Press titles have received 2015 awards from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Details and secure online ordering are available on the Mainspring Press website.

The ARSC Award for Excellence—Best Label Discography went to Eli Oberstein’s United States Record Corporation: A History and Discography, 1939–1940:

cover-USRC

2015 Certificates of Merit were awarded to The Victor Discography: Special Labels, 1928–1941; and Ajax Records: A History and Discography:

COVER_victor-specialsAJAX-COVER-x252

ORDER SOON if you’re interested in Oberstein or Victor Special Labels. Both titles have been on the market for a while, so supplies are running low (and in addition, there’s recently been a big library run on USRC). We won’t be reprinting either title once our current supplies are gone.

Sorry, Ajax has already sold out (it was a 2013 title — the wheels sometimes turn very slowly at ARSC), although we might consider reprinting this one if there’s sufficient interest — Let us know.