Friday, February 23, 2018

Ed Miller & The Louisiana Playboys on Playboys 100

Ed Miller & The Louisiana Playboys -  I Had Someone Else / Ed Miller Blues (Playboys 100)

This group and single were unknown to me until 2013, when the Hillbilly Researcher (Al Turner) posted sound files on his blog. Since that time, DivShare went out of business, and the files hosted by their site disappeared, but this record is too good and too unknown to allow that condition to remain. I'm pleased to restore these choice western swing performances here (files below).

Ed Miller and the Louisiana Playboys were based in Monroe, Louisiana, and were featured on KMLB and KNOE radio there from 1945 to 1950. It is from this period that these recordings likely originate. The group's activities after 1950 are harder to trace, but the Monroe newspapers have advertisements for them as late as February, 1961.

Perhaps it was around this time Ed Miller decided to take an old acetate of the group and press a single at Plastic Products in Memphis, as a sort of keepsake for family and friends of the band to remember their glory days. There could have been no expectation of airplay of this type of music during the Twist era. One wishes the acetate had been in better condition, especially the "Ed Miller Blues" side. The surface noise heard is not from the 45 itself, but the original source.

The July 6, 1946, edition of Billboard listed the personnel of the Louisiana Playboys as: Brooks Hamilton (piano), Robert East ("electric standard"), "Pappy" Cairo ("hot electric steel"), Edmond Middleton (rhythm guitar), and Huey Middleton and Tommy Thompson (twin fiddles). Since Ed Miller is not listed, perhaps he was only the vocalist, or was a non-playing member, a la R.D. Hendon or Dave Edwards. "Pappy" Cairo is of course the well-known and ubiquitous Papa Cairo (Julius Lamperaz), who appears to have spent a little time with every hot string band in Louisiana in the 1940s. Cairo is also pictured with the band in a photo that ran in the Monroe Morning World in October 1947 (see below). Not long after this, Miller added a sax player.

"I Had Someone Else" is a version of the 1920s pop fox trot "I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (And I'll Have Someone After You're Gone)," written by Jack Staney and composed by Harry Harris and Joe Darcy. Ed Miller's version is undoubtedly inspired by Milton Brown's later western swing version of the 1930s. 

"Ed Miller Blues" is a bluesy romp in the "Brain Cloudy Blues"/"Milk Cow Blues" tradition. From this side, we can get a few of the names of the musicians -- Paul Jackson on steel, "Mr. Larry (inaudible)" on sax, and  "Bobby -- East, now" on lead guitar. Strikingly, the fiddles and piano -- usually mainstays of any western swing band -- are absent from both sides. 

Acetates were usually forgotten by the musicians who played on them, or worn out by careless listeners who didn't appreciate the fragility of the medium. Fortunately, Ed Miller thought his old band and their music were worth preserving. 

Monroe Morning World - October 19, 1947 - Papa Cairo on steel

Club DeSoto (Alexandria) ad - May 8, 1946

Delta Club (Monroe) ad - April 2, 1947

Sam's Round-Up Club (Monroe) ad - February 11, 1961

Sheet music to an early version of "I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (And I'll Have Someone After You're Gone)" -- 1920s

"I Had Someone Else"

"Ed Miller Blues"

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