Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Take it away, Leon"


Pour yourself a congratulatory drink; you’ve made it through another work week.

Here in the U.S. we’re looking forward to a three day holiday weekend. Labor Day officially closes the summer vacation season. It also marks the beginning of the second festival season here in the South. I’m already getting geared up for the National Folk Festival which will be spending its third, and final, year in Richmond.

On the Bus we usually like to close out the work week, or more appropriately start the weekend, with some up beat music. Let’s get those feet moving with some western swing from steel guitar great Leon McAuliffe. This is another treasure from Wes’ incredible collection of 78s.

Our good friend and frequent Bus rider, Greg, is our resident western swing aficionado and has kindled in me a fuller appreciation of the genre. Anyone with the slightest interest in western swing knows the name Bob Wills, and anyone who is familiar with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys probably knows Steel Guitar Rag. The talented and inventive steel guitar on those Bob Wills recordings was the work of Leon McAuliffe.

Leon McAuliffe was born in Houston, Texas in 1917. He started to play the guitar and steel guitar at the age of 14. In 1931 he joined a group of performers for a local radio show, billing themselves as the Waikiki Strummers. In 1933 he joined up with the Light Crust Dough Boys and with them recorded his first record in Chicago at the age of sixteen. Two years later he was invited to join Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys.

During WWII McAuliffe served as a flight instructor. After the war he returned to music. He started his own band in Tulsa. This new band leaned more toward the big band sound, but did have a song, Panhandle Rag, go to the number 6 spot on the Country/Western charts in 1949. The band went by the name of the Cimarron Boys for most of their duration, but on just a few of their earliest recordings they were simply listed as “Leon McAuliffe and his Western Swing Band”.

That’s what it said on the label as I was looking through a stack of 78s from Wes. Leon McAuliffe and his band had only recorded a few sides for Columbia under that name and I had to hear this one. I’ve included both sides from the Columbia 78 for today’s post as well as Leon McAuliffe’s signature song from when he was with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Turn it up! Guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Y’all have a good weekend!

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys - Steel Guitar Rag.mp3

Leon McAuliffe and his Western Swing Band - Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy.mp3

Leon McAuliffe and his Western Swing Band - Rag Mop.mp3

19 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Wow! Thanks for the shout-out, Ed, and for the great tunes! I've really enjoyed our cyber friendship and our shared love of great music.

August 31, 2007 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Troy said...

I been tryin to find some Bob Willis on the net. All I found so far was over at Western Swing
http://westernswing78.blogspot.com/2007/08/bob-wills-his-texas-playboys-unissued.html

Thank You Kindly!

August 31, 2007 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Love this western swing! And, thanks for the research you and your team is putting into it. Have a great Labour Day weekend. God knows, people who actually work for a living deserve some recognition, even if it is for just one day.

August 31, 2007 6:25 PM  
Blogger The Warm Hum of Vacuum Tubes said...

Even though I'm a big Leon McAuliffe fan, it's sad that he got writer's credit for "Steel Guitar Rag". It's generally well-known now that Sylvester Weaver's "Guitar Rag" (1927) was the original that I guess Leon heard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvester_Weaver

August 31, 2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for all of your contributions to the Bus, Greg, i always enjoy hearing from you. And thanks for the kind words at Enchilada's Blog

August 31, 2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Troy,
Thanks for the pointer to http://westernswing78.blogspot.com. Great stuff there. I'll add it to my blogroll this weekend.

August 31, 2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Dan,
Glad to hear you are enjoying the western swing.

As for Labor Day, I don't care for any recognition, I'm just happy to have a bloody day off after working heavy overtime for more than half the year.

We're off to the mountains this weekend to visit colleges with our daughter.

August 31, 2007 10:11 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

The Warm Hum of Vacuum Tubes,
You're right about "Steel Guitar Rag". It’s generally believed that McAuliffe adapted Sylvester Weaver’s “Guitar Rag” and added portions of the Hawaiian song “On The Beach At Waikiki”.

August 31, 2007 10:13 PM  
Anonymous rockin'n'rollin said...

Thanks for your work for to made to know
these gems. For the french's post, do you know
Valse musette of French Countries of US?

September 01, 2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Hello Ed, What an education. It should always be this much fun. I do remember hearing records of the Mcguire Sisters singing Chatanooga Shoe Shine Boy and Rag Mop used to be a sort of competitive exercise to see who could sing the rhyme the fastest. It's good for articulation. Think I'll give it too my students this year.
Have a great week-end.

all thoughts fly... k.

September 01, 2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger Monster Library Student said...

Happy Labor Day Blue Bus and friends!

September 01, 2007 1:45 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Rockin'n'rollin, You know how much I love accordion music, but while Valse Musette may have had an effect on the music of Quebec and other French enclaves, it really had little influence on American music, in my opinion.

September 01, 2007 9:24 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

tell us more about festivals in the south!! it's hard for me to find out about them.

September 02, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks for the reminder, Katie, it's about time to list some of the upcoming festivals.

September 02, 2007 10:00 PM  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Tapped into the Folk Festival. It's a huge event. But why is this the last year in Richmond ? Is it like the Olympics which move from city to city ? In any event it looks like a super time.

My friends Angus and Martin two exceptional musiciens invited me to watch the new Richard Thomas Video, a 1000 years of music history. Its clean, simple and good. I ran home to check out the SQUEEZE and their hit Tempted after Thomas floored us with his version. So, if you get a chance this might be an interesting detour for the OBBus and musicologist like yourself.

all thoughts fly... k.

September 03, 2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi, Black Dog. The National Folk Festival is a large event and best of al it is entirely free.

Your comparison of the National Folk Festival with the Olympics is pretty close. The National Folk Festival does indeed change locations every three years. The premise is that the organizers of the National event share their knowledge and experience with local organizers. Once the National event leaves town the locals have the experience of three successful festivals under their belts to organize and continue with an annual festival of their own.

Several past host cities have developed some grand festivals. I’m hoping that Richmond will as well.

September 03, 2007 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Rockin'n'rollin' said...

Yes, Ed Valse Musette had a very little influences.
I know only an tune of the George 'Tautu' Archer & His Pagans

September 08, 2007 3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Cary Fridley you said:

Cary Fridley is originally from Covington, Kentucky.

Actually she is from Covington, VIRGINIA.

Gregory, Covington, Virginia

September 08, 2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Gregory,
Damn! I had to go way back to February to find that, but you are right, and I know better.
I guess spell checker doesn't catch stupid mistakes if they are spelled correctly.

Thanks for setting the record straight.

September 09, 2007 6:42 PM  

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