Detroit Country Music
Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Preface And Acknowledgments
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In July 1995 I received an unexpected call from Eddie Jackson, a sixty- nine- year- old musician who had entertained in Detroit since the 1940s. Through a Middle Tennessee accent, Jackson invited me to meet him for the very first time at a Detroit bar, at a private party he would play. ?You?ll be my guest,? he said. ?Swanee Caldwell will be there, and do you knowuni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. ?? He bounced ...
Chapter 1. Detroit's Everlasting Harmonization
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In October 1943 Detroit nightclub owner William Levin realized he had problems, World War II the least of them. After struggling through the Great Depression, earnings from his vaudeville show bar had slipped into the red. From behind picture windows advertising jazz music, theatric en-tertainers, and comedians, Levin fought pangs of helplessness as he watched ...
Chapter 2. Cherokee Boogie: Chief Redbird
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I was playing them old tunes down at a television station, and the announcer said, ?Chief, I bet you made a lot of money with that old fiddle.? I said, ?Well, quite a little bit.? He said, ?How much did you make on one setting?? So I said, ?One setting, you mean? Well, let?s see. It was me and my brother Sam, we was a- playin? for a country square dance, and we made nine hundred and ...
Chapter 3. The Kentucky Troubadour: Mountain Red
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To sing successfully on these [Kentucky radio] stations as Mt. Red did, he had to know his backwoods strains and deliver them as they should be, for Kentuckians know their ?Coming around the Mountain? as citizens of Naples What you don?t see anymore are the real hillbillies, who used to just get out Dressed in his suit of navy blue jacket and cream- colored slacks, the ...
Chapter 4. The York Brothers, George And Leslie
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Someone in Hamtramck tried to sue George and Les about that song.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. Said, ?You?re putting our city down.? We got a lot of requests for it.Leslie York?s brother George knocked at the apartment door. ?Les, you in there?? he called. Leslie set down his glass, and swung himself up from his chair. ?Yeah, it?s open,? he said. George entered with the half- smile he wore ...
Chapter 5. Tenacious Trailblazer: Arizona Weston
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During the first half of the twentieth century, country and western sing-ers often invented alter egos. As cowboys and mountaineers grew popular through radio, stage, and motion pictures, musicians found it necessary to invent new names and appearances. Arizona Weston, a.k.a. William Harvey Breeding, began his career as a country and western singer, with an emphasis ...
Chapter 6. Hey! It's Chuck Oakes
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When I was a young man, I didn?t make much money. Back then, if I made fifteen or twenty dollars a night, plus tips, I was doin? great.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. When I ran out of money, I?d take my guitar down and hock it at the [pawn] shop. Some-times I?d hock my guitar and by Thursday or Friday, I?d have to figure out a way to go and get it back out. I told a guy one time, ?My guitar?s been in Lou?s ...
Chapter 7. Here They All Come: Casey Clark and the Lazy Ranch Boys
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Everybody said, ?Well, you can?t get by with country here [in Detroit].? And I guess if they hadn?t of told me that, I would have left. But when they told me From 1952 to 1958 Casey Clark and the Lazy Ranch Boys, a nine- piece west-ern swing unit, dominated country music in Michigan. Every week, Clark hosted Grand Ole Opry stars at the Lazy Ranch Boys Barn Dance in a Unit-...
Chapter 8. The Hound: Roy Hall
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He was kinda hard to keep up with, you know. I mean, he?d run off a lot of times. The Cohutta Mountain Boys, the group Roy Hall and Bud White assem-bled in Detroit, was among the top western swing makers in the city af-ter World War II. Hall?s bands mixed hillbilly music with pop, blues, and boogie- woogie, well before rock ?n? roll crashed the mainstream. The Co-...
Chapter 9. Meet Me Down In Nashville: May Hawks
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I auditioned at WSM,uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I?m singin? ?The Waltz Of The Wind? and before I got through even one stanza, they said, ?We?ll take ya!?uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. Everything that?s While most female country singers in Detroit?s nightclubs and radio of the 1940s and 1950s struggled against the male- dominated current of the in-dustry, May Hawks fell into the drink and let it carry her upstream. Lucky ...
Chapter 10. Chuck Hatfield And The Treble-Aires
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...[Chuck Hatfield and Boots Gilbert] came in [to the Detroit country music scene], and all the rest of us were just sort ofuni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. bar musicians. They had had some training on the radio,uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. and they were smoother and more commercial, or more sophisticated, than we were. They?d do that Spade Cooley stuff. After the tone arm drops its stylus into the groove in the flipside of a Davis ...
Chapter 11. Music With A Western Beat: Eddie Jackson
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When I was a kid, I?d sneak out of the house to play baseball, and my brother would drag me back to play music with him. One day, I came home and found him on the porch playing his banjo, surrounded by a bunch of girls. After finishing his second set of the night, Eddie Jackson lit a cigarette, stepped carefully down from the bandstand at Caravan Gardens, and sur-...
Chapter 12. Guitars, Bars, and Barre Chords: Fran Mitchell
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Roy Hall told me last time I seen him, he wanted to take me on the road with him. He wanted to hire me, and I said, ?Roy, I can?t do that.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I got a daugh-Around 1942, Fran Mitchell arrived in Detroit with her first husband and baby daughter. Though her marriage didn?t last, her skills on the guitar helped her find work in Detroit country- western nightclubs, beginning ...
Chapter 13. Rocky Road Rambling: Joyce Singo
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I got tickled at [guitarist Tommy Odom] one time. We had a little contest in a little bar down there on Vernor Highway.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. The song that we were to play was ?Steel Guitar Rag.? Well, he played it and he just ate that guitar up. And I played it my plain ol? simple way, and I won [laughs]. Boy, he just did not like Earl Songer and his wife Joyce, who grew up playing music in West Vir-...
Chapter 14. What Makes The Jukebox Play: Jimmy Work
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Detroit, Michigan, was a good place, a good country music town. They helped Looking through a country music fan?s music collection, one song that?s sure to be there, by one artist or another, is Jimmy Work?s ?Making Believe.? Trained as a millwright in Detroit during World War II, Work wrote songs and sang them on radio as a hobby. In 1948 Work recorded his ?Tennessee ...
Chapter 15. The Mississippi Farm Boy: Lonnie Barron
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I?ve been doing a lot of cross- country traveling, meeting a lot of new people and seeing some of my old friends. This show business is sure a rough racket, but when you add up the friends that can be made through it, it?s worth the Arriving home late on a frost- filled night, the young singer spied a familiar car parked on the frozen dirt of his driveway. He quietly pulled up his sta-...
Chapter 16. One-Way Ticket: Danny Richards
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...[ Jack Luker] was the one that I auditioned for, when I first come up here.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. It was at the Park View [nightclub] on West Vernor. There was a big bunch of those out there; Dixie Belle, Park View, Rose [Club], 3- JJJ. Some of ?em were pretty nice. And some of ?em,uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. when you walked in, your [health] insurance expired! I never had no trouble.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I?ve been lucky. I?ve met a lot of ...
Chapter 17. Egg Head: Al Allen
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Jack [Scott] was recording a song, and they asked George [Barnes, guitarist] to do his thing on it. Then they asked me to do spur of the moment stuff, to Guitarist Al Allen had spent ten years working radio shows, theaters, night-clubs, and some television in Detroit, Michigan, when he found himself at a routine recording session in New York City with his friend Jack Scott. ...
Chapter 18. Rockin' Vagabond: Hugh Friar
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After country really started dying,uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I went to work for Artists Corporation in Milwaukee.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I sent them a tape of the band, and the guy called me and said, ?Hugh, you got a good band, but we can?t book country bands.? I had a five- piece band. He said, ?If you?ll drop a couple of those guys, and have lead It wasn?t a stretch for Hugh Friar to change his band from country to rock ?n? ...
Chapter 19. Ain't No Sign I Wouldn't If I Could: Ford Nix
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I had my job back at Chrysler,uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. and I never really intended on going into music full time. I wished I had. You know how you do, you keep puttin? things A young man in dust- covered leather shoes slowly walked an empty highway shoulder headed north. The orange sun blazing over the western horizon shot shadows across the surrounding grassy hills as he carried a small grip ...
Chapter 20. You Can Hear The Old Folks Sing: Curly Dan and Wilma Ann
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I?m from a family of twelve kids. We didn?t even have a radio in the house when we were growing up. You talk about poor folks, we was that!uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0. I al-ways said, if I ever get married, I?m gonna marry a man that played the guitar. A Southeast Michigan legend tells that folks back home in Kentucky once taught their kids a variation of the three R?s: Readin?, Ritin?, and Route 23. ...
Appendix A: Related Music in Print
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Appendix B: Bibliography and List of Interviews
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Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013