About The Artist
Art Young was his name and fans knew him as The Yodeling Cowboy. He started his career by winning the "Shea's Buffalo Amateur Contest". That took him to New York where he won again on Fred Allen's Town Hall Tonite amateur show. While in New York, he also appeared at the Roxy Theatre with Ed Sullivan. Then he took his career to the west coast. In fact, he won first prize in the National Yodeling Contest for men that was held at Redondo Beach, California on July 4, 1946.
While we find that mention, Art appears to have been a fixture in the Buffalo, New York area most of his career. One article noted he was one the pioneers of country music in the Buffalo area, having worked at several radio stations. He also had a popular television show over WBEN-TV.
In 1946, we have found several small mentions of Art that indicate he was working with Harmonica Bill Russell quite a bit, touring the country and seemingly working their way to California. Smiley Burnette was hosting "Soup Parties" back then and Art was mentioned as one of the attendees along with others such as Merle TRavis, Gene Autry, Ozzie Waters and others.
But seeming a short time later, Sunny Ciesla was reporting in National Hillbilly News that Art was back in Buffalo, appearing regularly at the Glen Casino, though it appears he still left some connections back to the California scene. In the next issue, she tells readers that Harmonica Bill had toured with Smiley Burnette on tour for about five years. And Art had worked with Bill for about ten years.
In early 1947, he had a fifteen minute show over WKBW in Buffalo, New York that aired five days a week. By this time it appears he had already worked in the Cincinnati area. A 1956 Cowboy Songs magazine DJ article notes that he spent some time in the Cincinnati area, appearing on WCKY and WLW, including a stint with the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.
During his time on the west coast, Art also worked with the Western Caravan group that was headed up by Tex Williams.
The early 1947 article indicates he had auditioned with Columbia Pictures with the help of a friend of his, Smiley Burnette. We later found that Smiley introduced others to Columbia Pictures around this time as well including Texas Jim Lewis; Curly WIlliams; Curly Clements; Bill Russell and Art Young. It was thought they might appear in movies for the studio.
In early 1948, Art had oved to radio station WWOL in Lackawanna, New York where his show was being heard three times a week. This 1948 article also mentions that his 'former partner', Harmonica Bill Russell was now working for Smiley Burnette.
In 1949, Arlie Kinkade wrote in his column that Art had returned to radio station WXRA in Kenmore, New York, which is in the Buffalo area. Our research also indicated that Dona Lee was working at this station as well. The show also included the Cactus Kid, Wyoming Doug and Texas Dan. The latter two were a part of an act called the Rhythm Riders who also had their own daily show over WXRA.
Around this time, The Billboard was reporting that Art was starting a 'barn dance' at the Memorial Hall in Lackawanna, New York. He had also married his singing partner, Donna Lee (we've seen it spelled Dona Lee as well). He was also the owner of the Frontier record label.
Billboard magazine reported in 1951 that Art was starting the third year on his television show over WBEN-TV and had the same sponsor. We learned a few other tidbits from this article. He had a one hour show over station WKBM that included his wife, Dona Lee on the electric guitar, the "Cactus Kid" on accordion, while Art himself played the left-handed spanish gutiar.
In 1956, he was on the air six days a week over WHLD in Niagara Falls doing his "Radio Ranch" show.
In 1957, we find mention of a show called the CJOB Western Hour that was broadcast every Saturday from the Dominion theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A fellow named Art Young and his band were said to supply the music. Local talent were given the opportunity to perform in a contest type format where the winner being named King or Queen of the Saddle and invited back the next week to defend the title. We think it may be the same Art Young only because he had a hit record on the Frontier label called "Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle". Or it may be another case of two artists having the same name which we have already seen numerous times.
But we may have to retract that as the July 1, 1957 issue of The Billboard is reporting that Art had started a new show on WGR-TV in Buffalo called the Norge International Barn Dance that was to be on every Saturday night fromn 11:30pm to midnight and would feature square dance groups from both sides of the border. His group at this time was called the Borderliners and included Lucky Ray on accordion; Frank Kowalik on bass and piano; The Tall Texan on fiddle; and Rose Austin on guitar. He was also on WXRA at this time. Norge was the sponsor of the show, thus the name. This article also mentions that his show over WBEN-TV was called the South Park TV Barn Dance and was sponsored by Chevrolet from 1949 to 1951.
Credits and Sources
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