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4 “Seems to me I heard a piano “Seems to me I heard a piano player”

John Mark Dempsey University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER FOUR

you could have all this movement, and you can have slurred notes.

In my own style . . . there’s a wild banjo quality there. . . . In piano, I do the same that this little old banjo did, because Marvin Montgomery was a tremendous, tremendous virtuoso. . . . [He] was one of the greatest banjo pickers of all time, anywhere” (Oral history, 4, reel two; 7, reel one).

Knocky Parker showed remarkable musical aptitude from a very early age. He learned to play from piano rolls. “I was four years old,” he remembered. “Mama was on the phone one time, and she heard something. But she knew this wasn’t exactly the roll because it wasn’t quite as full as that. . . . I was playing the piano, the same little piece we had on the roll. . . . Kids play with toys, you know, and they tear down bicycles and put them back together. Well, my world was the player piano rolls.” Soon thereafter, his parents took him to play at church camp meetings around Central Texas (Oral history, 1–2, reel one; Interview).

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Appendix 1 Light Crust Doughboys Recording Sessions 1936–1948

John Mark Dempsey University of North Texas Press PDF

P O S T SC R I P T

Appendix 1

Light Crust Doughboys Recording Sessions

1936–1948

Compiled 1989 by Marvin “Junior” Montgomery, known since 1948 as

“Smokey” Montgomery. [Substantially unedited]

[Abbreviations used: acd accordian b bass bj banjo elg electric guitar gtr guitar md mandolin pno piano rhy rhythm tbj tenor banjo tgtr tenor guitar vcl vocal]

Over the years I have seen many miscues on record jackets, magazine articles, etc., regarding the Doughboy Recording sessions—who played what, sang what, yelled what, or just plain old what—I decided (with a lot of prodding from Bob Pinson and some back-up from Muryel “Zeke” Campbell, Kenneth

“Abner” Pitts, Jim “Bashful” Boyd, Joe Frank “Bashful” Ferguson, Frank Reneau and Leroy Millican) to put the record straight. As Zeke, Abner and Junior (yours truly) are the only living members who played on all of these sessions it stands to reason that this is as correct as the record will ever get.

April 4, 1936, Fort Worth, Texas

A & R (producer): “Uncle” Art Satherley. Musicians: Dick “Bashful” Reinhart, rhythm gtr, vcl; Bert “Buddy” Dodson, b, vcl; Clifford “Doctor” Gross, fid and b vcl on quartets; Kenneth “Abner” Pitts, fid, acd, baritone vcl on trios and quartets; Muryel “Zeke” Campbell, acoustic lead gtr; Marvin “Junior” Montgomery, tbj, tgtr and a vcl now and then. (My first recording session with the

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Postscript

John Mark Dempsey University of North Texas Press PDF

“I’LL DIE

WITH

T H E M , I F T H E Y ’ L L K E E P M E T H AT L O N G ”

Postscript

An account of key members of the Light Crust Doughboys and those closely associated with the group whose later years and deaths are not covered in the main text:

Herman Arnspiger, one of the original Light Crust Doughboys, also played with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys from 1934–1940.

Arnspiger had a second career in Tulsa as a pilot. He worked as the chief pilot and instructor at the Spartan School of Aeronautics, and later became a test pilot for Douglas Aircraft. Arnspiger established the Sunray Oil Company’s aviation department. He retired in 1964, and died in a Tulsa nursing home at the age of 79 in 1984 (“Last original member”).

Cecil Brower played for Leon McAuliffe and on Red Foley’s television program following his service in the Coast Guard during World

War II. Brower followed Foley to Nashville, and became a much sought-after session musician. In the 1960s, he joined Jimmy Dean’s band. On November 21, 1965, Dean performed at Carnegie Hall in

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3 “If you take Marvin, I’ll break up the “If you take Marvin, I’ll break up the band!”

John Mark Dempsey University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER THREE

Mill kept the band going, long after the company sent O’Daniel packing.

In fact, it may be argued, the Doughboys enjoyed their greatest popularity without Wills, Brown, and O’Daniel. Many band members would come and go in the years and decades to come. They would create their own Doughboys legacy, in much the same way that new generations of athletes have added to the heritage of the

New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys.

It was radio’s “golden age.” The Light Crust Doughboys would ride the crest of the wave that carried radio to the apex of its cultural importance in the heady years after World War II. But then that wave came crashing down, taking the Doughboys and many other radio stars with it. Almost overnight, television replaced radio in the nation’s living rooms.

To understand the steadily growing popularity of the Doughboys, even after the departure of seemingly indispensable members of the group, remember that many parts of rural Texas in the early 1930s were, in effect, still mired in the 19th century. And so, while the

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1 “The best show group I’ve ever had” “The best show group I’ve ever had”

John Mark Dempsey University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER ONE

the opulent, high-tech ambience of North Dallas in the first year of a new millennium?

The 90-degree heat does not deter a crowd of Doughboys fans, standing in line, patiently waiting for the dinner theater doors to open. Many of them are gray-haired and wear bifocals, but others would not look out of place waiting in line for a Dixie Chicks show.

Young or old, they’re all here to enjoy an evening of Western swing

(along with a gaggle of other musical styles), played by a band whose roots reach down to the very beginnings of the music.

Backstage inside the small theater, the Light Crust Doughboys filter in one by one for the show, still more than an hour away. They’re dressed in starched, pale magenta and indigo Western shirts and bolo ties. The talk is easy and familiar, and only occasionally touches on music. Someone brings up Louis Armstrong, and ventures that he was a part of a vanishing breed of jazz musicians. “We’re very close to a vanishing breed ourselves,” another Doughboy reminds him. “These old Western swing guys—there aren’t too many of ’em left.”

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