Thursday, January 5, 2012

This was Country

My Facebook friend Michael Beam posted an old Hank Williams song, Honky Tonk Blues, earlier and it made me start thinking.
Northwest Louisiana was really a hub for country music - real country music - back in the day.
Hank Williams played at the Louisiana Hayride, heck, Hank Jr. was born here.
In 1966 my brother owned a service station right smack on the Bossier Strip and I used to work for him some on the night shift.  Of course, it was a 24 hour operation.
One of his other employees was Harmie Smith, who, with his Ozark Mountaineers, was on the very first Louisiana Hayride.  Harmie was older, and lived just off East Texas Street.  He had some great stories.  He would talk about Hank Williams, how he would show up so drunk at the Louisiana Hayride that they had to prop him up and walk him onto the stage.  "And he would sing like a bird", Harmie would tell me.
Old friends would come over to the service station to see him when they were in town, people like the Wilburn Brothers.  I was there when they showed up.
Harmie went on to DJ at KENT radio in Shreveport and died a couple of years later.
I can't remember the exact year, maybe 1967 or 1968, the Hayride ended it's long run at the Municipal Auditorium.  I went to some of the last shows and they were great.
I got to hear Ferlin Husky singing Snow White Dove, Sonny James singing Young Love and Running Bear.  Marty Robbins sang El Paso (posted below), and the Statler Brothers opened for Johnny Cash singing Flowers on the Wall
Johnny Cash and June Carter were amazing performers, they could electrify an audience.  They sang, among others, Jackson, which I have posted below.
I have a lot of younger friends who claim to love country music, but I don't think any of them would know a good country song if it walked up and kicked them in the ass (yes, I can say that, it's my blog).
This was country.


  1. You should check this video out. The official LSU BCS hype video.

  2. You are right, Jim, and I just can not understand what happened to KWKH, and The Louisiana Hayride, and Paula Records, and why both the coutry and the old-time Rock&Roll music industry did not continue to flourish in Shreveport/Bossier. Look at how Branson came out from almost nowhere to become what they are now, while Shreveport/Bossier just laid down and died.

  3. My Granddaddy took us to see Johnny & June in about '68. But, it was at The Hirsch, and the place was sold out. I never will forget them doing "Jackson."

    June grabbed Johnny, and swung him around the stage like a ragdoll. Good times. Good memories.

    Jimbo, are you a Hank fan? Because if you are, I've got something I want to give you. I've had it for about ten or twelve years, waiting for a true Hank fan that can appreciate it.

  4. Andy, I love Hank. When I was about 5 years old my 2nd oldest brother (the one I mentioned in the blog post), would pay me 5 cents to change his 78rpm records on the player so he could just lay there and listen to them. He was 17 or so at the time.
    (What can I tell you, he was either lazy or tired).
    It was all Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb. That got me started!

  5. Good! Imma give you this. Next time we cross paths, Imma bless you with it!

  6. I'd like to represent the younger generation who knows both kinds of music, Country AND Western.

    You can't forget Johnny Horton or Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. I wasn't around then, but the music is far better than any of the "crossover" artists on modern "country" radio.

  7. For what it is worth, hey Beam. You are doing Ok, Dude. From one old neighbor to another about thirty or forty years ago. Dad's were ,Buds and were the REAL DEAL!

    Rock on and keep it alive. All the best. "Girls." You understand.

    Future menopause and joy be with you. you get it, Buddy! May entrepreneurship bless you in the new year.

    Hope it is a good one for you.

    Off topic, lots to be said for Willie Nelson. Dudes consistent, indeed!

    The best to you, for sure.

  8. "Future menopause and joy be with you. you get it, Buddy!"

    To clarify, them kids are not getting younger. Hope you get a laugh. Hope you fend off the present and future boy friends.

    Pulling for you!

  9. Jim, could you or anyone else enlighten me as to the forms of gambling that were available on the Bossier Strip? I figure there must have been poker and craps games but were there any other forms of gambling available? And I can imagine that the Bossier Strip was rife with pool hustlers.

  10. I know that there were pinball machines that paid out.

    There was a lot of backroom gambling, too.

  11. My name is Mickey Crimm and I remember the pinball machines. I lived in Gonzales in South Louisiana in 1967, 68, 69. It was illegal gambling but those machines were in all the bars in South Louisiana. You could play for a nickel a game and you got paid off for 3 in a row, 4 in a row, 5 in a row. You could also play for multiples of a nickel a game and you got better payoffs and the screen up top would change to make different patterns to try to complete.

    My first job, at 14, was racking pool balls in the Town Tavern in Gonzales. They had two of those machines and I actually got barred from playing them because I got a little too good at the game. I was making cashouts as high as $30. When you cashed out you called the bartender over who would verify the credits then flip the switch underneath the machine to clear the credits off then pay you off.

    The best I remember the Feds confiscated all those machines in the seventies and destroyed them.

    Everyone played those machines so I'm sure it was a big source of income for the bars. I'm guessing these same machines were on the Bossier Strip.


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