Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rusty McDonald with Cliff Bruner on Ayo 105

Rusty McDonald in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

Rusty McDonald, vocal with Cliff Bruner and his Texas Wanderers - Ouch/You Took Advantage of a Broken Heart (Ayo 105)


Rusty McDonald's second record, which may be described as a "jump blues-western swing novelty," went unnoticed at the time of its release in 1950, buried on the flipside of an organ-drenched pop ballad on a local Houston label. The 28-year-old McDonald's absence from recording during the previous decade is still one of the unexplained mysteries in Texas/Oklahoma music. It could not have been simply that he was constantly on the road during those years -- plenty of other people were, too, and that didn't prevent them from seeking out (or being sought by) the labels so active both in the pre- and postwar years in Texas. Perhaps record companies thought his voice was too "pop" sounding -- but the same could be said about dozens of others who did record, from Dickie McBride to Adolph Hofner.

The circumstances surrounding this session, held at ACA around October, 1949, are somewhat chaotic. Credited to Cliff Bruner and his Texas Wanderers, the group is actually Richard Prine and his All-Stars from Beaumont. Bruner's band had broken up not long before this, but he was called back to play fiddle and share singing duties. The other musicians heard are: Deacon Anderson (steel guitar), Ben "Moon" Mullins (piano and writer of "Ouch"), Buck Henson (bass), and Richard Prine (drums). McDonald may play rhythm guitar. How he came to sing with the All-Stars isn't known, but he remained associated with the Beaumont area off and on for years, holding down a daily radio program there in 1953.

Shortly after this, Bruner would leave Beaumont for Amarillo, where he opened a club with Rip Ramsey. McDonald was soon off with Bob Wills. On April 27, 1950, they recorded "Faded Love" for MGM in Los Angeles, and nobody asked about "Ouch" ever again.