Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Just Because

While it’s true that the Lone Star Cowboys, Bob and Joe Attlesey, were to be much better known in the years following their brief association with Victor under the more easily pronounceable stage name the Shelton Brothers, it is also true that the Attlesey’s two-day seven-song recording fling with the label did result in the very first appearance on wax of the two songs that literally made their careers – “Deep Elem Blues” and “Just Because.” Guitarist/ukulele player Joe and mandolin player Bob were the oldest of ten children born to tenant-farming parents in Rylie Springs, Hopkins County, Texas. They began performing locally in 1929, and by the beginning of the new decade, they’d moved to Tyler, where, along with guitarist Leon Chappelear, they became known as the Lone Star Cowboys. It was under this banner that the Attleseys drifted up to the Victor studios in Chicago in the summer of 1933 and breezed through several of their most popular songs in a wildly original style that defied description then, and still defies it today.

As plainly evident on “Deep Elm Blues” (the second “e” of “Elem” failed to make the label copy when the record was released) and “Just Because,” the Attleseys didn’t need much runway space to takeoff, as within seconds of their respective openings, Joe’s mandolin zooms dizzily toward the then uncharted skies of post-ragtime, pre-swing jazz, with Bob’s ukulele in hot pursuit. And, while the instruments make mayhem (can there be any other intent to the unearthly jug-blowing on “Crawdad Song”?), Joe and Bob’s tightly compacted harmonies skim merrily, regardless of circumstances. Whether it’s their pockets that have been picked dry by two-timing women, or their favorite fishin’ hole that’s run out of water, and whether it’s the crawdads that cost too much or Deep Elem’s ladies of the evening who charge too much, the Attleseys refuse to be chagrined. With cheery attitudes like theirs, is it any wonder they later helped run Jimmie “You Are My Sunshine” Davis’ successful campaign for the governorship of Louisiana?
-- From the notes to ARE YOU FROM DIXIE? by Billy Altman


Blogger countrygrrl said...

xcellent blog...like your choice of toons...

21/6/05 6:04 PM  

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