Friday, November 8, 2013

ARNIE CARVER - John Kennedy Ballad (Carver, circa 1965)

ARNIE CARVER - John Kennedy Ballad (Carver, circa 1965)

When did you first hear the “John Kennedy Ballad” by Arnie Carver? For most people, they can remember exactly what they were doing that day. For me, I recall the experience as if it occurred yesterday. There I was…digging through piles of junk in an outdoor flea market booth when I stumbled upon a small stack of moldy 45s. Flipping through the records, a green label caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I noticed an unfamiliar label name – Carver – then a Shreveport address! After handing over $1, I tucked the record under my arm. On the drive home, I wondered what type of genre to expect – somber soul, plaintive pop, or maybe crestfallen country? After cleaning the dirty grooves, I placed the record on the turntable, dropped the needle, and out came…a primitive forlorn folk tribute.

November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. Arnie Carver, living in Shreveport – 180 miles east of Dealey Plaza – recorded this song in memory of the 35th President of the United States. Carver’s biographical details remain sketchy to me, though I did stumble upon information about long-time post office clerk Arnett Jackson Carver (1926-2002) who resided at the record label’s address. It would appear he’s our balladeer in question, unless he happened to have a son named Arnie. Less ambiguous is the involvement of Harding Guyon Desmarais (aka Dee Marais). The “Heads Up Music” publishing credit distinctly points to Desmarais, who also operated a variety of record labels (Murco, Peermont, Hy Sign) and ran the Bayou Records store on W. 70th Street.

Arnie Carver
Carver 101 (circa 1965)
Heads Up Music BMI
ZTSP-92890 Steal Away (A. J. Carver)
ZTSP-92891 John Kennedy Ballad (A. J. Carver)

Monday, July 15, 2013

THEODORE WILBURN WITH THE WILBURN FAMILY - Down in Dixie (Where They Say You All) (4 Star, 1950)

THEODORE WILBURN WITH THE WILBURN FAMILY - Down in Dixie (Where They Say You All) (4 Star, 1950)

From around January 1949 to December 1951, the Wilburn Family called Shreveport home. During this time, fans could tune in to their morning radio show (first employed by KTBS, then KWKH) and catch their performances around town (many of which were Louisiana Hayride shows). Based on show advertisements, song writing credits, and photographs, the group regularly worked with other local country musicians such as Zeke Clements, Webb Pierce, Hank Williams, and Faron Young.

The Wilburn Family recorded "Down In Dixie (Where They Say You All)" sometime between February and July 1950. The February 25 issue of Billboard announced that the group signed to 4 Star Records, then the July 15 issue mentioned this particular release. Although the group had existed for over twelve years by the time 1950 rolled around, it wasn't until they moved to Shreveport and signed a contract with 4 Star that they actually recorded any music. The entire Wilburn Family discography is available at Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies website.

It seems that the original version of this song -- featured here -- has essentially been out of print since stock copies disappeared from record store shelves in the early 1950s. Completists might notice an edited version appears on the album The Wonderful Wilburn Brothers (King 746, issued in 1961). However, it sounds pretty inferior to my ears. It's dripping with overdubbed echo, plus about thirty seconds of steel guitar and fiddle breaks were removed. The lyrics to "Down In Dixie (Where They Say You All)" follow a familiar song theme -- reminiscing about home. Even with this well-worn subject, a few of the goofy lines make me laugh every time I hear them:

where the cooks know how to cook, and they don't need no cook book

you'll just kill yourself a eatin' if your appetite ain't small

To learn more about the Wilburn Family, you may want to start with the two online resources below. Biographical details include their disabled father turning the children into musical entertainers, a short stay on the Grand Ol' Opry (due to child labor laws), plus Teddy and Dole's eventual rise to stardom as the Wilburn Brothers. I'm still searching for a good, in-depth resource that shines more light on their early history. Any suggestions?
In closing, here are a few items about the "Wilburn Family -- the Shreveport years" that I've collected.

Set your Shreveport radio to KTBS to hear a live broadcast from the Wilburn Family at 6:00 a.m.  There are a few other options, too: Cousin Emmy, Hank Williams, Johnny and Jack, Red Sovine, Sheb Wooley, Zeke Clements, Bailes Brothers, Ray Bartlett's Groovie's Boogie, Curley Williams and the Georgia Peachpickers, and Webb Pierce.  (Radio schedule, Shreveport Times [Shreveport, Louisiana], January 3, 1949.)
(Louisiana Hayride advertisement,
Shreveport Times
[Shreveport, Louisiana], July 16, 1949.)
The Wilburn Family's Selected Poems Radio, Stage and Recording Artists
with Life's History Lines and Photographic Album
(Shreveport: s.l., circa 1950).
Every day is a Wilburn Family day!
(Wilburn Family calendar, 1950.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

JACKSON GOSPEL SINGERS - Satisfied (Jackson Gospel Singers’, circa 1955)

JACKSON GOSPEL SINGERS - Satisfied (Jackson Gospel Singers', circa 1955)

From 1945 to 1957, Rev. Anderson Samuel Jackson, Jr. pastored Mount Canaan Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. Around the same time, he hosted a “radio ministry to the sick and shut-ins” on KENT. He also appeared on a few gospel music records.

The label on this record presents a curious mix of credits. So…is this the Jackson Gospel Singers featuring Dr. A. S. Jackson, Jr. performing on Jackson Gospel Singers’ Records? In any event, the group offers a rendition of “Satisfied” by the Roberta Martin Singers. Eagle-eyed matrix inspectors will note Gold Star Records in Houston, Texas, pressed this disc.

It’s also worth pointing out that while Shreveport boasted numerous black gospel singers, quartets, and choirs during the 20th century, few found their way onto records prior to the 1960s. As such, Jackson could be considered one of Shreveport’s gospel recording pioneers alongside the Ever Ready Gospel Singers, Utah Smith, and the Sybil Johnson Singers. However, I’m not sure anyone’s taking score.

For readers interested in biographical details about Rev. Jackson, I recommend visiting the webpage “Life Portrait of Rev. Dr. Anderson Samuel Jackson, Jr.” Although it is now defunct, saved versions are accessible through Thanks go to the Jackson family member who originally compiled and composed this online tribute.

Another webpage, Mount Canaan Baptist Church’s “About the Ministry,” also contains information about Rev. Jackson. Since musical recordings exist from his time at Mount Canaan, perhaps it’s no surprise the church’s history emphasizes “an organ was purchased and a full-time music staff occupied the music department” during Jackson’s pastorate.

In 1958, Rev. Jackson organized Lakeside Baptist Church. Located at 722 Grand Avenue (aka 722 Elvis Presley Avenue), the church happens to face one of the city’s most celebrated entertainment venues – the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium.

In closing, here’s a handbill for Rev. Jackson that I found at a local junk shop about six years ago.

[Source: Dr. A. S. Jackson, Jr. handbill, circa 1950]

Friday, March 8, 2013

NITA EUBANKS – You Ain’t Woman Enough b/w That’s A No No (Purple Turtle, circa 1970)

NITA EUBANKS – You Ain’t Woman Enough (Purple Turtle, circa 1970)

NITA EUBANKS – That’s A No No (Purple Turtle, circa 1970)

File this one under “country music novelty records featuring children.” Here, precocious Nita Eubanks (Age 11) channels her inner “Lynn” to sing about relationship problems. Side A offers her rendition of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” Flip over the record, and she’s singing Lynn Anderson’s “That’s A No No.”

The elusive Shreveport label responsible for releasing this 45 is Purple Turtle Records. Based on the catalog number -- PT 101 -- this might be their first release (or one hundred and first!).  Based on the fact that I have never found another record on this label, it might also be their only release.  Whoever ran the Purple Turtle headquarters did so out of the Lane Building, located downtown at the southwest intersection of Marshall and Milam Streets.  According to the 1969 city directory, the Shreveport Finance Corporation occupied the office at 618 Lane Building, the address printed on the record label.  By 1970, the office was listed as vacant.  As an aside, some locals may remember that one floor below served as the offices of KJOE radio station.

Regarding the identity of Nita Eubanks, it appears she lived 30 miles east of Shreveport in Minden, Louisiana. Performing “in her own sweet charming style,” she graced the stages of country music variety shows such as Monroe, Louisiana’s “Northeast Louisiana Hayride” and the “Grapevine Opry” in Grapevine, Texas. For more biographical details, check out this promotional sheet published around 1976 that accompanied one of her later records.

Nita Eubanks - Why Do I Wife b/w Habit of Loving You (JMB)
promotional sheet, circa 1976.
"Going up!  Sixth floor: Purple Turtle Records."
(Gidden's Lane Building postcard, undated.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

PETE MCKINLEY & COUNTRY JIM - Shreveport Blues (Specialty, 1952)

PETE MCKINLEY & COUNTRY JIM - Shreveport Blues (Specialty, 1952)

Though recorded in 1952, it took twenty-one years for Pete McKinley and Country Jim's "Shreveport Blues" to reach the record-buying public.  However, having only appeared on one compilation album released in England in 1973, I suspect few people have been able to enjoy this song that name-checks a local intersection (McNeil and 4th Street) and mentions a "cold chill" inducing woman.

McNeil and 4th Street intersection, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 2007 (Source: Google Maps).

Who were David "Pete" McKinley and James "Country Jim" Bledsoe? Good question. Both had records issued in the early 1950s, yet the blues cognoscenti have yet to clearly identify either. McKinley is known to have recorded about a dozen songs which have seen the light of day…including another "Shreveport Blues" (Gotham 505). Bledsoe recorded about thirty songs, yet half of these remain unreleased. This is unfortunate especially since the unissued titles seem interesting, for example "Travis Street Blues," "Undertaker," and "I'll Be Waitin' Up There." You can view Bledsoe's discography on Stefan Wirz's "American Music" website. I don't have much to offer the Bledsoe mystery, but imagine my surprise when stumbling upon this photograph of him in a Baton Rouge antique shop in 2010.

James “Country Jim” Bledsoe photograph (circa 1950).  "Exclusive Imperial [and Specialty and Pacemaker and perhaps later Peacock] Recording Artist."

In 1973, "Shreveport Blues" appeared on a compilation album released in England titled Country Blues (Speciality SNTF 5014). The album primarily consisted of unissued songs sourced from late-night recording sessions at Shreveport's KWKH radio station. These sessions were organized by Stan Lewis and Art Rupe and featured recordings by a few local blues musicians. Lewis ran Stan's Record Shop located in downtown Shreveport at 728 Texas Street, and Rupe ran Specialty Records in Los Angeles.

Details about these recording sessions are fairly limited, but 1970s Specialty Records employee Barret Hansen (aka disc jockey Dr. Demento) did share his collected information with music historian Sam Charter, who wrote the liner notes to the Country Blues LP. Again, thanks to Stefan Wirz's "American Music" website, you can read the notes online. In 1994, Specialty released additional songs from these recording sessions on the compact disc Bloodstains on the Wall: Country Blues from Specialty (SPCD-7061-2).

As for who is doing what on this recording of "Shreveport Blues," well, that's not entirely clear either. My ears hear a guitar, harmonica, and drums, while the singer sounds like McKinley based on his other records.

Readers, now it’s time for you to help shed light on David "Pete" McKinley and James "Country Jim" Bledsoe.

P. S. Here are two more songs by Country Jim --

 Don Robey signs Country Jim to Peacock Records (Source: “Rhythm and Blues Notes,” Billboard,November 17, 1951, 35.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 8, 2013: Romp and Stomp’s annual all-Shreveport radio show

Another year, another batch of local songs to showcase. The eighth annual all-Shreveport radio show on Romp and Stomp is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, 2013, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. Tune in to KSCL 91.3 FM or listen live online at You’ll hear songs by Shreveporters, songs about Shreveport, songs recorded in Shreveport, and songs released on Shreveport record labels.

Featured musicians include: Buddy Woods with the Wampus Cats, Odis Echols and his Melody Boys, Jackson Gospel Singers, Lucky Clark, Arnie Carver, Little Duck and the Quackers, Barbara Flowers Joy, and more.

KSCL 91.3 FM | Shreveport, Louisiana
Romp and Stomp | Tuesdays, 5:00 - 6:00 pm
listen live online: