LOCALS ONLY: This is a guide to independent and off-the-radar country musicians from the 1960s, 1970s and early 'Eighties, including hometown performers working in regional oprys, jamborees, dude ranches, casinos, pizza parlors and lounges. They included longhaired country-rockers, red-dirt outlaws, Nashville hopefuls and earnest amateurs, as well as the more country-oriented artists in the bluegrass and southern gospel fields. Many of these musicians toured nationally or regionally while others were strictly hometown folks. These are the people who are often overlooked in the history books but who contributed their talents, hopes and dreams to the country music world, and the aim of this guide is to keep their memories and their work alive. Comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.
Arthur D "Rocky Mountain Water" (Tad Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Downs)
Not sure to tell you about this one... It says Mr. D was from "the north country," which I guess maybe means Canada, though this album was recorded in Nashville, although not entirely with the A-list usual suspects. Some players I recognize -- Willie Rainsford on piano, Leo Jackson guitar, Jim Baker playing steel -- but many of the pickers are more obscure, possibly from D's own band.
The Dady Brothers "Mind To Move" (Emanon Records, 1979) (LP)
A bluegrass/twang band from upstate New York, playing mostly originals written by John Dady, including "Elaine," "Minstrel Man," "Hitchhiker's Lament," "Mind To Move" and "Lonesome Ugly Me," which was co-written with Michael Pavone, who also wrote one called "Nogales." The cover tunes range from bluegrass oldies such as "Way Downtown" to a Nick Gravenites blues tune ("Theme From Steelyard Blues").
Ted Daigle & His Musicmen "Twelve Million Memories" (Excellent Recording Company, 1966) (LP)
(Produced by Alex Sherman)
Best known as a Canadian rockabilly pioneer, Ted Daigle "went country" for this mid-'Sixties outing, covering a dozen classic country songs, picking one hit for each year from 1955-66, including oldies such as "White Sports Coat And A Pink Carnation," "Walk On By," "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" and "King Of The Road." The backing band includes Gilbert Glazier and Neil Flanz on guitars, Paul Rusachuk on bass and Byron Stever on drums. Daigle also covers "BJ the DJ," which was a hit for Stonewall Jackson in '64, writing how he could identify with the song since he was working as a deejay at radio station CKOY, Ottawa when he cut this album. Twang on!
Pat Dailey "Whiskey Morning" (Olympia Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Danny Sheridan & Boris Menart)
Midwesterner Pat Dailey moved from state to state for years, singing in bars and clubs in numerous cities throughout the 1960s and '70s, before landing a decades-long gig at a place called the Beer Barrel Saloon in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. In the early '80s he met Shel Silverstein, and together they collaborated on several songs. This was Dailey's first album, recorded around the time of his more or less permanent relocation to Ohio... The sessions were recorded in Hollywood with a studio crew packed with country-rock luminaries such as Danny Sheridan (bass), Al Perkins (pedal steel and dobro), Gib Gilbeau on fiddle and various others in the LA twang scene.
Coy Daily "Country Fiddling" (Trac Records, 197-?) (LP)
Fiddler Coy Daily was an Okie who came out west in 1940, playing professionally in some western swing bands before settling down in Salida, California, right next to Modesto. In 1974, Daily and fellow fiddler Vern Keathly along with guitarist Nellie O'Neal won the music competition at the Auburn State Fair, giving them the impetus to record a lovely all-instrumental album for the Fresno-based Trac label. Daily followed up that success with this "solo" set, which featured backing by his son Ron Daily, on bass as well as guitar picker Les Davis and pianist Don Hyland (here spelled "Heiland") on piano. This record includes an original tune called "Kiowa Special," in honor of his childhood home in Kiowa County, Oklahoma.
Paige Daily "First Paige" (Benson Sound, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Larry R. Benson)
A vanity album pressed for Laverne, Oklahoma's Paige Daily, winner of the state's 1982 Teen Miss Talent pageant... She sings country standards like "Tennessee Waltz," "Song For The Common Man" and "Your Cheatin' Heart" as well as contemporary stuff such as "Lookin' For Love," "On The Road Again" and -- of course -- "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma." Plus, I was delighted to see her cover Dick Feller's "Some Days Are Diamonds," though I suppose that was because John Denver had just recorded his version of the song.
The Daisy Dillman Band "The Daisy Dillman Band" (United Artists, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by John Pete)
An exemplary hippie twang album by one of the handful of regional DIY bands to score a nationwide, major label contract in the late '70s. Formed in 1976, this Minnesota-based band named jokingly themselves after their bassist's great-grandmother, Daisy Ellen Dillman -- the name stuck and they built up a solid regional following which led to this album, as well as various gigs opening for folks such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Asleep At The Wheel and The Amazing Rhythm Aces (who all get shout-outs on the liner notes...) This album is a very strong recording, blending Poco-delic longhair twang with Marshall Tucker-esque Southern-pop, made even more impressive for the wealth of original material and the fact that the band really played all the music itself -- no Nashville superpickers called into the studio for this one! I remember hearing these guys, or at least hearing their name a lot, on the late, lamented, legendary KFAT radio station in the late '70s, though listening back to the album, I have to say none of the tracks stand out as "the hit" -- some of those KFAT classics stick with you, but I guess some don't. Still, it's a pretty solid record, and if you're looking into '70s longhair country and Southern rock, you don't want to miss this one!
The (Daisy) Dillman Band "Lovin' The Night Away" (RCA, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Hall)
Oh, dear. Well, whatever country twang they started out with in the '70s had completely evaporated by the time this record came out. The Dillman Band went pop, or at least tried to, with this glossy set of eclectic soft rock, which ranged from moderately rockin' bar-band type stuff, to tunes with mild Latin and Caribbean influences. The only song that really seems at all country-flavored is "Roll Like A Stone," which sounds like a Poco outtake, but otherwise, this was a fairly bland rock-pop outing, and one that sounded several years out of date, more suited to '77-'79 AOR rather than the post-punk, pre-MTV landscape of the early '80s. I guess this album yielded a Top 50 single, though a second album recorded for RCA got shelved. Oh, well.
Dakota "The Captain And The Outlaw" (Front Range, 1982) (LP)
There were a few bands that called themselves "Dakota," including some that weren't from the Dakotas at all... Apparently these guys were from Colorado, and not to be confused with the soft-rock group from Pennsylvania that was led by Jerry Hludzik and Bill Kelly that put out an album a couple of years earlier. Anyway, this album includes some interesting folk-oriented country-rock covers, including three John Stewart songs, a version of Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon," and a version of "Greenback Dollar."
Dakota "All Kinds Of Country" (1984) (LP)
(Produced by Don Garvin & Joe Bougher)
Led by singer and keyboardist Joe Bougher, this band named Dakota was from New Brighton, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, near the Ohio border. All the songs were Joe Bougher originals, though for the life of me I couldn't find any more information abut this band, other than the record itself.
Johnny Dakota "In Nashville" (Rodeo Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Mills & Bill Eldridge)
A solo album by Jon E. Severson, aka Johnny Dakota, a stalwart member of the Western Gentlemen, longtime the house band at the Reata Pass Steakhouse near Scottsdale, Arizona... Usually he recorded locally with his bandmates, bass player Buck Coghlan and fiddler Slim Forbes, but for this disc they went whole hog and booked time at Bradley's Barn playing with a bunch of Nashville pros, including Willie Ackerman, David Briggs, Jerry Byrd, Walter Haynes, Junior Huskey, Pete Wade and others. Most of the tracks are covers of classics, tunes like "Almost Persuaded," "Release Me," "For The Good Times" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down," though there's also one original, "The Night Wind," credited to Mr. Dakota, which was also released as a single on the Rodeo label.
Dakota Outlaws/Bob Marty "Southern Comfort" (Self-released) (LP)
Singer Bob Marty couldn't quite decide who should be listed as the artist on this one... Should it be under his name, or under the "band" name Dakota Outlaws, with the distinction being that's what he called the act when he was performing with his wife, Dee, who also plays bass. As it turned out, he lists it both ways, with "Dakota Outlaws" emblazoned on the front cover, and "Bob Marty" persisting on the back and inner label. According to the liner notes, Marty worked as a traveling performer doing the "supper club trail" in the upper plains states, where he met Dee, who was a native North Dakotan. They settled down in Minot, ND and played together as a duo, cutting this album at some point in the late '70s. The repertoire is all cover songs, tilting heavily towards the contemporary 'Seventies "outlaw" sound -- songs like "Whiskey River," "Put Another Log On The Fire," "I Don't Think Hank Done It This Way" and "I Can Get Off On You." Your basic Waylon & Willie stuff...
Dakota Sid "Dakota Sid" (Lost Dog, 1977) (LP)
Although originally from North Dakota, Sid Clifford headed for out west in the 'Sixties, making the scene in Haight Ashbury for a few years before moving to the calmer, more relaxed rural confines of Grass Valley, California. This album is mostly-solo acoustic folkie singer-songwriter stuff, with a blues-ish, Woody Guthrie-esque tinge. Nothing spectacular here, though there are some mildly intriguing mementos of hippiedom in some of the lyrics, including a song memorializing a housecat ("Flowers For Moses") lost on a cross-country trip, and some less sympathetic portrayals, such as "Sad Situation," a judgmental portrait of a woman in distress... I guess Sid Clifford was representative of a bazillion longhaired, whiteboy folkies still pickin' and singing in the '70s... just he managed to make a few records. Worth checking out if you're super-into obscuro stuff, though honestly I didn't find it that distinctive or compelling -- also, more of a straight folk record than what I normally prefer.
The Dakota Strings "The Dakota Strings" (UA Recordings, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gunderson)
A hyper-local trio from central South Dakota, made up of drummer Jene Carroll (from Huron, SD), bassist Dick Linneman (of Bryant), and singer-guitarist Russ Madsen (of Carpenter). We are talking really, truly rural, small-town America here, with the biggest city nearby being Huron, where they played the state fair at one point, and recorded this live set at the American Legion Club. The repertoire is a mix of country tunes ("Okie From Muskogee," "Orange Blossom Special," a bunch of Hank Williams songs) and rock'n'roll oldies.
Jimmy Dale & The Trailsmen "Authentic Golden Country And Western Sounds" (Countryville Records, 196--?) (LP)
This cheapo, budget label album was a Canadian release, although it says it was recorded in Nashville... Sadly, the musicians are not listed, though their repertoire was definitely old-fashioned, heavy on hillbilly boogie-era songs such as "Guitar Boogie," "Divorce Me COD," and even older sentimental numbers like "Wreck Of The Old 97" and "Wabash Cannonball." I'm sure there's more to the story... so let me get back to you in a while...
Jimmy Dale & The Western Trailsmen "Songs Of The Old West" (196--?) (LP)
Dallas County "Dallas County" (Stax/Enterprise Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Don Nix)
Meh. Just consider this one a warning. Yeah, yeah, I know: you see the words "Dallas County" and you figure it's just gotta be some cool major-label country-rock missing link... But, no. It's just excruciatingly mediocre white soul-horn band stuff, with an underlay of early '70s sunshine pop. The whole thing seems pretty uninspired: the horn charts are bland and repetitive, the vocals by Sammy Jaramillo are emotive, but unmoving. It's sort of like a Three Dog Night outtakes album straight outta Texas... Maybe some fans of the genre will find this rewarding, but most twangfans can safely steer clear of this disc. Nothing to see here.
Jimmy Dallas "Jimmy Dallas" (Kansa Records, 1978) (LP)
Lenny Dallas "Drinking Champagne" (Kansa Records, 19--?) (LP)
Lenny Dallas "The Best Of Me" (Kansa Records, 1987-?) (LP)
Lenny Dallas "Just Too Hot To Handle" (K-Ark Records, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Capps & Jack Logan)
I'm not sure where this fella was from, but he had a strong band backing him in the studio, including guitar picker Gene Breeden, Doug Jernigan playing pedal steel, bassist Roy Huskey Jr., and Vassar Clements on fiddle... Not bad! This early '80s offering includes a cover of John Anderson's 1982 hit, "Swingin'," along with Onie Wheeler's "Might As Well Hang My Britches Up," and some original material, with one tune written by Dallas, "Crazy Me."
Bob Dalton "...And The Dalton Gang" (RPM Records, 1969) (LP)
A lesser-known country singer from Downington, Pennsylvania, Bob Dalton landed one song hit the charts -- barely. "Mama, Call Me Home" came out in 1970 on Mega Records, and peaked at #73... and I think that was about all she wrote for these fellas. This album has a lot of contemporary cover songs -- "Act Naturally," "The Auctioneer," "Mama Tried," etc.
The Dalton Gang "Family And Friends, v. II" (Harvest Records, 1984) (LP)
I'm not sure if this is the same group as Bob Dalton's band from over a decade earlier... it's possible, although there were several bands using that name over the years. The Harvest label was apparently from somewhere in Ohio.
Joel Daly & The Sundowners "Thank God I'm An Anchorman" (Flying Anchor Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Joel Daly & Vince Ippolito)
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, broadcaster Joel Daly made his way to Chicago where he worked at WLS-TV starting in 1967 until 2004, retiring after nearly two decades as one of the station's top news anchors. He moonlighted as a country singer, playing with the city's fabled honkytonk band, The Sundowners. This live album was recorded at the then newly-opened Rosemont Horizon arena, with backing by Bob Boyd (rhythm guitar), Curt Delaney (bass), Vince Ippolito (drums), Roger Pauly (piano) and Don Walls playing lead guitar... A fair amount to novelty material here, including the title track, along with tunes such as "City Canyon Yodel," "Older Women," "I'm Going To Teach You To Yodel" and "Son Of A Beeper." The Sundowners also released a few albums under the band's name.
Joel Daly & The Sundowners "Above And Beyond" (Joel Daly Records, 1993) (LP)
Allen Wayne Damron "Live At The Kerrville Folk Festival" (Kerrville Records, 1973)
(Produced by Rod Kennedy & Pedro Gutierrez)
One of the twenty or so albums by Texas folk elder/cowboy poet Allen Wayne Damron (1939-2005) who co-owned the Chequered Flag, one of Austin's first folk clubs, and who was instrumental in starting the Kerrville Folk Festival. Damron co-founded the Chequered Flag in 1967, and on the opening night of the club he sang a version of "Mr. Bojangles," becoming the first artist -- ever -- to record the future classic by Jerry Jeff Walker. This set is, I admit, ironically just a bit too "folkie" for me, although Damron does cover a couple of Michael Murphey songs, including a rambling rendition of "Fort Worth, I Love You," which is peppered with Texas in-jokes, and a worst-song-ever contest -- stuff that went over big with the crowd of a thousand eager folk fans.
Allen Wayne Damron "The Old Campaigner" (BF Deal, 1976) (LP)
This album includes the songs "Kansas Legend" and "Berkeley Woman," a combo that was enough to get my attention...
Allen Wayne Damron "Texas In His Ways" (PSG Records, 1981) (LP)
Mostly recorded live at the Lock, Stock And Barrell, in Austin, Texas...
Allen Wayne Damron "Country" (Bright Side Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Hugh Sparks)
Allen Wayne Damron "Sweeping Up Dreams" (Canadian River, 1985) (LP)
Dan & Dave "Recorded Live At The Back Room" (D bar D Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Peter Butcher)
Dan & Judy "Dan And Judy" (Preferred Stock Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Stewart, Judy Joynes & Elden Stielstra)
This brother/sister duo from Ludington, Michigan certainly had an affinity for country material, though the instruments used on this album are hardly what you'd expect to hear on Hee-Haw. Dan Stewart's lead guitar is framed by saxophone, synthesizer, trumpet and tambourine, with nary a fiddle, banjo or pedal steel to be seen. Still, they are country-oriented if not all that twangy in sound... The country covers include "Amanda," "Silver Wings" and "Your Cheatin' Heart," while there's also a dip into oldies rock, heard on their versions of "Sixteen Candles" and Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock'n'Roll." (There's no date on this album, but the Seger track places it at least around 1979; if pressed, I'd guess 1980-81.) While the siblings are listed as co-producers, Elden Stielstra was the actual engineer/producer, operating out of Wild Honey Studios, in Scottsville, Michigan... Beyond that, this record remains a resolute mystery, with nary a smidge of information to be gleaned from the vast interwebs archives; the only mention I found of them playing live was at her sister's Ludington wedding in 1984.
Daniel "Winning The West" (Ministry Resource Center, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Al Perkins & Joe Bellamy)
One of the many "Jesus freak" country gospel albums produced by erstwhile Flying Burrito Brother steel guitarist Al Perkins, along with Byrds co-founder Chris Hillman. They both play on this lively, bluegrass-flavored album, backing born-again evangelist Daniel McClenaghan (1947-2015) along with a slew of talented Southern California pickers. The music is solid and well-produced, though the more secular-minded among us may find some of Daniel's religious doctrine puzzling, notably on the anti-Darwin, there's-no-such-thing-as-evolution anthem, "Disputation Waltz." Other songs, such as "Carnal Pleasures?" are a little more in the standard Christian country ouvre, describing how the life of seeking self-gratification can leave you feeling hollow and unsatisfied. Also in the studio, though taking a more minor role, is Hillman protege Dan McCorison, who sings backup, as well as bassist Bill Bryson, banjo plunker Don Gerber, and David Mansfield on fiddle. McClenaghan comes off as a little too intense, but the musical end is pretty nice. McClenaghan recorded at least a couple of other albums, and re-released this one as a CD, using his full name. McClenaghan grew up in Anaheim, and recorded this album in the Los Angeles suburb of Arleta, CA, though he later moved up to Bishop, CA, in the high Sierras, where he worked as a local pastor until passing away in 2015.
Charlie Daniels Band -- see artist profile
Stephen Daniels "Never The Less" (Safari Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Fields & Johnny Howard)
Danny & The Starlighters "The Starlite Club Proudly Presents..." (Cyberteknic Creative Recording, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Phil McHaffey & Tim Norris)
A bar band from Dayton, Ohio (and environs), this group included several guys who had been to Nashville and worked backing various country stars. The band's leader, Danny O'Boyle seems to have had the most experience, though some of the other guys also claimed time on the road -- Mike Harris (drums), Danny Meade (lead guitar), Bill Taylor (organ and saxophone) and Ronnie Truett on bass. According to the liner notes by nightclub owner Edward Gelia, O'Boyle formed the Starlighters in March 1974, presumably in commemoration of their gig as the house band at the Starlite Club, in Springfield. The album art proclaims, "it's not all country, but it's not bad," and sure enough, along with their covers of "American Trilogy," "Ramblin' Man" and "Sweet Becky Walker," they also played stuff like Santana's "Samba Pa Ti," so there was some ambition there... Not sure about the other guys, but Danny O'Boyle also seems to have done a fair amount of studio work for QCA and other gospel labels in the area.
Bill & Taffy Danoff - see artist discography
The Danville Junction Boys "Layin' Tracks" (Clockwerke Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Russell J. Peotter & Tom Rowe)
Recorded in Auburn, Maine, this album features bluegrass and old-timey music with a New England flair... The group included fiddler Fred Carpenter, who later moved to Nashville to open his own music shop and found work as an in-demand session player for a wide variety of musicians. The other guys in the band included Ron Gallant, Gregory Hanson, Bruce Hobart and Mark Larlee, playing a diverse, lively repertoire.
Ray Darby & Ella Darby "Soul" (Superior Sound Studios, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Duane Allen)
Ray Darby & Ella Darby "Ray Darby" (Skylite Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Joel Gentry)
If your curiosity was piqued by the front cover, which features Mr. Darby in full Native American headdress, his wife Ella draped on one arm, and his electric guitar out front and center, well, don't worry about any "cultural appropriation": according to the back cover, Ray Darby was a full-blooded Kiowa, so he gets to wear whatever he wants. You might, however, be a little disturbed by the patronizing liner notes, which opine: "A new breed of Indian is thundering out of the west... This Indian brings joy rather than terror... brings happiness rather than apprehension... Ray and Ella Darby are world changers because they are personally acquainted with the Lord of Lords..." Yeesh. Well, setting aside all the John Wayne stuff, this is a decent gospel set by a couple from Lawton, Oklahoma. Indeed, it's perhaps a bit more vigorous than your average southern gospel offering -- the liners refer obliquely to "I'm A World Changer," one of two tracks credited to the Darbys, and a real zinger of 'Seventies gospel kitsch. The amped-up rock-pop arrangement showcases his guitar work (okay) and his robust, manly vocals, which land solidly in the Tom Jones/Mac Davis-y, chest-hair-and-gold-chain style of me-decade pop-soul emoting. It's not bad! Speaking of Mac Davis, they also cover his "Stop And Smell The Roses," another one of those crypto-religious pop tunes that were designed to sneak a little inspiration into the pop charts, as well as Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord," and the high-concept, egalitarian "What Color Is A Soul," which closes the album out. There's mention of the Darby's "soon" getting their own TV show... dunno if that happened, but their records were actually kinda fun.
The Ray Darby Affair "America's Standing Tall Again" (Skylite Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Joel Gentry)
A partly semi-secular gospel album, with most tracks co-written by Ray Darby and Ella Darby; also one by Ray Hildebrand... Great album art, too, with a groovy "band" name that reflects the same hip swagger as their matching salmon-colored, sequin-spangled outfits, and that rad turquoise necklace. Indeed, the Skylite gospel label even felt the need to distinguish this disc from their usual southern gospel/contemporary Christian fare by creating a "Skylight Country" imprint. Alas, no info on the backing musicians here, either.
Ward Darby "Meet Ward Darby With Nicky, Steve And Gene As They Go Up Country" (Lemco Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Cecil Jones)
Ward Darby "World Of The Night People" (1978) (LP)
(Produced by Ward Darby, Bobby Ernspiker & Cecil Jones)
A weird amalgam of Southern rock and disco-y AOR, with kind of a hopeful nod towards the world of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is actually more of a 6-song EP, with two versions of the song, "Gunslinger," which is kind of a straightforward (if somewhat sluggish) boogie-rock/southern booze tune. There's also some outright disco-pop ("World Of The Night People") and an odd jazz-ish instrumental ("Midnight Mystery.") Mostly, this kind of seems like a misfire, though maybe it felt different if you were there back then. Didn't really wow me, but you can see what he was aiming for...
Ward Darby "Electric Country" (2011)
(Produced by Ward Darby)
This twangy epitaph closes out Darby's early country career... It's an odds-and-ends collection of four tracks recorded in 1982, when Darby was working a gig in Florida, and a couple of other tracks he cut in 1988, while back in Kentucky. Two songs, "Truck Drivin' Women" and "Melinda," were released as a single. Years later, Darby headed back to the studio as an evangelical Christian country artist, and has self released several albums of that material.
Dargo "Dargo Country" (Tad Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Downs & Jack Eubanks)
For some reason, for a while, rodeo rider P. C. Dargo only wanted to go by one name -- ala Cher -- but he still left his initials in the songwriting credits... And copious credits they were, with this set of all-original material... as well as the charming, self-deprecating side note that Dargo "admits he is not a Caruso or a Jim Reeves" but that he can still "hold your attention." Then again, I bet Jim Reeves couldn't have gone eight seconds on a bronco, so maybe we'll call it even.
Phil Dargo "Shadows" (Tad Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Downs)
Dargo went whole-hog on this one, booking an A-list Nashville band, and even using his complete name... The Nashville crew includes three different steel players -- Jim Baker, Stu Basore and Bobby Seymore, as well as session leader Jack Eubanks on lead guitar, D. J. Fontana on drums and Johnny Gimble adding his usual sweet fiddle licks, Dave Kirby and many other top-flight pickers.
Phil Dargo "California Road" (Guinness Records, 1977) (LP)
Once again, these songs are mostly originals, with a two tracks written by Billy Rufus, a froggy voiced dude who also had an album out on the Guinness label around the same time.
Donna Darlene -- see artist profile
Darrell "Darrell" (D & J Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Truski)
Just a man, a guitar, a very simple drum machine, and a whole lot of pop and country cover songs. There's no indication on this album when this came out, or what Darrell's last name was -- there's no original material on here, so no publishing info to help out. "D & J" stands for Darrell and Jean Enterprises, and this was recorded at a place called Pro Sound Studios, in East Detroit, Michigan, but that's about it. This seems to be pretty strictly a vanity pressing, even moreso than most of the records in this survey; he really wasn't a very polished performer, and it's hard to imagine this guy actually played any live gigs, but you never know. This was a Rite Records pressing, with a matrix number that indicates a release date around 1974, or '75. (I always think of drum machines as an 'Eighties kinda thing, but they had some commercially available models floating around since the late 'Sixties... so consider me schooled.)
Johnny Darrell -- see artist profile
Bobby Darren & The Drifters "Country Classics" (Sentry Records, 1976-?) (LP)
Not to be confused with the pop crooner Bobby Darin, this fella was a straight-up country picker from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, near Green Bay. He's backed on this album by his pals Ed Vanderhoot (rhythm guitar) and John Gottschalk (bass) on a set of country standards peppered with a few newer tunes such as Moe Bandy's 1975 hit, "Bandy The Rodeo Clown" and "Bed Of Roses," by the Statler Brothers. Apparently he made his way to Nashville in the late '70s, though I'm not sure how long he stayed there or what kind of gigs he landed.
Bobby Darren "Breakthrough From The Heart" (Sungold Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Howard)
Joel Darren "A Touch Of Country" (Cal-Cap Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by David L. Rogers & Ron McMaster)
A middle-aged guy from Sacramento, California, backed by local musicians, including Tiny Moore on fiddle, and Chris Iven playing steel. He covers some country oldies such as Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" and Jimmy Dean's "Just Bummin' Around"; all the other songs are his own compositions.
Chris Darrow -- see artist profile
Bruce Darty "Right Back Where I've Always Been" (Ripcord Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden)
A nice one! Robust honkytonk music in a set that's mostly cover tunes -- songs by Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Horton and Waylon Jennings, done in an updated but still rootsy 'Seventies country style. Darty (his name is really spelled "Daugherty") is a good singer, with a deep voice and a major Merle Haggard influence... There are also two originals on here, the lovelorn title track, "Right Back Where I've Always Been," which sounds like a demo for a Merle Haggard album, and on Side Two the more novelty-oriented "You're The Only Weed (In The Garden Of My Heart)", which is a less successful song, but still nice to have original material on an album like this. As far as I know, this album and the single which accompanied it are the only records that Darty recorded... Anyone know for sure? Strong, uptempo accompaniment by Gene Breeden and his crew, which included Danny Breeden and Ripcord Records VP Ellis Miller on bass and guitar. Fun stuff! (BTW - I'm only guessing at the release date: Darty covers "It's All In The Movies," which was a Merle Haggard hit in '76, so the album could have come out later than that... As always, any additional info would be welcome.)
Junior Daugherty "Just Fiddlin' " (Goldust Records, 1971-?) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
New Mexico fiddler Forest Alton ("Junior") Daugherty was a prolific studio sideman and recording artist, often working with Emmit Brooks' independent Goldust label. At the time he cut this album, Daugherty had recently placed seventh in the National Old-Time Fiddling contest held in Weiser, Idaho, his first national competition. I think this was his first album, performed with backing from brothers Bob Jones (on drums) and Elbo Jones on guitar.
Junior Daugherty "Just Fiddlin', Volume II" (Goldust Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
More zippy instrumentals, with the Jones brothers joined by Ruby Willis on bass.
Junior Daugherty "Just Fiddlin', Volume II" (Goldust Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
More zippy instrumentals, with the Jones brothers joined by Ruby Willis on bass.
Junior Daugherty "Just Waltzin', Volume II" (Goldust Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
At the time he cut this album, Daugherty had been nationally ranked in the several fiddling contests, and was striving to become #1. On this set he goes all-in on waltzes and Schottisches, with backing from Ruby Daugherty (Junior's sister) on bass, with Bob Jones playing drums and Elbo Jones on guitar.
Junior Daugherty "Fun Fiddlin' " (Goldust Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
Junior Daugherty & The Country Rebels "Junior Daugherty Presents The Country Rebels" (Goldust Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
Here, Mr. Daugherty fronts a full-on country band, with Jake Brooks on lead guitar, Daugherty's daughter Penny on vocals, Steve Hutchins (steel), Diane Miller (bass), Randy Miller (drums), Robin Miller (vocals), and Doug Niece on rhythm guitar and vocals. Other thanBrooks and the Daughertys, all the musicians were from Clovis, New Mexico, with 22-year old Doug Niece the oldest member, while the Millers were all teens. Jake Brooks was a professional rodeo rider who had also been in the band The Aggie Ramblers, along with Daugherty and his brother, Goldust label owner Emmit Brooks. Doug Niece was a Clovis local who worked as a firefighter and performed locally; later on in 1977 he had a new band called the runaways, although I think this was his only record. The album includes four original songs by Doug Niece, and three from Junior Daugherty.
Junior Daugherty "Fiddlin' Around" (Goldust Records, 1979) (LP)
Ray Daves "Country Music...The Way You Like It!" (Moon Records, 1973) (LP)
Mr. Daves was a singer from Dubuque, Iowa who used to play at a club in Ames called the Mark II Lounge... Or at least he played there a few weeks in the fall of 1973, according to some old newspaper stories. Other than that, I got absolutely nothing on this guy.
Chris David "The Singing Cowboy" (Circle Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Chris David)
Merle David "Zak-Tone Records Presents..." (Zak-Tone Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Taylor)
Texas fiddler Merle David played with numerous honkytonk and western swing bands from the early 1950s onward, recording at least two solo albums and one with the Fort Worth-area locals band, The Country Drifters. On this early 'Seventies offering he overdubs the fiddle parts, but gets backing from a few pals, including Jerry Abbott on piano, Bobby Green on dobro and Bruce Whitaker on bass.
Merle David "The Country-Jazz Moods Of Merle David" (Priority Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Case, David Hearne & Gary Carpenter)
A jazzy solo set, with backing from John Case (piano), Jerry Case (bass) and Ron Thayer (drums). According to the liner notes, David was working in Tommy Allsup's band at the time he recorded this jazzy solo set...
Nathan David "...Sings Prairie Tales" (True Recordings, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Nathan David & Larry Hetland)
Debbie Lynn Davidson "I Want To Be A Country Singer" (Cornucopia Records, 1978-?) (LP)
All freckles and bangs, young Ms. Davidson looks to have been about ten years old when she recorded this album... She was a kid from from Columbia Crossroads, Pennsylvania who was recruited to sing an album that was half gospel, half secular, including songs such as "I Want To Be A Country Singer," "Country Fever," "Everybody's Looking For Love" and "I'm Just A Little Girl Looking For A Big Boy." Apparently this album was recorded following an appearance on the Hee Haw TV show, although I couldn't quite track down when that episode aired, nor when this album came out. According tot eh local papers, she did some local shows and took place in a few regional talent shows between from 1976-77, under the name Debbie Davidson, and was apparently a cast member of the Bob and Dean McNett country music show.
Dianne Davidson "Backwoods Woman" (Janus Records, 1972) (LP)
Dianne Davidson "Mountain Mama" (Janus Records, 1973) (LP)
Dianne Davidson "Breaking All The Rules" (Second Wave, 1988)
Monte Davidson "Love Country" (MCL Records, 1977-?)
Monte Davidson & The Wild Bunch "Wanted" (AudioLoft, 197--?)
An "outlaw" band from Missouri, recording at the fabled AudioLoft custom label in Mack's Creek, MO. They do some oldies -- real oldies -- like "Wabash Cannonball," "El Paso," and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," along with more modern, Waylon-esque material such as "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" and "Just Call Us Outlaws," and even a version of Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin' Long Like This." Monte Davidson was an Ozarks regular since the early 1960s, and led the house band at the Lodge Of The Four Seasons, in Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri, basically in Branson territory. He also toured regionally, did Vegas, and eventually retired the band sometime in the 1980s. I'm not sure who else was in his band, although the steel and lead guitar was by a guy named Charlie Hill... Fans of Waylon Jennings and/or Jerry Lee Lewis might like this one... fake-live audience "cheering" and all.
Monte Davidson "...Sings The Old Ones" (BOC Records, 198--?)
Davis & Company "Finger Pickin' Good" (Aunt Susie Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnnie High, Gary Scott & Phil York)
Light-hearted bluegrass from one of the acts at the Grapevine Opry, near Dallas, Texas... This group featured bass player Bob Davis, a veteran of the Shady Grove Ramblers, along with his sons Brad and Greg, as well as Kevin Fair (mandolin), Todd Strohmeyer (dobro) and fiddler Tammy Rogers (a local teenager who went on to do a lot of high-profile top forty session work in Nashville.) This disc spans a mix of bluegrass and country standards, as well as "progressive" influences such as the Flying Burrito Brothers ("Hot Burrito Breakdown") and Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'." The title track, "Finger Pickin' Good," is credited to the Grapevine Opry's Johnny High and Aunt Susie Slaughter. Oh, and they also cover "Rocky Top," in case anyone is keeping track.
Art Davis "A Cowboy And His Music" (White Hat Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Danny Hogan & Jim Rorie)
In 1935, Texas-born Art Davis was tapped by Gene Autry to play fiddle in his band -- Autry was on his way to Hollywood, and soon so was Davis, who wound up performing in numerous Autry films, as well as in a string of short features with Bill Boyd. World War Two interrupted his music career, and after the war he demobbed to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he and his brother Jay formed a band, playing in the vibrant western swing scene as Bob Wills and his brothers. The Davis Brothers also hosted a radio program on KTUL, Tulsa and toured widely, including numerous shows in Las Vegas. (The album below is a souvenir of their Vegas days...) Art Davis later went into TV, hosting local shows in Tulsa and Orlando, Florida, though eventually he retired from the music business. This album is a laid-back homage to the music of his youth, leaning mostly on honkytonk and western swing, though peppered with a few sentimental oldies such as Autry's "Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" and various fiddle tunes. He's backed by a band of locals, presumably from Memphis where this album was recorded, with Jerry Ward on bass and guitar, Beecher Stuckey playing fiddle, and Billy Herbert on harmonica.
Buddy Davis "The Buddy Davis Album" (Jay-Jay Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Buddy Davis, Bob Huskey, Eddie Rash & Eddie Swann)
A rootsy, bluegrassy picker with deep roots in Madison County, North Carolina, just north of Ashville. Davis mixes country and old-timey music with equal ease, with some of the more straight-up country material including tunes such as "Coal Tattoo," "I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand" and "Six Days On The Road," with a bit of "Mood Indigo" in there for good measure. Later in the 'Eighties, Davis joined The Norfolk Southern Lawmen (a local band made up of his fellow railroad cops) though I don't know if he ever recorded with them. Davis he also recorded with hometown legends Doc & Merle Watson, among other top-flight artists.
The Davis Brothers "More Top Tunes By The Davis Brothers" (Jamaka Records, 19--?) (LP)
By the time they cut this album, veteran country players Art and Jay Davis had settled into a Vegas act where they sounded like Homer & Jethro, or perhaps they were more in the Eddie Lang & Joe Venuti mold, playing Tin Pan Alley standards and a few country oldies as a simple, stripped-down string-band duo. The mandolin plays lead, with modest accompaniment by the other brother on guitar. One of them sings as well, in a laid-back, old-man kind of voice. The Davis duo was apparently considered popular enough -- and country enough -- to share billing with headliner Judy Lynn during her run at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. They also apparently played the Wagon Wheel honkytonk, which is where they were playing when they autographed the copy that I picked up. The album itself is super-generic, with no art at all on the back, and I'm pretty sure it's one of those vanity albums from a "custom" label that recycled the same album art for various clients. (The picture is of Grumman's Theater in LA, so go figure...) There are no liner notes, so I dunno who played what, or when this was recorded -- mid 1960s? -- so this one's basically a mystery record. I wouldn't recommend this ultra-obscuro album for the casual twangfan, but for folks who are tapped into the "sweet band" big-band style and the world of sentimental oldies, this certainly has its charms.
The Dale Davis Show "It's Gonna Be A Happy Day" (Dale Davis Productions, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Davis)
Moore, Oklahoma's Dale and Becky Davis led this compact band, joined by guitarist Gary Biel, Claudia Corley and Ziggy Fearn... They covered some pop/rock stuff, but also a bunch of country tunes such as "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights," "For The Good Times" and "I'm Not Lisa." This was one of those custom-made albums with a preprinted cover - not a lot of info about when it was recorded, but it must have around 1975-76, judging from the song selection. The title track, "It's Gonna Be A Happy Day," was a Dale Davis original which later became a chart entry for Jack Paris, who cracked into the very bottom of the Country Top 100 in 1978.
Duke Davis "Destiny" (Inde-Pro Records, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Duke Davis)
Check it out: this guy's the same Duke Davis who played bass for a while in the legendary 1960's Texas garage-psych band 13th Floor Elevators, as well as other late '60s/early '70s Lone Star rock bands. Davis also had a stint in Vegas where he worked with country lounge singer Bill Nash, and others. In 1979, he headed out to Los Angeles where he formed the Buckshot Band, an outfit that became a proving ground for numerous West Coast country pickers. On this early album, the Buckshot Band recruited some top talent, such as fiddler Byron Berline, country-rock pioneers Rick Cunha and Skip Edwards (on keyboards), Greg Leisz (dobro) and fabled pedal steel player Jay Dee Maness, as well as a bunch of lesser-known fellas who were probably the regular band members. Fellow Texan Dan McCorison sings background vocals on several songs. Duke Davis stayed in Southern California leading the Buckshot Band until the early '90s, when he decamped to New Mexico and later to Colorado, and eventually moved back to his native Texas. Along the way, he delved into more traditional, cowboy-style western music, most recently creating a theatrical show called "Westward Ho!" that showcases his love of old-school cowboy music and western swing. I'm not sure, but I think this was his first solo album, with all original material written by Davis.
Dwight Davis & The Linemen "Meet Dwight Davis And The Linemen" (Lineman Records, 197--?) (LP)
According to the liner notes by Dick Curless, bandleader Dwight Davis was born in New Hampshire, and was a trucker by profession, although he sure knew how to sing a twangtune as well... Davis led his band, The Linemen, for several years, playing throughout New England, notably headlining at the Gene LaVerne's Lone Star Ranch, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The band included some excellent pedal steel by Al Eyles, with Ken d'Eon (bass), Normand Ouellette (drums), Gary Winslow on lead guitar, and harmony vocals by Roxanne Lebo. This self-released LP was recorded at EAR Studios in Lewiston, Maine, though Davis also recorded for Little Ritchie Records, in New Mexico, and is said to have played down in Texas as well.
Gene Davis "My Kind Of World" (Toppa Records, 1964) (LP)
Guitarist-singer Gene Davis was a true stalwart of the Southern California county-rock scene, cutting singles back in the 1950s while appearing on local TV programs such as Cal Worthington's popular show, Cal's Corral. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, Davis is probably best known as the early-to-mid 1960s bandleader at North Hollywood's fabled Palomino nightclub, where hot country pickers and talented sidemen such as James Burton, Jerry Cole, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Jay Dee Maness, Johnny Meeks, Red Rhodes and many others cycled through the club's revolving door during the early heyday of LA's live rock scene. Davis's tenure at the Palomino came before the club shifted to a more rock-oriented focus, but there was certainly some crossover, as hear here.. This is a strong album, packed with rootsy, earthy material and plenty of originals, giving some sense of what the Palomino's nightly jam sessions must have been like, back in the day.
Gene Davis & The Star Routers "All Together" (Toppa Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Davis & Lee Carroll)
As detailed in the liner notes by LA country music deejay Larry Scott, Gene Davis branched out after his Palomino days, setting up shop in San Diego as owner of Gene's Lion's Gate restaurant, and also back home in Missouri as owner of a music venue called the Indian Foot Lake Resort, in Pevely, MO, just south of St. Louis. He was also heading the Star Routers as the house band at a San Diego club called the Alamo, just for good measure. Alas, the boys in the band, though pictured on the cover are not mentioned by name. Oh, well. But this album is notable for the wealth of original material: all but one of the songs are credited to Davis's own Jay-Gene publishing, and the remaining track, on Mixer Music, is probably original to this album as well.
Gene Davis "Lovin' And Hurtin' " (OL, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by James Burton & Randy Davis)
Gene Davis "Let's Coast Awhile" (Hydra Records, 2010) (CD)
Hank Davis "Crazy Living" (Relaxed Rabbit Records, 1984) (LP)
Like many early rockabilly also-rans, in the 1970s Hank Davis settled into the comforting arms of the European retro scene. But even as his old singles found their way onto various reissue records, he kept writing and recording music, new stuff as well as remakes of oldies. This gentle, relaxed DIY set has some nice, unhurried stuff on it. Whether you call it "demos" or "lo-fi," this record is positioned cheerfully and resolutely outside of the pop and/or country mainstream -- it's a personal record, made just because he likes to make music, and it makes up for its lack of polish and propulsiveness with a quiet, heartfelt simplicity and self-assurance: Hank Davis doesn't have to make the record you want him to make, he'll make the record he wants to make. In the liner notes, Davis acknowledges the troubles he's had trying to make a career out of music, but he seems pretty philosophical about it, and content to make an album that's just good enough, not perfect or mind-blowing or a big chartbuster. There are country touches -- pedal steel by Minnie Winston and Rod Braganza, along with mellow acoustic guitar and unfussy vocals. Interesting to hear rockabilly songs laid out at such as slow pace, the bare bones of the style revealed without the amplified wham-bam of electric guitars... Roots music critic Colin Escott contributes comments as well, though Davis's are more revealing and insightful.
Howard Davis "The Howard Davis Band" (Green Mountain Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Tatman)
An older fella from Gilman, Iowa, Howard L. Davis (d. 2003) ran his own convenience store and auto garage and led this band for several years, backed by a bunch of younger folks, mostly members of his extended family. The lineup on this album included Howard Davis on rhythm guitar, his son Danny Davis on bass, along with Frank Brown on drums, Ilene Connealy (vocals), Dave Elliott (lead guitar), Lynn Probasco (vocals). I'm not sure when this album was made, though it looks like it's mid-to-late-1980s; the Howard Davis Band played regionally around Grinnell and Des Moines in the late '80s and early '90s and possibly farther back than that... Mr. Davis doesn't seem to have been a songwriter, as this is strictly a set of classic county covers.
Hubert Davis & The Season Travelers "Harvest" (RHD Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Behrens)
This bluegrass-based band was led by North Carolinian banjo plunker Hubert Davis, an alumnus of the 'Fifties-era Bill Monroe band who modeled his playing on new Earl Scruggs style, and was one of the banjoists brought in to fill the gap when Flatt & Scruggs went solo. Much later, Davis got a full-time gig playing at a local club in Nashville called the Wind In The Willows, where he mostly played straight-up, traditional old stuff. This outlaw-era album is packed with standards like "Roll On Buddy," "Rocky Top," "Wabash Cannonball," and "Orange Blossom Special" -- there are also some cross-genre covers, like Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee," and western swing's "Faded Love." In the band at the time was a young mandolin picker named Mike Compton, who would later help co-found the Nashville Bluegrass Band, and worked with John Hartford throughout the 1990s. Although the Season Travelers, like most bands, had a fair amount of turnover, Davis kept the band running for decades, and recorded several other albums during this era. This disc features backing by Gene Bush on dobro, Mike Compton (mandolin), Rubye Davis (guitar), Shelby Jean Davis (bass) and fiddler Richard Hoffman.
Jesse Ed Davis "Jesse Davis!" (Atco Records, 1971)
(Produced by Jesse Davis)
One of the premier roots-rock session players of the 1970s, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis (1944-1988) was born in Oklahoma and made his way out of the local music scene when he landed a spot in country star Conway Twitty's tour band in the mid-'60s. Davis later hooked up with roots auteur Leon Russell and became part of the studio session scene, playing on dozens of hippie-era rock and pop classics... He played on the first three Taj Mahal albums, as well as backing ex-Byrd Gene Clark on some of his early solo albums, and on various post-Beatles solo records by George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, as well as session work for Jackson Browne, Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Steve Miller and many others. Davis recorded three records of his own, and collaborated with fellow Oklahoman Roger Tillison on Tillison's self-titled debut.
Jesse Ed Davis "Ululu" (Atco Records, 1972)
(Produced by Jesse Davis & Albhy Galuten)
Jesse Ed Davis "Keep Me Coming" (Epic Records, 1973)
(Produced by Jesse Davis & Larry Hirsch)
Kenny Davis "Live At Jason's" (1972) (LP)
(Produced by Alan O'Day)
Alas, at one point I had researched the life and times of Kenny Davis, and even reviewed this album... but that was on a laptop that drowned when the pipes burst right over my desk. No, really. Anyway, I forget the details, but Davis plugged away for years, including a stint in Southern California where he was working when he cut this album. Probably what's most interesting here is the presence of SoCal pop singer Alan O'Day, on board as the album's producer -- O'Day had been working California clubs throughout the 'Sixties and was burnt out and semi-retired when he spotted Kenny Davis playing a steady gig at Jason's House Of Prime Rib, in Burbank, and wound up doing some live gigs with Kenny Davis and his band in the early 'Seventies, which apparently got his creative juices flowing. He agreed to help make this souvenir album, which was recorded live on October 7, 1972 and probably added a few riffs along with John Toben on Hammond B-3 organ, percussionist Joey Herrick and Kenny Davis on guitar and vocals. O'Day's own solo debut was around the corner, and disco-era stardom coming a few years later, first with Helen Reddy's 1974 hit version of "Angie Baby," and O'Day's own frothy chart-topper, "Undercover Angel" in '77. O'Day dedicated his first album to Kenny Davis, though I'm not sure if Davis or the other guys played on that disc as well.
Kenny Davis "Texas Yearbook" (Fairydust Records, 1982-?) (LP)
Couldn't find any info about this one online... Apparently it's a mix of country music and comedy, though where Mr. Davis was from and who's playing with him remains a mystery for now.
LeRoy Davis "For All My Friends" (L-V-K/Wakefield Records, 197--?)
(Produced by Sandy LaMont)
This one's really pretty much what it says -- LeRoy Davis was just some guy from Phoenix who cut an album because his friends told him he really should someday, and so one day he did. I'm sure he gave everyone a copy, too. He's not great, but he's not bad -- he's just a humble, average guy singing country standards such as "Crying Time Again," "Release Me," "Born To Lose," "Jambalaya," etc. No originals on here, but that's okay... that's not what this record is about. No info on the backing band, but I doubt they were major players... I also kinda doubt that Davis had a regular band of his own, but who knows? He gives a shout-out to the Rim Cafe in Pine, Arizona, and that's the only other clue to this disc's provenance.
Link Davis "Cajun Crawdaddy" (Mercury, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Frank Morin)
Although Texas-born Cajun country player Link Davis had been around forever -- his first recording session was in 1937 with a western swing band called the Crystal Spring Ramblers -- this was actually the first full album he recorded under his own name. Davis had played in a variety of styles on a number of instruments -- country fiddler or rock'n'roll saxophone, he excelled at everything, but by the time this disc came out his career had run out of steam. These sessions were recorded a few years earlier, but Texas legend Doug Sahm took the tapes to his label and persuaded to put out an album. It's a nice, simple, down-homey set, with country, cajun and a little bit of blues, with Davis playing some fine fiddle and a small combo backing him that includes hillbilly old-timer Wiley Barkdull playing piano. A nice record!
Marty Davis "I'm Happy Every Day I Live... But These Nights Are Killing Me" (Ripcord Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Eldred)
Marty Davis was a real-life Oregon cowpoke, a longtime fixture on the Pacific Northwest scene who served his time playing casinos in Vegas and Reno, toured with the rock-pop-oldies group The Diamonds, and later in life refashioned himself from a barroom balladeer into a western-style cowboy singer. This album is yet another disc without a release date from the Ripcord label, recorded some time in the late 1970s. It's all cover tunes, although the title track was co-written by Rose Maddox (who wrote the liner notes) along with her sister, Alta Troxel. Maybe Davis was in Rose's band at the time? Who knows? At any rate: portrait of a working musician -- Medford, Oregon, 1970-something.
Marty Davis "Country Feelings" (Marvan Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Cliffie Stone)
More cover tunes, mostly. Notable, though, are Carol Chase and Susie Allanson singing backup vocals, who both went on to become charting Country artists...
Marty Davis "Marty" (Marvan Records, 19--?) (LP)
Rhett Davis "Rhett Davis" (Bowen Arrow/Arrow Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jimmy Bowen & Rhett Davis)
Rhett Davis "For My Friends" (Aquarian Records, 19--?) (LP)
This seems to be the same album as above, reissued.
Roland Davis "Lost But Not Forgotten" (Wilson Ranch Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Bert Winston)
Archaic, old-school hillbilly music, played in the old-fashioned way. In the 1930s, guitarist Roland Davis traveled with various Texas stringbands, but by the time producer Bert Winston caught up with him, Davis had shifted gears and settled down to be a rancher in the Texas hill country near Kerrville... Backing him on this retrodelic set are piano plunker John Vorhes, fiddler John Shattenberg, singer Bobbi Pruneda and Rich Price on pedal steel.
The Dawker Mountain Valley Boys "Bound To Ride" (Deck Hill Records, 1976) (LP)
Peppy, progressive bluegrass from the slightly fictional locale of Dawker Mountain. These fellas from Charlotte, North Carolina seemed like nice young men... even if they had an electric bass! And they played weird stuff, too, like the "William Tell Overture" and songs with names like "The Hobbit" and "What Would He Think Of It Now?" Between 1975-76, the group performed at the Carowinds theme park, outside of Charlotte. The band included Jimmy Bird on banjo, John Bird (mandolin), Ed Bobbitt (guitar), Craig Duncan (fiddle), Bill Lindner (bass... electric!!) and Drexel Rayford on guitar...This disc, a souvenir for their Carowinds gig, was the Dawker Mountain Valley Boys only album. Although they mostly went into other bands (and careers), multi-instrumentalist Craig Duncan became a full-time studio musician and producer in Nashville, mostly working on bluegrass-y type stuff. (Many thanks to Mr. Rayford for his help filling in the blanks on this one!)
Delisa Dawn "Memories Of You" (Stardom Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Bartlett & Frank Evans)
Not sure when this one came out, but it seems to be an early 'Eighties kinda thing. Singer Delisa Dawn grew up in Independence, Missouri and started her performing career when she was just nine years old. She made her way to Nashville and wound up working for several older artists on tour, backing up falling stars such as Jack Greene, Faron Young and the Wilburn Brothers; she seems to have been in Jack Greene's band at the time this album came out. This was her first (and as far as I know, only) album, and may have been a Nashville songwriter's demo, produced by steel player Chuck Bartlett, who co-wrote the title track. Later she moved back to the Midwest, performing mainly in eastern Kansas and the Missouri Ozarks with with guitarist Dennis Cook in a group called Delisa Dawn & Route 66.
Joe Dawn "Capitol Of The State I'm In" (Nod Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Don Ho)
Singer and ukulele player Joe Dawn was a member of Hawaiian bandleader Don Ho's stage show during the 1970s, and brought a novel country sound to the groups pop vocals/hapa haole repertoire. On this album he sings country-folk material such as John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulders" and "Take me Home Country Roads," as well as some honkytonk oldies by Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, as well as a couple of tunes that showcased his yodeling abilities. Steel guitar legend Jerry Byrd was one of the session musicians.
Julie Dawn "What About That" (JD Music Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by David Johnson & Travis Wammack)
Dunno much about this Florida gal, though my curiosity was piqued by seeing twangbar whiz Travis Wammack on board as her producer... Also among the studio crew were Muscle Shoals regulars Ava Aldridge and Sue Richards singing backup, rootsy vocalists who both had modest solo careers themselves. Gotta admit, though, this one wasn't as twangy (or as satisfying) as I had hoped... Ms. Dawn seems to have been aiming for more of a rock/roots pop sound, and while a country vibe flutters through a few tunes, this is more of a rock kinda thing, with an occasionally muddled feel. Maybe of more interest to fans of the Southern roots/pop/R&B scene?
Wendy Dawn "Harper Valley PTA And Other Country Hits" (RCA-Camden, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Ferguson & Ethyl Gabriel)
A singer from Memphis, Texas -- not far from Amarillo -- Ms. Dawn covers hits of the day such as Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "Harper Valley PTA" and a gender-flipped version of "Only Mama That'll Walk The Line," as well as a Lynn Anderson tune or two. This soundalike set was her first (and apparently only) full album, though RCA gave her a test run on several singles the year before, including a novelty number, "John" which was an answer to John Wesley Ryles' hit, "Kay." Alas, none of those earlier tracks were included on this LP, in favor of more generic material such as "House Of The Rising Sun." Anyone know what happened to this Lone Star gal?
Smoke Dawson "Fiddle" (Oliver's Fiddle Works, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Oliver Seeler)
Stormy Dawson "Stormy Dawson" (Cherish Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Hoffman)
I couldn't find much info about this guy, though he seems to have been kicking around for a while, having recorded a single on a tiny indie label back in 1971, and then this album, a couple of years later. This seems to have been a songwriters' showcase album for the Nashville-based Sunbury/Dunbar publishing company (aka Sunbar), with a little bit of help from "DJ Dan" Hoffman, a longtime fixture on the Nashville scene who worked at both Sunbar and the Cherish label. There are a bunch of songs from staff writer Glen Goza, and just one tune credited to Stormy Dawson, the song "Tear In Her Eye," which closes the album. Googling around, there have been several Stormy Dawsons at various times; no idea whether they are all related or not.
Herb Day "A Touch Of Gold" (Windjammer Records, 197--?) (LP)
Jimmy Day & His Buddies "...Salute Don Helms" (Texas Musik, 1980) (LP)
A solo set by a consummate sideman. Steel guitar pro Jimmy Day (1934-1999) was an Alabama native who played on the "Louisiana Hayride" as a kid, and backed many of the giants of the 1950's honkytonk era during a stint in Nashville. Later, Day settled in Texas and was a stalwart of the '70s Lone Star scene. This album was a tribute to Don Helms, the legendary steel player in Hank Williams' band, with sympathetic backing by several "buddies": Buddy Emmons and Buddy Spicher, and drummer Buddy Harmon. Heh, heh. Anyway, if you're a country instrumental fan, you're gonna want to check this one out.
Paula Day "The Two Sides Of Paula Day" (197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Harold Harmel & Jeff Mooridian)
Raleigh, North Dakota, a microscopic hamlet just south of Bismarck, was the birthplace of guitar player/accordionist Paula Day -- aka Pauline Loeb Deichert (1928-2017) -- who wrote all but two of the songs on this album. The "two sides" in the title are country music on Side One, and "old time" music on Side Two, which up around the Great Lakes and high plains states meant polka and other old-world European ethnic dance music. Ms. Day and her husband Ben Deichert (1925-2001) both came from tight-knit German-American enclaves, though after marrying in the late 1940s they moved to the big city and lived in Fargo, managing the Seneca Inn for many years before moving to nearby Davenport, where they ran a place called the Shenandoah Supper Club (and presumably provided some of the entertainment as well.) Paula Day was a prolific songwriter and years earlier, around 1970-71 she made some trips to Nashville where she recorded at least four singles, including two for the North Dakotan label Jude Records, and two that came out on the Nashville-based Stop Records, with all the tracks being her own compositions. One of those songs, "Her Mother's Ring," is also included here, but with an all-local band backing her, rather than the all-star, A-list studio crew she worked with in Tennessee. The musicians include hubby Ben Deichert on drums, Ron Kerver (rhythm guitar), Jeff Mooridian (electric guitar and steel), Rick Murry (bass), Byron Quam (piano) and backup vocals by Ron Kerber and Rick Murry. I dunno how many of these folks performed regularly as part of her band, but I assume they were all Fargo-area locals. As on her singles, this album has a wealth of original material: along with a cover of Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever" there's a slew of Mrs. Deichert's own tunes such as "Double Or Nothing," "Bug Me," "Ich Bin Deine Rose" and "Raleigh Waltz." There's a strong Rose Maddox vibe on these recordings, showcasing a confident, middle-aged woman who's got a firm handle on the music, and takes a no-muss, no-fuss approach. There's no date on this album, but I think it's much later than 1970 guesstimate found on various online sources: she sounds (and looks) much older than she did on her 1970-71 Nashville singles. I'd say late 1970s, early '80s on this one...
Roy Day "North Country: Far North Music" (Arctic Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Dwight Finger)
A pretty obscure one here... Roy Day was an oil pipeline worker who brought a pile of original material to Arctic Studios, in Anchorage, Alaska, where the producers slapped together a backing band and let the tape roll. There are no producer or musician credits, but the sessions included some jazzy guitar and snare drums, punctuated by accordion, pedal steel, and an all-gal backing chorus, identified only as "the girls" in the sketchy liner notes by Frank Tonnema. Mr. Day wasn't a particularly skillful vocalist, but he had a jaunty, jocular feel which brings early hillbilly-era Ernie Ford to mind, with maybe a hint of Bing Crosby. The plainspoken lyrics are clunky but earnest and authentic -- no slick showbiz stuff here! Some songs like "Pipeline" and "Nine Weeks On" provide a common-man's view of life during in the Alaskan oil boom, including some bitter asides about a system that Day considered to be a rigged against the working stiffs. Apparently he wrote all the material although the arrangements are credited to Jackie Jacobs and Bob Wright. It's really not a very good record, but it does ooze rough-edged authenticity and might be worth a spin... If you want, you can hear the whole thing on the Alaska Oldies blog, which features posts from one of the guys who worked at Arctic Studios.
Daylight "One On One" (Hi Lo Records And Tapes, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Lee Farmer)
This group, anchored by singer/songwriter Ron Moore and pianist Lee Farmer, was the backup band for T. G. Sheppard. This album features a bunch of usual suspects session players, though all the songs were written by guys in the band. Though somewhat rock-oriented, the album closes with a track called "I'm Just Country."
Red Deacon "Have I Got A Night For You" (Nash Town Records, 1974) (LP)
Great Lakes honkytonker Red Deacon (aka Thomas J. Dillett) started seriously performing in the late 1950s and just kept going right up until he retired in 2018. Mr. Dillett grew up in Gilbertville, Iowa but settled down in Milwaukee, so I think we can count this one as a Wisconsin record. Not a lot of info about this album or his career online, though he had a solid presence on Facebook and YouTube. This album includes a lot of cover songs and was recorded in Nashville, though unfortunately none of the backing musicians are listed.
Red Deacon "Another Way" (Uptown Country Records, 1986) (LP)
Deadly Earnest & The Honky Tonk Heroes "...The Honky Tonk Heroes" (Wheeler, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Danny Sheridan)
Midwest indiebilly pioneer Denny (Deadly) Earnest was Cleveland, Ohio's answer to Jerry Jeff Walker, and this classic album has several of his best, funniest Jerry Jeff-style songs. After playing in regional groups such as Sheffield Rush, Earnest formed this rootsy country band in 1975, playing locally for the better part of a decade until decamping to Wyoming. My favorite tunes are the delightfully snarky "Don't Make Me Laugh (While I'm Drinkin')" and "Leavin' For Texas," with "Restless Me," a song about roving eyes in a committed relationship, coming in a close third. This is a very DIY, slightly uneven album, but it has moments of pure brilliance and always manages to float to the top of my "keepers" pile for music of this particular vintage. I think there are two editions of this album, his self-released version on Wheeler Records, and a second pressing that came out on Mike Nesmith's nationally-distributed Pacific Arts label, one reason that so many folks got a chance to hear this obscuro local hero. Apparently he's made a bunch of records over the years under the Denny Earnest monicker, but the "deadly" trio are pretty fun stuff.
Deadly Earnest & The Honky Tonk Heroes "II" (Wheeler, 1980) (LP)
Deadly Earnest & The Honky Tonk Heroes "The Modern Sound Of..." (Wheeler, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by "Bo Deadly" and Jay Vecchio)
A disappointing followup to the first two albums, though there are some nice moments, and lots of nice ideas. I think the main problem is with the production, which is kind of static and muted -- not a lot of jolt comes through from the performances, although he wrote some good songs. I'm also not that into his duets partner, Robin Stratton (who also sings solo on some tracks) a gal with an okay, but not great, voice that generally distracts from his strengths as a performer. It has to be said, he still sounds an awful lot like Jerry Jeff, and the more he does, the better he sounds, like on "Time To Get Paid," a comedy song about singing for tips in dive bars, and probably the highlight of the album. Also of interest is "The Kid's Song," a rather serious, surprisingly feminist song about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who can't quite figure out how to make the single-income parent thing work out, so she stays "a mother to her children, then a mother to him." This is worth checking out if you liked his earlier albums, but don't get your hopes up too high. (By the way, Earnest, if you're out there, my copy still has the insert for the free Prairie Wonders 45... Any chance you still have one laying around?)
The Deadly Nightshade "The Deadly Nightshade" (RCA-Phantom, 1975) (LP)
I dutifully wondered about The Deadly Nightshade for years -- decades, actually -- wondering if they were really country at all, and whether they were perhaps as good as they sounded on paper. One of the first all-woman rock bands to score a major-label contract, they had a distinctly feminist political stance, which was sometimes reflected in their lyrics... I gotta say, though: their vocals as well as the overall vibe of this album is pretty iffy. I just don't think they were that good, or at least not that fun to listen to. Historically important, sure, but music I'd come back to for listening pleasure? Not so much. Originally formed in Massachusetts during the 1960s as "The Moppets," the band went through a few lineup changes, calling themselves Ariel for a while, and finally settled on The Deadly Nightshade, playing regularly through the 'Seventies, with reunions for years to come.
The Deadly Nightshade "F&W" (RCA-Phantom, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Joel Diamond & Charlie Calello)
Although the album title holds out a promise of country music inside, this is in essence a fairly dreadful '70s rock album, with some irritating, artsy passages. There are a couple of twang tunes, to be sure, notably the bluesy "Murphy's Bar" and "Show Me The Way Back Home," which lurches into some challenging (and I mean that in a good way) gallumphing, pre-punk rhythmic passages. Mostly, though, this is an album that you probably wouldn't want to put on while you had company over... It's pretty shrill and taxing. Their three-part gal harmonies recall the Roches, but the aggressive, looking-for-a-new-sound rock riffs are a little hard to take. True devotees of '70s experimentalism will want to check this out, but twangfans can pass.
Al Dean & The All Stars -- see discography
Benny Dean "I'd Rather Be Blind (In My Eyes Than In My Soul)" (Erin Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Rudy Calicutt & Bob Ysbeck)
Virginia-born Benny Dean had a pretty melodramatic life story, as described on the liner notes of this album. A former family-band gospel singer, Dean lost his path and went blind after going to prison for car theft -- he found God again, but still wound up singing secular music. I'm not sure, but chances are this was his only album.
The Dean Brothers "As They Are" (Pilgrim Records, 1976)
This family band hailed from Skaneateles, New York and played in a variety of regional garage bands and pop-rock acts, dating back to their highschool years, when the British Invasion swept through Ithaca and environs. On this album, they mostly played a mix of '70s soft pop, power-pop and cosmic folk/rock, with a notable debt to bands like the Byrds and the Hollies. But there is also a country vibe, especially on the bouncy twang tune, "Who Loves You" and a couple of other tracks with pedal steel. This was the band's only album, recorded while they were basically breaking up (and soon to reform with a different lineup...) Not as much of a "country" record as others in this survey, but still worth having on the radar.
Carl Dean (Hoppe) "Up To Date Country Music" (Rite Records, 19--?) (LP)
Country and rockabilly, served up in a Jerry Lee Lewis-ish style by Midwestern piano pounder Carl Dean Hoppe. The tracks on this album were re-released on an album by the retrobilly White Label album, Carl Dean And His Piano, along with a handful of live tracks (which are not included here...)
Donna Dean "Classic Country" (JRM Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Mullins & Rick Mullins)
Yeah, this is more Top Forty-oriented than I'm normally into, but it's definitely an off-the-radar outing. Singer Donna Dean was originally from Virginia, and started working in show biz at a very early age. According to the painfully detailed liner notes, she spent some time working in Vegas, had an on-camera job with Alan Funt's "Candid Camera" program, and did some stuff with country stars such as Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed. By the time she cut this album, she had returned to Virginia and was working as a weather reporter on WSLS-TV, in Roanoke, though she was still looking to break into Nashville. The backing band is refreshingly local and free of "usual suspect" superpickers -- as far as I can tell, these were all Virginia lads, including Allen Mason (keyboards), Randy Hurt (strings), Dale Thompson (lead guitar), Keith Guthrie (lead guitar), Rick Mullins (drums), Mike Sweeney (steel guitar), Steve Thomas (fiddle) and several different bass players... Mostly this was recorded in Salem, VA, though some tracks were laid down in Nashville, with help from Jerry Crutchfield. This seems to have been a songwriters demo disc -- Ms. Dean recorded on of her own songs, "Over At Last," while others come from folks like Larry Stewart and Troy Seals; three songs were co-written by a guy named J. D. Martin. This was Dean's first album, dunno if she made any others.
Larry Dean "Outside Chance" (USA Music Group, 1989) (LP)
Born of the same post-Urban Cowboy neotrad boom as Rosie Flores and Dwight Yoakam, SoCal singer Larry Dean led his band, The Shooters, for most of the '80s and into the early '90s, playing at local clubs such as the Cowboy Palace, the Palomino and the Silver Dollar Saloon. He released this solid set of slick, would-be Top Forty twang, with backing by folks like Ray Austin, Byron Berline, and Jay Dee Maness, and some songs co-written with the likes of Rocky Burnette and Wayne Carson. Dean was born in Perryton, Texas, and grew up in Oklahoma and Idaho before hitting the LA scene in the early '80s. He was nominated for California Country Music Awards in 1984 and '95, and managed to scratch his way into the Billboard Top 100 with the title track of this album. Dean seemed like a pretty good contender to break through nationally, and though he got closer than most, it never quite happened. Still, if you dig relatively twangy, Alan Jackson-y neotrad, this is a nice hidden nugget to know about. At some point, Dean seems to have moved back to Idaho, and was playing gigs around Boise.
Jonny Deane "Big Time Dreamer" (Shrimp Music, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Shrimpf)
Nice album recorded by a guy who looks kinda middle-aged and gray-haired on the cover, but with a nice voice and a vocal style that reminds me of Hoyt Axton. I'm not sure where Jonny Deane was from, but this album was recorded at Mike Shrimpf's studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with some lesser-known studio musicians, including Shrimpf himself playing keyboards. The repertoire is mostly originals, including several by Shrimpf and some guys attached to his publishing company -- Archie Drew, Ron Saucier and Jonny Deane -- and perhaps most interesting, two songs by future superstar Steve Wariner, "He'll Be The One" and "Labor Of Love." Wariner had recorded his first album a few years earlier, but seems to have been in Mike Shrimpf's orbit for a while before he had his first big hit, which came later in '81, so this is still a glimmer of his early years. At any rate, I kinda liked this album -- it's solid but unpretentious, soulful but unassuming. Definitely worth a spin!
Mike Deasy "Letters To My Head" (Capitol Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Jay Senter & Howard Weiss)
A groovy, eclectic album from a member of the elite group of top West Coast studio musicians known as "the Wrecking Crew." A Los Angeles native, Deasy wove his way through an astonishing series of bands and artistic endeavors, as a kid notably touring with rockabilly/rock'n'roll icons such as Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, and later sitting in on sessions with just about everyone you can think of... This is a very trippy disc, and I mean that entirely in the sense "trippy" was taken in the early 'Seventies: Deasy definitely seems to have "turned on" and embraced the cosmic psychedelic vibe of the times. Or, maybe he was just the world's happiest Christian: Deasy got "born again" when he attended a Billy Graham revival in 1969, and many of the songs on this album (and others) have explicitly Christian themes. Deasy was also a disciple of pop-rock iconoclast Curt Boettcher, whose folkie, dreamy psychedelia pervades much of this disc. Although it lapses into some pretty gooey, hippie-dippy, stars-in-my-eyes flights of fantasy, there's grit here as well, and real twang, particularly on tunes such as "I Am I Am I Am" and "Flutterby," which showcase some fairly avant-garde pedal steel from Jay Dee Maness. The second half of the album gets a little heavier, and Deasy's radical reinterpretation of the blues standard "Stagger Lee" is an album highlight, an expansive, horn-drenched heavy blues-soul psych odyssey worthy of roots dudes such as Dr. John or Leon Russell. Deasy's wife, Kathie Deasy and brother-in-law, Jim Horn are major contributors -- the Deasy's worked together in a variety of bands, including the swamp-rock band Gator Alley. Definitely worth a spin!
Bobby Dee "Six Weeks In Alaska" (Eagle Records) (LP)
I'm not sure what the Alaska connection is here -- singer Bobby Dee was a Native American from Idaho, and the Eagle label was from Montana. Anyway, he seems to have been in the thick of it, countrywise: musicians include pedal steel player Lloyd Green, guitar picker Gene Breeden, The Hardin Trio and neotrad honkytonker David Frizzell, who co-wrote one of the songs on here, "Hold The Past Against Me."
Jimmy Dee "Today/Tonight" (Rosewood Records, 1977) (LP)
A mystery disc, produced in Nashville by "Album World," which seems to have been a fairly sketchy imprint of the IRDA distribution company. Tax scam? Songwriter's demo? Your guess is as good as mine. Alas, no info on who played on the album or who produced these sessions, also no biographical information about Mr. Dee or where he was from. Maybe someday.
Kathy Dee "DEE Lightful" (BW Records, 1963) (LP)
(Produced by Quentin "Reed" Welby)
The Midwest's Kathleen Mae Potts, aka Kathy Dee, enjoyed modest success with a pair of singles issued by United Artists -- her debut was the 1963 hit, "Unkind Words," which rose to #18 on the charts, although the followup, "Don't Leave Me Lonely Too Long," was perhaps a flop, peaking at #44, and was her last chart entry. Although regional success, starting at a very young age, Kathy Dee suffered from diabetes and was eventually felled by the disease in 1968, when she suffered a stroke and slipped into a fatal coma. Born in West Virginia, Dee was managed by an Ohio impresario, Quentin Welty, whose regionally-based BW Records label released several dozen singles in various musical styles, including a number of country recordings. This included Kathy Dee's early singles, which were licensed to United Artists where they found a national audience. This album features a dozen other songs recorded for BW (though sadly, not her hits) and was reissued on a budget label, as seen below. Her style was similar to that of Sue Thompson, an odd mix of country ballads and girl group-ish pop - not quite gritty honkytonk, but she had some twang in there, for sure, Definitely worth a spin!
Kathy Dee "Teardrops In My Heart" (Guest Star Records, 1964) (LP)
This LP was basically a budget reissue of the BW album above, with ten tracks instead of twelve. The two songs that were left off this album are "Go On Home" and "Funny How Time Slips Away," with all the other songs being the same. As of this writing, all her recordings, including her UA singles, remain unissued in digital form.
Roy Dee & The Cinnamon Creek Band "All Day Singing With Dinner On The Grounds" (Moonglow Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Nelson & James O'Rafferty)
This one's a bit of a mystery disc... The Cinnamon Creek group featured lead singer Roy Dee on lead guitar, Buddy Banks, (drums), Tommy Gobel (bass) and James O'Rafferty (steel guitar), with Bob Fergo chiming in on keyboards and violin; also pictured but not properly credited is vocalist Suzy Ogden, who duets with Roy Dee on a couple of tracks. I'm not sure if these guys were really a "group," although this seems to have been a sincere set of original material, with all the tracks credited to producer Chuck Nelson, adding a couple of co-credits to Roy Dee and to O'Rafferty. The backing band was made up of guys who had worked as studio musicians in LA throughout the 'Sixties and Seventies, including sessions with pop and rock groups. Steel player O'Rafferty probably had the most extensive country background, gigging with SoCal stalwarts such as Don Lee and Denny Michaels, as well as country-rock pioneer Michael Nesmith. O'Rafferty worked a lot of bars and clubs, too, and is remembered as a good vocalist -- you can judge for yourself, since he sings lead on the first three tracks. Ms. Ogden had been doing lounge gigs in Orange County for several years, and led her own band at Knott's Berry Farm, apparently with backing from fabled guitarist Pete Anderson. (She may have been the same bluesy gal from Kentucky who self-released a single way back in 1970, but I'm not totally sure about that.) Roy Dee is probably the biggest blank spot here, with his last name doubtless the first initial of some longer "D" name; besides this album, I couldn't find any other info about him. Exactly where Roy Dee or Chuck Nelson were from is hard to say -- clearly the crew were Southern Californians, though the label address is in Hayward, California, up around San Francisco. If you split the difference, there is a Cinnamon Creek located on the map in the Sierra Nevada foothills, near Visalia, but who knows.
Cliff Deegan & His Western Riders "Cowboy Favorites" (Craftsmen Records, 1963--?) (LP)
Straight-up "western" cowboy stuff, also including a few pop tunes like "Pistol Packin' Mama" from a performer whose history remains pretty mysterious. Typical of many cheapo-label albums, there's no information about where Deegan was from, or who was backing him, or about who produced these tracks. This early-'Sixties imprint was a spinoff of the Tops label, so it's possible this draws on earlier singles, or that "Cliff Deegan" was a made-up name for other artist's work. Hard to know.
Deep South "Deep South" (NSD Records, 1985-?) (LP)
A would-be Top Forty band, though one with outlaw-ish inclinations... They cover Michael Martin Murphey's "Cosmic Cowboy" and "Fool In The Mirror" by Guy Clark, for starters... So maybe they were from Texas? Even though they recorded in Nashville?
Danny DeGood "All New Country" (King's Universal Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Wright)
An independent honkytonker from Greenville, Michigan, Danny DeGood wrote all ten songs on this album, including numbers such as "Aggravation Is The Name Of The Game," "Playing Around," "Thank God For That Woman" and "Talk Is Cheap." DeGood had been at it for quite a while before he cut this album: in the liner notes, he thanks the owner of a local bar in Greenville who put his first single in the jukebox way back in 1968(!) This album was recorded in Nashville, although, sadly, they neglected to list the studio musicians. I'm not sure if Mr. DeGood made any other records, but would welcome any info about his career.
Delaney & Bonnie -- see artist profile
Ethel Delaney "Goin' To The Country With Ethel Delaney" (Ohio Records, 1972-?) (LP)
Ethel Delaney "Heeeere's Ethel!" (Ohio Records, 1976-?) (LP)
A veteran performer of many decades and eras of country music history, Ohio's Ethel Delaney (1927-2005) started her professional career in 1934 at age eight, singing on Wheeling, West Virginia's WWVA radio station, and went on to become one of America's most famous female yodelers. Not sure when these albums came out -- looks like the early-to-mid '70s(?) and the middle-aged Ms. Delaney was clearly still plugging away with a tour bus of her own, emblazoned with the name of her band, the Buckeye Strings. She eventually moved to Las Vegas in the 1990s, but continued to perform for years, giving her last public performance in 2004(!) seventy years after she first took the stage.
Ethel Delaney "...And Her Buckeye Strings" (Ohio Records, 1976-?) (LP)
This one includes covers of oldies like "I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart" and "Steel Guitar Rag" along with more contemporary hits such as Bobby G. Rice's 1973 hit, "You Lay So Easy On My Mind," Charley Pride's "We Could," and Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors." Also featured is "A Bottle, A Blond And A Barroom," which appears to be an original...
Deliverance "Memories" (NRP Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Les Ladd)
An utterly charming, completely amateurish album by a spunky '70s band from Wilton, Iowa... The lead singers were Darryl Gilbert and Sonya Gilbert, with Mr. Gilbert playing lead and Sonya Gilbert on rhythm guitar, along with bassist Kay Seebeck, pianist David Barnes, and a guy named Glenn Ray playing steel on a few tracks. Although as late as 2012, Darryl Gilbert and Deliverance were included on a local radio station's list of Iowa country bands, it's hard to imagine this band -- particularly in this early incarnation -- being much of a bar-band powerhouse. And that's what's great about this record: it's clearly a labor of love from some folks who were playing and singing for fun, and while they were kinda sloppy and poorly produced, they were real and sincere and really into what they were doing, and this is actually one of the more enjoyable "private" country records I've picked up, certainly one of these albums I'm more likely to listen to just for fun. They cover a few obvious hits -- "Good Hearted Woman," "Proud Mary," and "Help Me Make It Through The Night" -- along with a few originals written by Mr Gilbert and other members of the band: "Memories," "Raindrops" and a gospel number called "He." The album was recorded at Tom T. Hall's Toy Box studio in Nashville, while the photos on the back cover show the band performing at the Moose Lodge, in Muscatine, Iowa.
Glen Delpit "Prodigal Son" (Swallow Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Glen Delpit & Bill Bixler)
A nice acoustic retro-blues set from one of Fresno, California's finer post-hippie pickers... Features a lot of oldies covers such as "Bourgeois Blues," with Delpit playing dobro and regular six-string guitars... I believe that the album's co-producer, Bill Bixler, was once the owner of a club called The Wild Blue Yonder, which was one of Fresno's few cool rock clubs in the early '80s...
Dean Del Ray "The Sounds Of A Man Alone" (Del Ray Enterprises, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Howard Stewart & Dean Del Ray)
I'm pretty sure this is not the same Dean Delray who went from a career in 1990s jam band/hard rock into a career as a standup comedian... This Dean Del Ray, a lounge singer was from Clarksburg, West Virginia who was crooning at the Sheraton Hotel when he cut this album in the early 1970s. It's mostly a bunch of oldies, stuff like "Chantilly Lace" and "Proud Mary," but also some country songs, such as "Four Walls," "For The Good Times" and "Muleskinner Blues." I'm guessing around 1972 on this one...?
Del Rio 101 "Del Rio 101" (KCMJ Productions, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Sullivan)
This Lone Star group centered around the quartet of Bo Hutto, Bob Gray, David Murray and James Gilbreath, with assistance from Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery, who plays guitar and provides arrangements, along with several Houston area musicians from his studio, such as pedal steel player Maurice Anderson and bassist Marc Jaco...In some ways, this album almost seems like a compilation, with each of the four singers taking solo spots on various tracks... Also worth noting is that Bo Hutto was also in a band called Texas Pride, whose fiddler, Carl Cloudt plays guitar on this album... dunno if they also made any records....
Kay Delsite "Feels It's Spring" (Valley Records, 1972-?) (LP)
(Produced by Robert Ramsey)
The Delta Sisters "Music From The Old Timey Motel" (Rooster Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Stephen Schneider & Walton Amey)
Old-timey tunes, bluegrass and cajun tunes played by the California-based acoustic duo of Frannie Leopold and Jeanie McLerie, with a slew of cool guest musicians, including Gene Parsons, Sue Draheim, Jody Stecher, and Eric & Suzie Thompson. Nice stuff from the west Coast contingent!
Larry Denham & The Cowboy Ramblers "I've Sang The Blues So Long" (Adler Records) (LP)
(Produced by Stan Louden)
Kentucky native Larry Denham played in and around Louisville for several decades, cutting uptempo, rockabilly-tinged singles as a teen before settling into a more robust honkytonk baritone style. As heard on this album, his appreciation for classic country ran deep: the LP showcases four Hank Williams oldies, along with a slew of Denham originals, with Denham's vocals evoking Hank, Jr. to a surprising degree. He's backed here by several locals, including Dennis Beard on drums, bassist Larry Karr, and a well-respected steel guitarist named Boogie Sherrard, a fellow Kentuckian who had toured with Ray Price in the early '60s. The artwork is super-DIY, with a plain white back cover, and little info about Denham or his band, and alas does not include a release date. (Note: there seem to be a number of musically-inclined Larry Denhams listed online, and I'm not sure how or if they are all connected. A piano player named Larry Denham did session work with a few mainstream country musicians in the early 'Sixties as well as a stint with the Plainsmen southern gospel group from 1962-64, and there's also a steel player by the same name who was an old-timer playing local venues such as the "Bardstown Opry" and the "Shepardsville Country Music Show" at least as late as 2015. The same guy? Relatives? Anyone out there who might be able to help sort it all out?)
Dennis & Cree "The Nashville Sounds Of Dennis & Cree" (D&C Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Stephen Schneider & Walton Amey)
Lounge-y performances by the duo of Marv Dennis and William ("Ed") Cree (1934-2014) whose comedic act played up in Reno, Nevada, in Tahoe, Vegas and Nashville throughout the 1960s and '70s. The duo were originally from Wisconsin, and performed continuously for about fifteen years before splitting up the act in 1975. They regrouped in '77, making a few more records and even tried their hand at acting, getting cast in at least one TV show, appearing briefly as the hillbilly caricatures "Bubba" (Ed Cree) and "Billy Joe Bob" (Marv Dennis), in the 1978 series Who's Watching The Kids, a short-lived vehicle for Scott Baio which was set in Las Vegas. Dennis & Cree definitely included real country music in their act, but it wasn't their sole focus...
Dennis & Cree "The Country Side Of Dennis & Cree" (D&C Records 19--?) (LP)
Dennis & Cree "Side By Side" (DNC Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by David McKinley)
Dale Dennis "Give Me One More Chance" (Country Soul Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Dean & Gene Lawson)
The Marv Dennis IV "Caught In The Act" (Coulee Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Dean & Gene Lawson)
A live album featuring lounge performer Marv Dennis with comedy routines ("Hillbilly Bit,"etc.) and tunes like "Beer From Milwaukee." This was an offshoot of the Dennis & Cree lounge act... Dunno why this wasn't credited as a regular old Dennis & Cree album (see above) since Ed Cree was still involved, but what the heck. Not gonna lose any sleep over it... Their studio-recorded version of "Honey Comb" was also released as a single, and is also included here
Denny & Donna "Love Of The Common People" (Musicountry Records, 1973)
(Produced by John Stoecker & Ron Jeffreys)
A country-pop duo from Rock Valley, Iowa, singing some original material written by Donna Chapel Wrede, as well as covers of Eddy Raven, Jan Crutchfield and the Bee Gees... Donna Wrede had a family background in the music business, having performed along with her father, Don Chapel, in Tammy Wynette's road show. She was the stronger of the two singers, an emotive vocalist who belts it out sometimes, and has a pronounced Wynette-ish streak as well. She contributes three tunes to this album: "It's Time For Us To Fall In Love Again," "My Heart Feels Right At Home" and "More Love For You," which she had previously released as a single in 1973. (Footnote: Years later, Donna Wrede recorded a semi-infamous single, "Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore," a topical song based on a missing child case, and continued to write and perform original material through the early '80s, singing with her husband Denny, who became a highschool basketball coach and math teacher... So they were indeed regular folks, in case you wondered.) I think this was their only album, though she seems to have recorded a few singles as well, including a lot of gospel material. To be honest, this isn't the greatest country record ever, but they really put their hearts into it, and that counts for something.
Clyde And Marie Denny & The Drifting Kentuckians "Monticello" (Country Star, Inc., 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Reid & Carmine Lombardo)
Independent bluegrass with a country-ish fling... Most of the songs are Denny originals, though the Dennys get the trad stamp of approval, with old-timer Carl Story providing laudatory liner notes. The label was from Franklin, Pennsylvania, and I imagine the Dennys lived there as well, or at least nearby.
Walt Denny "Twelve All Original Country And Gospel Songs" (Breeze Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by J. P. Bowman)
A Kentucky native who moved to the Midwest as a teen, singer Walt Denny was a self-described hardcore alcoholic and born-again Christian who tried to make it big in music in the 1940s and '50s and found himself down and out and literally drunk in the gutter, at the mercy of his addiction. Back in '56 he got religion and turned his life around, and though he was an ardent Christian, this album is divided between secular songs (on Side One) and religious material (on Side Two) all of which Denny wrote himself. Backing him is a small band that included Frazier Moss on fiddle and Elton Davis on dobro, along with some other local, rural Tennessee pickers from outside of Nashville's orbit. (Frazier Moss also recorded a couple of albums of his own, reviewed on this site as well...) Definitely a little more rough-edged and more country-oriented than your standard-issue Southern Gospel album!
Jeannie Denver "Yorkshire Rose" (Westwood Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Dusty Gordon, David Whitely & Kelvin Henderson)
One of the most UK's popular country singers of the 1970s, Yorkshire-born Jeannie Denver was a pub singer who "went country" in 1973, joining Kelvin Henderson's band where she quickly stole the show and became a showcase performer. She went solo in '75, recruiting several members of Henderson's ensemble to form the JD Band, including her husband, hotshot guitarist Stewart Barnes. This was her first album, and it leaned heavily on cover songs and current hits such as "Delta Dawn," "Field Of Stone," "Jolene," and "For The Good Times," with obvious nods to American "girl" singers such as Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker.
Jeannie Denver/Various Artists "The Music Festival Show" (Westwood Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Davies & Mike Naylor)
Here, the up-and-coming Denver shares billing with several of her bandmembers and labelmates, British twangsters such as Nick Carter, Lee Williams and steel guitarist Slim Pickins, all packed by her own group, the JD Band.
Jeannie Denver "Queen Of The Silver Dollar" (Westwood Records, 1975) (LP)
Jeannie Denver & Slim Pickens "At The Spur And Saddle" (Westwood Records, 1976) (LP)
Recorded live at the Welsh country music venue, The Spur And Saddle.
Jeannie Denver "With Love" (Westwood Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Davies & Bob Whitely)
John Denver -- see artist profile
The Deputies -- see artist profile
Richard De Saito "Volume One: Nashville Country Princess" (Aurora Records & Tapes, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Alan Kirk & Tod Andrews)
I really honestly couldn't tell you what was going on with this one... except that it's exactly the kind of weird record that could only have been made in late 'Seventies Hollywood. Despite the cosmic cowboy graphics, this is more of a super-indulgent, mega-emotive, folk-rock flight, the sort of wildly over-the-top, uninhibited West Coast, SoCal soul wail worthy of Dino Valenti or numerous oddball outsider-rock unknowns of that era. De Saito plays an undetermined number of instruments, with additional backing by Richard Charlton (lead guitar), Teddy Rocca (bass) and others -- I suspect there are also folks who played on here that didn't get credits, but that's just a guess. I wouldn't count this as much of a country record, despite the "Country" and the "Nashville" in the title; it's really not my cup of tea, though I'm also not sure if I should necessarily warn other twangfans off of it. I suspect there's a whole aesthetic of this kind of music that I'm just not in on, or just don't get. Dunno De Saito's backstory; he was writing and copyrighting songs at least as far back as the early '70s; he may have done some work in the movies, and he might be in the art world... The cover art for this album was by desert painter Chuck Caplinger, who was doing celebrity portraits at the time. As of 2019, DeSaito (also spelled Desaito) was still in Hollywood and still performing onstage at age 77, organizing American Legion shows and whatnot. This disc is a pretty odd record, an out-there artifact of its time.
The Desert Rose Band -- see artist profile
Desperado "Time After Time" (Ruff Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Hott Soup Productions)
This band from Garland, Texas was different than the East Coasters below... To give you a sense of where they were coming from, they covered both the Eagles and Atlanta Rhythm Section, and had both banjo and saxophone in the band. Ah, the Seventies!
Desperado "Desperado" (Calfdisk Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Desperado)
East Coast twang... The leading light behind this Ithaca, New York al-country group was singer-guitarist Walton Amey, though the spotlight often fell on vocalist Carol Lee (aka Carolee Goodgold) who was a performing arts student at the university and who went on to a very successful career as a commercial singer and voiceover artist. The band was rounded out by bass player Doug Robinson and Paul Marino on banjo and guitar. These folks made two records together, though I'm not sure what happened after that... I think Mr. Amey was originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia) and may have returned there later in life. At any rate, there's a fair amount of original material on here, as well as several well-chosen cover tunes, including a version of the Peter Rowan song, "Midnight Moonlight."
Desperado "Out On A Limb" (PCI Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Stephen Schneider & Walton Amey)
This semi-shaggy, Levi's-clad band from upstate New York didn't have a lot of ooomph as country twangsters, but as soft-pop/country-rock act, they had their charm. Their male-female vocal mix included several songs with the spotlight on Carolee Goodgold, who seems to have been a big Linda Ronstadt fan, mimicking Ronstadt's vocals and musical approach, as opposed to Emmylou Harris, who was the other big female country-rock icon of the era. Desperado seems to have been aiming for a mix of indie-twang and hopeful commercial success as a pop act, but the style of music harkened back to pre-disco AOR of a half-dozen years earlier. This has its moments, and is a genuine slice of '70s(ish) DIY, but it didn't really wow me.
The Desperadoes "The Branding Iron Presents..." (Branding Iron Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Avants & Tommy Melder)
A souvenir album from a country bar in West Monroe, Louisiana called the Branding Iron ("home of red necks and goat ropers"), one of several nightspots owned over the years by former rodeo clown Warren "Pinball" Antley (1935-2001). This is mostly a set of country cover tunes, though there are three originals, each written by one of the bandmembers (which is how we learn the names of some of the otherwise unidentified musicians. James A. Crain, Jr. contributes "You're Gone From Me"; Terrell H. Howard wrote "Temptation Is Like Whiskey" and Ronald J. Lutrick adds "Too Much Stormy Weather." Born in nearby Columbia, Lutrick apparently performed on the "Louisiana Hayride" while in his teens, with the Desperadoes being his first band. He later moved to Nashville, where he did some session work, played backup and was in the house band at a place called Gabe's Lounge. The fourth guy in this band -- Steve -- remains a cipher. Probably the drummer. The Branding Iron itself seems to have closed in the late 1980s, a few years after this album came out.
The Desperados "Desperado" (Rio Records, 1980)
Hoo-boy. Desperado... Desperados... Desperadoes... Man, I bet there were an awful lot of bar bands who used that name. Anyway, I'll try and sort it all out... though it might take a while. This band, with Jim Tomlinson on pedal steel and Ted Scanlon singing lead vocals, was from Mesilla Park and Las Cruces, New Mexico, and had some jazzy stuff going on with their twang... The material was all cover tunes, so I figure they were a working band, though apparently none of the members was a songwriter. Founded in 1976, The Desperados became known as one of the most diehard western swing bands in the Southwest and have continued on for decades, helmed by Scanlon, but with a constantly evolving group of collaborators. One this first album, the lineup also included Carroll Gilley (piano), Bob Faris (fiddle), Pete Warner (drums) and Dale Baker (saxophone and flute.) The material is all cover songs, but they chose from the best, so you get a real chance to hear their chops.
The Desperados "Take Two" (Rio Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Emitt Brooks & Steve Brooks)
The Desperados "II" (Pollyfox Studios, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Frank Green)
This no-nonsense country band from eastern Nebraska was led by Don Rogert, a businessman from Waterloo who was also active in state politics during the '70s. The Desperados headed to Nashville to record at least two albums, both of which are quite good -- not dazzling, but solidly performed and well produced, and packed with well-chosen material. The core group included Rogert on guitar, along with fiddler Jerry Cook and a fine dobro picker named Max Cooley, who also played in several bluegrass bands. They had a distinctly old-fashioned, down-to-earth traditional country sensibility, playing lots of oldies and a few contemporary hits. This album seems to be an early-to-mid-'70s release, with songs including include "Six Days On The Road," "The Key Is In The Mailbox" "I'm A Survivor" and "Daisy A Day." These two albums were reissued together on CD, though I'm not sure where you could find a copy.
The Desperados "In Nashville" (1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by David Shipley)
This album features a larger band and smoother production, and seems to be from around 1978-79... The more recent songs include "Couple More Years" (recorded by both Dr. Hook and Waylon Jennings in 1976) and "You're The One" (a big hit for the Oak Ridge Boys in 1977 and '78.) I'm not sure how much longer the band was together after this... any info is welcome!
Don Devaney "Someone Loves You Honey" (JMI/Boot Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Curt Allen & Bob Webster)
Canadian songwriter Don Devaney (1940-2014) was living in Toronto in the late 'Seventies, but headed to Nashville to cut this album at Jack Clement's JVI studios with a crew that included pedal steel player Lloyd Green and guitar picker Jim Rooney. Some of the songs were released as singles, though this appears to have been Devaney's only full album. The title track was a song that served as Devaney's Music City calling card, after Charley Pride took it to the top of the charts on both sides of the border. Devaney had been plugging away since the early 'Seventies with modest success and he placed songs with a slew of country and bluegrass artists over the years, including another #1 hit when Highway 101 recorded his song "Cry, Cry, Cry" in 1988.
Jerry Devine "Something Devine" (Polaris Records, 196-?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Melino)
New England twangster Jerry Devine (1935-2008) performed on regional shows such as the Boston Hoedown, dating back to the early 1950s, and formed his own band, the Countrymen, in the early 'Sixties. He also hosted a show on radio station WHIL, related to the Boston Jamboree, and recorded this album locally at a studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The set list includes six originals, though most of the other songs are unfamiliar as well.
Lew DeWitt "On My Own" (Compleat Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Lew DeWitt & Chip Young)
It took me a while to warm to this one, but after a couple of listens, it got under my skin... Lew DeWitt (1938-1990) was best known as a member of the Statler Brothers band, singing tenor vocals until he retired in '83 due to poor health. He's also the author of their earliest (and arguably best) big hit, 1965's "Flowers On The Wall," which he reprises here in a slightly less robust but still satisfying rendition. Many of the songs here share the forlorn, nebbishy heartbreak of "Flowers," as well as the world-weary wisdom of middle age, verging on old-timer-ness. Like I say, this album grows on you and though his voice sounds a bit thin, DeWitt's emotional commitment to the material comes through with attentive listening. There is one weird, note, though, on the end-time-ish "Show Me Someone Making Plans To Leave," which declaims all kinds of global violence and kookiness - it's sort of a goofy folk/protest number that doesn't quite hold together, and doesn't match the tone of the rest fo the record... But it is interesting. Anyway, this album is a nice footnote to an illustrious career, and a must-hear for fans of the original Statler Brothers lineup.
Lew DeWitt "Here To Stay" (Compleat, 1986) (LP)
Ray Dexter "Alligator River" (Lucky Records, 19--?) (LP)
The first album by English country crooner Ray Dexter, a Hertfordshire lad who got into "cowboy" music and recorded a string of well-regarded albums, notably packed with original material. Like many Brits of his generation, Dexter started out playing in skiffle bands in the late 1950s, though unlike the other kids of that era, he didn't get swept up into Beatlemania and Merseybeat, but rather dug deeper into the American roots traditions of the folk-oriented music of the skiffle scene. Apparently he was backed on this album by a band called the Dynamoes, which included guitarist Albert Lee (who would later make his own mark in the country world, both as a member of the British band Heads Hands & Feet, and perhaps more significantly as a member of the Emmylou Harris Hot Band...)
Ray Dexter "Country Seasons" (Philips/Pine Ridge, 19--?) (LP)
Ray Dexter "Goin' Up Country" (Avenue Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Smith)
An odd, but also rather compelling release from this British country-folk artist. This was his third album and showcases fewer of his original songs, in favor of covers of classics such as "Four Walls," "Faded Love," a funky-cool version of "Solitary Man" a nice reading of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," and a languid rendition of Neil Young's "Birds." Some songs feature spoken introductions -- with an English accent, immediately dropped when he starts to sing in a Merle Haggard-meets-Jim Reeves rural drawl. The album's three originals are all winners: "Nebraska Sunrise" was re-released as a single in the United States, and "Mississippi Messenger" has perhaps the album's most unique arrangements, and "Your Lovin' Man," while not as distinctive is still a nice solid country ballad. This album was apparently a big hit, selling several hundred thousand copies -- the biggest selling British country record of its time. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't include information about the backup band, but this was a pretty solid effort throughout. Worth tracking down!
Ray Dexter "From Midnight Through 3AM" (Decca/Emerald Gem, 1974) (LP)
D'Fleming "...Sings Good Country" (Shew-Ming Records, 1977)
(Produced by Harold Lee & Al Gore)
An Alaskan singer with all original material, including some (but not all) gospel, and one song co-written with Don Bergstrom. To be honest, his vocals ain't all that, but he does throw himself into it with great gusto. Looks like he went to Nashville to cut this album, and the band behind him sounds pretty sharp. Among the studio players were steel players Jim Baker and Little Roy Wiggins, along with some backup harmonies by the "Bach-Ahp Singers."
Dyan Diamond "In The Dark" (MCA, 1978) (LP)
Ronnie Diamond "Songs Of Feeling" (1980) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Haines & Louie Swift)
The Diana Sisters "Wild And Wonderful" (Celebrity Records, 196--?) (LP)
Blue comedy from a duo that had country influences, but branched out into pop standards as well... The Diana Sisters gave their names as Diane and Lynda Diana, and though their label was in New York, the gals themselves were apparently from North Carolina. Their schtick was to sing mildly obscene parodies of popular songs, both hits and standards, with the punchlines usually being either about some guy's studliness, or his failure to perform. It's not very sophisticated humor, but their carnality is striking, even given that these records were cut in the late 'Sixties, at the height of the sexual revolution. For an act with such ripe kitsch potential, the Diana Sisters have a remarkably low profile online: I poked around for quite a while and found no info other than what was written in the liner notes. They play several instruments -- guitars, banjo, violin and drums -- and purport to have gone to the Juilliard music school, though I would take this info (along with their names and biographies) with a grain salt. But the musical end of their act was pretty solid, apparently all generated by the gals themselves. This was their first album, released around 1967 or '68, and features parodies of country songs such as "Roly Poly," "Feudin' Fiddler," "Steel Guitar Rag," as well as non-country material and comedic skits. Anyone know more about this duo? I'm all ears.
The Diana Sisters "Go Wild!" (Celebrity Records, 196--?) (LP)
On their second album, the gals include versions of "Just Because," "Orange Blossom Special," "The Race Is On" and "Madam Of The House," a lampoon of "King Of The Road." Again, it's not strictly a country record, but there's certainly enough twang to earn a spot here. There's also a version of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking," which devolves into a Sophie Tucker-like discourse. Not as kinky as one might desire, but hey, this was a long, long time ago...
The Diana Sisters "We're Not Angels" (Celebrity Records, 196--?) (LP)
Their third album also integrates a bunch of country material, including takeoffs on "Alabama Jubilee," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Strawberry Roan," and "We've Been Everywhere," a lampoon of Hank Snow's classic, "I've Been Everywhere."
Diane (Leigh) "Diane... Country Queen" (Birchmount Records, 1972) (LP)
A Canadian country (and pop) singer who had success on both sides of the border... Although most of her records were issued under her full name, for some reason they issued this one under a mononym... Features a bunch of originals written by Al Rain, a songwriter from Toronto, Ontario. Leigh was the featured vocalist with a group called the Sons Of The Saddle, and recorded with them as well.
Dice "On The First Throw" (Green Mountain Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Scott Ardinger & Lori B. Williams)
Not a lot of info about this eclectic New England band, which was on a Vermont label, but may have ben a Connecticut band... The driving forces seem to have been multi-instrumentalists Scott Ardinger (banjo, guitar, violin) and Lori B. Williams (piano, mandolin), with assist by bassist Greg Burill, steel guitarist Mark Crofutt and drummers Phil Littlefield and Gene Tourangeau. Not sure what happened to Ardinger, but Lori Williams moved to California and had success in the 1990s singing backup and playing various parts on albums by Hoyt Axton, Jackson Browne and others. Mark Crofutt remained local, playing with a New England acoustic roots jugband called Washboard Slim & The Bluelights.
Dichotomy "Muddy Waters Presents Dichotomy's Last Album" (KBK/Earth City Sound Studios, 1985) (LP)
A Saint Louis, Missouri bar band that was together from about 1970-85. They worked as the house band at a place called Burnham's St. Louis Opera, and then at the Muddy Waters bar up until the club closed in 1985. This commemorative set includes covers of country songs like "East Bound And Down," "Red Neck Mother" and "The Gambler."
Dichotomy "Just Here To Make Friends" (OMR Records, 1987-?) (LP)
According to the liner notes, this was their second album... Includes a cover of "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," in case any one's keeping track...
J. J. Dickens "Teardrops On The Rocks" (1980-?) (LP)
Born in Hennessy, Oklahoma and raised on a ranch in Arizona, singer J. J. Dickens made his way up north in the early 1960s, settling in Chicago where he formed a multiracial country band puckishly called the Barrier Breakers, as it was unusual back then for African-Americans to play country music, especially in Illinois. In 1970 he moved out past the 'burbs to the tiny town of Utica where he played small bars and clubs in neighboring towns, such as the City Limits Inn, the Pink Cloud and the Diamond Horseshoe in Oglesby, which was owned by his wife Norma. Dickens also landed a gig playing at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Clubs, though most of his work was local. Dickens died in 2005, though he was performing with his band as late as 2004. As far as I know, this was his only album, though he also cut at least a couple of singles, including one with the Barrier Breakers, recorded around 1970, and another one for FMC in '72 -- both singles highlighted his own original material.
Dan Dickey "Country Strides" (Chartwheel Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Howard)
Texan Dan Dickey was a true Hank Williams devotee, sticking to pure twang on this LP, with tracks recorded over a period of three years, 1978-80... Apparently he had a couple of tunes that charted 'way, 'way back in the Back Forty, "Hot Mama" and "Bye Bye Baby," sometime around 1979. I'm not 100% sure, but I think he was also an academic, an ethnomusicologist working at the University of Texas at Austin, whose specialty was in Latin American music, particularly Tejano corridos. Anyone know for sure?
Jim Dickinson - see artist profile
Debbie Dierks "Lucky Chicago" (Cherish Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Hoffman)
Originally hailing from Kansas, Debbie Dierks made her way to Nashville in the early '70s to try and make it big in Music City. In addition to several singles for the Kansa label, and at age nineteen singer she cut this excellent album for Cherish Records, a side project of radio DJ Dan Hoffman. He produced the record and provided several songs he'd written himself along with other compositions by songwriters in his orbit. It's pure perky, early '70s Nashville pop with bouncy little melodies and just enough twang to make it fun, featuring pedal steel by Bubba Seymour and fiddles by Buddy Spicher. Dierks's plainspoken girl-next-door vocals recall girl-groupish country gals such as Skeeter Davis and Jody Miller -- very pleasant overall. Unfortunately, like many Nashville indies of this era, Cherish was really more of a vehicle for promoting songs rather than artists, and Dierks was simply a vehicle to deliver their hopeful hits. However, she was able to record one song of her own, "Daddy's Little Girl," a heartfelt remembrance of her own father, who had passed away before the family moved to Tennessee. All too quickly, her country career foundered and by '74 she signed with the Christian-oriented Dove label, setting out on a different musical path. Decades later, recording under her married name, Debbie Dierks Montgomery remains a religious singer and has long since moved back to the heartland, living and working in the Kansas City suburbs. This is a fun record, though, if you can manage to track it down!
Gene Diffie "Country Now And Then" (ARA, 1975--?) (LP)
A charming album by an old-school honkytonker from Phoenix, Arizona. Songwriter Gene Diffie led various bands through much of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and had one of those odd, thin voices that were popular in the fifties (a cross between Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb) which at first may be offputting, but really grows on you after a while... At the point when he made this album, there were several longhairs in his band, which included steel player Art Hawkins and Clint Diffie on keyboards. This album is mostly original material, with four songs written by Gene Diffie, two by Stan Bennett, and three more by Slim Forbes, a veteran performer of "western" cowboy bands. Honestly? It's great stuff. The cover art is intriguing: there's a drawing of him standing outside of "Diffie's Hair-Em," a hair salon that he presumably owned... (And FYI, apparently the Arizona Diffies were not direct relations of '90s top forty star Joe Diffie, who grew up in Oklahoma and Texas...)
The Dave Dighton Band "Wanna Dance? Follow Us!" (UA Recording, 1970-?) (LP)
Born and raised in Coggon, Iowa, bandleader Dave Dighton (1935-2021) started his own group in 1964 after playing trumpet in several local bands. The Dave Dighton Band played regionally for several decades up until Dighton retired in the year 2000, booking up to 300 shows a year at their peak; the core of the group also included steel player Jerry Pasker (1943-2018) and guitarist Jack Sexton (1933-2020) and in later years, Dighton's son, Kirk, who played lead guitar. Dighton's band was a full-time gig, though he also took over the family farm which was where he lived, worked and even where he passed away; he also did advertising at radio station WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids, where he worked alongside fellow bandleader (and deejay) Leo Greco. In 1973, Dighton's band also notably headlined the last concert given at the Coliseum Ballroom, a dancehall in nearby Oelwein, IA, owned by another bandleader, Andy Doll. This disc may have been Dighton's first LP, probably released sometime around 1969 or '70. The set's admirably heavy on honky tonk tunes, songs like "Crazy Arms," "Release Me" and "There Goes My Everything," as well as pop hits such as "Tijuana Taxi" and "Games People Play," and even the Mills Brothers' oldie, "Cab Driver" (which they may have gotten from the Hank Thompson version, since they also cover Thompson's "Squaws Along The Yukon," so obviously they were fans...
The Dave Dighton Band "The Green Green Grass Of Home" (Double D Records, 19--?) (LP)
A youthful country covers band from Iowa, combining honkytonk oldies and pop hits of the days... Not sure when this one came out, but the Dighton Band must have been fairly popular... They put out several albums over a span of years.
The Dave Dighton Band "Country Clover" (Double Dee Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Condon & Bill Synhorst)
According to the back cover liner notes, this was the band's fourth album... Another mix of traditional country and polka tunes. The band included Dave Dighton on trumpet and bass, Rod Blanchford (drums), Mark Lauderwasser (cordovox and trumpet), Jerry Pasker (steel guitar) and Jack Sexton on rhythm guitar and banjo, and a "guest appearance" by Kirk Dighton on lead guitar... Among other gems, this disc includes a version of Faron Young's "Wine Me Up," and one called "Shortest Song In The World."
Carl Dillard & Frank Martin "If The Phone Should Ring" (Mark V Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Huffman & Jeff Clark)
A couple of old dudes from South Carolina, backed by a band called the Rhythm Masters. Dillard plays piano, Martin sings, and between them they wrote five of the ten songs on this album. A real mystery disc here... any info would be welcome!
The Dillards - see artist discography
Bill Dillon "Jamming At FXL" (1984) (LP)
(Produced by Frank X. Locanto)
An old-timer who played bluegrass and hillbilly music in 1950s bands with the likes of Tex Logan, Joe Val, and the Lilly Brothers, Bill Dillon was originally from Boston, but like many musicians from that era, he moved around a lot, taking work wherever he could find it. After several years working in Huntsville, Alabama, he quit show business and moved to Florida, where he worked as an engineer for IBM and other companies. He recorded this album in Sunrise, Florida, playing mandolin, autoharp and guitar, with accompaniment by the Lane Brothers, a bluegrass duo who he had worked with back in the early '50s.
Bruce Dillon "To Everyone Who Has A Song" (Little Wonder Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Mitch Hennes, Gary Loisso & Garry Elghammer)
This album from from New Lebanon, Ohio's Bruce Dillon is a little questionable... Yes, there's pedal steel in the mix (played by Tommy Furlong) but also brass, flutes and an overall profusion of orchestral instruments, pushing this into an ornate folk-pop direction... However, Dillon did shows opening for stars such as Brenda Lee and Hank Thompson, and wrote some country-themed material, so there is some legit crossover there... Indeed one of Dillon's ten originals on here is called "Crossover," appropriately enough.
Zig Dillon "Something Old, Something New" (Ripcord Records, 197--?) (LP)
In his heyday, midwestern honkytonker Allan "Zig" Dillon worked with national headliners such as Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner and Red Foley, although as a solo artist his main stomping ground was Kansas City, where he recorded a string of rockabilly-tinged singles in the early 1960s for the ultra-obscuro R Records label. This album comes from much later in his career, probably in the mid-to late-1970s. About half the songs are originals - including "There'll Be No Color Line In Heaven"; some of his earlier recordings have been anthologized on rockabilly and hillbilly bop collections, notably on Redita Records' fab KANSAS CITY COUNTRY ROCKERS collection.
Lola Jean Dillon "Sings Songs She Wrote For Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Cal Smith, Loretta Lynn..." (Cabin Records, 19--?) (LP)
Not sure just when this record came out, but I sure would love to hear it... Along with her partner, L. E. White, Ms. Dillon was a very successful country songwriter in the 1960s and early '70s, and -- as this album's title makes plain -- her stuff was covered by a bunch of heavyweight country stars. Her compositions include "You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly..." This is doubtless a very cool record.
Carol Dills & The Rainy Mountain Boys "Sings Country Favorites" (NAME Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Dave A. Huber)
Don Dimick "A Song To Sing" (Sahara Records, 1972-?) (LP)
Dimick recorded on a Savannah, Georgia label... This album includes covers of "Crying Time," "Release Me," and "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," etc., as well as the title track, which was written by Buddy Alan suggesting some sort of connection to Buck Owens...
Don Dimick "The Wonder Of It All" (Emerald Records, 19--?) (LP)
Michael Dinner "The Great Pretender" (Fantasy Records, 1974) (LP)
Michael Dinner "Tom Thumb The Dreamer" (Fantasy Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Keith Olsen)
The Diplomats "Gary Davis' Mackinaw Music Show Presents..." (Mackinaw Music Show, 1975-?) (LP)
Dunno why Michigan bandleader Gary Davis sometimes called his group Mackinaw Music Show and sometimes The Diplomats, but whatever. Seems to be the same folks, though, including Kirsty Davis, who also released an album of her own. There's no date on the album, but I'm guessing '75 based on the catalog number and the set list, which is heavy on early-to-mid-'Seventies, including covers of "Behind Closed Doors," "Paper Roses," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon," "Country Roads" and "Delta Dawn."
Jimmy Discount "A Bargain Every Day" (Original Intent, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Don Boomer & James Conroy)
An independently-produced California country album from James ("Jimmy Discount") Conroy, a singer from Torrance who was said to be one of the original investors in the legendary freeform hippie-country radio station, KFAT. This is a very unpolished, DIY album, crudely produced with a rock'n'roll undercurrent, and Discount's love of twang often at odds with an unsurpressible urge to ham it up. He sings with an exaggerated drawl, not unlike many modern "twangcore" bands who take country more as a joke than as a calling... Although I'd say this album, even with its surplus of novelty songs, has an underlying sincerity -- and a historical value -- that makes it worth checking out. Some nice picking, too, with backup musicians that included hot pedal steel from J.B Crabtree (who once played with the Sweethearts Of The Rodeo) and producer/drummer Don Boomer, who had once been a lineup of the psych-rock band The Seeds, along with the Libbea brothers, bassist Gary and mandolin player Steve, who had been in an early 70s bluegrass band with Alison Brown and Vince Gill. So, some interesting side players here, even if the album itself is a little bit funky.
Jimmy Discount "Sunrise Breakdown" (MAOWN Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by James Conroy)
Rootsy, eclectic California country-meets-soft-rock, sort of in the same mode as folks like Norton Buffalo... The twangier tunes are fine, but the more "serious" pop songs -- stuff like "Poison Heart" and "Too Soon" -- are kind of dreadful, even though you can tell that they were where he was really focussing his major creative mojo. The album itself has the feel of a would-be magnum opus, sort of a Copperfields Dillards-meets-Seals & Crofts kinda thing, with some excellent picking surrounded by some truly questionable songwriting. Unfortunately my copy of this album didn't include any liner notes, but there were clearly some really good country players sitting in on these sessions, particularly the pedal steel player, who really lights up several of these songs. Wonder who they were!
The Dismembered Tennesseans "Forty Years With The Wrong Band" (1985-?) (LP)
(Produced by Elmer Cole & Jim Stabile)
Although they had a whole history of making fun of themselves, and belittling their own talent, these guys from Chattanooga were no joke. The DTs formed way back in 1945 with fiddler Fletcher Bright and several of his pals, and have remained together for decades, making this one of the longest continuously running bluegrass bands in the world. The group has a similar history to long-running groups such as the Sons Of The Pioneers or Max Roach's various ensembles, as a proving ground for countless talented musicians. This edition of the band featured Fetcher Bright on fiddle, George Bright (mandolin), Ed Cullis (banjo), Frank McDonald (guitar) and Ansley Moses on banjo, with joke quotes from Norman Blake John Hartford, and Benny Martin on the back. Pretty much straight-up bluegrass, but with that band name, they needed mention here as well. One of many albums.
Dixie Line Band "Everything It Takes" (1984) (LP)
A pop/honkytonk band from Bowling Green, Kentucky comprised of local musicians who had previously worked in road band led by stars such as Bobby Bare, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. Around 1980, they formed their own band for local gigs, and recorded this lone album in '84.
Dixie Rose "Dixie Rose" (Safari Records, 19--?) (LP)
Benny Dixon & The Rebels "Deep Country Feeling" (Studio 5 Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Anthony J. Nathe)
Indie country from New Brighton, Minnesota... Mostly covers of songs such as "Folsom Prison" and "Okie From Muskogee," although the first track, "Mr. Blue," was written by Benny Dixon.
Bill Dixon "After Hours" (SC Music, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Barnes & Bill Dixon)
Earthy honkytonk from Los Angeles, California, with a slew of original material and sweet licks from a strong backing band. What first caught my eye was the presence of Glen D. Hardin, who played piano for Elvis Presley and Emmylou Harris back in the 'Seventies. Also on board was SoCal country fiddler Doug Atwell, who toured with Johnny Lee and played some really sweet licks on a couple of Lucinda Williams' best records, before passing away in 1993. Bill Dixon may be all-but-impossible to track down online, but gleams radiant and alluring in his anonymity. He seems like one of those folks who just barely missed the onset of the "Americana" scene: another couple of years and he woulda been right in there with Rosie and Dwight. Anyway, Dixon had a good feel for novelty lyrics, and several songs on here resonate and might could have been hits if he'd ridden in on the right neotrad revival, or if he'd cut this album a few years later with a bigger budget. Dixon had a good voice though his phrasing gets kind of choppy, in little ways... over-articulating the lyrics, for one. You can sense that a limited recording budget got in the way -- this album's not totally ready for primetime. But he was damn close. Some interesting stuff on here.
Rob Dixon & The Lost Cowboy Band "Live At The Crystal Chandelier" (Texas Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Dixon)
Originally from Sharptown, Maryland, songwriter Rob Dixon recorded his first album when he was twenty, and established himself as a live act around DC, before making tracks for Nashville where he played guitar for David Houston, George Jones and others, while also starting his own solo career. In the early 1980s Dixon relocated to Dallas-Fort Worth, which became his center of operations well into the 21st century. This album is mostly cool cover songs, with a couple of originals by Ernie Rowell (who was apparently not in the band...) The group included David Griffin on steel guitar, Rob Landrum (bass), Tim Harris (harmonica), Jim Aspero (drums) and Steve Payne on piano.
Rob Dixon "Let Me Sing You A Song" (Texas Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Walt Cunningham)
Rob Dixon "Through Her Eyes" (Texas Records, 2000) (CD)
(Produced by Rob Dixon)
Dean Dobbins "Me An' The Boys" (Dob Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Colin Cameron & Bob Gothar)
Indie twang from Northridge, California... I'm not sure if this is the same Dean Dobbins who also wrote children's books... Anyone out there know for sure?
Richard J. Dobson "In Texas Last December" (Buttermilk Records, 1977) (LP)
One of the original gang of Austin singer-songwriters, Richard Dobson (1942-2017) was a Tyler, Texas native who hung out with Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle back in the early days... He was a successful songwriter who recorded over a dozen albums, and while its his association with Van Zandt that many remember, I'm most impressed by his co-authorship of "Old Friends," one of my favorite Guy Clark songs. This was the first of many fine albums.
Richard J. Dobson "The Big Taste" (Rinconada Records, 1979) (LP)
Richard J. Dobson "Save The World" (RJD Records, 1983) (LP)
Richard J. Dobson "True West" (RJD Records, 1988) (LP)
Richard J. Dobson & State Of The Heart "Live At The Station Inn" (RJD Records, 1988) (LP)
(Produced by Richard J. Dobson & Mike Dunbar)
Doc Kirby & Co. "Doc Kirby & Co." (Playboy Records, 1973)
Good'n'greasy, weird, unruly, swampy Southern rock with some good, hard riffs, rough edges and a good sense of humor. This is more of a rock/boogie record, but there's also a definite element of twang... Fans of Joe Cocker might like this, particularly with the growling, uneven vocals. From Mississippi, apparently...
Dr. Schultz "The Last Frontier Band" (Frozenstif Records, 1979)
(Produced by John Speer)
From the far-flung boundaries of the continental United States comes one of Alaska's trailblazing folk/Americana bands. The "doctor" would be banjo picker and vocalist Don Schultz, a founding member of the band, accompanying the other lead singer, Dana Cox, who went on to record a solo album of her own. Although bluegrass-friendly, the group had more of a mainstream hippie-folk sound, particularly Cox's Joan Baez-ish vocals. I'm not that into straight-up folk music, although these folks did have some weirdo-eclectic touches than earn them a spot in the hippiebilly hall of fame. They came down to California to record this album, and a few Bay Area locals helped on the sessions, most notably pedal steel player Joe Goldmark, who plays on a tune or two.
Hobey Dodd "Wanted" (Kard Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Cam Mullins)
A generally dreadful set of silky-smooth countrypolitan ballads, though punctuated by a couple of mysteriously funky numbers where Dodd is backed by a banjo and loosens up a little to let a little blues into his phrasing. It may be that he was actually a fairly rootsy singer who just got trapped in the wrong recording session, but overall this is a pretty dreary, corny album. Oh, well. Dodd was being groomed for the Top 40, but didn't get very far.
John Dodd & Members Of The Milano Opry "Texas Fiddling" (ACR) (LP)
(Produced by Don Robertson)
This Lone Star "opry" broadcast weekly from radio station KMIL, in Cameron, Texas, as well as staging a monthly Saturday Night "jamboree" in Milano. Dodd's son, Greg plays guitar on this album...
Steve Dodge "Steve Dodge" (Cactus Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Dodge)
Independent twang from Phoenix, Arizona, with all original songs, except for a couple of tasty cover tunes, one of Johnny Horton's "North To Alaska" as well as Guy Clark's "Rita Ballou."
Dogtooth Violet "Dogtooth Violet" (Dogtooth, 1976)
(Produced by Dogtooth Violet & Jeffs Wells)
One of Houston, Texas's premier 1970s country-rock bands, Dogtooth Violet was formed in 1973 by Bob Oldreive and several other locals. The eclectic, folk-tinged band was on a hot streak when fabled record producer Huey P. Meaux offered them a contract, but they chose to self-release their own indie album instead... The lineup included Bill Bertinot, Pam Grimes, Richard Jacob, Joe Lindley, Bob Oldreive, Marty Smith and many others (with most bandmembers performing on multiple instruments...) As it turned out, this was their only album, though after the band split up its members went into various other Houston-area bands, perhaps most notably Bob Oldreive, who later joined the group Hickory, which released several albums in the late '70s and early '80s.
Andy Doll/Various Artists "Pop Nashville Sounds And Folk Favorites" (AD Records, 195--?) (LP)
Born in Wisconsin, guitar picker Andy Doll (1919-1984) was a pioneering Midwestern rocker with a strong regional following. He formed his first band in the early 'Fifties, before the advent of rock'n'roll, and later set up his own studio in Oelwein, Iowa, where he produced his own records, as well as sessions for other musicians. Although he's best remembered as a rockabilly singer, like a lot of the original rockers he started out country and often went back to the well, as on this album. The first side of the LP is just Doll and his band, while Side Two features a number of guest performers, including future radio celebrity Red Blanchard. Doll fostered local talents such as Bobby Hankins and steel guitarist Lefty Schrage (who went on to form their own band in the late '60s) Andy Doll kept his band together until 1969, then became a deejay on the local country station, KOEL, and for a while owned and operated a local music venue, the Coliseum Ballroom. Apparently there were also a number of special promo records sent out to Doll's fan club up until the mid-1960s.
Johnny Dollar -- see artist profile
Peso Dollar "The Highway Man" (Ranch Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Sanders & Billy Williams)
Phoenix, Arizona's country-singing cop, W. O. "Peso" Dollar was a Highway Patrolman by day and honkytonker by night, leading his band, The Counterfeit Bills, throughout the 1950s and '60s and '70s. The next-gen denominations, son Mark Dollar and Amanda Dollar, led an "all-star" version of the band for a couple of decades, working as the house band for the Rustler's Rooster nightclub since the early 1990s. I'm not sure when this LP came out, but I believe Peso Dollar also cut some singles back in the rockabilly era, some of which have turned up on a "hillbilly bop" collection or two. I think this may have been his first album, as they go out of their way in the liner notes to explain how he was both a police officer and professional entertainer... The repertoire is heavy on western (cowboy) songs, stuff like "Cool Water," "Streets Of Laredo," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Bad Brahma Bull," "Strawberry Roan" and "Ghost Riders In The Sky." No info on the musicians who were backing him, alas.
Peso Dollar "...Sings Cowboy Country" (Ranch Records, 19--?) (LP)
This album also includes a bunch of western oldies, along with a few originals, including two by Peso Dollar and two by Ray Sanders.
Peso Dollar "...Sings Trail Rider Songs" (Ranch Records, 19--?) (LP)
Peso Dollar "Arizona... A Little Bit North Of Old Mexico" (Cimmeron Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Dominions "Dreams Take Me Home" (MRC Major Recording Company, 1984) (LP)
Led by Virginia-born Cecil Hall (1931-2020) this was a later iteration of the Dominion Valley Boys bluegrass band, which recorded a few albums with Hall in the early 1970s. On this album, Mr. Hall is the guiding force, penning all but two of the songs, backed by his brothers Marshall and Ray Hall, along with Barry Hutchins, Billy Hutchins, Bryan Hutchins, Clifton Mabe, Ronald Pinnix and Charles Shelor, and dobro legend Josh Graves sitting in as well. The band was made up of locals from the Piedmont area of Virginia and North Carolina; a few years later in 1988 Cecil Hall built and opened Dominion Valley Park, a music venue in Stuart, Virginia that became a regional center for bluegrass and gospel.
Don & Charlotte "My Little Corner Of The World" (Interstate Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don West & Tim Sprowl)
This New Hampshire duo featured singer-guitarist Don West and "girl" singer Charlotte (whose last name isn't mentioned in the liner notes), who were from Manchester and Londonderry, NH, respectively. Some songs are sung as duets, others as solo... They performed together for several years before this album came out, and their repertoire included a lot of early '70s countrypolitan hits -- stuff like Donna Fargo's "Funny Face," Conway Twitty's "You've Never Been This Far Before," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Let Me Be There," and of course a couple of Marie Osmond hits. So... early '70s? 1973? Something like that?
Don & Deanna "...And The Prentice Ramblers" (Jam USA Records, 1970-?) (LP)
A no-frills local country band from Prentice, Wisconsin, up in the northern end of the state. Don Lasee and Deanna Hass formed the core of this group along with lead guitarist Larry Hass, and various other bandmembers moving through the group. According to researcher Gary Meyers the Prentice Ramblers got together in 1965, and played together until the early 'Eighties, mostly around Eau Claire. This album was recorded when Don and Deanna performed at the Wheeling Jamboree, which at the time was rebranding itself as Jamboree, USA. Several tracks also came out as singles, though this seems to have been their only album. (I'm not sure if the guitarist was the same Larry Hass of La Crosse who later worked as an Elvis imitator and died onstage in 2004 at age 54... If so, he would have been pretty darn young when they cut this album...)
Don & Laurie "The Music Mates" (RJ Recording, 19--?) (LP)
A (very!) 'Seventies private pressing country album from Hoffman Estates, Illinois... On the album cover, he looks like a John Anderson-esque longhaired dude, while she's in cutoffs and cowboy boots...
The Don & Tony Show "The Don And Tony Show" (QCA/Capitol Star Artist Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Wetzel & Bill Dengler)
Back in 1960, singers Donnie Lee Bailes and Tony Starr formed a duo, later expanding into the eight-person ensemble which made this record... They spotlighted a child performer named Junior Thomas, who sings on a tune or two, sandwiched between Don and Tony, who take turns singing lead on the other songs, including a version of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." Amid a slew of classic country covers, there's one original, "Why Do You Roam," written by Tony Starr... they also cover "Help Me Make It Through The Night," dating this album to at least 1970. I'm not sure how long this group stayed together, but Bailes was still doing shows in Rochester, New York as late as the mid-1990s, fronting a band called the Cannonball Express -- quite a career!
The Done Gone Band "The Done Gone Band" (Police Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Max Berueffy)
This Mill Valley, California combo was pretty much a straight-up local bluegrass band, but they gained some notoriety for their cover of the Grateful Dead's "Friend Of The Devil" -- another "KFAT classic," if I recall correctly. It's a nice record. The thing I like about it is the mellow feel of their delivery... they aren't a fusion band, but rather choose to play traditional (and progressive) bluegrass without all the drag-racing pyrotechnics thta most hardcore 'grass bands go for. Also, there's a wealth of original material on here, with four songs from singer Don Humphries and a sizzling instrumental called "Old Red Mandolin," written by Tom Bekney. A nice, unassuming set of relaxed but rootsy picking.
Dorothy (Freyberger) "Everybody's Mother Swings Heavy" (Studio 5, 19--?) (LP)
Like Cher and Nico, Minneapolis native Dorothy Freyberger (1921-2010) simply went by her first name, but fans also knew her by her nickname, "Everybody's Mother." She made her name as a frequent performer at the Minnesota State Fair and other local/regional events, as well as appearances on radio and TV. Her repertoire included pop and country oldies and covers of contemporary hits. Mrs. Freyberger occasionally worked with Sherwin Linton, another legendarily persistent, under-the-radar regional performer. This was the first of two albums she recorded -- not sure of the year, but I'm guessing these are both early '70s releases.
Dorothy (Freyberger) "Everybody's Mother Goes Country" (Studio 5, 19--?) (LP)
Slim Dortch "Below The Dixie Line" (Kennett Sound/Lightning Ball Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Keene)
A Tennessee native who started playing guitar when he was twelve, Henry Pierce "Slim" Dortch (1921-2000) moved across the nation chasing various radio gigs, such as the "Breakfast Time Frolic," on WJJD, Chicago, or the "Saddle Mountain Roundup" in far-distant Dallas, where he played with musicians such as Fiddlin' Arthur Smith and singer Ray Whitley. He's best known among rockabilly enthusiasts for his 'Sixties sizzler, "Big Boy Rock," which has a driving hillbilly soul-beat sound, perhaps not surprising for an uber-indie Memphis single, back in 1964. There is some really wicked twang-bar guitar on that platter, but even more impressive is the vigor with which the forty-plus years old Dortch really grinds into some sweaty, bluesy 'billy vocals. Anyway, this album came out years later and was recorded in Mack's Creek, Missouri with a small local band that included James Prince on lead guitar and steel, Lee Barnes on bass, Jeff Bost on drums, and Dortch singing ten of his own original songs. Mr. Dortch eventually settled down in Poplar Bluff, MO, where he passed away at age 78.
Tommy Doss "...Of The Sons Of The Pioneers" (Bear Family, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by William E. Wiley)
Solo sessions by an erstwhile member of the Sons Of The Pioneers western band... Tommy Doss was born in Idaho and grew up in Oregon... He got his first big break in 1948, when western swing legend Bob Wills tapped him to replace estranged lead vocalist Tommy Duncan; Doss left the Texas Playboys after a few months, instead joining the band of Wills' younger brother Luke Wills, out in Los Angeles. His radio performances brought him to the attention of the Sons fiddler, Hugh Farr, who recruited Doss to replace another country legend, lead singer Bob Nolan, who temporarily left The Sons Of The Pioneers in 1949. Doss stayed with the band throughout the 1950s, before he finally quit touring with them in 1963 (although he did infrequently record with them in the studio for several years after that...) These tracks were from sessions Doss recorded in Hollywood, California in May, 1972. The repertoire leans more towards bluesy honkytonk and western swing material, the kind of stuff he picked up working with the Wills brothers, with some West Coast influences as well, including a cover of an old Wynn Stewart hit. With only eleven songs, this is a surprisingly short album for the Bear Family folks, but valuable for Sons fans, nonetheless.
Dotson, Lee & Middleton "Something Old, Something New" (Young Country Productions, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Sparks)
This Dallas-based Texas trio -- Dana Dotson, Pat Lee and John Middleton -- wrote about half the songs on this album, rounding things out with a medley of bluegrass standards and more contemporary tunes from Dan Fogelberg, Larry Gatlin and Michael Murphey, as well as a version of "Y'All Come Back Saloon," an early 1977 hit for the Oak Ridge Boys. Producer Rick Sparks also kicks in on several instruments, notably banjo, dobro and pedal steel, and other musicians chime in as well... I'm not sure if the "Young Country" studio had any connection to the band led by Randy Brooks, or if that was just a phrase and an idea that was in the air at the time. There's no date on the album, but I'm guessing at least 1978, possibly as late as 1980-81, judging from the band's photo: some major aviator glasses action!
Dottie Lou "...Sings One More Memory" (Oxboro Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Norell)
Fun stuff. Although she was an inconsistent singer, Bruno, Minnesota's own Dottie Lou Bolme exudes enthusiasm and real rural charm, evoking stars such as Lynn Anderson and Loretta Lynn, though she also tackles some tonier countrypolitan ballads such as "Drinking Champagne" and "There Must Be A Way," in addition to uptempo novelty numbers like "Little Arrows," "You Know Where You Can Go" and a version of Liz Anderson's "Ride Ride Ride." The liner notes identify her band The Tumbleweeds as a trio -- with Dottie Lou on piano, bass and vocals, Gene Norell on rhythm guitar and Toby Berndt playing lead -- but there's also some really swell pedal steel throughout with some fairly wild licks (though, sadly, no indication of who's playing...) There are also several original songs, including a few credited to the Newkeys Music publishing company, which represented Gene Norell along with Tom T. Hall, whose "Now I Lay Me Down To Cry," which is also spotlighted on this album. Great, honest album by some real-deal Great Lakes locals.
Double Gage "Live From The Cattle Baron" (Cattle Baron Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Chris Terrance & Bob Martin)
This semi-shaggy Fresno-area bar band featured brothers Jim Gage and Jack Gage (hence the punny spelling of the group's name), along with lead guitarist John Hampton and bassist Hal Lee. The album was recorded live at the Cattle Baron steakhouse in Clovis, California back in October, 1979, with the band playing a mix of '70s rock hits and country covers such as "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr.
Double Gage "Remuda" (California Country, 1982) (LP)
Joe Dougherty "Rollin' On Down The Road" (Winged Victory, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Dougherty & Peter Mercure)
Self-released country stuff from Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta... The liner notes say it's a mix of "country, rock, gospel and blues"
Bob Douglas "Fiddles Old Time Gospel Music" (197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Trigg)
An old-timey fiddler from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bob Douglas performed regionally for decades in relative obscurity, though like many traditional artists, he became better known when he was "discovered" during the 1960s folk revival. Legend has it he was the very first musician to perform live on the radio in Chattanooga, back in the 1920s and he was the first bandleader to give The Louvin Brothers a professional music gig. Douglas was a championship fiddler who took the Tennessee Valley Fiddle King title in 1969-70, and made this commenorative album, backed by some of his local pals. He plays some gospel oldies -- real chestnuts such as "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Where Could I Go, But To The Lord" -- but with a full country band behind him, including piano and electric guitars. Bill Wilson plays dobro, with Dan Hatchett on banjo, and Colman Emberton playing lead.
Bob Douglas "...Presents Waldens Ridge: Old Time Dance Tunes From Sequatchie Valley" (Tennvale-Collation Records, 1973) (LP)
This album features Mr. Douglas on fiddle, backed by Coleman Emberton (lead guitar), John Sanders (rhythm guitar), and Bill Trigg on bass, working their way through some tasty old-time material, including several less well-known tunes. At the time this disc was made, Douglas was on a roll, going on to win a national fiddling championship in 1975.
Steve Douglas "Dark Lighted Barrooms" (Banka Records, 1983) (LP)
Tony Douglas -- see artist profile
Wayne Douglas "Sing It From My Soul" (Chartwheel Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Howard)
The first album by Wayne Douglas Kabanuck, a songwriter originally from Max, North Dakota who spent nearly twenty years in Nashville working as a composer and studio musician. This disc features a slew of original material, as well as a cover of the then-current George Jones hit, "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Kabanuck also led his own band, touring throughout the plains states and lower Midwest. He later reissued this album under his full name, and has recorded several other records since '81. This album was reissued under his full name, followed by other albums as Wayne Douglas Kabanuck.
Wayne Douglas "Badlands Fever" (Chartwheel Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Howard)
Jim Doval "Pardon Me Fer Starin' (But I Think I Love You)" (DBI Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced & Arranged by Jim Doval)
Turns out this is a pretty terrible record, but it has a really great back-story. Jim Doval (aka Sandoval) was the driving force behind the super-awesome garage-soul group, The Gauchos, a truly killer band from Fresno, California that was one of the most prominent latino rock groups of the 1960s. Fronted by the smouldering, seductive Sandoval, the Gauchos landed a regular gig on the Shindig teenpop TV show, but the group imploded in 1966 after failing to get onto the Ed Sullivan show. Later, Jim Doval retrenched and retooled himself as a lounge singer -- this disc is a memento of that era (with liner notes where Doval thanks the staff at the Gold Dust West, in Reno, Nevada, where he landed a gig as the casino's entertainment director...) I was drawn, like a moth to a flame, to the album's title track, which just had to be a country song... and it kind of is, in a Jimmy Buffett/Margaritaville kind of way. That song is okay, but the rest of the record quickly devolves into tepid, downtempo lounge-singer ballads. Only one twangtune, and then it gets really, really cheesy and low-energy. Side Two shows a little more life, with Doval delving into Latin pop stylings and a little bit of R&B, ending up with the perky "Uptown Caballero." Nonetheless, the much hoped-for country-rock record failed to materialize here. His other solo stuff seems to be more blues-oriented. Oh, well... I tried!!
Ben Dover & Tennessee Tucker "Carpetbaggers" (Road Apple, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Snyder)
Despite the jokey band name (Ben... Dover... get it? get it??) the Atlanta, Georgia duo of Rick Snyder and Pat Coletta made some great, soft-edged Southern rock/country rock, as heard on this self-released debut record, which I believe was their first (and only?) release. Apparently the group was quite popular in the late '70s, and their approach was pretty straightforward, with a nice mix of rock guitars and country steel. The album is packed with great material, and not the parade of crass jokes you might imagine. The uncredited backing band was quite strong, and though this has the unpolished production sound of an uber-indie album, the arrangements and performances are high caliber, basically at the same level as the bands they were emulating. Fans of the various Capricorn label bands, or of groups such as the Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws will probably love this record; there's also a hint of soft-rock artists like Jim Croce, as heard on tracks like "Gypsy." All in all, a very strong indie album, worth tracking down and deserving of reissue.
Dixie Dover "Haunting Memories" (Twileen Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Clyde Varner & Tommy Strong)
Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, singer-songwriter Dixie Dover wrote most of these songs herself, with one co-written with producer Clyde "Josh" Varner... The set includes her songs "Truck Driver's Dream," as well as "He's Living In Your House (But He's Sleeping In Mine)." Recorded in Nashville, this album has an all-pro studio crew, with folks like DJ Fontana, Willie Rainsfield, Dale Sellars
Down Home Praise "Down Home Praise" (Marantha Music, 1983)
(Produced by Al Perkins & Joe Bellamy)
A country-rock supergroup jamming on some old bluegrass tunes and singing some gospel songs... It's a distillation of the best of the Southern California contingent of "Jesus freak" country-rockers, guys who had done quite well in the hippie-era music scene but did what many folks at the time would have considered super-uncool, namely record a bunch of Christian twangtunes. The ensemble includes five core members -- Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, Al Perkins, fiddler David Mansfield and bassist Jerry Scheff -- who recorded a similar album in 1985, calling themselves Ever Call Ready. They're joined by vocalist Tommy Funderburk, guitarists Steve Hill and Dan McCorison and Mel Durham on bass, on a set of surprisingly sincere gospel songs, heavy on the hymns, Southern Gospel and a few newer tunes from folks like Peter Rowan and Dan Daniels.
Down Yonder "Lay The Money Down" (1980) (LP)
(Produced by Joey Garcia)
A pleasantly twangy, amateurish SoCal country bar-band from Ramona, California... Tom Boston was the main vocalist, with a few tunes each by bassist Steve Bisbikis and mandolin picker Larry Weddle, with Bisbikis contributing one of the album's handful of original songs, a rambling hippiebilly tune called "Arkansas." Other originals include "To Love That Kind Of A Woman" by Ray Borras and a couple of songs by Cal Roberts, "Lay The Money Down" and "Bright Neon Lights" -- these guys must have been friends of the band, although neither Borras or Roberts perform on the album, or are mentioned in the liner notes. Anyway, nice stuff from SoCal - not an earthshaking album, but charming and sincere.
Down Yonder Band "Where's Adrian, Missouri?" (Tuff-Stuff Records) (LP)
I'm gonna make a couple of guesses here... One, this isn't the same band as the California band above and, two, they probably played at one of the many Branson-esque venues that populated Missouri back in the '70s and and early '80s. It might take me a while to track down the particulars on this one, though... And by the way? Adrian -- population tiny -- is located in Bates County, on the very Western end of the state, just South of KC.
George Downey "...And The South Texas Playboys" (G & J Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by George Downey)
A latter-day western swing tribute to Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan, with vocals by Jodie Andrews who sang with the Texas Playboys in the early 1950s... Couldn't find much info about Mr. Downey, though.
Eddie Jo Downs "Country Stars And Honky Tonk Bars" (United National Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Snyder)
Singer/bassist Eddie Jo Downs (1937-1993) grew up in Texas and worked regionally at the Houston Jamboree and in various road bands, notably touring with honkytonker Eddie Kirk, who at the time was based in California. While still in his early teens, Downs moved to Los Angeles and joined the cast of the Hollywood Town Hall Party television show, eventually signing to Capitol Records as a solo artist and making a name for himself as a songwriter. This album is packed with all-original material; eight songs by Downs and one from John Levasseur... There's no date on this album, but the exact same lineup -- Eddie Downs (bass), Ed Holtz (piano), Al Bruno (guitar), Billy Webb (guitar), Johnny Greer (drums) and Silvio Tucciarone on steel guitar -- also backed jazz legend Anita O'Day on her 1978 album, "There's Only One." Mr. Downs is looking a little shaggy on the grainy front cover photo, though more clean-cut and lounge-lizardy on the back. Around this time, though, he definitely "went outlaw," growing a massive beard while leading a trio called the Electric Horsemen, which cut an album in 1980, and apparently booked some gigs with Waylon and Willie. As far as I know this was his only solo album, although he released numerous singles on various labels over the years, including a 1960s stint on Capitol, recording simply as Eddie Downs.
Doyle And Leilani "At The Sky Dome" (1974-?) (LP)
A bit of a mystery disc. This super-amateur duo mixed Hawaiian pop and hapa haole songs ("Pearly Shells," "Tiny Bubbles") with early 'Seventies soft rock and several country songs, including hits such as "Delta Dawn," "For The Good Times," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon," and "Top Of The World," as well as another Carpenters classic, "Superstar." This was apparently their only album, recorded live at the Revolving Sky Dome Lounge in Arlington, Virginia. Alas, there's no biographical info about the artists, not even their last names, or anything about backing musicians -- although I think this is just the two of them with a drum machine and organ. There's also no date on the disc, though judging from the repertoire -- which includes "Top Of The World" -- a big hit in December, '73 -- I'd say 1974 is our best bet. You can hear crowd chatter in the background and apparently these guys really did a few live gigs; I found at least one show notice from a 1977 date in Delaware, which also mentions this album being for sale. Still, this disc really seems like more of a personal memento than a professional calling card. It's, um, very DIY. Possibly this couple was Mr. and Mrs. Donald Joseph Doyle, who met and married in Hawaii, although her obituary (1941-2019) made no mention of any interest in music.
Bob Doyle & The Buffalo Chipkickers "Volume One" (Marjon International Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by James Baldwin & Johnny Krizancic)
Originally a student band formed by some guys at Penn State University, the Chipkickers were a folk-bluegrass crossover, a trio of wiseacre younguns, blending banjo, fiddle and twelve-string guitar on a diverse repertoire of public domain oldies, country classics and an original or two. The new tunes on this album included "Walkin And Talkin'," which was composed by Bob C. Doyle, and a couple of regionally-themed songs ("Appalachia" and "Coal Hill Summit") credited to John J. Dietrich, who doesn't seem to have been in the band. Alas, the other two 'Kickers are only identified as "Joe" and "Matthew," with their sound filled out a bit by bass player Hugh Johnson, who probably was part of the Marjon studio's house band. A couple of years after this album came out, the group hired a new banjo player, Lee Ann Lenker, who played on their second album, which was released under the band's name, not Doyle's.
Jimmy Doyle & Patsy Gayle "...And The Arkansas River Bottom Band" (Music City Records, 19--?) (LP)
Jimmy Doyle Brewer was an Arkansas native who ran his own nightclub in North Little Rock for several decades. In the early 1950's, after a hitch in the Navy, Brewer headed out to the West Coast and landed a gig at the Corral Club in San Jose, California, where he stayed for several years. He later worked in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, eventually coming home to Arkansas where he opened his bar and hosted a local-access TV show. He met his wife, Patsy Gayle, in 1974 when she started singing at his club. I'm not sure how many records they made -- there are also a fair number of singles floating around -- but they played together and hosted live shows through many years and phases of country styles.
Barry Drake "Happy Landing" (Capitol Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Knight)
I was drawn to this album by the presence of a couple of country-bluegrass twangsters in the credits, fiddler Kenny Kosek and Bill Keith (usually a banjo whiz, but here playing pedal steel) However, as a potential country-rock nugget, this record turned out to be a bit of a dud. A dud in general, I guess, although hardcore '70s soft-pop devotees might be able to look past Drake's thin voice and the overall derivative nature of the demi-psychedelic, Emitt Rhodes-ish pop-orchestral arrangements and enjoy this as a period piece. It's not awful, by any means, just resolutely mediocre. A couple of tunes have some twang to them, but nothing to write home about, really. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Barry Drake was his second act in rock'n'roll, in which he established himself as an official expert in all things rock, becoming a popular lecturer on the college circuit for folks who want his insights into several generations of rock and pop culture... To which this was his first personal contribution.
Barry Drake "Roadsongs" (Catskill Mountain Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Barry Drake)
This album, self-recorded in a home studio up in the Catskills, mainly features Drake multitracked on a variety of instruments, with minimal help from other musicians on a few of the songs. Drake seems to have found a more comfortable stylistic niche for himself, playing in roughly the same mode as Paul Siebel, basically singer-songwriter folk, with an awareness of pop and blues in the mix. Some songs are interesting, like the album's opener, "Troubadours," where he talks about how he's dropped out and headed for the country while his music business friends are still doing their stuff out in the rat race... (My ear was caught when he name-dropped Loudon Wainwright III, who at the time was riding high on the cult success of his infamous novelty song "Dead Skunk"...) On Side Two, he lapses into a more distinctly John Denver-ish style, light, blithe folk-pop with pretty clear-cut melodies. Although Drake remains a fairly underwhelming performer, and many of the songs seem contrived -- particularly the character sketches of hobos and proud unbowed Confederate soldiers -- this is still a strong, authentic effort for the DIY folk scene of the time, derivative to be sure, but I think also a cohesive realization of Drake's artistic vision... If you're into obscuro-folk outings, this one's certainly worth a spin.
Barry Drake "Solo Survivor" (Catskill Mountain Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Barry Drake)
Eddy Drake "Country Sounds Of Eddy Drake Today!" (Newhall Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Cliffie Stone)
A lesser-known California honky-tonker, singer Eddy (aka "Eddie") Drake was born in Kentucky, but made his way out West after joining the Marine Corps, and settled into the Southern California scene, working with folks such as producer Cliffie Stone and the husband-wife duo of Johnny and Janie Mosby. His first solo recordings date back to 1959, where he sounded like a mix of Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart and Ray Price; by the time this LP came out, he was channeling the mojo of Waylon Jennings and Jerry Lee Lewis. Although Drake never really broke through as a solo artist, he did host his own television show for several years, and recorded numerous indie singles in addition to this lone full-length LP. He had a lot of studio firepower behind him for these sessions, including Earl Ball on piano, pickers Phil Baugh, James Burton and Al Casey on guitar, and some nice, choppy steel guitar courtesy of Carl Walden, an ex-rockabilly picker who did a lot of West Coast session work. The set includes a couple of originals credited to Eddy Drake, "I Had A Dream Last Night" and "Call Me In The Morning," as well as one called "As Tear Drops Fall," written by J. Dobbs and H. Coffman, which was from the same publishing company, Mixer Music. Nice stuff, with plenty of twang!
Guy Drake "Welfare Cadillac" (Royal American Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Don Hosea)
A lethargic country comedy album with a distinctly conservative political bent... The title track features a recitation backed by a sedate country band, and is based on the persistent myth about welfare "cheats" who were filing multiple claims, stockpiling huge amounts of cash, and buying houses and cars with all that dough. Of course, that's all total BS, but the myth lives on, and a few years later, Ronald Reagan would use the story of a "welfare queen" living high on the hog while hard-working taxpayers had to foot the bill. Kentucky-born Guy Drake scored a minor hit with this tune, and on this full-length album also commented upon politics, sex education, anti-smoking campaigns and other timely topics. He also covered the faux-hick big band-era oldie, "Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don't It," while poking fun at the music business on tunes like "Songwriter Talking The Blues" and "Born To Be An Opry Star."
C. D. Draper "The Most Successful Failure In The World" (Curtain Call Records, 1965) (LP)
C. Dean Draper was a country singer from Englewood, Colorado who started his own label in the mid-1960s and released a number of novelty singles, such as "I'm The Only Hippie In Muskogee" and "The Most Successful Failure In The World" while playing gigs at a venues such as Earl's Toll Gate Tavern and Marvelous Merv's in Denver. He tried to bust out of the regional scene, but his biggest splash came when Buck Owens recorded one of his songs, "California Oakie," in 1976. He also produced some albums by other local artists, and sat in with bands at venues such as Earl's Toll Gate Tavern, in Central City.
C. D. Draper & Crisser "Bright Lights, Blues And Lonely Memories" (Curtain Call Records, 1983) (LP)
(C. D. Draper & Jerry Mahler)
On his second LP, Draper shared the spotlight with a gal called Crisser (aka Chris Taylor) who sang and played piano... As on all his records, there's an abundance of local talent and original material though, alas, his 'Seventies singles such as "California Oakie," "Super Bowl Game Of Love" and "The Only Hippie In Muskogee" were not included here: Mr. Draper had moved on. Maybe a best-of collection is in order? The other musicians include Dawn Arlene on drums, John Bower (bass), Bob Carillo (guitars), Tom Likes (percussion), Dick Meis (steel guitar), Art Miller (harmonica), Susie Nobles (fiddle), and Gary Schnacker on piano. [Thanks to The Elk Bugles blog for filling in a few gaps in this guy's career.]
Dusty Drapes & The Dusters "Dusty Drapes & The Dusters" (Columbia Records, 1974) (LP)
This was a group of (formerly longhaired) hippies from Boulder, Colorado who "went country" in the early '70s as a way to stand out from the crowd in the rock-oriented live music scene. Dusty Drapes was the cowboy alter-ego of bandleader Steve Swenson, who in 1972 came up with the idea of the guys in the band cutting their hair short and wearing matching polyester suits, as if they were a standard-issue country bar band. At first it was just a gag, but as they got better and dug deeper into hillbilly twang, the Dusters morphed into a capable western swing band, and got more serious about their twang. They were a band seemingly right on the edge of fame -- including this brief major-label fling with Columbia Records -- but eventually like most great local bands, they had to call it quits. Founding member Dan McCorison had some success in Nashville and LA, and recorded a commercial country album for MCA; guitarist and Americana icon Junior Brown was apparently in a late edition of the band, though I don't think he ever recorded with them. The Dusters remained a popular group up until the early '80s, and have played a lot of reunion shows over the years...
Dusty Drapes & The Dusters "Dusty Drapes & The Dusters" (Too Cow Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Mason)
This was their second LP, also known as the "red album..."
Dave Drennon "Live Dave Drennon Show" (American Artists, 1971-?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Higgins)
A veteran of the Branson, Missouri "opry" scene, bandleader Dave Drennon was the first country artist to record for the Springfield-based American Artists label, which documented many of the Ozarks-area regional musicians of the 1970s. He and and his wife Dee Drennon, split off from her family's Branson revue (The Presley Mountain Music Jamboree) and started their own venue in the early 1970s, the Crossroads Auditorium in Nixa, Missouri, near Springfield. A few years later, in 1975 they pulled up stakes again and moved to the Saint Louis suburb of Eureka, where they opened a 900-seat venue called the Pine Mountain Jamboree. The Drennons ran Pine Mountain as a family business for over thirty years, eventually selling it to a fellow Bransonite, Mike Bishop, in 2006. This bluegrass-flavored album is a souvenir of their first, more short-lived venture, with a photo of the club and Drennon's tour bus parked outside. Alas, the musicians pictured on the front cover are not identified on the back, though a few of the musicians may have been piano player Joe Griffin, Kathy Kiehl, Jerry Mcnown and fiddler Don Wright. Whoever they were, they were pretty good: the banjo and lead guitar pickers were pretty flashy, and the fiddler was no slouch, either. The set list is pretty conservative -- mostly chestnuts like "Cripple Creek," "Orange Blossom Special," "Rocky Top" and "White Lightning," with a couple of bluesier numbers ("Going Down The Road Feeling Bad" and "It Takes A Worried Mind") that are a little unusual for the little-opry scene. The only semi-contemporary tunes are versions of Dolly Parton's "Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man" and Joe South's "Games People Play," which both originally came out in 1970 so this album may have come out around '71 or '72. (Side note: judging from the photo montage on the front cover, they seem to have done a parody of the Porter Wagoner-Dolly Parton show as part of their act... bet that was a real hoot.)
Dave Drennon "...Sings The Words Of Lon Hogan" (American Artists Records, 197--?) (LP)
A set of patriotic, gospel, and regional pride songs written by Lon Hogan, an old-timer from the southern end of Missouri who was in Drennon's orbit. Alonzo Vannis Hogan (1883-1981) was born in Willow Springs, Missouri, and spent his life in the heart of the Ozarks, watching the intensely rural landscape change over time. He may be best remembered as a photographer: in his youth, Hogan worked for a large local lumber company and took countless photos of the lumberyard and other local sights; later in life he opened a photography studio and met and documented numerous local residents. In the late 1970s, Mr. Hogan had earned the title of the oldest resident of Shannon County, Missouri, and was interviewed on film about his life and the changes he saw -- these interviews were preserved by the state historical society, and have also been posted on YouTube and elsewhere. His work as a songwriter is less well-known, and it's interesting that a musician such as Dave Drennon, who had commercial aspirations decided to record an album of material by such an obscure local figure. The songs include "Old Missouri," "We Americans," and "God Isn't Dead," as well as the more frivolous "Doodle Bug Rag" and the exotic "My Hawaii."
Lee Dresser & The Krazy Kats "Beat Out My Love" (Fury Records, 2014)
This posthumously-released collection gathers over thirty tracks by Kansas City rocker Lee Dresser (1941-2014) and multi-instrumentalist who formed a high school band called the Krazy Kats in 1957 and scored a few regional hits before getting drafted and sent to Vietnam. When he came back to the States, Dresser headed for LA and fell into steady session work as a harmonica player, backing pop and country stars throughout the late '60s and '70s. The Krazy Kats got back together in 1980, and Dresser moved back to KCMO to play with them full-time a few years later, playing with the band up until he passed away from leukemia in 2014. This compilation mainly features his early stuff from the late 'Fifties and early 'Sixties -- lively, Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired (though sometimes kinda surfy) rockabilly, including unreleased demos and the band's best known song, "Beat Out My Love," a mildly naughty song which is frequently anthologized on rockabilly reissues. There's also some stuff the Krazy Kats recorded after they got back together... It's not very innovative, but it sure is fun!
Lee Dresser "El Camino Real" (Amos Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Jimmy Bowen)
Lee Dresser "To Touch The Wind" (Bella Linda Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gilmore & Doug Decker, Dennis Bachmann & Ivan Fisher)
This country-flavored album shows Dresser fully entrenched in the LA music scene, backed by an impressive studio made up of some of the elite pickers in the West Coast country-rock and bluegrass scenes, including Larry McNeely, Dan Crary, Glen D. Hardin, along with steel players Al Perkins and Red Rhodes. Dresser plays banjo, guitar and harmonica and wrote all but two of the songs -- the exceptions were the title track, "To Touch The Wind" and "Wilderness Family," which were both apparently from a 1975 feature film called "The Adventures Of The Wilderness Family."
Lee Dresser "The Hero" (Air International Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Sherrill)
This later album was recorded in Nashville with session players such as Hargus Robbins and Bobby Thompson, as well as several less well-known players
Drifters "Power Of Love" (RWW Productions, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by The Drifters)
Not to be confused with "The" Drifters, this Minneapolis lounge band covered pop and soul as well as (a lot of) country material... On the country side are some pretty mainstream, AOR-aligned hits, tunes like Jessi Colter's "I'm Not Lisa," "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Silver Threads And Golden Needles," and Doug Kershaw's "Louisiana Man." The group centered around the vocal trio of Marc Ratajczak (lead guitar), Sharon Ratajczak, and Greg Weeg (bass), with additional backing by steel guitarist Randy Barnes and drummer Steve Webb.
(Hank Williams Original) Drifting Cowboys Band "Classic Instrumentals" (Delta Records, 1981) (LP)
(Hank Williams Original) Drifting Cowboys Band "One More Time Around" (Delta Records, 1983) (LP)
Wade Driver "Recorded Live At The Rhythm Ranch" (Rhythm Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wade Driver & Bill Holford)
The whole world of square dancing and how square dance records relate to regular country music remains a bit opaque to me, though caller Wade Driver seems to have made the transition to straight country, recording both styles on his own private Rhythm Records label. Though he was originally from Georgia, Driver established himself as a caller in the Houston-Fort Worth area, and recorded this set at the ACA Studios, in Houston. This disc is a definitely calling album, with most tracks previously released as singles for square dance groups; he also released a string of singles with his band The Rhythm Rockers. Charmingly, instead of listing the musicians who play on this album, Driver has pictures of the folks in his "Rhythm Ranch" squaredancing group, along with their signatures -- very intimate and adorable, though I also wish I knew who was playing the guitar. There are some intriguing songs choices, including covers of Jerry Reed's 1977 single, "I'm Just A Redneck On A Rock'N'Roll Bar" and Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" (also from 1977) which help date the album. Along with the anonymous studio band, Driver is backed by vocalists Lanelle Davis and Judy England White, aka The Rhythmettes; Ms. Davis continued to work and record with Driver for several years, though Ms. Davis moved to New Orleans with her husband and apparently gave up her music career. Another interesting footnote is Wade Driver's son, Wade Driver Jr., who was in the Houston punk band The Degenerates, as well as a lineup of the Austin-based cowpunk group, The Hickoids... bet Dad didn't see that one coming!
Wade Driver "It's Almost Like Starting Over" (Rhythm Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Wade Driver & Pat Coughlin & A. V. Mittelstadt)
A straight-up country set, with backing from A. V. Mittelstadt's studio crew, including guitarist Randy Corner ad several less familiar pickers. Wade Driver's longtime collaborator Lanelle Davis is one of several backup singers, and the album seems packed with original material. Mr. Driver has kept cranking out square dance records over the years, and has been active at least through 2020, expanding his business to bring in a bunch of younger callers, who I believe both record and go out to do live performances. The various singles and albums are perhaps too numerous to include here, at least for now.
Don Drumm "Bedroom Eyes" (Churchill Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Millsap)
A really nice set of independently-produced 'Seventies style honkytonk pop, from New England-born singer Don Drumm. He wasn't any great shakes as a vocalist, but this is a fine set of songs, with plainly-arranged, straightforward accompaniment. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Most of the songs were written by his pal, Ray Hillburn, who sings backup along with the Cates Sisters, who were making a go of it themselves on Ovation Records around the same time. Side One of the album is packed with Hillburn songs, including a couple that hit the Top 40 ("Bedroom Eyes" and "Just Another Rhinestone") while Side Two has a wimpier, poppier sound, finishing up with the only track written by Drumm, "You'd Be Beautiful (In A Children's Book)" which is actually a better song than the title implies. Highlights include "Brother, I'm Glad She Found Me" and "Sad Songs" (again, written by Ray Hillburn) and their cover of Chips Moman's outlaw anthem, "Luckenbach, Texas." This is swell record, a modest late-'70s gem that reminds me of Bill Phillip's "comeback" album of the same era. Worth looking for.
Dry Creek "Live And Kickin' " (Widget Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Skinner & Dry Creek)
These guys were the house band for a place called Johnny's Club, in Iron City, Tennessee... The set list includes covers of "Waltz Across Texas," "Hell Yes I Cheated," "Sweet Home Alabama," and a Hank Williams medley...
Jimmy Dry "Esquire Ballroom Presents Jimmy Dry" (Princess Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Huey P. Meaux)
Honky-tonk bandleader Jimmy Dry lived in Herford, Texas and was a local country DJ on radio station KPAN. He's backed on this album by his band, The Dance Kings, which included Ferd Heinie, Troy Passmore, Noel Stanley and Pee Wee Truehitte. I'm not sure when the album came out; it looks early 'Seventies and was on a vanity label pressed by Crazy Cajun, although Dry had released singles on the Princess label back in the mid-1960s.
Alan Dryman "The Alan Dryman Show -- Live" (Juke Box Records/United Image, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bert Frilot & Lonnie Wright)
A country music impressionist who apparently had cut a few singles for MGM before making this live album... The liner notes say he was born in North Carolina and started performing while living out in San Diego, California. Dryman had moved to Houston, Texas by the time this live album was recorded. His impersonations include Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb, as well as a more "pop" personalities such as Dean Martin and Elvis Presley. Dryman is backed here by roots music sideman Danny Epps on harmonica, producer Lonnie Wright on guitar and backing vocals by "Linda and Judy (The Scorpios)." Groovy, man.
Duane & The Country Squires "Swingin' Country" (1973-?) (LP)
No solid info on this one yet, but if anyone's got the 411, I'm all ears. The album includes songs such as "Truck Drivin' Woman" (a 1968 hit for Norma Jean) and the Connie Francis oldie, "My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own" as well as several other cover songs, like Merle Haggard's "Swinging Doors" and "Pass Me By." I'm guessing at the release date of 1973, based on the inclusion of "Funny Face," which was a big song for Donna Fargo in '72.
Mark Duboise "Diamonds Aren't Forever Anymore" (Duboise Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Don Cartee & Alan Cartee)
I can't tell you much about this one, other than that Mr. Duboise appears to have been from Alabama, and was one of the many way-off-the-radar artists who recorded an album through what I've started calling "the beach label," a vanity/custom service that recycled the same photograph for numerous LPs. Anyway, the liner notes say this one was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and the backing musicians are an interesting lot: Lenny LeBlanc, who had a few modest pop hits under his belt, is the bass player, while Jerry Wallace plays rhythm and lead guitar, with Doug Jernigan on pedal steel and Tim Henson tickling the ivories... The backup singers include Ava Aldridge and Sue Richards, two country second-stringers from Alabama who had a few hits in the '70s. Apparently all the songs on here were originals (except for a cover of "Green Green Grass Of Home"), all written by producer Alan Cartee, who was kind of a jack-of-all-trades -- songwriter, engineer, etc. -- who later opened a successful sound studio in Nashville.
J. E. Dudgeon "Look Ahead..." (1982) (LP)
The Dude Ranch Boys "Magical Campfire Show" (Campfire Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Frosty Gehron)
A souvenir album by one of the house bands at The Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch, a massive, 3000-acre tourist trap located in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. The bluegrass-y group included Kim Hilton (guitar and mandolin), Ricky Rebel (guitar and bass), Ken Terry (banjo and bass) and Louis Mitchell (aka "Souie Louie"), a comedian and musician who chimes in on numbers like "Tattooed Lady" and "Pfft She Was Gone." The band was just so-so, and the cornpone humor was pretty strained, which isn't unusual for this type of retro-vaudeville hillbilly act. Overall, I'd rate this one as subpar, even for the genre. The repertoire is super-heavy on novelty numbers and oldies and Dixieana, stuff like "Cripple Creek" and Leadbelly's "Cotton Fields," and very little in the way of contemporary country material, outside of a version of "Easy Lovin'," and yet another cover of Mickey Newberry's dreadful "American Trilogy" patriotic medley. Side Two showcases some folkier material, and a couple of standout tracks might be originals -- I couldn't track them down to any other sources, thought he credits are unclear. These are the folkie-sounding "Winter's Touch" and "General Lee," a rueful, haunting Civil War ballad with a much fuller, more produced sound than the rest fo the record. All in all, this is a pretty slight effort, but like many souvenir discs it offers a few surprises. Unfortunately there's no release date to be found, but it looks later than the Freddie Hart cover would suggest... I'd guess it was from anywhere between 1976 and '82; more precise info would of course be welcome.
Bill Dudley "Nashville Moves North" (Paragon Records, 1968-?) (LP)
Although he was born in Missouri, honkytonker Bill Dudley only hung around Nashville for a few years before sensing that he might have more opportunities up North in Canada. Earlier, Dudley had cut some singles for Capitol Records, but he had to hoof it up to Toronto to get out a full album. This is packed with low-tech twang -- simple arrangements that match his plainspoken vocals. Authorship of most of the songs is credited to Dudley, but many are just thinly-disguised ripoffs of better-known Nashville hits (such as "Poor Poor Me," which is a shameless lift of Don Gibson's "Lonesome Me") while several others, like "Oh Please Mr. Conductor" and "I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail" are hillbilly chestnuts that Dudley didn't even try to gussy up into "new" versions. Like a lot of Canadian artists, he pulls out the regional pride card on the album's opener, "My Nova Scotia Home" (a Hank Snow oldie) while he also makes a brazenly direct appeal for radio airplay with "Top Ten In Heaven," a recitation tune that's kind of like Tex Ritter's "Hillbilly Heaven," except that instead of naming country musicians, he lists a bunch of country deejays -- by name -- in the lyrics of the song. Not very original, obviously, but a fun record nonetheless.
Michael Dues "I've Never Been To Nashville" (Copperwood Records, 1979)
(Produced by Brian Cutler)
A thoughtful, craftsmanlike album from this Sacramento-area songwriter. A nice mix of country and folk, with a local bluegrass band, The South Loomis Quickstep Band, providing a lot of the musical backing. Many of the songs are a bit dense thematically, but overall it's a very listenable album, particularly the more country-sounding, pedal steel-driven numbers. Many songs explore loneliness and romantic yearning, and may cut a little closer to the bone than is entirely comfortable, but overall this holds up well. I'm a sucker for country novelty songs, so "The Great Composer" (about a guy who can't write good country songs anymore because he's too happily in love) is a highlight, as well as the title track, "I've Never Been To Nashville," about a songwriter who stays home rather than seeking fame and fortune in the big city. I'm assuming this one was fairly autobiographical, and while Dues shows a lot of talent, maybe he was too square-peggy for Music City -- but the music he left behind sure sounds nice! I think he recorded a few other albums as well, though I haven't tracked them down yet...
Duke And The Drivers "Cruisin' " (ABC Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Eddie Kramer)
Duke And The Drivers "Rollin' On" (ABC Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Deke Richards)
Fake hippie country from a Boston-based longhair boogie band... Actually, it's not country at all, more like latter-day whiteboy boogie rock/R&B, along the lines of the Blues Brothers, but for some reason the band chose to record in anonymity, with the cover art looking like a parody of the CB-trucker fad that was then current in the country charts... Doesn't have much to do with the music on the album, though, which is pretty spazzy and unremarkable. I guess if I'd been really drunk or doing a lot of coke back in the '70s, this would seem like fun music to party to, but several decades later, it doesn't seem like much to cheer about. Note to country fans: don't fall for the packaging -- this ain't got no twang.
The Dumplin' Valley Boys "Welcome To Dumplin' Valley" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Elmer Cole & Jim Stabile)
I'm not sure if "Dumplin' Valley" is an entirely real place, but there is a Dumplin' Valley Road a few miles out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and apparently that was the stomping grounds of this amiable country gospel band. They were cowboy hatted twangsters who played with steel guitar and an all-gospel repertoire that includes a half-album's worth of original compositions by Kyla Rowland, and one by Eulalia Martin, neither of who were in the band, but I imagine they were friends or relations...
Gary Dunbar "Lonely Song" (North Country, 1977)
(Produced by Gary Dunbar)
Kind of folkie sounding, but with pedal steel, and country-themed lyrics... This record has an odd origin, tracing back to a Grand Rapids, Michigan rock group called Band X, who "went country" and changed their name to North Country in 1971. Dunbar was a friend of the band who kind of inherited their name, and a couple of guys from the original group -- Jay Fortier and Roger Tarczon -- backed him on this record...
Billy Duncan "Loving You" (Ludwig Sound, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Melder)
I think this guy was from Houston, Texas, although I haven't found out much about the where, when or how of this record. Notably, Randy Cornor played guitar on this album, and seems to have written a bunch of original material as well... Other than that, a mystery. Any info is welcome!
Billy Duncan "Time Won't Wait" (Lovin' Country Record Company, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Louie Guzik & Tommy Melder)
Same guy? If so, he seems to have been from Houston, though this was recorded in Nashville. The band included Davis Ray Bates on drums, Ken King (bass), Travis Smith (lead guitar), and Jim Owen playing keyboards... The repertoire includes a bunch of originals, with a couple by Dan Mitchell, John W. Gostick and Richard Moreland, as well as one by Mundo Earwood, who was possibly Duncan's Nashville connection.
Johnny Dunn "Sweet Lies" (F & L Records, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Hank Strzelecki)
Studio professional Hank Strzelecki was the driving force behind this album, arranging and producing the sessions, playing bass and contributing a couple of his own songs. In addition, he provides two tunes by writers using Strzelecki's publishing company, including one by Donald Vince, a friend of Johnny Dunn's who set the singer up with Strzelecki... There are also three songs written by Sid Linard, who was riding the wave of his anti-Iranian novelty songs, "A Message To Khomeni," which thankfully was not covered here. He's backed by an all-star studio crew: Tommy Allsup, Phil Baugh, Buddy Emmons, Lloyd Green, Hargus Robbins, Dave Kirby, Buddy Spicher... alla them guys. The liner notes mention Dunn flying down from "the windy city," so I guess he was from Chicago... anyone know for sure?
Frank Durbin "Originals: Swingin' Country" (Merryman Records, 1969-?) (LP)
Guitarist Frank Durbin was an unreconstructed hillbilly twangster, born in Ohio County, Kentucky, a comedic singer with a taste for gangly, uptempo novelty numbers reminiscent of Grandpa Jones or Porter Wagoner, but with plenty of electrified twang. He's backed on this all-original album by several local teens from Limestone high school in Bellvue, Illinois -- Terry Henderson (bass), Tim Rudd (drums), and Doug Walraven playing organ. The album also mentions guitarist and comedian Big Ben, and many of the songs are co-credited to Big Ben, although that may have been some kind of alter-ego for Durbin. Not a ton of info about this guy, but the music is fun!
Bull Durham "Songs Of SACk"" (Sergeant Major Records, 1964) (LP)
(Produced by William D. Halford)
An entire album of topical songs about the Strategic Air Command? You betcha! And it's country music, too? Yup. A veteran Air Force pilot who flew in both the Korean War and Vietnam, James P. "Bull" Durham (1927-2004) also had a knack for songwriting and performance. He recorded this Cold War classic at Gold Star Studio in Houston, Texas, presumably while stationed in the Lone Star State; the record was commissioned by the Air Force Sergeants Association, in San Antonio. The liner notes tell us that some of the musicians backing him were veterans of WWII and the Korean War, a crew that included banjo player E. V. Buckingham, A.E. Christopher on fiddle and mandolin, bass player Dave Hall, and Tim Woods on drums. Picker Carl Whitley also backed Durham on some of his later recordings, playing both lead guitar and steel. Legend has it that the commander of SAC commissioned both the album and the band, and assigned Durham to tour various Air Force bases as sort of an in-house USO band. Many of the songs are parodies of folk and country oldies, such as "Hang Down Your Boom Ross Cooley" or "Home On The Pad," as well as "The Crew That Never Returned," a send-up of the Kingston Trio's "MTA." Other originals take aim at the Strategic Air Command, or SAC. which was responsible for maintaining America's nuclear first strike capacity, starting with B-52 bombers and spanning into the era of ICBM missiles. Perhaps the album highlight is "No SAC Crew Members Down In Hell," which compliments several other SAC-specific novelty numbers. Born in Kentucky, and stationed all over, Durham settled down in Tennessee in his later years, and recorded at least five full albums.
Bull Durham "Songs Of S.E.A." (Durham Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Skip Wilson)
Narrowing his focus to Southeast Asia, Durham sings his praise for the American armed services active in the Vietnam War, which had gotten pretty darn unpopular by the time this album came out. But Jim Durham had flown in this conflict, too, and had some hard-won songs for the Air Force, as well as praise for the Army, the Army medical corps, helicopter pilots and the military air traffic controllers. Several songs take more of a slice-of-life viewpoint, such as "Saigon Girls" -- about pilots going on leave -- and "DaNang Lullaby," cheerful ditty about artillery shelling, a song described in this jaunty liner note, "If there is anything amusing about a rocket attack it is afterwards when you are back home in the States, and hear a tire blow out, and start looking for a bunker." Ah, the good old days, back when PTSD was still a funny story to tell the kids, and not yet an acronym! Durham is backed by Doc Martin on steel guitar and Carl Whitely playing lead -- a couple fo songs are contributed by David McKay (including a Johnny Cash parody called "I Fly The Line") and two others by a guy named Jack Selden, whose apocalyptic nuclear-war ballad, "The Devil Clapped His Hands," rounds this album out.
Bull Durham & The Heard "The Girl I Left Behind" (19--?) (LP)
According to the liner notes, this CD was his fifth recording, with Durham joined by bassist Robin Thomas and guitar picker Jim Cantrell. The repertoire is mostly sentimental honkytonk and heart songs, stuff like "Long Black Veil" and "San Antonio Rose," as well as a whole string of gals-from-exotic-locales -- tunes like "Filipino Baby," "Fraulein,""Geisha Girl," and even some more obscure choices like "Viet Nam Rose." Apparently Durham had settled down in Nankipoo, Tennessee by the time he cut this disc... Not sure, but it might have been recorded in the 2000s.
Sandy Lee Durham "PS: Better Late Than Never" (Ameritone Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Sandy Lee Durham)
Usually on these "private press" records the back-story is a mystery and half the fun is imagining what circumstances were involved when it was made... Here, though, Southern California songwriter Sandy Lee Durham puts it all out there, writing in the liner notes about how he bought two one-way tickets to Nashville for himself and his pal, Fred Cardenas, and headed for Harold Shedd's studio to cut this humble album... The studio crew dutifully made space for Cardenas to add some sometimes-clumsy guitar licks, and Durham himself has a nice, regular-guy voice -- this is a real, live vanity record made by a couple of guys who just wanted to make a record and be able to say they did it... Durham also writes in the liner notes about God and prayer, not in the usual unctuous style of modern-day evangelicals, but rather as a guy who acknowledges his own weaknesses and shortcomings, as a mark of his own frailty and need for love and acceptance. Equally touching is how he writes with great conviction about how he made a real connection with the Nashville studio pickers, and how he was sure they would remember working with him. Who knows? Maybe he's right. (He even includes the lyrics to a song he wrote for Harold Shedd and the Music Mill musicians, though sadly didn't record on this album...) Half the songs are Durham's originals, including a sweet, folkie song dedicated to his son, and there's also an instrumental by Cardenas... The rest of the songs are covers of songs by Jimmy Buffett, Jim Croce and Kris Kristofferson, as well as a nice version of "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles. I'm a pretty cynical guy, I guess, but I did honestly find myself charmed by this unpretentious, self-made album... Like a lot of other musicians, Durham and Cardenas bought another pair of one-way tickets back home, but it's nice they made it to Nashville and made the record they wanted to make.
Duster "Live At Weninger's Post House" (Brothers Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Duster)
A Canadian band from Kelowna, British Columbia, playing mainly covers, with some trucker songs in the mix...
Dusty Chaps "Honky Tonk Music" (Bandoleer Records, 1975) (LP)
Dusty Chaps "Honky Tonk Music" (Capitol Records, 1977) (LP)
Dusty Chaps "Domino Joe" (Capitol Records, 1978) (LP)
Dusty Chaps "Honky Tonk Music/Domino Joe" (Zyx Records, 2008)
A CD reissue of two '70s albums from this dimly-remembered, novelty-oriented hippiebilly outfit, Tucson, Arizona's answer to the Lost Gonzo Band... I used to hear a bunch of these songs on the legendary FM freeform station, KFAT -- "Don't Haul Bricks On 66," "Honky Tonk Music," "Too Many Pretty Woman (To Love Just One)" "Keep Your Hands Off Her Stranger," "Chile Today, Hot Tamale" -- and while the lead singer still isn't the most robust vocalist you'll ever hear, this is certainly a singular batch of songs, stuff that only these guys could have come up with, or pulled off so well. Worth checking out, but probably mostly as a nostalgia trip for folks who remember these guys from 'way back when.
Dusty Road "Dusty Road" (Thunderbird Recording, 197--?) (LP)
This country-rock trio from Burford, Ontario played plenty of original material written by bandmembers Brian J. Callahan, Leslie Childs and John K. Gulley, including Gulley's "Canadian Cowboy," and one called "Country Pickin' Man," by picker Fred McKenna, who penned the liner notes. Dunno if they made any other albums, though, or exactly when this one came out, though Mr. McKenna passed away in 1977.
Jerry Dycke "Memphis Country" (Aries Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Knox Phillips)
Singer Gerald Dyche (aka Jerry Dyke, or Jerry Dycke) was a kid from Auburn, Kansas -- near Topeka. As a teen he appeared on the Brush Creek Follies hillbilly variety show in Kansas City, and tried his hand at both country and pop material at the start of his career. He cut his first single in 1958 while still in college, recording a couple of songs written by local deejay Bob Bobo and went on to record sporadically over the years. In the late '60s he recorded at Sun Records, and during the '70s and early '80s cut several records for the Nashville indie, Churchill Records, grazing the back end of the Top 100 a couple of times in 1980-81. Although he was born in the Midwest, Dycke moved to Fort Myers and became known as a Florida-based artist. This disc was recorded in Memphis, with a very interesting studio crew: songwriter Paul Craft plays guitar, as does Sandra Rhodes, who is better known as a backing vocalist. Dycke also sings one of Craft's songs, a novelty number called "You Went Out Of Your Way (To Walk On Me)," as well as one of his own originals, "A Little More, A Little Less," along with a slew of groovy tunes by the likes of Glen Campbell, Dallas Frazier and Charlie Rich, and even one by future Nashville mogul, Allen Reynolds, and a sitar-ish groover called "Billy Lee's Country Band," written by John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas. Apparently Dyche recorded with Sun Records from roughly 1968-73, with this disc as the capstone of that era.
Jerry Dycke "I Never Said Good-Bye" (Aries Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Ed Penny, Charlie Bragg & Jim Williamson)
This album was recorded in Nashville, with studio pros such as Hargus 'Pig' Robbins and Charlie McCoy in the band. The album features four songs written by producer Ed Penny, while Jerry Dycke contributes one original song of his own, "Daddy Played Harmonica," which turned out to be one of his two entries into the Billboard charts. (The other song, "Beethoven Was Before My Time," is not included on this album, and may have come out only as a single...)
Connie Dycus "Let Ole Lonesome In" (Country's Finest Disc Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Raney, Harry Glenn, Rose Maddox)
Originally from down south, Connie Dycus grew up in Arkansas but moved up north to Flint, Michigan where he was a country deejay and hosted his own TV show, while also working a day job at a General Motors factory... Dycus was a first-generation rockabilly/rock'n'roll star, recording tracks with Jim Minor and as a solo artist -- in 1958, he cut a single for Mercury Records, "Rock-a-Bye-Baby Rock"/"Mind If I Cry" and recorded steadily through the early '60s, releasing singles on a variety of small local labels, including Wayne Raney's Rimrock Records. Raney also produced this early 'Seventies LP, which was partly made up of late 'Sixties recordings, and has a bouncy, novelty feel, equal parts Bill Carlisle and Buck Owens. Great stuff, with plenty of twang. Dycus wrote ten of the twelve songs on here, and covers the Merle Travis oldie, "Dark As A Dungeon," which was also released as a single on Rimrock. Dycus eventually moved back to Arkansas, and passed away later in life.
Bob Dylan "John Wesley Harding" (Columbia Records, 1967)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)
It's pretty hard -- and maybe a little silly -- to try and pin down when Dylan "started" playing country music, since he's always been such an eclectic and innovative songwriter, and there's never been as much distance between "folk" and "country" as many people think. Anyway, this album is notable for some session cut in Nashville with session players such as Pete Drake and Charlie McCoy, and while it's hardly "a country record," the twang is definitely there. People love this record, though personally I never need to hear "All Along the Watchtower" again, in any version, and as a country fan, I find Nashville Skyline (below) to be an infinitely more satisfying album.
Bob Dylan "Nashville Skyline" (Columbia Records, 1969)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)
Dylan seems to have liked being in Nashville, and he went back to record another album there, arguably better and more concise -- a real gem. This album boasts several classic tracks, notably "Lay Lady Lay" and the sublime "Girl From The North Country," which features harmony vocals by Johnny Cash, an establishment rebel who championed Dylan's songs at a time when conservative Nashville viewed him as a leftie longhair, and certainly not a source of good songs. Their duet isn't musically cohesive, but it has a beautiful, joyful feel and was certainly historic, with Cash annointing Dylan with country cred and Dylan bringing the Man In Black to the attention of the hippie hipoisie. Backed by several of the same studio pickers as John Wesley Harding, Dylan seems in really good mood -- relaxed, open-hearted, playful -- and the studio pickers sound happy to let their hair down and play some funky riffs for the rock god... It's certainly one of my favorite Dylan albums, and not just because of the twang factor... Recommended!
Bob Dylan "Bootleg Series, v.10 -- Another Self Portrait: 1969-1971" (Columbia Legacy, 1970/2013)
Much reviled, but better than those old hippie-era critics thought it was... I tend to think of Bob Dylan's oft-reviled 1970 Self Portrait album as one of the first records he did where he wasn't trying so hard to prove a point, where he just let go of the rock star thing and followed his own interests as a music fan, rather than as a much-parsed, groundbreaking iconic innovator. That impression is borne out by the release of the tenth volume in his self-curated "Bootleg" series, where outtakes and demos from those sessions reveal just how deeply he was getting into reconnecting with his simpler folkie roots. There are alternate versions of songs that appeared on the album, as well as a number of tracks that were recorded at the same time, but not included in the final 2-LP set. A lot of these are straight-up folk songs, chestnuts like "Pretty Saro" and "Railroad Bill," as well as a demo version of the old murder ballad, "Little Sadie," which did make it onto the album, albeit in souped-up form. What I hear in these sessions is Dylan the flashy, genre-busting songsmith going back to the well, relaxing a little, taking the time to actually enjoy the kind of music that originally inspired his love of folk music, and using that experience to propel himself forward. Many of these tracks are just Dylan and acoustic guitarist David Bromberg farting around and jamming, alternating between goofiness and sincerity, but palpably having fun with the music. You can sense, as well, that while he's pickin' and singin' these old-fashioned hootenanny tunes, Dylan's subconscious mind is moving along a little further down the line; while he relaxes and takes the pressure off, the familiar old melodies quietly open up new creative paths -- you can also sense that Bromberg knew this as well, and was just there to give Dylan the kind of unfussy, unhurried accompaniment he needed at the time. It's a fascinating aural document: Self Portrait was panned at the time, and though it's retroactively gained a loyal following, it still remains one of his lesser albums. For my money, these demos and outtakes supersede the studio album, revealing the richer emotional undercurrent to a record that many perceived as a pointed rejection of fame and the expectations pressed upon Dylan by his critics and his fans. These sessions show something else: a musician rejecting the pressures of celebrity so that he could simply enjoy music again.
Bob Dylan "Blood On The Tracks" (Columbia Records, 1975)
(Produced by Bob Dylan)
This is my number one, all-time, mostest favorite Bob Dylan record ever, an immensely rewarding album that keeps standing the test of time, again and again and again. Dylan is fully committed to this set -- he's vibrant, intense, alive, playful and acidic, and concise in a way he hadn't been in years. The disc is packed with classics and indeed there isn't a bad song on here, although some songs, like "Simple Twist Of Fate," "Shelter From The Storm" and "Buckets Of Rain," grow easier on the ears as time goes by... Twangfans will note the talents of Buddy Cage, Peter Ostroushko and Eric Weissberg on here, amid a phalanx of talented players, all completely on the same wavelength as Dylan and working in harmony to give this record its cohesive, perfect feel. Highly, highly recommended.
Hick Music Index