About The Artist
Dusty Cal Witham was born in Northwood, New Hampshire, the youngest of ten children. He began his radio career over radio station WLAW in Lawrence, Massachusetts when he was just 17 years old. He wrote in a 1945 column that he started over WLAW in 1943. He wrote that he had always liked to sing and was encouraged by his friends to try his hand at radio. So, he formed a group and called their act Dusty Witham and the Melody Rangers.
But World War II was a part of the national history at that time and before long the group broke up with several of the members entering the military service for their country. Dusty went on to work with another famed New England act, Smiling Bill Waters and was heard over WHEB in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Over the years, he performed for listening audiences over numerous stations in the New England area
He later appeared with Clyde Joy and the Country Folks on Channel 8, Poland Springs, Maine, and WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire.
He currently is a guest on WNGN, the Northeast Gospel Network, Buskirk, NY.
In 1945, Dusty found himself working at WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont where he stayed until the spring. His show aired at 9:45am. He wrote a letter to the editor back then and noted he felt like he was enjoying the 'old times' again having hooked up again with Wrangler Bob, who he had worked with previously at WHEB. From there he moved to WFEA and hooked up with Clyde Joy.
In the early 1940's he and Clyde Joy worked together as a duet. They were billed as the Dixie Yodelers. Dusty had a regular column in the old National Hillbilly News publication where he would keep folks up to date with the country acts who were based in New England. He noted that Clyde was one of the 'best yodelers in New England' at the time and yodeling his way into the hearts of their radio listeners. In 1945, they were on WFEA out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with shows at 6:35am and 10:45am each day. The artists would often talk of the mail response they got from their shows. Dusty notes that to their surprise, they got a note from a listener in Kansas, and they were only on a small 5,000 watt station at the time!
In late summer of 1946, Mr. Keeler reports that Dusty and Clyde were working with a former Bill Waters act at WHEB, Ed and Volena and the Mountain Folks. That act featured Little Volena; Cliff Morton, an old-time champion fiddler, Pop, a fellow who played the doghouse bass and Screwy Louie handling the comedy. Their show was heard daily at 8:30am and 1:45pm.
Later in 1946, Richard H. Keeler wrote in his column of New England news for Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder that Clyde and Dusty had gone their separate ways. Clyde had signed on to work with Ed Parsley.
On June 11, 2006 he was awarded the Pioneer Award at the Indian Ranch in Webster, MA.
Many of the earlier country singers were there, including Johnny White, Georgia Mae, Kenny Roberts, and Tommy Cash (brother of the late Johnny Cash).
Dusty was a featured act for many years at the well known Lone Star Ranch in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire. In fact, Dusty noted in his July 1946 column, that the grand opening of the Lone Star Ranch was on May 19, 1946 with Gene LaVerne and The Lone Star Ranch Boys the featured act. That may have been the opening for that season. We're not sure that's the actual opening of that famed venue.
In 1949, Claude J. Dugay reported that Dusty and his wife Bonnie were entertaining folks over WFEA at 6:45am each day as well as doing numerous appearances with Clyde Joy over WLAW in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
After many years in country music, Dusty attended Bible College and was ordained as a Baptist minister on January 6, 1964. He is the founder of the Calvary Baptist Church in Hanson, Massachusetts and co-founder (with Ivan Smith) of the Windham Bible Chapel in Windham, New Hampshire.
Dusty and his son Jay Cal and his daughter Cheryl Darlene are now very active doing Gospel concerts. The family has recorded several audio cassettes and cds.
In November of 1986, Dusty and Bonnie's daughter, Cheryl Darlene Ehrlich, wrote a poem for them.
Dusty currently has a cd entitled, "That's How the Yodel was Born" and has also had his first LP with his wife Bonnie remastered and is also available on cd.
He currently lives in Cambridge, New York and still appears as a guest on various country programs.
And perhaps Cal would like to leave us with the sentiments he expressed in closing his 1945 letter to the editor:
"So long until we meet again, I'd like to say ... so long, yodels of luck, keep smilin', the best of everything to ya, yours with a smile and song... Dusty Cal Witham."
To purchase Cal's CD, send a check or money order for $15 to:
Credits & Sources
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