Comfort Food For Your Ears: Grassy Country, Hokum, and Riding Down the Range

Written by on March 7, 2017

Ella Ink Spots


Marty Robbins Gunfighter

Viking Twang Show 120, March 7, 2017

Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 120. My name’s Randy Black; happy to see you, as usual.

We’re getting toward the end of the term, if you can believe it, so we’re going to play some comfort music for you today. We’ll start with some classic grassy country, get into some hokum in the second set, then take a trip through cowboy territory in the third.

We’ll start with a history lesson from the King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin:

1 – Turkey Red; W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Grand Old Opry Song; Jimmy Martin and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. From the classic 1972 album, Will The Circle Be Unbroken.
3 – Always Late With Your Kisses; Lefty Frizzell. From 1951, his fourth straight number one country hit.
4 – Cash on the Barrelhead; Dolly Parton. The Louvin Brothers had a bit hit with this in 1957; Dolly recorded it on 1999’s The Grass Is Blue.
5 – Deep River; Caleb Klauder. A Sam Humphreys/Paul Williams song that Jimmy Martin recorded in 1960; this is our local favorite Caleb Klauder from his 2010 album, Western Country.

I’m a big fan of what is called hokum music, a form of string band music from the 1920s and 1930s rooted in the vaudeville and minstrel show tradition. We’ll start right out with the Dallas String Band.

6 – Hokum Blues; Dallas String Band. One of the first string bands of the time and maybe the creator of the term hokum; led by the mandolin player Coley Jones. This is from 1928.
7 – Ragged But Right; Riley Puckett. The great blind singer and guitar player who was one of the pioneers of this kind of music; a member of Gid Tanner and the Skillet Likkers. This was one of his first solo recordings in 1934.
8 – Sail Away Ladies; Uncle Dave Macon. Uncle Dave already had a long career before he became the first star of the Grand Old Opry. This classic is from 1927.
9 – The Girl I Left Behind in Sunny Tennessee; Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers. Yet another of the earliest stars in what became country music. This is from his first recording session, July 25, 1925, in New York.
10 – It Ain’t Gonna to Rain No Mo’; Gid Tanner and the Skillet Likkers. Tanner was another of the superstars of hokum; Riley Puckett played in the Skillet Likkers. This is from 1929.
11 – The Gypsy; Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers. A white man who performed in blackface in the minstrel shows. Miller was influential on later country music; Hank Williams made a hit of Miller’s version of Lovesick Blues. This is from 1936; I couldn’t find out who the woman is on this record.
12 – He Likes It Slow; Butterbean & Susie with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. This was a married couple, Jodie and Susie Edwards, who toured on the vaudeville and minstrel circuits in the 1920s and 30s. They recorded this in 1926.

We love the cowboy music here at the Twang; here’s some of our favorites.

13 – Wah-Hoo! The Hoosier Hot Shots. The Hot Shots were a vaudeville band that were at the height of their fame in the 1930s, led by brothers Ken and Paul Trietsch. This song is from 1936.
14 – Cow Cow Boogie; Ella Fitzgerald & the Ink Spots. Ella and the famed vocal group recorded this for a 1942 Abbott & Costello movie, “Ride Em Cowboy.”
15 – Cowboy’s Night Herd Song; Sons of the Pioneers. This is from 1934, with Leonard Slye on the lead vocals.
16 – Saddle Tramp; Marty Robbins. Marty Robbin’s most famous album was 1959’s Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs; Marty wrote this and recorded it for the 1999 CD re-release.
17 – Cowboy Stomp; Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Bob and the band recorded this in 1941.
18 – Riding Down the Canyon; The Freak Mountain Ramblers. Kevin Ritchey, known as Bingo, leads the band through this 1935 Gene Autry song, from their 2001 album, Looks Perfectly Legal To Me.
19 – Daybreak in Vegas; The Countrypolitans
20 – Cowboy Waltz; Woody Guthrie.





  • Turkey Red
    W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground
  • Grand Old Opry Song
    Jimmy Martin and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
    Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  • Always Late (With Your Kisses)
    Lefty Frizzell
    Country: An American Tradition
  • Cash On The Barrelhead
    Dolly Parton
    The Grass Is Blue
  • Deep River
    Caleb Klauder
    Western Country
  • Hokum Blues
    Dallas String Band
    Good For What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37
  • Ragged But Right
    Riley Puckett
    Country Music Pioneer Vol. 1
  • Sail Away Ladies
    Uncle Dave Macon
    Across The Tracks
  • The Girl I Left Behind In Sunny Tennessee
    Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers
    Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers and Highlanders
  • It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'
    Gid Tanner and the Skillet Likkers
    Good For What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37
  • The Gypsy
    Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers
    Good For What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37
  • He Likes It Slow
    Butterbeans & Susie with Louis Armstrong's Hot Five
    Butterbeans & Susie Vol. 2
  • Wah-Hoo!
    The Hoosier Hot Shots
    Are You Ready Hezzie
  • Cow Cow Boogie
    Ella Fitzgerald & the Ink Spots
    Ella: The Legendary Decca Recordings
  • Cowboy's Night Herd Song
    Sons of the Pioneers
    Songs of the Prairie
  • Saddle Tramp
    Marty Robbins
    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  • Cowboy Stomp
    Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
    Texas, Hollywood, and Chicago 1940-47
  • Riding Down the Canyon
    Freak Mountain Ramblers
    Looks Perfectly Legal to Me
  • Daybreak in Vegas
    Tired of Drowning
  • Cowboy Waltz
    Woody Guthrie
    The Asch Recordings 1939-45 Vol. 2

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs


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