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.
H & V Melodies "Music, Memories, Family" (H&V Memories, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Peterson)
Founded in 1970, this family band led by Harold and Vonnie Anderson of Glyndon, Minnesota plays equal parts polka and twang, covering country and cajun standards as well as the waltzes and polkas popular in the Great Lakes region. They favored accordion and saxophone over fiddle and pedal steel, but there's still some country roots here to be heard as well. The Andersons toured regionally and even abroad, performing together for forty years, up until Mr. Anderson (1937-2011) passed away.
H & V Melodies "Our Favorites To You" (Mark Custom Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Peterson)
Bobby Hachey "Bobby Hachey" (London Records, 1970) (LP)
Albert "Bobby" Hachey (1932-2006) was a singer and television actor from New Brunswick, Canada who was part of the French-language country scene up North. Hachey was friends with fellow Franco-twang singer Willy Lemoth, forming a duo with him in the 1970s... This album showcases Hachey's guitar picking, with covers of classics such as "Buckaroo," "Fingers On Fire," "Sugarfoot Rag," and "Yakety Yak," as well as one track called "Bobby's Guitar Breakdown," which presumably is a Hachey original. Kinda flashy and at times a bit frantic, though fans of Joe Maphis or the Jimmy Bryant/Speedy West combo might really dig it. No info about the other musicians involved, alas.
Bobby Hachey "...Sings Johnny Cash" (London Records, 1971) (LP)
This Johnny Cash tribute album spans both big hits -- "I Walk The Line," "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Still Miss Someone," "Ring Of Fire" -- and relatively less well-known numbers such as Glen Sherley's "Grey Stone Chapel" and Shel Silverstein's "Twenty Five Minutes To Go." Once again, no info included about the other musicians on this album... sigh. (By the way, this guy's got like a bazillion other albums... I gotta post a Canadian Country section to cover them all!)
Hack & Sack "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" (Diplomat Records, 1966-?) (LP)
A cheapo exploito album that doubtless came out around the same time as the Little Jimmy Dickens hit... I saw this at an overpriced record store, glanced at it and passed it by... Though now I kinda wish I'd picked it up, since it looks like one of those budget-label releases that's emblazoned with a title track than mimics some big hit of the day, but it padded out with random originals by whatever schnooks they got to record for them. It's those "filler" tracks that interest me nowadays. This LP is packed with 'em, including tunes like "Son, You Must Stop Smoking," "But I Like Her," "Ravon Calling" and "Toothache." Doubtless the humor is pretty strained, but there might be some fun stuff in there as well, and maybe even some cool twang. I think the name was a rather common pseudonym for comedy duos, dating back at least to the 1930s... There's another (non-country?) album called "Here Comes The Judge" by someone also called Hack & Sack, though I have no idea if it's the same guys, though that seems unlikely since that disc is described as a funk album. Besides, I have no idea who's on this record, either! [Note: some sources tag this as a 1964 release, but I doubt that's so, since the original version of "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" didn't come out until late in 1965.]
Bob Hacker "One Man Opry: Bob Hacker Plays The Yamaha Electone D-80" (Yamaha Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Dove & Paul Elmore)
Just to be clear, this is not an album that you need to run out and buy... Or, maybe it is, if you're a big fan of electronic keyboards. This is one of several boutique albums commissioned by the Yamaha corporation to showcase their then-new D-80 model keyboard, which included special settings that mimicked various musical instruments (violins, brass, etc.) This series also included similar albums by other artists demonstrating the D-80 in their own style (including one by Clare Fischer, presumably doing a more jazz-oriented set...) I'm not sure if Mr. Hacker was really that much of a "country" musician -- I think his background was primarily as a professional representative of organ and piano companies (such as the Kimball company during the 1960s) though he also toured nationally and gave concerts as well as demo shows. As far as this disc goes, even with Hacker wearing a cowboy hat on the cover, the repertoire wasn't exclusively country-oriented -- sure, there are songs such as "Rocky Top" and "For The Good Times," but also non-country chestnuts such as "Mairzy Doats," "Edelweiss" and "I Dream Of Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair." So no, this probably isn't the long-lost twang gem you were looking for...
Ernie Hagar - see artist discography
Denny Hale & The Hale-Raisers "Meet Denny Hale" (Sage Recording & Production, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by John Anders)
A Virginia native who settled down in Colorado after a stint in Nashville, Dennis Hale (1946-2013) was a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who played in Barbara Mandrell and Johnny Paycheck's backing bands, later drifting out west to Nevada and Los Angeles, performing at rodeos and lounges, as well as working in television and film as a sound engineer. Hale owned a bar called Miss Fitz' Tavern, in Olathe, Colorado and plugged away with his own band, the Ghost River Band, while also working in various law enforcement jobs in Colorado, Kansas and elsewhere. This disc features Denny Hale on guitar and vocals, with backing from Bud Blaylock on bass, Danny Franklin (guitar), Jimmy Manganello (drums), and Harold Remington on saxophone. Although this is considered more of a "rural rock" album, Hale definitely had real country roots, and some industry connections: in the 1990s he successfully pitched a song he co-wrote called "Winds Of Change," which was recorded as a duet featuring John Anderson and Merle Haggard. As far as I know, this was his only album.
Sam Hale "A Touch Of Country" (Skylite Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Joel Gentry & Chip Young)
I guess Sam Hale was kind of an Elvis soundalike, and he certainly had a penchant for ballads. On this album he covers oldies such as "My Way," "Faded Love," "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" "Release Me," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Hillman Hall "One Pitcher Is Worth A Thousand Words" (Warner Brothers, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Marijohn Wilkin)
This is the lone album by Tom T. Hall's younger brother, Hillman Hall, a modestly talented but entirely likeable country singer as well as a fairly successful songwriter, mainly known for the early '70s hit, "Pass Me By," which was a big hit for Johnny Rodriguez. This album is packed with original material, including the misery-laden title track, and novelty numbers like "Celluloid Cowboy," "You Can't Fool A Country Music Fan," "Fair To Middlin' Lower Middle Class Plain Hard Working Man" and "The Good News She Loves Me (The Bad News She's Gone)," as well as his own version of "Pass Me By." The arrangements are slick but rock-solid studio stuff, earthy though understated mid-1970s hard-country, with plenty of fiddle, dobro and pedal steel... This one's a real hidden gem from an artist who (obviously) lived in his brother's shadow, but did good -- real good -- when he got his chance.
J. R. Hall (The Utah Cowboy) "Utah Sings Again" (Bluebonnet Records, 19--?) (LP)
Modern (1960s?) recordings by a fella from Grandbury, Texas who was a radio performer working at several stations starting in 1930 and throughout '40s. He performed mostly around Fort Worth, with stints in Little Rock, Arkansas and also over the border in Mexico on powerful AM channels such as XEPN and XELO, with signals that traveled across the globe. The nickname "Utah" came from one of his most popular western songs, but Mr. Hall was a Lone Star boy, through and through, and returned to Texas where he worked for a few years as a state patrol officer, and later in an office. Hall was persuaded to record these sessions for the Bluebonnet label; previously he had only recorded transcription discs for his various radio gigs.
Jack Hall "Don't Know Where I'll Be Tomorrow" (Riverside Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Hillman Hall & Stan Beaver)
Well, I'll be darned. Turns out Hillman Hall and Tom T. Hall had a third brother who also wrote and sang songs, although it's quite possible this was his only album(?) Jack is backed by his siblings, with Hillman on drums and Tom playing lead guitar, Ray Edwards playing steel (and a bunch of other instruments!) and Bill Wence on piano, along with a bunch of other folks. The disc includes four originals written by Jack Hall, one each from Hillman and Tom T., as well as a Hank Williams cover, and one by Jimmie Rodgers, and last of all, the spooky bluegrass classic, "Bringing Mary Home" from John Duffy and The Country Gentlemen.
Jim Hall/Various Artists "Circle H Ranch Presents: Streaking Sally" (Dynamite Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Richie Burkhardt & Jim Hall)
This looks like a souvenir album from the Circle H Ranch, in Norfolk, Nebraska... I originally thought the Circle H was a dude ranch with chuckwagon singalongs, but it may be more likely that this was some kind of pay-to-play song-poem album and the Circle H was a fictitious entity: other than this album, I haven't found any other info about it. The musicians include Jim Hall, Bill Moore & The Kentuckians, producer Richie Burkhardt and Martha Dee on Side One, with Nancy Burkhardt, Don Cassidy, Lon Rose and Kanas C. Williams on Side Two. Not sure who did what, though: the back cover is blank. The composer credits seem to line up with the performers, but that's about all the discographical info we get. All very mysterious.
Jim & Jennie (Hall) "I'm Free From Sin" (Jessup Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Kearney Barton)
Straight-up old-fashioned bluegrass gospel, featuring lead vocals by the husband-wife duo of Jim Hall and Jenny Hall, along with assorted friends and relations as The Dixie Mountain Ramblers... Their son, Lynn Hall, plays bass while Tommy T. Hunter chimes in on banjo; Mr. Ed Patrick saws a bit on the fiddle and sings lead on one track, as does the group's bass vocalist, Ernest Welch. Lastly, there's Mr. Welch's son, David Welch on mandolin. Jennie Hall also recorded an album under her own name a few years later, also on Jessup Records.
Jennie Hall "He Walks Beside Me" (Jessup Records, 1971) (LP)
A "solo" set by Jennie Hall, of the Jim & Jennie bluegrass-gospel duo. Pretty much every track on here -- other than versions of "Amazing Grace" and "Lonely Journey" -- was written by either Mrs. Hall, or her husband and duet partner, Jim Hall, or co-written by the two.
Loretta Hall "Precious Memories" (Sound Mill, 1980-?) (LP)
Nice, understated country gospel, recorded in Norman, Oklahoma with what looks like an all-local band: Tim Cossey on drums, Jody Dennis (banjo), Buddy Green (guitar), Norman Horner (steel guitar), Tommy Neighbors (bass), and Charlie Rail playing lead guitar. They're playing real country stuff, not forcefully twangy, but also definitely not syrupy southern gospel. Ms. Hall had a modest but pleasant voice, all the more appealing for its sincerity and distinct lack of showboating or flashiness -- she's really all about the songs, and it's nice. The repertoire draws on both traditional and contemporary sources, ranging from the Carter Family and Albert Brumley to Bill Gaither, Larry Gatlin and Dottie Rambo, as well as one of Jeannie C. Riley's gospel offerings, "Be Not Afraid." Certainly worth a spin.
Reedy Hall & The Hallmarks "Mr. Lucky's Presents..." (Indian Store Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Shockley & Porter Wagoner)
Mid-Seventies Nashville-style pop and country standards, recorded in a session helmed by Porter Wagoner... The Hallmarks were a lounge band with a casino gig in Reno, Nevada and featured four solo vocalists -- Bobby Cook, Chari Ross, Colleen Vetsch, and keyboardist Reedy Hall (1934-2015) who led the band along with his wife Joanie Hall. Mr. Hall moved around a lot: he was born in Kentucky, lived in Montana and played gigs in Nevada through much of the 'Seventies. Despite being recorded in Nashville under Wagoner's watchful eye, the studio crew is remarkably free of "usual suspect" hotshot pickers; it looks like the band was mostly Hall's own group. Anyway, many of the tracks seems to be song demos with shared publishers, so that was probably their "in" with Porter... The only other mention of these folks I've been able to find are a couple of show notices from 1977, when they were playing Harvey's Lounge. The following year Reedy and Joanie Hall moved to Flora Vista, New Mexico, where they bought a venue called the Country Palace, which they operated for nearly thirty years before retiring in 2007. As far as I know, this was their only album.
Rodger Hall "When I Met The Master" (Word Records, 1966) (LP)
(Produced by Wesley Tuttle)
Gospel singer Rodger Hall found religion while serving time in a Federal penitentiary in Idaho... With help from gospel star Wesley Tuttle, Hall gained an early parole from his twenty-five year sentence, and once out in the world again, started his own musical ministry. Hall recorded several albums in the late '60s and 1970s... I'm not sure, but I think this was his first LP. Tuttle produced this album and contributes liner notes which recount how they met at a prison revival meeting, and how Hall's musical talent and devotion to service moved Tuttle to help him out. Alas, as with many Word label offerings, there's no info about the backing musicians, or a release date, although the disc was plugged in Billboard in the spring of '66, not long after Hall was paroled.
Rodger Hall "Where Do I Go From Here" (Angelus Records, 19--?) (LP)
Rodger Hall "I'm In The Right Road Now" (American Heritage Music Corporation, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Lloyd Green)
A very nice, enjoyable country gospel album -- no frills, no fuss, decent vocals and confident backing by some unnamed studio pros, and some real country twang. I picked this one up because I noticed that Lloyd Green was the producer, and I'm pretty sure it's Green playing those sweet, fluid pedal steel licks and leading the band. The rest of the guys in the band are anyone's guess, but they did right by this non-Opry outsider, and this is a pretty strong record, packed with good material, including songs written by the Rambos, Marty Robbins and others. Hall didn't write any of the tunes, but he certainly gives them strong interpretations, with smooth, heartfelt vocals -- he's not a stunning or jaw-dropping vocalist, but he's good.
Rodger Hall & The Nashville Edition "Don't Give Up" (Ripcord Records, 1977-?) (LP)
Sammy Hall "If Nobody Loves You, Create The Demand" (Impact Recordings, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Gary S. Paxton & Bob MacKenzie)
Surprisingly good, surprisingly twangy countrypolitan gospel from the Gary S. Paxton-verse... Paxton wrote all the songs on here, other than a cover of Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle," and though Sammy Hall (1945-2013) wasn't the most robust or stylish singer, he was a good foil for Paxton's ambitious arrangements, and this is mostly a pretty enjoyable album. Highlights include "If You're Happy, Notify Your Face" and "We Have Become The People Our Parents Warned Us About," as well as the title track, which is a semi-secular, smiley-faced positive-thinking song, without any direct references to Jesus or God. Don't worry, though: there are plenty of overt references on the rest of the record... Also worth mention in "No Shortage," which is musically terrible, but an interesting period piece playing on the stagflation-related economic anxieties of the early 'Seventies -- there might be long gas lines, but there's no shortage of religion! Unfortunately there's no info on the backing musicians -- this was recorded in Nashville, so I suppose they may have been a bunch of usual-suspect country pros, rather than folks from Paxton's West Coast stable, such as Dennie Payne, et. al. Anyway, despite a few cloying numbers, this is worth checking out if you're coming at it from a twangfan's perspective. One of many, many albums by the late Mr. Hall.
Ted & Marge Hall "Can You Hear The Master's Voice?" (Master Records, 19--?) (LP)
Ted & Marge Hall "Songs That Tell A Story" (Master Records, 19--?) (LP)
An independently produced gospel album with several country covers, including Merle Haggard's "Daddy Frank," Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors," "Dust On The Bible" and "Suppertime," as well as Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind," and an equal number of originals written by the Halls. The Halls play acoustic guitar, pedal steel, banjo, bass and electric guitar, with some additional pickin' and drumming by other musicians on some of the tracks. Not sure where they were from: the Master label provides addresses in both Canada and Hollywood.
Tom T. Hall - see artist discography
Bill Hallock "...And Cactus Country" (Hal B's Records, 1981) (LP)
This band was kicking around Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona in the late '70s and early '80s, and was one of the first local groups to break into airplay on the local country radio station, KNIX. They used to play regularly at a club called Mr. Lucky's and recorded this album at the height of the band's notoriety.
Ham Brothers "Ham Brothers" (Ariola America, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Huey P. Meaux & Mickey Moody)
This seems more of a Southern rock thing, what with the conga drums and keyboards, but Huey Meaux was involved, so it's probably worth tracking from a twang perspective as well... The brothers -- Bill Ham and Warren Ham -- came from a musical family, and sang in their parent's southern gospel group as kids. Bill is often confused with another Texan, ZZ Top's manager Bill Mack Ham, but they're two different guys... A talented saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist, Warren Ham worked with several 'Seventies pop stars, notably Cher, David Gates, the band Kansas and Donna Summers, and also worked in a series of Christian rock groups, which may make this disc seem a little odd, what with saucy, secular tunes such as "Chicken Dinner," "Party Down On The Bayou," "Hard Core Women" and "Virgin From The Virgin Islands." The Ham Brothers band dissolved not long after this album came out, and Warren Ham later joined ex-Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren's Christian rock band, AD. Producer Mickey Moody, known for his work with countless independent country and bluegrass artists (and his own Moody Brothers band) plays steel guitar on several tracks.
John Hambrick "Windmill In A Jet-Filled Sky" (United Artists/Brown Bag, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Knight)
This is the lone album by Texas-born actor and journalist John Hambrick... He has a gruff, plainspoken storyteller style, sort of a mix of Tom T. Hall and Tony Joe White; it's appealing and the album has a big, clear production sound, though sometimes the cosmic-tinged tunes get a little too philosophical and far-flung. The album opens on a strong note, with the rolling, reflective "Hard Faced Road," but quickly falls into a series of less-cohesive, stream-of-consciousness topical/contemplative songs, grandiose folk-ish material that anticipates the kind of stuff that Butch Hancock and Tom Russell would specialize in... Listeners who like that strain of prophetic-poetic Townes Van Zandt-ish singer-songwriter material will want to check this out, though other twangfans may feel a little nonplussed by the chunky, often blunt lyrics. Hambrick is backed by a crack studio crew, including Nashvillers Hargus Robbins and Charlie McCoy, as well as Dennis Linde and drummer Jim Isbell, and the "big" sound they generate helps carry listeners through an admittedly odd set of songs. It's not a record that I would want to come back to just for recreational purposes (though many of the songs would be great in a radio mix) but I imagine there are many who'd consider this a lost classic, emblematic of its time.
Don Hamil "Two Of Many Moods In The Life Of Don Hamil" (American Recording Studios, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Holford)
Pop and country covers by a real-live country-pop lounge singer. From 1970-72, Houston-based singer-keyboardist Don Hamil led a band called the Don Hamil IV, which included a gal singer named Linda Raye, as well as guitarist Curt Blinhorn and drummer Frank Sudela, who helped arrange and produce this album. They played in a few local nightspots, mainly the Cork Club and Ten Fathoms West, a so-called "mermaid club," one of those places where buxom young women swim around in aquarium tanks in front of the mostly-male patrons... Ten Fathoms had two locations in Houston, and may also have had slightly shady management, seeing as how the owners were prosecuted in a fraud scheme and had their property seized later in the 'Seventies... Anyway, after Linda Raye left the band, Hamil and the boys kept plugging away, holding down a gig at a place called Kelley's at the time this album was recorded. The set list(s) are strictly covers of pop and country Top Forty hits, with versions of "Crazy Arms," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" alongside "Funny Valentine" and "That's All." This was mostly recorded in the ARS label's Houston studio, with one live track, a version of "Folsom Prison," taken from a New Year's show at the Ten Fathoms West, which seems to have been Hamil's main stomping ground.
Lawrence Hammond "Coyote's Dream" (Takoma Records, 1976) (LP)
Multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Hammond was a guiding light in the Berkeley, California psych-rock band Mad River, which started to tilt in a roots music direction before breaking up in '69. Hammond went full-on country'n'bluegrass on this solo set, with backing from pedal steel player Bill Weingarden and fiddler Byron Berline and others in a group he called the Whiplash Band. Hammond played gigs in California and along the West Coast for the rest of the 'Seventies. At the end of the decade, though, he retired from the music scene and enrolled in Harvard Medical School, graduating and becoming a doctor, though he later took music up as a sideline.
Lawrence Hammond "Presumed Lost" (Shagrat/Soft Cloud, 2012) (LP)
A previously shelved album that Hammond finished in 1981, with several of the same musicians as on his first record: Byron Berline on fiddle, James Louis Parber playing lead guitar and Bill Weingarden on pedal steel... Includes his version of the song "John Deere Tractor," which became a hit for The Judds in the 1980s.
Paul Hampton "Rest Home For Children" (Crested Butte Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)
This is such an amazingly weird album... Its claim to "country" status is perhaps a little questionable, although Hampton is backed by some top Nashville talent -- Mac Gayden, Hargus Robbins, Kenny Buttrey and some of the guys from that crew. Anyway, Oklahoma-born Paul Hampton was a real-deal, highly successful songwriter, whose bona fides stretch back to late '50s hits such as Don Gibson's "Sea Of Heartbreak," and he was also in the creative orbit of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, as well as recording goofball novelty numbers such as "I'm In Love With A Bunny (At The Playboy Club." But he really lets it all hang down on this bizarre album, which seems to be a mega-stoned, super-indulgent, only-in-the-Seventies inside joke, with Side One kicking off with some Mac Gayden-style white Southern funk, but wed to really odd lyrics, stuff about underage girls, "rats with lists," and an endless stream of non sequitors. Side Two kicks off with a couple of overtly comedic tracks: "Cosmopolitan Magazine" is a satirical look at the content of the fabled women's magazine, seen from a guy's perspective, and "Your Basic Skater's Waltz" reenacts the '70s roller-rink scene, but with Hampton playing the part of an increasingly abusive DJ/announcer, yelling at the kids over a backdrop of generic easy-listening music... The rest of the record seems to be an extended parody of the lounge singer subculture, with an album highlight being the scathing "Gordon Entertaining Nightly" about a fern-bar hack who sees himself as "Fresno's favorite entertainer," while fully aware of his own creative shortcomings... It's kind of a mean song. This whole record is really strange -- most of the songs I couldn't get a handle on: what the heck was he trying to say? But there is a country undercurrent (including some great musicianship) and if you like bizarre, obscure music, you'll want to check this one out. Maybe.
Conni Hancock & And The Supernatural Family Band "Split Personality" (Akashik Records, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by Lonnie Mack & Joe Gracey)
There are indeed a whole slew of Hancocks on this album -- songwriter, singer and steel guitarist Conni, along with mother Charlene and sister Traci (all three who were later in the commercial country band Texana Dames) as well as Joaquin and Tommy X. Hancock, along with a little guitar ooomph from producer Lonnie Mack. This is a very unassuming album, very indie and yes, maybe a little bit clunky and amateurish. Can't really say I'm a huge fan of her vocals, but she did sound like true Texas, from tip to toe, with a little hint of the same laconic Southern drawl as Lucinda Williams. All the songs are Conni Hancock originals -- a mix of country, folk and blues -- the same sort of mix that her family's group, the Supernatural Family Band, made popular in the '70s.
Delores Hancock "Steels Into Your Heart" (1974) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Watkins)
Wow... a girl pedal steel player? What will they think of next?? This gal from Burlington, North Carolina was the daughter of George Hancock, a singer-guitarist who taught her how to pick and bought her a pedal steel when she decided the instrument was for her. Veteran Nashville session player Jack Watkins -- a longtime member of the Tex Ritter band -- was her inspiration and became her pedal steel mentor, and also helped produce her first album. Hancock led her own band in the early 1970s and opened shows for or backed visiting artists on tour, such as Carl Smith when he came to town. She self-released this album in '75, though gradually she and her husband, Randy Simmons, gravitated more exclusively towards gospel material and became part of the regional Southern Gospel scene.
Delores Hancock "Gospel Style" (Tri-State Recording Company, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Wheeler)
Cal Hand "The Wylie Butler" (Takoma Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Leo Kottke & Paul Martinson)
Pedal steel guitarist Cal Hand came out of the same early '70s Twin Cities folk scene that fostered many of the artists who wound up as regulars on the Prairie Home Companion radio show (such as the Sorry Muthas, which morphed into the early lineup of the Powdermilk Biscuit Band...) A subtle and sympathetic accompanist, Hand appeared on a bunch of albums by artists throughout the 1970s and recorded frequently and most famously with guitarist Leo Kottke (who performs on about half the tracks, as well as Peter Ostroushko, who chimes in on guitar and mandolin) This lone solo album spotlights Cal Hand's innovative approach to dobro and pedal steel. Very pleasant and definitely worth looking for.
Red Haney "Just Before Dawn" (Rome Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey & Marvin Jones)
The Bobby Hankins Show "The Country Sounds Of..." (White Lightnin' Records, 1967) (LP)
Midwestern bandleader Bobby Hankins hailed from Oelwein, Iowa and was a graduate of the Andy Doll show, after which he led his own band, which included steel guitar by Lefty Schrage (aka "Lefty Rite") with Buddy Nite on lead guitar and a gal singer named Miss Barbara Jean. On this album, she sings "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' " (of course!) as well as her own composition, "Everything's All Right." Hankins even had his 12-year old daughter as the band's drummer(!) There's a wealth of original material on here, and various artists take turn singing or playing lead... Hankins seems to have been on the scene for several years in the mid-to-late '60s... He also recorded several singles on the Cuca label, and this album includes glowing liner notes written by a DJ at radio station KOEL in Oelwein, Iowa... Real country from the heartland!
The Bobby Hankins Show "Our Kind Of Country" (White Lightnin' Records, 1968) (LP)
There are a few country covers on here, big hits and oldies like "Gentle On My Mind," "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," "Take Me To Your World," as well as Joe Poovey's "World's Youngest Naughty Old Man." As with their previous record, there are also several off-the-beaten-track originals such as "She's A Bad Girl," "You're Not Listening To Me," and "No Hope For The Future," all part of the half-dozen songs written by the team of Bobby Hankins and steel player Lefty Schrage, who was also a former member of the Andy Doll band. Also included are two tunes Hankins co-wrote with rising star Bobby Bare, "Two Unhappy People" and "Why I'm Leaving Town," though apparently Bare never recorded either song.
The Bobby Hankins Show "Two Sides Of Bobby Hankins: Country Songs And Recitations" (White Lightnin' Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Reggie Wallace)
This album is packed with all-original material, with religious recitations on Side Two, and five country songs on Side One, all written or co-written by Bobby Hankins. His 19-year old daughter, Dixie Lee, who had been drumming with the bands since she was twelve, sings lead on one track, "Just A Little Something." Some of the songs were co-written with Lefty Schrage, though he's not on this album, and the band seems to be an all-new crew, including Chuck Rich on pedal steel and Rusty York playing banjo -- the album was recorded at York's Jewel Records studio in Cincinnati.
Jerry Hanlon "Memories" (Universal-Athena Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Bradley & Floyd Chance)
Singer Jerry Hanlon was from Kickapoo, Illinois, and started performing and writing country music in the late 1950s, working in a classic, prewar honky-tonk mode, heavily influenced by Jimmie Rodgers and his "blues yodeling" style. He wrote a tribute to Rodgers that got him onto Ernest Tubb's radar: Tubb booked Hanlon on his show and cut a single with him back in '61, and even had him come on tour for a while. Hanlon continued to write and record over the years, but never broke through nationally -- this was his first album, recorded in Nashville with an A-list studio crew (and liner notes by ET!) though normally he played with his own band, The Midwest Playboys. Years later, Hanlon also released several cassette-only and CD albums, and apparently developed a strong following in Ireland, where he has worked with a number of Irish country artists.
Jerry Hanlon "Everybody Wants To Be A Cowboy" (Universal-Athena Records, 1985) (LP)
Paul Hann "Paul Hann" (Stony Plain Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Holger Petersen)
Although Canadian songwriter Paul Hann was really more of a straight-ahead folkie, this mid-career album featured a lot of fancy bluegrass and country-rock guests, including Jerry Mills of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Dean Webb and a few assorted Dillards...
Dan W. Hannas "Country The Hannas Way" (Columbine Records, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Robert F. Gordon & Curt Wilson)
A so-called "song-poem" album, wherein B-list studio musicians cook up an arrangement for lyrics written by aspiring songwriters who pay to have their songs recorded. Singers Kay Weaver and John Muir were part of the regular stable at Royal Master, a Nashville-based outfit that was one of the best-known song-poem labels. Here, Muir and Weaver apply their skills to the work of only one pre-paid poet, an older fella named Dan W. Hannas. I wasn't able to find any biographical info about Mr. Hannas online although he did send in "contributions" to other Royal Master albums; this disc seems to have been his magnum opus. Ms. Weaver sings on two songs, Mr. Muir on all the others; the backing musicians are not identified. Be advised, the genre is not for the faint of heart... heck, even for the most devoted obscuro-nerd these albums may be a bit taxing. Weaver kind of goes for it, but Muir is definitely going through the motions.
Kirk Hansard "Kirk's Best" (Chart Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Slim Williamson, Joe Gibson & Bill Walker)
North Carolina's Kirk Hansard was a member of the WWVA "Wheeling Jamboree" show, and recorded a number of isolated singles, mainly on the Chart label, but also for Columbia in the early 1960s, and on some obscure indies as well. This album gathers some of his Chart recordings, including novelty numbers such as "Serious Drinking" and the tepid "Nudist Colony," as well as "Adults Only," a somewhat barbed attempt to bridge the '70s generation gap -- mainly by telling all those hippie kids to sit down and shut up. Hansard only wrote one of the songs on here, a first-rate weeper called "If This Ain't Heaven," though a couple of the other songs come from the same publishing company (Sue-Mirl Music) and producer Joe Gibson provides a couple of others, including the superior "A Thousand Honky Tonks Ago," one of the album's highlights. This is not a first-rate record, largely because Hansard was really only a so-so baritone singer, kind of a cross between Dave Dudley and Conway Twitty, though not as expressive as the more famous pros, and he benefited from strong production, as heard on his earlier work with producer Don Law. This album ain't bad, really... it's not awesome, either, but certainly worth checking out. (Thanks to Some Local Loser for filling in some blanks!)
Mike Hansen & The Lusk Brothers "Memories" (IGL Records, 1974-?) (LP)
It's strictly amateur hour on this plodding album of country covers punctuated a couple of original tunes by lead singer Mike Hansen -- "Memories" and "All Alone." Not to be all mean about it, but Hansen was a pretty limited vocalist, and his backing band -- Larye Lusk on bass and thirteen-year-old Dave Lusk on drums -- also had their limitations. But that doesn't mean this album isn't without its charms... These guys went to the legendary IGL label in Milford, Iowa -- best known for recording garage bands in the '60s and early '70s -- and this is a fine example of truly amateur musicians making an album just for the heck of it. (Also sitting in on the sessions was IGL staffer Denny Kintzi, who added some lighthearted piano riffs...) Hansen looks pretty young on the cover, probably in his early to mid-twenties, though he sounds more middle-aged than you'd expect. He sings lead on most songs, though Larye Lusk belts out a version of "Folsom Prison Blues." I'm not sure when this album came out though I'm guessing at 1974, since amidst all the Johnny Cash and Buck Owens covers, there's a version of "Woman Without A Home," which was a hit for the Statler Brothers in '73 -- also, there are show notices in local papers from late '74 showing the trio playing frat parties and similar gigs.
Steven O. Hanson "Pick And Choose" (Hangren Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Steven O. Hanson & Frank Green)
A key player in Nebraska's hippie-era twang scene, banjo picker Steve Hanson was best known as a bluegrass musician, but he made his mark on the national stage backing novelty-twang star C.W. McCall on Top Forty hits such as "Convoy." This album was recorded in Lincoln with a slew of local pickers, including Pete Blakeslee on dobro, fiddler Dave Fowler, bassist Dave Morris and guitarists John Ingwerson and Terry Schmitt, as well as Hanson singing and playing several different instruments. Not sure if this was Hanson's only solo album... His name pops up as a session player on a lot of indie albums, as well.
Ted Hanson & Country Express "Remembers Just Plain Jane" (Shepherd Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Holiday & Jack Turner)
These longhaired hipsters from Philadelphia, PA wrote a lot of their own material, with over half the songs credited to two publishing companies used by composers D. Turner and Dick Rich, who were both presumably bandmembers. There are also a few cover songs, one from Larry Butler, another by Jerry Kennedy, and a cover from the pop world, of the Bee Gees song, "Words." I'm not 100% sure, but I think Hanson later became a pastor.
Ted Hanson & Country Express "Tribute To A Queen" (Cherrywood Studios, 1975-?) (LP)
Guitarist Ted Hanson and bassist Dave Shaul were both from Wenatchee, Washington, a middle-sized town east of Seattle, and first formed their band after returning home from doing military service abroad, in different branches of the armed forces. They seem to have taken their band all over the country -- Reno, Nashville, Texas, and even a long stint up in Alaska. Somewhere along the line they recruited teenage singer Jackie Kadow, who sings on this album and later married Hanson. The repertoire includes some cool country covers, like "Rainy Day Woman" and "Most Beautiful Girl In The World," in a setlist that seems to have been made in honor of wimmin in general... Dunno what became of the band, but the Hansons wrote at least one children's book together, and Ted Hanson made a career as a saddle and boot leathersmith.
Everett Hanvold "Pretty Words" (?) (CD)
A later album by heartsong singer Everett Hanvold (1951-2007), the late husband of Arella Mae Potter, with who he recorded several other albums as the duet of Everett & Arella. I'm not sure when this disc came out, though I think it was a CD-only release, from the digital era, as opposed to their first album, which was on vinyl. The duo was originally from Virginia, though other than that, details are scarce.
The Happy Hobo "Go Truckin' With The Happy Hobo" (Ripcord Records, 1978-?) (LP)
A professional trucker working up in the Pacific Northwest, George Gordon, aka The Happy Hobo, had driven for the Pacific Intermountain Express (P.I.E.) line nearly thirty years before cutting his first singles for the Ripcord label. That led to two full LPs, each packed with all-original material and some of the grooviest, most jargon-packed, more-CBer-than-thou liner notes ever written for the genre. Honestly, I have no idea what they say: "10-4, good buddy" is about as far as I got with that particular Berlitz course. But Mr. Gordon goes to great lengths to prove his trucker bona fides, and really digs deep into the lingo. At least four songs on this first LP also came out as singles, including "Lookin' For Smokey Bear" and "Teddy Bear In Heaven." Unusually for a Ripcord release, the producer/engineers aren't credited, though one would imagine the sessions involved label honchos Gene Breeden and Ellis Miller. All the songs are credited to Mr. Gordon, and the genesis of each track is explained at great length on the back cover. You gotta love it.
The Happy Hobo "Just A Gypsy Trucker" (Ripcord Records, 1979-?) (LP)
As on the first album, all the songs are original material, although there is one one song, "Smokey You're A Star" by Reid Holderby, that is not credited to Mr. Gordon; the others are all his own, including "Cowboys Are Truck Drivers," "Jippo" and "Liberated Truck Driver." Despite a concerted effort, I was unable to find a full biography for Mr. Gordon, though I imagine there are many tales to tell. He lived in Ontario, Oregon, but that's about all I could discover. (Note: a couple of tracks also came out on a Ripcord single, including "A Truck Driver Knows How A Lonely Heart Feels," which was also anthologized on a 1980 trucker compilation along with several other independent artists.)
Happy's Bunch "Recorded Live In Austin" (ACR, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Harold Herrman)
An Austin, Texas horn band led by trombonist Harold ("Happy") Herrman. These guys sure don't look very country, and there ain't no twangy instruments like fiddle or mandolin or steel guitar, but it was Austin, and they do play a bunch of country tunes, including several '70s Top 40 hits, as well as a few rock and soul oldies. And if you want to hear a trombone version of Rusty Weir's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance," then this disc is for you!
Neil Harbus "Harbus" (Evolution/Stereo Dimension, 1973)
(Produced by Neil Portnow & John Miller)
In the early '70s, the lines between country-rock, pastoral folk and soft-pop were pretty porous, as heard on this sunshine-y album by New York state songwriter Neil Harbus... The opening tracks bring Jonathan Edwards and Cat Stevens to mind, though he slides into a more distinctly rural vibe on songs such as "Memphis To Nashville," "Country Song," and "Arizona." Mostly, though, this has a contemplative singer-songwriter/chamber folk feel, particularly suited to Cat Stevens fans, with several songs that hint at Christian spirituality, although he doesn't really hit you over the head with it. Hank DeVito plays pedal steel, though most of the studio crew aren't as country-oriented... Still, the gentle vibe on his twang tunes is nice... A soft, subtle record that's worth checking out, but definitely more "pop" than country: of the non-country tunes, "Open The Door" is a standout. I think this was his only record... anyone know for sure?
The Harden Trio - see artist discography
Dave Hardin "Dave Hardin" (Source Records, 1974)
(Produced by Ronnie Prophet & Dave Hardin)
An all-original set of country and country-pop songs written by Dave Hardin, who was originally from Huntington, West Virginia, but was living in Baltimore when he cut this album. The Nashville studio crew included Willie Rainsford on piano, along with a bunch of folks I don't recognize (like Jim Vest on pedal steel...?)
Rink Hardin "A Taste Of Country And Western" (Time Records, 1964-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mort Thomasson)
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, singer Ronald Huffstetler (aka Rink Hardin) tried his hand at pro baseball, spending one season in the minor leagues, back in 1956... He didn't see much action on the field, and I guess nothing clicked... So then he turned his attention towards a country music career, writing his own stuff and doing a club act that included impersonations of country stars. He cut a few singles for Jubilee Records, made his way to Nashville, and fell in with the budget-label indie, Time Records, where he recorded this solo album, backed by an A-list studio crew, including Pete Drake, Ray Edenton, Kelso Herston, Buddy Killen and Wayne Moss. The songs are about half originals, including several composed by Huffstetler, published under Rink Hardin monicker, as well as "When The Wine Is Gone," a tune being plugged by songwriter Clyde Beavers. Hardin went on to record a few singles for United Artists, including some goofball material that sounds imitative of Roger Miller, although nothing that charted nationally. He also appeared in a hickspoitation film, "That Nashville Beat," in 1966, though as far as I know that was the extent of his acting career.
Linda Hargrove - see artist discography
Ogden Harless "Volume One: It Ain't Country" (Cypress Records, 1986) (LP)
Ogden Harless "No Last Refrain" (Mountain Stream Records, 1989) (LP)
Ogden Harless "Deal Me In" (Doorknob Records, 19--?) (LP)
Ogden Harless "Now I Know" (Mountain Stream Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Ernie Winfrey)
Dalton Harmon "No. 1 Loving Man" (Nashville Cats Productions, 19--?) (LP)
Apparently this fella was from High Point, North Carolina, where he played some mid-'Seventies shows at a place called the Cavern Lounge. This album was definitely secular country, though I think later on he started singing Southern Gospel.
Lon Harmon "Anytime" (Crown Records, 1967-?) (LP)
One of the many lower-tier country artists who found work recording for the cheapo label that sold knockoff albums in truckstops and rural drug stores, Lon Harmon was more successful than most in that he recorded several albums, and they were even released under his own name(!) Plus, it's good stuff -- down to earth, basic-issue country, with a hint of '60s rock thrown in by the hired-hand backing musicians. Definitely worth a spin!
Lon Harmon "Bouquet Of Roses" (Crown Records, 1967-?) (LP)
Lon Harmon "Just A Little Loving Will Go A Long Way" (Crown Records, 1968-?) (LP)
The Harmontettes "Listen" (Perfection Sound Studios, 19--?) (LP)
The Harmontettes "Sing Special Requests" (Perfection Sound Studios, 19--?) (LP)
Dallas Harms "Paper Rosie" (Broadland Records, 1975) (LP)
Best known in the US as a songwriter, Canadian honkytonk crooner Dallas Harms had an early breakthrough when Gene Watson recorded his song, "Paper Rosie," scoring a #3 hit in the States, and topping the country charts in Canada. Harms himself had considerable chart success at home, but gained only limited traction in the US... His original version of "Paper Rosie" is on this album; over the years Watson recorded several more of his songs, and the two artists continue to share a great stylistic affinity. Which is a rather longwinded way of saying, if you like Gene Watson, you might wanna check this guy out, too.
Dallas Harms "The Fastest Gun" (Broadland Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Buck)
Dallas Harms "The Best Of Dallas Harms" (Broadland Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Buck)
Dallas Harms "Out Of Harms Way" (RCA, 1982) (LP)
Harold & The Chaparrals "Live At The Teepee Lounge" (Sambo Sounds Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Del McKinnon)
A bunch of real-deal good old boys from Central Missouri, Harold & The Chaparrals included Harold Tincher on piano and vocals, Bill Barnhart (drums), Stan Friend (steel guitar), Bobby Preston (lead guitar) and Dale Wallace on bass. All the guys except the steel player sing lead on a track or two, and one instrumental, "Super-Del," is credited to the Chaparrals, and one track is credited to the Dallace Brothers, making me suspect most of the songs on this LP were originally released as singles, under various guy's names. They all seem to have been from the area just south of Lake Of The Ozarks, with a list of local sponsors that includes auto shops, supermarkets, pizza parlors from all around St. Robert, Missouri and the VFW organization of nearby Fort Leonard Wood, an Army engineering school in the middle of a state park. Biographical info is scarce, but it seems likely that at least some of the guys were also in the Army at the time... Harold Tincher apparently moved to Texas and worked at a sort of "wild west" style antique/thrift store village called The Mountain, in Canton, Texas. He had a booth of his own called Tincherville, and played music at least part of the time. Mr. Tincher also recorded at least a couple of singles, an older one on Lofton Records, and one from 1990 on a Texas label where he covered oldies by Lefty Frizzell and Marty Robbins. He passed away, down in Texas I think, though I'm not sure if I found his obituary info, or if it was someone else... Steel player Stan Friend passed away in 2009, at age 61.
Danny Harper "Honky Tonks Have Been My Home" (Cold Moon Records, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by Jim England & T. J. Paulos)
A latter-day honkytonker from Maine, Danny Harper seems to have been active for many years before this first LP came out... I'm getting kind of a Moe Bandy vibe here...
Danny Harper "New Horizons" (Heart Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Brien Fisher & Bernie Vaughn)
Danny Harper "Living, Loving & Losing" (Heart Records, 1988) (LP)
(Produced by Danny Harper, Mike Bradley & W. R. Holmes)
Lynn Harper "...Sings Country Favorites" (Alshire Records, 1972) (LP)
I picked this one up because of the groovy picture of a go-godelic gal in a fringed-leather buckskin mini-skirt (and matching cowgirl hat) singing onstage in front of an anonymous band... Of course, I fully realize that this being a knockoff album from the Alshire label, chances are the woman in the photo might not actually be Lynn Harper, but whatever: it's still a cool album cover. The album itself is worth a whirl because most of the songs are originals credited to Ms. Harper (whoever she was) and while the vocals are admittedly pretty clunky, there's plenty of early '70s-style twang in the band, and a rough, authentic feel overall. Two songs are credited to Lynn Gibson, and they are standouts, the biker-themed "Chrome Plated Harley" and the raunchy, carnal "In the Back of My '57 Chevy," which has surprisingly sex-positive lyrics for a "girl" singer of the time... Harper seems to have been from California -- she had a couple of early 1970's singles on the Cartwheel label, which was based in La Puente, inside the greater Los Angeles area... This one's an obscure but intriguing album!
Bob Harrington "...Goes Cross Country" (Chaplain Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Kennedy, Joe Mills & Bobby Bradley)
Back during the 'Sixties folk revival, Baptist preacher Bob Harrington (1927-2017) established his niche as a folk-singing evangelical known as "the Chaplain of Bourbon Street." Originally from Oklahoma, Harrington attended a theological college in New Orleans, where he began preaching on the streets of the French Quarter, eventually starting his own ministry and recording a series of gospel albums well-known to dollar-bin crate-diggers across the land. For this album, he went whole-hog and headed up to Nashville for a country music session at Bradley's Barn, with slick, crisp backing by an a-list studio band that included Phil Baugh on lead guitar, Russ Hicks playing pedal steel, Jerry Smith on piano and Arlene and Bobby Harden anchoring an out-of-control vocal chorus. (Apparently nicknames aren't allowed in Harrington's ministry: Buddy Spicher plays fiddle, but is listed by his Christian name, Norman K. Spicher... who knew??) To call this disc "corny" doesn't quite capture the full glory of it -- Harrington barks his way through recitation tunes so outlandish that they'd make Porter Wagoner blush... Dying, homeless old men making their last journey to church, broken winos helping good Christians find their path, creationism triumphing over science, and the amazing closing number, "Letting Our Children's Heroes Die," where a thoughtful father lectures his kid about how comic books are the work of the devil, and instructs the child to learn about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson instead... and Jesus, too, of course. They really don't make records like this any more! Apparently Harrington's life took a sideways turn around the time this album came out: he divorced his wife and closed his ministry in New Orleans, moving to Florida, where he took up a more lucrative career as a motivational speaker, though he fell on hard times in the '90s and came back to God, as well as to Oklahoma, where he spent the last several years of his life. Anyway, this disc is a real doozy, whether you treat is as kitsch or as scripture.
Buddy Harris "Foundation" (Plantation Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Royce G. Clark)
Singer Buddy Harris was a farm kid from Arkansas who landed a radio show on KDXE, Little Rock, when he was still in grade school, and worked in local bars all through his teens and twenties. He made his way to Nashville around 1970 and plugged away for years before cutting this album and a few singles for Shelby Singleton's Plantation label. It tanked, but he kept plugging away, working at venues like the Say When Lounge, which is where he was playing when Singleton spotted him. Dunno if Harris recorded any more records after this, but at least he got the chance to make this one!
Burton Harris "...Salutes Bob And Joe Shelton" (Sugar Hill Records, 1977-?) (LP)
A country guy from Texas, Burton Harris got into songwriting and record producing in the mid-1950s, and had set up his own independent label, Security Records, when the rockabilly wave came crashing through the Lone Star state... Harris recorded several artists, and This is a much later (late '70s?) outing, a tribute to the now-obscure hillbilly brother-act duo of the Shelton Brothers, who recorded prolifically during the 1930s and '40s.
Charlie Harris "All My Yesterdays Are Catching Up With Me" (Lamon Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Oscar Burr)
This album includes a lot of early honky tonk and western swing oldies -- stuff from the era of Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills -- as well as a few newer tunes, and one song written by Charlie Harris, "Baby, I Love You."
Emmylou Harris -- see artist profile
Grady Harris "...And The Modern Country" (Ripcord Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden)
Far out! If you like twangy country music -- and I mean really twangy country -- you will love this record. Originally from around Sylva, North Carolina, singer Grady Harris moved to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1950s, playing venues in Washington state such as the Longview Elks Club and the Kelso Legion Club... This album is all cover songs, with classics from the songbooks of Dave Dudley ("Six Days On The Road"), Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins, with interesting additions of two(!) songs by Stoney Edwards and a version of Chip Taylor's great "Clean Your Own Tables," which places this album at least as post-1973. And it's awesome. The lead guitar is pure twang-twang-twang, unapologetically plangent and playful, and Harris' vocals are a treat as well, reminiscent of Roger Miller in some ways, but not at all novelty oriented. Really: this is a great record. Wish I'd had the chance to see this guy play live, back in the day!
Greg Harris "Acoustic" (Shiloh Records, 1979) (LP)
This is the first solo album by picker Greg Harris, a close friend of Skip Battin and a stalwart of the SoCal country-rock scene. Harris was a frequent on-again/off again member of the Burrito Brothers, in the band just prior to recording this album, and then several years on down the line in the late '80s... In between he apparently worked with country gal Becky Hobbs, and did a lot of session work as well.
Greg Harris "Electric" (Appaloosa Records, 1981)
Greg Harris "Things Change" (Appaloosa Records, 1988) (LP)
(Produced by Greg Harris & David Vaught)
Greg Harris "Acoustic II" (Shiloh Records, 1990)
This later album is actually sort of a best-of collection, with some newer recordings alongside old stuff. Harris also self-released a slew of records after this one... You'd have to track down his website to find out about all of those ones... It's probably worth mentioning here that his sons, Jesse Harris and Graham Harris are in the alt-Americana band Rancho Deluxe, which has recorded a few albums that are reviewed in my Alt Country section....
Joan Harris "Country Girl" (Custom Records, 1970-?) (LP)
Joan Harris "Harper Valley PTA" (Custom Records, 1970-?) (LP)
Mike Harris "In A Country Mood" (Redhill Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Clarke Rohn)
Super-amateur hour country crooning from La Mirada, California, down near Anaheim... Mr. Harris was clearly not a professional, but he does sound like he's enjoying himself on this laid-back session, replete with lush backing by a sparse, unidentified backing band, struggling to keep the tempo slow enough for Harris to comfortably croon. Producer Clarke Rohn worked on a few other mid-'Seventies projects, including his own solo album. The repertoire is mostly country oldies, stuff by Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, Jim Reeves and the like, with three originals added into the mix, two by Mr. Harris ("A Fool In Love With You" and "How Can I Keep You, Keep On Loving Me") and one by "top Las Vegas performer" Ann Haggin, called "Rose Of The Waterfront." Not surprisingly, the most engaging tracks are the originals, though Harris does sound proud of his faithfully bilingual rendition of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." Honestly, this is not a great record, though it does have its charms.
Phil Harris "Here I Am" (Evergreen Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Harris & Linda Stern)
Singer Phil Harris had been grabbing at the country music brass ring for a long time before cutting this solo set in Nashville. Sometime in the late '70s or early '80s he and his brother Jim started a cover band called Whiskey Ridge, which played the Nevada nightclub and casino circuit for most of the decade. Whiskey Ridge recorded an album in 1985 and was still putting out singles in '87, a couple of years before this album came out. This disc really represents the chronological tail end of "pre-Americana" locals only/unsigned country artists I can fit into this website, but even as late as 1989 there were earnest, unknown hopefuls putting out vinyl records and looking to break into the charts. I hate to be harsh, but this is basically pretty cheesy, low-end would-be Top Forty material, with the sort of tinkly, antiseptic 1980s Nashville production I shrink away from, although there are some nice pedal steel riffs from the ever-fab Doug Jernigan, as well as some good songs. Other studio musicians include Gene Breeden playing lead guitar and backup vocals by the Calloway Sisters. There's one tune written by Red Lane, and several on Side Two by Harris's brother Jim which are the strongest material on here. There's no release date on the album itself, but my copy came with a signed headshot, dated October, 1989, so I figure it's a pretty good guess. Joining Phil Harris on one track is his longtime duet partner Linda Mowray, who was the last original member of Whiskey Ridge around in '87, which may have been when the band broke up.
Sherry Dell Harris "Dogs Unleashed" (A + R Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Abbott & Harvey Peyton)
A piano player/singer from Fort Worth, who recorded this album in Arlington, Texas. There's some religious material (her own song, "I See The Light") but also more secular "progressive country" such as "Down Home In Texas Again" and "Down Home Woman."
Tiny Harris "Tiny Harris" (Voice Of Country, 1979) (LP)
An excellent, independently produced true-country album from a guy who cut a couple of fun (but non-charting) singles in the '60s for Starday, Stop and some other, smaller labels. Harris scored some gigs on TV and played on the Opry stage and -- according to the liner notes -- performed for the troops in Vietnam after recording a patriotic, pro-soldier anthem called "When." Eventually he left Nashville and was living in Humboldt County, California when this LP came out. It contains several songs that he'd recorded as singles, such as "Georgia Manhunt" and a version of Frankie Miller's "Blackland Farmer," along with the trucker songs "Double Clutchin' Truck Line" and "Endless Black Ribbon" -- I'm not sure if these are the original singles on here, or re-recordings, but either way it sounds great. Lots of fiddle and steel guitar, and Harris has kind of a Hank Snow-ish voice which fits nicely into the uptempo twang. Highlights include the amphetamine-laced trucker song, "Benny And Me" and "Pour Me A Double (Because I'm Single Again)," just a couple of the excellent original compositions on this obscure but worthy album.
Al Harrison "Nashville Sound Of Al Harrison" (1974-?) (LP)
Super-generic artwork and a super-generic song selection of early-to-mid-'Seventies cover songs, including "Okie From Muskogee," "For The Good Times," "Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain," some Eddy Arnold and Hank Williams oldies. The unsigned liner notes shift from the third person to the first, and ramble on about the song selection, though sadly provide no information about who Al Harrison was or where he was from. Alas! No label name, date, or musician info or date, either, but judging from the repertoire, I'd guess somewhere around 1973-74-ish.
Charlie Harrison "Country Singer" (Ark Record Company, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Everett Faulkner & Frank Green)
All-original material by a guy from London, Kentucky. Most songs were written by Charlie Harrison, with one, "Dark Shadows (Following Me)," credited to Howard Henson. This was recorded at the Pollyfox Grand Studios in Nashville; sadly there's no info on the backing musicians.
Clint Harrison "The Two Sides Of Clint Harrison" (Mark Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Higgins)
Clinton J. Harrison (1927-2012) was a California native who grew up in Southwestern Missouri, where he established himself as a regional performer, playing at Joplin, Missouri's Hidden Acres Supper Club during the 1960s and '70s, as well as regular gigs at the Camelot Inn, in nearby Tulsa, Oklahoma. Harrison kicked off his career working casino lounges with the Bob White Trio, singing in Vegas after World War II. He also worked in Tucson, Arizona and in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he owned and sang at his own restaurant and nightclub. Although he started out as a pop/big band vocalist, very much under the spell of Frank Sinatra, by the time he made his own records, Mr. Harrison had also acquired a taste for country music. This was his second album, with one side devoted to comedy, the other to music -- among the tracks are covers of Harlan Howard's "Heartaches By The Number," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," and Ray Stevens' early '70s hit, "Everything Is Beautiful." He may have also cut a few singles, though this information is fairly sketchy...
Danny Harrison "What I Feel In My Heart" (Deneba Records, 19--?) (LP)
Hailing from West Virginia, songwriter Danny Harrison (aka Danny Cousins) started out as a rockabilly singer, waxing the 1958 single, "Rock-A-Billy-Boogie," along with other 45s on a variety of labels. Mainstream success came when he penned "How Can I Write On Paper (What I Feel In My Heart)" which was recorded by Jim Reeves, leading to a string of other tunes recorded by Nashville stars of varying luminescence. His success was limited, however, and Harrison receded into the background, establishing himself as a regional performer along with his wife, Audrey. He played gigs on the WWVA "Jamboree," where he was a cast member in the early 1970s, and released several records on his own Deneba label, as well as one album by singer Darnell Miller. Harrison also cut a few singles for major labels such as Coral Records.
Danny Harrison "No One To Love Me" (Deneba Records, 1971-?) (LP)
(Produced by Joanne Combs & Michael Perry)
For this album, Harrison lined up an all-star studio crew, including guitarist Fred Carter, and a slew of studio pros such as Willie Ackerman, Junior Huskey, steel player Lloyd Green, pianist Hargus Robbins, et. al., who were in the orbit of Carter's label, Nugget Records. The songs are all Harrison originals except for a version of Kathy Dee's "Only As Far As The Door."
Danny Harrison "Jesus Is The One" (Deneba Records, 197--?) (LP)
Roger Harrison "Take Some Love" (C Records, 197--?) (LP)
A singer from Wisconsin who at the time this record was made was doing a gig at the Lou-Ann Motel, in Cumberland, WI. The motel's owner, Roy Odden, is pictured on the back cover, along with action shots of the band. The liner notes tout Harrison's ability to play a variety of styles, including pop and disco, but his heart seems to have been more into the country stuff, including covers of "Muleskinner Blues," "Statue Of A Fool" and "Luckenbach, Texas." If you're looking for real-deal records of working bands from the '70s, this one's a prime example.
Dave Harry & Bonnie Harry "Welcome To My World" (A-Live Sound Records, 198--?) (LP)
A kooky-looking mix of country and lounge oldies, ranging from "Stardust" and "Chime Bells" to "She Taught Me To Yodel" and "Welcome To My World." And yes, not only does Dave Harry squinch down on the old accordion (while Bonnie Harry plays synthesizer and drums) he also yodels on a tune or two. This duo from Alderwood Manor, Washington are joined by a few other locals -- Becky Purdue on bass, Dave Purdue on lead guitar, Dick Gordon on banjo and fiddle, as well as a couple of saxophonists to round things out. As far as I know, this was their only album...
Dian Hart "A Girl For All Reasons" (Amaret Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Porter)
More of a '60s-style pop singer, Dian Hart hailed from Houston, Texas but did her time in Vegas and released a few indie-label singles before recording this album on the Hollywood-based Amaret label. As the title implies, it's meant to showcase her versatility and, yes, there is a little bit of country twang in the mix. The opening track, "To Love," shows great promise for country fans, though oddly enough it's on the following songs written by country-oriented composers such as Shelby Singleton, Johnny Russell and Ben Peters that the album tilts decisively towards pop music with an undercurrent of glossy white soul. The arrangements are, in the parlance of the era, a mixture of groovy and square, placing her roughly in the same band of the spectrum as Dusty Springfield or Petula Clark -- indeed she covers "Son Of A Preacher Man" as well as Bonnie Bramlett's "Told You For The Last Time," material that gives her a mildly funky feel. There's a palpable almost-but-not-quite feel to this record, and you can sense that getting her a spot on something like the Dean Martin Show was their highest aspiration at the time... But for twangfans, I guess this will serve as a warning only... You'll see this record listed as "country" from time to time, but there's really only one song that qualifies. Oh, well.
Jim Hart "A Tribute To Jim Reeves" (Sound Alike Music, 1974) (LP)
This "soundalike" album was one of many issued -- apparently on 8-track only -- by a fly-by-night label in Los Angeles... Most of Sound Alike's releases seem to have been recorded by struggling musicians in Southern California, but this one claims to have been recorded in London, England... And, somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall a similar Jim Reeves imitator from that neck of the woods, which makes me think that maybe this came out on vinyl sometime earlier. Not sure about that. It's a theory, though.
Tiny C. Hart "Sings The Cold Hard Facts Of Life" (K-Ark Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Capps)
Norbert William Cochart (aka Tiny C. Hart, 1932-2015) was a Wisconsin native who tried his hand as a country singer after years on the road as a professional trucker, playing his first music gigs in the late '50s and early '60s, way out in California. It was out West that he picked up the ironical nickname "Tiny" (he was actually a 6'4", 250 pound goliath...) When he was nearly thirty, Hart moved back to the Badger State and settled down, establishing himself as a regional country star, recording several singles and a few LPs, with a mix of cover songs and originals. This was his second album: his other records came out under his real surname, Cochart.
The Hart Family "...Featuring Mr. Sandman" (Associated Recording Artists, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Walker, Ailene Hart & Larry Hart)
Led by their mother, Ailene Hart, this Midwestern family band from Hopedale, Ohio recorded several albums toured regionally, while Hart's son Larry landed several appearances on Hee Haw and other TV shows. They mainly recorded gospel material, but went secular for this set, with support from some Nashville old-timers. Producer Billy Walker plays guitar on these sessions, while Eddy Arnold wrote the liner notes, and I believe he may have recorded some of their songs as well.
Chuck Harter "Keep Me In Mind, Keep Me In Love" (Chaparral Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Maggard)
Although this early '80s album was recorded in Nashville, Harter seems to have been from the Kansas City area... Blue Springs, Missouri, to be exact, over by Lee's Summit. Harter hired a top-flight studio crew for these sessions, including Music City stalwarts such as Hoot Hester, D. J. Fontana, Hargus Robbins, Fred Newell and Doyle Grisham on steel guitar... But the sad fact is, Harter wasn't the world's greatest singer, and though he wrote all the songs on here (and many are quite good) they often fall flat due to his wobbly vocals and the sometimes indifferent accompaniment. Still, you can hear where he was headed with this, and on the twangier, less pop-oriented tracks (like "How Fortunate Am I" and "Sonya") he sounds pretty okay. Indeed, with attentive listening, this could turn into an inadvertent guilty-pleasure album, and it's certainly ripe for some stronger singer to mine for material. Harter mimics some great artists, notably George Jones and Gary Stewart, and those hopeful aspirations should give you an idea of where he was aiming on this one. Worth a spin, though you shouldn't get your hopes up too high. (By the way, thanks to the KC-Lawrence music blog for tipping me off to this one... I couldn't find the magic thrift store you mentioned on your blog, but I still appreciate the tips!)
John Hartford -- see artist profile
Tom Hartman "A Tribute To John Wayne: American" (Artco Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Hartman)
Guns, guts and Old Glory are celebrated, as well as Mr. True Grit himself, in this heartfelt set by Oklahoman Tom Hartman. The title track, an update of I. M. Coffey's "John Wayne: American," is one of two songs credited to Hartman (he added some new lyrics) Most of the other songs are covers of western oldies, stuff like "Cool Water," "Empty Saddles" and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds," while Hartman's tune "Old Paint" kicks off Side Two. The album includes songs by a couple of other composers also publishing under the Associated Artists Music banner. Unfortunately, other musicians aren't listed, though the back cover does have a long (and I mean long!) list of a hundred-plus movies that John Wayne starred in...
Harvest "Never Thirst Again" (Pure Joy Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Al Perkins)
A sweet-sounding set of hippie-tinged "Jesus freak" California country-rock, with tight, light vocal harmonies and plenty of twang, as well as a strong set of original compositions. In many ways this is a more tightly-focussed, musically more cohesive and satisfying album than a lot of the secular albums being recorded by the SoCal hippie twangsters of the same era. Nice stuff!
Harvest Gold "On The Road" (Trail Records, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby All)
A country covers band from Stow, Ohio, this five-piece outfit was led by singer/multi-instrumentalist Buddy James and featured gal singer Patti Watson, along with Mark Hawthorne on steel guitar. There's no date on the album, but I'm guessing 1980 based on the set list... The repertoire is mainly '70s country hits, with the most recent songs being Conway Twitty's "I May Never Get To Heaven" and "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body" by the Bellamy Brothers, both from 1979. Also tons of material from vocal groups like the Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers, stuff that's fun to sing along to, so I imagine they really enjoyed recording this album.
The Harvesters "The Family Bible" (Festival Recordings, 1964-?) (LP)
(Produced by Hal Harrill)
Old-school southern gospel with country backing from Ray Adkins of the Crackerjacks, Tommy Faile and Arthur Smith, whose studio hosted the sessions. The bandmembers aren't listed by name, though they seem to have made several albums, including this one on a label from Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Harvesters were from.
Alexander Harvey -- see artist profile
Dorsey Harvey "Dorsey Harvey" (Poca River Music, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Kenneth Davidson & Sharon Davidson)
A well-regarded Ohio bluegrasser, Dorsey Harvey (1935-1988) played in a number of bands although I think this was his only album as a "solo" artist. Harvey plays fiddle and mandolin, with backing by Beck Gentry of the Fall City Ramblers on mandolin, Bob Leach (banjo), Ron Murphy (bass) and just for good measure, four different guitar pickers: Fred Bartenstein, Steve Johnson, Chris Montgomery and Dan Spires.
LeGrande Harvey "Montana Melody" (Bear Paw Records, 19--?) (LP)
More Big Sky country, including a version of LeGrande Harvey's own "Montana Melody," which in 1983 was adopted as the Montana's official state ballad, though not the official state song, which remains the song "Montana," written by Charles Cohan and Joseph E. Howard, back in the 1800s. So now you know.
P. J. Harvey "The Two Sides Of P.J." (Star Records, 19--?) (LP)
Uh, no. It's not that PJ Harvey, the 1990s alt-rocker, but rather a British fella -- Irish, really, methinks -- with a band that included Martin Mulhare on lead guitar and steel, Geraldine O'Neill (vocals), John O'Neill (accordion and drums), Tommy O'Neill (rhythm guitar), and Matty O'Connolly (bass and tin whistle). Irish, right? The "two sides" of the title are sentimental ballads, which populate Side One, and country stuff on Side Two, with a heavy tilt towards classics by Johnny Cash. Alas, there is very little info on the album itself, so it's possible this was from the Irish Republic and not the UK, but I really don't know. Also, no release date , though it looks pretty 1970s, though possibly early '80s, given the Irish cultural timewarp and all...
Tonya Harwell "Foxy Lady" (HOMA Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mickey Sherman)
A pretty negligible album from a teenage Oklahoman who was, according to the liner notes, voted "The Best Female Vocalist Under the Age of Eighteen for 1975" by the Oklahoma Country Music Association, which kind of makes me wonder what Reba McEntire was up to that week. Tonya covers a few standards such as "Bobby McGee," "Silver Threads And Golden Needles," Merle Haggard's "That's The Way Love Goes" and even a mildly twangy version of the Beatles' "Yesterday." She also showcases some local (Oklahoma) songwriters -- herself included, writing the title track -- as well as "A Picker's Wife" by Bob Lendrum and "Shadows Of Love," written by Lee Hunter and Walt Wilder. I don't think any of these folks really did much after this, though fiddler Benny Kubiak also recorded a couple of albums on the Homa label, and was in a number of regional bands. Tonya Harwell apparently was in a rock band with her brother Paige in the early '80s, but I think this was about it for her country career. (Interesting side note: according to her brother, their band, Pearle Handle, also included future Top 40 country and gospel singer Melodie Crittenden, who was a teenager at the time... So there ya go!)
Carol Hascall "Spotted Pony" (Cavern Custom Recording, 1975) (LP)
Traditional fiddling by a gal from Independence, Missouri, near Kansas City. According to the liner notes, Elizabeth Carolyn Hascall (1936-2019) grew up in Humansville -- which is a real place -- down in the southern end of the state, in the Ozarks. Her dad, Andy Beaty, was a well-regarded local fiddler, and she grew up to learn several instruments, and performed at numerous bluegrass festivals and old-timey events. Hascall cut this album for Cavern, a legendary regional label, with backing by a group called the Bluegrass Association: John Bennett on guitar, Jim McGreevy (banjo), Don Montgomery (bass), and Chuck Stearman on mandolin. She recorded elsewhere, including her participation in an authoritative 2-CD set dedicated to Missouri fiddling, Now That's A Good Time, and later in life, Ms. Hascall became interested in making fiddles, as well as playing them.
Albert Hash & The Whitetop Mountain Band "Whitetop" (Mountain Records, 19--?) (CD)
Virginia-born fiddler and luthier Albert Hash (1917-1983) was a prolific craftsman, sculpting about three hundred unique fiddles, including several which were donated to The Smithsonian Museum. Mr. Hash was also an exemplary traditional musician, playing in a series of stringbands in the 1940s and '50s, later forming his own group, the Whitetop Mountain Band, which included bass player Tom Barr, Flurry Dowe on banjo, and several members of the Spencer family (which Hash had married into) notably guitarist/banjo picker Emily Spencer, who all recorded with the band on this and several other albums. A recent biography of Mr. Hash was profiled in an unusually well-written article in The Lawrence Daily Journal World, and can be purchased directly through the author, Malcome Smith, as well as digital copies of Hash's classic recordings, at https://alberthash.com. Good, solid Appalachian mountain music, no muss, no fuss. Good stuff.
Albert Hash & The Whitetop Mountain Band "Cacklin' Hen" (Mountain Records, 1977) (CD)
Albert Hash "Albert Hash" (Field Recorders' Collective, 2009) (CD)
Over three dozen vintage tracks, culled from various recordings in the collection of compiler Kilby Spencer, a relative of guitarist/banjo picker Emily Spencer, who accompanied Albert Hash on numerous recordings. The following volume was compiled jointly by the Spencer family, the Augusta Heritage Center, and others...
Albert Hash "Albert Hash, Volume Two" (Field Recorders' Collective, 2015) (CD)
Cindy Hataway "Live At The Grapevine Opry" (Grapevine Opry Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Phil York)
Singer Cindy Hataway was a cast member Johnny High's Grapevine Opry, a mom'n'pop operation near Dallas, Texas, and sang on several of their compilation records. Here on her solo album, she belts out a few gal-centric covers, such as Barbara Fairchild's hit, "Teddy Bear Song" and Lynn Anderson's "Ride, Ride, Ride," along with tunes from Moe Bandy, Hank Snow and Leroy Van Dyke. There's a bit of patriotic stuff and gospel, as well, though mostly what you'd expect to hear on a variety stage. I'm not sure how long Hataway was with the Grapevine Opry, or how long she stayed in the music business; it's possible she's the same Cindy Hataway who later worked the Texas oil industry.
Cindy Hataway "Cindy" (1981) (LP)
A mystery disc which seems to have come from her post-Grapevine career. There are a number of newspaper show notices from 1981 placing her at the Six Flags Texas amusement park, so perhaps she had already moved on before the Grapevine venue fell apart in '82.
The Hatch Brothers "Shady Grove" (Little Richie Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by J. Lynn Hatch & Loren Ashcroft)
Ray Hatcher "Songs Of Love, God And Country" (Arzee Records, 1964-?) (LP)
Ray Hatcher "The Best Of Country" (Nashville Sounds Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Drake, Stan Kessler & Warren Peterson)
A Philadelphia country singer who was affiliated with Rex Zario, co-writing several tracks on this album with him, and using the same publisher. The studio band is packed with Nashville pros, house musicians at Pete Drake's studio, the outside of which is pictured on the back. Hatcher sings and plays acoustic guitar, with cats like Pete Wade, Charlie McCoy, Hargus Robbins and the Gary Paxton Singers on backup vocals... He does a cover of Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me," but otherwise the whole album is either his or Zario's stuff. Their originals include "A Fool Over You" and "Anybody's Baby" (co-written with Ann Davison), Zario's "Sing Me Another Country Song," and Hatcher's regional anthem, "Philadelphia Baby."
Ray Hatcher "Sings Your Requests" (Camaro Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Style Wooten)
Although the album title implies an all-covers set, about half this album is original material written by either Ray Hatcher or Ann Davidson, who shared the same publishing company, Pretty Girl Music. Alas, the backing musicians aren't identified, although the album was recorded down in Memphis on Style Wooten's label, Camaro Records.
Ray Hatcher "Sings Hank Williams, Plus Three Others" (Nashville Sound Records, 1977-?) (LP)
Sadly, there's no release date or musician/producer info on the album jacket, though the consensus seems to be this was a late-'Seventies offering. Hatcher covers a bunch of Hank Williams, "Oh Lonesome Me" by Don Gibson and a couple of his own songs -- "Philadelphia Baby" and "Time To Travel On," which was co-written with Ann Davison.
The Dixie Hatfield Combo "Tall Cool Country" (Gulf Crest Records, 1975-?) (LP)
An early 1970s album by a group originally formed in the late '50s by country deejay Dixie Hatfield, who worked at Montgomery, Alabama's WBAM. This edition of the band also features fellow DJs Jimmy Hicks (drums) and Gerald Driver (bass), taking turns singing hits such as "Four Walls," "Silver Wings," "Wine Me Up," "Mental Journey" and (my favorite!) "Six Pack To Go." None of these guys were super-great vocalists, but they were having fun and sound like some pretty cheerful good ole boys... The band is alright, too, with solid steel guitar picking and some wildly out of control psychedelic-fuzz guitar on their gogo-delic version of Dallas Frazier's "Mohair Sam." There are two original songs at the end of the album, both co-written by drummer Jimmy Hicks and L. H. Stockmar, "You Tear Me To Pieces" and "Today Ended Everything," which both have florid orchestral arrangements swelling behind Hicks' vocals -- I'm guessing these tracks were recorded separately from the rest of the record, possibly as a single that came out earlier.
Irene Hatfield "August Rain" (Rex Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Clinton J. Smith)
An independent country singer from Washington state... This includes the songs "Silly Little Fight" and "The Anniversary (Of The Day You Said Goodbye.)" All but one of the songs were written by J. Jones, who is also credited as the "A&R" man for the album.
Shayne Hatfield & The McCoys "X-Wives And Old Songs" (Jesse James Records And Tapes, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Messick & Don Cederstrom)
Not a lot of info about this guy... This outlaw album was recorded in Boise, Idaho with a backing band that included Dave Borquez on drums, Deacon Lee (piano), Sam Rothwell (guitar), Doc Span (harmonica), Tony Walter (bass), and Larry J. Woody also blowing the harmonica. Most impressive, though, is the legendary Ralph Mooney playing steel guitar throughout the album... quite a catch! I couldn't find anything about this band online -- not sure if they played many live gigs or were even a "real" band. I'm pretty sure Shayne Hatfield was a stage name: there's a wealth of original material on here, including several tracks credited to C. Gubaci, who may have been Charles Gubaci of Coeur d'Alene and -- one would assume -- Hatfield's real identity. Anyone know for sure?
Jerry Hatton "The Texas Beat" (Banff Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Clinton J. Smith)
A Nova Scotian country singer who eventually emigrated to New Jersey, Canada's Jerry Hatton was playing some pure honky-tonk on this 1960s set, with Len McDonald adding some sweet licks on steel guitar. Later on, in the early 1970s, he formed a duet with Debbie Lynn and recorded several albums with her.
Bruce Hauser -- see artist profile
"Little" George Havens "Circuit Ridin' Preacher" (Rainbow Records, 1969-?) (LP)
Nicknamed "Little" George, Mr. Havens (1920-1988) stood about four-foot-eleven, and was mainly famous for his stunt work on numerous cowboy movies, dating back to the 1940s. Havens left the film industry after a religious conversion, as well as from concern about the safety of his work: his widow, Lucy Havens says that during an accident while shooting a "Jungle Jim" action flick, Havens was worried that he'd almost broken another actor's neck, and decided his film career wasn't worth that kind of risk to others. Afterwards he largely devoted himself to evangelical efforts, including a music ministry which resulted in this album, as well as appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1966, Havens founded the Cowboy Camp Meeting, an annual event complete with covered wagons and gospel music, hosted at his Flying H Acres ranch, near Santa Anna, Texas. The event continued for decades after Mr. Havens' death, at least as late as 2017. As far as I know, this was his only album, one of many, many gospel LPs produced by the prolific, Dallas-based Rainbow Sound label.
Havenstock River Band "Havenstock River Band" (Impress Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Clontz)
This was a "solo" album by a group best known as the backup band for folkie Glenn Yarbrough, with whom they recorded one album... The band was formed in 1970 when the various members -- guitarist/vocalists Gary Clontz and Archie Johnson, Geoffrey Pike on piano, bassist Gordon Curry, and Jeff Warren on drums -- met in LA and started jamming together, expanding the acoustic duo of Clontz and Johnson into a full ensemble. They were discovered by studio producer Alex Hassilev (a member of the Limelighters, during the early '60s folk boom) who recommended them to Yarbrough. Yarbrough hired them and worked with the band for most of 1971, touring the West Coast and recording one album with the group, which Hassilev produced and released on his own independent label. Hassilev also offered the group an album deal, and cut this more rock-oriented record, which got some traction before the label folded and Yarbrough went into semi-permanent retirement. The band tried to make a go of it for a year or two, playing local gigs up in the Sierras, at Mammoth Mountain, and later in the San Francisco Bay Area, but eventually they broke up with most members leaving the music business behind. Guitarist Gary Clontz toured with Glenn Yarbrough years later, as a backup musician during the late '70s and early '80s... Many thanks to Mr. Clontz for generously sharing his memories of the band for this review!
Elmer Hawkes & The Coonville Ferryboat Killers "Dirty Magazines" (Trutone Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Katz)
This is, I believe, the first album by New England-based singer-songwriter Elmer Hawkes, who recorded a handful of albums in the '70s and early '80s, tried his hand at theater, and more recently became a documentary filmmaker, producing travel films for kids. With the cheaply-pressed, seedy-looking cover, I had high hopes for this one, though it proved less of a low-rent twangfest and more of a frantic folkie comedy album, would-be fodder for Dr. Demento, ala Barnes & Barnes. Hawkes seems to have been a self-styled poet-satirist from New England, with a mailing address in Connecticut and tentative roots in New Jersey as well (he eventually settled in Cambridge, MA...) What country twang exists here comes more from the bluegrass side of things, with some decent banjo picking, though that's about it. Hawkes himself sticks to vocals, harmonica and guitar, and the verbiage comes fast and furious in song after song, in a post-Dylanesque fashion... It's all laid on a bit thick, if you ask me, but if you're looking for original under-the-radar '70s counterculture stuff, this could be of interest. I can see some kinship here with rock/folk geek-nerd outsider artists such as Jonathan Richman, although that's probably giving Hawkes a little too much credit... Still, there's a similar cultural thread that can be followed... Post-hippie, pre-punk, wiseass novelty material that's (perhaps deliberately) rough around the edges.
Dale Hawkins "LA, Memphis & Tyler, Texas" (Bell Records, 1969)
Louisiana rockabilly pioneer Dale Hawkins was still kickin' it in the '60s and '70s, and on this funky, psychedelic swamp-rock freakout he gets into some pretty deep grooves. Among the backing musicians are roots-rockers, soul players and hippie-rock icons such as James Burton, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn, and while the repertoire is groovy, it's really the overall funky, jam-band vibe that makes this disc most interesting. Hawkins and his various collaborators just go for it, getting wild tones and textures from their instruments -- this disc is all about rhythm and riffs, and while I don't think they really connected emotionally with any of the lyrics, they had a ball jamming together. It's mostly a little too John Lee Hooker-ish for me, but it's still a pretty interesting record.
Eddie Hawkins "Cowboy Memories" (Summit Records, 19--?)
(Produced by H. Wayne Fox)
I have absolutely no info about this album, except that I saw it at a used book store a while back and thought the novelty album art was funny (it's a picture of the artist -- a big, lanky cowpoke feller -- sittin' nekkid in a tiny tin washbasin, scrub brush in hand...) and I was tempted to pick it up, but thought it was a little too pricey for me, like two bucks or something... Anyway, this fella (who is not to be confused with the gospel artist Edwin Hawkins) seems to have been a rodeo rider in Colorado and Wyoming, and the music is mostly cover tunes, ranging from Hank Williams to other oldies such as "Philadelphia Lawyer" and "Yellow Rose Of Texas." There's one song that might have been an original, "Teardrops In My Heart," but I don't know for sure. I couldn't find any other mention of this guy anywhere else... I'm guessing this came out in the mid-to-late '60s, possibly the early 1970s(?) Apparently pedal steel player Don Buzard plays throughout this album, and adds some pretty tasty licks, with guitarist George Braswell backing him up. Anyone out there have anything to add?
Eddie Hawkins "Old Reno Casino Presents Eddie Hawkins" (SNR Records, 1981)
(Produced by Carl Gay, Jody Peterson Sr. & Jon Holloman)
The J. Hawkins Band "One Eye Open" (Partying Fools Productions, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Wheeler)
A band from Pensacola, Florida who listed Butch Hancock as their "executive producer..."
Ronnie Hawkins - see artist discography
Ray Hawthorne "Ray Hawthorne" (Armadillo Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Bob Barnhill)
Hardcore indie Honkytonk from San Antonio, Texas... Recorded in Nashville with a crew that included Buddy Emmons and Dale Sellers...
Billy Hayden & The Country Keys "Last Date -- And Other Country Piano Favorites" (Crown Records, 1966) (LP)
Your guess is as good as mine about this guy's biography, as he was one of the many semi-anonymous musicians who banged out quick-and-dirty recordings for the Crown Records cheapo label. It's possible he may have grown up in Northern California, up past Sacramento somewhere, though that's the only lead I could find. Anyway, his "country style piano" encompassed covers of contemporary hits (like Floyd Cramer's "Last Date") as well as transposed fiddle and dance tunes, such as "Turkey In The Straw" and "Wing Ding." As is often the case with Crown LPs, there's no info on the session, the musicians, or the producer.
Billy Hayden "Country And Western Favorites Featuring Country Style Piano" (ARA Records, 1967-?) (LP)
Floyd Cramer-ish country piano instrumentals. Nothing too amazing: if you like Cramer, no reason not to dig this. Like the album below, this also came out under the "Vogue" imprint (not to be confused with the Vogue label from France...)
Billy Hayden & The Country Keys "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes -- And Other Country And Western Favorites" (Crown Records, 1967-?) (LP)
Rudy Hayden & His Golden Nuggets "The 401" (Aragon Records, 1967) (LP)
A Canadian rock pioneer from Manitoba, Rudy Hayden (born Rudolph Clifford Myhedyn) cut one sizzling single in the late '50s for the independent Aragon label... Aragon was apparently still in action a decade later when Hayden -- like many former rockabillies -- had turned to country music for his bread and butter. There's some original material on here as well as chestnuts such as "San Antonio Rose" and "Squaws Along The Yukon," along with reprises of some of his early rock recordings, "Crazy In Love" and the previously unreleased "Rubber Dolly." A featured member of his backing band was fiddler-singer Elmer Tippe, who went on to release several albums of his own and chart some songs in the '70s.
Don Hayes & Country Heritage "Live At The Grapevine Opry" (Grapevine Opry Records, 1978-?) (LP)
A bluegrassy band doing mostly country covers, including tunes like Lefty Frizzell's "I Never Go Around Mirrors" and Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings," as well as a big, old rock oldies medley. The band was one of the late 'Seventies acts at the Johnny High's Grapevine Opry, down in Texas. The group included Don Hayes (lead vocals, mandolin and guitar), Steve Story (fiddle, steel guitar), Gary Ledford (lead guitar), Tom Carpenter (bass), Mike Ragland (drums). As far as I know, this was their only album.
Jerry Hayes "Back From 'Nam" (Toro Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Caton & Phil York)
A set of military twang, with a batch of songs written from the ground-level view of an American soldier in Vietnam, including tracks such as "Diary Of Private Jones," "I Praise The Vet," "Johnny's Going Home," and "Thoughts Of Home." The songs deal with combat, homesickness and psychological isolation, as well as the whole POW-MIA thing. According to the liner notes, Jerry Hayes was originally from Columbia, Tennessee and joined the Marines straight out of high school. He deployed to Vietnam in 1967, and served as part of the amphibious assault force stationed in Da Nang. Hayes returned to the States in 1968, following the Tet Offensive, though the notes don't make it clear if he was injured in combat. Hayes headed for Nashville but was working clubs in Dallas when he made this disc, with assistance from local legend Smokey Montgomery, who anchored these sessions and is credited as arranger, playing banjo with backing by guitar whiz Phil Baugh, drummer Dale Cook, Freddie Crane on piano, and Junior Graham playing bass. Honestly, Hayes wasn't a great singer, and it's all a little underwhelming, although the lyrics are fascinating and historically relevant. I'm not sure what happened to Hayes after this record was made; he's not to be confused with the Memphis-based songwriter below...
Jerry Hayes "Small Towns And Old Fashioned Ways" (Penthouse Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Boyce)
Although he met with little success as a performer, Memphis songwriter Jerry Hayes scored several home runs as a composer, notably "Who's Cheatin' Who," which was a chart hit for both Alan Jackson and Charly McClain. He's backed here by members of the Amazing Rhythm Aces and various Memphis studio pros. Hard to track down, but definitely worth a spin.
Jerry Hayes "Tennessee" (Penthouse Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Boyce)
Mack Hayes "Mack Hayes" (Paid Records, 19--?)
(Produced by Gerald Bennett & Jerrel Elliott)
Texan Mack Hayes went from his teenage garage band into a gig backing Liza Minnelli, then in the late '70s he had a regional hit with "The Twelve Days Of Oiler Christmas," a football-related novelty song that led to a series of similarly-themed singles, and eventually to this country album... and a lot of guest appearances at halftime! (By the way, the album's producers, Gerald Bennett and Jerrel Elliott were part of a notoriously bizarre prog-twang trio in Houston... guess they helped out other musicians as well...)
Sherman Hayes "Catman" (Barnaby Records, 1973)
(Produced by Dan Lottermouse & Ken Mansfield)
A wildly, weirdly eclectic album with a strong foundation in Capricorn label-esque Southern rock and bright, lavish '70s AOR, with a subtle undercurrent of twang amid the glitzy keyboards and gritty horn charts. Although Hayes was a California boy, his songs had a groovy, laid-back Southern/rural flow, including explicitly in tunes such as "Keepin' To The Backroads" and "South's Gonna Rise Again." I wasn't really sure this would fit into this overview of "hippiebilly" country rock, not right up until the last track, "Country Rain," which has a sweet steel guitar sound lacing through it, and then I was cool. Even without the twang, this is a pretty engaging, enjoyable album, with lots of catchy tunes... certainly worth a spin! (PS: apparently he was actually Sherman Hayes, Jr., and his dad had been a big band musician who was fairly well known in the '40s and '50s... Anyone got more info about either one of them?)
Sherman Hayes "Vagabond's Roost" (Capitol Records, 1973)
Sherri Hayes "Words Of Love" (Gule Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Harry Gordon)
I'm not sure where Ms. Hayes was from, though this album was recorded in Hollywood, California, with guitarist Al Bruno anchoring the studio band. The songs are all Sherri Hayes originals except for a cover of a Porter Wagoner/Dolly Parton duet. Her songs include a couple co-written with B. Vera, and others with M. Shoup. There's no fiddle, steel or banjo on here but, hey, you can't have everything!
Philo Hayward "Rounder" (Mendocino Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Philo Hayward & Lewis Corelis)
A decent, diverse set of Northern California country from Mendocino County's Philo Hayward, who branched out from a hippie honkytonk foundation to add in some bluesy boogie-country and even some bold countrypolitan aspirations (as on "Pullin' Me Apart"). Other than a cover of Waylon Jennings' "Waymore's Blues," the songs are all originals -- some are stronger than others, and most of them tend to devolve into mellow but amorphous jamming. Hayward wasn't a particularly strong composer, nor did he have a great voice, but this disc does have a nice, authentic NorCal longhair vibe, and includes guest performances by the Grateful Dead's drummer Bill Kreutzmann (who plays on one track) and country-rock pioneer Gene Parsons who plays on three songs, and folkie Judy Mayhan, who sings in the chorus, along with Linda Coolidge (who I believe was Rita Coolidge's sister...) So, maybe Hayward wasn't destined to top the charts or make it big in Nashville, but he did have some cool friends and an interesting story, including his subsequent career running an expatriate bar in Mexico, where presumably he strummed a tune or two from time to time. Alas, a reader informed me that Hayward passed away in 2015.
Haywire "Still In The Saddle" (Way Higher Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Chris Bauer)
A rough-edged hard-country-meets-southern-rock band from Neodesha, Kansas, in the southeastern corner of the state. The band was formed in 1976, and featured the main quartet of Larry Curt (guitar), Dennis Files (drums), Jeff Olive (pedal steel), John Olive (guitar), with a few other locals pitching in on dobro, harmonica and keyboards. They look pretty longhaired and beard-y, but more in a Charlie Daniels way, I think, than say, a Jerry Garcia hippie vibe. The album features a few cover songs, notably oldies like the "Crawdad Song" and "I Know You Riders," as well as Rodney Crowell's newly-minted outlaw anthem, "I Ain't Livin Long Like This." Most of it, though, is original material, with about half the album written or co-written by Larry Curt, who later formed his own band and performed locally for many years to come. (Note: not to be confused with the Canadian band, below.)
Haywire "Haywire" (Dead Centre Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Denis LePage & Paul Dailey)
A bluegrass-y band from Ontario, Canada, with a bunch of original material and few well-chosen covers, including a version of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'," and Peter Rowan's "Blue Mule." The group included Harry Jongerdon on bass, John Davies (mandolin), Ian Molesworth (guitar) and Rick Thorne playing banjo. The band had been together at least since the early 'Eighties, though as far as I know this was their only album.
The Haywire Band "Silver Wings" (Air Craft Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Arty Tedesco)
Donna Hazard "My Turn" (Pickwick/Excelsior Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Ed Keeley)
Although the title track is actually about sexual reciprocity, it could also reflect on Hazard's career... One of Nashville's best-known backup singers, Donna Hazard sang on countless sessions throughout the 1970s and '80s... This was her first solo album, recorded after years of supporting other artists, and yielded a few modest hits, including "My Turn," which peaked at #45 on Billboard.. The album's a pretty strong effort for the times, the glossy post-disco era when country music edged even further towards a more synthetic-sounding production style. Hazard has a great voice, although here it's mostly used for come-hither, sexy-kitten effect, and many of the the songs wind up being of questionable quality. The opening track, "Love Never Hurt So Good," has a pleasantly rural feel, recalling Loretta Lynn while flaunting some surprisingly frank erotic lyrics. This sexual openness is echoed on the title track as well as on "A Lady Askin," in which the protagonist says, hey I know a lot of guys don't like assertive women, but it's almost closing time and I was wondering if you wanna get lucky tonight. Unfortunately the record winds up being kind of uneven -- some tracks are vigorously produced, others sound a little thin, and Side Two veers into pretty terrible pop territory, with nods towards Olivia Newton-John and ABBA, ending things on a fairly flat note. Around this same time, Hazard also recorded some lead vocals for a prefab band (also produced by Ed Keeley) called the Concrete Cowboy Band, which had a similar vibe but less success on the charts.
Hazel & Louise "...Sing I'll Put My Trust In Thee" (REM Records, 1965-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Mooney)
Country gospel by a duo previously known as the Horton Sisters... Hazel Trubee and Louise Wilson grew up in the backwoods of Scioto Country, Ohio, later living in Xenia with their families. The sisters performed live radio programs daily on several local stations, and also sang at their church. Hazel's husband was Pentecostal evangelist Bill Trubee, and their daughter Sharon plays piano on this album, as does their fellow country music evangelist, Reverend Ray Anderson who plays bass (as opposed to the lead guitar work on his own albums.) They are joined by a local band including Joe Adams playing steel guitar, his father Johnny Adams on rhythm guitar, Pete McKeehan on drums, and Denny Waggoner pickin' lead guitar. About half the album is original material credited to Mrs. Trubee, with an additional tune from Hisel Carpenter, who also recorded an album for the REM label. Actually, these local folks were in pretty good company: the label, which was located in Lexington, Kentucky, also recorded albums with established artists such as Cliff Carlisle, Tex Jenks Carman, Esco Hankins, Charlie Monroe and Molly O'Day. Great stuff: it's like if Kitty Wells and Skeeter Davis had formed a hillbilly duo with Merle Travis backing them up.
Hazel & Louise "He'll Never Fail" (Gospel Recording Service, 1966-?) (LP)
Larry Heaberlin "The World Of Larry Heaberlin" (K-Ark Records, 1969-?) (LP)
A former TV host and radio deejay, Iowa's Larry Heaberlin was a fixture on the regional country scene throughout the 1960s and '70s, hosting a TV show called the "Star Light Jubilee," on WOI, and later organized his own "opry" style variety show. Starting in 1965, Heaberlin took pilgrimages to Nashville to make a few singles, first on an imprint of the Nugget label, and then cutting string of discs on K-Ark Records, a custom label with Midwestern roots that was then located in Nashville. This album collects twelve tracks previously released as singles between 1966-69, the whole of Heaberlin's output on the K-Ark. He also released at least one other LP (listed below) and a few more indie label singles, as late as 1980-81.
Larry Heaberlin/Various Artists "Larry Haeberlin Presents His World Of Country Music" (Ven-Jence Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Kevin Head)
Some time around 1972, Larry Heaberlin started up his own country road show, "Hoedown USA," which had a regular berth at a place called Cutty's Barn, located on I-80 just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Haeberlin's 13-year old daughter Kimberly Lynn was one of the featured performers, though the entire ensemble was pretty strong. Heaberlin played bass and sang, backed by local talent including Harold Luick (piano), John Mandal (guitar), Bill Ober (mandolin), Floyd Robinson (drums), a gal nicknamed Betty Sioux on vocals. There's also some kickass, rock-friendly lead guitar by Doug Gray, a Kansas transplant and the only non-Iowan in the bunch (although I'm pretty sure he wasn't the same Doug Gray that was in the Marshall Tucker Band...) The repertoire includes plenty of chestnuts, including twanged-up pop standards and showtunes, as well as contemporary radio hits, notably covers of "Delta Dawn" (a hit for Tanya Tucker in 1972) and a bizarrely amped-up, manic rendition of "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues." To be honest, other than Heaberlin most of these folks sound pretty rinky-dink -- particularly embarrassing were the comedic country music imitations done by bassist Tom Reeves, who sounds nothing like Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, or any of the other old-timers he lampoons. Not entirely sure when this album came out, though the liner notes say that "Hoedown USA" had started up a year earlier, and it was still going in 1980, when Heaberlin put out a single under the Hoedown imprint.
Kevin Head "No Frills" (Shellout Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Kevin Head)
Larry Heagle "Time And Space" (Dog Records, 1983) (LP)
America's Dairyland isn't my first go-to locale when I'm thinkin' "outlaw country," but Eau Claire auteur Larry Heagle makes a persuasive case for the redneckiness of the cheeseheads in his anti-Texas anthem, "Wisconsin Country Song," one of several novelty twangtunes on this infamous album. Heagle is also known for novelty gems (not on this album) such as 1979's "The Vasectomy Song" and "The Wood Tick Song" ("...you check me, and I'll check you...) Yee-haw, eh?
Jimmy Heap "At His Best" (Crazy Cajun Records, 1978) (LP)
At some point, Texas honkytonker Jimmy Heap (1922-1977) seems to have fallen on hard times, at least as far as his music career goes... Heap was a leading figure in the Lone Star State's post-WWII country scene, leading his band the Melody Makers from the late 1940s into the 'Fifties and 'Sixties, pushing himself towards the uptempo hillbilly styles that bordered on rockabilly. Heap and his band were still playing in the 1970s, although earlier on he'd kind of bottomed out as a recording artist -- browsing the comedy bins you may find a few scratched-up old copies of the "blue" comedy albums he recorded with Ken Idaho, reflecting the kind of material they performed in Nevada lounges and nightclubs. This album, recorded for Huey P. Meaux's independent label, was a throwback to the good old days, a set of real-deal old country stuff, including versions of "I'll Sail My Ship Alone," "No Letter Today," "Time Changes Everything" and "The Wild Side Of Life," a song he popularized a year or so before Hank Thompson made it a hit in '52. Sadly, Jimmy Heap died in a boating accident not long after recording this album, which was released posthumously, serving as a fine tribute to a hard-country pioneer.
Norm Heard "Love And Teardrops" (Penny Records, 1970) (LP)
12-string balladeer Norm Heard was originally from Texas, but in the late '60s and early '70s he played clubs and hotel lounges in Arizona. As far as I know, this was his only album.
Bill Hearne & Bonnie Hearne "Smilin' " (B. F. Deal Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Brogden & Mike White)
Longtime stalwarts of the Kerrville Folk Festival, Bill and Bonnie Hearne were originally from Texas, and lean heavily on local Lone Star talents such as Dee Moeller and Shake Russell, as well as Michael Martin Murphey, recording no few than three of his songs on this album. The title track was written by Bonnie Hearne, but otherwise, these are other people's songs... Backing the Hearnes are folks such as guitarist Larry Nye, bassist Dave Magill and pedal steel player Charlie Holman, as well as album producer/label owner Mike Williams, who adds some harmonies on a tune or two. Later, around 1979, the Hearnes moved to New Mexico, with several other Texas indie types migrating with them...
Bill Hearne & Bonnie Hearne "New Mexico Rain" (Alpine Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by David Magill, Michael Hearne, Bill Hearne & Bonnie Hearne)
The Heartland Band "Bridging The Gap" (Grand Slam Records, 1985) (LP)
This contemporary country band from Virginia was led by singer Barry E. Templeton (d. 2015) and guitarist Barry McLawhorne. The group is notable for its original material, including several tracks credited to the band, and two more, "Call Me" and "New Love," written by McLawhorne. They played a seven-year stint at a Virginia Beach venue called the County Line, though alas not much other info is available.
Hearts And Flowers "Now Is The Time For Hearts And Flowers" (Capitol Records, 1967) (LP)
(Produced by Nick Venet)
One of the pioneering bands from LA's nascent country-rock scene, Hearts & Flowers was led by songwriter Larry Murray, who wrote much of their material and later recorded as a solo artist. The core of the band included Larry Murray and singer-guitarists Rick Cunha and Dave Dawson, who all met while playing at the fabled Troubador nightclub. They were signed to Capitol Records in 1966 after gaining buzz on the folk-rock club scene, and cut two albums before the inevitable "artistic differences" tore the band apart. Their debut album had a folkier tone, and notably features a couple of songs written by Marty Cooper and one by Roger Tillison, in addition to originals penned by Cunha and Murray. Though still anchored in the baroque folk-pop stylings of the time, there's an exuberance at play here, an underlying awareness that what they were doing was kind of innovative and unique. The eclectic mix of styles owes a debt to producer Nick Venet, who also worked with the better-known Stone Poneys, and there's probable overlap between the studio players (reportedly, the Stone Poneys' Linda Ronstadt sings backup on part of this album...) Anyway, if you like hippie-era freak folk, and are also looking into the roots of the early '70s country rock scene, this is definitely worth checking out.
Hearts And Flowers "Of Horses, Kids, And Forgotten Women" (Capitol Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Nick Venet)
On their second album Hearts & Flowers took a turn towards a slightly more hard-edged, more country sound, although they were still pretty, well, flowery sounding overall. Between albums, Rick Cunha left the band and was replaced by songwriter/guitarist Bernie Leadon, who had been in an early-'Sixties SoCal bluegrass group called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers with Larry Murray (as well as future Byrd Chris Hillman). Leadon and Murray co-wrote a slew of material for this disc, though there are also several intriguing cover songs, notably the quirky, catchy "She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune," which was recorded by the Dillards, during their breakthrough psychedelic phase. After Hearts & Flowers disbanded, the Dillards also absorbed Bernie Leadon for a while; he also played in the ever-amorphous Flying Burrito Brothers before helping form the band that really put LA's country-rock scene on the maps, The Eagles. Both Hearts & Flowers albums are pretty groovy, though this one is more distanced from the Joan Baez-y folk scene, and has a little more grit. Nice stuff!
Hearts And Flowers "The Complete Hearts And Flowers" (Collector's Choice, 2002)
This generously programmed 2-CD set gathers both the original Hearts And Flowers albums, along with some odds and ends, thirty-five songs total that are the sum of their in-studio career. Although they never quite clicked commercially, this group's music was rather visionary, perhaps what Gram Parsons might have sounded like had he been a bit more playful. This collection is a great time capsule, though, capturing one of Southern California's more idiosyncratic bands of the late 'Sixties era.
Heartsfield "Heartsfield" (Mercury-Polygram, 1973)
(Produced by David Rubinson)
On their debut, this eclectic, longhaired Midwestern band mixed soft-twang and Southern rock, and even a bit of thumpy folk-rock in there as well that sounded for all the world like England's fabled Fairport Convention (on tracks such as "Drummer Boy") and eventually became known as an early '70s jam-band. Pedal steel player Phil Lucafo brought a more deliberate country sound to songs such as "Nashville" (which he wrote) though an airier country-rock sound predominates, with vocal harmonies and a tilt towards treble that places these guys firmly in the same camp as commercially-oriented bands such as Poco, Pure Prairie League and the Eagles, albeit with a more aggressive, Allman Brothers-y sound on several songs that may have made marketing them a little difficult. The highlight of this album is probably "Needing Her," though the rockin' "Honest Junkie" probably got a few heads banging at their concerts, back in the day. Worth a spin, but very, very 'Seventies.
Heartsfield "The Wonder Of It All" (Mercury Records, 1974)
(Produced by Tom Geving & Heartsfield)
Nice one. A relaxed, pastoral album, with plenty of flowery guitar work, sweet vocal harmonies and spacey romanticism, with everything on the album's first side melded together into a smooth, slick, multi-layered country-rock production style. There are strong nods towards the Byrds and similarities to contemporary bands like Poco, Pure Prairie League, et. al., although there doesn't seem to have been a strong effort to craft a big radio hit other than the anthemic, CSNY-ish "Shine On," might have had a shot. They dip more overtly into country twang on Side Two, and for my money, the fun really begins when they bust out the pedal steel and get more gosh-heck, singalong about it all, as on "Eight Hours Time" and "I've Just Fallen" and "Lafayette County," while on "Racin' For The Sun" they bust almost unexpectedly into a Southern rock-flavored solo-swapping interlude that probably gives a good idea of what their in-concert jam-band sound was like. I guess I'd have to rank this one as a guilty pleasure, maybe not an A-list guilty pleasure, but still pretty easy on the ears... Certainly, for fans of '70s-era soft-rock, this album's a doozy.
Heartsfield "Foolish Pleasures" (Mercury Records, 1975)
Heartsfield "Collector's Item" (Columbia Records, 1977)
(Produced by David Rubinson, Jeffrey Cohen & Fred Catero)
Although this album shows them having near-perfected a soft-pop/country-rock sound similar to Eagles, Little River Band and Michael Martin Murphey, there's also an unfortunate tilts towards more direct rock and pop, producing actively irritating sonic disasters such as the disco-ish "Another Night Alone," the faux-epic "Lost Love" (which feels a little like late-'70s CSN, particularly in the harmonies) and the would-be AOR anthem, "Let The Music Play." I think Heartsfield had a pretty good run up until this point, but things were starting to go a little Spinal Tap on them, and twangfans are best advised to pick out the more country-sounding songs (which are okay) and leave the rest of it alone. "Southern Girl" and "With These Tools" are country-oriented highlights.
Heartwood "Heartwood" (General Recording Corporation, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Lew Childre & Mike Collins)
A groovy, sometimes galloping mix of boogie rock and uptempo hippie twang, ala New Riders Of The Purple Sage, from a rootsy, rockin' band out of Greenville, North Carolina. Lead singer Tim Hildebrandt was the band's primary songwriter, giving his songs lofty titles like "Walter Mitty" and "Wants And Needs," while drifting into cosmic-spacey territory on a tune or two, notably on the Byrds-y "Show And Tell," which features some nice harmony vocals. (Drummer Robert Hudson contributes one song, the twangy "Coal Black Highway" -- otherwise, it's all Hildebrandt material...) Paul Hornsby's influence comes out on "Mr. Simpson," which sports classic Allman-esque Southern-rock twin guitars... This album takes a couple of listens to really get into, but it holds up pretty well.
Heartwood "Nothin' Fancy" (GRC Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Hornsby)
What promise they showed on their eclectic debut, Heartwood pretty much blows on this smoothly-produced but aesthetically uneven mix of country, white funk and '70s-style soft-pop... The pedal steel that slinks throughout the album is pretty sweet, but a lot of these tracks are pretty goddawful cheesy. Like, really embarrassingly bad 'Seventies stuff, in a Seals & Crofts-meets-Mac Davis kinda way. At their best, they sound a little bit Eagles-y, and I don't mean that as praise. The better stuff comes from Tim Hildebrandt, who still wrote a few country-flavored tracks, but mostly this album seems like a misfire, aiming for slick pop hits which just weren't going to materialize. Nice pedal steel work on "Sound Advice," even though the song itself is another dud... This one's pretty skippable, though if you're super-devoted to soft Southern rock and '70s country-rock, I guess it's worth checking into. I tried it out, but didn't think it was a keeper.
Tusco Heath "Cross Roads" (Rimrock Records, 19--?) (LP)
Outsider-y folk ramblings by songwriter Tusco Heath, a Montana mountain man who at the time was living in Petoskey, Michigan, where he taught history and literature at a local community college. Heath was originally from Bozeman, and was an outdoorsy kinda guy whose life took a big turn at age eighteen in 1946 when he lost a leg in an automobile accident while stationed as a US Army private in Germany. Health considered the tragedy a blessing in disguise, causing him to head back the States and enroll in college then to eventually become an academic. Heath taught English and History at colleges and universities in Montana and Indiana before landing a permanent position at North Central Michigan College, where he worked for twenty years before retiring in 1990. Among his many interests was singing and folklore, inspiring him to record four albums that have a rather odd feel -- in one sense they are very staid and almost fusty, packed with traditional ballads of the "Barbara Allen" folk-revival variety. His vocals are booming and stentorian, not unlike Burl Ives or Tennessee Ernie Ford, although with amateurish rough edges that make them distinctive enough, perhaps, to attract modern listeners. Mr. Heath also composed much of his own material, often writing with his wife, Mary K. Heath, a collaboration heard on several tracks on this album. He also covers Gordon Lightfoot, on the title track, while his background in literature is also evident in adaptations of works by Edna St. Vincent Millay ("Ballad Of The Harp Weaver") and Stephen Vincent Benet ("Ballad Of William Sycamore.") Not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but Heath did have a large presence and these tracks have an oddly compelling feel.
Tusco Heath "My Kind Of People" (Rimrock Records, 1970) (LP)
Recorded as professor Heath was leaving Dawson College, headed for a new position at Ball State University in Muncie. A news item from The Billings Gazette in January, 1970 mentions that Heath had recently recorded this album, and that it was his second record, although honestly it's kinda hard to sort out which of his records came out when. I guess he was teaching at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana around this time.
Tusco Heath "This Is Loneliness" (Rimrock Records, 1969) (LP)
Probably Heath's most overtly country album, this includes folk songs written by Jesse Ashlock, Ric Masten, Buffy St. Marie, Tom Paxton, Ian Tyson, as well as more overtly country stuff by Waylon Jennings and Sheb Wooley. Tusco Heath plays 12-string guitar and dobro, with backing by Lucky Deppe on bass, Zyndall Raney (organ and electric guitar), and Ron Wight playing drums. The disc was reviewed in the Ball State University student paper on April 23, 1969, so it's another one we can pin down a bit, despite the sparse liner notes.
Tusco Heath "Songs Of Love And Bloodshed" (Old Homestead Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Gig Stewart)
Although it sounds like this could be a swell set of good, old Appalachian murder ballads, but all the songs are apparently Tusco Heath originals. He sings and strums the 12-string, with additional guitar picking by Dale Reiger. Added bonus: this one's logged in the Library Of Congress as having come out in August, 1973, so this helps bookend Heath's recording career...
Walt Heath "...And The Pinetones" (Soundcraft, 1964) (LP)
Some real-deal hillbilly stuff from a band that featured Walt Heath on vocals, Lucky Shore on steel, Chuck Young (lead guitar) and Eddy Fisher on bass... I think they were from Mobile, Alabama, though info is pretty spotty and hard to find...
Walt Heath & The Pinetones "Entertain Country Style" (Soundcraft, 19--?) (LP)
This was the same band... possibly the same record as well?
Joe Heathcock "...Sings Western Swing" (Artco Records, 1973) (LP)
Actor Joe Heathcock (1914-1980) was apparently pals with country legend Roy Acuff, and when Acuff turned down the role of the sheriff in the 1971 film, The Last Picture Show, Heathcock got cast instead... Capitalizing on that success, Heathcock recorded this album, billing himself as "the singing sheriff" and rolled through a set of honkytonk and western swing standards. He had a great band backing him, and although (to be honest) Heathcock didn't have a dazzling voice, this is a pretty solid set of country tunes. He also released at least one single on the L. O. Cowpokes label, though I'm not sure if that was before or after this album came out. Anyway, fans of the western swing revival might want to check this one out... the pedal steel was particularly good!
The Heckels "Almost Heaven... West Virginia" (B & W Records, 1972-?)
(Produced by W. N. Snedgar & Jim Sutton)
The Heckels were a family band from West Virginia led by mandolin player William Isaac ("Pee Wee") Heckel (1932-2006),and his son, J. Thomas ("J-Bird") Heckel on bass. The group also included daughters Beverly and Susan, although they don't seem to have been on this recording. Here they're doing stringband versions of mega-oldies such as "Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy" and "Wooden Indian," along with covers of newer tunes like "Folsom Prison Blues," Merle Haggard's "The Fugitive," and of course, John Denver's "Country Roads." Pee Wee Heckel and his son are backed here by several guys including Bill Currance on mandolin and Harold Fogle playing steel.
Jerry Hegarty "Help Me Momma" (ASI Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Hegarty & Dan R. Holmes)
Singer-bassist Jerry Hegarty hailed from Minneapolis, fronting a mostly-covers band, singing lesser-known songs by Doug Kershaw, Red Lane, Willie Nelson, Jimmie Rodgers, Jerry Jeff Walker and others. There's only song credited to Hegarty, "You Look So Much A Woman," with another song credited to lead guitarist Neil Gelvin, the title track, "Help Me Mama." No steel guitar or fiddle, but we'll forgive them, just this once.
Levon Helm -- see artist profile
Bobby Helms -- see artist profile
The Hemphills/Joel & Labreeska -- see artist profile
Brice Henderson "Brice Henderson" (Union Station Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Scott Tutt)
Top Forty-oriented stuff from a guy who found some success as a Nashville songwriter, notably for a gospel song that Kenny (Sauron) Rogers recorded many years later. Although this debut album was secular, Henderson later specialized in Contemporary Christian/country gospel music, recording several albums in that style.
Kelvin Henderson "Slow Movin Outlaw" (Windmill Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Smith)
In the album title, English country-folk singer Kelvin Henderson claims allegiance to the outlaw movement, but he concentrates his fire on more sedate, countrypolitan hits of the day, early '70s stuff like "Games People Play," "Jeannie's Afraid Of The Dark" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night."
Rick Henderson & The Country Expectations "On The Right Track" (Rome Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Henderson & Jack Casey)
Tim Henderson "Waiting For The Naked Girl To Call" (B. F. Deal Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Williams)
James Hendricks "Songs Of James Hendricks" (Liberty/Soul City, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Rivers)
An odd record with a complicated back-story. Born in Nebraska, songwriter James Hendricks was at the heart of the East Coast folkie/jug band scene, but he was a sort of perpetual also-ran, despite working with several big stars. In 1963 he married singer Cass Elliot, working with her and Tim Rose in a short-lived folk trio called the Big Three, which morphed into a jug band formed with John Sebastian and other musicians who went on to huge fame. Sebastian and guitarist Zal Yanovsky formed the Lovin' Spoonful, while Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot gravitated towards the equally successful Mamas & Papas. Hendricks never hit the bigtime himself, although he did write a Top 20 hit for Johnny Rivers, and later found success as a Contemporary Christian songwriter. Rivers apparently took Hendricks under his wing to produce this semi-psychedelic, idiosyncratic folk-country-pop album. The studio crew includes a lot of hot session players, such as Pete Drake, Jerry Reed and a little bit of dobro playing by James Burton, who at the time was anchoring Elvis Presley's band. It's not a terribly distinctive record, but it's pleasant to listen to, and it's very much of its time. Worth checking out.
James Hendricks "James Hendricks" (MGM Records, 1971)
(Produced by James Hendricks)
It took me a little while to warm to this record... Here, Hendricks is much more clearly in a country mode (though also still rather folkie-sounding), wearing a cowboy hat on the cover and adding Buddy Emmons steel guitar into a mix that again includes guitarist James Burton, along with his TCB bandmates Jerry Scheff and Ronnie Tutt, the core of the Elvis Presley band, who give this record an air of cool, solid confidence. What takes a while to get used to is the thinness of Hendricks' voice, which doesn't seem to match the material, but after you ride with it a while, he'll win you over. A couple of the more languid, relaxed tracks have soft string arrangements which, for all the world, make this sound a little like a "country Nick Drake" album. This get interesting on Side Two, where he delivers some more uptempo, almost twangy material, covers a Hank Williams oldie, and closes out with nice version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel No. 10." An album highlight is a heartfelt performance of the classic gospel hymn "Softly And Tenderly," which presaged his later move into Contemporary Christian songwriting. Hendricks released a lone country single a few years later, but this was about it for his career as a recording artist. A nice, subtle record -- doesn't reach right out and grab you, but it's a solid set.
Audie Henry & Gord Henry "By Request" (Broadland Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Buck)
Well, Ms. Henry certainly has a colorful and surprisingly cosmopolitan life story for a country singer... Originally named Aria Lanka, she was born in Brazil, the daughter of Latvian refugees who fled to South America at the start of World War Two, but soon moved to Canada when she was still a baby. As a young woman, she started singing in clubs around Ontario, and formed a duo with singer Gord Henry, who she eventually married. They recorded this album as well as a few singles, with some modest success on the Canadian country charts. The Henrys eventually moved to Bedford, Texas, with Audie Henry recording a couple of albums with Lone Star producer Bart Barton, although most of her promotional push (and chart action) was up in Canada.
Audie Henry "Audie Henry" (Canyon Creek Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Bart Barton)
After a ten-year hiatus, Ms. Henry returned to the studio and made a stab at some would-be Top 40 material, with relatively glossy production... This includes the song, "You'll Never Find A Good Man Playing In A Country Band" -- apparently she had some success on the Canadian charts with this album and the one that followed, though on later recordings she pitched herself as a Texas artist...
Audie Henry "Heart Of The Country" (RCA-Canada, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Bart Barton)
Hank Henry "Rainy Nights" (Tall Dog Records, 1984)
(Produced by Simon Shrimpton-Smith & H. Hank Henry)
Well-meaning but ultimately underwhelming honky-tonk retro from Belgian country singer going by the name of H. Hank Henry. All the songs are Henry originals, with a couple co-written by others, including a tinkly ballad sung with Jeanne Henry, a vaguely Emmylou-esque singer who I assume is his wife(?)... He gets the American rural accent mostly right (reminds me of Terry Allen at times) but the band's a little sluggish and they never get loose enough to really draw you in. Technically accomplished, but the gritty feel and hillbilly swagger isn't really there. Worth checking out if you're into Euro-twang, but don't get your hopes too high.
Len Henry "Don't Give A Damn Kind Of Man" (Downs Record Company, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Clements)
Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, country crooner Len Henry started out in garage bands with his brother Henry; they held together for much of the 1970s before Len Henry "went solo" and found a patron to help produce these two albums. Henry projected an outlaw vibe, but had a soft spot for countrypolitan crooning, as seen in the inclusion of a couple of Marty Robbins chestnuts, "Lord, You Gave Me A Mountain" and "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife." I'm a little more intrigued by numbers such as "Beer Bottle Symphony," "Got A Feeling It's Over," and the title track "Don't Give A Damn Kind Of Man." But Henry seemed to be trying on a lot of different hats, seeing what might click.
Len Henry "Yesterday's Dreams" (Downs Record Company, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Craig Fotheringham)
Canadian country baritone Len Henry tries a little bit of everything to see what might stick... As on his previous LP, there's a lot of stuff that calls back to the early '70s crooning of dudes like Mac Davis and Freddie Hart, bracketed by more uptempo numbers where he slides into Waylon Jennings-esque vocals; in between are perky (but bland) contemporary country-pop songs... Some tunes are okay, others are a bit painful, especially the mega-schmaltzy "Cold Wind On The Mountain," and the bluesy, Jerry Reed-ish "Poor Man's Railroad Line," which just feels false. The in-betweenish stuff might be his sweet spot: you could credibly compare Mr. Henry to Ed Bruce or Vern Gosdin, though he definitely lacks the true gravitas of those ballad kings.
Henry, Thomas & Arnold "Friendly Tunes By..." (Mark Custom Records, 1970-?)
An unassuming set of old-timey tunes, polkas and waltzes by three guys from North Dakota. The driving force of this trio was middle-aged Bismarckian singer-guitarist Arnold S. Christianson, who was joined by Mandan, ND's Henry Bertrams ("the mandolin playing shoemaker") and a younger feller, Thomas Johnson, from the Northern outpost of Rolette, ND. There are some sentimental songs on here, though mostly this is an instrumental showcase, less of a hillbilly record than an example of ultra-DIY recordmaking in the rural high plains. One thing definitely worth noting, though, is Johnson's use of a Norwegian hardanger violin, an instrument that found revived popularity in the 21st Century, but was pretty darn obscure back when this record was made... Well, unless you were playing square dances up in Bismarck, that is!
Gene Henslee "The Boy From Turkey Texas (As I Remember Him)" (Billiefran Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Abbott)
A western swing tribute to Bob Wills from fellow fiddler Gene Henslee, an Oklahoma native who began his recording career in the early 1950s and had moved to Texas long before cutting this disc. The album includes several original songs, including "The Boy From Turkey Texas," "Nobody's Done It Like Bob" and "I Cut My Teeth On Good Old Western Swing," all written by Henslee, as well as covers of several Wills-related classics. Producer Jerry Abbott sits in on piano, along with Bobby Boltright and Tommy Camfield on fiddle, Gerry Hall playing steel, and a couple of Henslees in the band for good measure. This outlaw-era album has the added benefit of references in the lyrics to young'uns like Waylon and Willie, Asleep At The Wheel, and other contemporary Texas stars.
Violet Hensley "Old Time Fiddle Tunes" (A & R Record Manufacturing, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Ketchum)
Nicknamed "Yellville's whittlin' fiddler," Violet Brumley Hensley was an Arkansas native who became nationally known in the early 1970s as an ambassador of Ozark musical culture, and as a celebrity fiddle maker. She started playing the violin when she was twelve, and started making them when she was fifteen. Over the years she handcrafted several dozen, and fixed countless others at her studio in Yellville, with perhaps her most famous client being former Senate majority leader Robert Byrd, who was a fine old-timey musician himself. Hensley worked with Ozark folklorist and country star Jimmie Driftwood, and made numerous television appearances, on The Beverly Hillbillies and the Regis and Kathy Lee show, to name a couple. This album was recorded with various family members backing her on banjo, guitar and jawbone in a pretty standard traditional repertoire, and seems to have gone through a few different pressings on various labels.
Violet Hensley "Old Time Hoedowns" (1976-?) (LP)
Violet Hensley "The Whittling Fiddler And Family" (1983) (LP)
Mike Henson "2 Woman Man" (Wednesday's Child Productions, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jackie Mills)
An interesting, commercially-leaning but way off-the-radar indie album from the son of West Coast hillbilly singer Cousin Herb Henson, a television host and radio personality who helped promote many of the key players in the fabled "Bakersfield Sound" scene. This album was recorded over a decade after Herb Henson passed away, and it has to be admitted that Mike's voice wasn't the greatest, although mostly he does fine, aided in part by a studio crew that included hotshot guitarist James Burton (again along with fellow TCB-ers Jerry Scheff and Ronnie Tutt...) as well as David Lindley, playing both fiddle and lap steel. The real story here seems to be with the songs: the album opens with the Waylon-esque "Swamp Water Woman," and includes one track apiece from Billy Mize and Alexander Harvey. But what's most notable are a couple of songs written by Lyle Sweeden (never heard of him) and several by the duo of Gene and Paul Nelson, who became successful Nashville songwriters over a decade later, in the late '80s. Gene Nelson also sings backup on the record, and it's conceivable that this record was financed as kind of a glorified songwriter's demo -- it certainly seems to have been put together pretty hastily, as seen in the liner notes which amazingly manage to misspell the names of country stars Lefty Frizzell, David Houston and Jody Miller... And I'm fairly sure that the "Kathi Sagol" listed as a backup singer was actually Katey Sagal, who later became the star of "Married With Children" and "Sons Of Anarchy." Go figure.
Monty Henson "Hawkeye" (Arrowhead Productions, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Harper & T. A. Hixson)
Since Henson was also on the "World's Champion Cowboy Band" compilation album, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that he was also a rodeo rider... A mix of cowboy songs and western swing oldies, this disc was recorded in San Antonio, Texas with a group called The Rebel Ridge Band, with Gig Wharton on pedal steel.
John Herald - see artist discography
Curly Herdman & The West Virginia Boys "Old-Time Fiddle Tunes" (Arcade Records, 19--?) (LP)
Curly Herdman "Fiddler: Ohio State's Best" (Kanawha Records, 1967) (LP)
Old-time fiddler Curly Herdman was born near Ripley, West Virginia, way back in 1918... He came from a rural family packed with fiddlers, and quickly mastered the instrument as a child... While still in his teens he started playing professionally, getting gigs on WSM, the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and other regional radio shows, while working a day job with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Herdman worked with the Bar-X Cowboys and the Georgia Crackers, and won numerous fiddling contests over the years. He eventually settled down in Ohio, and cut this album of old-timey standards with his brother Troy Herdman on guitar, along with brothers Bob Tanner on mandolin and Joe Tanner on banjo. Although the album includes many standards such as "Old Joe Clark" and "Turkey In The Straw," there are also several tunes credited to Herdman, including "Meig's County Reel" and "Rocus's Reel." Just before recording this album Herdman won a stunning victory in the Ohio State fiddling championship, beating the legendary Clark Kessinger, who was one of his idols. Sadly, he passed away the following year, in 1968, having recorded just two albums as well as a number of 78s and 7" singles over the years.
Bill Hersh & Blue Train "Take The Time" (Uptown Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Gerry Dere & Wayne Saunders)
Marv Herzog "Country" (Sound Incorporated, 1978) (LP)
This one's a little far afield for most twangfans... It's a (sort of) country album by polka bandleader Marv Herzog, who had about a dozen albums under his belt by the time he recorded this one, mostly lauding German-American culture and the joys of Oktoberfest. To be honest, most of the songs on here are still just plain old polka tunes, with Herzog chugging along on both accordion and cordovox, backed by a compact trio of guitar, bass and drums. On the country side, he performs instrumental versions of "San Antonio Rose" and the Kenny (Sauron) Rogers 1977 hit, "Lucille." There's also a curious vocal version of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," which is probably the album's highlight, at least from a twangfan's perspective. Side note: this album appears to be from the late '70s, though Herzog kept playing for years and years, and was still working professionally in 1991, when he opened his own Bavarian-themed hotel in his hometown of Frankenmuth, Michigan, a tourist town near Saginaw that caters to Germanophiles and polka lovers alike.
Jerry Herzon "...Sings Whipporwill" (Merit Records, 1966) (LP)
A middle-aged fella originally from Illinois, who had moved to Southern California, Jerry Herzon recorded this album in his home studio in Covina, California. All but two of the songs are Herzon originals, with covers of "Pearly Shells" and "Beyond The Reef" sandwiched in with his own, country-flavored tunes. Apparently this is just Mr. Herzon playing solo, but with overdubbing on some tracks to achieve a bigger sound.
Chuck Hess & His Chuck-Riders "Country And Western Favorites" (Strand Records, 1963) (LP)
Huh. A "country" song called "Baby Elephant Dance"? Although this is ostensibly a country album, Pennsylvania-born hotshot guitar picker Chuck Hess had a serious rock pedigree -- he was a charter member of the Vegas-based rockabilly lounge act The Jodimars, which was founded by some dudes who left Bill Haley's band in the 1955... The Jodimars broke up in '58, but a few years later Hess was picking up a paycheck from the New York-based cheapo label Strand Records. Whether any of the other Jodimar crew were on this disc is anyone's guess (probably not) since Strand albums almost never included significant discographical information. But while some tracks sported a twang-adjacent theme, others, like "Jet Flight," "Tropicana" and "Pony Boy Rock" are a tip of the old Stetson towards Hess' rock'n'roll bonafides. He worked in television for a while and also cut a few singles, including some straight country stuff, as heard on a single cut for Starday Records in the early '70s. I'm not sure about the contours of his career, but he was still doing gigs right up until the end: apparently Hess died while driving home from a show in Leesburg, Florida in 1999, at age 67.
Dave Hess & Nick Platt "The Country Team" (Crown Records-Hong Kong, 1968) (LP)
This one's farther into the whole bluegrass-folkie thing than I'm really looking for here, but the story was too good to pass up. Banjo picker Dave Hess and guitarist Nick Platt were diplomats serving as Foreign Service officers in Hong Kong when they decided to form a folk duo to pass the time. Their repertoire was pretty cool: a mix of Appalachian standards -- murder ballads and whatnot -- country oldies like "Satisfied Mind," some Dylan, and perhaps most interestingly, a couple of Chinese folk tunes, "Yao Yuan Ti Tifang (The Girl With The Scarlet Whip)" and "Ma Che Fu Chih Lien (The Teamster's Love)" as well as one original written by Hess, called "Chilly Spring Evenings." I guess the moral of the story is that, yes, you actually can get a banjo into Hong Kong...provided that you have a diplomatic pouch to carry it in!
Ron Hester "Caprock Country Music" (Caprock Records, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Lloyd Maines & Don Caldwell)
A West Texas local from Silverton who played in '60s frat-rock bands as a kid, Ron Hester went to nearby Lubbock to record this album at Lloyd Maines' Caldwell Studios. Backing him are members of the Maines Brothers band -- Donnie Maines on drums, Kenny Maines playing bass, Lloyd Maines on all kinds of stringed instruments, along with Monte Williams on piano and Richard Bowden on fiddle, and a few other dudes. Hester apparently led a band called Caprock Country, and this album seems packed with originals songs (and a few covers) including tunes like "Why Didn't I Say I Love You," "Two Dollars In The Jukebox," and "Country Music Losing Songs." Judging from the matrix number (#82880) it looks like this was recorded in the summer of 1980, and released either that year or maybe early in '81.
H.E.W. "H.E.W." (Jam Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerrel Elliot)
Three guys from Houston, Texas -- Pat Hamilton, Jerrel Elliot, Clark Walter -- doing sort of a folkie, singer-songwriter thing, with some country touches. Elliott and Walter were later in the better-known trio of Elliott, Walter & Bennett, which had several albums in the late '70s, also on the Jam Records label.
The Hi-Notes "The Hi-Notes" (Guide Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Doggett)
A party band from La Grange, Texas, playing some country stuff and a few pop/frat rock covers as well... And of course, there are the inevitable '70s versions of "Proud Mary" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night." Now, to be honest, this was not a top-flight band, but they sure were earnest, and the performances are heartfelt, with the pickers and singers all performing at the edge of their capabilities. The lead singer -- possibly Weldon Von Minden? -- is particularly limited in his range and dynamics, with an old-man tone and sluggish delivery. But he feels it, and he's into it. Meanwhile the guitarists are most relaxed on the rock'n'roll oldies, tunes like "Pipeline" and "Wooley Bully," while on the more sincere country heartsongs, they seem to be champing at the bit and tend to noodle around under the vocals and get a little note-happy. Yeah, sure, there's a definite so-bad-it's-good quality to this album, but I prefer to latch on to the "good" part of that equation: it's a real record made by real people, and their sincerity oozes out from every track... Plus, there are moments when the lead vocals have sort of a Doug Sahm-type quality to them: Sahm "sang down" to sound like jes' plain folks, but the Hi-Notes were what he was aiming for. I'm not sure, but I think there might be one original song on here, "I'd Rather Be Gone," a heartwrenching breakup song sung by a guy who just doesn't want to be a dead weight in his partner's life anymore -- technically, it's a clumsy performance, but emotionally, it's a home run. Or at least a base hit. Once again, let's hear it for the little guys!
Cecil Hiatt "Cecil Hiatt" (Double Stop Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Byron Berline)
Oklahoma old-timer Cecil Hiatt (1912-1994) was a modestly endowed vocalist and a real wizard on the low-tech percussion instruments known as "bones," short sticks made of either bone or wood that are clattered together at lightning speed to add a bright rhythmic pizazz to acoustic stringband music and blues. Haitt plays the bones and sings on this low-key set of sentimental oldies, gospel and novelty tunes and lilting instrumentals. He's joined by a bluegrass band including Dan Crary on guitar, John Hickman and Tom Sauber on banjo, Carol Yearwood on bass and Byron Berline playing fiddle and mandolin. This album was a labor of love for Berline, whose father, Lue Berline, played with Hiatt in a Depression-era stringband called the South Haven Ramblers, which did shows along the Kansas-Oklahoma border, including several shows at the fabled 101 Ranch in Ponca, Oklahoma. This album is one of those sweet, relaxed outings with younger musicians paying homage to old pros who never really got their due (in Hiatt's case, he had never made a record before, despite decades playing on the regional dance circuit). The accompaniment is sympathetic and restrained while also sleek and virtuosic, and the material is pretty classic. Several songs are prefaced by spoken introductions in which Hiatt explains his instrument and its history, as well as his philosophy of musical collaboration... Standout tracks include an instrumental called "Jaw-Bone Breakdown," which features Okie singer-songwriter Bill Caswell playing the jaw-harp, and the topically-themed "What Are Ya Squakin' About," in which Hiatt lambastes naysayers and negative thinkers who think they know what hard times are like, comparing their complaints to the rough lives of rural farmers -- the song also has a couple of verses making fun of feminists, wryly pointing out how all their new-fangled equality and whatnot comes at the expense of gentlemanly courtesies such as having doors held open and hats tipped on the sidewalk. That'll learn ya! All in all, a really nice, down-to-earth album, with a very authentic rural feel.
John Hiatt - see artist discography
Rex Hickock & His Rangers "Western TV Favorites" (United Artists, 1967) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Eakin)
Dan Hicks -- see artist profile
Hickory "Wahoo!" (Country Kitchen Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Eakin, Paul Mullins & Hickory)
A longhaired bar band from Houston, Texas, this group featured lead vocals by Peter Breaz and his wife, Marcia, who also played keyboards. A strong debut in terms of the diverse, adventurous repertoire, although in all honesty I gotta say the vocals are a little hard to take at times. Both Marcia and Peter had their weak spots as singers, although they also emanate great energy and enthusiasm, so it's kind of a mixed bag. The musicianship is otherwise rock-solid, with some swell banjo picking and pedal steel throughout, punching up a song selection that incorporates a nice mix of covers and new material... Hule Wyrick's mellotron keyboard riffs on the opening track are a real surprise as well, though the bands hews to a more traditional sound on the rest of the record. A noteworthy album from the heyday of the Texas outlaw scene... definitely worth a spin!
Hickory "Whiskey Woman" (Country Kitchen, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jeff Wells & Paul Eakin)
On the western swing-oriented songs they are very much in the style of Asleep At The Wheel, though admittedly not as musically accomplished, or as well-produced. Their stylistic range is pretty broad, though, and on Side Two of the album they include are folksongs such as Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon," as well as bluegrass standards like "Ruby" and the outlaw-cosmic twang of "The Weight" by The Band. On this last song in particular, there's a weird tendency to ham things up, which may have been a reflection of their stage show at the time, but it doesn't hold up on record. The real sizzle here comes on Side One of the album, which showcases a half-dozen originals written by bandleader Peter Breaz... Marcia Breaz also sings lead on some songs, and Chris Breaz (who later left the band) is on pedal steel.
Hickory "Truck Stop Annie" (Country Kitchen, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Eakin)
Hickory "Alive And Kickin' " (Country Kitchen Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Eakin & Hickory)
On this concert album, Hickory are captured in their natural state. To be honest, this album's a little clunky -- poorly recorded, mostly, but also with some awkward musical passages. But I think this record probably paints an honest picture of what these guys were like, an earnest band, joyful in their musicmaking, but unevenly talented. Pickers Peter Breaz (bass and banjo) and John Haas (dobro and pedal steel) were the band's anchors, with vocalist Marcia Breaz being perhaps their weakest link, with her bluesy leads reflecting the Texas roadhouse sound, reminiscent of gals such as Marcia Ball and Lou Ann Barton, but at a more amateurish level. This album is all cover tunes, rock, soul and country-rock classics such as "Desperado," "Glendale Train," "Pretty Woman," "Not Fade Away" and "When A Man Loves A Woman," as well as extended tracks at the end of each album side -- a cover of Pure Prairie League's "Amie" and a rock-oriented medley of old Buffalo Springfield hits. This ain't the greatest Texas outlaw album ever, but it's charming in its own way -- an authentic record of its time, and a nice echo of earlier bands like Greezy Wheels, or Frida and The Firedogs. Worth a spin, if you can track it down.
Hickory Hill "Coyote Night" (Hickory Hill, 1982) (LP)
Founded in 1979, Hickory Hill has proved to be one of the the Lone Star State's most enduring bluegrass bands... A longhair band hailing from Avinger, Texas, the group has held together for over thirty years, gaining national recognition over the years, with various changes of personnel and a repertoire that has mixed traditional and original material, as well as healthy doses of "outlaw" and "progressive" cover songs... This was their first album.
Hickory Hill "Special Historical Edition" (Hickory Hill, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Hickory Hill & Jim Phillips)
Hickory Hill "It's About Time" (Hickory Hill Records, 1985) (LP)
Hickory Hill "Reminiscin' " (1990)
Hickory Hill "The First Fifteen Years" (Turquoise Records, 1995)
Hickory Hill "Good Times Again" (1998)
Hickory Hill "Thank You Lord" (2000) (LP)
An all-gospel bluegrass set...
Hickory Hill "Freedom" (Nashville InCorrect, 2002)
Hickory Hill "Old School" (2006)
Hickory Wind "Hickory Wind" (Gigantic Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Herbert G. Hatt)
An utterly guileless, semi-legendary folk-rock band from Evansville, Indiana... It's mostly stoned-out cosmic folkie stuff, with some uptempo psych-rock and mild boogie blues, adorned with delightfully plain, somewhat conversational vocals. Very DIY. Notable for twangfans is Chuck Lawrence's song, "Country Boy," though really this has a lot to recommended it, even if it ain't country. Not to be confused with the later, mid-to-late- 'Seventies band, Hickory Wind (from Maryland, who wound up recording for Flying Fish and Adelphi) or the swing-string band of the same name (from New Jersey) this short-lived group included Allen Jones, Michael McGuyer, Sonny Prentice, Carl Rodenberg and Bobby Strehl, a lineup that soon morphed into a three-piece hard-rock band called B. F. Trike, which made at least one equally obscure album. This is flawed, but gloriously so, and generally rather cool.
Hickory Wind "Cow Jazz" (Village Records, 19--?) (LP)
Not to be confused with the hippie bluegrass band of the same name, this late '70s(?) trio from New Jersey was led by guitarist Frank Wright, who wrote most of the music on Side Two of the album, which was recorded in the studio, while Side One was recorded live at a club called the Top Of The Hill, in Sommerville, New Jersey. I guess their thing was playing country material in a jazzy style, so the live show featured them jamming on covers of songs like "Sugarfoot Rag," "Wabash Cannonball" and "I Washed My Hands In The Muddy Water" and, of course, yet another version of "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother." (Hmmmm... it's beginning to occur to me that maybe I should start a list of '70s bands who recorded that song...)
Jack Hickox "I've Got The Time" (Record Productions Of America, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Earl Richards & Lee Lodd)
The Hicks Family "Down Country Roads" (1970-?) (LP)
Looks like the dad, Olan Hicks, was a pedal steel player, and got all his kids interested in music as well, while handing the mic to his wife Barbara. Chuck, Clint and Jean Hicks round out the ensemble... Not sure where these folks were from since the album has even less info than usual for a custom-made record -- the back cover is blank, and the inner labels only have the band name and song titles. Chuck Hicks also recorded a single in 1971, "I Ain't Cryin,' Mister"/"The Happiest Way," which gives Dayton, Tennessee as the home of Olan Hicks Productions, so they may have been from around Chattanooga. (Sadly, neither of those songs are included on this album, which favors covers such as John Denver's "Country Roads" and Johnny Russell's "Making Plans.") Music was Mr. Hicks second occupation: he has been a prominent writer in the "Restoration Christianity" movement, and has written or co-written several religious tracts on a variety of topics. Although the album is undated, Olan Hicks wrote to say it was probably from 1970.
John Hicks & Revolution "Boston Cowboy" (Belmont Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Fournier & Dave Butler)
Any collection of off-the-radar country artists from Massachusetts will definitely have to include a tune or two from this album, with the title track, "Boston Cowboys," at the top of the list. More than half the songs on here were written by Hicks, a singer with a fairly thin, tremulous voice, though he was backed by a rock-solid band. Hicks was a client of Boston bandleader/show promoter John Penny, though he had a band of his own, and must have played live gigs around the region. Among the cover songs on here are tunes by Larry Gatlin, Gordon Lightfoot and Kenny "Sauron" Rogers, which gives you some sense of how Hicks might drift off into some lighter, more ballad-oriented countrypolitan material. I kinda dig their power-poppish instrumental version of "If You Could Read My Mind," which spotlights some sweet, weeping pedal steel by Donnie D'Eon. Overall, this one's worth a spin, especially if you're delving into East Coast country, or trying to track down some of the artists who were in John Penny's orbit.
J. D. Higgins "On My Way Up" (Nashtown Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Grammer)
Born in Sparta, North Carolina, singer John David Higgins Jr. was a regionally popular performer who had cut a few singles before recording this album under the guidance of Billy Grammer. Nothing charted, but Higgins found a pretty solid footing in the country business, including stints as a show promoter and radio host. In the 1990s he worked with Del Reeves on the locally-produced "Del Reeves Homecoming" show, and recorded a couple of CDs.
High Country -- see artist profile
High Country "Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow" (197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Robert White)
Not to be confused with the bluegrass band of the same name, these Michiganders were country devotees, covering '70s twangtunes such as "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "I'm Not Ready Yet," "Old Flames," "Tulsa Time," and "Keys In The Mailbox," as well as an (uncredited) track, "High Country Shuffle," that I guessing may have been an original. The group included Jim Baker (lead vocals and bass), Andy Miller (lead guitar), Gene Beer (pedal Steel), Reuben Trudeau (fiddle) and Joseph Elzinga (drums)... The album was recorded at the Music Shop Studio in Charlevoix, Michigan, with a shout-out to their local radio station, WVOY.
The High Country Band "Getting Used To Not Lovin' You" (Alpha Audio, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Mitchell & The High Country Band)
This quintet from Victoria, Virginia may have been a family band -- the musicians are only identified by their first names on the back -- Lacy, Charlie, Lee, Jeanette and Bobby -- performing on steel guitar, bass, lead guitar, vocals and drums, respectively. They play some country covers, tunes like "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Orange Blossom Special" but several songs might have been originals, including the title track, "Getting Used To Not Lovin' You." In the 2000's and 2010's there was a band called High Country in nearby-ish Staunton, VA led by singers Patricia Cantrell and Teresa Wheeling that might be a later incarnation of this group, but if so the lineup had completely changed over the years. Anyone know for sure?
Johnnie High "Texas High Country" (CMR, 1981) (LP)
The emcee of Fort Worth Texas's weekly "Country Music Revue" concert show, Johnnie High (1929-2010) was a champion of all kinds of country, but mostly the old stuff and mostly by locals... He started the Country Music Revue in 1974, in a partnership with promoter Chisai Childs (who would later become a major player in the Branson, Missouri country scene...) Johnny High and the Revue moved from venue to venue, with a long run at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth, followed by relocations to the nearby towns of Haltom City and Arlington, Texas. Johnny High passed away in 2010, but the show apparently is still going strong... Here's a sample of what it sounded like in the goodle days.
Johnnie High & Susie Slaughter "Present: The Country Music Revue" (CMR Records, 1981) (LP)
Another big regional country music show promoter was the colorfully named "Aunt" Susie Slaughter, who helped get the Country Music Revue going, and who appears on this album alongside Johnny High. Also worth noting are bandmembers Maurice Anderson on pedal steel and Marc Jaco on bass, both stalwarts of the Dallas, Texas country scene.
High Mountain Hoedown "High Mountain Hoedown" (Atco Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Greene)
An eclectic, somewhat ungainly set of proto- country-rock, mostly written by Dallas, Texas blues-rocker Jerry Lynn Williams (1948-2005) who wrote most of the songs, credited simply as J. Williams. The album also includes covers of "Good Night Irene" and a couple of Chuck Berry songs, "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Nadine," as well as a version of "The Weight" by the Band. Williams went on to record a blaring, slightly Led Zeppish solo record in '72 and several other albums over the years, penning songs that were covered by blues luminaries such as Eric Clapton, B. B. King and Bonnie Raitt. Although his subsequent work seemed kind of loud and artless, this one definitely fits into the proto- country-rock spectrum, with an eclectic, slightly klunky mix of material and an overall Fairport Convention-meets-Bonnie Raitt kinda vibe. Worth a spin. (Note: this record was repackaged in 1977 as an album by "Maverick," a fictitious group used for what is generally considered a "tax scam album," i.e. a disc manufactured for the sole purpose of getting a write-off against lost investments. Lord only knows how that came about. Nonetheless, twangfans may find this disc to be worth a spin.)
The High Plains Drifters "Garden State Cowboy: Greatest Hits, Volume II" (Warped Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by The High Plains Drifters)
Amidst covers of iconic outlaw songs ("Desperado," "Glendale Train," "Nashville Skyline Rag"), trucker tunes and country classics by Hank Williams and Bob Wills are several originals written by this twang band from Pennington, New Jersey... They included Nancy Valyo (lead vocals), Merrell Noden (lead vocals, fiddle, guitar), Paul Magnin (lead guitar), Robert Golub (piano), Ted Russell (pedal steel) and Steve Orland on bass... About a decade later, Nancy Valyo was singing jazz at a hotel lounge in Cincinnati... Go figure!
The High Plains Drifters "The Last Of The High Plains Drifters" (Lame Recordings, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Bowen & Mark Harmon)
Same name, different band. A bluegrass-country hybrid from Boulder, Colorado, the Drifters quintet consisted of Steve Bauer on mandolin, John Fike (banjo), Bob Juenemann (harmonica), Robert Patterson (guitar) and Beth Tryon on bass... The group's actual history is obscured by the glib, facetious liner notes by bluegrasser Pete Wernick who crafts a whole faux band-ography tying them to the fictitious "Cowboy Carl Show," in keeping with the kooky image of Wernick's band, Hot Rize, which years later posed as Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, in a similar flourish of self-fictionalization. Nonetheless, we do know that the band did exist, they made a record, and were on the 'late-'Seventies Rocky Mountains music scene, even if their original sponsor, KGUK's "Fruit Paste Hour," was alas only an imaginative wisp passing over the alpine ridges.
The Highland Ramblers "...Present Ten Original Blue Grass And Country Songs" (Ben Records, 19--?) (LP)
This band from New Haven, Indiana had a Jimmy Martin-ish feel, mixing honkytonk and heartsongs into a bluegrass landscape. They were a good regional band -- a little rough around the edges, but lively and committed to the music. The banjo work by Clay Dockery is a highlight, as is the dobro playing, although the rest of the band can fall behind a little bit, here and there. It's also worth noting that the band's stage image (as seen on the album cover) was a real throwback to an earlier era, with bassist/bandleader Jarold McIntosh dressed up in the traditional hillbilly clown outfit -- goofy hat, wildly mismatched clothing -- although the comedy material he doubtless performed live isn't heard on this straight-up, traditional bluegrass set. Anyway, a good, not great record by a solid local band.
The Highlanders "Get On Board With..." (Princess Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Major)
A bluegrass band from Galax, Virginia that had definite country leanings... The songs include covers of Merle Haggard Buck Owens and Hank Williams, as well as a few originals -- two by banjo picker Jimmy Zeh ("The Night Has Come Again" and "Hitch Hiking") as well as "The Ballad Of A Minstrel," which is credited to the band. They also cover "The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore," a song most associated with Jean Ritchie, as well as Johnny Cash, who recorded his version in 1979. In addition to Jimmy Zeh, the group included Paul Bullins (bass), Willard Gayheart (guitar, lead vocals), Warren Castro (mandolin), and Ray Bourne on dobro... The front cover shows them posed on a riverboat, and I suppose it's possible they worked on one as entertainers...
Ken Hightower & The Mavericks "Recorded Live At The South Texas Hoedown" (Mavericks Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Hightower)
A poorly recorded but totally authentic live album from a teen-ish Texas band led by Houston-born singer/rhythm guitarist Ken Hightower. The repertoire mixes country standards with a smidge of rock/pop material, given a surf-y feel by lead guitarist Ken Hutto, whose younger brother Randy plays drums, with a failed falsetto on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" amid all the Johnny Cash and Bob wills oldies. The sound mix is fairly terrible, and the album features two long, single takes with no track bands between songs... That's okay, though: it adds to the amateur-hour feel of the whole record. This record might not be any great shakes musically or production-wise, but it is charmingly unpretentious and reveals an interesting intersection between traditional, good ole boy Lone Star twang and the booming Texas garage band scene. I'm not sure if this is the same Ken Hightower who went into radio... Anyone know for sure?
Highway Robbery "Keep On Ridin' " (Wild Stallion Records, 1984)
An indie band from Durango that featured Rob Stokes, R. B. "Stoney" Stone, and Andy Janowsky... Not to be confused with the hard rock band that cut an album on RCA in the early '70s... Apparently they had some success in Southern Colorado, but split up after a couple of years, and just recorded this one album.
Hilda "Stay Awhile" (Jewel Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Frank Doyle, Pat Nelson and Rusty York)
An early album by Hilda Doyle, a stalwart of Columbus, Ohio's acoustic music scene... This is sort of in a folk-country mode, with country-leaning material including covers of Anne Murray's "You Needed Me," "Desperado" by the Eagles, and "Rocky Top" -- she also sings show tunes and standards such as "Send In The Clowns" and "Stormy Weather." Doyle wrote two of the songs on this album, "Stay Awhile" and "You Came Along," and is backed by producer Rusty York on banjo, although the album has no steel guitar, fiddle, or mandolin. Doyle went on to record over a dozen albums, and formed a Celtic/folk band called the Ladies Of The Longford, with a couple of her daughters.
Ray Hildebrand "Special Kind Of Man" (Myrrh/Word Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Ray Hearn, Rick Horton & David McKinley)
An exemplary hippie-era country-rock gospel album, mixing modern musical approaches into old songs and new. Ray Hildebrand had an interesting history... A Texas native, he emerged as a Kennedy-era pop star as half of the vocal duo Paul & Paula, topping the charts with his single, "Hey, Paula," which led to a high-profile whirlwind of international stardom. He got burnt out after a couple of years, though, and left show business in 1965 in order to finish college. Hildebrand moved to Kansas City, Kansas and beginning in 1967, he reemerged as a gospel singer, becoming one of the pioneers of what would eventually be known as Contemporary Christian music. Although many of his albums have a pop/folk feel, this one is notable for its overt country twang, with superb backing by roots music revivalist Norman Blake, who plays banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin. along with steel guitar player Curly Chalker, who adds some slightly chunky licks reminiscent of Jerry Garcia's "Teach Your Children" riffs. It's not all country and bluegrass twang, though -- several songs have an innovative hippie rock feel, notably his wild reinterpretation of Alfred E. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away," which is recast as a slow, slinky roots-funk number. Other notable tracks include his version of Chuck Girard's "Little Country Church," a wide-eyed, open-hearted hootenanny anthem about how the churches of today ain't like they was back in grandpa's back -- no stern lectures, just happy, happy times, praising the Lord. It has to be said, in all honesty, that many of these songs have a similarly goopy, booster-ish feel, seeking to make a pitch for the ecstatic spiritualism of the longhaired "Jesus freak" movement, which appealed to counterculture types looking for religious solace amid the social turbulence of the Nixonian era. Although there are several very good tracks on this record, there are also a few that dip into pretty dorky, gosh-heck lyrics, where the fervor for conversion takes precedence over musical finesse. Still, it's a great example of the style, and if you're looking into country-rock Christian music, this one's a classic.
Hill "Mountain Man" (Capitol Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Mansfield)
This is a plausibly rootsy record, and you can see how songwriter Gary Hill was able to swing a major label record deal, even if he wasn't the world's greatest singer, and few of the songs are really that memorable. Nonetheless, Hill wasn't able to sustain his good fortune or his creative mojo for very long; he cut two albums for Capitol and that was that until he released a couple of indie records in the early 2000s. I came to this first disc backwards, having picked up his second record (reviewed below) a long time ago and found it kind of bland... But this debut -- which originally was released under the rather democratic "band" name Hill -- is an eclectic mix of outlaw country, Southern rock and sluggish boogie-rock. The album's most notable features the Southern rock slide guitar on tracks such as "Make It Up As You Go" and the spacey, jam-bandish "Born With Rhythm," as well as the snarky, vindictive lyrics of "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are," an outlaw-ish song in the same mode as early Michael Martin Murphey. An okay hippiebilly album, worth having around and certainly stronger and more compelling than the Booga Billy record that followed... If you like Michael Murphey or Rusty Wier, this might be worth checking out.
Hill City "Live! At The Rodeo Exchange" (The Music Exchange, 198-?) (LP)
So far all I know about these fellas is that they were from Texas... any additional info is welcome!
Gary Hill "Booga Billy" (Capitol Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Mansfield)
Actually, this one's a lot better than I remember. Part of the problem is the truly awful album art, a semi-realistic painting of a jeans-clad Hill soulfully thrashing a beat-up old guitar that apparently has a rubber neck... I mean, it's okay, but it doesn't exactly scream out, "Buy this album!" Anyway, I picked this up a bazillion years ago and was convinced I'd ditched it right away, but it floated up out of the vaults just in time for me to give it a second shot. It's not bad! There are a few duds on here, but also some decently gritty roots-twang-boogie rock songs, notably "Full Moon Makes Me Crazy" and his version of "Corrina, Corrina," which kicks off the album. Most of the songs are originals; one of the notable cover songs is his version of Jessi Colter's "Mona." There's some good picking, too, particularly Byron Berline's fiddle and the pedal steel on the twangier tunes and while there aren't any tracks that really wow me or seem all that memorable, this disc's not quite the dud I thought when I first tried it out. Can't judge a book... or an LP...
Jim Hill & Hill Country "For The First Time" (Hill Country Records, 1981) (LP)
Indiebilly twang from New Mexico, with Curly Snow playing pedal steel, and Red Herron on fiddle...
J. Starla Hill & Lonestarr "Live Ta'Nite" (1983) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Nogar)
This one sort of skirts along the edge of the modern-day "Americana" scene in that these are folks from Riverside, California during the fabled days of LA punk who seem to have an ambivalent attitude towards playing country and rock oldies... It's not a straightforwardly earnest group of country artists, but rather city folks who take on goofy stage names like "Tommy Teflon" (pedal steel) and Artkansa (bass) instead of just being themselves and letting their hick flags fly. But, whatever. Ms. Hill thanks Elvis Presley for inspiration, sings a couple of his songs and a couple of her own originals, and regardless of the mild self-image schizophrenia, they're still a fine example of SoCal country DIY.
Chris Hillman - see artist discography
Denny Hilton - see artist discography
John W. Hilton "Hilton Sings" (ARA Records, 1970-?) (LP)
A private press album of western-themed and campfire songs, cut by fabled landscape painter John W. Hilton, who mainly lived in the desert near Palm Springs, California. He was a modestly talented performer, but this is a nice folk album sung with passion and sincerity. Includes songs such as "49ers Death Valley," "Thousand Acres Of Nuthin," "Magic Saddles," "Cool Water" and "Got No Use For The Women," with at least a few of the tunes being credited as Hilton originals. Plus you get one of his paintings on the cover!
Ed Hinkle "Flint Hills Ramblin' " (Wilbur Sound Studios, 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Lourie)
Old-timey instrumentals of the Depression era Blue Sky Boys-ish style... An old-timer himself when this record was made, multi-instrumentalist Edgar N. Hinkle plays banjo, fiddle, electric and acoustic guitar and a plangent mandolin reminiscent of early stuff by Jim & Jesse. He was born near Wakefield, Kansas and worked in a regional band called the Rhythm Wranglers, earning the nickname "the Flint Hills Wrangler." This album was recorded in Salina, Kansas with a few other locals backing him up, including Phillip North on bass, Marcy Warren on keyboards and Bill Hinkle on drums. In general, they are a bit clunky on the rhythm end of things, though Hinkle is definitely a talented fellow. An unassuming, low-key set by real, live amateur musicians. Includes several regionally-themed originals ("Flint Hills Boogie," "Flint Hills Waltz," etc.) as well as classics such as "Old Joe Clark."
Jim Hinkle "Bittersweet Love" (Mark V Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Otis Forrest & Joe Huffman)
Wow. This is just a bizarrely bad, misguided, overly baroque misfire of an album. I mean, look: there's no way to pussyfoot around it -- Jim Hinkle consistently sings off-key and misses the beat, and aims for the showboating crooning of the Ed Ames/John Davidson/Tom Jones pop-vocals scene, and he is totally matched in his off-center stylings by the goofy, over-the-top, missing-the-mark arrangements. Definitely a so-bad-it's-bad kitschfest on this one. Mr. Hinkle was originally from West Virginia, but the album's liner notes come courtesy of Carl Clovis, a radio deejay in Marietta, Ohio, who may have been the driving force behind the record itself. Hinkle was living in Connecticut at the time, where he was reported to be an "extremely successful" businessman, and president of his own company, with music as a hobby. The record may have been a publisher's demo: it's packed with original material, but none of the songs are credited to Hinkle. Songwriters include Nashville stalwart Ray Buzzeo, with several writers signed to the same publisher -- Programs, Inc. -- including George Kiriakis (a songwriter from Norwalk, CT) as well as "E. Bailes" and "D. Allen," who will both probably remain mysteries. The album's piano player and arranger was Otis Forrest, who had previously been with a well-known Southern Gospel group called the Blue Ridge Quartet, although when he worked on these albums, Forrest had left the band and was working as a staff musician for the Mark V label. And, boy, did they make a weird record. Can't say I'd recommend it, but I know there's an audience for it out there somewhere!
Jim Hinkle "Nobody's Darling" (Mark V Records, 1971-?) (LP)
(Produced by Otis Forrest & Bill Huffman)
As with Hinkle's previous album, this disc is packed with a bunch of songs credited to Ray Buzzeo, along with a couple more by George Karakis... Otis Forrest is the session's arranger and director, and though some of the musical touches are fairly derivative, overall it's a pretty ambitious album. The weak link is Mr. Hinkle, whose vocals often are flat or otherwise off-key, but he's charming anyway, totally committed to the music and plausibly in the Hank Locklin-esque range. Some of the songs (as songs) are quite good, and the musicanship is fairly high. Also of interest is the profusion of Huffman family members involved, with Bill Huffman listed as arranger, Harold Huffman playing bass, and Joe Huffman on lead guitar. A nice indie set, if you're not a big stickler for singers staying on key.
Elmer Hinton "Down To Earth" (Georgie Records, 19--?) (LP)
An oddball offering from Elmer Hinton (1905-1979) who was a columnist for the Nashville Tennessean newspaper, who wrote a feature called "Down To Earth" filled with fictional, folksy small-town characters like Cousin Nud, et. al. who commented on the human condition. Hinton worked at the paper for nearly four decades, from 1942 to 1979, and was also active in local politics... This album featured musical contributions from Gary and Randy Scruggs, as well as Charlie McCoy and some backing vocals by the Rudy Sisters... Not sure what year it came out, though...
Chris Hirsch "Crazy Creek" (Hill Country Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Kirk & Steve Kirk)
Some swell bluegrass from Houston-born banjo picker Chris Hirsch. This album has a strong "progressive" edge: after kicking off with classics by Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe, the set includes grassed-up covers of tunes by Merle Travis, Bob Wills and the Beatles, as well as classics such as "Me And My Uncle" (via the Dead, one would assume) and "Act Naturally," from the Buck Owens canon. Hirsch went on to work in a number of band, most notably in the early '80s, he joined The Lonestar Bluegrass Band, and also played in The Harry Fish String Band.
Chris Hirsch & Ann Hirsch "Pecos Wind" (Lonestar Records, 1991) (LP)
Toby Hise "Heroes And Lovers" (Rountree Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Toby Hise, Ray Ruff & Phil York)
This is an album that tells a story. Georgian honkytonker Toby Hise traveled all the way to Garland Texas and over to Hollywood, California to record this album... All but three of the songs seem to be from his own Shogun Music publishing company, with a couple more originals rounding the album out. And the story seems to be one of heartbreak, with songs such as "I Hear A Sad Song," "Let's Forget About Right Or Wrong," "She Just Simply Gave Up" and, finally, "I'm Gonna Miss Her." There's also a little bit of more generic, less lovelorn cowboy stuff, ("All American Rodeo Hero") but mostly this seems to be a big breakup album. No info on the studio crew(s) though, alas, but there is plenty of twang!
Keith Hitchner "I'd Rather Ride An Appaloosa" (Highwood Records, 1975) (LP)
Like so many rockabilly singers before him, Alberta, Canada's Keith Hitchner "went country," recording a trio of albums in the mid-1970s, under the tutelage of old-timer Dick Damron... Highwood was Hitchner's own label -- his brother Jim also released some stuff on this label.
Keith Hitchner "Stop, Look And Listen" (Marathon Records, 1976) (LP)
Keith Hitchner "Mama Was A Christian Lady" (Marathon Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Damron, Joe Kozak & Gerry Golla)
Despite the title, this was not an all-gospel album -- other songs include some decidedly secular material, including Hitchner's own "Cadillac Cowboy," "Pass Me The Wine" and "Til The Wine Takes The Hurtin' Out Of Me," one of two tunes on here written by his brother, Jim Lee Hitchner. He also includes songs written by Ray Griff, three by Dick Damron and one by Barry Brown, of the Brown Family band.
Mickey Hiter And The Music City Limits "Dance To The Music" (Cane Ridge Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Patrick, Joe Taylor & Paul Whitehead)
The quintessential custom-made LP: four guys playing country and white soul cover songs in a Nashville studio, taking turns singing lead on early '70s hits such as "Rainy Night In Georgia," "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues," "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" and southern rockers like "Ramblin' Man," as well as rock/pop tunes like "China Grove" and Sly Stone's "Dance To The Music." The band was made up of Philip Douglas on lead guitar and banjo, David Finney on drums, Mickey Hiter playing piano and guitar and Billy Lawrence playing bass, possibly with a few studio pros padding out the sound. Mickey's dad, Wayne Hiter, is listed as the president of Cane Ridge Enterprises, so he may have ponied up the cash to have this album pressed... Though it seems unlikely that most of these guys did much professionally, Hiter apparently worked in music publishing and songwriting before founding an organization that promotes baseball youth leagues. Anyway, these seem to have had fun making this record, with a highlight being their bluegrassed-up version of the Allman Brothers song...
Louis Hobbs "Louis Hobbs" (Creative Country Records, 1975-?) (LP)
Missouri's Lou Hobbs (1941-2007) was an early, first-generation rockabilly artist who played in Narvel Felts' band and wrote several songs with Felts, back in the day. Like many of his peers, Hobbs "went country" later in life, and placed a couple of songs in the Billboard charts in the early '80s. In addition to at least two LPs, Hobbs released a handful of singles under his own name back in the early Sixties, and in the early 'Seventies, Felts -- now a notable country star -- produced Hobbs on his own label, Cinnamon Records, before Cinnamon felt apart in '75. Hobbs came from the Mississippi River town of Cape Girardeau, in southeastern Missouri, about forty miles away from where Narvel Felts grew up. Hobbs seems to have been tapped into the Memphis scene, and recorded several songs by Don Nix, including "Olena" and "She Don't Want A Lover" on this album. This LP also includes a bunch of cover songs, including contemporary hits such as "Behind Closed Doors," "Delta Dawn" and even "Your Mama Don't Dance," from soft-rockers Loggins & Messina. There are two originals penned by Hobbs, "Day By Day" and "Without Your Love, both co-credited to Ken Keene, who was Felts' manager. Perhaps equally interesting are two songs from Memphis area roots auteur Don Nix, "Olena" and "She Don't Want A Lover," which Hobbs also included on his other album. When this album came out, Hobbs may have been suffering from artistic whiplash, at least if he'd hoped the Cinnamon deal was break him into the big time. Apparently the label crashed pretty quickly, and he headed back into Midwestern indie territory not long after. Not sure who's backing him on this one, though the liner notes thank Ed Glass, Don Holifield, Buzz Murphey, and Jerry Rau; I'm not sure if they are the backing band, but it seems kinda likely.
Louis Hobbs "Country Pickin' " (Music Mill Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Morris & Tom McConnell)
On this disc, Hobbs dug deeper into the Southern/Midwest regional scene, reprising Don Nix's "She Don't Want A Lover," along with a tune by Ava Aldridge, another by Arkansas bad boy Bobby Lee Trammell, and several credited to someone called Mary Lee: "You Got Sweet Love All Over Me," "Hey Bartender," "Passion Bit Me" and "A Man On His Way Down." One track, "Loving You Is All I Ever Needed," also came out as a single in 1976; Hobbs eked his way into the Billboard back forty a few years later, with the singles "We're Building Our Love On A Rock" and "Loving You Was All I Ever Needed" which may have been either a reissue or a re-recording.
Louis Hobbs "Mama, Mama, Mama" (Eagle Records, 1995) (CD)
Nice collection of rare material from three different decades -- a mix of his 'Sixties singles and a generous sampling of his 'Seventies stuff, as well as some live tracks for a 1987 concert.
The Hobbs Sisters & Bob Goff, Jr. "Wanted! Best Bluegrass Sound Around" (Royal Records, 1977-?) (LP)
Straight-up bluegrass by a trio from Fairfax, Virginia. The group included sisters Connie and Pam Hobbs and baritone Bob Goff, Jr. who knew one another because their parents (Arnold Hobbs and Bob Goff, Sr.) co-owned a popular folk-country club called Partners II. The kids performed there from a very early age, and steadily worked their way into the DC and East Coast bluegrass scene. I came to this record backwards from their second album, which is packed with some interesting country covers... This one includes a version of "Mister Bojangles," but otherwise it's a pretty traditional truegrass set. The band is filled out by fiddler Aisuke Matsutoya and Keith Morris on mandolin.
The Hobbs Sisters & Bob Goff, Jr. "Barely Gettin' By" (Major Recording Company, 1979) (LP)
Nice unassuming progressive 'grass, in the style of the Country Gentlemen... There are a couple of mountain music chestnuts (nice version of "Rocky Top") though what really caught my eye were their covers of two songs from the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris canon, "Sin City" and "Satan's Jeweled Crown." Other highlights include versions of Lefty Frizzell's "I'm Not That Good At Goodbye" and a high lonesome-ish, emotionally resonant take on John Conlee's hit, "Rose Colored Glasses." This edition of the band included Arnold Hobbs and a couple of guys only identified as "Ed" and "Wesley" -- not sure which instruments they played. Although the band was going strong in the late 'Seventies, the Hobbs gals eventually edged out of performing... In the early '80s Bob Goff sang with Dave Vernon & The Dixie Rebels, and played bass on a few other records, notably Larry Sparks' bluegrass classic, "John Deere Tractor." He also formed a group called the Mill Run Bluegrass Band, which was chugging away as recently as the 2010s.
Dan Hodges & Geneva Hodges "Spring, Summer, Fall, Xmas: Music For All Seasons" (Outlet Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Shiveley)
The Hodges were an old-timey/bluegrass gospel duo from Franklin County, Virginia who had a weekly radio show on WNIB, in Mount Vernon. They also performed as The Southlanders, with Dan Hodges on guitar and Geneva Hodges playing 5-string banjo. This album is all original material, with Side Two focussing on Christmas songs, while Side One was non-holiday specific, though packed with gospel material.
Roland Hoffman & The Believers "Cross Country" (Homestead Records, 19--?) (LP)
A family gospel band from Lemmon, South Dakota, the Believers were led by Roland Hoffman, who recruited his kids to raise a little twang unto the Lord. The group is perhaps best known as the proving ground for Hoffman's son, Rory, who started performing in their concerts at age five, learned to play fourteen different instruments, and grew up to be a major star on the contemporary Christian/Southern gospel scene. Blind at birth, Rory Hoffman is also held up as an inspirational figure, and has written about his life and how he surmounted various challenges. I'm not sure when this album came out, or how old the various Hoffman siblings were at the time...
Roland Hoffman & The Believers "Standing On The Rock" (Homestead Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Harvey Tibor)
Gene Hofford "New Country City Beat Originals" (Banka Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Booth)
Originally from Louisiana, country entrepreneur Gene Hofford became a fixture on the Houston, Texas music scene. He started out as a rocker, cutting a few surf-rock singles in the early '60s under the name Gene Gray, but he got back to his country roots and established himself as a Lone Star diehard and country true-believer. This is an album of all-original material, recorded with an uncredited band, but showing Hofford's affinity for Gene Watson-style hard country ballads. A few years later, in 1989, Hofford and his wife Sue established a semi-amateur variety show called the Alvin Opry, staging Bransonesque weekly shows in the Houston suburb of Alvin, Texas, with a house band that includes country music veterans Larry Booth and Tony Booth, and a rotating cast of aspiring locals, visiting professionals and various old-timers from Nashville and Texas glory days.
Adolph Hofner "Your Friend" (Sarg Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Fitch)
Best known for his pioneering western swing recordings of the 1940s, Texas bandleader Adolph Hofner was still kicking around in the early '70s, and cut this indie album with a bunch of family members pitching in... A nice example of an old-timer still getting his licks in.
Hap Hogan "...Sings Danny Boy" (Living Voices, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Hap Hogan)
This singer from Berlin, Wisconsin recorded at least five LPs, of which I think this is the first... This disc includes a cover of "Green Green Grass Of Home," as well as "Another Place, Another Time," "Brown County Blues" and "Iron Mountain Michigan." Couldn't find much info about Hogan online, but he seems to have been pretty active during the early 'Seventies.
Hap Hogan "Nashville: Volume Two" (Living Voices, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Hap Hogan & Travis Turk)
Hogan went to Nashville to record this album, with a studio crew that included Doyle Grisham on dobro and steel guitar, Jeff Newman (steel guitar), Jerry Smith (piano), along with Lee Maxwell on lead guitar, and Harold Gene Marshall playing rhythm. The same lineup backs Hogan on the Music City album below, and my guess is that they were both recorded at the same time, possibly Party Time album as well. Some of the guys were locals that Hogan brought with him: he gives Gene Marshall a shout-out as his "director and arranger," and I suspect Maxwell was a Wisconsinite as well.
Hap Hogan "Volume Three: Music City USA And Hap Hogan" (Living Voices, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Hap Hogan & Travis Turk)
Hap Hogan "Sings Your Favorite Songs" (Damon Records, 19--?) (LP)
Hap Hogan "Party Time Live" (?, 19--?) (LP)
Wendy Holcombe "Memories Of Wendy" (Adonda Records, 2010)
A banjo and guitar prodigy, Birmingham, Alabama's Wendy Holcombe made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry in 1975, at the age of twelve(!) Both talented and telegenic, she went on to appear on Hee Haw and to tour with established bluegrass stars such as Bill Monroe and Mac Wiseman, and landed steady work as a television actor in the early '80s. Tragically, Holcombe died at age 23 as the result of cardiomyopathy. This posthumous album is an impressive collection of recordings with Holcombe delivering dazzling and precise banjo and electric guitar riffs... She was a real superpicker!
Wendy Holcombe "On Tour" (Adonda Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Don Fowler & Jack Logan)
All bluegrass standards, except for a couple of country songs by Dolly Parton ("Apple Jack") and Gail Davies ("It's No Wonder I Feel Blue") Her band included steel guitarist Mike Johnson and Bruce Osborn on dobro and guitar, as well as fiddler Tommy Rutlidge.
Jimmie Lee Holder "...And You" (Ripcord Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jay Andy Thompson)
Another fella from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with an album on the fabled Ripcord label... The songs are all originals, and the album features liner notes from a couple of Portland, Oregon DJs and other fans... Born in Cisco, Texas, Jimmie Lee Holder was a successful songwriter, with several songs picked up by stars , including the title track of this album, "You," which was recorded by both Connie Smith and Rose Maphis. Holder left Oregon to work in Hank Thompson's band in 1972, then came back at some point to settle into the local scene. Unfortunately, the musicians backing him aren't identified, but the arrangements, and Holder's vocals, are all top notch. In addition to this album, he had at least one single on Ripcord, with material not featured here. Apparently Mr. Holder passed away in 2018; this may have been his only album. But it's a doozy!
Ken Holiday/Nancy Jo Garton "Ken Holiday/Nancy Jo Garton" (G Bar Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Holiday)
This looks like a split LP - him headlining on one side, her on the other -- although it's all from the same recording session. Holiday and Garton were from Depew, Oklahoma, where they co-owned the G-Bar Ranch, a name they also used for their own short-lived indie label. Like many regional artists, they made the trek to Nashville to record, and cut this album at Jack Clements' studio, with a big cast of studio superpickers, including the Jordanaires on backup vocals. Nancy Jo Garton had apparently a regional radio hit with a cover of the country/R&B oldie, "Big Blue Diamonds," but her success was strictly local -- no Billboard action for these singing Sooners... Still, I like it. Mr. Holiday had one of those gangly voices that makes an unlikely match for a recording session but winds up sounding authentic and sincere -- I'm thinking of folks like Dick Feller and Deadly Ernest -- and he picked more novelty-oriented material to match his vocals. Ms. Garton was the stronger singer in the "normal" sense -- derivative, perhaps, but not bad. She starts out sounding like mainstream country-pop gals such as Lynn Anderson or Donna Fargo, but by the end of her side, she's solidly in a Dolly Parton mode, trilling her little heart out. One assumes it's her busting in on the end of Side One, to belt out a duet with Holiday on "I'm Mad In Love With You." In addition to this LP, they also released at least one single under Garton's name, distributed by the folks at NSD in Nashville.
Jack Holland "The Eyes Of A Dreamer" (Boot Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Griff & Lee Hazen)
An English singer originally from Norfolk, UK, Jack Holland counted himself as a Nashviller by the time this disc came out... Album producer Ray Griff plays piano and organ, with Jack Holland on lead guitar and Russ Hicks playing dobro and steel... Griff also contributes all but one of the songs on this album, other than "I'll Pick Her Up," which was co-written by Jack Holland and Chuck Priest.
Lindy Holland "Dallas Dreamin' " (Texas Tunes, 197--?)
(Produced by "Texas Tunes")
Ms. Holland was a singer from -- one would assume -- Dallas, Texas... I couldn't find any info about her online, and also couldn't find a release date for this one, although the album includes an Elvis Presley tribute song called "Legends Never Die," so maybe it was from 1976-77-ish?? It's also quite possible it was an early '80s recording, but late '70s is my best guess.
The Hollanders "The Hollanders" (Show Time, 1984) (LP)
A six-sibling family band from Lynchburg, Virginia with a pretty scary visual aesthetic -- lots of big hair and shiny outfits, all very '80s. The repertoire on this disc is pretty country, overall, although they "went pop" on later albums.
The Hollanders "Traveling Band Album" (Show Time, 1987) (LP)
They seem to be more into showtunes and more glitz on this disc...
Bobby Holliday "Home Grown" (1976) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Holliday & Mitch Humphries)
Like countless American kids, guitarist Bobby Holliday was totally blown away when he saw the Beatles play on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, then quickly scored an electric guitar, recruited some kids from his Greenville, South Carolina high school, and put together a rock'n'roll band. The group went through a lot of names and lineups, but is best remembered as The Bojax, and under this name they cut a few well-regarded "nuggets"-style garage rock singles that are often anthologized, even though the group never broke through nationally. The Bojax eventually broke up in 1971 when Holiday headed out to California to pursue a recording career. Eventually he returned to Greenville, and among his subsequent musical projects was a stint playing acoustic and country-oriented material, recording two solo albums with a distinctly rural feel. Like a lot of southerners, Holliday moved easily between rock and country influences and was pals with successful local artists such as The Marshall Tucker Band and Jim Stafford; later in life he headed for Nashville and worked as a staff writer for Ronnie Milsap's publishing company, a gig that culminated in a couple of his songs getting placed on an album by the late '90 pop-country band SheDaisy.
Bobby Holliday "Another Stage" (1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Holliday & Mitch Humphries)
Chuck & Margi Holliday "This Road" (Joker Records, 19--?) (LP)
This couple from Cedar Falls, Iowa sang some country, but also some very lounge-y/pop standards stuff, with songs such as "Mr. Bojangles," "Me And Bobby McGee" and "Games People Play" and artists such as Credence Clearwater and Gordon Lightfoot. There's not release date, but clearly this was very early '70s...
Doc Holliday "Salutes The Writers Of Country Music" (Vegas Records, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Abbott & Doc Holliday)
As the title implies, this album is filled with covers of classic outlaw and honkytonk songs, although there are also a couple of originals co-written by "Doc" Holliday and Sam Bardin: "I Love You" and "Forgotten Lady." (They also co-wrote a 1979 single on the Vegas label, "Yes (I Love You)"/"Rebels & Devils" --- possibly "Yes" is the same song as on the album(?) Anyway, this was recorded in Texas with a local crew in the studio... a later edition of this LP had "As Seen On TV" branded on the front cover. Sam Bardin also released some stuff under his own name on the same label, though as far as I can tell, they were in fact two different guys.
Rob Holliday "Just A Country Boy" (Interstate Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jim West)
Although the record label was from Farmington, New Hampshire, singer Rob Holliday was apparently from Belfast, Ireland. The repertoire encompasses country oldies -- "Green, Green Grass Of Home," "Sea Of Heartbreak" -- along with newer tunes and some Irish-themed material, like "Danny Boy" and "Among The Wicklow Hills." He's backed by Ronnie Chase on piano, Vic Ferreira (drums), Dave Jenkins (bass), Rose Lee (rhythm guitar), John Patterson (lead guitar), and Paul Seavey on steel... These guys seem to have been New England locals; Seavey also worked with some musicians from Maine, while for years Ronnie Chase was the producer for the Rusty Rogers band... It's possible Holliday made other recordings in the UK, but I don't know for sure.
Martin Hollis "Nashville Session" (Holmac/Wilma Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Bragg & Bob Moore)
Singer-guitarist Martin Hollis made his mark on the British twang scene as a founding member of The Down County Boys, a popular and trailblazing English bluegrass band of the 1960s and '70s... Sometime in the 'Seventies, Hollis emigrated to the United States, where he worked thirty-plus years as an accountant for the Connecticut Department Of Education. He continued his love of American music, branching out into more mainstream country, and even joined the Connecticut Country Music Association, serving for a time as its president. Hollis formed a new band (brilliantly) named the Back Street Affair, which performed regionally around New England, though on this album he sought out backing by the big-name country pros, booking a studio crew that included Buddy Harman, Weldon Myrick, Hargus Robbins, Jerry Shook, Jerry Smith and Pete Wade, recording at the House Of Cash studios in Nashville. The repertoire is pretty straight-ahead country stuff, with songs written by Don Gibson, Merle Haggard, Mickey Newbury, Mack Vickery and others... Unfortunately, there's no release date on the LP, though I'd guesstimate 'Seventies, possibly early-to-mid '80s from the look of it. Mr. Hollis passed away in 2011, at age 64, a couple of years after retiring from his government job.
Terri Hollowell "Just You And Me" (Con Brio Records, 1979) (LP)
Doyle Holly - see artist discography
Eileen And Wes Holly "Just Us" (Fredlo Records, 1970-?) (LP)
Hillbilly picker Wes Holly was born in Dixon, Illinois and recorded a handful of hard-country singles back in the 1950s, eventually landing a gig as the host of a TV show in Davenport, Iowa. He and his wife, Eileen Holly, also recorded a series of albums, with a mix of country and pop material. Here, as the album title implies, it's just the two of them in a stripped-down setting with Mr. Holly playing some sweet licks on his amplified guitar, and singing a few of the songs. She covered most of the vocals, though, and had a penchant for belting it out -- reminiscent in some ways of Lynn Anderson, perhaps by way of Kitty Wells or Loretta Lynn, though with a definite tilt towards a pop-vocals/showtunes style. To be honest, this mostly doesn't work for me, though there is a charm to the unpretentious, DIY presentation, including the minimal cover art and blank back cover.
Eileen And Wes Holly "The Sounds Of Holly" (1972-?) (LP)
On this record they cover some Top Forty stuff, like "Spinning Wheel," "Never Ending Song Of Love" and "Knock Three Times," as well as songs that were more officially "country," such as "Country Roads" and "Release Me," along with a real oldie like "Wreck Of The Old 97." Not a lot of info about these sessions -- there's no date on the record, and the back cover was blank. Around the time this early '70s album came out the "Sounds Of Holly" duo was doing gigs up in Tahoe -- and possibly touring elsewhere -- although I think the Midwest remained their main center of activity.
Eileen And Wes Holly "The Sounds Of Holly, Volume 3" (Lee-Myles Associates, 1973) (LP)
Other than a cover of "For The Good Times," this is a far less country-oriented album... They also include a version of "Proud Mary," in case you're keeping track...
Eileen Holly & Julie Goldstein "From The Heart" (Walnut Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Casolari)
For this one, Ms. Holly teams up with keyboard player Julie Goldstein, for a mix of show tunes, standards and country stuff. Wes Holly is still around in the background -- he co-produced the album and adds liner notes, but does not perform on the album. Both women sing lead on various tracks and Eileen Holly plays banjo and rhythm guitar, while the backing band is drawn from the country-gospel studio musicians directed by Bill Casolari, including Art Baker on steel guitar, percussionist Stan Dennis and Mr. Casolari playing a bunch of different instruments. Although they were working with the gospel-oriented Crusade Productions studio, this is fairly straightforward secular album.
Jan Holly "Country Girl" (Avenue Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Smith & Joe Brown)
An early-1970s offering from the ambitious but short-lived English label, Avenue Records... Ginger-haired Jan Holly had worked in a variety of bands prior to recording this album -- all with colorful, American-sounding names like the Moonshiners, the Southerns and the Virginians -- and was working in a duo with US expat Sherry Jackson, though I don't think Jackson appears on this album. In all honesty, this is a pretty lackluster album, with the Donna Fargo-esque Holly backed by a Brit band that couldn't quite seem able to figure out how to shed their rock roots and find a real country groove. They were technically proficient, but just not genuinely rootsy enough, so they clearly sound like folks who are going through the motions. Still, it's not a bad record, just not very exciting.
Jan Holly "Sitting On Top Of The World" (Horatio Nelson Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "I Haven't Learned A Thing" (HRB, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by E. P. Davis)
One of the more notable bands in Colorado's 'grass-and-twang scene, the Denver-based HRB came together a few years before they made their first album, and stayed together (or reunited) for many years to come. This first record was a rock-solid mix of retro-honky tonk and western swing -- mostly covers, though there are some originals, including bassist Michael Clayton's "Come On Back" and "Nobody's Home," as well as fiddler Clarke Wright's "Wonderful Waltz." The musicianship is excellent, particularly the inventive, ever-present pedal steel work by E. P. Davis, who also adds some tasty banjo licks. Davis had been in a couple of Midwestern bands before this and stayed active in various post-Rodeo projects. Davis later moved to Kauai and delved into Hawaiian music although he still curates the Rodeo Band's legacy, including a best-of CD that's available from his website (and that's also listed below.) Anyway, this is a very strong record... Some iffy vocals, maybe, but on the whole this stands right up there with the best of the western swing revival bands such as Asleep At The Wheel, et. al. Recommended!
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "On The Western Trail" (1985)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Saddle Up" (1986)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Fading Romance" (1986)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Born Ready" (1987)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Bluegrass Routes" (1988)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Looking At The World" (1991)
The Hollywood Rodeo Band "Cowboy-Bluegrass Honky-Tonk Dancehall Music" (2014)
This best-of set is made up of material from four albums released in the 1980s...
Johnny Holm "...And The Traveling Fun Show" (ASI Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Elliot Mazer)
An icon in the upper Midwest, Johnny Holm is a hard-working country/roots-rocker from Minnesota who has led his own road show for over fifty years, and claims to be America's most-seen musician, with the most miles logged on the road... I haven't seen the data that backs that up, but I'm also not contesting the claim. This is one of several records he's cut over the years...
Jake Holmes "So Close, So Very Far To Go" (Polydor Records, 1970)
(Produced by Elliot Mazer)
This rambling orchestral pop-folk odyssey doesn't really fit in with the whole "hippie country" sound, but I'm adding it here more as a "buyer beware" thing, since it was recorded in Nashville and features a bunch of talented country super-pickers in the backing band. We're talking about folks like Kenny Buttrey, Norbert Putnam, Buddy Spicher and Weldon Myrick, so you can see why I had to check it out. Holmes was a graduate of the Greenwich Village folk scene who made a few oddball, experimental folk-pop-psych albums, and is best remembered as the guy who wrote the song "Dazed And Confused," which British rock guitarist Jimmy Page brazenly stole from Holmes after hearing him play it during a gig where Holmes opened for the Yardbirds. (Page never gave Holmes credit for the work, despite Holmes having recorded it two years before Led Zeppelin, and the issue wasn't settled until Holmes filed suit in 2010...) Later on, Holmes went into advertising and composed several well-known jingles... Anyway, this is one of those weird hippie-era pastoral pop albums that you really have to be into on a cerebral level -- it's certainly no alt-country twangfest, although on a couple of tracks the pedal steel makes a nice impression, notably on "The Paris Song," although it's still a stretch to think of it as "country-rock." Probably of more interest to fans of experimental, late '60s studio pop.
James Edward Holmes "Sounds Of Memories" (Comstock Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by James Edward Holmes)
A self-produced set of all-original, retro twang, with songs like "Home Brewed" and "Hillbilly Saturday Night." Holmes was from Scottsdale, Arizona, but other than that I don't know much about him.
Bennie Holtsclaw "Lots Of Love" (Melody Wings Music, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by John Leavitt, Jr.)
A gospel offering from Cedar Point, Kansas, with a half-dozen Bennie Holtsclaw originals, including a couple that have local, Kansas-specific references, "My Kansas Flint Hills" and "A World Champion Cowboy," a recitation song which pays tribute to a couple of local rodeo riders. Holtsclaw has a somewhat tremulous voice, one that I'd perhaps call "churchy," but there's definite true twang on here as well, with fiddle, banjo and mandolin added to a basic, Nashville-style electric-country backdrop, all performed by local artists. This album -- which isn't earthshaking, but has its charms -- was made a long time ago, though Holtsclaw kept writing, recording and self-releasing for years to come, still holding down the fort in Cedar Point. I think this was his first album, though I'm not totally sure.
Bob Homan "Beaming All Over" (HEB Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Kearney Barton)
Originally from Tifflin, Ohio, honkytonker Bob Homan (1930-2019) moved around and performed on a number of Midwestern radio stations in the 1950s, before moving permanently to Yakima, Washington in 1959. His first music job in the area was playing on the Bert Wells cowboy show on TV station KIMA, Yakima; Homan also had a regular live gig at the Alaska Corral Club. Homan self-released a handful of singles before recording this first album, and led his band or played solo for years and decades to come. He was active in a range of local events and performed at community events well into his seventies and eighties...
Bob Homan "Phases Of Love" (HEB Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Lee Furr & Bob Morris)
Homan brought in some high-power twang for this one... None other than Buck Owens' Buckaroos, circa 1972, featuring Don Rich, Doyle Holly and J. D. Maness, with Buck himself adding liner notes in praise of Mr. Homan. About half the songs on here were co-written by Bob Homan, including one composed with Jerry Pruitt, as well as two written with Cecilie "Tillie" Clifford (1924-2015), a Yakima housewife who took up songwriting as a hobby. In later years, between 2000-2015, Mr. Homan self-released nine albums on CD before moving back from Washington to retire with his family in Ohio.
Home Comfort "Old Strings, Old Songs" (Paja's Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by James H. Starbuck)
This album was recorded in Westport, New York, though I think the band was from Vermont... At any rate, this is super-duper hippied out, folkie stuff with old-fashioned tunes played by Michael Blouin (bass, guitar), Vincent Thomas Consoli (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo), Michael Kennedy (lead guitar, banjo), Pancho (banjo, bass, guitar) and Christopher Trigg (drums).
Home Grown "Home Grown" (Ridgetop Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Home Grown & Gary Boyd)
The Northern California trio of Patrick Durr, Bruce Johnson and Michael Lingg apparently hailed from Modesto, CA, and while most of the songs on here have sort of a sprightly, goofball folkie tone (vaguely ala Tiny Tim?) there are a couple of noteworthy twang tunes -- I think I have dim memories of hearing the bar-bandish "Over Me" on KFAT, a bazillion years ago, and the novelty number, "Fourteen," a fond look back at horny adolescence, is a winner. Most of these songs are originals and many are more ambitious than accomplished, but their hearts were in the right place, dabbling in a variety of styles, including the gooey country-rock of the time. When the three-part harmonies kick in, a CSN/Firefall/Poco debt becomes plain, underscored by their earnest cover of Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With." I think the best thing about the copy I picked up is the inscription, made out to, "Governor Brown: Enjoy the music - We enjoy your politics." Gee, I wonder if Jerry's staffers actually passed this LP along or not... it's awfully tempting to send it to him again, now that he's the governor... again!
Homegrown "Homegrown" (Homegrown Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Homegrown & Randy Rand)
Though this is starting to get a little too "Bambi Meets Godzilla" for me, I will tell you that Homegrown, the band, was the duo of Steven Farmer and Michael Myers, from Bozeman, Montana. "Homegrown," the album, was recorded in Missoula, and is mostly original material from Farmer and Myers, as well as two by R. O. Baird -- "Really Love Ya Woman" and "Sunshine Goodbye," along with a version of Willis Alan Ramsey's "Angel Eyes."
Homegrown "First Time Around" (NRS Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Homegrown & Randy Rand)
A different band, with the same name. This group from Lebanon, Tennessee included Tony Burns on lead guitar, Harold Fogel (steel guitar), John Frost (dobro and lead vocals), Ray Frost (drums), John McLaran (bass) and Danny White playing keyboards.
Homer & Gene And The Westerners "Variety Country Style" (Sarg Records, 196--?) (LP)
(Produced by Homegrown & Randy Rand)
Two veteran honkytonkers from South Texas, Homer Bade and Eugene R. Drozd (1935-2011) were respectively from Cuero and Hallettsville, TX, and each had been in other bands before they teamed up in the late 1960s to form their group, The Westerners. Mr. Bade most famously backed 'fifties Texas twangster Arnold Parker, whose 1957 single, "Find A New Woman" became a legendary rockabilly hit; his band The Southernaires played local joints such as the Silver Spur Dance Hall while Mr. Bade also backed several different singers who cut singles for the Sarg label. Mr. Drozd started entertaining while stationed abroad in the US Army; after he was discharged he played in local groups such as Adolph Hofner's Pearl Ramblers before forming the Homer & Gene duo. They cover several classics, including Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," Buck Owens' "Together Again," as well as "Tears Will Be The Chaser For Your Wine," "Fraulein," and even a Woody Guthrie song. Two songs are credited as Bade/Drozd originals, "Black Eyed Suzy Brown" and "Guess I'll Go Home," and they wrote and recorded several others that are not included here. Like many popular local bands, the Westerners wound up working as a house band and backed numerous country stars passing through the area. In 1972 Mr. Drozd opened his own appliance store in Hallettsville, though he continued to play music for years to come.
The Homestead Act "Gospel Snake" (Kim-Pat Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Trigg & The Homestead Act)
The first album by banjo plunking Elmo Shropshire and his bass playing partner Patsy Trigg, later of "Elmo & Patsy" fame... This self-released bluegrass/country mashup album isn't that great, not in an it's-bad kind of way, but mostly because it's a mediocre performance that was poorly produced -- the sound palate is static and flat, and the vocals are, well, kind of amateur level. Not bad, though, and certainly of interest to fans as well as alt-country historians. Interestingly enough, there isn't much novelty material on here, other than bluegrass-y covers of rock songs like the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" and The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," but not a lot of the kind of Dr. Demento comedy stuff we now associate with the Elmo & Patsy duo. The most notable song is the semi-kooky recitation on the title track, though there are no Dr. Elmo originals on the entire album. Alt-country fans heads might spin, though, at the folks in the studio crew, most notably picker Steve Young, who contributes several songs, including "The White Trash Song," which has a promising title, but isn't quite the novelty number you'd hope for. Also on board are veteran country-rock steel player Don Beck and bassist Bill Amatneek, a Bay Area bluegrass stalwart who wound up in David Grisman's dawg music quintet a few years later. They add some nice licks, and Shropshire has a couple of instrumentals where he cuts loose a little on the banjo. Nothing dazzling, but a nice example of hippie-era DIY twang.
The Homestead Act "Playin' Possum" (Kim-Pat Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Cogan)
Sort of a standard-issue amateur bluegrass album, with decent picking and semi-iffy vocals around a nice set of hillbilly oldies and standards. Some of the same musicians that were on the first album come back for this one -- the lineup includes Bill Amatneek, Richard Greene, Brantley Kearnes, and several less well-known pickers, recording at the Bay Records studios in Berkeley, CA. It's not a great record, but it's okay. Adorable cover art.
(Gene And Jerry &) The Homesteaders "Nashville Hootenanny" (Roulette Records, 1963) (LP)
The Homesteaders was a pickup band formed in the late 1950s by fiddler/multi-instrumentalist Jerry Rivers (1928-1996) several years after his high-profile gig with Hank Williams came to an end. This album projects an image intended to capitalize on the early '60s folk revival -- two guys posed with banjo and 12-string guitar -- but there's a pretty solid country core, notably in the repertoire. A couple of singles preceded this album, but as far as I know this was the first Homesteaders LP; there aren't any credits on the album, but I believe Jack Boles and guitarist Floyd Robinson were also part of the band at this point. Rivers led the band through the early 1970s, when he handed over the reins to guitarist Frank Evans. Rivers went on to be a core member of the Drifting Cowboys, a Hank Williams tribute band led by singer Jim Owen.
The Homesteaders "A New Frontier" (Little Darlin' Records, 1967) (LP)
(Produced by Aubrey Mayhew & Jack Clement)
A fun, zingy album with a heavy Buck Owens influence and plenty of original material written by producer/label owner Aubrey Mayhew. The principal members of this edition of the band -- the guys listed on the back cover -- were Frank Evans, Bob Leftridge and of course, Jerry Rivers, although a full, six-person band is pictured on the front, and I think Jack Boles was also part of the band at this time. This record really is a lot of fun, with robust performances all around, and a strong repertoire of honkytonkers and novelty songs. Also a really swinging pop-psych flavored instrumental called "Homesteadin'," with some fancy rock riffs on guitar. Recommended!
The Homesteaders "The Homesteaders" (1972) (LP)
By the early '70s, the Homesteaders found regular work as the backup band for singer Jeannie C. Reilly, who contributes glowing liner notes to this album... She also recorded a song called "Six Guns And Popsicles," which was written by bandmembers Gordon Cash and Jimmy Halfacre, though unfortunately they didn't include a version of the song on here. Jerry Rivers had left the band by this time and let guitarist Frank Evans take over as bandleader. While this disc isn't quite as zippy as their Little Darlin' album, it's still a fun set... pretty much exactly how you'd want an off-the-radar tour band from the early 'Seventies to sound. It's all country covers including stuff like John Stewart's "Never Going Back To Nashville," "Life's Little Ups And Downs" and Billy Ed Wheeler's "Ode To The Little Brown Shack Out Back." They were good pickers, decent singers, and put their hearts into it, even getting into some cornpone comedic showmanship on oldies like their epic rendition of "She Taught Me How To Yodel." I'm not sure if the band held together much longer after this, though Frank Evans continued to tour and do session work throughout the '70s.
Honeybee Ridge "Honeybee Ridge" (Beaver Creek Revolution, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by John O'Connell & Bill McElroy)
This band from Bakersfield, California mostly stuck to a folkie-stringband sound, with pretty bare-bones arrangements and production, framing low-key vocals by songwriters Tom Hunnicutt and Sandra Kline. They stray into slightly more countried-up territory on a tune or two, such as Hunnicutt's "Big Ol' City," where he sounds a little like Don Williams, and "Sadness Is Sundown," which reminded me more of Elmo & Patsy. The album includes a song called, "What's Gonna Happen To All Us Old Hippies?" a plaintive novelty-song paean to all things longhaired, sandal-wearing and earth-worshipping. A couple of songs were co-credited to George Beecham Jr., but he seems to have been mostly a friend of the band, limited to some light kazoo tootling on a tune or two; also notable are dobro picker Red Sawyers and a couple of guys playing banjo... But though this does seem to be a genuine West Coast hippie artifact, it's not that much of a country-rock record, and way more of a folkie thing.
The Honey Bees "Great American Country Hits" (Everest Records, 1960)
This all-female vocal trio came from a pop-vocals/big band background, but here run through a repertoire of country standards... Singer-pianist Bix Brent had been in a late '40s/early '50s group called the Heathertones, which cut a few records with bandleaders such as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman and she later worked as a featured vocalist for Vaughn Monroe. Delores Brown and Bettye McCormick had both been backup singers for Ray Charles, as well as doing some work on Broadway. At the time this album was made the gals were working as backup singers for country crooner Eddy Arnold -- the band on this album was led by pop guitarist Billy Mure.
Bobby Hood "Songs I Write And Sing" (Chute Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Lamb & Jim Cotton)
As advertised, all the songs on this album were composed by aspiring songwriter Bobby Hood Jr., a shaggy-looking, bearded young'un who looks like he was trying to be the next Kris Kristofferson. Originally from Muscle Shoals Alabama, he did his time in Nashville and enjoyed reasonable success both as a songwriter and as a recording artist in the late 'Seventies and early 'Eighties before heading back home around 1982. Hood recorded singles for several different labels, though this may have been his only full album. It's a nice record, kind of low-key and mainstream -- here he reminds me of Roger Miller or perhaps Bill Anderson, although on some of his singles he tried on different styles and personas, including a little bit of the emotive pop vocals practiced by dudes like Kenny Rogers. Hood kept working back in Alabama, but he died young, killed in a 2007 car crash at the age of fifty-two.
Al Hooper "Sunday Morning Coming Down" (Paragon Records, 19--?) (LP)
A Canadian artist from New Brunswick, Al Hooper was also known as "The East Coast Ambassador," though to which embassy, they didn't make clear. He covers some hippie-era hits, like "Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone" and "Me And Bobby McGee" -- the album also includes three Hooper originals: "Hello Dad," "Mr. Rain," and "Waitin' For My Hangover."
Rick & Dee Hooper "Live At The Belle Starr" (Belle Starr Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Phil York)
The Hooper brothers were a popular duo in Texas during the 1970s, recording here with with a band called The R&D Express... I think in later life they both turned to singing gospel music, but were still singing secular stuff here, including covers of honkytonk classics such as "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down."
The Hooper Twins "Go Texan With Bud And Bud" (B&B Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Sapp)
Known professionally as Bud & Bud, these Texas twins -- George Aaron Hooper (1924-2020) and James Edward Hooper (1924-2012) -- shared the same nickname and the same long, tough climb to modest regional fame. The Hoopers were the youngest of five kids in a cotton farming family in Joaquin, Texas. When they were little, they worked the fields but also discovered an affinity for playing music. At a very early age the siblings formed a country music duo and tried their luck in Houston and the surrounding towns, originally billing themselves as Bud & Bud, The Musical Buddies, and steadfastly refused to go by their given names. They tried various career paths, including working at a gas station and running a nightclub, but it took years of toil and hardship before they finally "made it" on the Texas music scene. It wasn't until they landed a gig at a Houston hole-in-the-wall called the Magnolia Cave that their show biz career really clicked; a talent scout from The Louisiana Hayride caught their show and got them on the radio and for several years they were Hayride regulars. Like a lot of regional musicians, they had a hard time parlaying their success into a full-time career, and eventually found permanent day jobs at the local power company. Their recording career dates way back to the early 1950s, though they recorded singles through the 'Sixties and early 'Seventies, including the 1970 novelty number, "Howard Hughes Is Alive And Well," which seems to have been a swan song of sorts. This album looks like it's of late '60s vintage, featuring several songs credited to Bud Hooper and a couple co-written with producer Don Sapp, many featuring publishing credits on Huey P. Meaux's Crazy Cajun company. (Thanks to the Houston Chronicle for filling out some biographical details in a long profile piece published in 2005...)
Hoover "Hoover" (Epic Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Glaser)
The now-obscure country songwriter Willis Hoover went to Nashville in the 1960s and hit the ground running... Although he's cited as an early forefather of the "outlaw country" style of Waylon and Willie, he also had success pitching songs that were recorded by old-school artists such as Eddy Arnold, as well as denim-clad rebels such as Tompall Glaser and Waylon Jennings. According to the perhaps unreliable website of Kinky Friedman's Sphincter label, after several years in the Nashville scene, "things got checkered," and Willis dropped out of the music business and drifted from job to job for the next couple of decades. This was his only full solo album, although he recorded singles for several labels, and wrote the soundtrack for a feature film called "tick...tick...tick..." Some of his older recordings were reissued on the CD below.
Hoover "The Lost Outlaw Album" (Sphincter Records, 2003)
Dorothy Jo Hope & The Pell Brothers "Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man" (Pell Brothers Records, 1972-?) (LP)
Here's a cool one. You might recognize the title track, which was a top ten hit for Dolly Parton in 1970... It was co-written by Dolly and her aunt, Dorothy Jo Hope (1929-2008) who also wrote "Daddy Come And Get Me," a gothic country novelty number that Dolly included on another album the same year, with many more to follow. Dorothy Jo was the daughter of Reverend Jake Owens, whose Pentecostal church was one of the first places where Parton performed in public, and she remained a big influence on her niece over the course of years, including a long stint as a performer at the Dollywood amusement park. She's backed here by the Pell Brothers, a bluegrass gospel group from Lafayette, Georgia, whose lead singer, Windell Pell, contributes three original songs, notably his "Working Like A Truck For The Lord." Six tracks were composed by Dorothy Jo Hope, including a new version of "Old Time Preacher Man," which had just been a big hit for Parton. I'm not sure how many other recordings Dorothy Jo made, though she worked as a composer under a variety of names, penning both secular and religious material. She also wrote an autobiographical book, Dolly's Hero about the family history, with lots of info about Dolly and her musical and spiritual roots.
Doc Hopkins & His Country Boys "Volume One" (BACM, 2004) (LP)
A great set of back-to-basics, old-school country story-songs, mostly old sentimental and folk ditties such as "Barbara Allen," "Letter Edged In Black," "The Ship That Never Returned," and many similar tunes, given a little string-swing bounce courtesy of backing musicians that possibly included members of the crackerjack western band The Prairie Ramblers. Doctor Howard Hopkins (1900-1988) was a real backwoods troubadour from Harlan County, Kentucky who started singing on the radio during the Great Depression and was early cast member of the WLS National Barndance, which broadcast from Chicago in the early 1930s. Hopkins official recorded output was slim, just a handful of singles in the '30s and early '40s, along with a trove of radio transcriptions including these 1944 recordings. It's great stuff. The accompaniment is solid but restrained, with sweet licks curling around Hopkins' markedly plainspoken vocals. At first blush, Hopkins doesn't seem like that strong a singer, but he really brings these songs to life -- you listen to the lyrics, and want to find out what happens next! Folks who enjoy un-fussy, stripped-down pre-honkytonk country might wanna check this out. And yes, "Doctor" was really his first name: it's some kind of hillbilly thing, where the seventh son is supposed to become a doctor. It's fate. Though in this case, he became a great musician instead, at least until 1949, when he left show business to find regular work as a machinist.
Ernie Hoppe "Another Song To Sing" (Chartwheel Records, 1979) (LP)
Hoppe was a Kansas farm kid who moved to Denver and played in country bars throughout Colorado... This album includes covers of country oldies by Mel Tillis and Ted Daffan alongside a bunch of Hoppe originals. This is an album where you have to overcome your first impressions, as Hoppe had one of those weird mousy-froggy voices that sometimes work in country music, and sometime do not... I'm thinking of folks like Don Bowman, Dick Feller and Dr. Elmo here... Anyway, once you get past the vocal tone, Hoppe's got a lot to offer, not the least of which is a nice flock of original songs such as his own novelty numbers such as "Midnight In Memphis" and "Honky Tonk Fever," where he name drops a bunch of country and outlaw stars. There's one duet on here with an unidentified female singer whose own rather iffy voice makes an odd combination with his... It's a good song, though, the sentimental "Treasure Of Love," one of many fine weepers and ballads that bookend the more uptempo stuff. I'll admit, this record might not be for everyone, but I got into it, and I think it's a real find.
Richard Horner "Talkin' 'Bout You" (Woodshed Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck McCabe)
A swell indie-twang album from San Jose, California, with a strong mix of originals and cover tunes, such as versions of the George Jones oldie "The Race Is On" and John Phillips's outlaw fable, "Me And My Uncle." The originals include songs by producer-guitarist Chuck McCabe, co-producer Dennis Gobble and a couple by Horner himself. He's not the greatest vocalist ever, but if you enjoy folks such as Larry Hosford, Norton Buffalo or Chuck Wagon & The Wheels, this humble set from Northern California might be your speed. Definitely worth a spin. [Anyone know more about this guy, or this album? It seems to have been a very local affair -- I don't recognize any of the backing musicians other than McCabe... And who the heck were the Overlook Mountain Boys bluegrass band that backed him on the album's best novelty number, "I Tore Up My Tickets (Like You Tore Up My Heart)"? So many mysteries...]
Horse Creek Band "Ozark Mountain Music: Recorded Live" (LGS Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Sledge & Butch Gregory)
The Horse Creek Band was started as an acoustic-based "house band" at Branson Missouri's Western-themed Silver Dollar City tourist park, where this album was recorded... They're mostly a bluegrass-based act, and have hosted a string of working musicians in their lineup over the years. Founded in 1975, the band remained together well into the 21st Century, with their original guitarist, George "Butch" Gregory, anchoring the group for over forty years. They also performed on some of the Silver Dollar City souvenir albums.
Horse Creek Band "Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age" (LGS Records, 1983) (LP)
Horsefeather "Horsefeather" (Horsefeather Records, 1978)
A longhaired country band from Michigan... All original material, except for one cover of a Roy Acuff song.
Larry Hosford - see artist discography
Zeke Hoskins & The Country Gospel-Aires "On The Road" (Baron Records, 1972) (LP)
Hardcore, bluegrass-y country gospel by a family band from Ohio. The group started in the early 'Sixties as the Country Gospel-Aires, but eventually became mainly lead singer Zeke Hoskins' band, and later he brought his sons Mike and Rick into the lineup. Hoskins recorded over a dozen albums of pure gospel twang, with a sound heavily influenced by the bouncy, melodic style of Flatt & Scruggs.
Hot Rize - see artist discography
Hot Shandy "Paradise Ain't Cheap!" (Hot Shandy Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Hot Shandy & Steve Gronback)
This was a humorous, eclectic acoustic duo from Charlotte, North Carolina who had a folkie-bluegrass feel. Singers Jim Magill and Rick Bouley are joined by a high-power cast of guests that included Mike Cross, and Celtic musician Triona Ni Dhomhnaill. The album is full of original material, including the original song, "God Is A Good Guy."
Hot Tuna "The Best Of Hot Tuna" (RCA, 1998)
A 2-CD set showcasing the best of this hippie-era acoustic blues/jug band supergroup. One of the finest pickers of the uber-hippie scene, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen came to fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane, but began to chafe as the Airplane became more exclusively an electric-psychedelic band. The acoustic-oriented Hot Tuna was his answer, at first just a side project/spinoff band, and then a force to be reckoned with on it own. This generously programmed collection has a bunch of their best songs, including a slew of old blues tunes covered in Kaukonen's inimitable style -- "Candy Man," "Hesitation Blues," "Keep On Truckin' " and others -- as well as some sweet instrumental numbers such as the Leo Kottke-esque "Water Song." Although Hot Tuna had some psychedelic and boogie-band tendencies, it's their more subtle, delicate side that really set them apart from many of their drugged-up, clompy contemporaries. This is a great overview of these sometimes-neglected hippie-era old-timers. Recommended!
Ginger Houston "Country Just For Fun" (198--?) (LP)
I couldn't track any info down about this one... Ms. Houston looks like she was a middle-aged gal, possibly a lounge singer who decided to record a few country classics, stuff like "Release Me," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and "You're Looking At Country." Her backing band included Timmy Avalon on steel guitar, and he seems to be a younger dude who played in various Mississippi bar bands, as well as fiddler Mickey Davis and bassist Jerry Puckett, both of the band Union Kun-Tree, which also had roots around Jackson, MS. So, I'm guessing Ms. Houston may have been from that neck of the woods as well. The album also looks like it was recorded in the 1980s, or possibly even in the '90s. Anyone know more about this gal?
John Fred Houston "John Fred Houston" (Houston Records, 1969--?) (LP)
Born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, businessman John Fred Houston (1947-2016) played gigs with his own band for the better part of two decades, while also operating his own company, Merle Norman Cosmetics, in Columbus, TN. A mix of pop and country covers, with songs by Neil Diamond ("Sweet Caroline" and "Song Sung Blue") alongside barroom weepers like "Good Time Charlie," as well as standards such as "Ghost Riders" and "Jambalaya." Not to be confused with John Fred Gourrier (aka John Fred), the chart-topping swamp-pop singer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Genevieve Hovde "...Sings Close To My Heart" (Ardelle Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rex Allen, Jr.)
Ms. Hovde was formerly a child star performing on the Chicago-based National Barn Dance radio show and KSTP-TV's Sunset Valley Barn Dance, and also apparently played live with the Sons Of The Pioneers... This album captures her much later (early 1970s??) as an adult living the quiet life in River Falls, Wisconsin. She went down to Nashville to record at Jack Clement's studio, with backing from Lloyd Green, Hargus Robbins, Johnny Gimble and other several high-powered studio pros. This album includes some oldies like "Release Me" and Hank Williams's "Mansion On The Hill" as well as several by songwriters she was friends with, such as Bud Auge and Billy Folger. Not sure of the exact date on this one, but I'm guessing early-to-mid '70s.
Diane Howard "High Rollin' Man" (Scott Music, 1984) (LP)
Jack Howard/Various Artists "Jack Howard's Covered Wagon Caravan" (Arcade Records, 1962-?) (LP)
Jack Howard was a music promoter from Philadelphia who had worked with Hank Snow and Bill Haley in the 'Fifties, moving into a more active empresario role in the early '60s. He set up his own country music variety show featuring East Coasters such as Shorty Long, Rex Zario, Marty Smith, the duo of Ginger and Johnny, Art Taber and Jesse Stone, a group that acted both as a package tour lineup and as the cast for a weekly Saturday night radio show on WCAM, Camden, New Jersey, called the "Covered Wagon Caravan." In the early 'Sixties, Howard released several singles and at least two LPs featuring many of these artists, mainly on the Arcade label.
Randy Howard - see artist discography
Scotty Howard "None Other Than Me" (Crown Records, 1967) (LP)
Scotty Howard "More Truck Drivers Songs" (Custom Records, 19--) (LP)
Howdy Moon "Howdy Moon" (A&M Records, 1974)
(Produced by Lowell George)
This airy folk-rock trio is worth noting here because of the presence of several members of the Los Angeles roots-music elite -- Lowell George, Bill Payne and bassist Roy Estrada from Little Feat; pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and ex-Lovin' Spoonful singer John Sebastian playing harmonica on the album's opening track, "Lovelight." There are also a slew of pop and jazz session players, such as Van Dyke Parks, guitarists Arthur Adams and Dennis Budimir, as well as percussion by Milt Holland and Bobbye Hall. The bad news is, this is a pretty dreadful album, at least from my point of view. Tons of gooey, spacey, amorphous soft-rock with fairly weak vocal harmony arrangements, and occasional whiffs of CSN-ishness. The guys in the band, Jon Lind and Richard Hovey, never really did much else than this album -- a few songs recorded by other artists -- though the gal, Valerie Carter, recorded two solo albums in the '70s and had a long career as a backup singer -- most notably for James Taylor -- and she sang on Little Feat's The Last Record Album right after this record came out. Despite the storied musical lineage, this album has very little to offer country-rock twangfans, and even soft-rock aficianados might find it hard to get too excited about its contents.
Erv Howell "Travelln' Along" (KY Tenn Records, 19--?) (LP)
Dunno much about this fellow, other than that he was an uber-indie bluegrasser from Tennessee, and that he released at least two albums. On this record, other than a cover of the classic instrumental "Train 45," all the songs are credited as Erv Howell originals.
Erv Howell & The Tennessee Hayriders "My Mack Truck" (KY Tenn Records, 19--?) (LP)
On this album cover, Howell bumped himself up from a VW bug to a big old, badass semi-truck... Dunno if he actually worked for the Harley Bag Company or not, but he sure looks comfortable up there in the cab of that big rig. The band -- now called the Tennessee Hayriders -- appears to include the same guys as before and about half the songs overlap with the previous album. (I wouldn't be surprised if many are the same versions as well...) The title track is new, though personally, I'm more interested in the opening song, "Chula Vista Baby," which sounds about as trucker-y as you can get.
Bill Hoy & Allspice "R Ranch Saturday Night" (All Spice Records, 1982) (LP)
Not much info on this country-lounge band, other than that they were from Medford, Oregon and dabbled in both twang and pop... Side One of the album was all country (oldies, from the '60s and '70s) while Side Two was more of a pop standards kinda thing -- songs like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore, "September In The Rain," and "I Left My Heart In San Francisco." The group included Bill Hoy, with Rick Arens, Bob Carlson, Shirley Collins and Rex Rice.
Jay Hoyle "According To Jay Hoyle" (Market Hall Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Jackson & Scotty Moore)
A country and gospel session by entertainer Jay Hoyle, who seems to have been in the orbit of producer-promoter Gary S. Paxton when this disc was made, possibly sometime in the late '70s or early '80s. Jay Hoyle grew up in a religious family in Tulsa, Oklahoma and although his parents wanted him to become a gospel singer, he was more immediately drawn to the secular entertainment scene. Hoyle started his music career in the late 1950s when he joined a perky vocal quartet from Longview, Texas called the Doodlers, who were pretty serious about making it big in show business. They cut a couple of singles of uptempo pop novelty material with a vaguely Bill Haley-ish vibe and worked gigs in and around Houston, eventually touring through the South and the upper Midwest before breaking up around 1960 or so. There's a pretty big gap between that gig and this album though at some point Hoyle found his niche as a cruise ship performer, which is hinted at by a small photo of an unidentified ship on the back cover of this album. This album is mostly secular and definitely country, though it includes a trio of songs from Gary S. Paxton, who also sat in on the Nashville session and sang in the backing chorus, and a couple of tracks are religiously-themed. Fiddler Buddy Spicher seems to have helmed the session and provided arrangements for the a-list band, and contributes a song of his own called "Roll It Around." As far as I know this was Mr. Hoyle's only full LP, although he performed steadily for decades on ships such as Regal Princess, eventually settling down in Tennessee.
Dennis Hromek "It's Such A Pretty World Today And Other Country & Western Favorites" (Custom Records, 196-?) (LP)
Bass player Dennis Hromek grew up in Sonoma, California and made his way down the the coast, straight into country music history. First he migrated to Modesto, where he formed an early 'Sixties rock band with guitarist Bobby Wayne -- Hromek and Wayne then became inseparable, moving through one top-flight band after another, playing for Freddie Hart, Wynn Stewart and -- most famously -- as core members of Merle Haggard's Strangers from 1970-73. In the late '60s they anchored the house band at the Palomino nightclub in LA, along with steel player Red Rhodes, and it was as part of that group they they cut a bunch of sessions for the Crown/Custom/Somerset/Alshire cheapo labels, including this album, which was released under Hromek's name. (There are other related albums which juggle around or recycle the same or similar material, sometimes using names of different bandmembers -- it's dodgy and complex, as one might expect from such a fly-by-night outfit...) The cover of "It's Such A Pretty World Today" is appropriate, since it was Hromek and Wayne who backed Wynn Stewart on the original hit, and they had just moved from his band into the hip and happening Sunset Strip scene when they cut this late-'Sixties session.
Dennis Hromek (?) "Country And Western Hits" (Somerset) (LP)
This even-cheaper record is often listed simply as "artist unknown," though I think it's actually Dennis Hromek singing on the whole album -- at least it sounds like the same guy on all the tracks. There's some overlap, including a couple of originals(?) "When My Conscience Takes Over" and "Save A Kiss For Me" which appear on both LPs. Generally, this is pretty good stuff -- the vocals recall Roger Miller on a few tunes, and maybe a little bit more Merle Haggard on others. As is often the case with these cheapo discs, the cover songs were just bait-and-switch, trying to gull unsuspecting record buyers into getting it for the "hit," and on this particular set, the rendition of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" is just so-so, though some of the "filler" tracks are pretty cool... There's also an icky-sweet run-through of Bobby Goldsboro's uber-sexist "Honey" which is kind of delightful in a kitschy kinda way. At some point, Hromek relocated to Fort Worth, Texas and got into the music scene there. He also spent a couple of decades working as a limo driver/tour guide in the Napa Valley wine country... Dunno what he was up to musically during those years though. Anyone know for sure if it's him on this record?
Edwin Hubbard "A Great Deal Of Jazz And A Little Bit Of Country" (Orion Records, 1981) (LP)
Edwin Hubbard "Edwin Hubbard" (Prana Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Edwin Hubbard & Ron Capone)
This is definitely an oddball record, though also pretty cool. Flautist Edwin Hubbard (1935-1997) is best remembered for his work as a jazz and soul player -- originally from Arkansas, he became a well-known musician on the Memphis scene, Hubbard toured with Isaac Hayes during the peak of Hayes' career, and played on the "Shaft" sessions. But he also had a consistent fascination with and affinity for country material, often interpolating bluegrass standards into the jazz format. It's unusual, for sure, but if you really listen to Hubbard's recordings, you'll realize it's not just gimmicky, he really dug country music and had a unique way of folding it into other styles. Joining him on this disc are twangsters such as Doug Dillard on banjo and Leo Leblanc on steel guitar. I'm not sure how often I would want to come back to this album just for listening pleasure, but it's certainly worth checking out and giving a spin or two.
Ray Wiley Hubbard - see artist discography
The Huddleston Brothers "The White Horse Inn Presents..." (1969-?) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Markham)
You can consider this one of those "I warned you" record reviews: yes, these guys covered some country tunes, stuff like "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Gentle On My Mind" and "Folsom Prison Blues," but they are brisk instrumental run-throughs, done in the same semi-dixieland style as covers of "Hello Dolly" and "Sweet Georgia Brown." The Huddleston brothers -- banjo plunker Bruce and keyboardian Stan -- held down a three year residency at the White Horse Inn in Three Rivers, California, a lodge situated in the Sierra foothills, on the way to the Sequoia National Forest. Although the album says this was recorded "live," it seems to have been taped in nearby Visalia. The Huddlestons went on to form the High Sierra Jazz Band in the 1970s, a dixieland and trad-jazz outfit that recorded over a dozen albums. So, yes, I've done the research, and no, if you're a country fan, you don't have to track this one down.
Susan Hudson "Put On Your Dancing Shoes!" (Graceland Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Pickering)
Originally from Gatesville, Texas, and later known as Susan Hudson Carman, this gal was a child performer and made several appearances on Hee Haw when she was young, and also did USO tours throughout Europe... She was also apparently a prolific songwriter, penning over half the tracks on this album, and she had good taste in cover tunes, including a version of "The Key Is In The Mailbox" and two by Delbert McClinton (which is always a good sign!) Backing musicians include Tommy Morrell plays steel and Johnny Gimble sitting in on fiddle... Also on this album is her version of Dave Dudley's "Six Days On The Road," a song she later re-recorded for Epic Records with Charlie Rich as producer. I guess that major-label windfall didn't gain much traction, though, and Hudson mostly wound up touring with older established artists such as Charlie Rich, Don Williams, and Conway Twitty. Years later, in 1988, she competed in a national talent competition and was dubbed Miss Country Music America; a few years later she permanently moved to Branson, Missouri and became part of the stable of artists managed by impresaria Chisai Childs. As far as I know, this was her only album.
Bill "Hoss" Huffman "Spend Some Time With Hoss" (Kessler Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Rue Barclay)
A highly regarded guitar player (and fiddler) Bill Huffman was born in Fellowsville, West Virginia but headed out west in the late 1950s to try and make it it Hollywood. He was most successful as a country picker, apparently playing club dates at places like the Brandin' Iron in San Bernardino, and was working with producer Rue Barclay when he cut this disc, which I think was his only album. There's no date on it, but from the catalog number (K-7463) I'm guessing it was from 1974, sadly the same year that Huffman died of cancer. Most of the tunes are oldies and country standards, stuff like "Faded Love," "It Makes No Difference Now," "Roly Poly" and "Wild Side Of Life," while the most contemporary number was a version of Merle Haggard's 1972 hit, "Daddy Frank." It's a nice record, with plenty of instrumentals and some vocals as well, Huffman sounding, perhaps, a bit old before his time, but picking some sweet riffs nonetheless, with solid accompaniment from an unknown coterie of SoCal musicians -- pals of his who wanted to help Huffman make one last record that would be his legacy. In addition to playing acoustic and electric guitar, Huffman also showed off his fiddling skills, notably on the old-timey chestnut, "Ol' Joe Clark."
Manuel Huffman "...And The Deliverance Mission Blue Grass Band" (West 235 Main Records, 1978) (LP)
A bluegrass-gospel album recorded in Spokane, Washington. The liner notes purport to be an interview in which Utah Philips talks to mandolin player Manuel Huffman about his life. Huffman says he was born in 1910, talks about his early years working in the Idaho logging camps, where he drank to excess and became an alcoholic. Huffman describes about how his boozing dragged him down until he finally got religion, and how a chance meeting in a local record store led to the formation of this band, and to recording this album with a few younger musicians... Whew! Talk about authenticity!
Lee Hufstedler "From Me To You" (Crusade Records, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Casolari)
This looks like a fairly marginal offering from amateur singer Lee Hufstedler, who hailed from Marion, Illinois, in the state's rural southern end. He cut this album at Bill Casolari's prolific vanity pressing label, with backing by Casolari, though apparently no one else. The repertoire is all covers, though in a variety of styles including country and gospel oldies such as "Ashes Of Love" and "Peace In The Valley," along with more pop-oriented '70s stuff like "Drift Away," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and "Joy To The World."
Billy Lee Huggins & Holly "Billy Lee Huggins And Holly" (Artist House Records, 1985-?) (LP)
In his teenage years, Billy Lee Huggins was a rockabilly rebel from Saranac Lake, in upstate New York... At one point he headed to Nashville to make it big, and wound up playing backup for a while, but mostly his career was spent in Clinton County, NY, where he led bands in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Many years later he cut this album, which features robust, soulful vocals in an old-Elvis/Charlie Rich country crooner style. The exact date this album came out is a little mysterious, but it was probably around 1985, since he covers "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile," which was a big hit for David Allan Coe in '84. In addition to this obscuro album, Huggins also cut a 1977 single on the Nashville-based indie label, Phono Records, although he was back in Saranac Lake by at least 1982, playing county fair-type gigs with "Miss Holly" and a local guy named Carl Chiasson. Later on, Huggins got religion and started his own ministry, which included a self-released gospel album which he sold locally as a CD.
Don Hughes "See Ruby Fall: The Nashville Scene" (Crown Records, 19--?) (LP)
Was this the same Don Hughes as the guy below? Anyone out there know?
Don Hughes "Simply For You" (CC & Company, 1979) (LP)
A singer from Pompano Beach, Florida covering hits by Waylon Jennings, Eddie Rabbitt, Johnny Rodriquez, Mel Tillis and even Kenny "Sauron" Rogers...
Earl Hughes "Hawaii's Ambassador To Country Music" (TWC Records, 19--?) (LP)
Fiddler Earl Hughes really had a thing for the non-mainland, non-lower 48 states... But why he jumped ship from Hawaii to Alaska -- or why he never made it to Puerto Rico -- I really can't tell you. Anyway, this album looks to be mid-to-late-'70s vintage... Much later on, he became Alaska's country music ambassador. (Which raises another question: how do you get that job? Are you appointed by Chet Atkins or Billy Sherrill? Oh, wait, no... In this case it was Hawaii's governor, George Ariyoshi who dubbed him their ambassador... which I'm sure meant he could park anywhere he wanted to in Nashville...) Anyway, this is Mr. Hughes backed by a compact group called Tumbleweed Connection, which included Jim Decker on bass, Richard Freeman playing lead guitar, Earl Hughes playing fiddle, piano and pedal steel(!), and Doug Pang-Kee on drums. Side One showcases original material by Hughes and friends, including novelty numbers such as "Mechanical Bull Riding Cowboy," "Parking Lot Lover," and some Hawaiian-themed tunes; on Side Two he covers twangy faves like "Whiskey River" and "Orange Blossom Special," as well as "South's Gonna Do It Again," which is kinda funny because isn't, like, Hawaii way further south than the southern states? According to the liner notes, this was his second album.
Earl Hughes "Alaska's Ambassador Of Country Music" (19--?)
Earl Hughes "Alaska's Earl Hughes: Fiddler's Son" (2002) (CD)
Lena Hughes "Queen Of The Guitar Pickers And Her Flat Top Guitar" (Power Records, 196-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Raney)
A record you could really fall in love with. Multi-instrumentalist Lena Hughes (1904-1998) played fiddle, banjo and most notably the flat-top guitar... Her clean, elegant style had a profound influence on the regional music scene of the Ozarks, where the Ludlow, Missouri native played at barn dances and other events, dating back to her childhood and the post-WWI era. This was her only album, recorded in the 1960s by hillbilly boogie star Wayne Raney on his independent Rimrock label, and captures her remarkably clean, beautiful performances. Though she is said to have influenced the course of modern country music, Hughes embodied an earlier style, known as "parlour guitar," where popular songs of the Antebellum era and later decades were adapted by amateur, homegrown musicians playing melodies learned from the sheet music that was popular before recording technology existed. When I first saw this, I had expected something along the lines of Maybelle Carter's old mountain-music style of flatpicking, and while that foundation is heard in Hughes' work, a lot of this reminds me more of old-time picker Elizabeth Cotton, who added a layer of beauty and delicacy to the folk and blues styles -- Hughes has a similar sweetness that Cotton's fan may find appealing. A lovely album, reissued in the digital era on the Tompkins Square label as Queen Of The Flat Top Guitar..
Denny Hulbert "The Denny Hulbert Show: It's Now Or Never" (Mad River Productions, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Eric Raleigh & Tom Archibald)
This hippie twang band from Mad River, California covered country songs like "Walking After Midnight" and "Orange Blossom Special," along with original material by Hulbert and others... Guest musicians include multi-instrumentalist John McFee (of Clover and Huey Lewis fame) and Bill Kirchen (from the Commander Cody Band) with Katherine Hulbert sharing lead vocals...
Frank Hulett "At Jackson Hole" (Ozark Opry Sound Studios, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by R. N. Parker)
A live set recorded at Tom Flood's bar, a place called Jackson Hole in Osage Beach, Missouri, which is kind of Branson adjacent. It's basically just Mr. Hulett playing guitar with some assist on fiddle and bass from a guy named Tony Smith... apparently Hulett held a residency at Jackson Hole for several years, and also was a cast member of Lee Mace's Ozark Opry, which sponsored this album. The repertoire is a mix of oldies pop standards such as "Cab Driver," "Route 66", and "Who's Sorry Now," along with a few country tunes, including "Key Is In The Mailbox" and "Good Hearted Woman."
Dakota Dave Hull & Sean Blackburn "River Of Swing" (Flying Fish Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Sean Blackburn, Dakota Dave Hull, Peter Ostroushko & Butch Thompson)
A really swell set of mostly uptempo acoustic-based western swing, with singers Blackburn and Hull backed by several elite pickers from what would later be seen as the "Prairie Home Companion" house band, notably bandleader Butch Thompson, with other notable contributions from steel player Mike Cass, singer Molly Mason and picker-fiddler Peter Ostroushko. There's some original material on here, but the heart of this album is the cover songs, with include classics from the catalogs of Bob Wills, The Delmore Brothers and others, including a few twanged-up ballads from the world of American-songbook pop vocals. The album's closer, "Rollin' Along," is a cover of a notorious western swing oldie whose chorus ("I'm feelin' high and rollin' along") pegs it as one of those old-school, Depression era stoner novelty songs, a reputation that made both versions big fan faves on freeform hippiebilly station KFAT. Nice record. A highwater mark for the Minneapolis folk-country scene.
Bill Humphrey "Retrospect (Is For The Mind)" (Rising Star Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Bleuer)
This singer from Redondo Beach, California played at joints like the Happy Clam and Blue Moon Saloon... His band (at least on this album) included a teenaged Ron Block(!) on banjo, at least ten years before he joined Alison Krauss & Union Station. The set list includes covers of "City Of New Orleans," "Mr. Bojangles," "Big Iron" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" and also a few originals, "Move Move Move" and the title track, "Retrospect."
Hungry Chuck "Hungry Chuck" (Bearsville Records, 1971)
After folk stars Ian & Sylvia Tyson tried their hands at country-rock, several musicians from their short-lived Great Speckled Bird band formed Hungry Chuck as a way to further explore the group's eclectic style. Jim Colegrove, Jeff Gutcheon and N.D. Smart formed Hungry Chuck in 1971, and released this lone album, with a mix of roots music styles that included folk, blues, country and gospel, reflecting the open-minded, experimental vibe of the times.
Tom Hunnicutt "Escaping From Today" (Hillside Country Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Linneman & Gene Lawson)
A native of Opposition, Arkansas, singer Tom Hunnicutt served in the US Marine Corps and peppers his songs with political and social commentary. Tracks include "The Environmentalist," "To Fight A War," "Escaping From Today" and "What Would You Do?" Hunnicutt later rebranded himself as "Captain T," and has self-released several CDs of early and later work. The Nashville crew on this album includes guitarist Jimmy Capps, fiddler Johnny Gimble and Jeff Newman on steel.
John Hunt "Beginnings" (Great American Goldmine, 1985) (LP)
A guitarist and singer from Omaha, Nebraska's roots music scene, Hunt played played with a country band called Backtrack, which included songwriter John Gibson on bass and Dan Mohamed on steel guitar. As far as I know, this was his only album.
The Cornell Hurd Band - see artist discography
Chuck Hurley "Goin' Where The Sun Always Shines" (Ashbrook Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Don Finn)
I'm not sure where Chuck Hurley was from -- this album was recorded in Nashville, but other than that, the liner notes are pretty vague. Anyway, even though he wasn't a great singer, I do like this guy. Assuming Hurley wrote all the songs (again, no credits) the material is fairly good, particularly uptempo numbers like "Turn Up The Jukebox" and "Daddy's Gone And Mama's Goin' Wild." They're decent barroom novelty songs, very much in the tenor of the times, stuff you could imagine Porter Wagoner sinking his teeth into. The anonymous backing musicians were also solid, no complaints there... but you have to admit that Mr. Hurley was a pretty weak singer, and simply couldn't stay in tune. On slower countrypolitan ballads, it's pretty painful, but again I think several of the songs were actually pretty good. Obviously, this disc is a ripe target for the mockery of the modern meanies who fancy themselves "hipsters": I'm not one of those people, though. Seriously: if you have a retro-twang band looking for weird old stuff to cover, you might want to check this one out. As far as I can tell, this was the only release on the Ashbrook label... Doubtless one of those "tax scam" outfits the meanies like to make fun of...
Frank Hurley "I Like Honky Tonks" (Picadilly Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Frank Hurley & Gene Breeden)
Jim Hurley "Ode To The Razorbacks" (All-Pro Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Larry L. Hart)
This one's pretty much what it says it is: an extended homage to Arkansas football from a hometown honkytonker, or more specifically to the University of Arkansas' Razorbacks team. Hurley had been around for a while before he cut this LP; way in 1967 he cut a single for the Stop label, followed by a string of songs in the early 'Seventies, including a duet with gal singer Linda Cassady. At some point he started working Johnny Elgin who produced some of his records, including this full album. The songs were all written (or adapted) by Jim Hurley, Larry L. Hart and John Elgin. Some are adaptations of old country songs: the title track, "Ode To The Razorbacks" is a version of an old Carter Family song (which one?), while "Watch Your Step Quarterback" is based on a John D. Loudermilk tune. Other songs include Larry Hart's "Armchair Football Superstar," "The Hogs And The Horns" and "Arkansas I Love You." So if you're into football and country music -- but ready for a break from Hank Junior -- give this disc a spin!
Michael Hurley & The Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffrey Fredericks & The Clamtones "Have Moicy!" (Rounder Records, 1976)
(Produced by John Nagy)
A decidedly classic album, this rambunctious avant-twang set features the loose-knit conglomeration of folk-country auteurs in the Holy Modal Rounders, notably Jeffrey Fredericks, Michael Hurley and Peter Stampfel, whose intertwined musical paths converged when some of the East Coast-based Rounders moved to Oregon in the early '70s, and began jamming with Fredericks, whose kooky artistic sensibilities dovetailed with their own. This record was a favorite on "underground" radio, and was championed by rock critics, notably Robert Christgau, who proclaimed it a country record worthy of rock fans' attention. It's a weird record, too. I like it, but there are elements at play that make me uneasy, more to do with the people who praised it than with the music itself: I think there were folks like Christgau who saw it more as a shot against the bow in opposition to traditional country music, than as an album that both played with the genre's conventions and revered them. The songs and lyrics are clever and absurd, an almost Dadaist presentation -- brash, subversive, witty and reflective of the counterculture values that nurtured their art, with songs about sex and drugs, dodging landlords and ripping off utility companies. Some lyrics are just silly, like the cajun-styled "Surf Song" or "What Made My Hamburger Disappear" (both songs about food, with "Surf Song" taking a turn into the unairable when the chorus describing what happens to food after it's digested...) and others are transgressive in a hundred little ways. The music reflects this as well: the Rounders were clearly virtuosi pickers, but they go out of their way to play sloppy, setting the tone, perhaps, for the "twangcore" bands on decades to come.
Hurricane Barb & The Country Squires "The Very Best Of..." (Jimbo Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by J. D. Van Buskirk)
This was a later edition of the Country Squires, a band from Minneapolis led by songwriter and cordovox king Bob Richison, along with guitarist Lee Larsen and drummer Pudge Likes. However, the group's previous female vocalist Betty Lee has been replaced by a new gal named Barb Huber or, more colorfully, Hurricane Barb. At the time, they were playing gigs at a place called Archie's Bar And Lounge, located in Hopkins, Minnesota, which commissioned this album. The record features liner notes by Marvin Rainwater, who probably played a few gigs with them at some point. The album includes "The Interstate Is Coming Through My Outhouse" and a few medley tunes, including one called "Barb's Favorites." The song, "Love Is The Answer" which is included on this album was also released on one of the singles Barb Huber managed to record under her own name as well (though still featuring material written by Bob Richison.) The two singles I know of were "Rags Upon My Shoulders/Love Is The Answer To This World" and "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep"/"I'm Really Sorry," from 1978.
Hurricane Ridgerunners "Hurricane Ridgerunners" (Topaz Records, 1981) (LP)
Amateurish but amiable old-timey music, hearkening back to the era of Gid Tanner, Jimmie Rodgers and Grandpa Jones... They draw on a wide variety of sources and reprise some pretty obscure old tunes, adding a few new gems, such as the lively banjo medley "NASA Sweepstakes/Last Chance," which, despite being an instrumental number, refers satirically to the disintegration of the Skylab space station in 1979, while singer Mark Graham's "The Big Band Theory" is billed as -- and delivers -- "the history of the Universe in seven verses." It's a fun song, a scientific/philosophical spoof that anticipates the theme song to the Big Bang Theory TV show by a good two-and-a-half decades: the album as a whole has a nice, ramshackle charm, but that song alone makes it worth tracking down.
Jess Hurt "Steel Guitar My Way" (Maple Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Jess Hurt & Bernie Vaughn)
A longtime fixture on the Rustbelt country scene, steel player Jess Hurt (1925-2013) was born in Tennessee, but settled down in Toledo, Ohio back in 1948, after serving in the Navy during WWII. He recorded this album in Nashville with backing by Mike Baker on bass and guitar, keyboardist Skip Browner, and Gary Scott on drums, though it was released on a Canadian label. Starting in the early 1990s, Hurt hosted an annual benefit show for the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and was an active musician for several decades. This seems to be his only full LP, though he also released a single way back in 1970 on the Spangle label, and a cassette-only release in the late '80s.
Matt Hurter "The Big Man" (RPM Records, 1970) (LP)
George Husak & Anton Husak "George's Album: Country Western Folk Songs" (Windjammer Records, 1965-?) (LP)
(Produced by George W. Husak)
These two fellas -- who were brothers -- were originally from South Texas, near the Gulf, although George Husak was living in the San Francisco Bay Area whenever this album was recorded. (I'm guessing the mid-1960s from the looks of it...) Anyway, we might as well just come right out and say it -- they weren't really that good. I mean, I'm not trying to be catty or harsh, it's just that they really were unskilled amateurs, plunking out the guitar melodies note-by-note, playing off-chords, and singing with a range that strongly suggests Ernest Tubb's monotone, though throwing Tubb's vocals into a very flattering light, by comparison. It's an ambitious album, nonetheless, with three songs written by George Husak, and four by Anton, as well as a few oldies from Hank Williams, Bob Wills and Rex Griffin. This includes a re-recording of their earlier single, "I'm Surfing," a misshapen novelty song originally performed so weirdly out of tune, they actually sounded like a warped record... The single was once infamously singled out by Dr. Demento as the worst record ever made, as recounted on the archives of good old WFMU. And who am I to argue with those guys? Nonetheless, I will make the case that while George Husak clearly could not sing or play guitar in tune, the older, mandolin-strumming Anton Husak (1919-1977) was actually a pretty good old-old-old-school hillbilly singer, performing in the Jimmie Rodgers-Hank Snow-Ernest Tubb school of plangent, primeval, depression-era honkytonk. Anton's "Let's Have A Look At The Bottle," is a spooky suicide ballad, worthy of Porter Wagoner or perhaps even Nick Cave, and well within the norms of the genre... Indeed, I'd un-ironically call it a classic. (Also, why all the drama about the songs's ending? If it was good enough for Bill Withers, it's fine for these guys too.) Anyway, though I'm not that into snide commentary and musical mockery, I will admit that this album is probably best appreciated as kitsch, although some listeners may also be touched by their eagerness and sincerity, regardless of the musical calibre.
Al Huskey "In Tennessee" (Syntar/House Of Huskey Records, 19--?) (LP)
Ultra-DIY outsider-art country/folkie twang by a fella from East Tennessee... Huskey started out as a teenage garage rocker, way back when, then mellowed out and got more acoustic-oriented as the years wore on. This is, honestly, a little torturous from a strictly musical standpoint, but clearly sincere and heartfelt. Plenty of mopey, mid-tempo ballads, and one big, epic tune about racial prejudice, seen from a progressive Southern point of view. Huskey wasn't a great singer, but he sure was sincere, and the backing band ain't bad. Hipsters dig this disc, in an ironic way.
Al Huskey "Double Album Of Al Huskey Songs" (2012)
Brian Huskey "Road Fever Rag" (Turkey Trot Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Brian Huskey & Oren Moore)
A longhaired fella from Charlotte, North Carolina backed by a small band with Carlton Moody playing banjo. The songs are mostly covers, including versions of Guy Clark's "Let Him Roll," Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and "Fox On The Run." There are also a couple of original songs written by Huskey: "Road Fever Rag" and "Roses Every Wednesday." Not sure of the release date... it might have been 1975, based on the matrix number...
Gene Husky "Stage Records Presents..." (Stage Records, 19--?) (LP)
A good-natured amateur from Owensboro, Kentucky, singing with feeling on a simply-produced, semi-clunky, modest little album. The centerpieces are several covers of songs from Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, so there's a mild outlaw vibe. Mostly, it's just some guys getting together to pick and sing a few favorite tunes -- his backing band included guitarist Jack Schoolcraft, bassist Mony Latham, drummer Charlie James and fiddler Herman Alvy, who all chipped in on vocals as well. This won't make the earth open up underneath you, but it's a nice, honest, authentic album. I'm pretty sure Gene's no relation to Ferlin, though.
Billy Hutch & His Boys "Eefin'-Nanny Down Home" (Time Records, 196--?) (LP)
Hutch was a session player in the orbit of the Modern/Time record label, who went novelty-number on his solo LP debut. This disc features several songs with "eefing" vocalizations - an old, wild, oddball hillbilly-vaudeville singing trick, which includes all sorts of snorts and oinks and wheezes. Eugene Chadbourne nominated this disc as a candidate for weirdest record ever, and that's pretty interesting recommendation. Some folks over at WFMU were into it, too, and provide a wry summary to the style, adding guideposts to other artists known for their eefing abilities. The rest of the record is pretty much standard-issue knockoff instrumentals, a speciality of the label, and Hutch's follow-up album dropped the wacky eefing schtick and stuck to straight covers of contemporary hits.
Billy Hutch & His Boys "Great Hits Of The '60s" (Time Records, 1964-?) (LP)
(Produced by Cecil Scaife & Hal Diepold)
Although this country-covers album was padded out with pop instrumentation -- a string section, lots of horns -- the core of the band was made up of Nashville pros. A-list guys like Fred Carter, Jr., Buddy Killen, Willie Rainsford, et. al., paying their dues at the Modern studios...
Carl Hutchens "Carl Hutchens" (Capitol City Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Mendell & Carl Hutchens)
Ray Hutchinson "I Like Mountain Music" (Rich-R-Tone Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Stanton)
Although the Rich-R-Tone label is known as a pioneering bluegrass label (even in its latter-day incarnation) they are pretty consistent in these liner notes describing Ray Hutchinson's music as "country." And what they mean by that is indeed old-school country, more Jimmie Rodgers or the Blue Sky Boys than Bill Monroe or Lester Flatt. He sings twangy chestnuts such as "Hobo Bill," "Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die," and "Women Make A Fool Out Of Me," as well as "Sweet Bunch Of Daisies" and "Pictures From Life's Other Side." Hutchinson hailed from Fletcher, North Carolina; not sure what the rest of his career was like, though I believe he made some singles as well as this LP.
Len & Esther Hutsell "When I Met Him" (196--?) (LP)
Len & Esther Hutsell "In The Valley" (Crusade Enterprises, 196--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Harris)
This married couple from Fremont, Nebraska were both clunky vocalists but the guitar pickin' is good and packed with rockabilly-influenced twang. The liner notes indicate that they performed shows throughout the South and upper Midwest, though I'm not sure if they were part of any particular ministry. Most of the songs were written by Len Hutsell, most notably his novelty number, "Guitar Pickin' Preacher Man." There are also a few standards such as "Palms Of Victory," as well originals such as "You Can't Run Away From God," by fellow evangelist, Jim Snyder and one called "Won't You Let Jesus In," which was composed by Esther's uncle Dan McGraw, a minister from Gillette, Wyoming. Her family band, the Grace Victors, with brothers Phil Grace and Steve Grace provided backing vocals as well. Given the twangy, uptempo feel, Hutsell may have started out playing in some local rock band or another before taking up his evangelical mission -- I'm not sure if he's playing lead on any of these tracks, though, as Crusade label staffers Bill Casolari and Pat Baker played on these sessions, and Hutsell is only mentioned as a rhythm guitarist. Anyway, this is a nice one for folks looking for Christian country with a little musical bite to it... Worth a spin, for sure!
Lee Hyatt "What If We Gave A War?" (Gigantic Record Company, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Herbert G. Hatt)
This one's pretty far afield musically, but it was just so weird-looking -- and so local -- I had to add it, despite the lack of overt country-ness. With its grim, cartoonish cover art showing a huge barbwire fence surrounding the "Occupied Zone, State Of Indiana," this weird, outsider folk-rock outing had at least a partly political slant, with few songs brandishing relatively blunt social commentary -- war and conformity being bad and all -- although other tracks just seem like your normal kinda late-1960's spaced-out poetical introversion. I couldn't find any info about Lee Hyatt, though this was on the same indie label from Evansville, Indiana as the band Hickory Wind (above) and one of the songs here also appeared on their album. No other musicians are listed, though I suppose it's possible some of the same guys who were on the Hickory Wind album -- or one of the Gigantic singles -- might have played on here as well. (By the way, hipster know-it-alls often often tag these private-press records as "tax scam albums," or records that were manufactured for the sole purpose of writing off financial losses... That may literally be the case here, since at the time the Gigantic Recording Company was putting out its odd little discs, producer Herbert G. Hatt (1932-2012) was at the apex of a decade-long battle with the Internal Revenue Service, which had investigated numerous sketchy deductions he claimed in relation to the funeral home service he managed in Evanston. He lost both the case and his appeal, though the government drily noted that "the amount of Hatt's loss from his recording venture was not shown to be erroneous." The Gigantic label was still included in Billboard magazine's 1973 music industry listings, though I don't think it was still an active studio...)
Brenda Hyatt "Lovin' Country" (Steel Records, 1981) (LP)
Hick Music Index