11/30/20 The Throat Country Playlist

My list includes some throat singing and various forms of overtone and undertone singing, plus exceptionally high or low voices:

Throat Country

The first time I remember hearing the term “throat singing” was in the 90s when Ondar made some appearances on American TV.

When I was young, quartet singing was big in country music: Statlers, Oaks, etc. All the quartets featured bass singers. JD Sumner is a good example of a gospel quartet deep bass singer.

As far as I’m aware, the first artist to record a Popeye-ish throaty undertone voice was Billy Golden beginning in the 1890s. He’s best known as the first to record “Turkey In The Straw.” Gene Greene did a bit of ragtime “Popeyeing” in 1911, and others followed in the 1920s, eventually getting to the actual Popeye cartoons in the early 1930s.

In 1929, Arthur Miles’ sygyt-like cowboy song is a country music unicorn. He recorded one song in two parts, and that was it.

The White City Jazzers’ throat singing version of “Turkey In The Straw” is from around the same time, but unfortunately, it is not on YouTube. It would be a perfect fit for my list.

Anyway, there’s plenty of obscure, weird-sounding music on this list to enjoy.

11/29/20 Czech and Slovak Country Music

Czechia has a well-established country and bluegrass scene, and is the original home of polka. The Carter Family with Johnny Cash performed in Prague in 1978.

Here in central Texas, one of the most prominent examples of Czech influence is the Texas kolache. Texas kolaches are very common here, and the most common ones are not actually kolaches at all, but more like klobasniky, but everyone here calls them kolaches: Texas Monthly kolache article

Here’s an article about Texas Czechs:

Texas Historical Association article

Moravians in America

The Bohemian and Czech Immigration To America

Now that we have covered a little history, let’s check in with my Czech list:

Czech Country Music

Country music is not as well established in Slovakia as Czechia, but there is a growing scene. In 1926, Andrej Gellert recorded a Slovak cover of Vernon Dalhart’s “Prisoner’s Song.” Here is my Slovak list:

Slovak Country music

Dobro was invented in the United States in the late 1920s by the Dopyera brothers, who had immigrated from Slovakia two decades before. Dobro began as a brand name, but dobro is often used as a generic term to describe all resonator guitars. Dobro is most often associated with bluegrass, but wasn’t popularized in bluegrass until Josh Graves with Flatt and Scruggs in 1955. Roy Acuff’s country band featured Clell Summey (also known as “Cousin Jody”) playing the dobro back in the 1930s, including on the Grand Ole Opry in 1938. Most articles about resonator guitars mention blues and/or bluegrass, but country music and especially Roy Acuff should also be included in dobro discussions. Cliff Carlisle was another of the earliest country stars who was known for playing dobro and other resonator guitars.

The Dopyeras worked with Texan George Beauchamp in California in the late twenties, but after an unpleasant parting, Beauchamp went on to gain credit for the first successful commercial electric guitar in 1932. Dobro started selling electric guitars in 1933. One of the greatest American contributions to music is amplified instruments. The resonator guitar, electric guitar, and steel guitar all resulted from efforts to amplify the guitar. Chasing Guitars article.

I realize that I’ve wandered off on a tangent about the history of amplified instruments here, but I’ll close today’s post with a couple of articles about the very early efforts to create electric instruments: Reverb article. Vintage Guitar article about the Stromberg Electro

11/28/20 Polish Country Music

Poland doesn’t have as much of an established country music presence as some other European countries, but I was able to find enough for a solid list:

Polish Country Music

My starting point is the 1926 Polish cover of Vernon Dalhart’s “Prisoner’s Song” by Władysław Ochrymowicz. Let’s also take a look at some Polish dances and the musical styles that accompany them:

History of mazurka

History of oberek

Polka or polska

History of polka

“The modern American polka is distant from its European roots… The distinct Polish-American version of the polka has roots in working class communities of the East Coast and the Midwest with mixed Polish, German and Czech populations.”

I have a Country Polka playlist. Polka songs impacted the country charts in the 1940s, including a couple of number one country hits, but now, that’s mostly forgotten history:

Country Polka Playlist

American country greats Marty Robbins, Pee Wee King, and Dave Dudley had Polish ancestry.

11/27/20 Italian Country Music

Italy is the latest addition to my international series:

Italian Country Music

One of the major shortcomings of Ken Burns’ country music documentary was the coverage of the history of the instruments. To hear Burns’ interviews, the only instrument fact that matters is that the banjo was developed from an African gourd lute. What about all of the other instruments ? Where did they come from ?

The whole violin family of instruments was developed in Italy. So was the mandolin. So was the piano. These are quite important instruments in country music history. A typical bluegrass band includes at least three instruments of Italian origin: violin, double bass violin, and mandolin. The facade of the Country Music Hall Of Fame was designed to look like a piano: CMHOF in Nashville.

Anyway, let’s move on to the music…

Most of the entries on my list are within the last few years. A good example is Daniele Marini’s album, which was released last year.

I’ll also mention my Crooner Country playlist, because many of the most famous American crooners of all time are of Italian heritage (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, etc), and there are many examples of pop crooners covering country and western songs. Dean Martin recorded several country albums.

Crooner Country

Enjoy the music !

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

I started out the holiday listening to a bit of Bluegrass Junction on Sirius XM, which is doing a free preview for a few days.

I don’t know of a whole lot of new music out this week. Nick Dittmeier and Zach Bryan are two with albums out tomorrow. Here is the list of Record Store Day Black Friday releases: Record Store Day Black Friday

My September-December new music playlist has nearly 150 artists already (some good and some not so much, but I am trying to provide somewhat of a “time capsule” that captures a cross section of the new music):

September-December Country Showcase

I’m still adding to my series of international country music lists. I published my playlist for Faroe Islands Country Music:

Faroe Islands Country Music

I was surprised to find so much for a remote, little place with a population of under 50,000. The Faroe Islands are technically part of Denmark, but it’s far away from the rest of Denmark and has its own culture and language.

I didn’t have as much luck with Iceland, which has over seven times as many people. Iceland has seen plenty of success in other styles of music (Bjork, Sigor Ros, Kaleo, Of Monsters And Men, etc). There are fourteen “official” Iceland playlists, but not one specific to country music: Iceland Music

So, my Iceland Country Music playlist is rather puny, but it’s a start:

Iceland Country Music

What about Greenland ? I found an all-genre Greenland list on YouTube: Music of Greenland

Since today is Thanksgiving, I should close today’s post with a song about turkey. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Louis Jordan is rarely mentioned in discussions of country music history, but he had two number one hits the first year (1944) that Billboard had a country chart. Here’s a clip from the 1947 movie “Look Out Sister” of Louis Jordan’s take on “Turkey In The Straw” Louis Jordan

Here is the movie in its entirety: Look Out Sister

11/25/20 Russian and Ukrainian Country Music

I’m continuing my series of international playlists:

Russian Country Music

My list begins with Conway Twitty in 1975, but I couldn’t find many American country stars attempting to sing in Russian. Roy Clark did tour Russia. Fortunately, I was able to find plenty of Russians playing country music and similar styles of music.

For some exotic sounds, check out the end of the playlist for the Tuvan throat singers, and I found some examples of them collaborating with bluegrass musicians.

I also published my playlist of Ukrainian Country Music

My Ukrainian list is pretty heavy on Canadian acts of Ukrainian heritage. I’ve mentioned previously that the old-time fiddle tune we know as “Flop Eared Mule” is quite similar to the Ukrainian tune “Dowbush Kozak.” Lou Raderman, who played viola on Vernon Dalhart’s “Prisoner’s Song,” was originally from Odessa.

In cased you missed it, I’ve recently posted German, Dutch, Japanese, and Indian/south Asian playlists. I already had a YouTube list for Latin America, and my list “The Swamp” includes some Cajun French. On Spotify, I have a list of country music in Spanish, and a list of Canadian French country music.

11/24/20 German & Dutch Country Music

My German Country Music playlist includes German acts, plus some well-known American acts singing German phonetically:

German Country Music

Check out Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Bobby Bare, and Willie Nelson are among the Americans on this list.

German country star Tom Astor released an album of duets with American country stars some years ago. He sang in English on some (Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Grandpa Jones, etc) and German for others (Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Bellamy Brothers,etc.).

Truck Stop is another prolific German country act that has been around for decades.

Many popular musical instruments were developed by Germans, such as clarinet, tuba, autoharp/zither, harmonica, accordion, pump organ, and some electronic instruments. German-speaking people popularized yodeling, too. Many of the oldest dance halls in Texas were built by German and Czech immigrant communities.

History of the waltz.

My Dutch Country Music playlist includes Dutch and related languages (Flemish, Frisian, Afrikaans), plus Dutch artists singing in English:

Dutch Country Music

The logical starting point is Willy Derby’s Dutch cover of Vernon Dalhart’s “Prisoner’s Song” in 1926 !

Bobbejaan Schoepen from Belgium is another highlight of this playlist, as is Jim Reeves’ Afrikaans album. Wanda Jackson checks in with some phonetic Dutch covers, as she did with German and Japanese. Ilse DeLange and Joe Buck are among the current Dutch artists who have performed in Nashville at CMA Fest. Dick Van Altena has songs in Dutch and songs in English. The Dutch Bluegrass Boys released a couple of albums in the late 1960s that fit nicely on the list.

11/23/20 Country Movie Musicals

Florida Georgia Line is working on a movie musical: Hollywood Reporter article

“Added Hubbard and Kelley: “We are so excited to bring a wholly original country musical to the big screen for the very first time.”

Whatever you think of that particular act’s music, this does look like a good topic to explore.

I’m not sure what technically qualifies as a musical film, because there are many country music-themed movies, and they all feature at least some country music. In some cases, there were musical theater productions based on these films, like “Urban Cowboy” and “9 to 5.”

Certainly, there are many, many “musical western” films: Ranker list of western musicals

Here are some old films that feature country music:

“The Grand Ole Opry” (1940): The big highlight here is Uncle Dave Macon’s appearance. He was born in 1870 !

“The Old Barn Dance” (1938): This Gene Autry film is on YouTube: The Old Barn Dance

Ferlin Husky was in a number of movies that were full of country music. Let’s take a look at a few of these:

Country Music Holiday (1958): Zsa Zsa Gabor and many more…

Country Music On Broadway (1965): Based on the title alone, this should fit the “country musical film” theme of today’s post.

“Las Vegas Hillbillys” (1966): Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren are easy on the eyes.

“Hillbillys In A Haunted House” (1967): As you might guess from the “hillbillys” misspelling, this film was a follow-up to the previous entry. Check out the cast for this one: Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing, Lon Chaney, John Carradine, Merle Haggard, Sonny James, etc.

11/22/20 The Alphorn Playlist

I continue my series of instrument playlists with the alphorn:


There’s not much of interest to country fans on this list, but it is a cool instrument, and I cover a little bit of everything here.

In other news, the “From Elvis In Nashville” 74-track box set is now up on streaming services:

From Elvis In Nashville

Here’s a short video about this project, which features remastered versions of Elvis recordings from 50 years ago:

Making of ‘From Elvis In Nashville’

11/21/20 Guitorgan

In the late 1960s, “guitar-organs” or “guitorgans” came into the scene. Although these things never caught on in a big way, I found enough to create a playlist:

Guitorgan Playlist

I’m sure I’m missing a good many. I’ve read that country artists like Sonny James and Freddie Hart had some guitorgan, but I haven’t tracked down specific examples. I read that there’s a video clip somewhere of Freddie Hart on the Dinah Shore Show, but I can’t find it on YouTube. The studio version of Hart’s signature hit “Easy Lovin'” featured an organ, but the organ bit was played on a guitorgan at some of his live shows.

Hopefully, I’ll find some more examples to add to the list, but every list has to start somewhere.