Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.

UPDATES

• Thanks to Bob more info on Bill Harris.
• Added info on Reavis Recording Studio.
• Additions to Eddie Bond discography.

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Country Cavalcade

The WMNI Country Cavalcade 
special thanks to Matt Mnich and Bob O'Brien

WMNI, a powerful country music station in Columbus, Ohio, during the 1960s and 1970s, hosted a live stage show called the “Country Cavalcade.” Contrary to many other shows of its type, the Cavalcade began its history relatively late at the end of 1974. At that time, many of the old live stage shows had ended.


WMNI turned to a country music programming in late 1965. The station was owned by North American Broadcasting, headed by William R. “Bill” Mnich, who had founded the company in 1958. Both the Southern Theatre and the hotel next to the theatre, known as the Grand Southern Hotel, also belonged to North American Broadcasting. Shortly after WMNI became a country station, live stage shows were organized at the Southern Theatre and the much larger Veterans Memorial Auditorium, beginning in 1966 with great success. These shows, however, were not broadcasted over radio.

The idea of a regular Saturday night stage show came from Bill Mnich. The start for the “Country Cavalcade” finally came late in 1974. Mnich was the driving force behind the show, as he booked the acts, produced and managed the Cavalcade. Emcee of the show was Ron Barlow, DJ and program director of WMNI from 1970 until 1975 or early 1976. Barlow then left due to a disagreement with Mnich and was replaced by Carl Wendelken, who also shared managing /producing credits with Mnich. Rick Minerd, who helped Wendelken at times with the emcee work, recalled: “Our Country Cavalcade was a local version of WSM's Grand Ole Opry Show and like the grand daddy of them all we featured live acts on Saturday nights from a beautiful historic theatre.



The show was airing live over WMNI and taped for broadcasting over the Mutual Network, which included over 600 stations at that time and exposed the Country Cavalcade to a large audience across the United States. It was also tried to broadcast live over the network, which was stopped again shortly afterwards, however, since it caused too many problems (the show had to be broadcasted simultaneously in four different time zones). A book called “Historic Columbus: A Bicentennial History” devoted some space to WMNI and also the Cavalcade: „In the mid to late 1970s, nationally known entertainers appeared before packed houses at the Southern Theater. The shows were broadcast on WMNI and distributed to hundreds of other radio stations over the Mutual Radio Network.”At some point in 1976, the show was dropped from the network but continued to air over WMNI.

Many of the artists were local acts but some of them enjoyed some success, even nationally. Ott Stephens was an recording artist on Chart Records from Nashville during the 1960s and also partially owner of that label. He appeared regularly on the Country Cavalcade. Although he had sold his interests in Chart by the time the Cavalcade went on the air, a lot of the Chart recording artists nevertheless made regular performances on the show through him. The artists profited from the nationwide exposure of the show and some of them even reached the Billboard country charts.
Regulars of the show included:

• Kenny Slide, fiddler and part of the show’s house band
• Ric Queen, drummer and part of the show’s house band
• Kenny Pugh
• Lionel Cartwright
• Patti Ramsey
• Rick Minerd, DJ at WMNI and at one time emcee of the show
• “Captain” John Gammell, began performing on the show in 1972
• Bill Jolliff
• Kevin Mabry and Liberty Street, local country and rock group – Kevin Mabry guitar/vocals; Bill Purk lead guitar/vocals; Gary Markin bass/vocals; Harold Fogle steel guitar; Victor Mabry drums – won a Country Cavalcade talent contest in 1976 as reported by the Marysville Journal-Tribute on October 8, 1976
• Debbie Fowler
• Mike O’Harra
• Patti Gaines
• Dick Shuey, Award recording artist in 1978
• Kenny Vernon, Chart recording artist
• LaWanda Lindsey, Chart recording artist
• Pat Zill
• Howard Writesel
• Tommy Hawk
• Walt Cochran and the Holly River Boys
• Chuck Howard

On March 6, 1979, the “Circleville Herald” referred to one of the regular Cavalcade Saturday shows as follows: “CAVALCADE PLANS CONCERT – The WMNI Country Cavalcade will present David Houston and the Persuaders live in concert on the Southern Theatre Stage, Columbus 8 p.m. Saturday. Also appearing will be some of the area’s finest entertainers. Newark's Debbie Fowler, Amanda’s Ken Pugh, Patti Gaines from Huntington, W. Va. and Mike O'Harra and syn¬chronizations from Columbus will round out this night of entertainment. The WMNI Country Cavalcade is presented every Saturday night.



Our friend Bob O’Brien, who put me on the track of the Country Cavalcade, was able to track down Matt Mnich, son of Bill Mnich. Matt was kind enough to give us an insight of the show’s history, for which we are very thankful. I also appreciate Bob’s great help in bringing light to one of the lesser known stage shows. A great portion of the information came from Matt and Bob.

In 1979, the Southern Theatre was closed down as it had fallen into disrepair at that point. The closing of the theatre also meant the end for the Country Cavalcade. WMNI continued to put on live stage shows in Columbus on an infrequent basis, which were not heard over radio, however. Nevertheless, these events proofed to be successful, too, well into the 1980s.


Accompaning this post is a 12 track compilation entitled "The WMNI Country Cavalcade" put together by Bob O'Brien. This compilation includes recordings by some of the Country Cavalcade members.

♫♪



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bill Harris

Marlon Grisham - Square Watermelon Seed (Cover 45-711)

This apparently Memphis based songwriter is some kind of a mystery to me. Bill Harris appeared as a songwriter on a couple of independent Memphis record labels by local artists, including Marlon Grisham, Eddie Cash, and Jim Climer.

BMI reveals that Harris' full name is William Alvan Harris, Jr. There was a William Alvin "Dubbye" Harris, born  on July 31, 1940, and passed away on March 30, 2005. At the time of his death, this William Alvin Harris was living in Waterford near Holly Springs, Mississippi (south of Memphis across the Tennessee-Mississippi state border). He was buried at the Hill Crest Cemetery in Holly Springs, the ceremony was led by Brother Frank Feathers (a cousin to Charlie Feathers). William Alvin Harris was a self-employed truck driver. I'm pretty sure this is our man.

Harris was not only a songwriter but also a musician and band manager in the 1950s. He became a member of Harold Jenkins' group in 1956 as a bass player and recorded several (unreleased) sessions at Sun with Jenkins. He shared the position with Jimmy Evans, another Sun musician. When Jenkins went to Nashville to record for Mercury and became "Conway Twitty," Harris was finally replaced by Evans (who, in turn, was replaced by Nashville studio musician Lightnin' Chance in 1958).  

At the same time Harris left the Jenkins band (late 1956/early 1957), he met up with another young singer, Memphis born Eddie Cash. Harris soon became Cash's manager and organized the Peak and Fernwood recording sessions for Cash. He also wrote one of his songs, "Thinkin' Man." Cash left Memphis for Chicago in 1960 but Harris remained in Memphis. It is possible Harris then became Marlon Grisham's manager.

Harris first appeared as a songwriter with "She's My Technicolor Baby" in 1954 (copyrighted on October 21 according to the Catalog of Copyright Entries). BMI has listed several more songs under different names by Harris.

Harris' compositions also included:

Jungle Love, recorded by Marlon Grisham on Clearpool
Square Watermelon Seed, recorded by Grisham on Cover
Tall Mac the Lumberjack, with Jim Climer, who recorded it on Fernwood
Tonight's the Night, published by Bill Black's Lyn-Lou publishing firm
Thinkin' Man, recorded by Eddie Cash at Fernwood studio and leased to Todd Records 

Thanks to Bob

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pee Dee Opry

The "Pee Dee Opry" was the creation of Charles Edward "Slim" Mims, a local entertainer in South Carolina. Mims was born in 1918 in Columbia, South Carolina. He began his musical career in 1935 and founded his band, the Dream Ranch Boys, in 1940. The boys became his background band for at least 20 years. His wife Patty Faye was also with the group as well as later famous Country musicians Glenn Sutton and Jimmy Capps.

Slim Mims and the Dream Ranch Boys on WBTW, ca. 1950s. Patty Faye Mims seated and
Slim Mims as "Uncle Ugly" behind the camera.

Mims hosted a stable of local shows during the 1950s. He entertained the audiences over WJMX with his "Dream Ranch Jamboree" in Florence, South Carolina, but also hosted a show on WBTW-TV and the "Silent Flame Jamboree" on WNCT-TV in Greenville, South Carolina.

The "Pee Dee Opry" was a later show of Mims', as we first found mention of this show in 1961 in a Billboard issue. The name of the show came from the name of northeastern region of South Carolina, which is called "Pee Dee." Mims was booking the ccts of the Opry and also produced it, while he and the Dream Ranch Boys led through the show. Mims also appeared as the comedy act of the Pee Dee Opry, known as "Uncle Ugly" (a character he already had developed much earlier).

Contrary to his other shows before, which were mainly TV or studio shows, the Pee Dee Opry was a live stage show held every Saturday night at the Ole Opry House in Darlington, South Carolina. The show in total lasted three hours with one of them airing on WJMC (Florence) and WBSC (Bennettsville, SC). It was also taped in order to broadcast it on other stations in the state. The stable of artists that appeared on the Opry is not known but it included up to 30 different acts.

While the Pee Dee Opry ended its run at some point, Slim Mims continued to entertain people personally and on TV. In the 1970s, he hosted the Slim Mims Show, of which you can see an excerpt below. Mims died in 1994. More on the Dream Ranch Jamboree and Slim Mims can be found at hillbilly-music.com.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cees Klop R.I.P.

The founder of White Label/Collector Records, Dutchman Cees Klop, has passed away this weekend. Klop, who began collecting rock'n'roll records in the 1960s, released countless LPs and CDs on his labels, travelled more than once to the US to track down forgotten artists, ad unearthed recordings that would have sunk without into obscurity otherwise.

Klop was a controversial figure in the collector scene. He often edited recordings to present them as "alternate takes," gave at times wrong info on his LP back covers. Much has been said about him but without him, the world surely would miss a lot of great music.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cornhuskers Jamboree

Continuing our journey through the old-fashioned Country & Western variety shows, today we feature a show that was a bit more famous than some of the others. The Cornhuskers Jamboree enjoyed a long running time on Cincinnati radio and television and featured also some of the big names in country music.

There was a Cornhusker Jamboree on KFAB in the late 1930s, which is a totally different show, however. The first mention of the Cornhuskers Jamboree (sometimes also spelled: Cornhuskers'), which was broadcasted over WKRC in Cincinnati, is in Billboard May 5, 1945. At that time, Bradley Kincaid and Cowboy Copas were the stars of the show plus a stable of lesser known artists. During the summer months of 1945, the Jamboree cast also hosted shows on Carthage Fairgrounds in Cincinnati each Sunday, which also aired over WKRC. These shows became known as "WKRC's Circle B Ranch" and also featured special guest artists in addition to the usual singers and musicians.

The Cornhuskers Jamboree was also touring the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky with a tent show. By May 1946, another veteran performer since the 1920s had taken over the Jamboree, Hugh Cross.

By 1954, the Jamboree had switched from WKRC to WCPO-TV and could now be seen on televison weekdays at 10:30 AM. 

Members of the Cornhuskers Jamboree cast included:
• Cowboy Copas
• Bradley Kincaid
• Hugh Cross
• Jean Hogan
• Colemar Brothers
• Shorty Hobbs
• Rusty Gabbard
• Judy Perkins
• Faye Dorning
• Happy Wilson and the Golden River Boys
• Lily May Ledford

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Silver Sage Round-Up

Another of the many country & western stage shows, the Silver Sage Round-Up was on the air as early as 1949 and was still broadcoasting in 1952. KFSB in Joplin, Missouri, broadcasted the show on Saturday nights, when it was held at different locations in the Joplin and surrounding areas. The show was held at such locations as the Municipal Auditorium in Neosho, Missouri, and the Carthage Memorial Hall. Connected with the show was a duo by the name of "Cookie and Ollie," who moved to WSIP in Paintsville, Kentucky, in 1952.

Part of the show:
Cookie and Ollie
Albert E. Brumley, Jr., son of Albert Brumley, famous gospel songwriter, incl. "I'll Fly Away"
Prairie Sweethearts
• Ozark Mountain Boys
• The Boys from Music Mountain

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Western Star's Serenade

In early 1954, a live country stage show entered the picture. Produced by Peggy O'Riley, the "Western Star's Serenade" was held in Tyler, Texas. A small portion of the show - only 15 minutes - was taped and broadcastet seperately on KGKB (Tyler, Texas). The emcee work was handled by Ed Smith, DJ at KGKB.

Part of the show were:

Jerry Hanson, he recorded some rockabilly for the Starday custom label, Manco and Blubonnet Records from Forth Worth
Dorothy Hanson, maybe related to Jerry?
James Fuller
Roscoe Clark
Western Star Serenaders, house band of the show

If anyone else has more info on the show, please pass it along!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Story of "You Can't Have My Love"

History of a Song - 
The Story of
"You Can't Have My Love"

Another bobsluckycat post presented by Mellow's Log Cabin!

1954 was a watershed year in Country Music following the death of Hank Williams. At least 50% of the Billboard Hot Country Singles could now be considered what we call "Country Classics". This isn't one of them but was very popular at the time. The song is "You Can't Have My Love" and was in the Billboard charts for eight weeks starting on July 24, 1954, reaching a peak at number eight . It generated a lot of interest and airplay and was on the jukeboxes upon its release in May of 1954. It was 17 year old Wanda Jackson's first record release as well. Here's the whole story. At the beginning of 1954, Hank Thompson had discovered Wanda Jackson on an Oklahoma City radio station, where she had a program, and added her to his band on weekends as a featured vocalist as was Billy Gray, who also played lead guitar and was the bandleader of the Brazos Valley Boys for Hank. March 22 through 24, 1954, saw Hank and the entire band in the Melrose Avenue studios of Capitol Records in L.A. On the last day of the session, Thompson booked recording time with Capitol to make demo tapes of both Wanda Jackson and Billy Gray and the duet "You Can't Have My Love" to try and influence his producer at Capitol Records, Ken Nelson, to sign them to Capitol record contracts without success. Nelson demurred for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that Wanda Jackson being underage.

A short time later, Hank Thompson was in Nashville and took a meeting with Paul Cohen, then head of Nashville's Decca Records operations and upon hearing the demo tapes signed Billy Gray and Wanda Jackson to two year contracts on Decca Records. Decca Records, at the time was the leading recording company in the USA with hundreds of records of all kinds being cranked out of their factories constantly and generating millions in revenue giving Decca the opportunity to sign unknown and untested talent, and they did so frequently. Cohen, always looking for a way to sell more records had minor league artists record a cover version for Coral Records, a subsidiary label, on April 8, 1954, to sort of hedge his bets. He did this frequently with leased records that came to Decca, so it was nothing new. Texas Bill Strength, an itinerant but well know country music D.J. and sometime country singer on Coral since 1951 and Tabby West, a converted pop music vocalist, hyped as another Kitty Wells (which she wasn't) and being on Coral since 1952, recorded their version at Bradley's Barn in Nashville and held back as a "B" side, just in case. More on that version later.


Billy Gray had written "You Can't Have My Love" along with co-writers listed Hank Thompson and Chuck Harding (Yeah right. editorial comment) especially as a vehicle for him and Wanda Jackson, she with her tough-as-nails vocal and his smooth recitation as counterpoint struck a true chord with everybody, especially in Oklahoma and Texas, and soon the entire country was listening to it on the radio and more importantly buying copies for jukeboxes and homes. 

The Texas Bill Strength/Tabby West version (Coral 64177) was released shortly afterwards with "With Let's Make Love Or Go Home One" as the "A" side which didn't make much headway with such a risque title for the times. The Texas Bill Strength and Tabby West "A" side was cute and had a great banjo solo very much in the style of Joe Maphis, who may or may not have played on the record.



The "B" side, which was "You Can't Have My Love," was also somewhat different in that it changed the girl singer's state to Missouri and cities listed were all pretty much in the Mississippi valley - Dyersburg, Tennessee; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Cairo, Illinois (pronounced K-Row) - and a small coda was added at the end which was humorous. I have no idea why this was done except that it might appeal to record distributors and D.J.'s in those areas. Decca marketing was ahead of the field most of the time and if they could sell a few more records they would. This version actually did nothing to further the careers of Strength or West. It was Strength's last release on the label. West had one more release and then let go, only to be signed to the big label, Decca, the following year after she joined the KWTO Ozark Jubilee. A little later both Tabby West and Texas Bill Strength recorded for Capitol Records to no success. By 1961, Tabby West had gotten out of the music business. Texas Bill Strength had an unsuccessful session with Sun Records which went nowhere, but he continued on as a successful D.J. and comedian and continued to record sporadically.

The third version of this song was recorded at King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio, and produced by Henry Glover, probably after the other versions were starting to get attention by mid-July 1954 and the "Jack" in the title was probably Jack Cardwell, who recorded for King and was recording there at about the same time. It sounds like him. This is the 45 RPM recording I've owned since 1955.

Elaine Gay is something of a mystery to me. Henry Glover recorded her in 1954 and released a few records over the year on DeLuxe, a King label, including her last release of a tipid country version of "Rock Love" which was written by Henry Glover and recorded variously by Lula Reed, Little Willie John, and the big Pop version in early 1955 by the Fontane Sisters on Dot Records. A small Billboard magazine note deep in the pages of that mag, mentions that Elaine Gay was from Miami and the local Miami record distributorship was trying to make something happen for her and it just didn't happen. No other information on her has ever surfaced. Her version with Jack was a direct copy of the Wanda Jackson-Billy Gray version. Not a bad record for a cover.


The song was in the Billboard charts into mid-September 1954 and was mentioned on the Billboard and Cash Box playlists on both radio and jukeboxes well into the fall.

Later on in 1954, Big 4 Hits, the mail order sound-alike EP record company also in Cincinnati, released this song as part of Big 4 Hits #98 by Eileen Nunn and Eddie Moore. This version was like the Texas Bill Strength - Tabby West version also with the coda. This was the first version I ever owned as I got a three speed record player for Christmas of 1954 and a package of 6 EP's from WCKY - also in Cincinnati - to play on the new player. That version has been long gone from me for several years, sorry to say. Early in 1955, I started buying 45 rpm records from my local distributor for the price of 10 cents apiece that never made it to his jukeboxes and started my, then, rather large 45 rpm collection, which was heavy on R&B and off-the-wall country music.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shelby R. Smith on Silver Skip

Shelby R. Smith - Big Boss Man / Crying for Pastime (Silver Skip 202)

Both sides had been released earlier on Rebel #729 by Smith in 1963. No exact release date for this one is reported but I read somewhere this was also dated 1963 (although this is very doubtful). While "Big Boss Man" is cover of the classic Luther Dixon-Al Smith composition, "Cying for Pastime" is a country song out of the Fernwood Records vaults. This Silver Skip release lists only Eddie Carroll as a songwriter. The Rebel release added also Fernwood owner Ronald Wallace. Eddie Carroll was a local Memphis singer in his own right and had a couple of releases on Fernwood, Pure Gold (another Ronald Wallace label), Santo, and Guyden.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Shelby Smith's Empire of record labels

Shelby Smith's Empire of Record Labels

Shelby R. Smith's empire of small record labels is a confusing one. Dave Travis released a 34 track CD in his "Memphis Rockabillies, Hillbillies & Honky Tonkers" series on Stomper Time, which dealt with Smith's productions. Dave likely put all his knowledge into the liner notes of this CD, which I don't own, unfortunately. Hence, I decided to take an approach at exploring Shelby Smith's story on my own.

Generally, Smith is associated with five different record labels: Rebel, Rebel Ace, Silver Skip, Smitty, and Silento. The aforementioned Stomper Time CD also contained tracks released on a Rebel label from South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, which was to all accounts a different label, owned by Bill Cooley.

Shelby R. Smith was a local singer from Memphis and according to my researches, first registered in 1958 when he copyrighted the song "Crossword Puzzle." By 1960, Smith was recording for the Smitty label, which belonged to Fernwood, according to Terry Gordon's RCS site. In fact, some of Smith's productions were recorded by Ronald Wallace in his Fernwood recording studio. However, in 1962, the Rebel label appeared on the radar with two singles by Smith, including his "Rocking Mama." This label was said to be based in Batesville, Arkansas (if this is true, is another question). It seems Rebel was later replaced by Rebel Ace by the mid 1960s (based in St. Louis, Missouri, according to the label of Rebel Ace #743). Smith was likely forced to use another name because there had been a label of the same name in Maryland since 1959. Uncertain is the chronology of Smith's Silver Skip and Silento labels.

As it became probably obvious in my explanations, there are a lot of question marks and doubts regarding Smith and his labels. Only Dave Travis' liner notes will probably bring some clarity into this story. Stay tuned.


Billboard C&W review July 28, 1962

Billboard C&W review May 4, 1963


Rebel / Rebel Ace
728: Shelby Smith - Since My Baby Said Good-By / Rocking Mama (1962)
729: Shelby Smith - Big Boss Man / Crying for a Pastime (1963)
730: Davis Brothers - How Can I Tell Her / Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow (1966)
731: Bobby Davis - Troubles Troubles / ?
732: Bob Downen - Blue Yodel No.1 T for Texas / Reaching Out
733:
734: S. R. Smith - This Old Town / ?
734: Glen A. Linder - I'll Always Care / Out Come of War (1966)
735: Alma Herndon - True Love Where Have You Gone / Oregonian Blues
736: Jean Henderson - Too Many Sunsets / Put It On My Charge Account (1966)
737: Jimmy Evans - Call Me Mr. Lonesome / Dudley Do-Rite (1967)
738/9: Eddy Beers - You're Both the Cheating Kind / The Open Road (1967)
740/1: Marilyn Strothcamp - Until Today / Plaything (1967)
742: Marilyn Strothcamp - Just a Dime Away / Second Girl
743: Eddy Beers - What's Your Excuse / Big Mack Waitin'
743: Marilyn Strothcamp - I Cried a Tear / All I Feel for You Is Sorry


The first three releases were issued under the Rebel brand, subsequent releases under the name of Rebel Ace.
• Numbers #734 and #743 were used twice.
#742 and #743 give location as 2404 Charlack - St. Louis, Missouri.

Silver Skip
101: S. R. Smith - North to Alaska / Foolish Love Affair
201: Eddy Beers - I'm Gonna Be a Wealthy Man / Overdrawn on Heartaches (1966)
202: Shelby R. Smith - Big Boss Man / Cryin' for a Pastime
203: Shelby R. Smith - Wake Me Up / Jim-Dandy Handy Man
203: Jackie Underwood - Her Heart Would Know / ?

Recordings on #202 were possibly the same as on Rebel #729.
#203 by Shelby Smith was recorded at Bill Glore's Glolite Studios.

Silento
100: S. R. Smith - Why Does You Cry / Social Security

Label gives location as 297 N. Main - Memphis, Tennessee (home of Fernwood Records).

Smitty
55783: Shelby Smith - What's On Your Mind / So Long to Get to You (1960)
55784: Shelby Smith - Rosalie / To Heart for a Moment

• Smitty was a Fernwood subsidiary intended for custom recordings.
• #55784 was also released as by "Roy Lett." 

Thanks to Apes Ville