Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


This week we pick up right where we left off last week, with states from N to W whose name is also found in the name of a recording artist. Even if there are many examples, as with New York and Texas, space is limited and we therefore will list only one. 

NEBRASKA: Larry Hobbs and the Nebraska Playboys (Nearly every state had a Playboys group. In the land of Cornhuskers, Larry and his gang revived Wayne Newton's 1967, "Love of the Common People," for Rene Records)

NEVADA: Nevada Slim (This third generation Nevadan, along with wife Cimarron Sue, have been a performing duo since 1999, and their discography includes numerous albums of traditional western music)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire Notables/New Hampshire Gentlemen (Both group names appear on the same 1984 EP, thus ensuring the Granite State is represented)

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey Mass Choir (This gospel throng had a 1985 regional hit — N.J. being one of those regions — with "I Want to Know What Love Is," the No. 1 hit for Foreigner a few months earlier)

NEW MEXICO: New Mexico ("Sportsman" is one of three tracks they contributed to the "Bar Noise" compilation)

NEW YORK: New York City (One of numerous "New York" groups, but chosen based on their 1973 Top 20 hit, "I'm Doin' Fine Now")

NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina Ramblers (Recorded some very collectible [$200 to $300] mountain music and old-time country for Paramount and Columbia in the mid-to-late '20s)

NORTH DAKOTA: North Dakota (Male duo from the UK, best known for their single, "Reflection," on the Innovative label)

OHIO: Ohio Players (R&B mob with two No. 1 hits in the 1970s: "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster")

OKLAHOMA: Jack Tucker and His Oklahoma Playboys (Jack, with and without those Playboys, had numerous records in the 1950s and '60s, including "Surrounded By Sorrow" and "Honey Moon Trip to Mars")

OREGON: Oregon (From 1972 to 1980, Oregon made five LPs for Vanguard and four for Elektra)

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania Collegians (Featuring vocalist James Harkins, this band's total output consisted of four Elektradisk 78s in 1932)

SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina Quartette (Recorded very rare gospel tracks for QRS in 1928)

SOUTH DAKOTA: South Dakota All State Chorus (With Dr. James Neilson directing the orchestra and Dr. Robert Berglund the chorus on a 1966 self-titled LP)

TENNESSEE: Tennessee Ernie Ford (By far the most successful of the many "Tennessee" artists. This multi-media mega-star in the 1950s, got a huge career boost when "Sixteen Tons" sold over a million copies. His 1956 "Hymns" LP was also gold, and was on the charts for over five years)

TEXAS: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (Known worldwide as the King of Western Swing, mainly because he was … for over 40 years. 'Nuff said. And now we have yet another group of Playboys on the list)

UTAH: Utah Carl (A life-long Texan, Carl Beach never set foot in Utah. The inappropriate nickname came about when he was one of several singers on a live show in Texas. Somehow the confused local announcer mistakenly introduced Beach as Utah Carl. After that night, he would forever be known as Utah, a state whose borders he never crossed. Carl's most popular tune is "Sometime," a 1957 country bopper [Starday 301])

VERMONT: Vermont ("Suburban Girls" is their contribution to the 2000 Kindercore EP, "Vermont & the Mendoza Line")

VIRGINIA: Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys (Brothers Jim and Jesse McReynolds recorded and performed for 50 years, from 1952 until Jim's death in 2002. Their biggest hit, "Diesel on My Tail," came out in 1963)

WASHINGTON: Washingtonians (Prolific bunch during the Big Band and Dance Band era. The market for their 78s is strong, with prices in the $500 to $1,000 range. Since Washington is by far the most common state name that is also a surname, I avoided obvious choices such as Dinah; Baby; Grover; Gino; Ella; etc.)

WASHINGTON D.C.: Washington D.C.s (Not exactly a state, but this district is surrounded by them. Ironically, to find this group we had to go to the UK. Turns out there is a split album from 1965 titled "The Dave Clark Five and the Washington D.C.s" [Ember 2003], with four tracks by the DC5 and six by the other D.C.s)

WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia (Another UK act, this one with singles from 1978 and '79 on Rox)

WISCONSIN: Kids From Wisconsin (These kids had one single that we know of, "Guess I'll Never Know," [American 5095] issued in 1975)

WYOMING: Wyoming Cowboy (Could it be any more appropriate than finding the Wyoming Cowboy on Champion? Born Charles Baker, this cowboy is remembered for two western music tunes, both issued in 1934, and both with stately titles: "Utah Carroll" (Champion 16724) and "Curly Joe [From Idaho]" Champion 16737)

IZ ZAT SO? One 45 rpm with references to a curious collection of places is "New Orleans Lunatic Mood" (G-E-M 129), by Tennessee W. Maine and His Orchestra.

Manufactured in Paris, France, one side is titled "Hindustan."

That adds up to two countries on two continents, one subcontinent, two cities, and three states … unless of course his full name is Tennessee Washington Maine, then it's four states.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition. 

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