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Jay Bruder’s  big Washington music retrospective set, “R&B in D.C. 1940-1960” has been released by Bear Family Records and is available from their website.  It’s been reviewed in the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine.

Sunday April 14


Trains start us rolling this week on The Home Town Special. Do you remember Harold Jenkins? No! Okay, do you remember Conway Twitty? It’s the same person. In 1971 M-G-M, for reasons I would love to know, but don’t, decided to release his 1960 master of “Long Black Train.” If you think it is a great copy of Elvis’ “Mystery Train” you are on the right track. And that track takes us to Grover Pruitt’s “Mean Train” (why does he sound just like Chuck Berry) and to Johnny “T” Talley’s “Lonesome Train” before we skip over to “The Train Kept A Rollin’” by Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio, followed by Tiny Bradshaw’s R&B original and a nice pop song by Verna Leeds called “It Takes A Long, Long Train With A Red Caboose (To Carry My Blues Away).” Whew! That caboose is your hint that we have reached the end of the train. We must be in Philadelphia because Beulah Frazier is recording there for Essex Records. Although she is singing a pretty inane pop song called, “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked A Cake,” her unknown guitar player lays down one hot track which puts the performance squarely in the R&B vein. Ella Johnson is back with a great ballad before Spike Jones creates musical mayhem with “Knock, Knock.” Now it’s time for some more hard knockin’ music with The Bowes Brothers’ recording some bluegrass -before the style even had a name, Bob and Cindy Dean are “Knocking On The Door of Your Heart,” while John Lee Henley and Teddy Reddell keep up the racket. It’s off to Los Angeles for some girl and boy R&B vocal groups on the verge of rock’n’roll with The Poka-Dotts (that’s how they spelled it), Trudy Williams and The Six Teens, and Shirley Gunter and “The Queens” (sic). Rounding out the hour Eddy Arnold, The Louvin Brothers, and Allison Krauss w James Taylor give us their versions of “How’s The World Treating You,” before a talented garage band (an obvious oxymoron), The Gem Tones pound out “Hawaiian War Rock.”

A boogie woogie piano craze centered around The Boogie Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons, Meade Lewis, and Pete Johnson) swept the country in the late 1930s. By 1946 the bands were full tilt in developing boogie woogie arrangements for their entire ensembles. We’ll hear examples from Ace Harris, Luke Jones with Betty Hall Jones on piano, and Joe Lutcher. Some guitar players have tried to imitate the sound of a piano and pulled it off fairly well. When it came to boogies, John Lee Hooker had an entirely different approach. Instead of the two-fisted style of most piano boogie specialists he stripped the boogie beat down to its essence and turned it into a hypnotic drone as he demonstrates on “Hoogie Boogie” from 1949. By 1955 the folks at Modern Records wanted him to have an up-to-date sound so they gave him a full backing band for “Hug and Squeeze.” To his credit, he delivers most of his original intensity in the new musical setting. One of Hooker’s main rivals was B. B. King who always pretended that he couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time. I really don’t believe that, but it became his favored style. In the early 1950s he was inclined towards up tempo material, but as the decade progressed, he did more ballads. In 1957 he cut “I Wonder.” Yes, the same song you have heard me play from Pvt. Cecil Gant, ‘The G.I. Singsation’ of WWII fame. We’ll hear from Gant and then move to blues shouter Joe Turner in front of Dave Bartholomew’s New Orleans band with Fats Domino pounding the piano, as only he could, for a side and a half. The half comes from what you can only call a mash-up where Imperial Records combined “Jumpin’ Tonight” with “Love My Baby” to make a new master they called “Blues Jumped The Rabbit,” so you only get to hear half of the second track. Ruth Wallis recorded naughty records and apparently made enough money that her husband, Hy Pastman, was able to go into business with Wallis Original and Monarch Records of Linden, New Jersey. A young King Curtis fronted the band for Joe Mitchell doing “Jailbird” on Monarch in 1953 which leads to Simley Lewis out of New Orleans doing his different song of the same title two years later. Another early artist for Imperial Records was Eddie Jones. His guitar blues records for Imperial sold poorly so he moved on, eventually to Specialty Records. The West Coast label was smart enough to record Jones, as Guitar Slim, in New Orleans with Ray Charles directing the session. From that, came the masterful “The Things I Used To Do.” Billy Vera will tell you that the session had a profound influence on Ray Charles who incorporated Slims’ preachin’ vocal style on his own next session and so began to reshape the sound of American music -that for another night. Getting back to Lew Chudd of Imperial Records, he had one Jesse Allen do an answer record called “The Things I’m Gonna Do.” Slim moved on to ATCO Records and died in 1959. In 1960 Specialty, who had lost several of their star talents, had a newcomer named Neal Johnson record “Just Got To Make It” which owed an obvious debt to Guitar Slim’s style. And we just made it to the end of the show, so The Griffin Brothers of Norfolk, Virginia will take us out with a very hard-to-find-clean copy  of “Riffin’ With Griffin” from October 1950. Hope you hear something you enjoy.

Thank you for your donations to

Long Black TrainConway TwittyM-G-M K14274rcrd1960
Mean TrainGrover PruittLaredo 1002circa1959
Lonesome TrainJohnny “T” TalleyMercury 70902Jul1956
The Train Kept A Rollin’Johnny Burnette Rock ‘n Roll TrioCoral 61719Sep1956
The Train Kept A Rollin’Tiny BradshawKing 4497Dec1951
It Takes A Long Long Train with a Red CabooseVerna LeedsOriginal 506Jul1954
If I Knew You Were Coming I’d ‘ve Baked A CakeBeulah FrazierEssex 70519511953
That’s How I Feel About YouBuddy & Ella JohnsonMercury 70173May1953
Knock KnockSpike Jones and his City SlickersRCA Victor 20-3359Feb1949
Stop Knocking At My DoorBowes BrothersMutual 215circa1952
I’m Knocking At The Door of Your HeartBob and Cindy DeanStarday 627May1957
Knocking On Lula Mae’s DoorJohn Lee HenleyJ.O.B. 11rec1952
Knockin’ On The Back Side of Your HeartTeddy ReddellVaden 1101959
Stairway To LovePoka-DottsModern 945Nov1954
A Casual LookSix TeensFlip 315May1956
Oop ShoopShirley Gunter & Teen QueensFlair 1050Sep1954
How’s The World Treating YouEddy ArnoldRCA Victor 20-5305May1953
How’s The World Treating YouLouvin BrothersCapitol 4628Sep1961
How’s The World Treating YouJames Taylor & Alison KraussUS B0000458-2Nov2003
Hawaiian War RockGem TonesScarlet 4219Dec1960
M F T BoogieAce Harris and OrchestraHUB 3001Feb1946
Jump The BoogieLuke Jones w Joe Alexander’s HighlandersAtlas 161Oct1946
RockolaJoe LutcherModern 661May1949
Hoogie BoogieJohn Lee Hooker and His GuitarModern 663May1949
Anybody Seen My BabyJohn L. HookerModern 847Dec1951
Hug And SqueezeJohn Lee HookerModern 966Sep1955
Don’t You Want A Man Like MeB. B. KingRPM 318Mar1953
I Need You So BadB. B. Blues Boy King and His OrchestraRPM 498Sep1957
I WonderB. B. Blues Boy King and His OrchestraRPM 498Sep1957
I WonderCecil Gant, The GI SingsationGilt Edge 500Oct1944
It’s The GirlCecil GantBullet 258Oct1946
Jumpin’ Tonight NOLA c Apr 1950Joe Turner Fats DominoImperial 5090Aug1950
Blues Jumped The RabbitJoe Turner Fats DominoBayou 015circa1953
Jail BirdJoe Mitchell w King CurtisMonarch 703Oct1953
Jail BirdSmiley LewisImperial 5325Jan1955
The Things I Used To DoGuitar SlimSpecialty 482Jan1954
The Things I’m Gonna DoJesse AllenImperial 5303Sep1954
Just Got To Make ItNeal Johnson -Guitar Slim S-A-LSpecialty 688Sep1960
Riffin’ With GriffinGriffin BrothersDot 1010Oct1950

Sunday April 7

This week on The Home Town Special we are just going to kick back and play some records. No holiday themes. No fundraiser. Nothing special, we are just rambling through the record collection tonight. With that as our premise, Dale Hawkins, the rocker that Cub Koda called the regional “Rockabilly King, Louisiana Division” starts us off with some incredible and not originally released rock ‘n’ roll from the late 1950s. As long as we are in Louisiana we should check in on Bobby Charles. His “Later Alligator” became Bill Haley’s “See You Later, Alligator.” Roy Hall, the honky tonk country piano player, cut a neat version of the song as well, and Dale Hawkins comes back to answer with “See You Soon Baboon.” Last week we talked about Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies. How bunnies got mixed up in the egg business I’ve never understood. But just to close out the topic, this week we’ll play “Rabbit Hop” by the one and only Moondog. It’s a bit beyond the fringe. Alan Freed took his early on-air name as “King of The Moondogs” from one of Moondog’s SMC (Spanish Music Center) 78s. That charade ended pretty promptly when Freed moved his radio show to New York City. On the theme of different, I’ll play some early 1960s Nashville country from Bill Phillips. His 1961 performance of “Blues Are Setting In” cuts through all the oversweet Nashville production frills of the early 1960s. From there why not more rockabilly with Ronnie Self, Andy Starr, and Sonny Burgess. In early1947 the term rhythm & blues hadn’t yet been coined and a number of female African-American vocalists were making pop recordings with the intention of competing head-to-head with the white contemporaries. Melrose Colbert recorded with Jump Jackson’s band for Aristocrat, the Chicago-based predecessor to Chess records. Margie Hoffler of Norfolk was recording in for Savoy in Newark. You’d know her better as Margie Day of The Griffin Brothers Orchestra. But only Ella Johnson, who fronted Buddy Johnson’s Orchestra (her brother), had a chance of getting any airplay on pop radio because she recorded for a major label, Decca Records. It’s back to Philadelphia for Joe Cook and The Evening Star Quartet who put down some powerful jubilee-style gospel.

In hour 2 Willard McDaniel and Amos Milburn pound out piano boogies. Sonny Terry was a remarkably talented harmonica player and a prolific recording artist. In the late 1940s and the early 1950s he was working out of New York City. We will hear him as he bounces between record companies. Boogies are not unique to piano players as John Lee Hooker demonstrates with “Stomp Boogie,” while under the pseudonym of Texas Slim. Dale Hawkins returns for two blues-inspired numbers “May Babe” and “Susie-Q.” We’ll hear the originals from Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson No. 1. Who played guitar on which Dale Hawkins’ record is the subject of dozens of commentaries.  I don’t know; I wasn’t there, but you can look it up online. Bob Corely reminds you of what is coming up on April 15th.  Brother singing duets are known for their distinctive sound and we will prove it with The Brewster Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, and The York Brothers. Lazy Bill Lucas, piano, and Early Dranes, vocal, of The Blues Rockers give us the ridiculous with “Calling All Cows,” while Jerry McCain predicts the forthcoming eclipse with “East of The Sun.” Jimmy DeBerry and Walter Horton tag us out with “Easy,” from Sun Records in 1953. Hope you hear something you enjoy.

Thank you for your donations to

Wild Wild World – alternateDale HawkinsChess LP-14291958
LuluDale HawkinsChecker NOI1958
Worried About You BabyDale HawkinsChecker NOI1957
See You Soon BaboonDale HawkinsChecker 843Jul1956
Later AlligatorBobby CharlesChess 1609Nov1955
See You Later AlligatorBill HaleyDecca 9-29791Dec1955
See You Later AlligatorRoy HallDecca 9-29786Dec1955
Rabbit HopMoondogMoondog EP-2mid1950s
Pledged To SilenceBill PhillipsColumbia 4-42353Mar1962
The OutsiderBill PhillipsColumbia 4-42158Sep1961
Blues Are Setting InBill PhillipsColumbia 4-41954Feb1961
Pretty Bad BluesRonnie SelfABC Paramount 9714Jun1956
One More TimeAndy StarrMGM K12421Jan1957
My Bucket’s Got A Hole In ItSonny Burgess, Jack NanceSun unissuedAug1958
The Greatest MistakeMelrose Colbert w Jump Jackson OrchAristocrat 402Nov1947
It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream4 Bars and A Melody Margie HofflerSavoy 657Oct1947
Since I Fell For YouBuddy & Ella JohnsonDecca 48016Jan1947
Have MercyEvening Star QuartetGotham 752Dec1952
At The River of JordanEvening Star QuartetGotham 752Dec1952
Guitar ArtistryArthur Guitar Boogie Smith’s Hot QuintetSuper Disc 1041Sep1947
3AM BoogieWillard McDanielSpecialty 415Nov1951
Birmingham BounceAmos MilburnAladdin 3059circa1950
Harmonica TrainSonny TerryJackson 2302circa1952
Crow Jane BluesSonny TerryCapitol 40097Mar1948
Baby, Let’s Have Some Fun!Sonny Terry w Doc Bagby OrchGotham 517circa1951
Stomp BoogieTexas Slim rn John Lee HookerKing 4283Mar1949
Black Man BluesTexas Slim rn John Lee HookerKing 4283Mar1949
My BabeDale HawkinsChecker 906Nov1958
My BabeLittle WalterChecker 811Mar1955
Susie-QSonny Boy Williamson No. 1Bluebird B7995Jan1939
Suzie-QDale HawkinsChecker 863May1957
Income TaxBob CorleyRCA Victor 20-6801Jan1957
I’ll Be Happy In My HomeBrewster BrothersACME 1776circa1959
Long Journey HomeDelmore BrothersKing EP 322Fall1947
Two Sides To Every StoryYork BrothersKing 1092Aug1952
Wine-O-WineJerry “Boogie” McCainTrumpet 217Mar1954
Calling All CowsBlues Rockers Early DranesExcello 2062Sep1955
East of The SunJerry Boogie McCainTrumpet 217Mar1954
Easy (I Almost Lost My Mind)Jimmy [DeBerry] & Walter [Horton]Sun 180Feb1953