Flop Eared Mule is an old fiddle tune known by many, many names. The earliest known printed version was in 1854 as “Detroit Schottische,” but the tune is so widely distributed and known by so many names that for all I know, it was around for much longer.
On my Early Country Roots playlist, I have a block of three similar fiddle tunes:
Charlie Poole, 1929, “Flop Eared Mule” https://youtu.be/VTo5UZl-v0Y
Ukrainska Orchestra Pawla Humeniuka, 1929, “Kozak Zawydija Tanec” https://youtu.be/ciLk1CajzcI
Ukrainska Selska Orchestra, 1930, “Dowbush Kozak” https://youtu.be/KztZpbpxc3s
Gussie Davis (1863-1897) was a talented and prolific songwriter. Vernon Dalhart, Ernest Stoneman, Bradley Kincaid, George Reneau, Ernest Thompson, Fiddlin’ John Carson, and many other early artists covered his songs. Here’s an article: https://nativeground.com/gussie-davis/
The UCSB Cylinder Archive has a lot of these: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/talent/detail/40140/Davis_Gussie_L._composer
Carter Family, “One Little Word” https://youtu.be/pRQDFPKMa-4
Carter Family, “Maple On The Hill” https://youtu.be/wJf_8uyluEE
Molly O’Day, “A Hero’s Death” https://youtu.be/N6_BGMhXDwo
In 1950, Ernest Tubb and Red Foley had a number one country hit with a cover of Lead Belly’s 1930s hit “Goodnight Irene” https://youtu.be/c7Wx2Ht7tUY
The song is likely related to Gussie Davis’ “Irene, Goodnight.”
In other news, the Instagram site historyofcountrymusic has been posting a lot of good stuff lately, such as Milton Brown records (and some aren’t on Spotify or YouTube): https://instagram.com/historyofcountrymusic
Mike and the Moonpies released their album of unreleased Gary Stewart covers today, so there’s a good starting place. I added a few of these to my 2019-2020 Honky Tonk Spotify list: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3ZWhx8LAAYE45anT9Rt81d?si=yUH_CSM0SAag7MyuMmZGTA
Jimmy Buffett has a new album out tomorrow. His beach music is sort of its own genre, but his influence on country music is considerable (Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, and even Alan Jackson).
Archeophone Records will release a vinyl compilation tomorrow of six wax cylinder recordings by the Unique Quartette in 1895-6: https://www.archeophone.com/catalogue/celebrated-unique-quartette/
Some of these songs were covered by many others later. Uncle Dave Macon, Polk Miller, and others covered “I’se Gwine Back To Dixie.” Here’s a version of “Old Oaken Bucket” by June Carter and Gordon Terry: https://youtu.be/-d-p1AX9R6s
A whole lot of folks covered “Who Broke The Lock.” Here’s the Deuce Spriggins western swing version: https://youtu.be/SXxDpsprn2I
Riley Puckett’s variation was “Riley’s Henhouse Door.”
It’s also worth noting that the Unique Quartette record includes a bit of yodelling.
A lot of major stars cancelled or postponed all of their 2020 shows, but Alan Jackson announced yesterday that he will do a series of “small town drive-in” shows, beginning with a pair of shows in Alabama the first week of June: https://www.alanjackson.com/drive-in
The next big thing to keep an eye on is football. College and professional sports must decide at some point how to deal with this fall. If they open safely to large crowds this fall, then that might break the impasse for live music and other large gatherings. In the meantime, it’s great to see big names like Alan Jackson finding new ways to perform live shows.
Archeophone Records plans to release a six-CD box set in late 2020 called “Before The Big Bang” https://www.beforethebigbang.com/
This huge project covers country music roots from 1926 and before, or in other words, before the 1927 Bristol Sessions commonly called the Big Bang of Country Music. They’ll announce the songs one per day, and the first was yesterday.
I often include very early recordings on my YouTube lists such as my Early Country Roots list. These folks are making the same point I do, that while the “country music industry” emerged as a distinct marketing entity in the 1920s, a lot of the actual music had much earlier roots.
One other bit I expect some time is this year’s announcement of new CMHOF members. One can probably make a solid case for about 50 people who aren’t in yet, but in a typical year, only three get in, and one of those is reserved for a non-performer. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but it won’t surprise me if a songwriter like Bob McDill gets in. There are several very successful songwriters, but McDill’s 31 country number ones might win the day.
One name that I rarely see mentioned by country fans in hall of fame discussions is Al Dexter. I think he’s easily one of the most egregious oversights by the hall so far. Recency bias works against artists like Al Dexter, since living or recently deceased artists have friends lobbying for them. Al Dexter had much more of a career and impact on country music than many of the artists that people usually talk up.
West Virginia’s Saturday Night Jamboree was a popular regional television show from 1953-1965, but surprisingly little footage remains.
Here’s a 30-minute episode from April, 1960: https://youtu.be/AoiBJLLJVy4
Here’s a 1999 documentary celebrating 50 years of KSAZ: https://youtu.be/CTHSN5V4PF4
Charles Bigfoot Keaton, “My Gal Sal” https://youtu.be/UP0WGNDkJok
The Haylofters square dancing: https://youtu.be/KB87tZkp5Wg
Valvoline commercial- February, 1959: https://youtu.be/P_p5kalteLg
Chuck Berry had a lot of country influences, and his music influenced many country artists. His 1955 hit “Thirty Days” is a great example: https://youtu.be/4RxMCVQmfNo
Ernest Tubb covered the song later in 1955, and here’s a Grand Ole Opry performance: https://youtu.be/N-2mE4kIHUY
On a 1956 Grand Ole Opry show, June Carter sang “Thirty Days” a few minutes into the show and Roy Acuff closed the show with a jug band cover of “Maybelline” https://youtu.be/OkTuZQ4T3Gs
My jug band playlist includes Roy Acuff’s jug band version of “Thirty Days,” also at the Grand Ole Opry: https://youtu.be/zKIx0SUS6-k
The Tractors covered “Thirty Days” on their double platinum self-titled country album in 1994, introducing the song to another generation: https://youtu.be/VlBXDIGhhaE
In 1965, Jim and Jesse released a bluegrass tribute album to Chuck Berry, but “Thirty Days” wasn’t one of the songs: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lmKY0tNEFnbZmtSY9bd6OOIsiHVovEAFo
At 90 years old, Jesse McReynolds is the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.
My Rockin’ Country Roots playlist includes many, many interactions between country and rock and roll: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p
Here’s a collection of country television shows from the 1950s: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08xEU_XeDtBzGS2him_-cln
A lot of these are from the Grand Ole Opry and other “barn dance” shows. This list is mostly “full length” shows.
I have a separate playlist for Snader Telescriptions (1950-52), which were often just one song: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09oEbt-HNZ1rvvwkB70x4fZ
I also recently expanded my Soundies playlist (1941-46): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-VLIYTi97MG4Rx1jsP29bk
The Scopitone playlist was mostly from the mid-1960s. As with the Soundies, these were shorts made for specialized jukebox-like machines: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-zgwDjmnn9cB0XiQMKCQbx
The other playlists in my audiovisual series are Vitaphone & other early film shorts from 1926-30: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08tprK1zUJVK6qdGICHK6yf
and 1930s British Pathé: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0-vODYj8AwfkKY4ivPWNtxC
The Internet Archive has a lot of older music (as well as other media), and my playlist includes some of the very early artists I’ve mentioned here recently, like Don Richardson, Bentley Ball, and the Shannon Quartet: https://archive.org/details/fav-sanmartian
I’ve previously mentioned the huge collection of Grand Ole Opry shows from decades past on the Internet Archive, and my playlist includes links to those, too. The 1910 John Lomax book of cowboy songs is on there, too. The archive has a great amount of material to enjoy.
My May-June new music list is up to 34 songs: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_ni4m9QsGCe8VjtjWcUejc
Tessy Lou Williams, Reckless Kelly, Jarrod Dickenson, Chancey Williams, Daryl Mosley, and many others have new albums out this week. As usual, I’ll keep an ear open, and add songs to the list as I find them.
Josef Marais (1905-1978) was from South Africa, and in his decades-long career, he was especially known for singing South African folk songs. He moved to London in the 1920s, and first performed in New York in 1939. Practically every write-up about his career starts there, but one lesser-known bit is that he released a record in 1936 as “Josef Marais And His Hill-Billy Rangers” http://www.45worlds.com/78rpm/record/8844
Yes, the South African released a hillbilly/cowboy record in 1936, with “Riding The Range In The Sky” on one side and “Covered-Wagon Lullaby” on the other.
I found his recording of “Covered-Wagon Lullaby” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/woZHbFPRfdQ
The only version of “Riding The Range In The Sky” I can find online is by Australian artist Wilfrid Thomas in the 1950s: https://youtu.be/5dEwP6mVTos
Josef Marais recorded songs in both English and Afrikaans. In the early 1960s, Jim Reeves toured South Africa, filmed a movie, and recorded a country album in Afrikaans, even though he didn’t know the language: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8ZHTADeaSeXzTFgsM90QwfY8qqU_0AFm
“Bulawayo Blue Yodel” is a compilation album of 1950s African country music: https://olvidorecords.bandcamp.com/album/bulawayo-blue-yodel