Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1229

Its Out West Week on Ranch Radio and here is Texas Jim Lewis & His Lone Star Rangers performing My Little Prairie Flower, which they recorded on July 23, 1942.  The last 20 seconds shows my version of a Little Prairie Flower. Here's a short bio.  For a complete bio go to 

b. James Lewis Jnr., 15 October 1909, Meigs, Georgia, USA, d. 23 January 1990. His mother died when he was five and his father remarried and raised two more children. In 1919, the family relocated to Fort Myers, Florida, where Lewis stayed until 1928, when he relocated to Texas. Here, he began singing and also acquired his nickname. By 1930, the family were in Detroit and he returned home and played local bars with 14-year-old Jack Rivers (in reality his half-brother Rivers Lewis). In 1932, he returned to Texas where, until 1934, he played with the Swift Jewel Cowboys in Houston. Returning to Detroit, he joined Jack West's Circle Star Cowboys and also worked on WJR. He then formed his own Lone Star Cowboys, which included Jack Rivers and Smokey Rogers, and moved to New York, where they remained for five years. With a repertoire of western swing and popular numbers, they played a residency at the Village Barn, various theatres and clubs and made regular radio appearances. They recorded for Vocalion Records and between August 1940 and February 1944 cut almost 40 sides for Decca Records. They ranged from the gentle 'Molly Darling', to the comedy of 'When There's Tears In The Eye Of A Potato (Then I'll Be Crying For You)'. They also recorded numerous transcription discs and toured as far as California. Lewis became noted for the strange musical instrument that he called Hootenanny. It comprised washboards, motor horns, cowbells, sirens and guns that actually fired. When Lewis was drafted in 1942, Spade Cooley became leader of the band. When he returned to the music in 1944, he formed a new band, opened a club and toured until 1950, when he relocated to Seattle. Here he presented a radio show and then established hisRainier Ranch and his very popularSheriff Tex's Safety Junction children's show on KING-TV, which lasted for seven years. He also appeared on Canadian television with the programme. Most of his recordings at this time were children's records. After his children's show ended, he continued to play around the Seattle clubs and over the years, he has been afforded many tributes for his dedicated work in promoting western swing music. He appeared in several films includingBadmen From Red Butte (1940), Pardon My Gun (1942), Law Of The Canyon andThe Stranger From Ponca City (both 1947). He also successfully recorded 'Squaws Along The Yukon', several years before the Hank Thompson version and had a number 3 US country hit, 'Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry', on Decca Records, in 1944. Although few of his recordings are available on US labels, in the 80s Cattle Records of Germany issued several albums of his early work and also one, Just Plain Old Ordinary Me (1985), by Jack Rivers.

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