Buck Owens, who was inducted in The Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, was born in 1929 in Sherman, Texas. His bio traces his musical roots:
The musical influences on the young Owens were diverse, reflecting both the popular music of the time and places in which he matured and the various styles that he had to learn to play as a working dance-hall musician in the Southwest. He listened to stringband and cowboy music on Mexican border radio stations and learned to play and synthesize western swing, rhythm & blues, and the emerging genre of honky-tonk. (Continue Reading…)
Wikipedia offers Owens’ bio:
Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. (August 12, 1929 – March 25, 2006), known professionally as Buck Owens, was an American musician, singer and songwriter who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band the Buckaroos. They pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, a reference to Bakersfield, California, the city Owens called home and from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call American music.
While Owens originally used fiddle and retained pedal steel guitar into the 1970s, his sound on records and onstage was always more stripped-down and elemental, incorporating elements of rock and roll. His signature style was based on simple storylines, infectious choruses, a twangy electric guitar, an insistent rhythm supplied by a drum track placed forward in the mix, and high two-part harmonies featuring Owens and his guitarist Don Rich. (Continue Reading…)
Owens and the Buckaroos’ biggest hit, probably, was “Act Naturally.” It’s above. Below is “My Heart Skips a Beat,” which was another hit.
Elvis is the King, but Roy Acuff is the King of Country Music.
The stories of how performers got started invariably are interesting. Here is the beginning of the profile of Roy Acuff at CMT:
Roy Acuff was called the King of Country Music, and for more than 60 years he lived up to that title. If any performer embodied country music, it was Roy Acuff. Throughout his career, Acuff was a champion for traditional country values, enforcing his beliefs as a performer, a music publisher, and as the Grand Master of the Grand Ole Opry. Acuff was the first country music superstar after the death of Jimmie Rodgers, pioneering an influential vocal style that complemented the spare, simple songs he was performing. Generations of artists, from Hank Williams to George Jones, have been influenced by Acuff, and countless others have paid respect to him. At the time of his death in 1992, he was still actively involved in the Grand Ole Opry, and was as popular as ever.,
Originally, Acuff didn’t plan to be a singer. Born in the small town of Maynardville, TN, in 1903, Acuff sang in the church choir as a schoolboy, but he was more interested in sports, particularly baseball. Not only was he attracted to the sport, he had a wild streak — after his family moved to Knoxville, he was frequently arrested for fighting. Acuff continued to concentrate on playing ball, eventually becoming strong enough to earn a tryout for the major leagues. However, that tryout never took place. Before he had a chance to play, he was struck by a severe sunstroke while he was on a fishing trip; after the sunstroke, Acuff suffered a nervous breakdown. While he was recovering, he decided that a career in baseball was no longer possible, so he decided to become an entertainer. He began to learn the fiddle and became an apprentice of Doc Hauer, a local medicine show man. (Continue Reading…)
Above is Acuff’s biggest hit, The Wabash Cannonball. Below is Back in the Country. There is surprisingly little good video of Acuff.
Above is No Show Jones. TDMB featured Jones last November.
Bob Wills, who fronted the band Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, was instrumental in the development of western swing and rockabilly. The turning of the evolutionary wheels are more evident at some points and well hidden in others. In Wills’ case, the progress is obvious.
Here is the beginning of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bio. The band was inducted in 1999:
Bob Wills was the driving force behind Western Swing, a form of country & western that was broader in scope than the parent genre. A master at synthesizing styles, Wills brought jazz, hillbilly, boogie, blues, big-band swing, rhumba, mariachi, jitterbug music and more under his ecumenical umbrella. He has been called “the King of Western Swing” and “the first great amalgamator of American music.” Wills grew up in a part of Texas where diverse cultures and forms of music overlapped. His enthusiasm and mastery were such that he assimilated disparate genres into what might best be termed American music. (Wills called it “Texas fiddle music.”) “We’re the most versatile band in America,” Wills forthrightly asserted in 1944. He might’ve added that they were most innovative band as well. Certainly, they forced country music to open up in its acceptance of electric instruments. Even rock and roll’s freewheeling spirit of stylistic recombination has antecedents in the work of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. (Continue Reading…)
Wikipedia describes the growth of the band:
After forming a new band, The Playboys, and relocating to Waco, Wills found enough popularity there to decide on a bigger market. They left Waco in January of 1934 for Oklahoma City. Wills soon settled the renamed Texas Playboys in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began broadcasting noontime shows over the 50,000 watt KVOO radio station. Their 12:30-1:15 p.m. Monday–Friday broadcasts became a veritable institution in the region.
Nearly all of the daily (except Sunday) shows originated from the stage of Cain’s Ballroom. In addition, they played dances in the evenings, including regular ones at the ballroom on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Wills added a trumpet to the band inadvertently when he hired Everet Stover as an announcer, not knowing that he had played with the New Orleans symphony and had directed the governor’s band in Austin. Stover, thinking he had been hired as a trumpeter, began playing with the band with no comment from Wills. Young sax player Zeb McNally was allowed to play with the band, although Wills initially discouraged it. With two horns in the band, Wills realized he would have to add a drummer to balance things and create a fuller sound. He hired the young, “modern style musician” Smokey Ducas. By 1935, Wills had added horn and reed players as well as drums to the Playboys. The addition of steel guitar whiz Leon McAuliffe in March 1935 added not only a formidable instrumentalist but a second engaging vocalist. Wills himself largely sang blues and sentimental ballads. (Continue Reading…)
Here is a good Wills site. Above is Ida Red and below are two songs: Wake Up Susan and Liberty.
…then it’s a gem. They all are, but usually I have a better rationale.
This version of Deuce and a Quarter song has everything: It’s a great song (written by Kevin Gordon and Gwil Owen), is accompanied by great photos and is performed by Scotty Moore, Levon Helm, DJ Fontana, Keith Richards, Marshall Crenshaw, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson.
Deuce and a quarter, according to the Urban Dictionary, is slang for a Buick Electra 225.
Mumford & Sons’ Babel won the 2012 Grammy Award for best album. Here is the beginning of Wikipedia’s profile of the band:
Mumford & Sons are an English folk rock band. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, guitar, resonator guitar), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). Mumford & Sons were formed in December 2007, emerging out of West London, with such artists as Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and Noah and the Whale.
Mumford & Sons recorded an EP, Love Your Ground, and performed in small to moderate venues in the UK and the United States to expose audiences to their music and build support for an eventual album. Their debut album, Sigh No More, was released in the UK and Ireland in October 2009, and February 2010 in the US. The album reached number one in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and eventually peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US. The band gained popularity throughout 2010, performing for larger audiences and making their first network television appearances in the US. On 1 December 2010, the band received two Grammy Award nominations, one for Best New Artist and the other for Best Rock Song (“Little Lion Man”). The ensuing live performance at the Grammy ceremony in February 2011 led to increased airplay and popularity for singles from Sigh No More. The band won the ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist in 2010, and the Brit Award in 2011 for Best British Album. (Continue Reading…)
The band is working on with Justin Timberlake on the soundtrack for the next Coen Brothers’ film. Above is Little Lion Man and below is Dust Bowl Dance. The band’s website has a lot of information, including dates for the current European tour. Mumford & Sons will play domestic dates starting in mid June.
This is a long excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry on Merle Haggard, but it is very interesting. It seems that a small percentage of the many kids who start down the wrong track are saved by the fact that they have talent. Others, it seems, aren’t so fortunate:
Around the onset of adolescence, Haggard began committing petty crimes and truancy. Due to shoplifting in 1950 (aged thirteen), Merle was sent to a juvenile detention center. In 1951, aged 14, Haggard ran away to Texas with a friend, but returned that same year and was arrested for truancy and petty larceny. Again escaping the juvenile detention center, he went to Modesto, California. He worked odd jobs—legal and not—and began performing in a bar. Once he was found again, he was sent to the Preston School of Industry, a high-security installation. He was released fifteen months later, but was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt. After his fourth release, Haggard saw Lefty Frizzell in concert with his friend, Bob Teague. After hearing Haggard sing along to his first two songs Frizzell allowed Haggard to sing at the concert. The audience enjoyed Haggard and he began working on a full-time music career. After he had earned a local reputation, Haggard’s money problems caught up with him. He was arrested for attempting to rob a Bakersfield tavern in 1957 and was sent to the San Quentin state prison for three years.
While in prison, Haggard ran a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. During a time of solitary confinement, he encountered an alcoholic mathematician and death row inmate, Drunk Adam. Haggard had the opportunity to escape with a fellow inmate (nicknamed “Rabbit”) but passed. The inmate successfully escaped, only to shoot a police officer and return to San Quentin for execution. Drunk Adam’s predicament along with that of “Rabbit” inspired Haggard to turn his life around. Haggard soon earned a high-school equivalence diploma and kept a steady job in the prison’s textile plant. Haggard cited a 1958 performance by Johnny Cash as his inspiration to join the prison’s band. Upon his release in 1960, Haggard said it took about four months to get used to being out of the penitentiary and that, at times, he actually wanted to go back in. He said it was the loneliest he had ever felt. (Continue Reading…)
Okie from Muskogee, perhaps Haggard’s best known song, seems archaic now. But it was a cornerstone of the culture wars at a time when the nation seem even more polarized than today.
I usually shy away from posting on bands or performers for whom I can’t find video. After all, seeing the acts is as much fun and illuminating as hearing them. But in the case of the Alton and Rabon Delmore — The Delmore Brothers — the absence of video is unfortunate but not a reason to skip them. They are extremely important, though not as well remembered as some other early country bands. They also are terrific.
CMT puts it well:
The Delmore Brothers are not nearly as well-known as such early country giants as the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, and Hank Williams. The reasons for this, upon close inspection of their work, are not readily apparent. They were one of the greatest early country harmonizers, drawing from both gospel and Appalachian folk. They were skilled songwriters, penning literally hundreds of songs, many of which have proven to be durable. Most important, they were among the few early traditional country acts to change with the times, and pioneer some of those changes. Their recordings from the latter half of the 1940s married traditional country to boogie beats and bluesy riffs. In this respect they laid a foundation for rockabilly and early rock & roll, and rate among the most important white progenitors of those forms. (Continue Reading…)
There is a very good essay at the YouTube page of the song above, I’ve Got the Deep River Blues. It was written written by a gentleman named Wilson McPhert. Read it by expanding the “show more” button. Here is how it starts:
I am a big fan of Doc Watson’s performance of ‘Deep River Blues’. In finding out about it’s origins, I came across the Delmore Brothers, who did a version in 1933 entitled ‘I’ve Got the Big River Blues’. I really like their close harmony singing and their straightforward approach to music, which morphed from rootsy country ballads to later up tempo tunes which were clearly influential on the development of rock and roll. (Continue Reading…)
Brown’s Ferry Blues, which I believe is an early number, is below.