Way Out West with Maddox Brothers, Vern & Ray, Classic Cowboys
Written by Randy Black on October 26, 2016
Viking Twang Show 106, October 26, 2016
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 106. My name’s Randy Black, your host for the next hour of the best twangy music you’ll find on a Wednesday morning. Hope you’re all surviving your midterms.
This week we’re keeping it on the West Coast for most of the show, with sets from the Maddox Brothers and Rose, and the influential California bluegrass duo Vern and Ray. We’ll close the show with songs from an album called Cowboy Songs on Folkways, from our friends at Smithsonian Folkways.
So here they are, America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band: Fred on vocals and bass, Cal on guitar, Henry on electric mandolin, Ken on fiddle, and Rose to do the singing:
1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – I’m A Little Red Caboose (On the Choo Choo Train of Life). From 1953, written by Carolyn Bradshaw.
3 — No Help Wanted. From 1953. This is from Bill Carlisle.
4 – Love is Strange. From 1957; a cover of the 1957 hit from Mickey and Silvia, written by Bo Diddley.
5 – You Won’t Believe This. From 1954. Rose wrote this with Dusty Rose.
6 – Let Me Love You. From 1957. A Tommy Collins song.
7 – The Death of Rock and Roll; From 1956.
The pairing of two Arkansas natives who met in Central California produced what’s considered Northern California’s first bluegrass band. Ray Park and Vern Williams performed together as Vern & Ray from the late 1950s until 1974, with some brief reunions afterward. They only made one full-length studio recording, but this concert album is a great representation of their sound. Ray plays the guitar and fiddle, and sings, Vern is on the mandolin. They’re joined by Herb Peterson on banjo and Howard Courtney on bass.The set is from the 1968 San Francisco Folk Festival at San Francisco State College.
8 – 20 Second Rag. Ray’s introduction to the show.
9 – How Many Times. A Ray Park composition.
10 – Muleskinner Blues.
11 – The Leather Britches.
12 – I Wonder Where You Are Tonight; A Johnny Bond song.
13 – Little Georgia Rose.
14 – The Buckin’ Mule
We’ll keep it way out west with a 1991 Smithsonian Folkways album called Cowboy Songs on Folkways. Here’s Harry Jackson, calling us to breakfast:
15 – Morning Grub Hollar; Harry Jackson. Jackson started working as a cowboy in Montana when he was 14. He recorded this in 1957.
16 – Whoopie-Ti-Yi-You, Get Long Little Dogies; Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. Harry McClintock originally recorded this in 1928; Cisco and Woody in 1946.
17 – The Devil Made Texas; Hermes Nye. This has been recited as a poem much as sung, as far back as 1910. This version was recorded in 1955.
18 – Texiana Boys; John A. Lomax, Jr. Lomax was the son of the famous song collector and a favorite among Texas folk song circles. The song can be traced back as far as the Deep South in the 1840s, always warning women not to trust “boys” from other places. Recorded in Houston in 1955.
19 – Put Your Little Foot; Tex-I-An Boys. Lomax also led this band. The song is based on a style of Polish folk dancing that goes back to the 1850s.
20 – Utah Carl; Harry McClintock. McClintock was the writer and singer of popular songs such as “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” This was a popular genre where a cowboy saves the boss’ daughter at the expense of his own life. He recorded this in 1951.
21 – Cow Cow Yicky Yicky Yea; Leadbelly. The Old West always had plenty of African-American cowboys; the blues singer recorded this at least five times, including this one from 1944.
22 – Las Chapparreras; Peter Hurd. Latino cowboys were also common in the Southwest. Ranchera songs included mariachi music and ballads by wandering Mexican singers. Hurd was a famous Western painter from New Mexico. This was recorded in 1949.
23 – Zebra Dun; Ray Reed. A Zebra dun was a kind of horse. Songs of inexperienced cowboys being pranked abound; this one turns the tables. It was recorded in 1951 by Reed, a working cowboy from New Mexico.
24 – Horse Wrangler; Roger Welsch. Yet another tale of a tenderfoot who gets in over his head; this was first published as a poem in Montana in 1894. Welsch was a Nebraska folklorist who recorded this in 1965.
25 – Home on the Range; Pete Seeger. Seeger recorded this classic in 1957, though the lyrics go back as far as the 1870s.
26 – (There’s an) Empty Cot in the Bunkhouse Tonight; Rosalie Sorrels. Gene Autry wrote and recorded this in 1933; Rosalie recorded this spare version in 1957.
27 – Twang Theme; Countrypolitans