Friday, December 7, 2012



In October 1929, Eddie and Sugar Lou’s Hotel Tyler Orchestra recorded “K.W.K.H. Blues,” a song referencing Shreveport’s radio station.  During this time period, KWKH aired anti-chain store rants, manipulated its signal to reach much of the United States, offended sensitive listeners with profanity, and aggravated radio commissioners.  The station also found time to broadcast music.

Eddie and Sugar Lou’s Hotel Tyler Orchestra hailed from a city located 90 miles west of Shreveport -- Tyler, Texas.  Researchers have cobbled together parts of this itinerant band’s history, but details remain somewhat fragmented.  As such, it’s only appropriate that the following newspaper article is mangled.  It announces their dance at the Odd Fellows Hall in Shreveport on October 27, 1930.

Here are a few pieces I can offer the Eddie and Sugar Lou puzzle…

"Good order assured" thanks to music promoters Ike McKinney and S. B. Vagner.  ("Famous Eddie & Sugar Lou Recording Artists To Furnish Music For Entertainment At Odd Fellows Hall."  Shreveport Sun [Shreveport, LA], October 25, 1930.)
"Mighty potent dance music that will put your feet into actin' up mean." (Chicago Defender [Chicago, IL], March 1, 1930.)
"Shreveport on the Air, Shreveport Everywhere" -- listen to KWKH thanks to this giant shooting radio waves from his fingernails. (W. K. Henderson Iron Works & Supply Company. New 1929 International Radio Atlas. [Indianapolis: George F. Cram Company, 1929].)

Compare with record label scan above and play "spot the miniscule pressing difference"!

Recommended Online Resources:

“Eddie And Sugar Lou's Hotel Tyler Orchestra.”  Red Hot Jazz Archive.

Clifford J. Doerksen.  Excerpt from “American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age.”  American Radio Works.

Monday, September 17, 2012

RUFUS BROWN – Somewhere Over the Mountain b/w Evil Eyes (Brown’s, circa 1965)

RUFUS BROWN – Somewhere Over the Mountain (Brown’s, circa 1965)

RUFUS BROWN – Evil Eyes (Brown’s, circa 1965)

Who was Rufus Brown?  Good question.  His record label lists an address in the Cedar Grove neighborhood of Shreveport.  It also indicates the producer is Marcus Brown…a relative perhaps?  Maybe it's the same Marcus Brown whose 45 featuring "I’m Comin’ Home" b/w "Hey Little Girl" appeared on Peermont Records – another label based out of Cedar Grove.

BROWN'S RECORD COMPANY 100 (circa 1965)
Producer: Marcus Brown; Dixianna Publishing BMI
RB 1964A Somewhere Over the Mountain
RB 1964B Evil Eyes

Readers, why don’t you help us solve this mystery?  Who can share some information about Rufus Brown?

While I have your attention, I should also note: for over one year now, the Shreveport Songs blog has been shining a light on past sounds from our city.  Friends and followers, thanks for the support!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

B. L. BLADE - By His Grace We've Come A Long Way (Part I and II) (B. L. B., 1982)

B. L. BLADE - By His Grace We've Come A Long Way (Part I) (B. L. B., 1982)

B. L. BLADE - By His Grace We've Come A Long Way (Part II) (B. L. B., 1982)

In 2012, you might know of Rev. Brady L. Blade, Sr. because he serves as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Shreveport.  Or because in recent years he’s taken the gospel concert program Hallelujah Train on the road.  Or because he and his church’s choir appeared in Daniel Lanois’s documentary film Here Is What Is.  Or because of his renowned drummer sons, Brady L. Blade, Jr. and Brian Blade.

I suspect 30 or even 50 years ago people knew of Rev. Blade for similar reasons – his ministry and his music.  In the early 1960s, Blade began serving as pastor of Zion Baptist Church.  In the mid-1960s, Blade hosted Sunday School lessons over the radio on KCIJ.  During the mid-1970s, Shreveport’s Jewel Records issued a couple of 45s and an LP featuring Rev. Blade’s sermons and music.  By the time the early 1980s rolled around, Blade was releasing a few records on his own BLB label.

In 1982, Blade released this 45 containing “By His Grace We've Come A Long Way.”  Based on the recording, it’s pretty clear this is sourced from a live performance likely recorded at his church, Zion Baptist.  Due to the song’s length, it’s been split into two segments – part 1 on the a-side and part 2 on the b-side.

The Sunday School Hour -- tune in from 6:45 to 7:00.  (Shreveport Sun [Shreveport, LA], July 1, 1965).

Hallelujah Train performing at Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, La., recorded by Deborah Allen, January 20, 2011.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DOUG DAVIDSON – Star (Of My Teenage Dream) (MOA, 1959)

On July 17, 2012, Margaret Lewis will be feted by the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau (aka the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation) at the New Orleans Mint. Details of this show/interview can be found on the Ponderosa Stomp website, along with a few informative posts on their blog, plus a video overview of Lewis’ rich musical career. See these links below.

Lewis and her sister, Rose, sang backup vocals on a handful of 45’s recorded in Shreveport in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. In some instances, the record labels contained credits identifying “the Lewis Sisters.” Today’s offering does not, though its flipside does…just to make things complicated and inconsistent. Credit or no credit, the Lewis sisters can be heard underneath the scratches on both sides of this record. Here’s the side I prefer – “Star (Of My Teenage Dream).”

As for Doug Davidson, I don’t have any information on him. I guess someone will have to ask Margaret Lewis during the interview portion of her upcoming performance.

The record label, Music of America (MOA), was operated by Wilson Evans. Interesting note: the label’s address, 400 McNeil Street, is the location of Shreveport’s YMCA. I’m not sure if Evans was living there, working there, or simply having his mail delivered there.

For more of Lewis’s recordings, I’d recommend starting with Lonesome Bluebird (Ace CDCHD572).

Margaret Lewis video by the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation:

Margaret Lewis biographical information and songs:

Margaret Lewis and other RAM Records artists share the stage at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium (Shreveport Times [Shreveport, LA], July 3, 1959).

MOA Records headquarters -- aka Shreveport's YMCA (postcard, postmarked 1943).

Friday, June 22, 2012

LEON'S LONE STAR COWBOYS – I'm Serving Days (Decca, 1937)

LEON'S LONE STAR COWBOYS – I'm Serving Days (Decca, 1937)

A resident of Shreveport from the 1910s to the 1960s, the life of Leon Chappelear included both dismal tragedies as well as fortuitous connections.  The high points involve playing in a popular band responsible for sizable hits in the 1930s (“Deep Elm Blues” and “Just Because” -- the latter covered by other musicians including Elvis Presley in 1954) and playing guitar on Jimmie Davis’s first recording of “You Are My Sunshine.”  The low points include a debilitating car wreck and suicide.

For those curious about Chappelear, there’s a rich amount of information already compiled and accessible thanks to music researchers and reissue record labels.  There are two CD compilations with extensive 20-page liner notes – Western Swing Chronicles, Vol. 2 (Origin Jazz Library OJL-1001) and Automatic Mama (Bear Family BCD 16254).  Also, here a couple online biographies – "Leon Chappel" by Jason Ankeny and "Leon Chappel" by Kevin Carey.

Between 1935 and 1937, his band recorded over 50 songs, which range stylistically from western swing, to sentimental country, to blues.  Most of Leon’s really great recordings appeared on compilation CD’s issued during the last decade.  In an effort to highlight one of his band’s less circulated songs, here’s their recording of “I’m Serving Days” from my scratchy copy.  The group’s fiddle player, Lonnie Hall, composed the song.  Hall was Leon’s close friend in life and cemetery plot neighbor in the hereafter.  Notice the song’s similarity to another popular tune coincidentally recorded in Shreveport eight years prior – “Sitting On Top Of The World” by the Mississippi Sheiks.

While much of Leon’s music, biographical information, and photographs are readily accessible to those interested in picking up his CD’s, here are a few rare items I’ve run across over the years:

It’s 11:55, do you know where your Lone Star Cowboys are?  Left to right: Slim Harbert, Buck Fields, Chris Herrington, Leon Chappelear.  (Photo postcard postmarked April 16, 1935.)

It’s 1937, turn your dial to KRMD at 1:30pm to catch the Lone Star Cowboys.  Don’t miss the Sunshine Boys and the Range Riders on KWKH, either.  (Shreveport Times [Shreveport, LA], January 22, 1937.)  Note: for legible display size, try this link.

“‘There’s not much to add to what we’ve already reported,’ Chappelear said.” (Lee Travis, “Hand-Picked For Plunder,” Startling Detective [January 1945.])

“The end and the reward of toil is rest.” (Leon Chappelear tombstone, Eppes Cemetery, Shreveport, Louisiana, summer 2006.)

For those curious about Leon’s life, but lacking the motivation to seek out and read 25-page liner note booklets, here are some of his biographical highlights:
  • grew up in East Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana (1910s and 1920s)
  • joined Bob and Joe Attlesey to form the Lone Star Cowboys, who are hired by KWKH radio station in Shreveport (circa 1930)
  • recorded solo for Gennett Phonograph Company in Indiana (1932)
  • Lone Star Cowboys travel to Chicago with their local musical pal Jimmie Davis; they serve as Davis’s backing band on a few of his recordings; they also make a few recordings of their own (1933)
  • Lone Star Cowboys split and form two groups: Leon’s Lone Star Cowboys and the Shelton Brothers (1934)
  • Leon’s Lone Star Cowboys begin making records for Decca (1935)
  • Leon’s Lone Star Cowboys in car wreck, Leon suffers head injury (1935)
  • Leon’s Lone Star Cowboys participate in more recording sessions for Decca (1936-1937)
  • Leon’s Lone Star Cowboys break up (1938)
  • plays guitar on Jimmie Davis’s first recording of “You Are My Sunshine” (1940)
  • revives recording career, releases records by “Leon Chappel” for Capitol Records (1950-1953)
  • dies as a result of a self-inflicted shotgun blast (1962)
  • resides in Eppes Cemetery (1962-present)

*According to Shreveport city directories, Leon’s employment includes these listings: musician (1935-1936), patrolman for Shreveport Police Department (1943-1945), salesman (1953-1955), pound master at the Shreveport Dog Pound (1956-1960), foreman at the Caddo-Shreveport Health Unit (1961-1962).

Friday, April 13, 2012

ABRAHAM – Funky Spider And b/w Scared Fly (HySign, 1973)

“‘Funky Spider’!  You haven’t heard ‘Funky Spider’?  Here, have one of my extra copies.”  I remember Dee Marais exclaiming this when we conducted a series of interviews back in 2007.  After excitedly yelling “Funky Spider,” his voice dropped down and he slowly said, “and the scared fly.”  Then, he grinned and started laughing.  Such was my introduction to this record.

About five years before I met Harding Guyon DesMarais (aka Dee Marais), Shreveport Southern Soul served as my primer to his record labels.  Though the CD doesn’t include “Funky Spider” or its flipside, it does feature other songs culled from 45s released by Dee and Dick Martin on three of their labels -- Murco, Peermont, and HySign Records.  These labels served a crucial role in capturing Shreveport’s soul, funk, and rhythm and blues music scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As for those responsible for “Funky Spider And” b/w "Scared Fly," Abraham Ester had previously recorded a few 45s issued on Murco, Peermont, and HySign.  In fact, he was the only musician to have releases on all three of these labels.  Released in 1973, “Funky Spider” turned out to be Ester’s last record.  Dee’s master tape of the recording contains a couple interesting clues .  The tape box has a Sound/City Recording Corporation label, and it lists George Clinton as the re-mix engineer.  For more information on the recently deceased George Clinton, visit “The Music Is a Little Quieter Today: Sad News from Nashville” on the And So It Goes in Shreveport blog.  Dee passed away on October 23, 2008, and I’ve been missing him ever since.

Abraham - Funky Spider Pt. 1 and 2, master tape box

Special delivery!
(HySign Records envelope)

Dee Marais and Chris Brown at KSCL 91.3 FM,
Centenary College of Louisiana
(February 20, 2007)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

THREE FIFTEEN AND HIS SQUARES - Saturday Night on Texas Avenue (Vocalion, 1937)

THREE FIFTEEN AND HIS SQUARES - Saturday Night on Texas Avenue (Vocalion, 1937)

In honor of the Texas Avenue Community Association and the first annual Cora M. Allen Day (March 7, 2012), here’s a musical tribute to Shreveport’s Texas Avenue. The complete story on Three Fifteen and His Squares can be found in my article recently published in The Jazz Archivist, a newsletter of the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University. Here's an excerpt below -- “Three Fifteen and His Squares - Shreveport's David Blunson” by Chris Brown (The Jazz Archivist, vol. xxiv, 2011).

2012.10.14 update: complete article now available online (see pages 22-31):


In 1937, Three Fifteen and His Squares, a music group from Shreveport, Louisiana, traveled 200 miles north for a recording session in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The musicians, led by David “315” Blunson, recorded four songs released by Vocalion Records. Apart from the group’s four recordings, however, they left few traces of their existence. As a result, modern researchers have struggled to shed light on Three Fifteen and His Squares. Luckily for those curious about this enigmatic band, Blunson appears nearly a dozen times in an underexplored resource--his hometown’s weekly African American newspaper, The Shreveport Sun. These references, which range from cryptic in-jokes to more descriptive articles, paint a biographical portrait of David “315” Blunson. They also document his ties to Texas Avenue, an area he celebrated in song. The lyrics to Blunson’s “Saturday Night on Texas Avenue” pay a colorful tribute to Shreveport’s African American main drag during its heyday:
In a spot in my hometown, I’d like for you to go
And get woke up, and see a great show
We smoke weed, and we say hey-hey
We drink port wine until the break of day
Saturday Night on Texas Avenue

Walk all night from place to place
Shuckin’ and jivin’ trying to get our gait
Some be truckin’ and some be doin’ the Suzie-Q
And if you stay long enough, you’ll be truckin’ too
Saturday Night on Texas Avenue

When you walk out the door, on the street
A tough fellow, I vow you’re sure to meet
He’ll pull you, and he’ll snatch you, and he’ll hit you across the head
And if you resist him, he’ll shoot you dead-dead-dead
Saturday Night on Texas Avenue

We’ll walk in on Levy’s and Jerry’s too
We’ll stand and wonder what’s next to do
We’ll sit down and knock a little drink
Then we’ll be drunk before we even think
Saturday Night on Texas Avenue

We’ll then sit in a booth, take a little peep
Before we know it, we’re dead asleep
All of a sudden, we’ll hear a row
That’s the owners telling you “ain’t carrying sleepers anymore”
Saturday Night on Texas Avenue
The story of David Blunson as reported by The Shreveport Sun begins in “Ballyhoo by Yours Truly—Me,” a column commonly rife with jive talk and comedic jabs at the locals. In May 1932, the columnist related a story about stumbling upon Blunson’s band practice:
Who said hard times can’t make us think? The other evening, about 3:30, when ole Saul was beaming down on “Yours Truly’s” neckbone, while coming through a small short lane of houses behind “Bill” Huntley’s shop, here’s what: David “313” Blunson, Olian Underwood, Hooks, and two or three other stags were seated in one of the cabins, rehearsing “Sleepy Time Down South”…they were playing the tune, if not perfectly…the boys seem to know that any port will do in a storm…the nickels they make will look as good to them as anybody’s…attaboy, boys…Learn to get out and make the roads better yourself!

Texas Avenue, 1947; this photograph depicts the 800-1000 blocks. Structures include: Municipal Auditorium (top center), shotgun houses behind Huntley Brothers Undertakers and Jerry's Bar (bottom right), and Star Theater (bottom left, with elevated rear). (Henry Langston McEachern Photographic Collection, 1941-2008; Archives and Special Collections, Noel Memorial Library, Louisiana State University Library in Shreveport, Shreveport).

Blunson’s band played at Jerry’s, a place he references in the lyrics to “Saturday Night on Texas Avenue.” Along with many other Shreveport clubs, churches, businesses, and individuals, Jerry's placed an advertisement in the Shreveport Sun supporting the Ambassador Club in its celebration of "National Negro History Week" in 1936. (Shreveport Sun, February 15, 1936.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

TOM AND THE CATS - The Wine Song (Jewel, 1966)

TOM AND THE CATS - The Wine Song (Jewel, 1966)

Much of the story on Tom and the Cats is neatly packaged into an article published in the Shreveport Times during the summer of 1966. See below. For the sake of internet search engines and those with short attention spans, the highlights go something like this…

After performing under a variety of band names such as The String-Benders, The Prophets, and The Shades, a group of musicians solidify to form Tom and the Cats.

The line up consisted of Tom Colquitt (guitar, vocals), Robert Ezell (guitar, harmonica), Frank Rodie (organ, vocals), Vince Authement (drums, vocals), Freddie Rogers (drums), and Dale Rodie (electrician).

The Rodie brothers' father co-owned Walker and Rodie music store...making for an advantageous connection.

The band played high school dances and college fraternity parties around town as well as out-of-town shows in Monroe and Baton Rouge.

They are nonconformists seeking money and fame.

Tom and the Cats hooked up with local record store/record label owner Stan Lewis, who issued the band’s three 45s. Released in 1965, their first 45 includes “The Wine Song.” Based on the attached article’s lengthy section devoted to controversial songs, perhaps they caught some flack for the lyrics. Note the band’s reaction: “[Colquitt] feels people should be accustomed to songs about wine after 3,000 years of them.”

(Nathan Fain, "Tom and the Cats,"  Shreveport Times [Shreveport, LA], July 24, 1966.) 
Note: for legible display size, try this link.

Tom and the Cats' first 45 also appeared on California Records, a label based out of Denmark. Judging by other records on the label, it seems they licensed a few 45s originally released by Stan Lewis. For their version, California created a picture sleeve depicting a cartoony Beatles-inspired guitar player (Tom?) perched upon a chimney flanked by four cats (The Cats!).

Tom and the Cats playing the C. E. Byrd High School junior prom
held at the Washington-Youree Hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana 
(Gusher [C. E. Byrd High School yearbook], 1966.)

Tom and the Cats promotional photograph (circa 1966)

Tom and the Cats discography

Jewel Records 750 (1965)
TM 1389 What’s Happenin’ Baby (Authement – Ezell – Rodie) (Su-Ma BMI)
TM 1390 The Wine Song (Authement – Ezell – Rodie) (Su-Ma BMI)
*also released as California 1435, made in Denmark

Paula Records 242 (1966)
TM 1627 Walkin’ Man (Frank Rodie) (Su-Ma BMI)
TM 1628 Summertime Blues (E. Cochran – J. Capehart) (American BMI)

Paula Records 253 (1966)
TM 1784 Nothing in This World (Vince Authement) (Su-Ma BMI)
TM 1785 Good, Good Lovin’ (Brown – Shubert) (Lois BMI)