and His Ranch Men Trio
|A Hill-Billy radio entertainer cannot be classed with an actor. A hill-billy radio entertainer does not act. He presents his song or number to the BEST of his ability! It comes direct from his heart! The general public has accepted the radio hill-billy, so don't let the profession down now. Do your best, take an aggressive part in your presentation by becoming generally informed and in expressing your opinion in an intelligent manner.|
|Orville W. Via, Editor, National Hill-Billy News, October 1945 Editorial|
What's New - Featured Articles
KFH Barn Dance and Frolic - The history of this show begins in 1939 in Wichita, KS. Two vaudeville veterans were the stars of the show, Loie Bridge and Harry (Pappy) Cheshire. Over time, the show evolved. Andy Crockett came to the station in 1939 and formed a group that would become the mainstay of the station and program, The Ark Valley Boys. The other members of the show had a wide array of talents. One aspect may have been unique - a setting on the roof of the radio station that allowed outdoor dancing under the stars.
Minabelle Abbott - She was Sara Minabelle Abbott. Sara or Sary Wayne. Minabelle Abbott. Mary Sothern. Minabelle Hutchins. Suzanne Russell. Read how these names played a part in her career. She went from legal secretary at the Crosley Radio Stations to a singer, then one of the most popular radio soap opera actresses. When that role ended, she got back on the radio and took on a different role. She became known as a Legend on Cincinnati Radio.
Big Slim (The Lone Cowboy) - He was Harry C. McAuliffe or Hamilton Christopher Aliff or Big Slim, the Lone Cowboy. However fans knew him, his career included over three decades on the WWVA Origianl Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia. Future stars such as Toby Stroud, Quarantine (the comedian) were a part of his group. He may have been a singer/performer, but one gets the sense he was more at home with the horses he trained that were also a part of his act. Author Ivan Tribe spurred this research with his article that led to further research and details, including photos from our collection.
Chisholm Brothers - The Chisholm Brothers were rooted in the Brockton, MA area and were lccal favorites. They helped get the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame started. They backed many stars that came through the area such as Tex Ritter, Dick Curless and others. They were Korean War veterans. Charlie and his brother were one of the first honorees when Bridgewater began the "Hometown Heroes" project.
Sally Foster - She started her radio career as a teenager on the WTMJ Badger State Barn Dance after being prodded to an audition. She was discovered by Uncle Ezra and on to WLS. Then Pappy Cheshire found her and talked her into going to KMOX in St. Louis. She went to Hollywood for a spell. Came back east to Richmond, VA. Then to WCCO in Minneapolis. She was known as the "The Girl With A Smile In Her Voice."
Little George Haab - "Little" was a nickname he got perhaps because of his height. As early as 1934 (when he was about 20), he was mentioned in Microphone Magazine as a "harmonica champion." He was one of the featured artists on the old WRVA "Edgeworth Pipe Club Program" that had a "Corn Cob Pipe Club." From there, he began to appear on the early version of the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance in 1940. He was in the U. S. Navy in World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart.
Harpo Kidwell - Enjoy another one by author Wayne W. Daniel who said of Harpo, "I called him the dean of the 'Barn Dance' hamronica players. Harpo got his career started in Atlanta. He became a part of the popular WSB Barn Dance. He journeyed into Ohio on WLW, Renfro Valley and but he and his wife missed their roots and eventually made it back to Atlanta. A couple of tunes he had a hand in writing also got recorded, "Boo-Hoo Blues" and "Moss Covered Mill."
Benny Kissinger - Benny had a long, varied career. He started by winning a local amateur contest. Later, he worked with such groups as Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk, Pop Eckler and his Young'uns and Jack Gillette's Tennessee Ramblers. He would later team up with Curley Collins on the WWVA World's Original Jamboree and the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance. In 1981, Benny and Curley recorded an album in Nashville, TN with backing by the proverbial Nashville "A" team.
Hank Keene - His biography will take you back to the early days of country music. His personal appearances, usually during the summer, were tent shows. He had a large group of entertainers and they would tour various towns, setting up their tent which could hold nearly 2,000 people, and provide entertainment for audiences. In the fall and winter, he would hook up with a radio station for a time and have a smaller group that performed over the air. One of his golfing partners was Perry Como and that led to a story itself.
Mickey (Cousin Mickey) Pennington - A native of Kansas, she began her musical journey in 1938 as part of a church program modeled after the "Major Bowes" program of the era. She was listed as a "hillbilly act." Her talents saw her join the staff of KFH in Wichita. Ads billed her as the "...greatest yodler of all time." She soon had her own sponsored show in the morning. Her sponsors included Nutrena Feeds, Tailor Made Feeds, Sarber Nurseries and Carey Salt Company. While listeners first heard her as "Cousin Mickey" in a comedy persona, her vocal talents became known to listeners as Mickey Pennington. She was also a part of the KFH Barn Dance and Frolic show as well.
Cousin Emmy Her Kinfolk
Phantom (and the Mystery Riders) - Inspirations for new biographies come in different ways during our research efforts. This one came about long ago when a friend told us of a song and was trying to figure out who the guy really was. One clue that helped was the songwriter's name on the label. The sound clip included in his bio was panned by Billboard back in 1951. But we hear this song stuck around and was sung at various cowboy reunions. We will let you read who he was.
Radio Dot and Smokey - Radio Dot was Dorothy Maxine Henderson; Smokey was Louis W. Swan. This husband-wife duo were a radio team for some 18 years until they split in 1956. They were on the WSM Grand Ole Opry and the WMMN Sagebrush Roundup as well. They did record a few tunes on the MGM record label.
Vernon Reed - Vernon Reed was one of the first performers on KFH in Wichita. He was known for his writing and acting. He and his wife pallned to open a dramatic art school after they were married. His early radio days crossed paths with another KFH star, Victor (Puny) Hawkins. He took on varied roles with KFH and later developed a character called "The Old Trader" which was part of the KFH Barn Dance and Frolic. He also took part in the popular "Seth Parker Singing School" show on KFH. He dabbled in politics later in life.
Merv Shiner - Merv's biography has been updated on the site. The original one was written over a decade ago. Merv recently turned 99 years old and it seems appropriate to provide fans with more details of one of the nicest guys in the music business. A career that has spanned over 70 years. He is still performing today with his wife, Marilyn. Enjoy the video of him doing his Easter classic, "Peter Cottontail."
Glenna (Strickland) McGinnis - She began her career in high school playing piano for dances as well as the local radio station in Pensacola, FL. She attended Peabody College in Nashville. While there, she appeared on the Grand Ole Opry twice before she was 21 and was on the first broadcast made by WLAC. After graduation, and subsequent marriage, she became Glenna McGinnis. Her career turned towards nutrition and food expert on radio and as a Food Editor for Woman's Day magazine for over 30 years. The reader may end up in the kitchen after reading her story.
T. Texas Tyler - David Myrick was born in Mena, Arkansas. He originally promoted himself as Ozark Mountain Dave. But when he hooked up with Major Bowes, his stage name became a combination of a couple of his favorite cowboys; thus T. Texas Tyler's career began. The hit records began, but it took its toll on him to a point where alcohol had become a demon. His friend Carl (The Squeakin' Deacon) Moore saw what was happening and introduced him to a minister. He underwent a conversion experience in 1958 which turned his life and career around.
Nathalie Trow Whiting - Her story begins with a guitar, a Larson Brothers Guitar made in 1933 with her initials. Her story takes research back to the times when lumber was the big business in the upper Wisconsin and Michigan areas. She travels with her husband to engineering projects such as the Panama Canal, gold mines in the west. Her trail takes her to Canada, to the west coast. Her two marriages ended in divorces that were covered in the media. But there is still something missing to her story. Maybe you can help fill in the missing pieces.
Skeets Yaney - Born in southern Indiana, he went on to compete in the early Yodeling contests and won. He later became a fixture on St. Louis radio stations. Often called the Golden Voiced Yodeler or National Champion Yodeler. He was called the King of Midwest Country Radio. He crossed paths with many of the stars of the various eras he was a part of. He is a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.
Dusty Owens -
tells us about his career in his own words. He contacted us out of the blue years ago and became a good friend over the years. Work
has begun on Chapter 3 of his biography, where he often said "that's when it all halppened."
Chapter 1: Early Michigan & Iowa years
Chapter 2: WHO Iowa Barn Dance Frolic
Keep clicking around - there's always something new spopping up on Hillbilly-Music.com.
Clayton McMichen and His Georgia Wildcats or His Melody Men
Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey
Read More About The History
Who Is That?
We have quite a few pictures in our collection and most we have identified. But there are a few that we just have not been able to identify yet. Click on the picture above to get a better view and let us know if you can help us put a name to the picture.
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