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Shreveport Sounds in Black and White

Kip Lornell

Publication Year: 2008

To borrow words from Stan "The Record Man" Lewis, Shreveport, Louisiana, is one of this nation's most important "regional-sound cities." Its musical distinctiveness has been shaped by individuals and ensembles, record label and radio station owners, announcers and disc jockeys, club owners and sound engineers, music journalists and musicians. The area's output cannot be described by a single genre or style. Rather, its music is a kaleidoscope of country, blues, R&B, rockabilly, and rock. Shreveport Sounds in Black and White presents that evolution in a collection of scholarly and popular writing that covers institutions and people who nurtured the musical life of the city and surroundings. The contributions of icons like Leadbelly and Hank Williams, and such lesser-known names as Taylor-Griggs Melody Makers and Eddie Giles come to light. New writing explores the famed Louisiana Hay-ride, musicians Jimmie Davis and Dale Hawkins, local disc jockey "Dandy Don" Logan, and KWKH studio sound engineer Bob Sullivan. With glimpses into the lives of original creators, Shreveport Sounds in Black and White reveals the mix that emerges from the ongoing interaction between the city's black and white musicians. Kip Lornell teaches in the music department at the George Washington University. His research in American vernacular music has resulted in the publication of numerous articles and nine previous books, including Introducing American Folk Music and The Life and Legend of Leadbelly (with Charles Wolfe). Tracey E. W. Laird is associate professor of music at Agnes Scott College and the author of Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Contents

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pp. v-vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

We owe a debt of gratitude to many people for helping with this project. Foremost are our families for their patience and understanding. Our thanks also go to the University Press of Mississippi for believing in the need for this anthology. We think it is an important addition to the literature related to music in the American South and are pleased to see it published as part of the ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xx

Since minstrelsy swept the country in the decades before the Civil War, the South has dramatically shaped musical sounds of the United States. Genres as diverse as jazz, blues, and country emerged from the southern heartland in the early twentieth century, influencing music not only in the U.S. but eventually across Europe and then other parts of the world. Despite its origins on opposite ...

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Country

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pp. 3-6

The term “country music” suggests a range of styles, most closely associated with Southern white working-class culture and evolving over the first two decades of the twentieth century. The pioneering “hillbilly” recordings that began in 1923 emphasized stringed instruments like the guitar, fiddle, and banjo, along with the harmonica. Within thirty years love, relationships, home, ...

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Introduction from Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River

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pp. 7-17

Most discussions of the Louisiana Hayride focus on Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and its list of other nationally recognized acts. In her book Louisiana Hayride, however, Tracey Laird argues that the show’s significance extends beyond the run of famous personnel taking its stage between 1948 and 1960. Its significance reaches back into the history of Shreveport, long before the Hayride began, and it extends long after, as local ...

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The Grigg Family and the Taylor-Griggs Melody Makers: The History of a North Louisiana String Band

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pp. 18-29

This article originally appeared in the 1988 volume of Louisiana Folklife. Here, Monty Brown recounts the history of an Ark-La-Tex musical family extending back into the 1870s. The family’s oral history is fascinating in its own right, even more so as it includes encounters with prominent figures in radio and recording. Moreover, the Grigg story relates how one family in northwestern Louisiana experienced transformations of life ...

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The Cox Family

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pp. 30-42

The Cox Family lives in Cotton Valley, Louisiana, some thirty-five miles from Shreveport. Their roots remain deep in old-time, bluegrass, and gospel music that they picked up from local musicians, heard on phonograph records and radio stations, and learned at church. They are modern exponents of the same “old-time music” tradition carried on decades before by the Taylor-Griggs Melody Makers, and full participants ...

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Remembering Hiter Colvin, the Fiddle King of Oilfield and Gum Stump

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pp. 43-45

Hiter Colvin is a little-known master fiddler from northwestern Louisiana, who made his local reputation dazzling crowds at dances, fiddling contests, and Pentecostal worship services. As Michael Luster explains in this short sketch that draws from the memories of family and friends, Colvin’s recorded legacy is quite small: only a handful of sides recorded for Victor at a 1929 session in Dallas, Texas. Nonetheless, these ...

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Sing It Good, Sing It Strong, Sing It Loud: The Music of Governor Jimmie Davis

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pp. 46-57

Nineteen twenty-eight marks the recording debut of Jimmie Davis, perhaps best known as Louisiana’s “Singing Governor” or the man who collected royalties for “You Are My Sunshine” (though, most likely, he did not actually compose it). Davis made his name on the national political scene as the state’s two-term governor and as a recording artist who made hundreds of commercial records mostly between the late 1920s and the ...

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Louisiana’s Honky-Tonk Man: Buddy Jones, 1935–41

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pp. 58-62

Although he was born in Asheville, North Carolina, guitarist Buddy Jones (born Oscar Bergan Riley) spent most of his adult life to the west, first in Port Arthur, Texas, but later in Shreveport. Jones began his musical career as one of the many emulators of Jimmie Rodgers. By the time he recorded nearly seventy selections for Decca in the 1930s his music sounded more like western swing, the up-tempo dance music that ...

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Interview with Horace Logan, October 13, 1976

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pp. 63-73

Horace Logan’s name will always be uttered in the same breath as the Louisiana Hayride. His decisions as program director for ten years and his talents as an announcer imbued the Hayride with its special character. Logan published his own remembrances several years before his death, in a 1998 memoir Elvis, Hank, and Me, written with Bill Sloan (and reprinted the following year under the title Louisiana ...

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Getting the Sound Right: Bob “Sully” Sullivan, KWKH, and the Louisiana Hayride

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pp. 74-104

Although he did not make a living as a musician, Bob Sullivan is one of the key figures in Shreveport’s musical history. As a sound engineer, his contributions to radio and recording resonate from the Ark-La-Tex to the broader popular music scene of the 1950s and after. Sullivan for years worked a daily shift at KWKH in Shreveport and operated the broadcasting board during the Saturday night Louisiana Hayride. in ...

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Beyond Country Music

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pp. 105-136

We reprint this sixth and final chapter of Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River as an end cap to the introduction—one looking forward from the Hayride where the other looked back. This piece highlights four musicians whose experiences in Shreveport during the post–World War II era—most of them closely associated with the Hayride—shaped their future professional lives as studio ...

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Blues

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pp. 137-139

Blues emerged as a distinctive musical style, the product of polygenesis in the deep South (east Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama), around the beginning of the twentieth century. First heard on front porches and juke joints where black Americans gathered on Saturday evening, early blues was a synthesis of the traditions that preceded it: most notably country dance tunes, ...

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Fannin Street

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pp. 140-152

“Lead Belly” was born Huddie William Ledbetter on Jeter Plantation in Mooringsport Louisiana, ca. January 29, 1885. He is one of the most influential and widely recognized black folk artists of the twentieth century. Taught the accordion and rudiments of guitar by his uncle Terrell Ledbetter, he soon employed his talents at local “sukey-jumps,” rural African American house parties. Huddie left home ...

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Some Negro Songs Heard on the Hills of North Louisiana

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pp. 153-177

We include this piece as an item of historical interest, a snapshot of scholarly inquiry into the musical practices of rural African Americans near Shreveport from an era long past. The Louisiana Folklife Program’s database of theses and dissertations identifies this work as a “M.A. 1928 Louisiana State University.” Because of the absence of notated music, we assumed it to be a thesis in English. As it turns out, Tinsley wrote ...

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Jerry’s Saloon Blues: 1940 Field Recordings from Louisiana

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pp. 178-191

Oscar “Buddy” Woods figures prominently in this article drawn mostly from the recordings, field notes, and letters of John Lomax and Ruby Terril Lomax in Shreveport in 1940. Author Paul Oliver describes the adept slide guitar playing of Woods, a style of playing with the instrument fl at on the lap shared at times by Lead Belly, among other local musicians. “Jerry’s Saloon Blues,” which initially appeared as the liner notes for ...

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Jesse “Babyface” Thomas

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pp. 192-203

After Lead Belly, Jesse Thomas (1911–95) is arguably the best-known and most widely recorded blues man associated with the Ark-La-Tex. He certainly had the longest career, one that was well documented over a period of more than sixty years. It began in August 1929, when the teenaged Thomas stepped into a portable recording studio set up by the RCA Victor company in Dallas, Texas. The four selections recorded ...

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The Flying Crow Blues

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pp. 204-209

“The Flying Crow” was a train line connecting Port Arthur, Texas, to Kansas City, with major stops at Shreveport, as well as Texarkana, another significant hub of the Ark-La-Tex. Recorded by Oscar “Buddy” Woods (see “Jerry’s Saloon Blues”) and Ed Schaffer, playing together as the Shreveport Home Wreckers, their version of “The Flying Crow” is a Shreveport example of a widespread blues tradition of homage to ...

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The Legend of Old Blue Goose

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pp. 210-214

First celebrated on Jesse Thomas’s 1929 recording “Blue Goose Blues,” the area he sings about does not appear on any official maps of Shreveport, nor will many present-day city residents know its location. Blue Goose was an African American part of town in a segregated area, the “wrong side of the tracks” used by the Texas and Pacific Railroad. It was officially known as Wilson Alley, but its local name derived from the Blue Goose ...

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Down-Home Postwar Blues in Shreveport

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pp. 215-222

Shaw’s research for this piece began with a paper for a 2000 University of Memphis graduate seminar. He surveys the recordings of local blues musicians in the late 1940s and early 1950s by small labels based in Shreveport and those based elsewhere. The labels were part of the post–World War II wellspring of small record companies across the country that caused a stunning increase in the number of opportunities to record ...

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Radio, Records, and Rhythm

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pp. 223-225

We devote this section of Shreveport Sounds to vernacular music that fits neither the broad categories of country or blues, as well as to the people and institutions that made the business of music happen in Shreveport. This latter group includes record company owners like Stan Lewis, Mira Smith, and Dee Marais. It also includes local disc jockeys like Don Logan, whose autobiographical ...

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A Historical Study of Programming Techniques and Practices of Radio Station KWKH, Shreveport, LA, 1922–1950

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pp. 226-236

This excerpt is edited from a dissertation chapter titled “The Period of W. K. Henderson, 1925–1933,” where Lillian Jones Hall connects Henderson’s story with the development of federal-level regulations governing radio. She based her description on newspaper articles, congressional records, and a scrapbook of related documents Henderson published with the title “KWKH Fights for a Square Deal.” In addition, ...

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A Friend in Las Vegas

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pp. 237-247

The local and national importance of singer, composer, and influential recording artist Gene Austin often goes unremarked. Yet, along with Vernon Dalhart from Jefferson, Texas, within the Ark-La-Tex, Austin emerged as one of media history’s earliest stars with strong ties to the Shreveport metropolitan area. His career really took off with his 1927 version of “My Blue Heaven,” which sold hundreds of thousands of copies for ...

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Stan Lewis

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pp. 248-255

This piece is a portion of a chapter from Randy McNutt’s Guitar Towns: A Journey to the Crossroads of Rock and Roll, titled “Shreveport: Susie-Q,” the section focused primarily on Stan Lewis. Lewis’s professional career began in 1948 when he opened Stan’s Record Shop on Texas Street in Shreveport. He became a “one-stop” operator (other nearby record stores would buy from him to resell on the retail level), ...

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“Reconsider Me”: Margaret Lewis Warwick and the Louisiana Hayride

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pp. 256-267

Although this article uses the Louisiana Hayride as a point of reference, its focus is not on country music, but on Mira Smith’s entrepreneurship as a record company owner, and Maggie Warwick as a songwriter and civic leader in Shreveport’s musical life. As the founder and owner of RAM Records, Smith was a pioneer woman in the music industry. Her recording efforts crossed genre boundaries to include country, ...

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The Making of Dale Hawkins

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pp. 268-301

The iconic status afforded Dale Hawkins’s mid-1950s recording of the rockabilly classic “Susie Q” led numerous writers to include only a vague sketch of his life leading up to the recording and to frame his career after as a variation on the motif of the one-hit- wonder. Anderson and Reed aim to correct Hawkins’s dual fate of being glossed over and pigeonholed. Building on numerous interviews with Hawkins, the authors ...

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The Life and Times of Dandy Don Logan

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pp. 302-315

This is an edited version of Logan’s experiences with Shreveport radio and record companies, most notably as a popular Top 40 DJ on the 50,000-watt Shreveport station KEEL and as an employee with Stan Lewis’s record companies in the 1960s and 1970s. The full version of Logan’s life story may be found at his personal website [http://www. dandydonlogan.com], which includes links to local radio stations and entertainment ...

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Shreveport Southern Soul: The Murco Story

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pp. 316-322

Smaller and lesser known than any of Stan Lewis’s labels, the short-lived Murco label is important because it documented the Shreveport soul scene. Murco’s roots were in the Bayou Records store, a retail outlet purchased by local businessman Dee Marais from Shelby Singleton in 1960. In addition to selling records, Marais occasionally recorded local musicians in the back of his store. ...

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Eddie Giles and Reuben Bell: Synonymous with Shreveport

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pp. 323-337

John Shaw’s piece draws well-deserved recognition to two musicians, Eddie Giles and Reuben Bell. Giles, a fixture on the Shreveport music scene since the mid-1950s, has combined secular and sacred music throughout his career. His musical beginnings in rock-and-roll soon turned to professional pursuits in gospel. He sang with the California-based Pilgrim Jubilee singers during the early 1960s. By mid-decade ...

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Shreveport’s Pop/Rock Music Scene: The 1970s and 1980s

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pp. 338-348

Shreveport native John Andrew Prime documented music and culture in his role as reporter for the Shreveport Times during the late 1970s and 1980s. During that era, he kept tabs on the flourishing of art rock that happened in the city, centered around bands like the Picket Line Coyotes and A Train, and venues like the now-defunct-four-thousand-seat amphitheater in Veterans Park. In this piece, drawn from his years as a ...

Contributors

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pp. 349-353

Credits

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pp. 354-356

Index

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pp. 357-358


E-ISBN-13: 9781604733037
E-ISBN-10: 1604733039
Print-ISBN-13: 9781934110416
Print-ISBN-10: 1934110418

Publication Year: 2008