Monday, March 13, 2006

Three miles south of cash

I worked on my tax return last night, just long enough to get myself good and rialed up. I poured myself another drink and let out a mournful sigh. All of a sudden, the sounds of Lloyd Armstrong's mandolin filled my head and I began to sing along... "Three miles south of cash in Arkansas"... Ain't it the truth Floyd?
Gave a little chuckle when I realized I still had my headphones on.

Born into a musical family in Dewitt, Arkansas, January 24, 1930, Floyd and Lloyd Armstrong were destined to become performers themselves. Their mother, Lois, played piano, ukulele, and autoharp and for a few years worked with Edna Durfee on KLRA, Little Rock, as 'The Sunshine Girls'. The twins began their professional careers in 1935 when they did a gospel number, Walking Arm in Arm with Jesus, on a kiddies' show over KARK, Little Rock, and they soon became regulars on the station's Boy's Club Saturday morning talent show.

During their school years the twins performed with several Little Rock groups including James Evans and the Dixie Mountaineers. They also won plenty of competitions, but rarely won any prize money. It was the Depression after all. Floyd recalled "We won hounds, sacks of groceries, whatever there was but we didn't win much cash in those days, because there wasn't much cash around."
In 1946 the Twins went into the music business full time. The family moved to California, there the boys worked with Merle Travis, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and other country music stars of the day.

The Armstrong Twins were popular on border radio stations that could be heard over the entire North American continent, but they never really pursued much of a recording career, preferring live performances and radio. They tired of show business in 1969 and left the stage. Lloyd earning his living as a mechanic and Floyd as a carpenter.

Then, in 1979, the great ethnomusicologist Chris Strachwitz, discovered some of their old recordings and reissued them on his Arhoolie label. Floyd and Lloyd met with Strachwitz at the Folk Centre in Mount View, Arkansas and agreed to record a new album. "Just Country Boys" was released in August, 1980 and proved they had lost none of their musical abilities.

The Armstrong Twins - Three Miles South of Cash.mp3

The Armstrong Twins - Mandolin Rag.mp3

The Armstrong Twins - Sparkling Blue Eyes.mp3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see why you could get the Mandolin stuck in your head they do a great job of it.


March 14, 2006 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Good tunes, Ed; I like 'em. Aw gee was the "Sparkling Blue Eyes" for me... just kiddin'

March 14, 2006 9:32 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Wow -- great ole time music from right next door to MY home state (Texas, that is!). Thanks for some fine tunes by some fine Arkansawyers!

March 14, 2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Greg - Hi Greg, yep, Arkansas has a long history of good music. Of course so does TX and OK! Of course your current home has loads of good tunes, which I've just tapped.

Lucy - Actually, yes.

Joey - You ain't kiddin'! That Lloyd Armstrong can pick a mean mandolin.

March 14, 2006 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog!

Since you have at least some knowledge about obscure Arkansas music...I would love to find any recordings that my great grandfather might have played on. His name was Lloyd Nicklaus and I know he had a band in the 30s called the South Sea Serenaders. I know he also played on the Grand Ole Opry some and that he mostly played lap steel, country or hawaiian style. He lived just outside Little Rock, in Benton. I would appreciate any leads you could give me on tracking down any of his recordings...


March 16, 2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Jessica, My knowledge of the music of Arkansas is limited.
Hawaiian-style was real popular in the '30s. Unfortunatley documentation is scarce, usually coming from desendants. I do know a couple people who are more knowledgable about Arkansas or Hawaiian-style, I'll see what I can dig up. i enjoy the challenge.
Anyone out there have any leads?

March 17, 2006 10:30 AM  

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