Thursday, August 28, 2014

I thought They Said Bring Your Gar...

But they really said bring your guitar. The Back Porch Band plays Shirley Creek Marina and Campground Saturday August 30th 6pm-10pm. Bring a lawn chair and a cool drink. Attire is swim suit and cowboy boots. This is a return engagement for the band. First gig was July 4th weekend and although I was unable to make the show they got a sub and did very well. This weekend our drummer can't make it so Mary will return on drums for this show. 

I am lucky to be playing with several pretty good drummers right now but it is great to be teamed as a rhythm  section with my daughter again. As they say about drummers in the music business if you need some one to swing a sack of you know what, call Mary. 

Rain is predicted so maybe we might have our own little Woodstock festival. We won't perform a psychedelic version of the Start Spangled Banner but if it's your birthday we will play Happy Birthday in 3/4 time. It's only right that some one get to waltz on their birthday.   

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Miguel...

We have shared so much. Hope the birthday is good for you too. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

$10 and a Junk Store...

Ten bucks and some kind of junk/thrift/resale/antique store and I'll have good fun and turn up some records you need. I found these walking the streets of downtown Lufkin at one of the antique consignment shops. 
Left to right my finds began with the Mexican Joe release "Living Marimbas." It's from the late 1960s and I suspect that Mexican Joe was trying to coattail on some Tijuana Brass success. The music while not remarkable is not unpleasant and certainly worth collecting if for the album cover only. It's hard to find out much about this guy. Just try searching the internet for the topic "Mexican Joe." He does seem to have made Nick Difozio's Book, "Worst Album Covers Ever."  Alas I gave this as a gift to my son in law Miguel and only kept a digital copy from my USB turntable for myself. Don't worry. This gem is in capable hands. I might have over paid by 99 cents for this item. 

Next up is "20 Golden Moments of Hawaiin Music" by Lani Kai and his Hawaiians.  Looks like this album ebays for $10. I got a deal. Lani played guitar, bass, drums and played congas in Lionel Hampton's Las Vegas Band.  Plenty of good steel guitar and it's only a short step to country music from here. The only difference is which lap steel guitar strings you hit if using a C6th tuning. Hit this one you got the islands. Hit another one and you can be sure Hank done it thataway.  

Last album is by the great bandleader Woody Herman and his forth Herd. Woody always called his bands the "Herd."  Seems like this release which is from 1960-61 is often combined with a Herman combo called The New World and sells on Amazon for $15-$25 depending on new/used or collectible. Actually I jammed with Woody one time. It was 1972. At the halftime of a University of Houston football game a half a dozen or so high school bands of which I was in one took the field in a mass, Woody and the Herd were on an elevated stage and we all made a heck of a racket on one of his famous tunes "Woodchoppers Ball." I got this patch for my participation. I wish I had a bit of a better story about jamming with Woody but I was like sleepy or something and so the patch this is about all I have.  
Also in 1972 Woody was the half time entertainment at Super Bowl VII between the Dolphins and Redskins. 

Here's a late 60s clip. Looks like from the band uniforms Woody tried to keep it hip. 

Scavenging records like these which are not really in collectible condition but are in good playing condition is good cheap fun. It keeps me on the streets. 

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bob McKnight and his Ranch Boys...

While looking through my collection old family photos courtesy of cousin Mary Lou and her husband Mike I find something else interesting. I don't know how it connects to the Wiley/Ledbetter clan but I think there is something to be found here if we use our imaginations to go back to a time of old radio, the river and the instruments and people of another time. 

Best date I can find of this promo postcard is 1940. It's Bob Mcknight and his Ranch Boys. The internet tells us that info about this group is "sketchy at best." We can pretty much be sure they were active and played on an on air radio show over WSM in Memphis Tennessee in the late 30s to mid 40s. The WSM "barn dance" is what evolved into the Grand Old Opery. WSM is one of only three Clear Channel stations to still broadcast music. The rest are a combination of news and talk radio. 
Bob McKnight was a blind county singer. He later on went on to found the first rehab services for the blind in the state of Tennessee which was located in Memphis. The band as best I can discover was Freddie Boy Burns, Jimmie Smith who play sax, violin (he had a case for it) and other instruments, Ray Martin on accordion and other instruments, Slim Sullie and Herman Horsehair Bugfuzz AKA Ivy Peterson.  

Looking up these various band members finds Freddie Boy living in a nursing home and still pulling out his guitar at 98 years old in the year 2012 which is the latest news I can find about him. He says his show business career has not been an overnight sensation like Elvis but a gradual progression. I want to be Freddie Boy when I grow up. Here's a clip:
I could not find any music clips of Bob McKnight on youtube. 
The only other band member I can find anything about is Horse Hair Bugfuzz. He was apparently the clown or the funny sidekick on the radio show. He went on to the Louisiana Hayride and the Georgia Barn Dance Program.  He performed in costume, wig and fake teeth. I zoomed this photo up to get a better look and it seems he has his hand on another guy's pistol. Many of you know I play in a cowboy band but my wife tells me we are not supposed to handle each others pistols. 
I like checking out the old instruments in these photos. If you have studied your guitar history many stringed instruments were made in Chicago and sold through mail order. I can imagine these instruments on barges being shipped down the rivers of the American Heartland to the southern hillbillies so blues, country, folk and more could all birthed into what today we call popular music.  We still get our instruments shipped to us by water except they now come from the far east. They are good quality but lack the mojo magic a ride down the Mississippi brings. 

I guess the reason these photos ended up in the collection of my relatives is that someone thought that Bob McKnight and his Ranch Boys were gone cool crazy cats and could not get enough of this stuff. See them crowded around the radio, just one radio with old glowing tubes to listen and not a room full of passed around ipads broadcasting latest favorite  twerks. 

One last photo from the collection. I don't know who this is. He's got a nice hat. I bet he's a singer. Probably the pretty boy standing out in front of the Bugfuzzes of the world.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Osprey Nest...

While at the lake we took the kids by to see this osprey nest that was located not to high off the water making it easy viewing. There are several nests in this area. If you consider a pair of birds per nest plus chicks and the fact that fish make up 99% of an osprey's diet you can bet there is some good fishing right around these parts. 

When I was a kid my dad would tie up and fish every stump that had some green growing out of it like this nest stump does. Not too many stumps on the lake are fertile enough to grow green anymore. 

Cathy spotted and zoomed up a a catfish skull that was dropped and hung in the sticks that make up the base of the nest.  

A little check on the internet says that ospreys eat fish 9 to 13 inches in length. That's about the size of this cat that Warren has on display. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Answer all Kind of Questions...

You know the kind of questions you get from your granddaughter when out fishing. "What kind of fish, how deep, can we swim now, how many movements in the Brandenburg Concertos," and so on. 
Wait a minute there was one more. "Pop-Pop is my back going to be as hairy as yours?" 

I do better with questions like this. "How fast do I reel?" 

"How hard do I set the hook?" 

You do not set it so hard that you fall out of the boat. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

More Wiley Family Tree...

Last blog post where I left off my ancestor story I posted a photo of my grand parents Caleb and Pinky with son Clay. Clay Wiley passed away of spinal meningitis. He left behind a wife Vina and two children Rena and Raymond. As always I welcome any info from the family they may have but this is their story as best as I have pieced it together. 

Here is my mother's niece Rena. She was a few months older than my mom and they were often taken for  sisters. The 1930 census has the family (Clay had passed by this time) in Golden Lake Township near Wilson Arkansas. Rena is 6 and brother Raymond is 8. Parents Clay and Vina are listed as 26. The 1940 census lists Vina as widowed and living in Civil District 5 Tipton, Tn.  
With the war soon underway many women went to work. Rena  pitched into the war effort and went to work in the Chickasaw Ordinance Works at Millington, Tn. It was there she was killed in an explosion in the powder room. She was apparently the only employee killed. A date is unknown to me. 

A little internet research tells that this plant opened in 1941 making smokeless powder for small arms, artillery and TNT. The info I discovered said that by 1944 8000 women worked there and the plant was awarded for 2 million and later 3.6 million man hours without a major injury. It once operated day and night for 871 days round the clock. I guess it's pretty easy to rack up the hours with a large workforce and those kind of hours. Easy to miss one fatality. The plant was shuttered in 1946 after it was deemed too dangerous to operate anymore. The smoke stacks still stand and images of them are quite plentiful on the internet.The area is classified as a toxic waste site. 

The only mention I found on the internet about Rena's death came from a paranormal site researching reports of activity in the plant area. You can read their site by clicking HERE

Rena's brother Raymond joined the navy. I don't know what year but my mother recalls his death from a brain tumor. Other family members recall a fall from a mast on a ship and the death coming some time after this. Here's Raymond.
Another Raymond photo.
I think this is Raymond's dad Clay also in a Navy uniform. 

These are Raymond's children Jeannette, Dannie and Claudia. No info on them. If I have a photo of Raymond's wife I don't know which one it is. There are about 3000 photos I am taking these from so it's a bit of a job sifting through.  

Clay's wife Vina, the mother of Rena and Raymond. No info on her whereabouts or the date of this photo. 

I invite all relatives to add to these stories with anything they have. 

"...I know I've seen that face before," Big Jim was thinking to himself "Maybe down in Mexico or a picture up on somebody's shelf..."Bob Dylan from "Lilly Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
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