Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Boots and his Buddies RCA-Victor test pressing

Boots and his Buddies - The Vamp (RCA-Victor test pressing)

"The Vamp"

A strong version of Coleman Hawkins' "Hocus Pocus" is delivered here in fine style by Boots and his Buddies. Although this tune is readily available on the Classics reissue, the sound quality of this vinyl test press pretty much blows the CD version (taken from a Bluebird 78) away. This is as close as you can get to actually being at the Texas Hotel ballroom in San Antonio on February 25, 1936. Thanks to the John Carr Collection for making this available.

Boots and his Buddies ad in the Houston Informer, October 24, 1936.

Although born the same year (1908) as fellow San Antonio bandleader Don Albert, we know far, far less about Boots Douglas and his band than we do Albert. That's because Boots made the mistake of being born in Temple, Texas, instead of New Orleans. He never recovered from this unfortunate career move, and thus today, we have a 290-page book on Don Albert, while pretty much everything that's known about Boots and his Buddies is nicely encapsulated in this three-paragraph summary from the New Handbook of Texas. The fact that Boots's early Bluebird sessions were sometimes as good or better than Albert's Vocalion session from the same time frame was of no apparent concern to jazz historians.

Below: The Houston Informer, January 3, 1942.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adolph Hofner on Bluebird 7931

Adolph Hofner and his Texans - I'll Keep My Old Guitar / Swing With the Music (Bluebird BB-7931)

"I'll Keep My Old Guitar"

Adolph Hofner (1916-2000) made many of the finest records in his career in the short period (1938-40) that he was contracted to Bluebird. "I'll Keep My Old Guitar" -- definitely one of them -- dates from a session held at the Bluebonnet Hotel in San Antonio on October 25, 1938. Credited to "The Texans," the band is actually Tom Dickey's Showboys, with whom Adolph was singing at the time. Fiddler Tom Dickey (1900-1956) had performed on border radio in the '20s and '30s and had played with the Tune Wranglers before forming his own band, heard over WOAI for many years. Hofner would leave Dickey for his own solo career in 1939.

Adolph Hofner with Tom Dickey and his Showboys, 1938-39. Standing from left: Smokey Miller (sax/clarinet), Milton McBee (tenor banjo). Kneeling from left: Tom Dickey (fiddle), Adolph Hofner (vocal/guitar), Bill Dickey (bass). Click to enlarge.

The Bluebonnet Hotel (c. 1960s):