Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Ghost Song

With October in full western swing, were gonna throw some corn-pones into the cauldron in the guise of a little creepy ‘country’.

There is a consensus amongst wise-witchy-women (not to mention assorted mountain folk), that a little pinch o’ salt is just the ticket to ward off evil spirits, not that harp blower Floyd ‘Salty’ Holmes can be put off by such chicanery.

Take this 1954 cut in which a vengeful frog-throated spirit seeks to settle old scores w/ the man who “Shot his Great Grandpa”. Besides being an all round unconventional spooker, this side illicits a certain sentimentality in this RedBoy, as my own Great Grandfather was shot in a barbershop during a Fairland Oklahoma bank robbery back in the 1930’s, though he managed to tuff it out and stick to this side of the other side.

I have to admit, it saves me a lot of trouble havin’ to haunt the man responsible. I mean, I barely have the time to post, much less orchestrate revenge from beyond the grave. Good thing then that ole’ ‘Salty’ here tows the infernal line for all of us:

“Holmes was born in Glasgow, Kentucky. He became a virtuoso on the harmonica, specializing in the style known as "talking harp" which imitated the human voice (much like Sonny Terry). He also played the jug and guitar. He formed the group The Kentucky Ramblers in 1930, who changed their name to The Prairie Ramblers in 1933 and began broadcasting on Chicago radio station WLS with new vocalist Patsy Montana. They continued performing and recording under this name until 1952, playing country, hillbilly music, gospel, and pop songs. They were the backing group on Montana's platinum hit "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart". Group members included Jack Taylor on bass, Chick Hurt on mandolin, and Alan Crocket and, later, Tex Atchison on fiddle. They made over 100 recordings between 1933 and 1940, including as session musicians.

While a member of the Prairie Ramblers, Holmes befriended Gene Autry, who invited him to Hollywood to star in westerns in 1936 and 1944; among the films Holmes appeared in are Arizona Days and Saddle Leather Law. In a scene of Arizona Days, Holmes plays two harmonicas using both his mouth and nose. The Prairie Ramblers also backed Autry on some of his recordings in the 1930s.”

It’s worth noting that Holmes was married to Sun records honey Gene Chapel (Welcome to the Club / I Won't be Rockin' Tonight) for a spell, whereby they made the ‘Opry’ rounds before callin’ it quits in the late fifties. Yet of all their collaborative efforts, nothing stands the test of time like a brassed-off spook.

Ghost Song – Salty Holmes


Devil Dick said...

this is indeed a cool one. ima have to find this one....

by the looks of things over at the devils music you and i are the only one who dig halloween...???

The RedBoy said...

I'm beginning to think that 'Soul' is the only genre whereby one can get a bite.

No matter. Just make mine Frank 'N' Stein!

Devil Dick said...

soul is the new emo...

all the kids dig it (plus old chubby white guys too...)