70s Country Artists 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.

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Jerry Waddel "...And The Right Lane" (Christy Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Gailey)

This amateur album from Albuquerque, New Mexico features mostly cover tunes, stuff like "Country Roads," "Okie From Muskogee," "Green Green Grass Of Home," and a few rock oldies like "Rip It Up" and "Johnny B. Goode." There's also one original, "Mama," which he wrote for his mom. Waddel's band included Dean Smith (bass), Larry Grubbs (organ), Rodney Ross (drums) with pedal steel by Wayne Gailey, who helped produce the album as well. Not sure when this one came out, though back in 1970 there were newspaper notices for Waddell and the Right Lane playing shows at venues in Colorado Springs and in Missoula, Montana, so he was definitely hustling around back then.

June Wade And The Country Congregation "Pick Hits" (Calvary Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Hugh Davies)

This Southern California country-gospel combo started in the early 1970s, with guitarist Larry Brown backing two married couples -- Dale and June Wade, and Sharon and Tracy Dartt, with the original lineup recording this debut album. Genuinely twangy, the Country Congregation was from Apple Valley, California, a tiny desert town near San Bernardino which remained their home base for more than a decade. This album came out on an independent gospel label in Fresno, although the sessions were recorded at the Capitol studios in LA, with J. D. Maness playing pedal steel... (Heck, they even got Pat Boone to write their liner notes!) The country/countrypolitan vibe is pretty strong on here, with some great musicianship from the studio crew, particularly the pedal steel. Recommended!

June Wade And The Country Congregation "Think On These..." (Manna Records, 1978) (LP)

June Wade And The Country Congregation "Meetin' Time At Calvary" (Manna Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Dale Wade)

June Wade And The Country Congregation "Live Thru Love" (Foxfire Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dale Wade & Terry Dwyer)

Recorded live in Victorville, California, at the "Western Desert Gospel Sing," an event founded by the Wades in 1979 which was both an annual festival and an ongoing local gospel jam session...

June Wade And The Country Congregation "Rise Again" (Manna Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Dale Wade & Hal Spencer)

Norman Wade - see artist discography

Randy Wade "The Only Known Recordings Of..." (Busch Country, 1979) (LP)
An indiebilly outing from Tampa, Florida... This album features some original material, including "The Country's Going Country" "You Stepped On My Heart."

Randy Wade "Tell The Mirror" (NPW Entertainment, 1999)
I'm not 100% sure, but I think is the same guy, just twenty years later... A pretty commercial-sounding, Top Forty-ish good-ole-boy album, along the lines of Travis Tritt, or folks like that...

Willis Wade "Introducing Mr. Versatile -- The Fabulous Willis Wade" (Ruby Jean Records, 1969) (LP)
Multi-instrumentalist Willis Wade led this Nashville-based band throughout the 1960s, notably doing several rounds on the USO tour circuit in Europe and Asia. Originally from Blackville, South Carolina, Wade was living in Nashville when he led this group... This late-'Sixties edition of the band included bassist Jackie Lynn (also on vocals), Bob Cox (piano), Ray Salter (drums, bass, guitar and fiddle) and Eddie Weil (bass and drums). Also worth mention is singer Linda Vaughn, who the liner notes identify as "vocalist and dancer" and "short, but cute as she can be." Aw, shucks, that old-fashioned Southern sexism was so darn adorable! This album includes a few originals, including two by Willis Wade, "Cheater Walked Out" and "Wade's Running Banjo"

Stan Wagganer "Heartbreak Mountain" (Grass Fire Records, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Greg Calloway, Delbert McKinnon, John Daugherty & Myron Smith)

Multi-instrumentalist Stan Wagganer was a child prodigy who started playing real gigs when he was just seven, moving through a succession of regional bands and local "opry" venues, including Lee Mace's Ozark Opry, where he had was working when this album was made. The material is mostly standards, bluegrass fiddle tunes and the like, although co-producer Myron Smith plays pedal steel on the sessions.

The Waggoners "The Waggoners" (Lemco Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Cecil Jones)

Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, guitarist Charlie Waggoner started out in country music in 1952, playing on radio and backing various stars... By 1969, he'd started his own band along with his wife, singer-guitarist Roxanne Waggoner, working at Holiday Inns and clubs, as well as opening for bigger artists. They were hosting their own TV show out of Knoxville at the time this LP came out; backing them are bassist Tony Wayne and drummer Larry Clifton. The Waggoners moved around a lot -- during the "Urban Cowboy" years they were working a steady gig in Daytona Beach, Florida, though they eventually moved back to Indiana. Years later, in the 1990s, the Waggoners co-founded a sing-out religious service they called the Country-Gospel Music Church, which was held at various venues in Nashville, often with older stars of the Opry dropping in to sing a hymn or two. Towards the decade's end, they relocated the "Church" to a venue near Gnaw Bone, Indiana, where they continued the tradition.

Bodie Wagner "Hobo" (Philo Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bodie Wagner & Michael Couture)

Folk troubadour Bodie Wagner hailed from Ohio but he traveled across the country, performing with likeminded artists such as his brother, Pop Wagner, or with hobo poet Utah Phillips, who contributed the liner notes for this album. Wagner's latter-day rail-riding, Woodie Guthrie-esque , world-wise rambling-man folkie persona can feel a little precious -- particularly on songs such as "I'd Like To Say I'm Proud" (written from the point of view of a noble, working-class trucker) -- but this album's gentle spirit will win you over, especially with the exquisite pedal steel and dobro accompaniment by Martin Grosswendt and Wagner's own delicate fingerpicking guitar work. His brother Pop sings on one track, the uptempo "Chugga Tramp," while Jim Ringer chimes in on the chorus of "I've Been On The Road," one of several excellent songs in this strong set of all-original material. There are a couple of children's songs, numerous nods to the working class, while on the topically-themed "America," Wagner marks the end of the Vietnam War with a declamatory song which both passes judgment on the war's planners but also affirms the growing apolitical spirit of the post-Watergate era, declaring that foreign wars and other global crises are "so far from me, so far from in my heart" that he can't worry about them anymore. It's probably the most interesting song on the album (though hardly the most enjoyable) and while one can understand the fatigue people felt after the big struggles of the 'Sixties were finally over, the message is a little muddled. Overall, a nice record, though you have to be willing to get into the coffeehouse folk-singer thing to appreciate its musical side.

Rick Wagner "Where'd The Whistle Go?" (Vetco Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Wagner & Dave Gordon)

One of the Vetco bluegrass label's rare forays into non-bluegrass, folkie/novelty territory... This one's a little too folk-scene for me, though it is a nice record, with contributions from labelmates Dave & Kay Gordon, who had success with their comedic Vetco "hits," recorded around the same time. There's some nice old-timey banjo plunking and flowery arrangements with cello and viola, novelty tunes such as "Nothing Rhymes With Chimes," and the John Prine-ish "A Good Fire" that don't quite stick, but are okay. The instrumentals kind of remind me of Jay Ungar, so not quite hippiebilly twang, but hardly strictly bluegrass, either.

The Wagon Wheel "Introduction To Wagon Wheel" (Wagon Wheel Recordings, 196--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Franklin)

This album was an interesting combination of country twang and the more static confines of the square dance sound. The Wagon Wheel label was started by caller Don Franklin, a well-known figure in the Denver, Colorado square dance scene... This album may be of interest to country fans because the core of the band was drawn from the Texas-based dixieland/twang band known as the Levee Singers, with music director Smokey Montgomery and hotshot guitarist Ronnie Dawson, a pioneering rockabilly star who settled into a mellower mode during the late '60s. Also on board are Fort Worth, TX bass player Ken Cobb and guitar picker Bill Hudson, backing Franklin and two other callers... There are some actual songs on here, though many tracks were more made for dancing. Franklin owned the label up until 1981, when he sold it to one of his engineers, who took the label into a broader direction, getting more overt country material into the mix.

The Wagonmasters "Campfire Favorites" (Omega Records, 1960-?) (LP)
Originally from North Texas near Amarillo, fiddler Billy Beeman (1927-2011) and guitarist Bobby Beeman (1929-1994) started out in a family band with their sister Shirley. While they were just kids, they made their way to Southern California in the late 1930s where they performed several times at the newly-expanded Knott's Berry Farm amusement park. In 1954, the brothers were hired full-time to form the core of the Wagonmasters, the house band for the park's Ghost Town hoedowns. The band's long residency lasted through most of the 'Sixties, when they are said to have played over nine thousand shows total. They also produced a series of dude ranch souvenir records full of cowboy/western ballads, folk tunes and country covers. On this first album, the group consisted of the Beeman brothers and Bill's wife Rachel Beeman, as well as bassist Eldon Eklund and Harvey Walker on banjo. I'm not sure when this album came out, though I'm guessing 1960-61, since it includes a cover of Marty Robbins' big hit, "El Paso," along with a slew of cowboy songs and a few bluegrass-ish tunes as well. There's also a playful dash of zippy acoustic swing on "Boysenberry Boogie," an instrumental number that underscores the Beemans' admiration for the brother duo of Hugh and Karl Farr. After the Wagonmasters broke up in 1968, the Beemans started a new group called the Lobo Rangers and hosted an annual event called the Beeman Bash, at Billy Beeman's spread in Placentia, California. The brothers were also central figures in the foundation of the Western Music Association, which celebrates cowboy music and poetry. In addition to these old LPs, Billy Beeman wrote a self-published autobiography, Chronicles Of An Old Fiddler and recorded an album with the Lobo Rangers in 1991...

The Wagonmasters "The Last Frontier" (Omega Records, 19--?) (LP)

The Wagonmasters "Folk Favorites" (Omega Records, 19--?) (LP)

The Wagonmasters "More Folk Favorites" (Omega Records, 1964-?) (LP)
They really go full-bore folk revival on this one, singing in a Weavers-meet-Kingston Trio hootenanny mode... This is mostly straight-up bland, middle-class singalong folk (as you might expect from a mom'n'pop venue like Knott's Berry Farm...) There are a few traces of twang -- a version of Marty Robbins' "Devil Woman," a quick little bluegrass breakdown -- though for the most part this is less "western" oriented than some of theie other albums... Not bad, per se, but not all that country.

The Wagonmasters "Wagoncamp Favorites" (Omega Records, 19--?) (LP)

The Wagon Wheelers "Wagon Wheelers" (Moon Records, 198--?) (LP)
Bluegrass and oldies from this all-covers band out of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. A mix of '40/'50s-era standards such as "Ashes Of Love," "Faded Love," "Release Me" and "She Taught Me How To Yodel," as well as (slightly) more modern material such as Doug Kershaw's "Diggy Liggy Lo" and Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away," and even a smidge of western swing in there as well. Not entirely sure when this came out, though it looks early '80s -- they cover "Old Flames (Can't Hold A Candle To You)", which was a hit fo Joe Sun in '78 and an even bigger hit for Dolly Parton in 1980.

The Wagon Wheels "On Stage" (Wagon Wheel Records, 1980-?) (LP)

The Wagon Wheel(s) "Wagon Wheel Opry: Old And New #2" (Wagon Wheel Records, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Robert Angellio)

Dale Wagoner "Kentucky Style Steel" (Mid-Land Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by DeWitt Scott & Rusty Thornhill)

Steel player Dale Wagoner started out in bluegrass and western swing, playing first with Pee Wee King, then Jim & Jesse McReynolds, before getting into the orbit of Nashville, touring with or doing session wirk for stars such as Susan Raye and Connie Smith. Then he headed back home to the greater Cinncinnati area, where he played mostly local shows... At the time this album was made, Wagoner was holding down a gig at the Boulevard nightclub in Springdale, Ohio. The backing band on this album all seems ot be locals, including Clyde Marcum on lead guitar, Ernie Vaughn playing bass, Jim Geyer on piano, Bill Tirey on drums and Bobby Mackey adding rhythm guitar. Not sure how "Kentucky style" sounds different from any other kind of steel guitar, but hey, a little branding never hurt anyone...

J. C. Wagoner "Picking And Singing With Down Home Country Music" (Three Star Records, 19--?) (LP)
This one's a little unusual in that the artist, North Carolina's J. C. Wagoner was less known as a singer than as a dancer -- a world-champion clogger, to be precise. Nonetheless, he recorded a single or two, as well as this album. Wagoner was a fixture on the Winston-Salem bluegrass and old-timey scene, where he would dance during or between bands, and held clogging workshops. (He also wrote a book about it...!) This album features a bunch of original material, written by either Mr. Wagoner or Herb Shively and Ralph Shiveley. It's possible he was also the same J. C. Wagoner who played drums for a well-known local bluegrass band, The Lincoln County Partners, on their country-friendly 1974 LP, It's Just The Chance You've Waited For, but I'm not 100% super-sure about that.

Wahoo Revue "Band Xing" (Avanti Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Rod Abernathy & Don Dixon)

This North Carolina bluegrass band formed around 1973 with core members Louis Allen (mandolin), Gary Bailey (bass), Stan Brown (banjo and mandolin) and Bill Willis on guitar, along with "guest" performers pianist-producer Rod Abernathy and Gene Wooten. Most members were students at North Carolina State University and after steadily playing campus shows they landed a plum gig at the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, which became their full-time job over the summer. They cut two LPs, each with a diverse "progressive" repertoire -- this album includes covers of "Friend Of The Devil" as well as Cat Stevens' "Father And Son," earning them mention in the annals of the late 'Seventies "country-rock" indiebilly scene. Wahoo Review broke up around 1979, with some band members pursuing music afterwards, notably Gene Wooten who moved to Nashville in 1977 and became an elite session player, and Gary Mitchell who played in numerous local bands and founded his own Ocrafolk record label. The group notably had connections to future top forty songwriter and Americana auteur Jim Lauderdale who met them at Busch Gardens and moved to Nashville with Gene Wooten; Brown and Wooten helped Lauderdale record one of his earliest demo tapes and offered him a slot in the band, which he declined, as fate pulled him elsewhere.

Wahoo Revue "Campus Bluegrass" (Leather Records, 1978-?) (LP)

Loudon Wainwright III - see artist discography

Garry Waite "Garry Waite's Country Time: A Dance Album" (Gorilla Music Production, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Denny Crockett, Ike Egan & Garry Waite)

Caught up in the line-dancing craze of the era, singer Garry Waite (1947-1998) put together this album of would-be future fads, packed with original songs variously described as two-steps, side-by-sides, stomps, freezes, and one called a "flying ape." And if none of this sounds familiar to the non-mobile couch potatoes among us, Waite helpfully enclosed a couple of posters with the LP, which describe some of the groovy new moves for you to learn. Mr. Waite is pictured on front cover outside of Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Bar, a Las Vegas casino that opened in 1979 and -- as seen on the 1983 marquee -- once included the Coca-Cola Museum(!) One presumes that Mr. Waite performed there, or hosted dance nights... This album seems to include a number of local Nevada musicians, although some of it was also recorded in Los Angeles, with help from Cliffie Stone and some old West Coast pros such as steel player J. D. Maness. To be honest, I wasn't wowed by this one -- it's not bad, it's just super-generic early '80s pop-country. But then again, Dr. Waite wasn't a professional musician, he was a local dentist and country music fan, just a guy putting his heart into something he enjoyed. His daughter, Gabrielle, sang on and helped write one track, "The Telephone Song," which was a two-step, in case you're wondering. [Note: still looking for a song that would stick, in 1985, Dr. Waite released a single called "Pickin' On Willie," which fits nicely in my list of Willie Nelson tribute songs.]

Tom Waits "Closing Time" (Asylum Records, 1973)
(Produced by Jerry Yester)

Although I suppose most folks would place alt-balladeer Tom Waits more in the "jazz" world, he certainly had an affinity with and connections to the early '70s country-rock scene. A SoCal native, Waits moved to LA in his early 20s, landing a regular gig at the Troubadour nightclub while living in the same neighborhood as many of the singer-songwriters who shaped the pop sound of the 'Seventies. His debut album has a strong acoustic feel, anchored by Waits' piano, with light, sparse, intimate backing that includes cello, trumpet, a modest rhythm section and acoustic guitars. Notable among the backing musicians is Arizona oddball Shep Cooke, who had toured with Linda Ronstadt and was still trying to make it in LA, and adds a nice country shading to many of these songs. This record's a real classic, bridging the worlds of country-rock and erudite jazz while showing the tremendous stylistic breadth and power of the early '70s music world, and setting the stage for Wait's future career. There aren't many completely perfect albums in the world -- this is one of them.

Tom Waits "The Heart Of Saturday Night" (Asylum Records, 1974)
(Produced by Bones Howe)

Another early classic. Although those of us with "greatest hits" ears mainly concentrate on this album's title track, all of these songs are rich and resonant, fine examples of Wait's uncanny ability to recraft jazz and blues, and great opportunities to hear him crooning in his youth. Great band behind him, too, obviously having a lot of fun.

Tom Waits "Nighthawks At The Diner" (Asylum Records, 1975)
(Produced by Bones Howe)

Another classic. Although not really a live concert album (it was recorded in the studio with a small live audience) this certainly reflects what Wait's live shows were like at the time, and the amazing finesse he had has an entertainer. A hefty chunk of the album is taken up with his wry, rambling, personable introductions, and he sets a cozy tone that shows just how charming and charismatic he was as a young man. The album opens with some classics, the comedic "Emotional Weather Report" and the bleary-eyed "Eggs And Sausage," working steadily through a repertoire of Bukowskian boho ballads... For country fans (and kitsch-heads alike) the highlight may be his majestic cover of the old Red Sovine hit, "Phantom 309," a corny yet eternally satisfying recitation song about a haunted semi-truck... Waits, the prematurely world-weary poet of desolation, invests a tremendous amount of emotion and sincerity into his version of this cornball novelty song, and it's fair to say that this is the definitive, ultimate version of this song (with apologies to Red Sovine fans...) This album is a great document of Waits' early career, but it's also just a darn fine record.

Tom Waits "Small Change" (Asylum Records, 1976)
(Produced by Bones Howe)

One of his best and best-known albums, this disc delves deep into the Bukowskian mythos of strip clubs, petty crime, heavy drinking, and skating by on the edge of society. Another classic album, with memorable songs such as "Step Right Up," "Invitation To The Blues," "I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (And See My Baby)," and the grim title song, "Small Change (Got Rained on with His Own .38)." The bleary-eyed romanticism of his earlier work is replaced by a finely-crafted cynicism and painfully pure disillusionment... Although an undercurrent of self-consciousness and faux-boho posturing, these songs are so good it's easy to let go of your nagging doubts about Wait's whole boho-lowlife schtick. (Don't get me wrong: I'm a Tom Waits fan, at least up to a certain point, but it's also possible to peek behind the curtain and glimpse the Mighty Oz...) Anyway, this one's another highly rewarding, must-have record. A classic.

Tom Waits "The Early Years, v.1" (Bizarre Records, 1991)
(Produced by Robert Duffey)

If you're into the country-tinged, folkie feel of Waits' first album, these archival albums of his earliest recordings will come as a real treat. Sweet, stripped-down demos of classic Waits compositions and other works-in-progress, recorded before he hooked up with the Asylum label. Even with the flood of Waits-ian material available in the world, this stuff stands out.

Tom Waits "The Early Years, v.2" (Bizarre Records, 1993)
(Produced by Robert Duffey)

Les Waldroop "Follow Me To Tennessee: The 1982 World's Fair" (Appalachian Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Les Waldroop)

It seems like hillbilly auteur Les Waldroop (1930-1989) was a real character... He recorded and self-released singles as far back 1955, when he recorded "Centennial Boogie" to commemorate the founding of his hometown, Franklin, North Carolina. In the early 1960s he put out a couple of singles, followed by a string of releases in the 'Seventies, with many of those songs included on this album. The song "Loafer's Glory" was first recorded in 1966, while "Chunky Gal" and "Moonlight's A-Wasting" date back to 1974, and "Appalachian Trail" came out as a single in 1978, with Bobby Harden billed as his backup. Waldroop also specialized in topical novelty songs such as "Diesel Fuel," "Watergate Bugs" and "Peanut Farmer" (about Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign) although apparently those didn't age well, and were left off this album. The disc is made up of all original material, including "Knoxville '82 And The World's Fair," which was purported to be the fair's official song. There are no musician or producer credits, probably because the songs came out over the course of more than a decade, involving several different sessions. Mostly goofy tunes with an exaggerated hick vibe, reminiscent of Roger Miller... Waldroop was probably a better musician than he let on, though I guess that's half the fun.

Angus Walker & The Birch Mountain Boys "Let's Sing Blue Grass Songs" (Rodeo Records, 19--?) (LP)

Elva Hare Walker "Piano Lady: The Queen Of The D-104" (Ross Sound Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Woodring M. Fryer & Elva Hare Walker)

Country and country gospel, played on the piano and the Hammond D-104 organ... Elva Hare Walker (1933-2011) was from Henderson, Kentucky, where she played in her local church, and where she recorded this album. She was backed by the Ross family -- Jack Ross (bass) Dave Ross (rhythm guitar) and Clyde Ross on vocals -- along with Steve Cobb on lead guitar and Danny Miles on drums. About half the tracks are gospel songs, including Dottie Rambo's "Build My Mansion Next Door To Jesus," Ed Burnett's "The Night I Talked To The Lord On My CB Radio," and the old-time classic, "Turn Your Radio On." She also plays secular stuff, like "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Release Me" and "Your Cheating Heart."

Fred Walker "Rural Route Three" (Superior Sound Studio, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Walker, Wayne Hilton & Fred Shelton)

A gospel album, recorded in Nashville with a studio crew that included Terry McMillan, Tony Brown (piano) Fred Newell (guitar) with plenty of original material... Mr. Walker was apparently from South Bend, Indiana; as far as I know this was his only album.

Glenn Walker & The Nashville Country Singers "Country Hits Of '70s, Volume Two" (Mountain Dew Records, 19--?) (LP)
A cheapo-label set of country covers. The (normally) anonymous prefab studio band, Nashville Country Singers, produced dozens of similar exploito-discs, though this one is unusual for putting an individual singer in the spotlight. A follow-up album that came out at basically the same time indicates there may have been high hopes for actually launching Glenn Walker's career as a solo artist.

Glenn Walker & The Nashville Country Singers "Okie From Muskogee: The Hits Of Merle Haggard" (Mountain Dew Records, 19--?) (LP)
A Merle Haggard tribute album, with Glenn Walker singing lead vocals. The rest of the group aren't identified, though they are pictured on the back cover... And though they do explicitly say this is a cover album, the liner notes go on and on about Merle's life story, sorta kinda implying he had something to do with this disc. Pretty sure he didn't, though... Heck, I'm not even sure if Glenn Walker was a real guy, or just a pseudonym!

J. C. "Tex" Walker "Cowboy Country" (Cowboy Country Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Chet Himes, John Ingle & Wink Tyler)

Way back in the early 1940s, Lone Star troubadour Thurman Walker (1910-1998) found himself at a crossroads familiar to many young artists: keep pickin' guitar and living fancy free, or go find a steady day job. He'd been playing professionally since the early 'Thirties and enjoyed regional success, but eventually he hung up his frets and went into the lumber industry around Huntsville, where he worked until retirement. Through it all he kept his affection for the old blue yodels of Jimmie Rodgers and western material by groups such as the Sons Of The Pioneers, so much so that decades later he decided to cut an album of some of his favorite tunes. They're mostly country chestnuts, stuff like "Cool Water," "Red River Valley" "Streets Of Laredo" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," with Mr. Walker backed by a house band that included Thomas Byrd on rhythm guitar, Randy Cade (drums), Bill Ginn (piano), Bert Rivers (steel guitar), Hugh Sparks (bass) and producer Wink Tyler on lead guitar. There are also several originals written by Walker, including a few that he wrote back in 1931: "My Juanita," "Little Cowboy Lullaby," "Old Sandman Of The Prairie" and "Song Of The Lariat,"as well as one other original, "Taking It Easy" by Sandra Fitzgerald, which was featured on one of at least two singles released in 1977 off this album.

Jerry Jeff Walker - see artist discography

Jimmy Walker "Swamp Country" (Swamper Records, 1966) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Grammer, Guy McColsky and Bill Brock)

Hailing from Waycross, Georgia, Jimmy Walker penned eight out of twelve songs on this album, which is rounded out with other songs by Billy Grammer, Harlan Howard, and Sheb Wooley, who wrote the title track. Walker also released several singles, and did work on some films shot at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, including the lead track on this album, a song called "Swamp Country" from a 1966 movie of the same name. Other fen-tastic tunes include "Ballad Of Okefenokee," "Down In The Okefenokee," and "The Legend Of Skull Lake," as well as some plain, old mopey country love songs.

John Walker "An Okie Boy And Other Tunes" (Century Sound Recordings, 1975) (LP)
A picker and songwriter from Lincoln, Nebraska playing acoustic folk and folk-blues, with a blend of original tunes and stuff from folks like Brownie McGhee. The band is heavy of local talent, with pickers such as Pete Blakeslee on dobro and Steve Hanson on guitar... This set was recorded at Century Sound Recordings, a studio in Lincoln, Nebraska run by Dick Spence.

John Walker "The Dr's Smooth Country Blues" (Prairie Dog Music, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Spence)

More blues, mostly, though again with plenty of "country" instruments. Walker leads a band that includes bassist Larry Boehmer, Pete Blakeslee (dobro and pedal steel), Fuzzy Blazek (dobro), Bill Childs (drums), Jim Cidlic (piano), Bill Dye (electric guitar), Dave Fowler (fiddle), Gary Howe (mandolin), and Dave Morris on bass. They cover some straight-up classic blues tunes by BB King, Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, as well as some newer and original material

Leslie Walker "Official Miss Rodeo Texas, 1980" (Americana Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Martin)

A souvenir of a statewide beauty pageant -- "Miss Rodeo Texas "-- a contest won by Ms. Walker over a field of twenty other gals (who were all pictured on the back cover). Apparently part of the prize was getting to make a record, in this case a country album with backing by Texas honkytonker Bubba Litrell and his band the Melody Mustangs -- Jesse Fritz (drums), Denny Mathis (steel guitar), Junior Mitchan (bass), Tony Pickens (fiddle), Don Reineke (lead guitar), and Bobby Trevino on piano. Litrell wrote one of the songs on this album, "Miss Rodeo Texas," while guitarist Don Reineke contributed another, "Bullrider's Waltz," alongside other rodeo-themed songs such as "All Around Cowboy Of 1964," "Bad Brahma Bull," "Bandy The Rodeo Clown," "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and because it was Texas in 1980, a version of "Cotton Eyed Joe." I'm not sure if all the guys on this album regularly backed Littrell, though Tony Pickens anchored his band from 1973 until 1988, when he took a job with Johnny Bush's Bandoleros, and Junior Mitchan used to play for Bob Wills. Anyway, congratulations Ms. Walker... and good luck in those national finals over in Oklahoma!

Lou Walker "Swing Western Style" (Sims Records, 1964) (LP)
An Oklahoman who once upon a time played in the Bob Wills band for much of the late 1950s, Lou Walker formed his own band, the Western Playboys, which often gave a tip of the old Stetson towards the more modern rock'n'roll sound. Indeed, discographers have him tagged as the same guy who cut a few rockabilly singles for Starday Records, notably 1957's "Rock And Roll (Tennessee Style)" which has a very Bill Haley-esque feel. The musicians on this LP include Lou Walker (guitar and vocal), along with Earl Ham (drums), Shorty Messer (steel guitar), Dean Phillips (bass), and Jimmy Young on fiddle.

Lou Walker "...Brings You Swing Western Style" (Studio 7 Records, 1969-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tink Walker)

Lou Walker reassembled a lineup of the Western Playboys for this set which mostly follows along in the path laid down by Bob Wills and his brothers back in the 1940s and '50s. The songs are mostly western swing and old-school honkytonk classics -- "Big Balls In Cow Town," "Milk Cow Blues," "Hang Your Head In Shame," "San Antonio Rose" -- though one marker of the modern era is his cover of Bill Mack's "Drinking Champagne," which helps date this disc. The liner notes tell us the song had been recently recorded by Cal Smith, referring to his 1968 hit version, leading me to guesstimate a 1969 or 1970 release date for this LP. Unfortunately none of the musicians are listed on this disc, though they may have included some of the guys he recorded with a few years earlier on the album above.

Sammy Walker "Song For Patty" (Folkways Records, 1975)
'70s singer-songwriter Sammy Walker was originally from Georgia but moved up North and became a NYC folkie and protege of folk legend Phil Ochs. This was his first album, and shows him perhaps a little to much under Och's philosophical sway, penning the strident title track about Patty Hearst and her violent sojourn with the radical-Left SLA; political material defines much of the rest of this album -- along with the inflammatory album art -- but nothing else stands out quite as starkly as that, with the closest runner-up being "A Simple Hour Operation," a quiet weeper about reproductive health issues. The benign ghosts of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan cast long shadows on this earnest-folkie debut, with Ochs himself singing harmony on a couple of tunes and producing the record. Like Ochs, Walker branched out stylistically, and his next two records on the Warner label were much lusher and more expansive... though this stark acoustic set has some surprises as well.

Sammy Walker "Sammy Walker" (Warner Brothers, 1976)

Sammy Walker "Blue Ridge Mountain Skyline" (Warner Brothers, 1977)

Sammy Walker "Songs From Woody's Pen" (Folkways Records, 1979)

Sammy Walker "Misfit Scarecrow" (Ramseur Records, 2008)

Bobbie Joe Walls "Just A Little Caring" (Hurshey Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Hurshel Wiginton)

Fairly dreadful, decidedly obscure early '70s countrypolitan from a Nashville local... Ms. Walls played Music City lounge shows for many years, crooning and playing piano at venues such as the Embers nightclub and the Piccadilly Room in the late '60s and similar gigs throughout the '70s. I suppose this album was her shot at the bigtime, with a studio crew that included elite studio pros such as Harold Bradley, Grady Martin, Pete Wade, Buddy Harman, David Briggs and the Nashville Edition providing backing vocals. The big-budget production added up to a syrupy stew of pop-vocals excess, with some modest "country" touches, but overall a schmaltzy, bombastic sound more reminiscent of Diahann Carroll or Edie Gorme than Lynn Anderson or Loretta Lynn. It wasn't out of synch with the styles of the times, but in this case the music didn't age well. Alas. There's some original stuff -- songwriter's demos, no doubt -- as well as covers of hits like "Country Roads," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Help Me Make It Through The Night" (on the country side) and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Candy Man" (from the pop charts). This slick-looking, professionally produced record was released on the uber-indie Hurshey label, which was founded by session singer and Hee-Haw regular Hurshel Wigniton of the Nashville Edition (who even copied the Hershey chocolate label for its logo, doubtless raising a few eyebrows in the legal profession...) I think it was was the only album released by this Music City insider.

David Walsh "On A Roll" (Charta Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Fields, John Eberle & Jim Tarbutton)

David Walsh "Somewhere In Canada" (Charta Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Field)

David Walsh "Alice, Rita and Donna" (Charta Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Field)

Walt Junior & The Country Division "No Place Like Texas" (Capatone Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Field)

That would be Walt Schulze, Jr. (1942-2018), a Houston native who formed his band The Country Division back in 1969, and plugged away for years, notably headlining the Golden Stallion dancehall in San Antonio frequently during the 'Seventies. He recorded this LP at Mickey Gilley's studio during the height of the "urban cowboy" craze; he also released several singles, including some of the same songs as on this album. This edition of the band included Schulze playing lead guitar, along with Travis Cherry on drums, Chuck Friday (vocals), Richard Moreland (piano) and bassist Larry Rasberry (who's not be confused with Larry Raspberry, of the Gentrys...) They kick things off with Ed Bruce's "Texas When I Die," also slipping in a Cindy Walker song, a classic outlaw anthem by Waylon Jennings ("Bob Wills Is Still The King") and a couple of tunes from Justin Tubb which maybe makes me think they were pals of his. About half the album is original material, with Richard Moreland looking like the driving force on this album: he contributes four songs -- "All Out Of Trying," "Raining In Dallas," "Sweet Creation" and "Yesterday Still On My Mind" -- while Walt Jr. rounds things out with a tune of his own, "No More Bright Lights."

David Walz "Country Old, Country New" (DaJu Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Judy Wyllie)

A very private, very indie, DIY country set from a deep baritone singer out of Plymouth, Michigan. The record is packed with original material, along with a couple of Kris Kristofferson covers and some oldies like "Thunder Road" and "Ghost Riders In The Sky." Walz was, in some ways, an imperfect singer, but he's also plausibly in the Dave Dudley/Ernie Ford style of deep-toned country crooners. Although he's usually a little too schmaltzy for my tastes, this album does have one real gem on it, the novelty number "Half An Hour Later," a jaunty, genuinely lustful little song about a guy who really likes having, um, special snuggle time with his loyal, loving wife, who gets him up early before the kids have breakfast and is waiting for him when he gets back home from work. Great novelty song, with an uptempo bounce that suits Walz's voice.

Jerry Glenn Ward "Focus" (Mega Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Rogers)

This lazy, dreamy set of cosmic Southern swamp-folk seems like an odd match for the usually commercially-oriented Mega label, but it sure is a nice dose of noodly '70s introspective songwriting, a cross between Tom Rush and Tony Joe White, perhaps? My eye was caught by liner notes that include country pickers such as Tommy Allsup, Lloyd Green, Buddy Spicher and Bobby Thompson, and backup singer Ginger Holladay, but despite the wealth of talent on these sessions, it's possible that this album was never actually released for sale, since all the copies out there seem to be promos. Maybe Ward was given a recording "deal" as part of a songwriting contract, or maybe Mega pressed a few copies but buried the album once they realized it had no real hit potential? Regardless, it's the kind of moody, unusual album that folk-freak fans can really get into, although there is a strong rural vibe as well, with the Arkansas-born Ward in sort of the same mode as the more experimental Southern rockers on the Capricorn label, just with more languid, stripped-down acoustic arrangements. Some interesting lyrics, as well, including the slightly sad seediness of "Whatever Your Name Is," about picking up one-night stands while out on the road. There's speculation that this might be the same Jerry Ward who played bass in Jerry Jaye's band, and that seems likely since they were both from Alabama, and Ward plays both bass and guitar on this album, and also because Jerry Jaye was signed with Mega Records in the early '70s. Anyone know more about this album?

Kenny Ward "My Favorites" (United Audio, 196--?) (LP)
A native of Selving, Ohio, Kenny Ward covers country standards by Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young and Johnny Cash. Includes a version of "Folsom Prison Blues." From somewhere in the early- to mid-1960s.

Pudge Warfield "Pudge's Wild And Wonderful Flat-Top" (Alear Records, 19--?) (LP)
This one's more in the bluegrass camp, but I'm a sucker for a goofy nickname... and c'mon... Pudge Warfield? And his manager, Big John Hougk? Can't help myself. Musically, this is pretty standard stuff, with pretty solid picking... Warfield is joined by Scott Brannon on rhythm guitar, banjoist Roger Dayley, Sam Glynn on mandolin, and Warren Reeder picking some mighty fancy dobro. A talented flatpicker, Mr. Warfield was from Martinsburg, West Virginia, and performed regionally, including numerous gigs in Maryland and environs.

The Warhorse Band "Live In Lubbock" (Caballo De Guerra Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Wally Meyers & Don Wise)

The Floyd Warren Ramblers "Western Swing" (Lodestar Records, 1962-?) (LP)
A western swing (and polka) band from Waterloo, Iowa. Floyd Warren and his wife Mary led a group that performed regionally and also hosted a weekly show on KWWL-TV. Warren's band was started in the 1940s, though I'm not sure when this album came out -- looks late 1950s, or possibly early '60s. (One source says 1962.) They are joined on some tracks by singers Dave Kennedy and Earl Minard, with steel guitar by Jimmie Snodgrass, who takes an instrumental solo on "Steel Guitar Rag."

Jerry Warren "Country Blue Boy" (Canadian Talent Library, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Art Snider & Glen Clarke)

A former rockabilly firebrand from Ontario, Canada, Jerry Warren was a wicked guitar player who "went country" in the late 1960s and released his first LP in '73, starting a hot streak that propelled him to the top of the Canadian charts and established him both as a songwriter and performer. This disc includes several originals by Warren, along with tunes from other Canadian songwriters, including a version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Ten Degrees And Gettin' Colder." He also tips his Strat towards Nashville, covering hits by George Jones, Jerry Reed and Cindy Walker. Augmenting his own career, Warren worked prolifically as a session guitarist and even dabbled in producing other Canadian artists. He died young in 1991 from a heart attack at age fifty-four, but left a bunch of cool music as his legacy.

Jerry Warren "From The Falls To The Coast" (United Artists Records, 1974) (LP)
Warren's rise was truly meteoric, though brief, with his second album producing a #1 hit in Canada, "Big Red Jimmy," part of a flock of original songs in this set. All but two of the songs were Warren originals, including gems such as "I'll Never Write Another Happy Song" and a reprise of one of his old Capitol singles, "Meanest Man." He also covers Marty Robbins ("Don't Worry") and Kris Kristofferson ("Why Me, Lord") but for the most part this is a triumph of northern twang. For whatever reasons, Warren retreated into the background after this: he penned several singles for other Canadian up-and-comers, and produced an album for his brother Lee Warren, but I'm not sure if he released another full LP of his own... There were a few singles in 1990-91, which sadly came out around the time Warren passed away. Love to see a comprehensive collection of his work come out, though!

Kelly Warren "Little Richie Records Presents..." (Little Richie Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Little Richie Johnson)

Singer Kelly Warren grew up in Lamesa, Texas and was a contestant in statewide beauty pageants, going back to when she was eight years old, when she won the "Little Miss Lamesa" competition. She first went into the studio to record country music in 1976, recording a single with an all-star Nashville crew, and returned the following year to cut this album with backing by pros such as Lloyd Green, Charlie McCoy, Hargus Robbins, Buddy Spicher, Kelso Herston, et. al. It's a pretty rootsy, twangy record, notably packed with original material -- although there's nothing written by Warren herself, there is one track penned by producer/label owner Little Richie Johnson, along with several songs by composers signed to his publishing house. Things didn't really click for Warren on the charts -- in 1978 she got a nibble from the folks at RCA, but after recording a couple of major-label singles, she shifted back into the indie scene and later moved into gospel music.

Lee Warren "Money, Marbles & Chalk" (Grand Slam Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Warren & Ken Friesen)

The brother of rockabilly rebel-turned-country chart-topper Jerry Warren, Canada's Lee Warren kicked off his career with a boost from his successful sibling, who produced this disc and added a couple of his songs to the mix. Four of the tracks are originals by Lee Warren, however, leavened with classy covers of stuff from the States, by artists such as Wayne Kemp, Willie Nelson and Marty Robbins, as well as another rendition of Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee." Jerry Warren plays guitar on this album, along with backing by Mel Aucoin, Johnny Burke, Roddy Lee, Bobby Lucier, and backing vocals by the Laurie Bowen Singers. Warren later self-released some stuff during the CD era, though I don't have the retails on those discs.

Roy Warren "Roy Warren The Singing Hobo And His Hobos" (Hobo Recordings, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Roy Warren)

I couldn't find any info about this guy, other than that he was from Jonesboro, Arkansas, and that he made at least a couple of singles in the early 'Seventies. All the songs on this album are Roy Warren originals, including titles such as "1980 Drought," "Ford-A-Matic 8" and "Climbin' The Mountain For Mercy." Mr. Warren looks to have been a middle-aged fella when he cut this disc, though the backing band is of much younger men, who are unfortunately not identified by name... There's no date on the record, but presumably it's from after 1980, what with that drought song and all.

Sandy Warren "...Sings Dawn Marie" (Squan Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Andrews & Harry Evans)

Country bandleader Lyken "Sandy" Warren Jr. (1924-2008) was born in Watertown, Florida and lived most of his life in Daytona, where he worked as a housing contractor. He and lead guitarist Bobby Hopkins started their band the Chaparrals back in 1965 and performed as an amateur musician for several decades. As far as I know, this was Warren's only album, although he also released several singles around the same time, including a few with topical themes, such as 1983's "Reaganomics" and "Debilitatin' Aggravatin' Unemployment Blues," from 1992. The title track of this album, "Dawn Marie," is a song written for his granddaughter.

Smokey Warren/Various Artists "...And His Country Music Revue" (Yale Records, 196-?) (LP)
Though originally from Phoenix, Arizona, bandleader Smokey Warren headed to the East Coast after putting in his time out West, trying to make it as a country star. Starting in the early 1930s, he and his brother Shorty Warren found a niche in New York state, and established themselves as popular twangsters, working radio and concert gigs all over the eastern seaboard, with Shorty Warren eventually opening his own nightclub, which he ran for over a decade before retiring in California. The Warren brothers are reunited on this album (Shorty had apparently settled down in Hollywood) along with a compact group that included Canadian singer-picker Jerry Hatton on bass and guitar, steel guitarist Harvey Reynolds, and a gal singer named Dottie Mae who hailed from Dupont, Pennsylvania. They each have spotlight tracks, with Dottie Mae singing on two songs, "Cowboy Jack" and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," and Hatton soloing on "Sittin' And Thinkin'," and Reynolds providing a little oomph on some instrumentals. Smokey and Shorty get top billing n the rest of the songs, about half the album... At the time this was made, Smokey Warren seems to have set up shop in the Garden State, with the Yale label located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Also of note, Jerry Hatton had a very successful career of his own, recording about a dozen albums as a solo artist...

Smokey Warren & Dottie Mae "The Best Of Smokey Warren And Dottie Mae" (19--?) (LP)

Smokey Warren "The Eastern King Of Western Swing" (Cattle Records, 1983) (LP)

Red Warwick "Dancing With Red At The 60 Club" (Longhorn Records, 19--?) (LP)
Them square dance records sure can fool you sometime... I mean, they're kinda country, right? But not quite what we're looking for. Anyway, Red Warwick was a caller from Kilgore, Texas, backed by a group called Eva Nichols & Her Lone Star Ramblers. It was Ms. Nichols who got my attention -- apparently she and Warwick were a popular duo on the early 'Sixties Texas square dance scene, as seen in a number of show notices in local papers around 1960-61. Nichols and her band provided musical backing and she also cut several singles on the Longhorn label under her own name -- these were instrumentals, although in the newspapers she was also credited as a singer. It turns out her career stretched back much further than this -- she was born in Richland, Missouri around 1920, and after working her way up through regional radio gigs while still in her teens, by the early '40s Eva Nichols was a cast member of the WSM's Grand Ole Opry, performing under the stage name "San Antonio Rose." She worked with several big stars, including Eddy Arnold and Pee Wee King, and toured with King's band, the Golden West Cowboys, as part of the Camel Caravan package tour in 1941. For a while she was known as Eva Nichols McCall, being married to an Army Sergeant named James McCall -- presumably he served overseas, though I don't know where that story went... Also not sure if Red Warwick was the same guy who retired to Grant's Pass and was active in the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association and ran a popular fiddling camp for many years. Seems possible.

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band "Cowboy Kazoo" (Cowboy Kazoo Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band)

This amiable, plangent, novelty-oriented stringband from Albuquerque, NM was sort of a cross between Jim Kweskin, Tom Lehrer and Doug Sahm -- and they plow through a fun set of uptempo tunes, including a remake of the classic, "Drop Kick Me, Jesus" (which was a cult hit for Bobby Bare in 1976.) It's credited here to lead singer Jeff Burrows, but everyone else in the world says it was written by Paul Craft, though Burrows can claim credit for refashioning it as a high-school sports chant, like Country Joe's "Fixin' To Die Rag." They also pay homage to the Texas outlaw's big Fourth of July bash, on "Willie Nelson's Picnic," so if you're keeping a list of songs that namecheck Willie (and who isn't?) then here's a good one to keep in mind. All in all, this is a nice record, though less overtly country than a lot of the other albums listed here.

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band "Tickle Tunes" (Cowboy Kazoo Records, 1978) (LP)

The Watermelon Mountain Jug Band "Kids Like Us" (Cowboy Kazoo Records, 19--?) (LP)

J. R. Waters "King Of Country Jazz" (Well-Waters Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Andy Waterman)

An intriguing mix of jazz and twang influences, though distinct from the stylistic crossovers of western swing a few decades earlier. An African-American country artist, J. R. Waters recorded this album in Valparaiso, Indiana with "the Country Jazz Trombones," as well as more conventional country pickers. Lots of original material penned by Mr. Waters. He seems to have been a lifetime resident of Valparaiso, working lounge gigs at least as far back as the mid-1960s, and may also have worked as a chef at a place called The Court, where he doubled as the entertainment, playing piano for the dinnertime crowd. Alas, information about this fellow is scarce... I'll keep digging!

Ozie Waters "Central City Favorites" (Columbine Records, 19--?) (LP)
Like a lot of musicians from the pre-WWII era, cowboy singer Vernon Scott Waters (1903-1978) moved around a lot, migrating to wherever he could find a paying gig. He was born in rural Calloway County, Missouri and wanted to see the world. While still only fourteen years old, Waters fibbed about his age and joined the Navy, and wound up stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. After his discharge, he was offered work singing on KGU-AM, the state's first commercial radio station, which began broadcasting in 1922. Later he returned to Missouri and landed a slot on radio station KMBC, Kansas City, where for six years he was a cast member of "The Happy Hollow Show," alongside hillbilly star Curt Massey. Now nicknamed the Ozark Rambler, Waters moved on to work in Texas border radio (XER), as well as "The Ford Ranger Show" on Denver, Colorado's KOA. Perhaps most impressive was his long stint in Hollywood where he acted in at least sixteen westerns, including most of the 1940s Durango Kid movies, alongside Charles Starrett, as well as with William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy). In the 1950s, Waters settled down in Colorado, hosting a western themed TV show and later performing at the Silver Slipper Saloon in Central City, outside of Denver. These albums are souvenirs of that long-running gig, with Waters singing cowboy tunes and sentimental oldies, backed by fiddler Harvey Gosman and Gill Blagg on bass. Over a couple of decades Captain Ozie Waters became a cultural touchstone for many Coloradans; The Denver Post ran a long profile piece on March 20, 1977, which is reprinted in a highly informative post on a geneology website, which provided most of the biographical information here.

Ozie Waters "Central City Favorites, Album Number Two" (Columbine Records, 197--?) (LP)
Recorded at the same time as the blue-covered album above, this red-jacketed disc features the same trio of musicians and identical liner notes, with another fine selection of old-school country songs. No date on either album, though the 1977 Denver Post article mentions that Waters was selling them from his home for $8.50 apiece, postage paid.

Ozie Waters "Sings Great Western Songs From The 1940s" (Castle Records, 1981) (LP)
Mr. Waters also recorded a number of 78 singles for Decca Records and smaller labels such as Coast and Rodeo, fourteen of which are compiled on this European import. His Decca/Coral tracks are not included (presumably because of copyright issues) but most of his Coast recordings are, notably his version of "Cool Water," which was apparently selected for preservation by the Library Of Congress. In the digital era the British Academy Of Country Music issued two discs worth of radio transcriptions made during this same era.

Sneezy Waters & The Excellent Band "You've Got Sawdust On The Floor Of Your Heart" (Sneezy Waters Records, 1978)
(Produced by Sneezy Waters & Ted Gerow)

Canadian singer-songwriter Peter Hodgson took on the stage name of Sneezy Waters in the early 1970s, after playing in rock bands for several years and busking on the streets of Ottawa... He's best known for his role in the stage play "Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave," where he portrayed Hank Sr. giving the fabled New Year's Eve show that never happened... Here, on his first solo album, Waters delivers a truly odd and unruly selection of hippie-era indie twang, with a strong folkie tendency, some honky-tonk parodies and a smidgen of soft, fusion-y jazz. His voice isn't particularly appealing -- whether because of his own limitation, or because he was parodying the genre, I'm not sure -- but some of the songs are curiously resonant, particularly on the album's second side. The title track, a hard-country novelty song, is kind of fun... Not sure I'd really recommend this one, but if you're digging deep into '70s alt-country, you might want to check it out.

Sneezy Waters "Sings Hank Williams" (Borealis Records, 1981)
Hey, I've never heard of him, either, but this is kind of a fun amateur-hour countrifying... Sneezy doesn't have the world's most amazing voice, but he has a friendly tone, and seems to be enjoying himself on these relaxed, rollicking renditions of a dozen old Hank, Sr. tunes, with a fine band backing him up. Originally released in 1981. Enjoyable!

Vic Waters "Living This Kind Of Life" (Silver Jingle Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Michael & Vic Waters)

Chuck Watkins "Chuck Watkins Ozark Jubilee: Country Music Family Style" (Audio Loft Studios, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Edwards & Chuck Watkins)

I think this was the first album recorded by Chuck Watkins and his homegrown "opry," a fairly modest operation which took over an old theater in Osage Beach, Missouri previously operated by cowboy singer Bob Nolan, of the Sons of the Pioneers. First opened in 1968, Nolan's Country Music Hall featured a revolving stage, a feature that Watkins kept running, as mentioned in the liner notes for this album. Although the Ozark Jubilee had a home base near the Lake Of The Ozarks, they also toured regionally through the South and the upper Midwest, as seen in show notices in various local newspapers. This early lineup was anchored by drummer Joe Hargrave (1954-2017) along with Gina Glidewell (rhythm guitar), Helen Russell (banjo and keyboards), Rick Newman (fiddle), Lonnie Patterson (lead guitar), and Steve Tillman on bass. I'm not sure if Chuck Watkins played much of the music as well, or if he was primarily the emcee, but he got top billing either way. This album has some of the standard stuff from this kind of band -- chestnuts such as "Rocky Top" and "Bile Them Cabbage Down," a few well-loved country oldies, a gospel medley, and some newer tunes, which help date the disc. In this case the more contemporary music included Merle Haggard's "Ramblin' Fever," "Boogie Grass Band" (a hit for Conway Twitty in 1978) and "She Believes In Me," which was a chart-topper Kenny ("Sauron") Rogers in '79.

Chuck Watkins "Ozark Jamboree Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of The Lake" (BOC Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Edwards & Chuck Watkins)

The lake in question is of course Lake Of The Ozarks, a large artificial waterway created by Bagwell Dam, a massive, privately-owned hydroelectric project first opened back in 1931. Over the decades the area became a huge tourism draw, including a proliferation of mom'n'pop musical oprys, including Chuck Watkins and his crew, recording their second LP. The lineup remained mostly the same, with Gina Glidewell on vocals, Joe Hargrave (drums), Andy Johnson (lead guitar), Helen Russell (banjo and keyboards), Steve Tillman (bass), and Chuck Watkins singing and hosting the shows.

Chuck Watkins "Ozark Jamboree Country Music Show" (BOC Records, 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Edwards, Myron Smith & Chuck Watkins)

The liner notes inform us that this was their third album, and using their version of "Islands In The Stream" as a compass point, we can guess at a 1983 release date, possibly '84. Worth noting is an all-new lineup of musicians: Terry Crissup on fiddle, Perry Edenburn (lead guitar), Vickie Faulstich (vocals), Dale Henson (keyboards), Donnie Sloan (drums) Myron Smith (steel guitar), and Janet Luttrell playing bass. There's the usual mix of country classics, a rock oldies medley, and even some pop-vocals showtunes like "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" and a version of "The Way We Were" which was an instrumental showcase for steel player Myron Smith. Vickie Faulstich belts out a cover of Rusty Wier's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance," which gives a little tip of the Stetson to the outlaw scene. I'm not sure if the Ozark Jubilee made more albums, but they did continue to pack 'em in at their theater and go on tour for many years to come: the most recent mention I found was a show notice in 2009(!). At some point their original venue got sold and converted into some kind of church; hopefully the congregation kept the revolving stage because that would have been awesome. Chuck Watkins passed away in 2020, at the age of eighty.

Robbie Watkins "Collection #1" (Hobo Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Kyle Lehning & Billy Sherrill)

A feller from Baltimore, Maryland who went down to Nashville to record this set at Jack Clement's studio with backing by some old pros...

Brad Watson "Brad Watson" (197-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Mayfield)

In the mid-1970s, singer-picker Brad Watson really threw himself into the country-rock scene in Dallas, Texas, playing in and recording with several local bands... He sang lead for the group Kansas Rain, helped form Rosewood Junction with Jim Underwood, and may have done gigs with friends in the Dallas band called Young Country. These guys all played together up at Harold's Club, in Reno, Nevada, and intersected with each other for several years -- the husband-wife duo of guitarist Rick Sparks and singer Cheryl Sparks (of Young Country) helped anchor this album, along with bassist Jim Thiele. The set includes covers of country-rock and country-pop radio hits such as "Tequila Sunrise," "Old '55," "The Gambler" and "Me And My Uncle," along with some original material. In addition to this album and the bands mentioned above, Watson also apparently played with the Kansas City-area country-grass group, the O'Rourk Brothers, on one of their later albums.

The Wattfour "With Country Feelings" (Gimp Records, 197--?) (LP)
Zero info about this band, alas. The ill-named Wattfour were a Vegas-y looking lounge band from Tampa, Florida, made up of Ray Riggs, Al Vandenberg, Dale Wilson and apparently led by singer Tommy Wilson. Steel guitar whiz and trumpet player Ray Riggs (d. 2018) played with various country stars and used to be in the "Bakersfield Brass" ensemble, which was featured on the Buck Owens TV show. I guess the Wattfour was some kind of side gig he had after retiring to Florida. No date on this disc, but it looks late '70s.

Carolyn Watts "Country On The Console" (CMI Records, 1969-?) (LP)
A housewife and church organist from Greenville, South Carolina, Carolyn Watts recorded at least three albums and called herself a "country and western organist," although this seems to have been her only explicitly country record. She played a Conn Deluxe Rhapsody 627 organ, churning out versions of hits like "Folsom Prison Blues," "Games People Play," "Gentle On My Mind," "Green, Green Grass Of Home" and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town." There's no date on this album, but looking at the repertoire, I'd guess somewhere around 1969-70. Apparently the album was popular enough that she made a second pressing, using a different label name; on one of her other albums, gospel artist Otis Forrest was listed as producer.

Lloyd Watts "Leaving Caroline" (Adonda Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Fowler & Jack Logan)

A singer from Plainview, Texas, Lloyd Watts booked a session in Nashville, with A-list backing that included guys like Stu Basore on steel guitar, DJ Fontana (drums), Joe Edwards (banjo), Bunky Keels on piano and Dale Sellers playing lead guitar... This may have been a bit of a songwriter's session as well, with a couple songs each by Joe Bob Barnhill and a guy named Bobby Fischer, as well as several writers represented by the Central Songs publishing company. Watts doesn't seem to have written anything, though, unless it was under another name... One track, "Leaving Caroline," was also released as a single.

Wayne & Glenn "Wayne And Glenn" (Lemco Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Cecil Jones)

I couldn't find much info about these shaggy-lookin' fellas -- guitarist Wayne Davis and bass player Glenn Little -- though I believe they played in bar bands in and around Lexington, Kentucky for most of the 1970s... They looked like rockers, though they recorded on the bluegrass-y Lemco label, and there is a song called "It Don't Look Like A Honky Tonk In Here," as well as one called "Dixie," so there's definitely some twang in the mix as well. Anybody know much about these two?

Bobby Wayne "Big Guitar" (Jerden Records, 1964) (LP)
A pioneering rockabilly artist from the Pacific Northwest, Spokane, Washington's Bobby Wayne recorded his first single back in 1955, and crossed freely between country and rock for a few years before settling on a country career. He was known both as a singer and as a guitarist, and in the post-rockabilly, surfy early 'Sixties, Wayne released a string of singles for the Jerden label, twangy instrumentals in the Duane Eddy style, many of which were collected on this mid-'60s LP. It's not totally sizzling or terribly innovative, but these are good, solid, workmanlike rock instrumentals, certainly worth a spin if you like the style. From here, Wayne went onto gigs with Freddie Hart's Heartbeats, with Wynn Stewart and with Merle Haggard's Strangers, as well as a hippie-era position in the house band of the Palomino nightclub in LA, along with steel player Red Rhodes.

Bobby Wayne "Sings Appaloosa, Volume One" (Appaloosa Records, 196--?) (LP)
Another mystery record, with no release date or recording info... A lot of instrumentals, many with country-sounding titles, and most of them credited to Bobby Wayne. The liner notes mention that the "title" track, "Appaloosa," was written by Wayne for a 1966 Disney film called "Run, Appaloosa, Run," which starred cowboy singer Rex Allen. He was obviously trying to capitalize on that gig, what with the label name and all, so maybe this album was from around '67 or '68(?)

Bobby Wayne "A Boy Named Sue And Other Country Favorites" (Crown Records, 19--?) (LP)

Bobby Wayne "Big In Vegas" (Crown Records, 1970) (LP)
In his youth Bobby Wayne was compared to both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, although on this album his vocals often seem tremulous and uneven, and it took me a while to place the comparison: he sounds a lot like Wynn Stewart, albeit with funkier, more low-rent musical backing. As with many of the Crown albums, this includes a lot of original material, made even more distinctive by Bobby Wayne's wobbly singing. Definitely worth a spin, though a little goofy overall.

Bobby Wayne & The Country Gentlemen "Songs Made Famous By Johnny Cash" (Contessa Records, 197--?) (LP)
No idea when this one came out, but from the looks of it, I'd guess the early 'Seventies, maybe around 1971 or so. It seems highly likely that it's also a reissue of earlier material.

Bobby Wayne "Outlaw" (Picadilly Records, 1981) (LP)
The tail end of Bobby Wayne's long run as a cheapo-label workhorse... Actually, this early '80s release seems to be a song-for-song reissue of a western-themed album that came out around 1966, called Ballad Of The Appaloosa, though in the Willie & Waylon era, tacking on an "outlaw" reference couldn't hurt.

Denny Wayne "...And Texas Fever" (Longhorn Records, 1981) (LP) (LP)
In the late '70s and early '80s, New Jersey-based pianist and singer Denny Wayne -- aka Dennis Wible -- led an East Coast honkytonk country band called Texas Fever which was regionally popular, particularly in the Lehigh Valley area, as well as at the Lone Star Cafe in NYC. This album is packed with cover songs, mostly outlaw-y, Waylon-esque type stuff. This edition of the band included Steve Anderson on lead guitar, Walt Lapp on bass and Terry Reiss on drums, as well as a gal simply called "Anita" adding some vocals. Wayne played piano, fiddle and guitar, and sang lead on about half the album, while letting Anita and Anderson sing lead on three tracks each. The Longhorn label was out of Humble, Texas, though I'm not sure if Wayne had relocated to the Lone Star State for a while, or just went there to cut this record. Wayne was known regionally for hosting countless live shows and for encouraging other local artists, while working a day job as a bus driver in his later years. He also recorded a couple of live albums, Denny Wayne And Texas Fever Live and Still Kickin', though I haven't been able to track any info about the where-and-when of those releases.

Neil Wayne & Jenni Blocker "Two For The Road" (Safari Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Charles Fields & Johnny Howard)

A trip to Nashville resulted in this album by South Dakotans Jenni Blocker and Neil Bagaus (aka Neil Wayne) who had previously been in an amateur band called the Suns Of The West, which played several county fair-type events and talent contests but never really cracked into the professional country scene. The Suns recorded an album in 1974, though as far as I know, these were the only two records they made...

Tony Wayne & The Corpus Christians "The Country Soul Of..." (Barre Records) (LP)
Well, shucks, I would have thought with an album title like this and a band name like that, this would be a pretty hip-sounding set of old-school gospel twang... Not so! Turns out this is solidly secular honkytonk record from a veteran Texas country picker whose full name was Tony Wayne Guion. The liner notes are informative, but perhaps not completely reliable... For example, Guion says that he had a band called the Cherokees that included an as-yet undiscovered Ray Price (Price started his Cherokee Cowboys in 1953, recruiting many members of Hank Williams' old band... possibly Tony Wayne was a member at some point?) More significant is his claim to have "made" several rockabilly singles which were actually recorded by a younger guy named Alvis Wayne... and this is where things get a little sticky. Alvis, whose full name was Alvis Wayne Samford, was no relation to Tony Wayne, although when he was a teenager he went on tour in Guion's band. He -- Alvis -- also cut several rockabilly sizzlers on Westport Records, a Kansas City-based label that Guion had previously recorded for... Tony Wayne set the deal up and wrote the songs and sent the tapes to the label, although he sort of fudged the details and told people it was his band playing on the songs, while Samford says it was a different group altogether. Anyway. That was all a long time ago, right? Somewhere along the way Tony Wayne got a day job as a Texas cop, working at various times as a deputy sheriff, a baliff, and (according to the liner notes) as a chief of police. Eventually he moved into doing construction work, which is what he was doing when he cut this album. Not a lot of details here about the record itself, unfortunately... The backing musicians aren't named except for steel player Gary Bickham, who gets a solo number showcasing his work... The album includes a few classics by Floyd Tillman and Bob Wills, but is mostly packed with original songs credited to Tony Wayne, such as "Hurtin' Deep Inside," "I Got Tight Last Night" and "Vacation In Texas."

WB & The Western Union "Thanks, Grand Ledge" (MPI Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Miller & Steve Curran)

Honky-tonk twang by W. B. Vaughn, of Grand Ledge, Michigan, who recorded this album as a demo set... Not a lot of info about these folks, who definitely looked like rowdy, hard-livin' good old boys... The band included Rick Bellant (on guitar), Barb Morse (piano), and Mel Sharrah (drums), with Vaughn singing lead, writing the songs, and booking all the shows. This album -- which included original songs such as "Good Ole Boy From Grand Ledge MI," "Hard Gamblin' Man," Just A Thought Of You" and "Tribute To Christ Jesus" -- got some radio airplay, but it was strictly a local phenomenon. A couple of years later they were playing some gigs at a place called the Hayloft Saloon, on the other side of Lansing, and by 1988 the group had broken up, with Vaughn doing a few solo gigs over the years. Vaughn, who struggled for years with multiple sclerosis, passed away in 2011.

Jim Weatherly "Sings His Own" (Ozark Music Company, 197-?) (LP)
This was not the same Jim Weatherly who wrote "Midnight Train To Georgia," just in case you're wondering, but rather a guy from Springfield, Missouri who had a gig in the early days of Branson. This album was a souvenir of Weatherly's show, recorded with his band, the Ozark Music Makers, which included Mike Bried, Arnie Arnold and Wendell Daniel, with harmony vocals by Sharon Stoddard. The repertoire includes original songs such as "Blonde Hair On My White Coat," "It's Not Fair To Say You Love Me," "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" and "A Fall From Here (Will Surely Hurt)," and it's all pretty good! Weatherly's music had a nice, rough, old-school hillbilly feel to it, reminding me of Bill Carlisle in a way, with a rambunctious, see-what-works approach that put some of the spontaneity and fun back into country music. Or, in his case, kept it alive. Real-deal old-fashioned twang that was totally out of synch with what was happening in Nashville, and pretty enjoyable as a result.

Cowboy Weaver/Various Artists "Volume One" (Freestate Records, 197--?) (LP)
Lloyd "Cowboy" Weaver was a long-running local television host on station KTVT-11, in Dallas/Fort Worth who comes off as a clunky but authentic vocalist, showing a heavy debt to fellow Texan Ernest Tubb -- in my book, you could certainly do worse. This delightfully low-rent "live" album is structured as a stitched-together faux concert, complete with super-fake canned applause and painfully abrupt editing. It features Lloyd Weaver's grown-up son(?) and business manager Tommy Weaver, along with a slew of side performers, many of whom I'd imagine were pay-to-play guests of the Weavers. Their Sunset Ranch show ran on local television from the 1960s through the early '90s and had some affiliation with country promoter Dewey Groom, who sponsored a regular segment on the program. Lloyd Weaver had deep roots in the Lone Star honkytonk scene, recording a handful of singles in the late 1940s and early '50s, though his roughly-assembled TV show seems to be remembered mostly as a kitschy local phenomenon, and this album may give give a glimpse into that history. Not all the vocals that great, though the picking by the Pals Of The Saddle house band are pretty solid and consistently twangy, particularly steel player Gary Hogue, who brings a lot of ooompf to the production. There's a mystery track by the Callahan Brothers, an old-timey vocal duo whose best work dated back to the 1930s and '40s; it's a vintage recording of "Maple On The Hill" with tape hiss that clearly dates it to an earlier era, probably something Dewey Groom had laying around in the can. There are also several novelty-tinged songs featuring off-key teen and pre-teen kiddie singers, which would seem just kind of negligible if it weren't for the grotesque coda of Mr. Weaver's career: he was arrested in 1997 on child molestation charges, following an investigation of allegations that Cowboy Weaver had promised some young boy that he'd make him a star someday and, well, you know the rest. Ew. Still, the music on this album ain't bad, even if the man behind it was.

Dennis Weaver "Dennis Weaver" (Custom Fidelity/Im'Press Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Dumas & Joe Johnson)

Born in Joplin, Missouri, actor Dennis Weaver (1924-2006) was best known for his role as sidekick Chester Goode on Gunsmoke, and as a laconic western detective on the '70s show McCloud. In the early 1970s, Weaver branched out into music, starting his own label and recording several albums, often with country and gospel themes. This LP is heavy on religious and inspirational material, as well as recitations, which were kind of Weaver's "thing." His wife, Gerry Weaver, performs on a few tracks as well, although I'm not sure what other musicians were on here. Weaver is credited with composing several tracks, including "Where Have The Wild Blackberries Gone" and "Work Through My Hands, Lord." Also of note are several songs by country-rock Larry Murray, who was previously in the psychedelic country band Hearts And Flowers.

Dennis Weaver "People Songs" (ABC Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Marty Cooper)

Going into a more explicitly musical -- and more country -- direction, as seen in his version of the Tex Williams hillbilly oldie, "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette)." Weaver booked some sessions with producer-songwriter Marty Cooper, who was kind of a hot property in the early 'Seventies; Cooper helmed the studio booth and contributes a couple of songs, "Calhoun" and "Cowboys And Daddies" (perhaps better known from the version by Bobby Bare.) There are also a couple of tunes cowritten by pop artist Artie Wayne, including "Hollywood Freeway" (co-credited to Weaver) and Larry Hubbard rounds things out with one called"Hubbardsville Store."

Dennis Weaver "One More Road" (Ovation Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Marty Cooper)

There's a near-total of overlap between the songs here and Weaver's previous album on ABC... I'm not sure if these were just relicensed, or re-recorded. One new song, "Prairie Dog Blues," is credited to Dennis Weaver.

J. C. Weaver "Volume One" (Wild Turkey Music, 1977) (LP)

J. C. Weaver "J. C. Weaver" (Wild Turkey Music, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Billy James)

Kay Weaver & John Muir "Country The Hannas Way" (Royal Master/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.

Paul Webb "...And Young Country" (Masa Recording Company, 1976-?) (LP)
This Detroit-area twangband featured brothers Paul and Danny Webb on drums and bass, along with steel player Jerry Nagle and lead guitar Hank Van Vleet. Paul Webb, who was a distant cousin of Loretta Lynn, led this band for many years, from at least 1974-91, according to local newspaper listings. He wrote three songs on this album, including one co-written with Van Vleet; they also cover Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings and Mel Street, to give you a sense of where they're coming from. Webb's son also became a musician, performing under the name Mike Shane, first working in his dad's band, and then as a solo performer in Nashville. They may have also run a nightclub at one point: in the early '90s, there were some shows at a place in Ypsilanti, called "Shane's."

Phil Webb & Roger Thomas "Sing It: Sweet Country For You" (Sandi Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Angel & Jack Gilmer)

A charmingly imperfect album, and perhaps an archetypal "private label" record... Although it's billed as a split LP, old-timer Phil Webb sings lead on all but two of the tracks, and even though he has kind of a wobbly voice, he really throws himself into it. His reedy tones are reminiscent, perhaps, of square-peg singers as Vernon Oxford or Dick Feller, where in an odd way the imperfections throw more light on the singer's passion, as opposed to his technical chops. Anyway, this seems to be some sort of songwriter's demo set, or maybe one of those supposed "tax write-off albums..." Mr. Webb was from Winchester, Kentucky, while the Sandi label has an address in Floria... Most of the songs were written by producer Bob Angel, with two others penned by Johnny Selph: "Memories Of The Past" and "Watch The Watchers." They went whole-hog booking studio time with an A-list Nashville crew, including Sonny Garrish on steel guitar and dobro; Greg Gailbraith on electric lead; Willie Rainsford playing piano, and Mark Casstevens on rhythm guitar and banjo, among others... Of course we've heard these guys play on a bazillion sessions, including plenty of indie records like this one, but they really seem to have been into it on this one, perhaps as inexplicably charmed by Mr. Webb as I was... The material is uneven though there are some tracks that might deserve a closer look from modern-day twangsters looking for older material. Not a "great" record, but charming in an odd way.

Susan Webb "Bye, Bye Pretty Baby" (ABC-Anchor, 1975) (LP)
Ms. Webb was apparently the sister of songwriter Jim Webb, and she gets the full-on LA studio sound treatment on this disc. With a ton of top rock and country-rock talent backing her -- folks like Gib Guilbeau, Herb Pedersen, and Albert Lee -- you'd assume she was gonna let loose with a little twang, but you would be wrong. Turns out this is about as generic and plastic-sounding an LA '70s rock-pop record as you can find. Didn't do anything for me, really, and it's definitely not of interest to twangfans. A footnote, maybe to the scene of the times, but it doesn't really lead anywhere.

Red Dog Weber "...And Custer's Last Band" (Big Horn Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Lee Burch & Rue Barclay)

A kooky little gift from Hollywood here... An economist by trade and a Buckeye by birth, Ohioan J. Allan Weber played his way through pretty much every bar or barn you could imagine between Cleveland and LA, and became best known for his shows at the World Champion Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas... He also made his mark with numerous TV appearances, playing the "boombass," a rhythm instrument of his own design. Weber is joined on this album by veteran Nashville fiddler Harold Hensley, as well as guitarist Gene Ridgeway, an Oklahoma western swing bandleader who carved a niche in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, as well as Lee Burch (a Southern California music and movie producer who also did studio work as a guitarist) and western/cowboy music singer Hal Southern, who also worked in the TV industry. They play oldies and standards, along with 'Seventies hits such as "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," and few originals written by members of the band, including "Power Up Your Chili" and "Custer's Last Band."

Tiny Weeks "Heavy Equipment Man" (25th Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Nelson)

An actual, real-deal heavy equipment operator, North Carolina's Tiny Weeks is pictured on the front cover standing by the cab of his bulldozer surrounded by several babes in bikinis, because as we all know, nothing says "sexy" like a good open-pit construction site. Mr. Weeks seems to have taken up music as a sideline in the late 1970s and played local gigs in the Burlington/Greensboro area at least up through the early '80s. I'm not 100% sure, but I think he was Mr. James Weeks, whose great claim to fame was singing the national anthem at Starrcade '83, a pro wrestling smackdown staged in Greensboro back in 1983, an event which for some reason is the focus of multiple online reviews, with many bloggers uniformly characterizing Weeks's performance as a bit odd. One suspects this may be because he had a sense of humor, as heard on this disc, which includes tunes like "Sittin' Back Sippin' Suds" and "Don't Come Knockin' When The Camper's Rockin'," which were also issued together as a single, and "I Really Dig My Music" (get it? "dig" my music?) a novelty number recorded in both country and disco versions for this album. Assuming it's the same guy, Tiny Weeks seems to have passed away in 1996 (age unknown) and had been playing and recording gospel music in his later years.

Eric Weissberg - see artist discography

Johnny Weldon "Tavern For The Lonely" (Raven Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Clayton, Jim Crisp & Jerry Wise)

A country crooner born and raised in Wetumpka, Alabama, just north of Montgomery, Johnny Wayne Weldon (1953-2007) plugged away for decades on the local music scene, starting back in his high school days. Over the years he led a few different groups, including one called Southern Freight, as well as the lineup on this album, which he called The Magnum Band. Along with Mr. Weldon on vocals, the group included Ray Goss (bass), David Jackson (guitar), Richard Knight (drums), Nancy Simmons (keyboards and vocals) and Tommy Wilson on keyboards. This album is packed with original material, including the anthemic "Nashville Didn't Want Me," which was co-written by producer Steve Clayton, and locally oriented tunes such as "Alabama Clay." Though this album has kind of a honkytonk flair, a couple of years later Weldon had settled into a mellower, ballad-oriented style, which suited the lounge work he was doing with Southern Freight (a band which had a completely different lineup). For a while he hung up his spurs and put his own career on hold, taking a gig as a driver and roadie for Top Forty star T. G. Sheppard, who was a longtime friend. At some point Weldon headed back home and was playing local shows as recently as the early 2000s, not long before he passed away. As far as I know this was his only album.

Rusty Wellington "Lonesome... In My Blue House" (Soundcraft Associates, 1963) (LP)
(Produced by Daniel N. Flickinger)

Although he was born in New Brunswick, Canada, singer Douglas "Rusty" Wellington (1925-1987) became known as a pioneering figure in New England's hillbilly country scene. His family moved to New Hampshire when he was ten, and the precociously talented lad had his own radio show as a teen, and even performed with several established bands. Wellington's career had an amazingly Zelig-like quality: he toured with stars such as Hank Snow, Hank Williams and Tex Williams and was closely associated with Bill Haley, who he wrote songs for and went on the road with following World War Two. After the war, Wellington settled in New Hampshire and established himself regionally, hosting a popular television show and writing regional pride songs such as "The Allagash" and "Packed In Maine," which helped earn him a spot in the Maine Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Rusty Wellington "Yes, It's Me Again" (Arzee Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Lucky Steel & Tony Schmidt)

I'm not sure if Mr. Wellington continued to record in his later years, or mostly performed live and on broadcast shows. These sessions which date from the late 'Sixties seem to have been released as an LP around 1970, and may be his last recordings.

Tiny Wellman & The Raindrops "The Saturday Night Honky Tonk Sounds Of..." (King's Music City Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Deer)

Buckeye balladeer Paul "Tiny" Wellman (1949-2000) grew up in Salem City, Ohio and led a series of Columbus-area bands throughout the 1970s, cutting his first single in 1969, a super-groovy, semi-psychedelic country rocker called "Motorcycle Queen." This is a live set recorded at G. G. Asher's Ohio Grand Old Opry Club, with his wife Rosalie Wellman and their band -- Leland Darst, Pat Deer, Bob Deer (bass), Ronnie Blevins (drums) and the Wellmans on lead vocals. Towards the end of Side Two, Tiny Wellman delivers a mockingbird medley of country hits, imitating Bill Anderson, Elvis Presley, Charley Pride and Hank Snow.

Tiny Wellman "Just T And The TWB" (Rome Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey & Steve Logan)

Wellman released at least two singles from this album, which featured backing by a local band that included steel player Leland Darst, guitarist Pat Deer, Danny White on piano, and his wife, singer Rosalie Blevins Wellman. I've seen a few sites online that tag these tracks as being from around 1971, but I'm pretty sure that's wrong, an assumption that seems to be based on BMI info for Don Wayne's song, "Hank," which was copyrighted in 1971. However, the production style sounds pretty late 'Seventies, and the bio for pianist Danny White says he joined Wellman's band sometime after taking a gig at the Wheeling Jamboree in 1977 and subsequently joining Faron Young's road band. Finally, the A-side song on this disc, "Giving Her The State Of West Virginia," was recorded a couple of times by different artists, including Nashville old-timer Bill Phillips and the far more obscure Lyndel East, both recording for NSD in 1979. Giving Wellman the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he recorded the song first, (especially since this single features two songs penned by Roy Leslie Lee) I'm guessing these tracks may have been cut around 1978, possibly '79. At any rate, it's swell stuff, with Wellman giving his vocals a Merle Haggard-ish feel.

Wells Fargo "Wells Fargo" (Brut Sound, Inc., 1974) (LP)
This was a progressive bluegrass band from Virginia which showcased a bunch of country and country-rock tunes in their repertoire... The band included Dan Lambert on guitar, Stafford Markham (banjo), Garland Alderman (mandolin), Bob Brown (bass), Smiley Hobbs (fiddle), and Speedy Price playing fiddle and drums. I'm not 100% certain, but I think Dan Lambert also recorded some "new acoustic" style guitar instrumental albums later in the decade. The repertoire on this album includes covers of hits such as "Good Time Charlie," "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," and "What's Your Mama's Name."

John Wells "Moods" (Nashville International Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Coats & Reggie Churchwell)

Michael Wendling & John Hanson "There's Something About The Arco Desert" (Sheepeater Records, 1975) (LP)

Michael Wendling "Who Could Eat At A Time Like This?" (Sheepeater Records, 1977) (LP)
Despite the blechhy album art, there's some nice music on here. (The cover features a garish softcore-porn painting of a nearly-naked woman standing in front of an old wood-burning stove, with her backside towards us, in a not-so-subtle pose, the Idaho mountains in the background... I'm sure the boys in the band thought this looked great at the time, but it sure makes it hard to have this record out around company or the kids...) Anyway, this guy seems to have been from the Pacific Northwest somewhere, or possibly Idaho, where the label was from, and he was a pretty good banjo picker and guitarist -- the record starts off with the bluegrassy "Hamilton County Breakdown," and moves into some spacy, cosmic folk-twang ballads and then a bunch of tracks with loop-de-looping, Leo Kottke-style guitar riffs, with subtle accompaniment on pedal steel. If you're into Kottke's hypnotic/repetitive style, this is an excelent example of his influence on other pickers, and a surprisingly well-produced indie album. Worth a spin!

Michael Wendling "31 Of Mike's Favorites On Two Discs (With Skips) From The Vinyl Era" (2013)
This appears to be a straight reissue of three albums by Wendling, including the two listed above... And I guess, based on the album title, it was mastered straight off the old LPs rather than master tapes. Now that's old school!

Wes (Parker) "All That Glitters Isn't Gold" (Boll Weevil Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bernie Williams & J. R. Williams)

A songwriter from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Wesley Parker was in the orbit of bandleader J. R. Williams, who co-produced this album and also recorded on the Boll Weevil label. Parker and Williams had already produced another album together, under Parker's full name, but for some reason he tried going the mononymic "Cher" route on this disc, but that didn't last forever. As with the previous disc, this was recorded in Hendersonville, Tennessee and features a bunch of Music City pros... I'm not sure how much professional success Wes had, though all the tracks were originals written by Parker, and he continued to record well into the '80s. He later moved to Dallas, and may have joined the Christian music scene.

Wes & The Plainsmen "Live" (1981-?) (LP)
These guys hailed from Kenosha, Wisconsin and played regularly around Chicago for several years. Led by singer Wes Cox, the band was together at least as early as 1973, but this album seems to be from around 1980-81 or so, judging from the covers of Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin' Long Like This" and "Elvira," which were in vogue around then... The band included Bob Fenrich (drums), Drexel Hurley (bass), Vern Markee (electric guitar) and Pam Williams (vocals) -- bass player Drexel Hurley (1930-2012) worked for American Motors in Kenosha; he seems to have retired to Texas later in life.

Ken Wesley "Heartache Remover" (Gene Breeden Studios, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Chad Heasley)

The songs on this album were all written by honkytonker Ken Wesley, with backing by a studio band that included Gene Breeden on guitar, Terry Crisp on steel and Bruce Watkins on fiddle and bass. I couldn't find much info about Wesley online, other than that these songs were composed and copywrited between 1977-79, and that his full name was Franklin Kenneth Wesley. A few of his tunes were covered by other artists, notably "Oh Louisiana," which was apparently recorded by Jim & Jesse in the 1980s, and Oregon's Jerry Bradley (another singer in Gene Breeden's orbit) included a couple of Wesley's songs on his album Once More For The Good Times: "Whatever We Had" and "We Never Ran Out Of Love" (which are also on this album...) Another Ripcord-related artists, Ron Adams, included four of Wesley's songs on one of his albums, including a version of "Heartache Remover." If anyone out there knows more about Ken Wesley, I'm all ears!

West "West" (Columbia Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)

West "Bridges" (Columbia Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)

Barry West "The Lonesome Cowboy" (Hickory Flats Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Don Bryant & John Farley)

Don West & Rose Lee "14 Karat Gold" (Hilltop Production Company, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Linneman)

Great, gritty hard country from a husband-wife duo from New England. There's not a ton of info about these two, including exactly where they were from. Apparently in the 1970s they hosted a TV show in Bangor, Maine, but their careers date back to the early 1960s and several of their early singles are on small, private labels with an address in Farmington, New Hampshire. They seem to have performed (and recorded) regionally, including some records made in Massachusetts. Don West was a delightfully imperfect singer, country to the bone, and retained a similarly rough edge in his twangy guitar work. Perhaps more interesting is how Rose Lee fit into the mix: she had an old-fashioned, mildly grating, vocal sound harkening back to the 1940s or earlier, but the music was often more uptempo and modern -- it's like if Kitty Wells had been backed by Buck Owens. Both West and Lee also cut singles under their own name, including a few that were broken off their albums. I'm not 100% sure when this came out -- PragueFrank says '73 -- but it was at least after 1971, since they cover "Never Ending Song Of Love," as well as some Connie Smith hits from the 'Sixties and whatnot. Good stuff!

Don West & Rose Lee "Our Way" (Interstate Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don West)

Don West & Rose Lee "New England Country" (197-?) (LP)

Jim West "Wild Country" (Gemini Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by B. Anthony Palmer)

Jim West & The Texans "If I'd Left It Up To You" (Gemini Records, 197-?) (LP)

Jim West "Good Things Goin' Down" (Home Comfort Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Cliffie Stone)

A truly stunning set of hardcore honky tonk music, urgently in need of reissue. This all-original album by Oregon songwriter Jim West features several absolutely devastating cheating songs, real doozies like "Her Arms Were Always Warm" and "Another Night Of Cheatin'," as well as gems such as the album's forlorn closer, "Leavin' Kind." All the songs on here were written by West, with production by West Coast old-timer Cliffie Stone, and session help from rock-solid pickers like J. D. Maness, Gene Breeden and Billy Walker... West is a superior songwriter who sounds an awful lot like the young Merle Haggard... Fans of Dale Watson are gonna want to track this one down!

Judy West "Judy Judy Judy" (K & M Records, 1970-?) (LP)
A pianist as well as singer, West played pop as well as country, covering material by Dallas Frazier and Bob Montgomery, as well as Dexter Shaffer's "Nashville Wives," which she released as a single on the Starday label. An aspiring songwriter, West composed two songs on this album, "Give Me Love" and "Just A Bend In The Road," and worked at various songmills in Nashville. On this album, she recieved testimonials from country crooners Eddy Arnold and Gene Autry, as well as from pop-Dixieland bandleader Pete Fountain, whose band she worked in during the late '60s. The material on this album was recorded over several years, with the tracks on Side Two tilting towards 'Sixties pop-vocals material, including international material from Tom Jobim and Charles Trenet. The later sessions date to early 1970, when she had shifted into more country material. Apparently she also had a regular gig at a place called the Nashville City Club, where she was playing around the time this album was released; Ms. West later opened a piano-bar/nightclub of her own where she performed and hosted other musicians.

Sam West IV "Country By..." (Little Richie Records, 19--?) (LP)

Speedy West, Jr. "Used Guitars" (Little Richie Records, 19--?) (LP)
It's probably not too surprising that the son of legendary West Coast guitar slinger Speedy West would also be a hotshot picker himself. At some point the family moved back to Oklahoma, where Speedy Junior played in some local twangbands and may have done session work as well. As far as I know this was his only solo album.

Tommy West "Hometown Frolics" (Lifesong Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Cashman & Tommy West)

I've long been skeptical about all those Cashman & West albums I see in the country bargain bins -- they don't look like country records to me! But for this disc, Tommy West was certainly going for a twangy vibe, and he nails it, albeit through a 'Seventies AOR filter. West gets help from bluegrasser Eric Weissberg and his band Deliverance, which in this edition included Weissberg (mainly playing pedal steel), fiddler Kenny Kosek, Paul Prespotino on dobro, and Charlie Brown on electric guitar. There's also an LA pop contingent at work, including folks like David Sanborn on sax, etc., and you wouldn't be wrong to notice a little similarity between some of these tracks and contemporary work by folks such as Harry Chapin or Paul Simon. Though he made his mark in the pop world, West had a lifelong affection for country music, naming this album after a regional "opry" show he heard on the radio as a kid. Speaking of kids, this album seems to be an extended reflection of West's reaching maturity, more specifically, on his becoming a father and learning what it feels like to grow up and settle down. Several songs directly address the listener, sung as a parent to their child, and a "cowboy" medley on Side Two culminates with a metaphor where West speaks to the "cowboy" inside him, the rowdy, reckless youth he once was, but had to set aside once his responsibilities took root. And yet, the singer opines, just one time before he dies, he'd like that crazy cowboy spirit to come visit again. Overall, a pretty solid set with some interesting lyrical turns.

Wayne West "Streets Of Laredo" (Sage Records, 1964-?) (LP)
Part of Hal Southern's clique of Hollywood cowboys, Wayne West was a character actor, radio deejay and dude ranch singer, performing mainly at Roy Rogers' Apple Valley Inn, out in the Mojave Desert, near San Bernardino, California. He made a couple of appearances on Gunsmoke possibly acted in a movie or two, did some live gigs in Vegas and Tahoe, and cut at least one single with Southern's band, the Frontiersmen. A publicity sheet that was enclosed with this album also pitches West as a songwriter, but outside of stuff he recorded himself, his most notable success was a tune called "Rusty Spurs," which Roy Rogers sang in a movie called Frontier Pony Express, way back in 1939. (The song is credited to W. Wood, which was probably West's real last name...) He's likely the same Wayne West who cut a 78 with a band called the Travelers called "We Are Going To Have A Cowboy Wedding," a song that was also included in a 1940 Roy Rogers oater called Young Bill Hickok. The Travelers band seems to have evolved into the Travelons, which was the name West used in 1966 when he accompanied Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on a USO tour in Vietnam. West was also one of the many erstwhile members of the Frontiersmen, working with artists such as Eddie Dean, et.al. although exact details of his career are a little scarce. As far as I know this was his only album, recorded some time around 1963-64, not long after he and the Frontiersmen appeared on The Joey Bishop Show.

Ken Westberry "Ken Westberry" (Crackerbox Records, 1975-?) (LP)
Originally from Miami, songwriter Ken Westberry was a rock-solid Nashviller when he recorded this album on his own independent Crackerbox label... Best known as the composer of Gene Watson's 1975 hit, "Love In The Hot Afternoon" (along with about five hundred other songs), Westberry was a former rockabilly teen who found his niche in Nashville, working with his pal Charlie McCoy in the early '60s, before McCoy had cracked into the Music City elite. Admittedly, Westberry wasn't the world's greatest singer, but he sounded okay -- kind of a cross between Bill Anderson and George Jones, if you can imagine that -- and he carries these songs well. Westberry wrote or co-wrote all the tunes on here, with some interesting songwriting partners, including Mel Tillis, ex-con Harlan Sanders, Hal Harbour on a couple of tunes, and some other guys as well. The backing is pretty good -- presumably by his band, The Memory Makers, playing in a solidly uptempo, mid-1970s Top Forty-ish style. One of the highlights is a topical song, sort of an anti-Austin anthem called "Don't Come To Texas," where he warns all the would-be outlaws of the era that they gotta have a fiddle in their band if they want to sound like Bob Wills, and generally gives the longhair crowd a good-natured ribbing. All in all, this is a strong set for an off-the-radar vanity pressing, and it's possible the cheerful-sounding Westberry just missed the wave for his brand of country by a year or two, like so many folks back then. A few years later he released a couple of singles on the Doorknob label, though nothing charted, and a couple of other albums are out there, though I haven't heard them. Anyway, this disc is definitely worth checking out, despite the goofy-looking, swingerdelic cover art.

Billy Western "...Makes Some Records With Little Roy Wiggins" (Empire Sound Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Doyle Grisham, Debbie Morton & Billy Western)

Billy Western "...From Milano Texas" (Empire Sound Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Western & Doyle Grisham)

Western Boogie Express "Western Boogie Express" (Tell International, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Merritt, Larry Merritt & Robin Beck)

It would be really difficult not to be totally charmed by this raw, amateurish, enthusiastic set of '60s/'70s cover tunes. I didn't even try. This four-piece band from Yakima, Washington was made up of two married couples: Shannon and Gary Robinson, and Mitzi and Donaldson, with a little additional piano plunking by producer Larry Merritt. They cover pop, country and Motown oldies, stuff like Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock'N'Roll," Bonnie Tyler's "It's A Heartache," "Take It Easy" by the Eagles, and Hank Strzelecki's oft-covered comedic ditty, "Long Tall Texan." The sessions were crudely produced and the musicianship is hardly what you'd call slick, but that's definitely a plus in this case... Some unexpectedly tough-toned, fuzzed-out electric guitar zings up a tune or two, almost placing this in the same category of naifish power-pop by '80s/'90s bands like the Flatmates or the Fastbacks. The guys are the very epitome of "just plain folks" musicians, true amateurs singing songs that are just plain fun to sing, and giving it their all, in their own loveably un-commercial way. Dig it.

The Western Echoes "...At Bill Dugan's Country Music Inn" (Stone Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Dugan & Bill Haskins)

Nice live album showcasing a rock-solid Rust Belt country band... This was recorded at Bill Dugan's Country Music Inn, a country joint that opened back in 1973 in Northern Illinois -- in a little town called Half Day, near Chicago. Dugan's catered to twangfans who didn't want to drive all the way to the big city to get see a show... The Western Echoes was the house band, with musicians drawn from throughout the upper Great Lakes region, Tennessee and the upper Midwest... The featured singers were Jack Weber, who had apparently been in a few bands before this, along with Libby Sheperd and her husband, Tennessee steel player Jim Shepard, who is a superb accompanist... They were pretty darn good. Libby Sheperd was packaged as the star performer, but she actually only has two solo numbers, covers of a Billie Joe Spears tune, "Blanket On The Ground" and Marty Robbins' "Walking Piece Of Heaven," sung in a distinctly Loretta Lynn-ish tone. She also does a couple of duets, on "Jackson" and "Sweet Thang," while the guys in the band take turns the spotlight on the other songs. Drummer Rick Williams takes the lead on a couple of tunes, while bassist Ernie Green also has a couple of solo numbers, sounding quite a bit like Merle Haggard. There's no date on the disc, but they cover Joe Stampley's 1975 hit, "Roll On Big Mama," so between that and the groovy feathered hair on the kid in the back row, I'm guessing this came out in '76 or thereabouts. Definitely worth a spin!

The Western Echos "Live At The Nashville Room: London, England" (Map Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Vaughan & Roy Mullins)

Strange but true: this British country-covers band is actually a completely different group from the Chicago-area ensemble listed above. Go figure. The repertoire is more oldies and hillbilly oriented, with chestnuts like "Kawliga" and "Bury Me Beneath The Willow," and a few more modern tunes such as "Together Again" and "Okie From Muskogee."

The Western Echos "Four In The Morning" (Avenue Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Smith)

I guess I'd file these country-lovin' Brits under "well meaning..." Although objectively the overall impact of this album is underwhelming, they clearly had a strong appreciation for authentic country music, both in their choice of repertoire (Louvin Brothers, Ray Price, Webb Pierce) and in their simple, back-to-basics approach, with spare arrangements centered around Ken Pierce's steel guitar and some sweet licks on bandleader Roy Mullins' mandolin. There are several contending influences at play -- straight-ahead old-school honkytonk, tempered by a bluegrass-ish flair, particularly on the Jim & Jesse-influenced mandolin riffs, and a western-folkie strand as well. Where they fall flat is both on the vocals and on the overall delivery -- you can really hear them trying to hit their marks, and it sounds very effortful, in that we-only-have-a-little-bit-of-studio-time way that sometimes impacts these indie albums. Okay, so they sounded a little stiff, but so what? I guess there's no way to know how much looser they were live (or even how frequently they played) but perhaps one can read between the lines on the damned-by-faint-praise liner notes from British country critic Bryan Chalker, who goes out of his way to underscore that he hasn't even listened to the record, and had only seen the band play once, noting their "rough edges," as well as their rugged spontaneity. Harsh. On three tracks, they bring in a ringer, vocalist Pete Sayers, who has a smooth, folkie tone, and closes the album with a version of "Hobo's Lullaby." On balance, though, I'd say this is worth checking out, at least if you're into the more obscure threads of where country music crept into the English musical landscape.

Western Edition "Live? Well...Almost" (Wested Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Mason & Western Edition)

A live set by a twangy trio from Boise, Idaho... The band included singer-guitarist Don Hughes, bassist Jerry Long and drummer Joe Miller, working through a set that included rock and pop material like "Kansas City," "Play Me" and "Rock Me Gently," as well as country tunes such as "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man." There's also an original tune, "Grow Old With You," written by the album's engineer, Ron Mason. The show was recorded in July of 1975 at a place called the Hi Ho Club, in Boise.

The Western Gentlemen "The Western Gentlemen Of Reata Pass" (Rodeo Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Miller, Buck Coghlan & The Western Gentlemen)

Formed in 1966, this Arizona trio was made up of bassist Harold "Buck" Coghlan, fiddler Willard E. "Slim" Forbes, and singer-guitarist Jon E. Severson (aka Johnny Dakota) who was originally from the Dakotas. At the time they cut this album, they were apparently holding down a regular gig at the Reata Pass Steak House, near Scottsdale, specializing in western (cowboy) songs, along with a dash of Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Dallas Frazier, and one song written by Severson, "Broken Dreams." All three bandmembers had long histories playing various gigs, including Johnny Dakota's stint on the Sun Valley Barn Dance show in Minneapolis, and Slim Forbes' days playing with Marty Robbins, before Robbins split for Nashville.

The Western Gospel Messengers "Western Gospel Messengers" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Miller, Buck Coghlan & The Western Gentlemen)

A country gospel group from Corvallis, Montana featuring Chuck Burrus, Jeanne Burrus and their thirteen-year-old daughter Sandy, along with songwriter Bill Ralston on rhythm guitar and his sixteen-year-old son Steve Ralston playing lead, as well as championship fiddler Jimmy Widner. Not exactly sure when this one came out, but it looks like a 1970's outing.

The Western Swingers "Swingin' Live At The Western Swinger" (Kanwic Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Miller, Buck Coghlan & The Western Gentlemen)

The Western Swinger was a country music nightclub located in Wichita, Kansas (on 47th and South Broadway) during the late 1960s and early '70s. This band included the owners, Joan Schultze and Paul Schultze, along with lead singer DeWayne Bowman, bandleader and bassist Frank McMeans, Jimmy Powell (steel guitar), and Chet Vaughn on drums. Over the years, Dewayne Bowman was perhaps the most prolific performer, buying his own bar -- The Paint Stallion, in Joplin, Missouri -- and recording several singles as well as an album in the early 'Eighties, and playing on some a few records with other regional artists. Although the club's name suggests an affinity for Texas-style western swing, the repertoire was mostly straight-up country standards and contemporary hits, stuff like "Proud Mary" and "Statue Of A Fool." Among the many bands to pass through the Swinger were local legends, The Wichita Linemen, made up of various deejays at radio station KFDI; not sure how long the club was open or exactly when it opened.

Western Union "Branding Iron" (1982) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Anderson, Charles Eichelberger & Steve Crunk)

The Branding Iron Saloon was a country bar opened in 1981 by veteran country/rockabilly star Roy Head down in Porter, Texas, on the northern edge of Houston. Western Union was the club's first house band, led by songwriter and lead guitar picker Steve Crunk, along with Steve Anderson on bass, David Farenthold (steel guitar), Gerald LeBeau (drums) and Charlie Moore on steel guitar. Although I'm sure they played plenty of oldies and standards, this disc is packed with original material, including eight songs written by Steve Crunk, with about half of these also crediting various bandmembers. There's only one cover song, "Are You Sincere," written by '50s honkytonk legend Wayne P. Walker, a selection that speaks well of these guy's taste in twang. Not sure if this band made any other records together although around the same time this album came out, Crunk and Anderson also backed a guy named Mark Grant, on a rock EP called For You My Love. Originally from Alabama, Mr. Crunk seems to have been kicking around for a long time, including a stint with the rock band The Chessmen, who recorded a couple of his songs in 1971 for the Muscle Shoals-based Paradox label, where he also produced a few singles. I think moved back to Alabama and may have passed away in 2006, at fifty-six years of age. [Note: this Western Union should not be confused with the German country group of the same name, which recorded quite a few records in the 1980s and '90s.]

The Western Union Band "A Message From..." (Zan Beck Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Hammett)

Not to be confused with the pop group from Singapore, or the Californians below, this group from Little Rock, Arkansas featured Jimmy Bishop on bass, Ricky Campbell (lead guitar), Randy Holland (drums), Rudy Osborne (pedal steel), Pete Richardson (piano), and Tony Terry (trombone). Some cover songs, as well as some original material...

The Western Union Band "Western Union Band" (Sue-Del Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Leggett, Eddie King & Steve Cormier)

This traditionally-oriented Southern California country band was led by singer-bassist Mike Smart, son of the truly superb Bakersfield duo of Del and Sue Smart, and is dedicated to his father's memory, Del Smart having passed away in 1984. The group also included Lonnie Allen on drums, fiddler Doug Atwell, Joel Ferguson (pedal steel) and Jim Wright (guitar). Alhough they have a few cover tunes, the album is also packed with originals, written by Mike Smart and other guys in the band.

The Westerners/Various Artists "A Few Of The Wild Bunch" (Wild West Recordings, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Jack)

This one's a little hard to decipher, but I think the deal is that this is a collection of several artists all individually backed by a band called the Westerners. The singers are Larry Jack, Bill Kramer, Marv Lindner and Skip Stanley... The album was released on a label from Brea, California (near Anaheim) and I'm guessing the guys were working at a club in the area when they cut this disc. Marv Lindner may be familiar to squaredance fans -- he was a popular figure on the Southern California "calling" scene and cut some records back in the '70s. Skip Stanley is fondly remembered for the Sputnik-era joke-a-billy single, "Satellite Baby."

Wet Behind The Ears "Wet Behind The Ears" (American Investment Company, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Andy Waterman)

A fairly dreadful country/folk/rock crossover album by an ambitious band from La Crosse, Wisconsin. They covered some interesting tunes, stuff like Peter Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight" and Gram Parson's "Luxury Liner" alongside a few gooey originals that teeter between sort-of countryish and disastrously fusionistic. The main problem I have here is with the vocals by Karen Deutsch, who has too much of a Joan Baez/Judy Collins folkie hangover for my tastes, but also on a few songs they get into a florid fiddle-rock sound reminiscent of It's A Beautiful Day. Not my cup of tea, although I'm sure there are others out there who might dig it.

Wheatfield "Wheatfield" (Oval Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Norton Buffalo & Jim Gaines)

An eclectic, though largely rock and boogie-blues oriented band from Modesto, California... Their country side asserts itself towards the end of the album, after a series of rollicking electric guitar-and-piano based roots rocker songs. Will Hobbs, Paul Douglas, Pete Wolfe, Kenny Sawyer and Kerry Canfield, with several original songs written by Hobbs, a couple more by John Powell, and a version of Michael Dinner's "Promised Land."

Wheatridge "Down Home" (Atteiram/API Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Duron Davis & William Thrasher)

This rootsy group from Atlanta, Georgia was originally a trio, featuring John Curry on bass and guitar, Darrell Henderson playing guitar and dobro, and Don Stewart on banjo and guitar. As the liner notes inform us, they mixed folk, bluegrass, rock and country, with heavy nods towards Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, also covering material by Bob Dylan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mike Nesmith, Rual Yarbourough, and the then-psychedelicized Dillards. No original material, alas, but that changed on their next album, below. Apparently they played live at a place called P.J. Kennys, though I'm not sure how big a swath they actually cut on the rock-oriented music scene of "Underground Atlanta." They stuck with it, though, and made at least one other record...

Wheatridge "Wheatridge" (Sweetwater Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Carter, Jr.)

Not sure when this disc came out, though I'd guess around 1977 or so... The band's lineup had changed, with John Curry dropping out and the group that traveled to Nashville including Darrell Henderson on guitar, Don Stewart (banjo, guitar and piano), Terry Ryan (banjo and mandolin), Gary Stone (drums), and Dennis Mitchell playing bass. (If they persuaded producer-engineer Fred Carter, Jr. to add a few guitar licks, they woulda been pretty psyched...) When the band made their first album in '72, it was all well-chosen cover songs, but this time around they concentrated on their own material, written by Henderson and Stewart, with the sole exception being a version of Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road," presumably showing the influence of the Eagles and the Top 40 country-rock scene. The lead vocals are shared by various guys in the band, who switched around on various instruments as well.

The Whippoorwills "The Whippoorwills" (Canatal Records, 196-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Newberry & Art Snider)

An amiable country combo from Toronto, Canada. This album is mostly instrumental, though with some vocals -- the band included Max Dauphin on steel guitar, his brother Ray Dauphin (guitar), Ray Francis (rhythm guitar), Bill Taylor (drums) and John Tangelis on bass. I wouldn't exactly call them effete, though they do sound a little bit restrained, espcially on the vocal tunes. Ray Dauphin seems to be the real star of the show, laying down some solid steel licks... Pretty swell stuff overall, with a bunch of originals penned by various band members.

Whiskers And Lace "Whiskers And Lace" (Rain Tree Studios, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Miller & Whiskers And Lace)

A bluegrass-flavored acoustic twangband from Alexandria, Pennsylvania whose repertoire included bluegrass, jazz standards and even a version of Rodney Crowell's "Song For The Life." The trio included Kevin Curry (guitar, fiddle and mandolin), Galla Higginbotham (guitar and bass), George Higginbotham (banjo and bass).

Whiskey Creek Old Time String Band "On The Rocks" (Farmers Record Co., 1978) (LP)
Mostly stringband twang from this longhaired old-timey band from Fresno, California, although they do include one song called "Country Music Life." This is from the same label that the band The Music Farmers were on, with head Farmer Bill Hunter sitting in on banjo, along with Sue Hunnel (fiddle), Tom Hunnel (banjo), Bill Terry on guitar and Frenchie Watson on bass... >

Whiskey Creek Old Time String Band "Hoedown Boogie!" (Grasshopper Productions, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Eric Seaburg)

Slight personnel change this time around, with the group pared down to a foursome: Bill Terry and the Hunnells are joined by bassist Zane Thomas Heifner , still playing the same mix of old-timey tunes.

Whiskey Dreams "100% Proof Music" (GOS Records, 1980) (LP)

Whiskey Ridge "Liquid Luxury" (Chokecherry Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Lewis Marten Peterson)

A Canadian country-rock trio from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Whiskey Ridge featured lead singer R. C. Hummel, Brian Wiebe on bass, and Marty Nelson on drums. The album includes songs by J. J. Cale ("Call Me The Breeze" and "Tulsa Time"), Bob Dylan, The Eagles ("Peaceful Easy Feeling"), Merle Haggard ("Silver Wings") and Waylon Jennings ("Rainy Day Woman") as well as a couple of songs that were probably originals by the band, though there are no songwriter credits...

Whiskey Ridge "Movin' Up" (Garnette Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Jody Everett Peterson, Sr.)

Amazingly enough, an entirely different band than the group from Canada... These folks were a hardcore country covers band, self-proclaimed veterans of the "Nevada Circuit" who namechecked a number of hotels and casinos they'd played in across the state. With a mix of contemporary and golden oldies, and their agent's phone number on the back cover, this disc was very much meant as a calling card to get more work. The group included brothers Jim Harris (rhythm guitar) and Phil Harris (bass and vocals), along with Carl Bird (lead guitar), Linda Mowray (vocals), Tom Scott (drums) and Jimmy Youngblood on steel. They all took turns singing lead, with Phil Harris and Linda Mowray singing a duet on "Paradise Tonight." Overall, the band sounds charming though maybe a little frantic and kind of slickly produced. This was recorded at Sierra Nevada Recording, an independent studio in Reno, run by producer Jody Peterson, who'd recorded some cool stuff with artists such as Ernie Hagar and Merle Haggard, circa 1979-81. Phil Harris and Linda Mowray kept Whiskey Ridge together all through the '80s, and were still putting out singles as late as 1987, although the rest of the band's lineup was completely different by then. Phil Harris recorded at least one solo album, Here I Am, in 1989, with Linda Mowray chiming in on one of the tunes, and a couple of the songs written by his brother Jim. Ms. Mowray settled down around Reno, though I'm not sure what became of the Harris brothers.

Whiskey River "Whiskey River" (Northland Records, 1978) (LP)

Whiskey River "Whiskey River" (1981) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Scruggs)

Whiskey River "In Concert" (Whiskey River Productions, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Humphrey & A. Svenson)

This band from Rapid City, North Dakota was not related to the Minnesota band above... This Whiskey River had their own radio show for a couple of years on station KIMM and play all cover tunes on this album, pretty standard stuff, including two medleys of music by Merle Haggard and Don Williams. I think the first track, "Band's Gonna Do It Again" is probably a reworking of the Charlie Daniels hit... The band consisted of Mike Crawford, Bobby Humphrey, Don McLaughlin, Laurie Payseno and "Stringbean" Svenson. They may have had a couple of records before this, though I haven't tracked them down yet.

The Whiskey River Band "Blended Whiskey" (Noteworthy Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Tim Hale & The Whiskey River Band)

Whisky Hollow "We Know Better" (Shotgun Music Corporation, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Beach)

Recorded and produced in Ontario, Canada, this album includes three songs written by lead singer Lew Wilde ("Barroom Devil," "Mason Dixon Line" and "Heart Of Dixie") along with one by lead guitar Guy Wilkes ("Keep On Tryin'") and a cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles." Also in the band are fiddler R. J. Nellzy, Pat Brousseau on bass, and Joe Allain on pedal steel.

Jim Whitaker "Ode To The Farmer: America Is Depending On Him" (Boyd Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Boyd & Tommy Strong)

Years before Willie came up with Farm Aid, these Oklahoma locals paid tribute to the challenges and foreclosures facing American farmers. Veteran arranger Cliff Parman was on board for this agricultural odyssey, with songs composed by Jimmy J. Parman and friends: Kenneth Forsythe, Lyle McPheeters, Carol A. Pleasants, and Robin Roberts. Includes songs like the title track, as well as "Legends Never Die," "Farmer's Lament, "The Sale" and "The Biggest Hog Fry." Only in OK!

Lillimae Whitaker & The Dixie Gospelaires "Jesus Has Called Me" (Rural Rhythm Records, 19--?) (LP)

Lillimae Whitaker & The Dixie Gospelaires "There's A Big Wheel" (Rome Recordings/Gloryland Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey)

Straightforward bluegrass gospel, with several originals as well as covers of old standards, and a couple of contemporary tunes by John Duffy and J. D. Crowe. Lillimae Hardy Whitaker is joined by her husband, mandolin picker Charlie Whitaker, along with a pretty straightforward assortment of traditional instruments -- bass, banjo, fiddle and dobro. This was recorded at the Rome Studios, in Columbus, Ohio; Mrs. Whitaker (1939-2014) lived in Kenton, Ohio, a little to the north. The Whitakers founded the Dixie Gospelaires in 1959, along with banjo player Noah Hollon, who helped anchor the band for several decades. Charlier Whitaker took a hiatus in the early '80s to tour with Bill Monroe(!) and the Gospelaires disbanded for about a decade, reforming in 1995, with Whitaker's youngest son Jeff joining as the band's lead guitarist.

Bill White "Reaching Out" (Angelus Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wesley Tuttle, Sr.)

Dunno much about this evangelical gospel singer, although my attention was drawn to country-rocker Red Rhodes playing pedal steel on the album, along with Wesley Tuttle Jr. playing piano, Jay Lacy on guitar and Don Whaley on bass. Lacy and Whaley seem to have done a lot of session work together: Whaley was in the '70s rock band Honk, and also played with Ray Sanders, Ian Matthews, Rusty Weir, Rodney Crowell, and others. Jay Lacy joined him in Matthews and Weir's band; he also played with Hoyt Axton, Michael Nesmith, and appeared on Red Rhodes' landmark album, "Velvet Hammer," as well as Garland Frady's "Pure Country" LP. No indication of where Mr. White was from, or where he pastored, but he sure had a high-powered crew backing him for this album.

Bill White "Wanted Man" (Bejay Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by David Matthews)

It seems likely that this is a totally different guy than the gospel singer listed above... but don't quote me on that. This set was recorded in Fort Smith, Alabama with Rex Bell (keyboards), Skip Marshall (bass), Bill Flash (lead guitar), Tom Ware (fiddle), and studio owner Ben Jack on dobro and steel guitar. There are several songs credited to T. Cerney, along with various collaborators (C. Craig, A. Roberts, B. Martin, et.al.)

Bob White "Steel Trek" (Longhorn/Mid Land Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Ben Jack)

A virtuosic (but kinda cheesy) pedal steel instrumentals album from veteran player Bob White, an Arkansas boy who got his first gig working with Bob Wills in 1952, then jumped ship over to Hank Thompson, touring and recording with the Brazos Valley Boys through the rest of the decade. White's a great musician, and like many steel players he shows a strong sense of humor in his solo work, notably in his song selection (covers of "Kangaroo Hop," the surfadelic "Steel Guitar Wipeout" and a goofy, hard-rockin' version of "Raunchy") along with some outright cornball pop covers, such as Paul McCartney's "My Love" and the Carpenters' "Top Of The World." The album kicks off with a pastiche/medley of classic western swing and country riffs, titled "Bits And Pieces," which also introduces us to the intermittent backup vocals by Tracy Friel and Bruce Ewen. This was recorded at Ben Jack's BeJay Studios in Van Buren, Arkansas, with plenty of top pickers backing him. Mostly this is a little too florid for my tastes, though I kinda dug the surf tune and his version of Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord."

Buck White & The Whites -- see artist discography

White Cloud "White Cloud" (Good Medicine Records, 1972) (LP)
Perhaps best known as a rock music songwriter and record producer, Thomas Jefferson Kaye worked with big-name acts such as the Kingsmen, the Shirelles and later with artists on the edge of the country-rock scene, such as Loudon Wainwright III and ex-Byrd Gene Clark. He also recorded as an artist himself, releasing a few albums under his own name, though White Cloud was his first band to make a record, with one of the more distinctly country-oriented albums. Fiddler Kenny Kosek and multi-instrumentalist Eric Weissberg were in the band, playing gigs with Kaye on the East Coast before cutting this lone album... The following year, he released a couple of more rock-oriented records under his own name.

Danny White "Country Boy" (Grand Prix Records, 1987) (LP)
Seriously: why should Terry Bradshaw have all the fun, when it comes to country-singing NFL pros? Danny White, late '70s punter and early '80s quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, tried his hand at singin' a few country tunes, including (yet another) version of Mickey Newbury's "American Trilogy," and a cover of "Let It Be Me." Ride, 'em, Cowboy!

Don White "Shades Of White" (Summit Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Hanks)

A set of country ballads and pop standards, done country(politan) style by a middle-aged Midwesterner... The Summit label was in Poplar Bluffs, Missouri, though I'm not sure if that's where Mr. White was from... One clue is a declaration on the front of the album: "Don Endorses Clyde's Chapparal Club, Home Of The Finest Food And Entertainment," a joint in Caruthersville, a tiny town about fifty miles away, way down in the southernmost tip of the state... So that seems more likely to have been his stomping grounds -- indeed, there was a Don White who was the country clerk for neighboring Stoddard County... so who knows? Anyway, he mostly played old ballads like "Stardust" and "Pennies In The Rain," though there were some genuine country numbers as well: Willie Nelson's "Night Life," Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams," a Hank Williams oldie. The repertoire is pretty old, but I'd guess from the look of things that this was pressed in the mid- to late-'70s.

Herold White "I Remember Love" (Music City Records, 1974-?) (LP)
Though he was born in Kentucky, singer Herold White grew up in Florida and moved back there after a couple of decades spent performing in the Midwest, as well as a stint in Vegas. He released numerous singles on independent micro-labels, dating back to 1964, and recorded this album while living in the Midwest. White owned or operated a few nightclubs, first one in East Moline, Illinois (circa 1972), then one in Bettendorf, Iowa a few years later. He also started his own label, Maverick Productions, which released at least one album by another artist, a guy named Sonny Settles who seems to have been from Illinois. White moved back to Florida in the early '80s, first to work in Tampa and then back home to Live Oak, FL, where he was raised. This album was recorded in Nashville, with different musicians than he used at his own studio in Illinois: the group included Chuck Butler on bass, Jim Clark (piano), Jerry Guy (pedal steel) and John White on drums. It's not clear whether these were guys from Nashville, or his own band from the Midwest. White had a local band with an Facebook page that was active at least up through 2015. (Thanks to the Florida-based Radio Years website for their fine biography...)

Johnnie White "Party Time Again/Two Old Maids" (B&J Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Adams)

The liner notes inform us that singer Johnnie White (1925-2013) was born in Arkansas, grew up in Memphis, and worked all over the country, particularly in the upper Midwest... This album appears to have been made while he was headquartered in South Dakota and playing at his own clubs in Sioux Falls and Minneapolis. As with many self-released records, this was partly intended to advertise Mr. White's abilities as a performer (so that he could get more gigs) and frames him as a triple-threat artist. Side One is an extended comedy skit called "Two Old Maids," an example of the blue humor he shared in some of the rougher venues; Side Two showcases his musical talent, with three vocal tunes (oldies such as "Cattle Call" and "Born To Lose") along with three instrumental numbers, including "Sleepwalk" and "Caravan." He was working with several local musicians who don't seem to have recorded elsewhere: the band includes Johnnie White on bass and steel guitar, former garage rocker Doug Neste on lead guitar, Jo Anne Marie (piano and organ) and Cecil Sweet (banjo, drums and saxophone). There's no date on the record, but I'd guess late '60s, maybe even as late as 1970-72. Mr. White toured widely throughout the Midwest, also doing local radio and TV programs on a variety of stations; in the late '70s he moved out to California, and performed in LA up through the end of the 1980s. The "Two Old Maids" skit was also released as a double-7" "party record" sometime in the early 'Seventies.

Johnny White "Memories" (Alpine Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Adams)

Not to be confused with South Dakota's Johnnie White, this fella was from East Boston, Massachusetts, a songwriter and veteran performer of the New England hillbilly scene who was professionally billed as "the Yankee Yodeler." From a French-Canadian immigrant family, White's real name was Jean LeBlanc, and he started out in a duo with his brother -- The LeBlanc Brothers -- though by the time he began to record, White had adopted his Anglicized stage name. He was a practitioner of the ancient art of yodeling, tackling such classics as "Cannonball Yodel" as well as mainstream oldies as "Folsom Prison Blues." Alas, there are no song credits, although I think most of these tracks were Johnny White originals... Also no info on the album's producer, or the backing musicians, though 'Fifties country star Marvin Rainwater contributes liner notes.

White Lightnin' Express "With White Lightnin' " (Musi Motion Records, 1975-?) (LP)
A complete mystery band, with no info about where or when they recorded this set... alas. The group included Jay Booth on steel guitar, Guy Scaggs (vocals), Gary Smith (guitar and vocals), Junior Smith (bass), and Sonny Smith on drums... A few tracks centered on Booth's steel playing, with instrumental renditions of early 'Seventies fare such as "I Can See Clearly Now," and a version of "Wipe Out" which lets Sonny Smith cut loose on the drum kit. Among the vocal tracks, there's one original, "Remember The Good Times," which is credited to Junior Smith, alongside covers of oldies like "Dream Lover" and "Runaway," as well as versions of then-recent hits such as "Lyin' Eyes" by the Eagles and Billy Crash Craddock's "Rub It In." Anybody out there know where these fellas were from?

Mack White "Let Me Be Your Friend" (Commercial Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Mack White, Don Powell & Finley Duncan)

It took Georgia-born Floridian Mack White a long time to put this record out... Working for Nashville's Wesley Rose, he released a string of reasonably successful singles, with nine songs charting on Billboard between 1973-77, including three that cracked the Top 40. This album gathers those singles and a few other songs, including four Mack White originals as well as two by the writing team of DeWayne Orender & Don Powell, and several others represented by the Acuff-Rose publishing company... There's even a version of Fred Rose's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain." No info on the studio musicians, but it's a good bet there were a lot of "usual suspect" Nashvillers there... White sustained his momentum for a while, but slowly slid into the Back Forty and then off the radar.

Mack White "Lonely In The Crowd" (Commercial Records, 1982) (LP)

Mike White & The Sliter Brothers "Live At Jamboree, USA" (JAM-USA Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jimmy Brightman & Ron Grayson)

A longhair band from upstate New York that had a pretty strong local following and played on the Jamboree USA TV show for much of the group's seven-year hisory... The band's teenage steel player, Buck Reid (who was not on this album), was later recruited by country star John Anderson in the early '80s to be part of his band, leading to a long career as a highly successful touring musician.

Mike White "Mike White" (MW Records, 1980-?) (LP)
Although this was billed as a solo album, he was still working with the Sliter Brothers -- four songs are credited to the Sliters, alongside several covers songs and (perhaps) another original or two...

Paul White "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be" (Spin Chek Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Carr)

According to the liner notes, songwriter Paul White was a veteran sideman of several Nashville bands, most notably the Wilburn Brothers and their TV show, and a native of Charlotte, North Carolina local who apparently headed back home after doing his time in Music City. He was also a nightclub owner, having opened a venue in Charlotte called The Nashville Scene five years before he cut this record. The album includes a lot of original material, including four songs by Mr. White -- "Heart Break Hangover," "Merry Christmas Elvis," "Midnight Girl," and "My Wanting You" -- and two songs each composed by Jimmy Helms and Larry G. Whitehead, who were both represented by the Sure Fire publishing company. These sessions were recorded in Nashville with an A-list studio band, including guitar picker Jimmy Capps, DJ Fontana (drums), Bunky Keels (piano), Billy Linneman (bass), Hal Rugg (steel guitar) and backing vocals by the Hardin Trio. There's no date on this disc, or on his Spin Chek singles, but it looks like late 1970s release, possibly '77 or '78, thereabouts. A couple of White's songs were co-composed with North Carolina singer Ruth Hartman, who released at least one single under her own name.

Rex White & Son/Father "The Ballad Of The Big O" (Dial Communications, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Sewell)

A super-confusing "band" name, but a cool record. Rex White, Jr. and his son, Rex White III, team up for this set of old-school acoustic twang, picking their way through chestnuts such as "Columbus Stockade Blues," "Methodist Pie" and Merle Travis' "Nine Pound Hammer," as well more blues-oriented material and some vaudeville-type oldies. There are also some comedic bits and original material, including the title track, which they say was written about a pal of theirs who worked at General Mills. The Whites appear to have been from around Detroit, though this album was recorded in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Robert White & The Candy Mountain Boys "Thousand Tons Of Coal" (Ranger R Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Forrest Green)

A prolific recording artist with singles bating back to the late 1950s, Michigan's Robert LaVaughn White (1925-2002) cut his first full LP in the late '60s, working with local producer Forrest Green. A festival favorite during the 'Sixties and 'Seventies, White had a particularly strong following in the Great Lakes area and upper Midwest.

Robert White & The Candy Mountain Boys "Poverty/A Eye For A Eye" (Ranger R Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Forrest Green)

This disc comes from the early 'Seventies, an era when it was in vogue to give country albums two titles -- usually of two songs they hoped would be hits. (I also love that the article "an" isn't used before "eye"... not THAT'S country...!) Recorded at the Forrest Green Studios in Clio, Michigan, though it was mastered and pressed by the Rimrock label, in Concord, Arkansas. As with his previous album, this is a lively mix of bluegrass, country, secular and gospel material, with a lot of original material.

Robert White & The Candy Mountain Boys "In The Savior's Hands" (Ranger R Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Forrest Green)

This was an all-gospel album, with a wealth of original material, as well as some off-the-beaten path material by evangelical country songwriters such as Bud Chambers. Along with heartfelt standards such as "Working On A Building" and "Heavenly Light Shining On Me," Mr. White had an ear for novelty material such as "Out Lord's Space Ship" and "God's Tax Free Plan." Alas no info on who the boys in the band were, though they included guys on banjo, mandolin and guitar. White continues recording and performing for several decades, releasing numerous singles and LPs for Atteiram, Old Homestead and other labels.

The White Sisters "Stepping On The Clouds" (Ripcord/Charter Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ellis Miller)

The White Sisters -- Barbara, Janice and Jayne -- were a gospel trio from Yuba City, California and were members of the Pastor First Baptist Church in nearby Biggs. They made the trek up to Washington state to record at Gene Breeden's Ripcord Studios, singing strictly gospel material, with a couple of songs written by Janice White, "Never Has A Man" and "Troubles Will Soon Be Over." Although I'm not sure how country this album is overall, they also included a version of Larry Gatlin's "It Must Have Rained In Heaven."

The White Sisters "Happy Meeting" (Ripcord/Charter Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Blaine Allen)

This album includes two songs, "Smile" and "Happy Meeting," both written by Janice White and published by Ripcord.

Tony White "Good Ole Country Music" (RCA-Canada, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Kunkel)

Tony Joe White - see artist discography

Whitewater "Old Man On The Mountain" (WSDS Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Helen Schnickels, Michael Day & Jeff Stevenson)

Not a ton of info about these folks... They were an uptempo band with a southern rock flair and a decent amount of twang, led by singer-guitarists Tim and Tom Stevenson (who I assume were brothers) along with drummer Brent Bottomley, vocalist Lisa Kirk and bassist Dan Skrove. The album was recorded at Aleatoric studios in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and I think the band was from there as well, except for drummer Brent Bottomley (1955-2018) who was originally from Winnipeg, Ontario and had played in local rock bands such as Honey Throat and Sneakers Ultra Pop. The set list includes several originals by the Stevensons, and one by Dan Skrove, along with some cover songs like "The Rose," Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me," and Randy Owens' "Mountain Music,"which was a chart-topper for Alabama in 1982. That track, as well as their cover of Mel McDaniel's "Take Me To The Country," help date this disc, which was mis-identified on several file-sharing sites as being from the 'Seventies. 1983 or '84 seems more like it -- sounds like it musically, as well. A little rough around the edges, but a fun record.

Jerry & Judie Whitener "Putting It All Together" (J & J Records, 197--?) (LP)
This husband-wife duo from from Rochelle, Illinois traveled widely as evangelical preachers, also recording a bunch of records -- unruly, surprisingly twangy stuff with a pronounced hillbilly feel, reminiscent of Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, along with a little fancy, Chet Atkins-y guitar. This album looks to me like it was an early-1970s offering -- they refer in the liner notes to fans who liked their older records, and say they made this album as a way to recapture the feel of those earlier recordings, so I think this may have been the first of a string of LPs they self-released in the 'Seventies, with a couple of others listed below. They really harkened back to an earlier era, with an assertive rhythm section and steel guitar propelling them through jubilee and hymnal material -- definitely not a snoozy, organ-led church music set here! I'd love to have more information about them, if anyone out there can help...

Jerry & Judie Whitener "Life Is Worth Living" (J & J Records, 19--?) (LP)

Jerry & Judie Whitener "That Same Road" (J & J Records, 1975) (LP)

Whitewater "Springtime In The White Clouds" (American Heritage Music Corporation, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Don Cedarstrom)

This Idaho group featured Michael Wendling on guitar, a picker whose solo work fit more into the "new acoustic" style, as pioneered by Leo Kottke... Wendling is joined by fiddler Teddy Jones, Paul Smith on multiple instruments, and bassist Alan Yates. I think this one was more of a folkie thing... though there's country stuff in there as well.

White Water Junction "White Water Junction" (198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Gilmer)

This commercially-oriented band from Calhoun, Georgia formed in 1978 and played together through the early '80s. Multi-instrumentalist Travis Stephens was their main songwriter, with additional material provided by steel guitarist Sammy Watkins, bassist Kenny Seabolt and Deborah Pearson. They played regional gigs at nightclubs in Chattanooga and Atlanta, opening for Nashville stars such as Charley Pride, and despite this album's funky, lo-tech artwork, they were aiming at a very glossy, contemporary, Top 40 pop-country sound. Not sure when this record came out, but I'm guessing around or after 1983, when apparently they were at their peak. It certainly has the airy, synthy sound of the times.

Ricky Whitley "Sit Down Job" (Major Label Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Stan Dacus & Ricky Whitley)

A fun, raggedly album with a wealth of original material from this Atlanta, Georgia twang-auteur... There's a lot of stylistic variety on here, with Whitley hammering out a sizzling jump blues tune at the start, then sliding into some more relaxed acoustic twang as the album goes on. In an odd way, he kind of reminds me of much later artists such as Drive By Truckers and Ryan Bingham, kind of a post-modern redneck hipster vibe, with songs about drinking and hanging out, and a definite Southern feel. Except for one song about someone acting like a monkey (which while not actually racist, still has some uncomfortable undertones...) this is pretty strong material -- laid-back, but soulful and sincere, and definitely worth a spin. Of interest to fans of older, more traditional twang, in the liner notes Whitley dedicates the album to Thomas P. Darby, of the Depression-era bluegrass/old-timey duo Darby & Tarleton, who he says was his uncle(!) Now those are some real country music roots!

Joani Whitmore "The Gospel Side Of Joani/Joani Sings Country Love Songs" (Artists Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Clay)

An adequate amateur, Joani Whitmore recorded this private press album at the Rubber City Sound Studios in Akron, Ohio, dividing the disc between gospel songs and secular stuff, presumably tunes that were her favorites at the time. There are a couple of current hits, such as Donna Fargo's "Funny Face" and "Loves' Gonna Live Here Again," from the Buck Owens catalog, while the gospel side has standards such as "He Touched Me" and "How Great Thou Art." Now, in all honesty, Mrs. Whitmore (whose husband wrote some brief, loving liner notes) wasn't the greatest vocalist, and teeters out of tune most of the time. But she's heartfelt and sincere, and that counts for something. More surprising is how upbeat and enthusiastic the musical backing is, particularly on the religious numbers, which actually get pretty funky. Producer Vic Clay seems to enjoy himself, and is very generous with his accompaniment; Clay also recorded an album or two himself, and though the other musicians aren't listed on this LP, I'd imagine they were guys he regularly worked with in his studio. An imperfect, but perfectly charming "real people" record.

Benny Whitten & Kathleen Tod "First Time Around" (Solid Sound, Inc., 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Benny Whitten, Jimmy Payne & Bill Holmes)

This indie album from a Kansas City duo was recorded in Nashville with Doyle Grisham playing steel guitar at the helm of an otherwise obscure pickup band. This is a solidly country-oriented record, featuring covers of early 'Seventies countrypolitan and country-pop hits such as "Country Roads," "Grandma's Feather Bed," "If You Love Me," "Let Me Be There," and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon." There are also four originals written by Benny Whitten: "I Could, But I Won't," "I Love You More Each Day," "My Road" and "Turn Away." The vocals aren't earthshaking, but they are committed and sincere, and the material is consistently engaging and enjoyable -- a pretty strong effort for folks at this level of the industry. Their second album, Whitten & Tod, was more of a disco/funk/AOR thing, with covers of Top Forty hits such as "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," "Car Wash" and "You Don't Have To Be A Star." Benny Whitten and Kathleen Tod were a husband-wife duo, though they might not have been married at the time this first album was recorded.

Whole Wheat 100% "Whole Wheat 100%" (CNR Records, 1977) (LP)

Whole Wheat 100% "Ice, Fire & Desire" (AVI Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by James Pike)

This one's actually here more as a buzzkill alert: I've seen this band mentioned as a country-rock outfit, and maybe they were on their first album, but this one's definitely a slick soft-rock/disco-funk set, sort of like a cross between Atlanta Rhythm Section and Little River Band. Not much twang, though: well, there are a couple of songs with a teeny bit of CSN-ish vocal harmonies, and the very last track, "Heart Of The Mountain," is indeed a straight-ahead country-rock song... sounds just like America's "Horse With No Name." But if you're looking for a lost country nugget, this disc isn't going to do the trick.

Bill Whyte "Making Music" (Calico Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Royce Kendall & Jeannie Kendall)

Well, first off, he had the Kendalls on board to produce his album, so that's a pretty good sign... Missouri native Bill Whyte started out playing in high school bands and made his way to Nashville to cut this album, which is packed with strong original material. It's mostly your basic hippiebilly '70s cosmic country, with witty lyrics and plenty of bouncy, loose-limbed twang... Fans of New Riders Of The Purple Sage and similar bands might have fun with this one as well. Whyte stuck around in Nashville and worked as a radio deejay at WSM, briefly relocating to Cincinnati, then moved back to settle permanently in Nashville where he held down a longterm gig at WSM. Later on he refashioned himself into a country comedy artist, and has recorded and performed extensively under that persona, and has also had considerable success as a songwriter, placing songs with Top Forty artists of a calibre such as Rebecca Lynn Howard, Craig Morgan and Joe Nichols. It all started here, though, and this is a pretty good record... worth tracking down!

Wichita "Wichita" (Hush Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Garrie Thompson & Don Baskin)

This was an excellent country-rock and outlaw covers band from Sunnyvale, California... Even though the the repertoire is all cover songs, the performances are quite vibrant and accomplished, and the joyful feeling the band put into this record is completely infectious. It's too bad these guys didn't write more original material -- they were clearly a top-flight twang band with lots of experience playing live. Anyone out there have more information about this group? I'd love to hear more of their story...

The Wichita Linemen "Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch" (High Fidelity Recording Studios, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Don Powell)

Named after the big Glen Campbell hit, the Wichita Linemen was a "house band" at the powerful AM/FM radio station, KFDI, Wichita, which was one of the most influential country music outlets in the Midwest. Formed by a couple of DJs and their friends, the group started in 1969 and recorded several LPs as well as a number of commemorative 7" singles. They toured regionally for over three decades until disbanding in the year 2000. The core members included singer Don Walton and steel guitarist Don Powell; their stage show also apparently included old-school cornpone humor of the Hee Haw variety; this album is notable for the original material, including a lot of comedic songs, including several written by Mike Oatman, Terry Burford and Don Walton. I gotta say, though, that despite the band's pedigree and long-lived duration, this debut LP isn't really all that great. This edition of the band included lead singer Don Powell, drummer Robin Harris, guitar picker Carl Hendricks, and 21-year old bassist Greg Stevens... several of the singers are flat-out not very good, and the guitar pickers tend to go a little note-happy... Probably the best singer in the group was Terry Burford, who sings lead on a couple of tunes, though he struggles to find a groove inside the clunky rhythms of the band. As with the performances, the songwriting is also rather iffy. In general, editing seems to have been a problem on this project, although they do tackle the sessions with gusto, and for those of you out there who are into so-bad-it's-good Schadenfreude, this disc would be rather rewarding. Worth a spin, just to satisfy your curiosity, but don't get your hopes up too high.

The Wichita Linemen "Alive And Pickin' At Piqua" (Linemen Records, 197--?) (LP)
Piqua, Kansas is a teeny-tiny little town about a hundred miles east of Wichita, perhaps best known as the birthplace of silent film comedian Buster Keaton. I dunno if the Linemen actually played there or recorded this album there, but the name does have a certain tang to it...

The Wichita Linemen "Live At Fox Canyon" (Linemen Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Walton & Jim Strattan)

This recording was made at the Fox Canyon Club, one of several venues in Wichita and Hutchinson, Kansas owned by businessman William C. Selby (1931-2010), including the Brookside Club, Fox Canyon and McGraw's. Selby is identified as the "M. F. W. I. C." -- I'm assuming the gal the liner notes call Mama Fox was his wife...

The Wichita Linemen "The Wichita Linemen" (Linemen Records, 19--?) (LP)
I'm not sure how many albums the Linemen wound up making (or singles -- there were quite a few of those as well, along with a few other commemorative projects commissioned by KFDI that the band also took part in...) Anyway, there were at least three LPs, not to be confused with the two recorded by the British band (below) that used the same name.

The Wichita Linemen (UK) "The Wichita Linemen" (Hillside Records, 1975) (LP)
This appears to be an English country band that had the same idea for a bandname as the guys who were actually from Wichita... A little confusing, sure, but the world's a crazy place!

The Wichita Linemen (UK) "Lightning Bar" (Hillside Records, 1977) (LP)

Ginny Wicker "The Two Sides Of Ginny" (Back Roads Records, 1984) (LP)
Not much info on this one. Virginia W. Wicker (1922-2006) was from Kenly, North Carolina, not far from Raleigh-Durham, and recorded at least two full albums while in her sixties. This first(?) album apparently came in a plain white jacket, with no album art or liner notes. Her other album (below) was recorded in Nashville with several top-flight studio musicians, although I suppose on this one she might have been backed by local musicians. All the songs on here are Wicker originals, including novelty numbers like "Lifetime Guarantee," "Put A Splint On My Broken Heart" and "You May Call It Making Love (But I Call It Make Believe). Alas, her obituary didn't include any biographical information, and no mention of her musical pursuits, so for now she remains a mystery.

Ginny Wicker "Sings From Nashville, Tennessee" (Sky Bow Records, 1988-?) (LP)
(Produced by Louis F. Swift)

For her second(?) album, Ms. Wicker headed over the Music City, where she booked a session with several A-list Nashville studio pros. Backing her are drummer Dale Armstrong, Jim Baker (steel guitar), Larry Crews (bass), Doyle Grisham (guitar) and Willie Rainsfield on piano. Side One of the album is secular, while Side Two features gospel material, including a holiday offering, "Christmas In Heaven." As on her other album, all the songs are originals, penned by Ms. Wicker.

Lewie Wickham - see artist discography

Rusty Wier - see artist discography

Ray Wierson & The Occasional 6 "I've Gotta Be Me!" (Century Records, 1970-?) (LP)
(Produced by Loren Eller)

So awesome. This is the very epitome of a goofy "private press" album, the kind of so-bad-its-great recording that hipsters have fever dreams about. Now, I'm not big on making fun of folks from the past who look goofy to us now, or who make "bad" records, but this disc from Des Moines is just too great to pass by. Ray Wierson was a clean-cut young man with a bunch of clean-cut young friends, possibly in college or even high school, from the looks of it. They tackle a bunch of contemporary hits, including some rock, some country and some show tunes. On the country side, there's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," and "Proud Mary," with a few country-adjacent tunes such as "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Leaving On A Jet Plane." What makes this record great is how thoroughly not ready these kids were to go into the studio -- they gallumph through gloriously chaotic, clattersome renditions of "Day Tripper" and "Down On The Corner," and their "Proud Mary" is a one of my favorite covers of this standard. I don't doubt that if they'd been patient and practiced for another few months, they would have sounded more professional, but then the record just wouldn't have been as much fun. Ray Wierson spent his whole life in Iowa, working in local government and eventually became the county administrator for Scott County, retiring in 2008. Despite this shaky debut, Wierson stuck with music, leading an amateur jazz combo that performed locally for many years. This album was recorded in Des Moines, but it looks like Wierson and his pals were originally from Nevada, Iowa, a tiny town outside of Ames.

Ray Wilburn & Jerry Moore "Communication With Ray Wilburn And Jerry Moore" (KSS-Kennett Sound Studios, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Keene)

Nice Chet Atkins-y guitar instrumentals from a couple of Missouri locals, guitarist Ray Wilburn and bassist Jerry Moore, with modest backing by drummer Jamie Holmes. Wilburn and Holmes were from Saint Charles and Hazelwood, MO, in the suburbs of north Saint Louis, and although I doubt they played music professionally, they were both fine pickers. Side One of the album is secular, while Side Two spotlights gospel standards such as "I Am A Pilgrim," "Lonesome Valley," and "Just A Closer Walk With Thee." Classic country guitarists such as Chet Atkins and Merle Travis are echoed in the performances and repertoire... This isn't a groundbreaking record, but it sure sounds sweet.

Wildcountry "Wildcountry" (LSI Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Wildcountry)

Behold, the band that would become known as Alabama. Cousins Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen all hailed from Fort Payne, Alabama, in the northern end of the state near Huntsville. They formed a band in the early '70s and plugged away for several years playing theme parks and local bars before rustling up the cash to self-produce this album. It's packed with original material, including four songs written by the band's first drummer, John Vartanian, and others by the guys who would go onto Top Forty fame. Here's where it all began...

Wild Country "Wild Country" (Mico Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Ames & J. Centinario)

Brothers Jerry and Larry Sullivan started their own band back in the early 1960s while living in Vincennes, Indiana... Years later, like so many other starry-eyed hopefuls they headed out for Nashville and, while plugging away in Music City, recorded this album. Somewhere along the line they hooked up with fiddler Jack Little, a longtime veteran of the Porter Wagoner show, as well as drummer Vic Thomas, who was also from their hometown, but had made his way to Nashville way back in '61, landing a gig with singer Nat Stuckey. This album features two Larry Sullivan originals, "Little Faces Have Big Ears" and "You're On Your Way Out," along with covers of contemporary tunes by Larry Gatlin ("Sweet Becky Walker"), David Allan Coe ("Just In Time To Watch Love Die") and early '70s staples such as "Proud Mary" and Mickey Newberry's patriotic medley, "American Trilogy." There's no date on this album, but judging from the set list and the way the guys look, I'd guess it came out around 1978-79.

Wild Country "Boogie" (Bull Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Verne Leeper & Matt Frazier)

A shaggy country quartet from Columbus, Kansas, down in the Southeast corner of the state, near Joplin, Missouri. No date on the album, but I'd guess it's early '80s, like 1981-83, just from how Alabama-esque/Oak Ridge Boys-y they look in the photos. In technical terms, this is a pretty crudely made record, though mostly just regarding the production values. The band itself was surprisingly good, and songwriter Verne A. Leeper had an ambitious agenda -- a small-town kid, for sure, but he had a taste for country-rock and pop that was sophisticated and diverse. Some songs are pretty straightforward melodic twang, while others have more of a confessional, introverted quality. For example, "How Many Times" is a broken-hearted bummer song that has the definite feel of a spiral-bound notebook highschool poetry, but even so there's something compelling about the singer's abject, rueful misery as he wonders aloud, how many times did you spend the night over at my place... and where are you now? Another one of those odd, imperfect gems that float up out of the ocean of self-released records. Not a classic, but it has its charms. Decades later, Leeper was still living in Columbus, and performing occasionally as the leader of the Verne Leeper Band.

Wild Oats "Country + Blue Grass" (Alshire Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Ron LeGrand)

Although this Southern California band had a relatively ignominious beginning playing day-job shows at the Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm amusement parks, their lone album features a wealth of original material, most of it written by lead singer Ron LeGrand. The music is solidly in the cosmic country style of the hippie-era Dillards and Byrds, with drifting, airy vocals and equally fluid arrangements, centered on the willowy pedal steel. It's worth noting that the steel player was a gal named Kathy Turner -- dunno if she did music else musically, but her spacy style compares favorably to other early-'Seventies hippie steel players who were reinventing the wheel at the time. The band probably just played generic bluegrass at their park gigs, as reflected in a trio of instrumentals, including a version of "Orange Blossom Special" where fiddler Bill Cunningham interpolates the melody with that of "Malaguena." Although clearly derivative of other early country-rock records, this album holds its own -- if you liked the Easy Rider soundtrack, you'll wanna check this one out.

Wild Oats/Homer And The Barnstormers "Flaming Banjos/Blue Grass Banjos" (Alshire Records, 19--?) (LP)
This cheapo twofer combines two separate albums by different bands on the Alshire label... It seems to include all the material from the Wild Oats LP, even though it misleadingly pitches it as a bluegrass-only album.

Wild Oats "Wild Oats" (TK Productions/Clouds Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Howard Smiley, Michael Laskow & Ray Martinez)

Meh. The first side of this album sounds pretty much like wimpy, mainstream country-rock/AOR, and reminded me of the band Firefall more than anything else (which turns out to be because Firefall members Larry Burnett and Rick Roberts are singing harmony...) It's all okay, unexciting but inoffensive. But then on Side Two everything goes sideways and most of the songs are actively irritating, worst of all is the first track, "Friendship," which just one big, gooey, poorly-written, self-indulgent trainwreck of a '70s song. The main man in this band was a guy named Marc Levy, who had the kind of thin, gangly voice that's hard to take seriously at this level, but might have been endearing on a private-pressing indie album. I dunno. If you're really, really into '70s country-rock you might want to check this out, but I couldn't find any reason to hang onto this disc.

Wild West "Wild West" (Round-Up Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Wilson)

A straight-up uberindie honkytonk band from Bartonville, Illinois (near Peoria) with the core group of Larry Wilson (lead vocals and bass), Dan Tynan (guitar), Sharon Bryant (vocals), Dick Bush (guitar), and Jim Smith on drums. The sessions were filled out by various guest musicians, including Gary Nabors on piano and steel guitar player Larry Watson, both part of a backup crew provided by the Willow Wand studios, in Pekin, Illinois. The album is packed with original material, which is groovy, though I couldn't find any info about these folks online, largely due to their super-generic band name. Oh, well.

Walt Wilder "Ode To Country Music" (Homa Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Sherman)

An early album on the regional Oklahoma City-based Homa label, with a slew of original material written by Oklahoma native Earl Walter Rodden (aka Walt Wilder, 1936-2013) as well as by his collaborators, Rocky Craig and Gene Crysler. There's also one cover song, a version of Cowboy Copas' "Signed, Sealed And Delivered." The liner notes say that Wilder mostly worked doing construction and iron work, but that he also owned a club... Sadly, it doesn't say which club (or clubs) he owned, nor who the musicians are playing on this album... Wilder, who was also a Vietnam veteran, kicked around in Nashville in the late '60s and hung out with Gene Crysler, who was a fairly successful Music City songwriter, and they worked on some tunes together. Wilder wrote some earlier songs including "Plastic Roses" and "Oklahoma City Okie," though neither were reprised on this album.

Walt Wilder & Randall Graham "Super Number Two" (CMM Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ralph Davis, Kevin McManus & Walt Wilder)

This would appear to be a Nashville songwriter's demo disc, with vocal contributions from three dudes who kinda knew one another, but not well enough to come up with a band name. Sherman Crysler was the son of songwriter/empresario Gene Crysler, and Mr. Crysler contributes brief liner notes briskly praising his son and his pals, as does outlaw star David Allan Coe. Walt Wilder (aka Earl Walter Rodden, 1936-2013) was an Oklahoma native and Vietnam veteran who had been kicking around Nashville since the 'Sixties, and was apparently a fixture at Tootsie's lounge, and a relatively successful songwriter. He worked with the elder Mr. Crysler for much of that time; they also collaborated on Wilder's 1974 solo album, Ode To Country Music. Several "usual suspect" studio musicians are also on here, including Willie Rainsfield, Leon Rhodes, and Jerry Shook.

Wilderness Road "Wilderness Road" (Columbia Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Richardson)

A satirical agit-pop band of the hippie era, Wilderness Road included alumni of Chicago's fabled Second City comedy troupe (which later fed into the early Saturday Night Live TV show...) and on their first album they devoted themselves almost entirely to lampooning country music as a way to rip on evangelical fundamentalism. The "revival" music here is a broad swipe at Christian tent preachers and the perceived gullibility of their flocks... It's a worthy target for parody, I suppose, but about as subtle as a twelve-foot, flaming red hammer with air-horns attached... Mostly, though, I just didn't like their mockery of county music, per se, since as you may have noticed, I kind of like country music and find many counterculture attacks on it (like this one) to be frequently facile and off-base. But, whatever. Musically, this was pretty accomplished, with some hot picking and a few dips into Arthur Brown-ish semi-prog that let listeners in on the joke. Fans of the Fugs, or of old National Lampoon records and Firesign Theater might get off on this as well. I found it a little too grating.

Wilderness Road "Sold For The Prevention Of Disease Only" (Reprise Records, 1973) (LP)
Judging from their Spinal Tap-ish glam-metal costumes, I'm guessing that the focus of this album was rock parody and not more hick mockery... But I could be wrong. Maybe one day I'll find, out and let you know...

Wildfire "In The Weave" (Prime Time Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Rod Shively)

There's a lot of original material here by this band from Rocky Mount, Virginia... The group featured banjo-and-guitar player Steve Shively, singer Barbara James, steel guitarists Joey Macray and Jerry Martin, fiddler Kathy Kuhn, pianist Fair Robey, and others... They cover country tunes by Toy Caldwell, David Allan Coe, and even Stephen Foster's "Hard Times," although about half the songs are credited to various bandmembers, all using the same Fairystone Publishing Company. These include Steve Shively's "Heaven Bound" and "Take A Break," "Kindred Spirit," by Barbara James, and a couple by singer-guitarist Charlie Robertson: "Mountain Willie" and "Katie Lou." They thoughtfully noted that this album was recorded over the winter, from November, 1979 to March, 1980.

Wildweeds "Wildweeds" (Vanguard Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Maynard Solomon)

An early band led by Connecticut yankee guitarist Al Anderson, who went on to join NRBQ in 1971 and later became a super-successful Nashville songwriter and session player. In 1967, The Wildweeds had scored a regional pop hit with their sleek single "No Good To Cry," though those garage rock days seem far behind on this rootsy set, which is packed with Anderson originals, stuff that will resonate with fans of early NRBQ. In a sense Anderson's country music career begins here, when he and his New England pals hoofed it down to Nashville to cut these sessions with backing from A-list studio cats such as David Briggs, Jim Colvard, Mac Gayden Charlie McCoy and Weldon Myrick. After joining NRBQ, Anderson recorded another excellent album for Vanguard, recording under his own name with a mix of musicians from both the Wildweeds and the 'Q. Nice stuff!

Wildwood Flour "Live At The Lamplighter Club" (Akashic Records, 1973-?) (LP)
The country-folk trio of Ken Blake, Cappy Lyons and Ronnie Routh played gigs in and around New Orleans for much of the early 1970s, including a stint at the Lamplighters Club, where they recorded this live album. The set was all cover songs, including contemporary hits such as "Country Road," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Snowbird," "For The Good Times" and "The Theme To MASH." They also sang oldies, like "Ghost Riders In The Sky" and "You Are My Sunshine," as well as some slightly more alternative songs, such as John Stewart's "July, You're A Woman." The liner notes say they were all three songwriters, though sadly none of their own original material made it onto this album. They are joined by John Carpenter on one track, singing "This Old Rig"; guitarist Cappy Lyons also worked with Jim Smoak in the late '70s.

Nancy Wiles "Nashville Jukebox" (Austin Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Troy, Frank Evans & Rob Rankin)

A slick but reasonably twangy collection of tunes, with a heavy debt to 'Seventies cowgals like Emmylou Harris and even moreso to Linda Ronstadt -- Wiles sounds quite a bit like Ronstadt and covers hits such as "I'm Leavin' It All Up To You" and "Tell It Like It Is," as well as Rodney Crowell's "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" and Harlan Howard's "Heartaches By The Number." Ms. Wiles was from Maryland: she thanks local bandleaders Don Barnes and Debbie Williams for steering her towards producer Billy Troy, and may have been part of their stage show before cutting this disc. She led her own group through much of the '80s and early 1990s, and frequently performed at the same venues as Barnes and Williams. This seems to have been a Nashville songwriter's demo set, and unfortunately the backing band are a little too low-key to really propel her forward. Wiles really puts her all into "One Last Chance," a would-be pop-country hit penned by Billy Troy that might actually have worked for her, but falls just shy of radio playability in this version. A pity, really: she had a nice voice and would have benefited from stronger, punchier production.

Rodger Wilhoit "The Social World Of Rodger Wilhoit" (Parklane Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Carl French & Rodger Wilhoit)

Nice, earthy countrypolitan twang from the heartland... Parklane Records was an indie label based in Cleveland, Ohio and co-owned (I believe) by sing Rodger Wilhoit and songwriter-arranger Carl French, who also started a road show called the Carwin Country Show. The songs on this LP are mostly drawn from a series of singles Wilhoit cut on Parklane throughout the early 'Seventies; he also cut some tracks for CC International, which I'd guess was a permutation of "Carwin Country," and basically a revamped version of Parklane Records. Anyway, this is really good stuff, reminiscent of singers like Conway Twitty, Wynne Stewart, and George Jones. Wilhoit seems to have moved to Tennessee in later years; as far as I know he's not related to actress Kathleen Wilhoite.

John Buck Wilkin "In Search Of Food, Clothing, Shelter And Sex" (Liberty Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Don Tweedy)

Despite the extremely promising album title and the presence of a bunch of Muscle Shoals and Music City heavyweights (Larry Butler, Norbert Putman, Kenny Buttrey, John Lovell, et. al.) and country-sounding song titles like "The Nashville Sun" and "Boy Of The Country," this isn't quite as twangy as one might hope. Mostly it's a flowery, poetical pop-orchestral outing of the late-'60s variety, albeit a very good one. What makes this album noteworthy is that John Wilkin was the son of legendary country songwriter Marijohn Wilkin, and he pays tribute to her with a version of her song "Long Black Veil." He also sings a couple of Kris Kristofferson songs (Kris was one of his mom's many Nashville proteges) including one, "Apocalypse 1969," that he co-wrote along with Kristofferson... Overall, this is a very solemn (though not particularly gloomy) spiritually-inclined folk-psych outing... I think he really, really wanted to me taken seriously as an artist and all that... Anyway, if you're into fancy, experimental '60s pop, you might want to give this one a whirl.

John Buck Wilkin "Buck" (United Artists, 1970) (LP)
Oh, and the other interesting fact about this guy was that, as "Bucky" Wilkin, he was the lead singer and frontman for the mid-'60s surf-pop band Ronny And The Daytonas, who had a Top Ten hit... Apparently his mom had him performing on Opry-style country shows as a little kid in the '50s, so he'd been at this whole music business thing a while. Anyway, I guess these two albums were his only solo outings... I'm curious to hear this one as well, although it also looks like it's not very country.

The Wilkinson Brothers "Ozark Mountain Breakdown" (American Artists Records, 19--) (LP)

The Wilkinson Brothers "Just Plain Gospel" (American Artists Records, 19--) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Wilkinson, David Dombrowski & Winnie Swaim)

The Wilkinson Brothers "Take Two" (American Artists Records, 19--) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Wilkinson & David Dombrowski)

This album features Larry, Gary and Charlie Wilkinson on vocals, with Gary playing bass, Ralph Loew on fiddle and banjo, Gene Mulvaney on pedal steel, And Corporon on drums, and Richard Rankin on guitar. They cover some country classic by Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and Leon McAuliffe, along with more contemporary hits such as "The Rose" and 'Seventies stuff like "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and the Eagles' "Take It To The Limit."

Billie Jo Williams "Country Music Will Always Stay In My Heart" (Farview Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tony Farr & Doyle Grisham)

Pedal steel player Tony Farr helmed this '70s session, with guitar picker Doyle Grisham listed as engineer...

Bobby Williams "From The Heart" (Jaryl-K Records, 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Ed Muchow & Phil Richardson)

Independent honkytonk from central Iowa... I couldn't find much information about Mr. Williams himself, though he sure hung out with an interesting crowd. Williams had ties to several noteworthy regional performers, including producer/guitarist Ed Muchow (1936-2018) a country deejay and bandleader from Ottumwa who led a band called the Rhythm Playboys, dating back to the 1960s. Muchow plays some lead guitar on this album, accompanied by Sue Archer (harmony vocals), B. David Bernstein (drums), Doug Ducey (lead guitar), Mike Lucas (steel guitar), Randy Pringle (piano) and Phil Richardson on bass. There are plenty of cover tunes on here, including "Statue Of A Fool," Merle Haggard's "Hungry Eyes," and a couple by Johnny Paycheck. Perhaps of more interest are a couple of songs by Cedar Rapids songwriter Glenn Lonsdale and three by Fort Johnny Credit (ne John McCollum) of Madison, Iowa, and one called "Image Of You," by Jim Hamilton.

Bud Williams "...Sings Songs With A Message" (Misty Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Calcote, Tony Sciarrotta & Al Johnston)

This album of uber-indie country gospel is, if you'll pardon the expression, a true godsend for the kitsch-oriented among us... Just at the outset, let me admit that Mr. Williams was not, objectively speaking, the world's greatest singer, with a half-mumbled baritone that suggests Dave Dudley with a really bad hangover. But it's not his musical limitations that make this such a ripe target for the schadenfreude patrol, but rather the music itself. Cecil Williams (1921[?]-1998) was a truck driver from Olivehurst, California, a suburb of Yuba City, just north of Sacramento, and lived in the area for over fifty years, working for a big chunk of that time at the Frank Close Lumber Company. Clearly a devoted Christian, Mr. Williams would loosely adapt hard-country hits by artists such as Johnny Cash, Dave Dudley and Merle Haggard, shamelessly transforming "Fighting Side Of Me, "Folsom Prison," and "Six Days On The Road" into heartfelt, if somewhat clunky gospel songs. That's kinda fun to begin with, but what will really wow modern listeners is his interest in current events and social commentary, with lyrics that sternly decry the hippie-era protesters and libertines, including melodramatic tirades about drug abuse that would have made Porter Wagoner proud. It's a real hoot. Also of interest -- and what made me rescue this disc from the fifty-cent bin -- was the presence of Gordon Calcote as producer. Calcote was a deejay from Southern California who recorded several records for the budget-line Crown Records label back in the Sixties, and who tried his hand at producing later on, apparently in the custom label side of the industry. Seems like a good chance Calcote plays on these sessions, although the liner notes don't explicitly tell us who the musicians were -- several people are identified as "background," including arranger Rick Foote, along with Terri Cox, Glenn Davis, Luki Davis and Bud's wife, Dorothy Williams. And don't get me wrong: I'm not making fun of this album, not by a longshot. It might be a low-rent kinda production, but the picking's pretty good, and the sentiments are one-hundred percent sincere. A nice set of unvarnished DIY Christian twang.

Buddy Williams "My Way" (DOC Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Nash & Bert Frilot)

In the early 1960s, singer Buddy Williams was in a pop vocals band called the Epics, which had a couple of regional hits on the East Coast but basically fizzled out, despite being signed to a major label. While in college at the University of Texas, he found work as a backup singer at the ACA Records studio, and got into the orbit of Bill Nash, who produces and performs on this album, as well as contributing two songs, "Come Back To Me, Girl" and "Tender Love." Most of the other songs are covers of pop and country hits, stuff like "Country Roads Take Me Home," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and "Me And Bobby McGee." Williams apparently did a lot of lounge singing gigs around Houston as well as out of state.

Chickie Williams - see artist discography

Dewey Williams & Faith "Heir To A Mansion" (197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Roger Horne & Kevin McManus)

A twangier-than-usual indie gospel album, recorded at Hilltop Studios in Nashville, with a top-flight band that included Allen Britt (bass), Sonny Garrish (steel guitar), Bunky Keels (piano), David Lawrence (drums) and Bruce Watkins on banjo and guitar. Most of the album is original material written by Mr. Williams, with additional songs from the Hopper Brothers and the Stamps Quartet, and a couple of public domain standards. Williams had a decidedly amateur vocal style -- a roughneck baritone, like an unpolished, unruly Ernie Ford, although to my way of thinking, this enhances the record, giving it an undeniably authentic, genuine feel. The backing is solid, and his vocal group, The Faith Quartet, has a solid harmony sound, reminiscent fo the early-'70s Oak Ridge Boys and their various imitators. Alas, the guys in the quartet are not identified by name on the liner notes.

David Williams "Cowboy Time" (Trapdoor Records, 1985) (LP)
An all-original set by a fella from DeKalb, Illinois...

Doc Williams - see artist discography

Frankie Williams & Jolene Sparks "Frankie Williams/Jolene Sparks" (197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Chapman)

Recorded at Chapman Studios, in Kansas City, this album is a memento of the duo's early '70s lounge gig at the Golden Spike Lounge, in Kirksville, Missouri, up by the Iowa border. Singer Jolene Sparks grew up in that neck of the woods, and was just about eighteen years old in 1972 when she joined forces with Frankie Williams, a veteran performer who had done some time in Nashville. They were both quite good. He was a solid, capable piano player with a very crisp sound, while she had a really impressive voice -- husky, bluesy, with a hint of Muscle Shoals soul, and definitely a notch or two above your average custom-label singer. Sparks and Williams played together for about four years; in the early '80s she worked with local guy named Gary Myers, and at some point went on tour with Boxcar Willie, traveling with his road show to England. Sparks really was quite talented and it seems like she would have had a decent shot at national fame, but for whatever reasons she never broke out into wider recognition and settled down in Kirksville, singing at weddings and funerals; decades later she and Williams did a reunion show at a local VFW hall. This album includes a lot of cover songs, such as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "San Antonio Stroll," "Silver Threads And Golden Needles" along with a version of Floyd Cramer's "Last Date," a showcase for Williams' piano plunking. Unfortunately, the backing musicians aren't identified, so I can't say if it was their own band, or a studio crew lined up in Kansas City. Either way, they were also quite good, particularly the steel player.

Gary Williams "The Gospel Singer" (Gospel Time Records, 1975) (LP)
A charmingly clunky and utterly sincere gospel album by Spokane, Washington's surprisingly prolific Gary Williams, who kicked off his career in the late 1950s as a secular honkytonk singer but got religion sometime in the mid-'60s and stuck to Jesus ever since. I love this album because of its combination of plainspoken, guileless, true-believer fundamentalism, which is perfectly complimented by his musical rough edges. Every song lyric is all, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." until he gets to "The Devil," where we go over to the Dark Side for a while. If you like your country gospel plain and simple, Gary Williams is your man!

Gene Williams & The Country Junction Band "Memphis Country" (Cowboy Carl Records, 1980) (LP)

Hank Williams, Jr. - see artist discography

Jimmy Williams "Originals" (Sound Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Sullivan)

A country old-timer from southeastern Michigan, Jimmy Williams was a "barn dance" singer which meant he did a little bit of everything -- singing, yodeling and square dance calling. Williams put his first band together in 1954, with his father and brother, Russell Williams and Russ Williams, Jr., along with fiddler Ralph Maybee. This album collects a dozen tracks written and recorded by Williams over the years, with various lineups of the band -- I'd imagine most of these tracks first came out as singles. The liner notes say he was also a country music deejay and had recently become the program director for WSMA, in Marine City, Michigan. Williams also had a gig leading the house band at a place called Dutches, in Port Huron, and assembled a new band called the Country Dukes, play on words based on the restaurant's name. The Sound Music label seems to have been his own imprint, as most of his songs were also copyrighted under Sound Music, with an address in New Haven, MI.

J. R. Williams & The Boll Weevils "Live In Atlanta, Georgia" (Boll Weevil Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Cary Cabe & Bill Farrar)

This live album was a souvenir of a club gig at the Nevada Lounge, in Atlanta, Georgia. Multi-instrumentalist Jimmy R. Williams was a seasoned backup player who worked in touring bands for stars such as Mel Tillis and Tex Ritter; the Boll Weevils appear to have been Ritter's road group, taking side bookings in Florida and Vegas during the off weeks. The band included Cary Cabe on lead guitar, Bill Farrar (bass), Roy Peterman (steel guitar), Timmy Snyder (drums), and J. R. Williams on banjo, fiddle, saxophone and guitar(!) Amid standard early 'Seventies lounge covers such as "Ruby" and "American Trilogy," there were a lot originals here, with most of the album written by Williams, including numbers like "Don't Fight The Feeling" and "My Side Of Hell," as well as one tune by Roy Peterman, "Lonely Sort Of Blue." Along with all the country twang, these guys also let their hair down and played a little southern R&B with Williams showing off his saxophone chops on the instrumental, "Funky," which was also released as a single. Boll Weevil seems to have been his own label, with some additional singles that aren't included on this album, and Williams producing a number of other artists over the years. Although the label was centered in Nashville, Williams may have been based in Florida, as he worked for Mel Tillis and the liner notes were by a deejay in Orlando.

Lawton Williams "Between Truck Stops" (Mega Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Brad McEuen & Bill Vandevort)

A honkytonker with a career spanning back to the early 1950s, Lawton Williams (1922-2007) is perhaps best known as a songwriter, having penned classics such as Bobby Helm's #1 hit, "Fraulein" -- a song about a relationship between a local gal and an American serviceman abroad -- and the similarly-themed "Geisha Girl," which Hank Locklin took into the Top Five. Perhaps even groovier was "Blue Must Be The Color Of The Blues," one of the great George Jones songs of the late 'Sixties. Williams had a flair for novelty material, and wrote numerous less successful songs, including quite a few album cuts; his own career as a performer was only modestly successful, with a couple of charting singles and this lone LP. Lawton was originally from rural Tennessee, but migrated to Texas where his brand of old-school twang remained popular despite the ongoing pop-ifcation of Nashville.

Mentor Williams "Feelings" (MCA Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Troy Seals & Mentor Williams)

A rootsy recording session by 'Seventies songwriter and record producer Mentor Williams, who is perhaps best known for writing the song, "Drift Away," which was a Pop hit for Dobie Gray in 1973 and also climbed the Country Top Ten the same year as the title track of Narvel Felts' debut album. Williams was the brother of AOR star Paul Williams, and later became the life partner of Lynn Anderson. He's backed on this album by a Nashville studio crew that included David Briggs, Dave Kirby and Weldon Myrick, along with other "usual suspect" superpickers.

Merle Williams (Pork'A Lot Records, 1978-?) (LP)

Mike Williams "The Radio Show" (A B.F. Deal Production, 1975) (LP)

Mike Williams "Free Man, Happy Man" (B.F. Deal Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Lars Lundahl & Chet Himes)

Mike Williams "Comin Atcha" (B.F. Deal Records, 1979) (LP)
Fans of Texas folk-twang goddess Nanci Griffith may be familiar with Mike Williams's uber-indie BF Deal label, as her first solo album came out on BFD in 1978... Mike Williams produced, played guitar and sang backup vocals on her folk-tinged debut, and Nanci returns the favor here, singing a few sweet notes on Comin' Atcha.

Pete Williams "Sings Old Country Favorites" (Pee Wee Records, 19--?) (LP)

Rex Williams "Good Time Friends" (Bear Creek Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Weissman)

Well, John Denver certainly didn't have a lock on Colorado country, as this amiable, eclectic indie acoustic album demonstrates... Not sure what Williams' story was, but he had lots of high-powered friends, including former '60s folkie and banjo guru Dick Weissman as well as bluegrasser Tim O'Brien, who at the time was still in the Boulder-based Hot Rize band. The vibe on this album is pretty mellow, but also shows wide stylistic range, spanning soft, folkie country-rock, novelty twang such as "Hurry Back," wistful romantic material and a bit of soft-rock AOR in the style of David Gates, et. al. and a bit of pastoral, back-to-nature hippiebilly, as on the title track and "Just Fishin'," which the liner notes say was featured in a film called Ventana (which I can't find any additional information about...) Anyway, this isn't a great record, but it is a nice, simple set, and a fine example of laid-back, easygoing musicmaking among family and friends, and a nice window into the Colorado indie-twang scene of the time.

Sonny Williams "Sonny Williams" (Country Sound Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by John Carver & Les Ladd)

Not a ton of info about this guy, though researching his legacy is complicated as they seem to be multiple people using the same nickname. There was a singer from Memphis -- James Kirby "Sonny" Williams -- who played with Gene Williams and Eddie Bond, but he's a different guy. Other sources mention a fella named Clyde Harley Bowie (1933-2008) who went by the stage name Sonny Williams, although there may still be a mixup about Mr. Bowie's identity, and a lack of clarity about that of Sonny Williams. Here's what the record shows: there was a Sonny Williams (this artist) who released several singles in the late 1950s and early '60s including songs that were composed by some of the same songwriters credited here, notably Frank McNulty, whose song "Bye Bye Baby Goodbye" was a Sonny Williams single in 1958, and is featured (re-recorded) on this LP. Similarly, other songs from his back catalog are included here, including some by producer and longtime associate John Carver, as well as several credited to Sonny Williams and one(!) with C. Bowie listed as the songwriter. The liner notes tell us Williams was from Virginia, while the Clyde bio has Mr. Bowie born in Pisgah, Maryland. Was there an error in translation, or were they two different people who worked together over the years? I dunno. Another wrinkle is that apparently Mr. Williams spent much of his career in Wisconsin, and released this LP on a label from Milwaukee, though this set was recorded in Nashville with a crew of Music City super-pickers: steel player Pete Drake, guitarists Jimmy Capps, Jim Colvard and Jerry Shook, Ron Oaks (piano), Billy Linneman (bass) and Willie Ackerman on drums. At the time this album came out, Williams was riding high on having Tammy Wynette record a song he co-wrote with Merle Kilgore, "Fire In Your Heart," which was included on the Five Easy Pieces soundtrack; his own version is heard here, along with a slew of original tunes.

Terry Williams "Magic Bottle Of Wine" (197--??) (LP)

Tommy Williams "Forever Fiddlin' " (Murray Records, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Williams, Gene Breeden & Terry Crisp)

A solo set by Tommy Williams, a Floridian fiddler who did a lot of Nashville session work, but is best known as a cast member on the Hee Haw TV show... Williams is backed by an a-list studio crew, including pianist Hargus Robbins, Bobby Thompson on banjo and guitar, drummer Buddy Harmon, and Bud Ham on bass. The set list is all old-school, public domain fiddling standards, stuff like "Cotton Eyed Joe," "Bile Them Cabbage Down," although some of the tunes are relatively obscure, such as "Snow Flake Reel" and "Bitter Creek." No date on this one, but it looks early '80s, possibly late '70s.

Tuffy Williams "Tuffy" (Tuff Stuff Records, 1982) (LP)
Piano-based countrypolitan from Independence, Missouri -- mostly all-original material, with just a couple of cover tunes.

Williams World "Flash-In-The-Pan" (Viking Recordings, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wade R. Williams)

A family band from Denver, Colorado, led by mom and pop, Carol and Ralph Williams, but showcasing their thirteen-year old daughter Pam Williams, who played the banjo and wrote several of the songs on this album, including "World's A Battle Ground," which was co-written with her older sister Tammy. Mostly bluegrass standards, as well as covers of "Ghost Riders In The Sky" and Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Gary Willie & His Countrymen "Request of '72" (Countrymen Records, 1972) (LP)
A local bandleader from Garber, Iowa, on the eastern end of the state, near the Wisconsin state line. Gary Willie led his band in the early 1970s and played local and regional venues such as the Lakeside Ballroom in nearby Guttenburg. Not a lot of info about this one, though I'm working on it. I think the Countrymen may have played polka music as well as traditional country.

Willis/Carlan/Quinn "Tin Roof" (Sun Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by John Hall)

This Florida band included the trio of Danny Willis, Karen Carlan and Mike Quinn... hence the name... Although this is sometimes described as a bluegrass album, I'd peg it more "country" or country-pop. And yeah, they do country-rock covers of bluegrass standards like "Uncle Pen" and "Rocky Top," but also some new stuff that reminds me of Jonathan Edwards, as well as a couple of truly dreadful soft-rock tunes. On balance, though, this is worth checking into if you're into '70s-style country rock. Not mindblowing, but solidly in that tradition. It's also been reissued on MP3 as part of the Shelby Singleton back-catalog.

Chuck Willis "...And Friends" (CWA Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Elgin)

Not to be confused with the turban-clad 1950s R&B singer/rock pioneer, this Chuck Willis was a Midwestern country bandleader. His bio on the back cover tells us Willis was born in Liberty, Indiana, but went on to radio and TV jobs in Ohio and Kansas, most notably hosting a TV show on KTVH, Wichita, called Chuck Willis And The Country Brothers Jamboree. I'm not sure where this album fits into his career; Willis shares the spotlight with several vocalists, including Jimmie Clark, Elsa Sommers and Sam McGuire, who were part of a road show he toured with in the early 1970s. Outside of this album, the only mention of these folks I've seen was a 1974 show notice for a gig in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they were billed as "Nashville" artists... Willis and his band played a lot of gigs on military bases and NCO clubs in Leavenworth and elsewhere, and this appears to be a souvenir of that era.

Clay Willis & The Traveling Band "Recognition" (JED Records, 19--?) (LP)

Clover Willis "Recorded Live At The Country Jubilee" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Bock, Rollin Bennett & Carrol Rawlings)

This gal was a local from Columbus, Ohio who got a little traction nationally, circa 1977-78, releasing a single that was mentioned in Cashbox though doesn't seem to have charted anywhere. At the same time, she was playing gigs such as the Ohio State Fair and at a mom'n'pop opry/nightclub in Columbus, Ohio called The Country Jubilee, where this album was recorded. Willis is backed by Ron Moore on steel guitar, Ric Greer (drums), Larry Rhodes (piano), Steve Madaffari (lead guitar), and Allan Demonbreun (bass) and a fella named Terry Bock acting as emcee.

Leonard R. Willis "Everybody Lies To Linda" (Valentino Records, 1977) (LP)
A set of all-original material, recorded on a Nashville indie label...

Leonard R. Willis "She Won't Stay Long Enough For Breakfast" (Tangerine Records, 1977) (LP)

The Vic Willis Trio "Stars Of The Grand Ole Opry" (First Generation Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Drake)

Well, you gotta give the old guy credit for trying to keep up with the times... John "Vic" Willis was a surviving member of the Willis Brothers, a second-string honkytonk/pop band whose heyday was in the 1950s and '60s, and who had been Opry members since the late '40s. After one brother died and another retired in the '70s, Vic Willis decided to go it alone and recruited Curtis Young and C. W. Mitchell to round out a vocal trio... They're backed here by Pete Drake's studio crew, including Hargus Robbins on piano, a bunch of usual suspect guitarists, Pete Drake and Jimmy Crawford on steel, and Vic Willis chugging away on accordion. The accordion is the sole reminder of his 1940s origins; the rest of the record has a contemporary late '70s/early '80s feel, with glossy arrangements and slick-sounding production, and songs by writers such as Rick Beresford and Hapgood Hardy. Includes a nice version of Dave Kirby's "Colorado," alongside covers of recent hits such as "Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You" and "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body." Willis seems to have been aiming at a Bellamy Brothers-style harmony vocals sound, and on a few tunes the trio sounds pretty strong, although when the other guys drop into the background, you can hear the creakiness in his voice. No worries, though: it's not a mind-blowing record, but it is a pretty credible effort for an old-timer of his era.

Willow "Willow" (20th Century Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Don Black & Dennis King)

Seventies soft-rock with some country influences... I've seen mentions that this trio was originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but haven't been able to completely confirm it yet.

Willow "Branching Out" (20th Century Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Don Black & Dennis King)

This one's definitely worth knowing about if you're a fan of 'Seventies soft-rock... The trio of Kevin Dolan, Barry Fitzgerald and William McSweeney took their cues from Crosby Stills & Nash, playing a far-flung, eclectic mix of country-rock, soft-psych sunshine pop and shiny AOR, sounding quite a bit like contemporary bands such as America and Poco. This album's kind of a mixed bag -- some tracks are really nice and hold up well over the years, although when the band aims for a more rugged rock-pop sound, the songs feel slightly brittle and the album begins to feel more scattershot. Still, the mellow tunes are nice and well-produced with lots of bright harmonies and sonic texture -- this disc could definitely be considered a lost gem of the era, though twangfans may have to work at it a little to hear the country influences.

Willow Creek "Willow Creek" (Arm Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Fee & Richards Bruno)

Aw, phooey. You figure with a name like Willow Creek, these guys would at least pick a little bluegrass, but as it turns out they were basically an amateur, acoustic-oriented soft-rock band. I suppose there's a reasonable case to be made placing them into the '70s "country rock" sound, but only in the same way you might also include bands like America or Firefall. There are some pop-rock covers -- of the Beatles, Neil Diamond and the Isley Brothers -- as well as the "Sunshine Medley" which mashes up Jimmie Davis and Jonathan Edwards, and a little country stuff from the Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family catalogs that closes out the album. There are also four original songs by singer Michael Fee, who was clearly the leading force in this band. This didn't really wow me, but it's yet another example of "just plain folks" making their own music, back in simpler times. Several tracks were recorded live at Burnham's Opera House, a bar in St. Louis, Missouri where Fee had previously led the house band, then called the Bushwackers.

Bill Wilson "Songs From The Catalog Of Sonobeat Music Company" (Sonobeat Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Josey Sr. & Rim Kelly)

Midwestern singer-songwriter Bill Wilson was a Vietnam veteran, still enlisted in the Air Force when he made his way to Austin, Texas and recorded this set for the Sonobeat micro-label, run by Bill Josey and his son, Rim Kelly. The abum was a songwriter's demo, with only a hundred copies pressed, and most of these passed along to music business types. Eventually it paid off: Wilson did get signed to Columbia and cut the album Ever Changing Minstrel (reviewed below) although he eventually returned to his home in Indiana after a stint in Nashville, and settled into local-legend status. The Sonobeat record remains one of the more elusive items in the folk-freak pantheon, still in need of reissue nearly fifty years after its release... It's a solid set, just Wilson and his guitar, intoning with a very serious, brooding, thoughtful folkie urgency, recalling earlier acoustic pioneers such as Tim Hardin and Tom Rush. Before cutting his Columbia LP, Wilson worked on a few equally obscure Sonopress projects -- playing guitar on records by Herman Nelson and Mariani, as well as one album with his own group from Bloomington, the Pleasant Street Band.

Bill Wilson "Ever Changing Minstrel" (Columbia Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Johnston)

This is an Americana/folk-freak "lost gem" that really lives up to the hype... Bill Wilson, an Indiana unknown who recorded one lone album for Columbia Records in 1973, was a distinctive artist whose legacy was lost for four decades, since the distribution on the original album was so poor that it practically became a mirage. He's backed on this set of driving, hypnotic originals by a top studio crew under the direction of veteran producer Bob Johnston, a set punctuated by funky bass lines, soaring vocal choruses and slippery Southern rock guitars, but most of all by his own insistent acoustic guitar and half-chanted vocals. There's a definite "hippie" vibe to this album -- cosmic, spaced-out, prophetic lyrics and a searing, solipsistic urgency -- with a richly textured, eclectic early '70s sound. Perched halfway between Tony Joe White's swampy blues raps and the outlaw folk of Townes Van Zandt, Wilson had a knack for crafting sinuous, alluring refrains, choruslike verses which he would repeat over and over like liturgical chants. Indeed, several songs on here have religious themes, notably "Father Let Your Light Shine Down," a perky, soulful song that could have made it into the country gospel canon, had Wilson gotten a little more exposure. Other gems include the wind-blown folk tune "Rebecca," and "Black Cat Blues," a chain-gang ballad worthy of Robert Pete Williams. Wilson is an artist who's difficult to pin down stylistically, evoking Jerry Reed, Tom Rush and James Talley among others, and he definitely embodies the spirit of early '70s experimentation. If any of this piques your curiosity, by all means pick this up -- it's albums like this that reissue labels were made for.

Bill Wilson "Talking To Stars" (Bar-B-Q Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Bingham & Mark Hood)

Following the flaming fizzle of his major-label debut, Williams settled back into Midwestern life, recording this equally odd album in Bloomington, with what I assume was a largely local band. (BBQ label owner Mark Bingham was another record industry refugee who came back to Indiana after a stint in LA and helped record a number of odd, obscure artists in the '70s and '80... The liner notes list a "Mac MacNally" singing backup on one track, who I assume is a teenage Mac McAnally, future Nashville songwriter; I was too lazy to look up all the other folks...) Anyway, this starts out on a similar note to his '73 album, a folkie-twang set with a spiritual undercurrent -- touches of disco, both mocking and sincere, lick around the edges of a few songs, and the lyrics seem more concerned with romance than before. On Side Two, he gets into a heavily cosmic folkie vibe, reminiscent of Tim Hardin, Fred Neil and Tim Buckley, and that's groovy if that's what you're looking for... A personal, searching album and an intriguing slice of '70s DIY Americana, but far less country twang overall.

Bill Wilson "Made In The USA" (Redbud Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Wilson & Michael Ebert)

There are still some groovy touches here -- odd, personal lyrics, unusual arrangements -- though now Wilson seems to be all but a solo performer, thrumming away on the guitar and filling the void with his impassioned vocals. He compensates by coming up with surprising sonic textures and processing his guitar sounds in a Leo Kottke-esque way. Wilson had definitely become a voice in the wilderness and had fully embraced that role -- of all his albums, this is probably the least accessible or immediately appealing, but if you work at it a little bit, it has its rewards.

Dennis William Wilson "One Of Those People" (Elektra Records, 1979) (LP)
Not the same guy as the late Beach Boy (who died in 1983) songwriter Dennis William Wilson was also a session picker and backup singer who popped up on several albums throughout the '70s, on independent country projects and mainstream, Top 40 records alike. As far as I know, this was his only album, but his voice can be heard on hundreds of other records.

Jerry Wilson "Going Home!" (ADA Records, 19--?) (LP)

Larry Jon Wilson "New Beginnings" (Monument Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Galbraith & Bruce Dees)

An alluring debut from this Americana auteur, a growling, smoky Southern spiritualist with a funky, swampy feel similar to Tony Joe White, with an echo of Bill Withers' brand of wistful, meditative nostalgia. (He also has the same rich Georgia drawl as Jerry Reed; on a tune or two you could almost mistake the two for one another...) This idiosyncratic album didn't dent the charts, but it has a bunch of songs on it that became staples of '70s freeform radio: I remember hearing "The Truth Ain't In You" and "Broomstraw Philosophers And Scuppernong Wine" on KFAT, lo those many years ago. Most of the musicians seems to be from the Muscle Shoals side of the tracks, though country sessionman Lloyd Green plays steel on several tracks. This record's a real find and one of the decade's true classics; a one-of-a-kinder, for sure. (Reissued on CD along with his second album, reviewed below.)

Larry Jon Wilson "Let Me Sing My Songs" (Monument Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Galbraith & Bruce Dees)

His second album has a much more disciplined, streamlined, more overtly pop-folk sound -- still bluesy but less Tony Joe White, more Fred Neil, if not quite Gordon Lightfoot. It's not quite as much fun, but it did yield Wilson's lone entry into the Country charts, the mellow "I Think I Feel A Hitchhike Comin' On," which didn't go very high, but did make it into the back end of the Top 100. The country element is even more in the background, though Weldon Myrick sits in as a session player, adding a few licks on the dobro. This isn't as striking a record as New Beginnings, but still worth a spin, particularly if you're drawn to Wilson as an auteur artist.

Larry Jon Wilson "Loose Change" (Monument Records, 1977) (LP)

Larry Jon Wilson "The Sojourner" (Monument Records, 1979) (LP)

Larry Jon Wilson "Larry Jon Wilson" (Sony Music/Drag City, 2008)

Larry Jon Wilson "New Beginnings/Let Me Sing My Songs" (Omni Records, 2011)
A swell twofer reissue, with Wilson's first two albums sandwiched together. I wonder if they'll reissue the other two Monument albums as well...(?)

Mura Wilson "From Here To Nashville" (Page One Records, 1969) (LP)

Page Wilson "Road Tired, Wired And Ready" (Signal Mountain Records, 1983) (LP)
A fixture of Richmond, Virginia's country scene, singer Page Wilson and his band Reckless Abandon released a couple of albums in the '80s, with Wilson later slipping into a long career as a local radio DJ. This debut album has some pretty solid, hard-country honkytonk on it, nice stuff about drinking and dreaming of lost loves and heartache... Ultimately, Wilson's story was pretty sad: he had a hard time making ends meet in his later years and when he started having health problems, things really fell apart because he didn't have health insurance and couldn't get the care he needed. In 2011, he was found dead in his home, after having suffered from various medical problems... a tragedy, really. But he left some good music behind!

Page Wilson "Best Of The Situation" (Signal Mountain Records, 1985) (LP)

Page Wilson "Bridge Of Love" (Plan 9 Records, 1999)
A live album...

Smokey Wilson "Country Music Boogieman" (Expression Studios. 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Knight)

This late-'70s album was recorded in Las Vegas by Lone Star honkytonker Smokey Wilson (not to be confused with the West Coast bluesman of the same name) along with his band, Texas Highway, which toured the Southwest and the Rockies in their heyday. It's all original material, kind of a perky blend of twang and rock, with a hint of R&B in the mix. Wilson, who settled down in Cuero, Texas, has recorded several albums later in life -- during the CD era -- but I think this was his only album from his '70s outlaw days.

Clayton Winchester "Clayton Winchester" (Talon International, 1988) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Tubert & John Kelton)

A pop-country hopeful from Isleton, California (near Sacramento) singer Clayton Winchester wasn't bad, although some of these songs get a little florid, particularly on the more ballad-y end of the spectrum. Winchester kinda reminds me of Moe Bandy -- he's working in a slick but rootsy style, with a hard-country/honkytonk undercurrent that was a little at odds with the high-tech sound coming out of Nashville at the time. But a lot of these tunes may catch your ear, and it's an interesting song selection. Winchester only wrote one of the tracks, "Good As Any Man," which closes the album -- in addition there are a couple of songs provided by Linda Darell and several more credited to producer Bob Tubert. I suppose this may have been one of those songwriter showcase albums that they make in Nashville -- sort of a glorified demo tape -- but it's nice that this guy got a chance to put himself on wax. Perhaps the most notable feature is that an up-and-coming Shelby Lynne sings back-up on a few tunes, just one year before her own debut in '89.

Jesse Winchester - see artist discography

Wisconsin Opry "Live Country Music Show: Wisconsin Dells' Newest Family Attraction" (1979?) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Lake & Kent Kesterson)

A souvenir album from the Wisconsin Dells tourist attraction which in the late 1970s added a country music show to its entertainment menu... The band on this first album included three lead vocalists, Jerry Beschta, Julie Keller and Ellie Peters who take turns singing on a mix of classic oldies and newer tunes, including some hip and mildly surprising modern selections. Keller takes a pass at a cover of the old George Jones hit, "He Thinks I Still Care" and Emmylou Harris's "Boulder To Birmingham, while Peters closes the album out with a version of "The South's Gonna Do It Again." I think these folks were fairly young musicians who were probably happy to have the gig -- apparently they traveled to Missouri to record the album at the KBK/Earth City studios in Saint Louis.

Wisconsin Opry "Live" (1979?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Schulenberg)

As on the first album, the musicians at the Dells seem to have been allowed to play stuff they liked, and made some pretty hip selections: they cover several songs that Emmylou Harris recorded in the late '70s, along with some Hank Williams, a version of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" (which I'm guessing they got off the Asleep At The Wheel version, not from Louis Jordan) as well as "Crazy," and... wait for it... wait..... wait... "Viola, An American Dream," which was a huge hit for Starland Vocal Band, but it also technically a Rodney Crowell song. The only distinctive track, really, is the novelty tune, "400 Hogs," which is sort of a shout-out to the 4H crowd. No release date on the record, but I'm guessing 1979, or maybe '80, based on the set list. Nothing special here, really, but I guess if you were at the Dells back then, possibly working as a candystriper, this might be a nice whiff of Dairyland nostalgia.

Wisconsin Opry "Live Country Music Show, v.3" (1985-?) (LP)
This has mostly the same band as the previous albums, although the Beschtas seem to have left the show... This edition of the group includes Cindy Dickenson on lead vocals, Virgil Dickinson (banjo), Bill Herrewig (steel guitar), Julie Keller (lead vocals), Ellie Peters (lead vocals), Mike Powers (lead vocals, piano), Dennis Reifsteck (fiddle & bass) and Dan Soma (vocals and guitar). The set list has a bunch of oldies, stuff like "Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On" and "Walking After Midnight," along with newer stuff like "All The Gold In California" and "Thank God And Greyhound You're Gone."

Wisconsin Opry "Live Country Music Show, v.4" (1985-?) (LP)
(Produced by Virgil Dickenson & Dennis Reifsteck)

Baraboo's finest. Although there's some continuity in membership, the Dickensons seem to have really taken over the show, adding a couple of more family members, Ken Dickenson and Liz Dickenson (both on fiddle), along with a new steel player, Tom Dehlinger, singer Joette Rockow and a new drummer as well, Greg Wanda. Powers, Reifsteck and Soma are all still on board, and the album has the same mix of old and new. , from "Orange Blossom Special" and "I've Been Everywhere" to "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer."

Jeff Wise & Darren Fay "Redneck Rock" (Charter Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Ellis Miller)

Darren Fay and Jeff Wise were buddies from Southern California who hoofed it up to Vancouver, Washington to party down and cut a record at Ripcord Studios, with owner-engineer Gene Breeden adding electric guitar and pedal steel to a track or two, his son Danny Breeden on drums, Ellis Miller on bass, and of course, Fay and Wise strummin' guitars and singin' up a storm. There's also some guy named Mark who adds fiddle, flute, or saxophone -- as well as vocals -- to all but two tracks, and you can totally just hear those two guitar dudes, being all, "Oh, man, dude! You know we would put your name on the cover, too, just... like, y'know... you're not on those two tracks!" And Mark was all, "Well, can't we just come up with a band name?" Not like he's pissed, or anything. Anyway, these two (or is it three?) longhaired guys were just about as 1975 as you could get... Dig those shirts, dig that chest hair, and how do you stay that thin?? The dudes returned home, with Jeff Wise being considered an "unofficial mayor" of his hometown of Harbison Caynon, a rural community outside of San Diego where he grew up... As far as I know, this was their only album.

Jennifer Wise "Just Jennifer" (BOC/Audioloft Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by B. J. Carnahan)

Although she's pals with producer B. J. Carnahan -- who was pals with Johnny Cash -- this album has far less twang to it than you'd expect from inside the orbit of the Macks Creek, Missouri mom-n-pop indie scene... Basically, this is a fairly generic, low-energy set of wispy folk-pop, crooned by Ms. Wise in a Karen Carpenter-esque milkiness. She wrote most of the songs on here, including two co-written with Carnahan. She also covers "Welcome To My World," David Mallett's "Garden Song" (aka "Inch By Inch," most famously recorded by Pete Seeger) and the Hank Williams oldie, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," which is the most country-sounding track on the record. The album was arranged by Brad Edwards, who presumably also plays on the sessions (no musician credits, alas...) Not much to get worked up about on this one, though I did like the pedal steel on the Hank song.

Dusty Cal & Bonnie (Witham) "Songs Of The Old Country Church" (Soundcraft Associates, 196--?) (LP)
A married couple from Rochester, New Hampshire, Calvin G. Witham and Clara C. Witham (1925-2012) were secular country stars in the late 1940s, before they got religion in 1951 and shifted towards gospel music. Cal Witham had a career going back to the mid-1940s, and was partnered up with another New England country picker, Clyde Joy, for a couple of years after the war. For several decades the Withams were connected with the Lone Star Ranch country music venue in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire, and at the time this album came out "Dusty Cal" was a performer on a country show broadcast from Manchester's WMUR-TV. Their career found the couple working both sides of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire state line, though they eventually settled down in Cambridge, MA in 1985. They are accompanied on this album by organist Beverly Smith, and Warren Carney on guitar. The set was recorded in Cambridge, Massachusetts; later the Withams moved to Hanson, MA, south of Boston, where Cal Witham served as an ordained minister, and later moved to Cambridge.

Cal Witham & Bonnie Witham "...Sing The Gospel Country Style" (Bolt Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Buzz Whittica, Buck Carney & Richard Nevue)

The old-time country duo of Cal & Bonnie started out as a secular act, but went gospel later in life, with Mr. Witham becoming an ordained Baptist minister, in Hanson, Massachusetts. This album is mostly packed with standards, including a patriotic medley performed by John Phipps on the Wurlitzer organ. Producer Buck Carney plays dobro and guitar, and was apparently the co-owner of Bolt Records, which gives its address as the Lone Star Ranch, in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire.

Al 'Porky' Witherow "Are You Satisfied?" (Cerylaine Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Al Curven)

Born in York, Pennsylvania, Alfred "Porky" Witherow (1935-2004) was a child musical prodigy in the 1940s, and while in his teens he toured with Bob Hope's USO show during the Korean War. Settling down in Vails Gate, New York, he cut a few singles and recorded some self-released albums but seems to have retired from music sometime in the 1970s, eventually moving to Florida, where he passed away in 2004. As far as I know, this was his first full album, recorded while Witherow was a regular on the WWVA "Jamboree" show.

Al 'Porky' Witherow "Singing Everybody's Favorites" (Arctic Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Al Witherow)

Al 'Porky' Witherow & Birdie Lee "Duo Dynamite" (Arctic Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Loryn Atwell)

Originally from West Virginia, "Miss Birdie Lee" was living in upstate New York when she joined singer Al Witherow's group, the Country Mystery, learning to play bass in order to fill an open slot in the band. On this album they mostly sang duets in a kind of old-school style reminiscent of country duos like Carl Butler & Pearl or the Mosbys, and less like the slicker-sounding stars of the day, such as Conway and Loretta. The band included Lee's husband Dallas Eugene on drums, bassist Roger Ray, fiddler June Eikard ("Canada's Lady Of The Fiddle"!), pianist Wayne Sexton, Dee Woodmore on lead guitar and Buddy Gregory playing pedal steel. The musical backing is also a little rough around the edges, in a way that I find appealing -- there was genuine twang in here, as well as a degree of amateurism that's kind of appealing, particularly given the direction country was headed in at the time... Definitely worth a spin!

Ken Withington "Don't Try To Stop Me" (Focus Records, 1974) (LP)
Australian-born gospel singer Ken Withington (1945-1997) billed himself as "the singer from down under," though he emigrated to the US and became a citizen in 1977, eventually settling down in Kern County, California, performing both locally and on the national stage, including appearances at the Grando Ole Opry. Before his move to America, Withington also recorded in Australia, including this early '70s LP.

Ken Withington "He's Risen" (JCL/Jesus Christ Is Lord, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Clyde Beavers)

After moving to the States, Withington became one of the clients for Nashville songwriter Clyde Beavers' gospel-oriented JCL label, which produced Southern Gospel records in the late 1970s. Withington still had some twang to him, though, as seen in his inclusion of several Hank Williams songs...

Ken Withington "I Thank You God" (JCL/Jesus Christ Is Lord, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Clyde Beavers)

The Wolcott Family "Movin' Up" (Homestead Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Don Sheets & Mark Walcott)

Bluegrass gospel from a family band from Bloomington, Indiana... The group was made up of four siblings -- Debbie Wolcott on bass, Kevin Wolcott (fiddle), Mark Wolcott (banjo), and Mike Wolcott (rhythm guitar) -- along with lead singer Denise Arnett and Joe Edwards on guitar. I'm not sure if they performed at Indiana's "Little Nashville Opry," though they were produced by one of its organizers, Don D. Sheets. Most of the songs are gospel oldies, traditional material and chestnuts such as Alfred E. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away," though the title track, "Movin' Up," is credited to Mark Wolcott.

Wolf & Gary "Solo Flight" (Dungeon Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bus Bryant)

Ozark folkies Gary Allbritton and Wolf Grulkey collaborated on this rather gooey set of bluegrass-flavored acoustic musings... All but one of the songs was written (or cowritten) by Gary Allbritton, a strained but emphatic vocalist, while multi-instrumentalist Grulkey provides backing on banjo and fiddle, and contributes one song of his own. This track, "Irene," also features a guest performance by bassist Mike "Supe" Granda, of Missouri's nationally-known Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Though they recorded at the Dungeon studios in Springfield, Missouri,, Wolf & Gary were actually from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the northern end of the state, not far from Branson, MO. The musicians on this album included harmonica player Leroy Gorrell, drummer Jim Perry and bassist Ron Sumner -- evolved into a local band called Gaskins Switch, which doesn't seem to have made any records and broke up in the mid-1980s, though Albritton and Grulkey seem to have kept collaborating over the years. While this isn't a particularly "country" record, Grulkey later played on a would-be top forty country album by local singer Bill White. The "solo flight" album title refers to Grulkey's background as an airplane pilot and instructor; he later opened his own restaurant, The Hungry Wolf Cafe.

Kate Wolf - see artist discography

Allen Wolfe "So Hard To Believe" (Press Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Bud Billings)

An aspiring songwriter from Fort Myers, Florida, Allen Wolfe took time out from his day job as a barber to self-release this album, which is packed with his own compositions... The testimonial liner notes are by Billie Jo Spears, who says she met him at a Florida "jam session..." The backup musicians are simply listed as the "Oak String Band," though no individual pickers are named.

Dean Wolfe & The Second Chapter "The Best Part Of..." (Sunset Records, 1973-?) (LP)
A local country-rocker from Indianapolis, Indiana who started out way back in the rockabilly era and got more and more country as time went on. Wolfe had kind of a Roy Orbison-ish vibe... and some truly crazy-looking hair (was it a wig...??) He recorded some early rock'n'roll singes, dating back at least to 1961, and throughout the decade led a band called the Redmen that played gigs in Indianapolis throughout the mid- to late-1960s... I suppose name of this "new" group from the early 'Seventies is what the whole "second chapter" thing refers to -- maybe he broke up the band for a while, and this was a reunion or something? Anyway, they covered pop-chart twangtunes such as Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party" and America's "Horse With No Name," which suggest a post-'72 date for this disc. At the time he recorded these sessions, Wolfe was working exclusively for a couple of Holiday Inn motels on I-70 with a band that included Keith Payne playing organ, drummer Don Jesse, and Harry Neidigh on bass. There was also some original material

Jimmy Wolford "The Hatfields And The McCoys" (Wolf Records, 1976) (LP)
A concept album about the fabled Hatfield and McCoy feud...

Austin Wood "Swings Cross Country" (Sure Records, 1965) (LP)
A popular country deejay and performer who was one of the first entrepreneurs to set up shop in the Lake Of The Ozarks resort area, bandleader Austin Wood started his professional career in 1941 as a member of Saint Louis, Missouri's "Big Old Fashioned Barn Dance" show, moving several years later to a long-running gig as a radio host on KTTR in Rolla, MO. The station's general manager, Luther W. Martin, wrote this album's liner notes, attesting to Wood's longevity in the regional country scene. Wood cut numerous 78s during the 'Forties and 'Fifties, fronting a band called the Missouri Swingsters, which played a variety of styles, including western swing, honky tonk and even some Bill Haley-esque rock'n'roll. This was Wood's first full album, marking the opening his own musical venue, Austin's Nashville Opry, near Bagwell Dam on the Lake Of The Ozarks. This local "opry" booked major national stars well into the late '60s, when the name was changed to the Austin Wood Auditorium. Austin Wood also held regional gigs on radio station KTTN as well as on KOMU-TV in nearby Columbia, both as a DJ and performer. Alas, there's no info included about where the album was recorded or with which musicians backing him up -- the front cover shows Wood posed next to his personal tour bus, which advertises his band, the Missouri Swingsters, but whether those guys are backing him here, I can't say for sure.

Austin Wood "Songs To Remember" (Sure Records, 1966-?) (LP)

Austin Wood "...And His Missouri Swingsters" (BACM, 2012-?) (CD)
A CDR collection of Austin Wood's early recordings from the 1940s and '50s, including some original material as well as plenty of cover tunes, ranging from honkytonk to western swing...

Billy Wood "Just What I Had In Mind" (Music City Records, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Curly Chalker & Jack Logan)

This has some of the most forthcoming liner notes I've ever seen for this kind of album... Wood describes how he'd spent the last twenty-plus years playing with his band, The Virginians, and that having hit the ripe old age of 42 and moving to New Jersey, he realized he was just plain tired of going out on tour and of all the hassles of playing live. So, he decided to make an album, mostly just for himself and his wife Lynn, to remember the good times he had playing in a country band. The disc is packed with cover tunes, including versions of "Today I Started Loving You Again," Eddie Rabbitt's "Two Dollars In The Juke Box," "Whiskey River," "Behind Closed Doors," and the like.

Bob Wood "Plays It Cool" (MRC/Major Recording Company, 1974) (LP)

Bob Wood "The Other Side Of Bob Wood" (MRC/Major Recording Company, 197--?) (LP)

Bob Wood "Reflections Of My Mind" (MRC/Major Recording Company, 1974-?) (LP)
No biographical info about this guy, although he recorded for John Major's MRC label, located in Waynesboro, Virginia, and may have been backed by the house band. The repertoire is packed with contemporary, early '70s hits as well as country oldies -- "Country Roads," Tom T. Hall's "Old Dogs And Children And Watermelon Wine," Gene McClellan's "Put Your Hand In The Hand," along with Rex Griffin's "Last Letter" and Marty Robbins' "You Gave Me A Mountain." Three tracks are credited to Bob Wood, through his own BeniBob publishing company: "Love Meant For Me," "Through The Eyes Of A Fool" and the title track, "Reflections Of My Mind"; "Honey Hole," by Bennie Caudill, may also have been original to this album.

E. Zane Wood & Kathy Leech "Dance To Your Favorite Bullshit And Country Dysko Songs" (Magic Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Kathy Leech & J. Mattazano)

An ultra-obscuro set from Southern California... Although the album title was pretty tongue-in-cheek, the song selection is solid, with country-rockin' covers of J. J. Cale's "Living On Tulsa Time," "Lookin' For Love," and a couple of tunes from the Emmylou Harris catalog, Chuck Berry's "C'est La Vie" and Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin' Long Like This." They also trot their way through oldies like "Cotton Eyed Joe," "Rocky Top" and "Under The Double Eagle." Not a lot of info about this duo, though Wood apparently released at least one single under his own name, back in the early '70s, a thing for MGM that may have been more rock-oriented material.

Little Joe Wood "With Alot Of Help From My Friends" (Sound 80 Studios, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Cal Hand & Tony Matlock)

Dunno much about this low-key country-rock/folk outing from Minnesota... Wood covers some hits and oldies, as well as some original material -- his pals included pedal steel player Cal Hand, who plays on the album and co-produces, though the other players seem pretty obscure. Anyone know more about this guy?

Lloyd Wood "Scrapbook" (River Creek Studio, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Schuler)

Indiana-based singer and impressionist Lloyd Wood started playing professionally in 1978 and was one of the cast members of the Little Nashville Opry, in Nashville, IN. He was probably still in the show when this album came out in 1980, but had moved on by the time the house band, Little Nashville Express, cut its own LP in 1983. Wood established himself as a solo act, but also performed in other local revues, such as the Brandywine Music Hall and Brandywine Music Hall, mostly staying close to home in Indiana, with a little interstate touring on the side. He made impressions the cornerstone of his act, doing his turns at folks like Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willie Nelson and Elvis -- later, around 2009, he shifted his focus towards gospel music, though still keeping the comedy and the twang in his act. This album is packed with original material - other than a lone Hank Williams cover and a version of "Mama Don't 'Low," all the songs are credited to Mr. Wood. It's a homegrown backing band as well, with Wood on lead vocals, along with Theresa Ellis (violin), Rick Ferguson (bass), Roger Fish (piano), Jeff Guernsey (guitars and mandolin), Jimmy Meisenheimer (pedal steel) and Dave Rugenstein on drums.

Lloyd Wood "Impressions" (198-?) (cassette only?)
This undated cassette album probably didn't come out too much later than the LP above. It showcases twenty different county music imitations, including a version of John Conlee's "Friday Night Blues," which was a hit around 1980-81. Not a lot of info in the packaging, although Wood gives a home address in Spencer, Indiana, just north of Bloomington.

Nancy Wood "Imagine That" (Lovelight Music, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Byron Hill & Nancy Wood)

This double LP set collects work by Bremen, Germany's Renate Hildebrandt (aka Renate Kern) a European pop singer who "went country" in the early '80s in an effort to bump-start her flagging career. This was her second album working with Nashville songwriter-producer Byron Hill, and she sings a lot of his material as well as songs by fairly obscure writers such as Red Lane and Ava Aldridge, along with a couple by Marc Molen, who was affiliated with the Lovelight label, and I suspect was a German country artist as well. Although these tracks seldom really catch fire, it's a pretty solid set overall, with backing by a ton of Nashville studio pros: Sonny Garrish, Doyle Grisham, Fred Newell, Buddy Spicher, Chip Young and the like. Wood sings with a convincingly American accent, though she often seems a bit too controlled -- I imagine she sounded looser when singing auf Deutsch. Anyway, this is okay stuff, a little slick, but twangy enough for a spin or two. She also recorded an album under her German stage name -- Renate Kern -- in 1981, also with Byron Hill on board as producer.

Windy Wood & The Sons Of The West "Kings' Row: A Gallery Of Western Swing Masterpieces From The Reigns Of Bob Wills And Spade Cooley" (Rimstone Records, 1981) (LP)
Wow... there's an album title for you!! R. T. "Windy" Wood was a Texas-born western swing bandleader who played and recorded extensively over the decades, including a couple of singles way back in the 1950s, and several tape-only albums during the 'Seventies era of 8-tracks and cassettes. Wood, who passed away in 2004 at the age of eighty, was just a kid when guys like Milton Brown, Bob Wills, Leon McAuliffe and Spade Cooley were defining the western swing genre, but he learned fast and took up the baton, working with a number of veterans of old Bob Wills bands, as well as welcoming revivalists such as Ray Benson and Asleep At The Wheel. He recorded over a dozen albums, though only a handful originally came out on vinyl. Wood lived in Claude, Texas near the Panhandle until finally retiring to nearby Amarillo when he needed to move into town... But he was playing music right up to the end, mostly free shows for old-timers in rest homes and retirement communities who still enjoyed the old-time sounds.

Windy Wood "The Bob Wills Connection" (Rimstone Records, 1981) (LP)

Windy Wood "Classic Sound Of Western Swing" (Rimstone Records, 1983) (LP)

Windy Wood "West Texas Swing" (Sundown Records, 1986) (LP)

Ron Woodley "Marathon Man" (Magic Angel Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Edmondson)

An amiable country-pop songwriter from Wellsville, Kansas, Ron Woodley earned the nickname "marathon man" after a record-setting stunt of playing the guitar for 264 hours straight, which he did in 1984, gaining a spot in the Guinness Book Of World Records, as well as raising a couple thousand for a charity in Kansas City. (He actually broke the record a few years earlier while in Nashville, in 1981, but the feat wasn't properly monitored, so it didn't make it into the books...) After securing his place in history, Woodley continued to play lounge gigs throughout Kansas and Missouri, and recorded this LP which is about half his own material. As you might imagine, with all that practice Woodley was a pretty good electric guitarist, although some might find his vocals a little, well... geefy, though not entirely outside the country mainstream... Freddy Fender comes to mind, with maybe a bit of Billy Crash Craddock in there as well. Also worth noting on this album is backing by a Nashville studio band that included steel guitarist Doug Jernigan, as well as piano player Ansley Fleetwood, a guy who released his own private album after penning Moe Bandy's big hit, "Good Ole Boys." There's no big hit like that on here, but it's still a nice, sincere little record from the heartland... Definitely worth a spin!

John Woodruff "Country Soul" (Woodcock Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Brian Webster)

An odd set from Southern California... Pianist-singer John Woodruff seems to have had sincere country-rock leanings, covering stuff like John Conlee's "Rose Colored Glasses" and Little Feat's "Willin'," along with a slew of original material... But he had a really thin voice, more suited perhaps to college rock or the nascent indierock sound, and he goes a little overboard on his piano plunking, drifting into lush, Elton John-ish territory at times. Woodruff was backed by other SoCal locals, including Jeff Cassidy on drums, Scott Huston blowing harmonica, and Brian Webster on bass. One track, "I'm Just a Country Boy," should not be confused with Albert Lee's old 'Seventies showcase number. Overall this strikes me as more of a vanity disc -- emotive, a little frantic and perhaps excessive -- though it definitely fits into the country-rock spectrum.

Bob Woods "The Bob Woods Show" (Union Station/MCR Records & Tapes, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Dale McCoy & Jim Spence)

Not to be confused with the California-based songwriter, Bob Woods (below), Oklahoma bandleader Bob Woods (d. 2001) and his wife Carolyn owned a music store called Del City Music, which he opened in 1962. His band, which included his wife and two daughters, headlined a Vegas show at the Golden Nugget for several years in the late '60s and early '70s. On this album, he's backed by a vocal trio called The Parrish Sisters and a Waylon Jennings lookalike guitarist nicknamed "Tex" -- presumably the gals in the trio also included his kids, Lisa and Pam(?) Anyway, the disc is packed with current pop-country covers, stuff like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Behind Closed Doors," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and even "Mama Don't Dance," by Loggins & Messina, as well as original material, including "I Let You" and "Why Couldn't Tomorrow Be Yesterday," both written by Joe Salathiel, who also cut a single with the Parrish Sisters with one of his songs on it. After several years in Vegas, Woods settled back down in Oklahoma City, where he played local shows and supported regional artists through his work as president and founder of the Oklahoma Country Music Association, and as owner of the Woodside Records label. One of the musicians he promoted was fiddler Byron Berline, who he worked with in the early '60s.

Bob Woods "Hillbilly Cadillac" (Bennett-House Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Marley Monson & Bob Hudson)

An indie outing from a California roots-rocker who crossed rockabilly and country twang... In the early '70s, Woods played western swing in a Sacramento-based band called Tokpela, and he blends some hillbilly swing in, along with trucker twang, bar-band R&B and hillbilly boogie. Good songs, decent picking, kind of an iffy singer, but still cool in the way his musical mix anticipates the hillbilly retro of "Americana" scene bands such as Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Boys, et. al. Woods plays lead guitar, and is backed by a wide cast of players, including pedal steel players Pat Finney and Dave Wren, Jerry McKinney on saxophone, Rex Coomes on fiddle and various harmonizers and backup singers. Nice energetic set, with most songs written by Bob Woods, three by Kevin Blackie Ferrell and a stripped-down rave-up rendition of Carl Perkins' "Soul Beat." Give 'er a spin!

Bob Woods "Don't Forget The Trains" (19--?)

Bob Woods Trio "Railroad Money" (19--?)
With Gene Parsons...

Bob Woods "This Town" (2011)

Dick Woods "Woods Country, Volume One" (Mountain Records Of Colorado, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Woods)

A relatively mysterious fella from Colorado... Dick Woods won some kind of an award in the early 'Seventies for being a valued member of the state's homegrown country scene. He also purchased some small label and put out a few records, including one by a progressive bluegrass group called The Black Canyon Band. I'm not sure about this album's provenance; I think it may have come out in Europe or the UK.

Lori Lee Woods "In Nashville" (Flash Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Eddie Miller)

As a teenager, Missouri native Lori Woods was in a KCMO-area all-girl band called The Hurricane Girls, where she played several instruments. In 1971 she went country and set out on her own, recording a single for the K-Ark label, and then fell into the orbit of producer Eddie Miller, who helped record this album. This appears to have been a Nashville publishing demo album, with Miller contributing two songs on Side One -- "Release Me" and "Climbing The Walls" -- along with a couple by R. Williams ("All Or Nothing" and "Be What You Want To Be"), one by Tom Ghent ("Till Sunrise"), and covers of "Rocky Top" and "Crazy Arms." Ms. Woods also got to record three of her own songs, "Best Thing," "Charley Baby" and "Charleston," which were all tucked away at the end of Side Two. Sadly, there's no info on the recording date or the musicians involved, but I'm guessing 1972, as that was the year she earned a mention in Billboard as an up-and-coming new artist.

Lori Lee Woods "Touch Me (If You Care)" (Legs Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Col. David Mathes)

Steve Woods & The Slingshot Band "Highway Bound" (Mercury Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Butler & Billy Sherrill)

A pretty dull album that never came close to the charts, although I'm not sure why -- it's not that different than other stuff that did well at the time. Sort of a Johnny Lee-meets-The Oak Ridge Boys vibe here, with uninspired though competent backing by a band that included fiddler/guitarist Steve Hill, a talented veteran of the Texas twang scene who later went on to work with Chris Hillman and the Desert Rose Band. This album's a dud, though, mostly because of the singer. My guess is once they had it in the can and realized it was a stiff, the label just 86-ed the promotions and let it die a quiet death. If you really, really are into the mellower end of the early '80s country sound, you could check this out, but there's certainly better stuff out there.

Woodstock Mountains Revue "Music Among Friends" (Rounder Records, 1972) (LP)
This free-floating amalgamation of folkies, post-folkies, bluegrassers and wandering roots musicians included such luminaries as Pat Alger, Eric Andersen, Larry Campbell, John Herald, banjo whiz Bill Keith, jugband pop star John Sebastian, and brothers Artie & Happy Traum... to name a few! Sometimes also called "Mud Acres," the group was sort of a fraternal lodge for mellow, super-talented acoustic musicians -- they were neighbors in upstate New York, and over the course of the years released several albums, all of which are packed with resonant little goodies...

Woodstock Mountains Revue "Music From Mud Acres" (Rounder Records, 1974) (LP)

Woodstock Mountains Revue "More Music From Mud Acres" (Rounder Records, 1977) (LP)

Woodstock Mountains Revue "Pretty Lucky" (Rounder Records, 1978) (LP)

Woodstock Mountains Revue "Back To Mud Acres" (Rounder Records, 1981) (LP)

Earl D. Woodward "The Hillbilly Singer" (Home Town Records, 1970-?) (7") (EP)
(Produced by Sam H. Brackin)

This modest seven-inch disc is about as "private" and DIY as you can get... Earl Woodward (1906-1986) was born in New Hampshire, grew up in Connecticut, and was apparently living in Johnson City, Tennessee when he cut this six-song EP at age 63. He played on the radio as a kid, 'way back in the 1920s, later he served in World War II and was apparently wounded in combat -- he lost his right leg and part of his left foot, and is pictured on the front cover holding his guitar while leaning on crutches. The songs are all originals, with backing by three Johnson City locals -- Bill Crowell (rhythm guitar), Blue Friday (electric guitar) and Fred Shoun on bass. Songs include "Be Your Self," "The Big Oak Tree," "Chick Chock Charley," "Like A Rainbow," "Mexican Beauty," and "Sweetest Thing In Life." Despite having a musical background, this disc was his first recording, and his only one, as far as I know.

Norm Wooster - see artist discography

Frank Wooten "My World Of Country" (Music Shop Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Carl Fracala & Ted Lakamowski)

A regular-people recording from Jackson, Michigan, packed with covers of classic hits with decent, if slightly amateurish, vocals. Biographical info was hard to come by as there are several Frank Wootens in Michigan and no mentions of him playing any live shows or leading a band. Nonetheless, this is a pretty solid record, with backing by what seems to be an all-local pool of musicians: Perry Clemons (lead guitar), Don Davis (pedal steel), Kurt Hasselschwert (rhythm guitar), Bill Marienfield (percussion), Darwin Mattice (drums), Bob Shultz (keyboards), Gerry Tedrow (lead guitar), and Randy Van Winkle on bass. The mix has some rough spots, but the steel guitar work stands out as particularly rich. Anyone know more about this fella?

Jack Worthington "The Jack Worthington Show" (NWI Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by David Mathew)

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, truck driver Jack Worthington went from singing along to old Hank Williams songs to forming a band called the Gearjammers, anchored by lead guitarist Bob Saloum and steel player Ron Stephens. He seems to have been a rather democratically inclined fellow, singing lead on only three of the tracks, while sharing the spotlight with Dick Carson, Dave Eberly, Linda Pullen, Jimmy Walker and other locals... The repertoire is all oldies and standards, stuff like "Six Days On The Road," "Wild Side Of Life," "Truck Driving Man" and "Little Ole Wine Drinker Me," as well as a couple of more pop/jazz oriented tunes such as "Harlem Nocturne" and "Yakety Sax." Seems like a pretty good-natured, unpretentious get-together all around... According to some reports, Mr. Worthington remained in Oregon and was still playing shows at local cafes and other venues near Coos Bay, as late as 2015... Any info is of course always welcome!

Wrangler & Jean "... Sing Rodeo Man" (Wrangler & Jean Record Company, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Art Walunas & Robin Freeman)

An all-original set with high ambitions. This sheepskin-and-fringe clad duo was actually Ed Walunas and Mary Ann Walunas of Parowan, Utah... aka "Wrangler & Jean." (Oh man, jeez, I'm only just now getting the joke...) I'm not sure if the album's producer, Art Walunas, is the same guy as the 1960's polka accordionist from Detroit who famously translated "In Heaven There Is No Beer" into English; but it does seem likely, since all the song publishing for this album is on "Squeeze Box Music-BMI." Ed's brother maybe? Had some show business connections? Anyway, maybe they weren't really the greatest country singers ever, but W&J did really gave it their all, and they got a crackerjack band to provide a big, full sound. Whose band? Loretta Lynn's band, actually -- the same guys who appeared in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter as "The Coal Miner's Band." In addition to lead guitarist/arranger/engineer Dave Thornhill, the musicians include Zeke Dawson on fiddle, Gene Dunlap (piano), Durwood Edwards (banjo and harmonica), Chuck Flynn (bass), Lonnie Godfrey (drums), and Bob Hempker on steel guitar... These guys were Tennessee pickers, though the liner notes say the album was recorded in Las Vegas -- maybe they were playing some lounge gigs at the time? Anyway, it was a for-real studio band and they made the most of it... The title track, which opens the album, is a serious shot at commercial country, though the musical focus gets a little shakier after that. This disc has a few wobbly moments, but it's definitely worth a spin!

The Wray Brothers Band "Cowboy Sangers" (CIS Northwest Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Messick & Dave Mathew)

This album is notable as the launching pad for the career of 1990s Top Forty star Collin Raye, an Arkansas native whose birth name was Floyd Elliot Wray. He was going by the name Bubba Wray at the time, and had apparently moved to Portland, Oregon with his brother Scott, who he performed with up until the decade's end. Though they started out as indie artists, the Wrays also took a fling at Nashville, recording a few singles for Mercury Records in the late '80s. This early album looks super-twangy and ultra-indie, but it's mostly pretty slick sounding, with a heavy debt towards the Eagles/ They do make a few nods at Asleep At The Wheel-style western swing and Johnny Cash-ish hillbilly twang (on the album's one cover song, a version of Jimmie Skinner's "Doin' My Time") but the smooth sound Raye would excel at a decade later is readily detected on this disc. The album's many originals include "Briars In Her Britches," "Country Sangers," "Country By-God Music," with Scott Wray being the main songwriter. It's country (poppy country) with a few goofy instruments in the mix -- Moog, synths, orchestra bells, woodblocks -- as well as a banjo and pedal steel, but it's also a solid album, a cut above most records made at this level. No surprise that Collin Raye made it big in Nashville, though one wonders why the brothers didn't make it as a duo.

Vernon Wray "Wasted" (Vermillion Records, 1972) (LP)
A stunning ultra-indie release from Vernon Wray, the older brother of rock guitar pioneer Link Wray, who in the early 1970s dropped out for a while and moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he recorded and self-released two intense and deeply personal albums. The second record, Wasted, was originally only pressed in a few hundred copies, which he sold at local gigs. It's a remarkable album, and a real find for hardcore fans of hippie-era country, with Wray (backed by his brothers) churning through mournful, contemplative, moody folk and tough, rugged country gems -- it's a real outsider-art album, and a compelling, cohesive statement by an artist with a truly singular vision. There's little of the brash, post-rockabilly proto-grunge of the Wraymen recordings, though the same level of intensity is there, just in a seemingly quieter mode. Highly recommended.

B. J. Wright "B. J. Wright's First Album" (NSD/Soundwaves, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Ronnie McDowell, Joe Gibson & Noel Gibson)

B. J. Wright was from Portland, Tennessee and recorded this album in Nashville, with Top Forty star Ronnie McDowell as his patron -- McDowell co-produced the album, wrote the liner notes, and contributes one song ("You Loved The Devil Out Of Me.") About half the songs are B. J. Wright originals, and I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say that the song, "J.R." was related to the Dallas TV show. This album seems to have taken a long time to put together, with sessions at four different studios and contributions from a variety of studio musicians, probably over a series of sessions.

The Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company "Cornfield Cowboys" (Wright & Perry Record Company, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Moss, Ronald L. Perry & Charlie Tallent)

The Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company "Memorabilia Box" (Wright & Perry Record Company, 1975) (LP)

The Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company "Third Phonograph Album" (Wright & Perry Record Company, 1976) (LP)

The Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company "Anthology Album" (Wright & Perry Record Company, 1977) (LP)

Gene Wright "Horse Music" (1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Wright, Cecil Jones & Bob Goff)

Kind of a sweet story behind this one... Gene Wright was a young fella from Lexington, Kentucky who wrangled horses on the show horse circuit. According to the liner notes, he calmed the horses by playing music in the stalls, and his preferred instruments included the Hammond B-3 and ARP synths; on this album he also plays the grand piano, though I doubt he would bring one out into the barn, at least not on a regular basis... He's accompanied here by steel guitarist Vince Emmett and Rex Hart on drums, on a set that mixes country and pop material. But wait, let's back up a little: playing keyboards to the horses? I bet the gals just swooned over that one!

Jerry Wright "My Kind Of Country" (Raboulliet Records, 19--?) (LP)
From Simonton, Texas...

John Lincoln Wright - see artist discography

Lynn Wright "From The Rockies" (Prestige Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Wallis)

Piano plunker Lynn Wright was, I believe, from West Virginia, although this LP is a souvenir of his days playing lounge gigs in Aspen, Colorado. The repertoire is a mix of country standards (Floyd Cramer's "Last Date," a Hank Williams medley), contemporary pop ("You Light Up My Life," "The In Crowd") and additional flights into George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, 'Fifties rock, and a bit of Dixie-ania. But the country influence is definitely there, including backing by guitarist Roger Hallmark, as well as bassist Kenny Wallis and percussionist Goldie Ashton.

T. Z. Wright "T. Z. Wright" (1977) (LP)
Singer-songwriter T. Z. Wright originally hails from Oklahoma, but was living in New Mexico when he cut this album, leading the house band at a place called the Motherlode, in Red River... This album features a bunch of original material, and some swell pedal steel guitar throughout... He even kinda reminds me of Dick Feller!

Bob Wurst & The Countrified "Any Old Song" (New Image Records, 19--?) (LP)
This Toledo, Ohio band featured lead vocals by Bob Wurst, with backing by his peeps, Jerry Lavender, Rick Spitler and Mark Hall (a group which, one might assume, had more than its fair share of teasing during their grade school days...) Anyway, this is solidly mediocre bar-band material: they play some rootsy stuff, songs like "Tulsa Time," "Take This Job And Shove It," and "The Auctioneer," as well as plenty of scary '70s pop songs, such as "You Needed Me" and "Three Times A Lady" -- whatever was popular at the time. So, eek, maybe just a little. The vocals and the picking are both a little wobbly, but like many of these kinds of records, it's a true portrait of a working band, "real folks," way beneath the Nashville radar. These guys also apparently toured with fellow Ohio twangster Gary Shope, who was a popular regional entertainer, but doesn't seem to have recorded any albums himself. Wurst also recorded an album with the Toledo band, Buckeye, with songwriter Roger Ball.

Billy Wyatt "Sweet Jean Marie" (B&J&W Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bernie Vaughn)

A self-proclaimed "barefoot boy from Southeast Missouri," singer Billy Wyatt was a middle-aged guy celebrating twenty-five years of marriage to his wife, Jean Marie, who co-wrote several of the songs on this album. The backing musicians include Dennis Bigby (bass), Bob Brown (piano), Curly Chalker (rhythm guitar), Johnny Cox (steel guitar), Don Mills (drums) and Bobby Whitton (lead guitar). I don't think this is the same Billy Wyatt from Wapato, Washington (below) who appears to be a much younger man.

Billy Wyatt "On Dreams Alone" (Manaoa Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by James B. Shaw & Benny Kennerson)

The Wyatt Brothers "From The Mountains To The World" (Wyatt Records, 1983) (LP)

Johnny Wyatt "One Who Cares" (Hill Country Records, 1976) (LP)
Bandleader Johnny Wyatt was a regional performer who played throughout the South and Southwest, eventually hanging his hat in Trinidad, Colorado which was his center of operations for most of the '70s. Later in the decade he also recorded a couple of singles on his own label, Wyatt Records, eventually retiring in Las Vegas. I believe this was his only LP. (Thanks to the great regional blog, Pueblo City Limits for info on this artist.)

Lee Wyatt "Candlelight" (NSD/AMI Records, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Skip McQuinn & Jim Prater)

This is one of those albums that's found itself in the crosshairs of the Hipstertown irony police, mocked online and elsewhere for its supposedly goofy album art. I couldn't find any info about Lee Wyatt and his wife June, the couple that wrote most of the songs on this album, but I assume it's her picture on the front cover that has 'em all laughing: Like, omigod! who could possibly put some old person on their album cover?!? Personally, I think it's kind of sweet. Regardless of the music within, Mr. Wyatt's earnest affection for his wife is plain as day, and well, maybe some people just can't handle something that straightforward and sincere. Whatevs. Anyway, this album was singled out for teasing in the book Enjoy The Experience, and has echoed around online ever since. If you ask me, though, maybe a better target would be the music within, particularly tunes with such lofty titles as "Mistaken Words," "You Walk Through My Soul" and "You Change With A Cough." He also covers a few country classics, such as George Morgan's "Hello Pretty Lady," Jimmie Rodgers' "T For Texas" and Stonewall Jackson's "Don't Be Angry." If anyone out there has info about this adorable old couple, feel free to get in touch -- I'm all ears!

Nina Wyatt "Someone To Love" (Charta Records, 19--?) (LP)

Wyld Oats "Stage One" (1979) (LP)
This was a band from Schaumburg, Illinois... Other than that I don't have much info on them.

Wynn & John "Live At The Casa Nova" (Casa Nova Records, 197--?) (LP)
This mustachioed disco-era duo may actually have been a trio -- there's some unidentified gal pictured singing with them on the back cover -- but regardless, they seem to have been the house band for a while at the Casa Nova nightclub in Ypsilanti, Michigan sometime in the early-to-mid 1970s. They cover popular country standards such as "Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High" and "Okie From Muskogee," as well as straight-up pop songs like "I Believe In Music," "Alone Again (Naturally)" and even a version of "Ebb Tide." So, they were a working band in the true bar-music tradition, playing what folks wanted to hear while slouched over their beers... Anyone out there know more about these guys?

Ron Wynne "From The Heart" (Jetisson Productions, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Prater & Fred Martin)

This Colorado honkytonker includes two of his own songs, "You Call The Shots" and "The Only One," along with covers of classics by Willie Nelson, Terry Fell, Hank Cochran and others...

The Wynne Unit Band "The Texas Prison Rodeo Presents: Behind The Walls" (1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dale Mullins & Tom Miller)

Gail Wynters "A Girl For All Seasons" (Hickory Records, 1967) (LP)
(Produced by Wesley Rose)

Wow - what a weird record. I mean, it's on the Hickory label, and it's got this groovy, Mod cover art... I saw several country songs listed on the credits, along with a few '60s pop vocal hits, and Ray Stevens of all people doing the arrangements, so I thought, okay I'll bite. But there ain't no twang on this thang: Ms. Wynters, born Nancy Gail Shivel, was a preacher's daughter from rural Kentucky who developed a love of jazz and blues vocals... Here, styles herself as a white-girl soul singer, ala Dusty Springfield, and the arrangements are lavish, baroque '60s pop with a heavy dose of bluesy Northern Soul... Hardly what you'd expect on old Roy Acuff's label! Wynters frequently slides into a low, growling Shirley Bassey/Eartha Kitt mode, and while there are some "country" songs on here, they are bent out of recognition into big, brassy pop numbers -- probably the weirdest song on here is the brassy, overwrought arrangement of the Louvin Brothers' sweet, demure ballad, "When I Stop Dreaming." But even as a devoted obscuro-twang fan, I just couldn't find a rationale for hanging on to this one... I guess, though, this wasn't just some weird vanity record -- Wynters recorded for several labels and made a modest reputation for herself as a jazz-standards stylist. This album appears to have been just a matter of circumstance, with Wesley Rose willing to test the waters for more pop-oriented material, and although this was her first album, it's the only one that has any tangential connection to country or Nashville.

Wyvon "Wyvon" (Gervasi Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Shook)

This Texas honkytonk crooner's full name is Wyvon Alexander, and this record is pretty darn good. Robust, soulful, and packed with original material, this is a nice mix of hard-edged barroom ballads and smoother commercial country. This might appeal to fans of Ed Bruce, Vern Gosdin or Waylon Jennings -- kind of in that general territory. Definitely worth a spin!

Hick Music Index

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