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Guys of the Big "D" Jamboree - Various Artists
Guys of the Big
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Reviewed by Matt Bjorke

Throughout the 1950's there was a lot of Grand Old Opry off-shoots. One of the biggest, The Big "D" Jamboree in Dallas, Texas was known for their variety of artists for which they had appear on the show from the late 1940's to the early 1960s. Names like Hank Williams, Sonny James, Gene Vincent and Wanda Jackson appeared on the stage.

For this record, the legendary Lefty Frizzell appears with two tracks that were written by Hank Williams. Most of the other guys, who appear on this CD, are just Texas based artists who never were more than regional stars. This isn't a bad thing for it showcases the true talent of the state and how much impact the the state has had upon country music. The CD booklet has a wealth of biographical and historical information about all the artists represented here.

Riley Crabtree was a regional star who has 4 of the 30 tracks on the CD. All tracks showcase a man who had a husky Hank Williams styled voice. Eventually signed to Columbia Records in 1950, Crabtree stayed with the label for 3 years. The Track "Go Cat Go" sounds very familiar and has a countrified rockabilly sound and is somewhat reminiscent of "Blue Suede Shoes." "Someone Reminds Me Of You" is a track that was never released before. the sound of this track is a Honky Tonk lonesome about a guy who sees reminders of his old wife.

While he only has one track on the CD, Joe Price's track "Don't Knock It" is one of the best on it. Another rockabilly styled song, the theme of this track deals with people who try to say there is no such thing as love. This track was culled from his Starday sessions. He should have been a star according to the liner notes but decided to become a Dallas area pastor.

Clay Allen was a smoothed voice singer from the Dallas area who has one track on this CD. The track "I Can't Keep Smiling" was recorded in 1951. With its theme of lost love, Clay sings a song that could easily be recorded today and have the same effect that it did then.

As one of the biggest guests from the Jamboree, Gene O'Quin was only 15 when he recorded his first single for a Texas based label. Gene eventually signed with Capitol Records. Gene's first song from when he was fifteen is included here. "Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday" is an interesting song that showcased his talented vocal chops. The other track on this CD by Gene O'Quin is "The Hard Way." "The Hard Way" was the flip side of his debut Capitol single and tells a tale of a man who learns everything the hard way.

Leroy Jenkins was a man who is not well known, yet recorded for Columbia Records. The first of two tracks represented here, "Hard Luck Hard Time Blues" is a great blues styled track that is sure to leave the listener tapping their feet to the beat of the song. There is a heavy dose of fiddle and steel guitar present on the CD.

Orivlle Couch is a man who became a minor star. He recorded for Starday Records and had some minor hits. "Wait's What Broke The Wagon Down" is a rockabilly styled country song that is short and says that Waiting around for his woman is what broke his wagon down. "Bebop Crazy" has Chuck Berry styled guitar sounds courtesy of Eddie McDuff who also sang background vocals on the CD. "Bebop Crazy" is about his girlfriend who loves to dance and cannot get enough of the "bebop" styled songs.

Lefty Frizzell is often credited with creating the Honky Tonk style that more contemporary artists like Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, Randy Travis and others have perfected. As mentioned above these songs are credited to Hank Williams and co-writer Jimmy Fields. "Stepping Out" is about a couple who have everyone else around them gossiping about what they do. "Always In Love" is a more characteristic sound that Lefty created. With the theme of a guy who wishes to be "always in love" with his wife for many years, the fiddle and steel guitar sound simply great with Lefty's vocals. These two tracks were unreleased.

With it's 30 tracks, The Guys Of The Big "D" Jamboree is as much a historical piece of music as it is a delight to listen to. Released on Dallas based label, Dragon Street Records, there is a series of "Big "D" Jamboree" CDs. Released in the year 2000 was the first CD, a 2 disc volume, Live at the Big D Jamboree Vol 1 & 2. The other CD available is The Gals of the Big D Jamboree, which was released in 2001. If you love Country Music, and want to know where it came from, check out The Guys Of The Big "D" Jamboree

Song List:

  1. Douglas Bragg - Barbed Wire Love
  2. Douglas Bragg - Tiger Lily
  3. Jimmy Collie - My Heart And I
  4. Jimmy Fields - Your Picture On The Wall
  5. Riley Crabtree - Something Tells Me
  6. Riley Crabtree - She Loves Me Better
  7. Riley Crabtree - Go Cat Go
  8. Riley Crabtree - Someone Reminds Me Of You
  9. Joe Price - Don't Knock It
  10. Sid King & The Five Strings - You're Always Breaking Hearts
  11. Clay Allen - I Can't Keep Smiling
  12. Joe Bill D'Angelo - Everybody Know's I Tried
  13. Gene O'Quin - The Hard Way (Live)
  14. Gene O'Quin With Boots And His Buddies - Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday
  15. Leroy Jenkins - Hard Luck Hard Time Blues
  16. Leroy Jenkins - Why Don't You Get On The Woo Wagon With Me?
  17. Buddy Walker - Red Roses
  18. Buddy Griffin - Just Wait And See
  19. Orville Crouch - Wait's What Broke The Wagon Down
  20. Orville Crouch & Eddie McDuff - Bebop Crazy
  21. Country Johnny Mathis & Les Chambers - Everybody Else Does It
  22. Lefty Frizzell - Stepping Out
  23. Lefty Frizzell - Always In Love
  24. The Texas Stompers - Pineapple Push
  25. Frankie Miller - Black Land Farmer (Live)
  26. Frankie Miller - Impersonations Of Johnny Cash and Lefty Frizzell (Live)
  27. Tony Douglas - Seasons Of My Heart (Live)
  28. Billy Jack Hale - I Take My Hat Off To The Blues
  29. Mitchell Torok - A Few More Memories
  30. Mitchell Torok - Mr D.J.

Album cover, used with permission of Dragon Street Records.

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