“Twin Guitar Polka”: Western Swing on King – The Early Years

According to Michel Ruppli’s, The King Labels:  A Discography, in King Records’ first year of existence – 1943 – there was exactly one recording session that yielded two singles  (Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis using aliases, since they were under contract to WLW).  King’s first recording session took place in Dayton, and subsequent sessions were conducted at outside facilities both near and far:  New York City, Detroit, Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oklahoma City – even the Wurlitzer Music Store studios in Cincinnati.

As far as King’s own recording facilities are concerned, I can only infer from Michel Ruppli that recordings in Cincinnati had begun taking place by 1949.  When Syd Nathan’s abrasive personality got him kicked out Earl “Bucky” Herzog’s studio, Nathan had no other suitable recording facilities in Cincinnati at his avail, thus the impetus for building his own studio.  According to Jon Hartley Fox’s King of the Queen City:  The Story of King Records, “Until that studio was finished, recordings were done at Brewster Avenue, in the office of the Accounting Department – but only at night.  When the whistle blew, and the staff went home for the day, Nathan and anybody else who might  be around for the session pushed the desks and filing cabinets to one side of the room and set up microphones in the cleared space.  A small control booth sat at the end of the room, separated from the room by a glass window.”

King Studios a

Before the advent of his own recording studio – a radical idea for an independent label at that time – Syd Nathan’s search for talent sometimes took him rather far, indeed.  Nathan’s first trip to Los Angeles in 1946 resulted in a marathon recording excursion, and as Kevin Coffey writes in the liner notes to Westside’s Shuffle Town:  Western Swing on King CD anthology, when Nathan blew into Hollywood in September 1946, “Syd and his King Records hit Hollywood  with the force of an earthquake, and over the next month Nathan waxed a hundred-plus sides on Jimmy Widener, Hank Penny, Red Egner, and Tex Atchison, and others.”

Among those other artists were Ocie Stockard and his backup band, the Wanderers, whose “Twin Guitar Polka” is a sure-fire way to get the folks out onto the dance floor:

“Twin Guitar Polka”  – according to Kevin Coffey – was a hit in several markets.

Twin Guitar Polka 78Who Are the Ocie Stockard All-Stars?

Coffey says, “Stockard’s lone session for King was an all-star affair that combined musicians from several bands.  Fiddler Cecil Brower was another former Brownie    [Milton Brown’s band], an even more important and influential musician than Stockard, while steel guitarist Andy Schroder had worked with the Hi Flyers and others, and pianist Frank Reneau had recorded with the Light Crust Doughboys – as had guitarist J.B. Brinkley.  Guitarist Robert “Lefty” Perkins was then working with the reconstituted Doughboys and had previously recorded with Bill Boyd, W. Lee O’Daniel, Derwood Brown and others.  Bassist Wanna Coffman was yet another former Brownie, while drummer Homer Kinniard had worked with the Hi Flyers and the Crystal Springs Ramblers.  Stockard himself played tenor banjo, and the acoustic rhythm guitarist here might be Buster Ferguson, soon to go to Odessa with Brower, Reneau, and Schroder under Brower’s leadership.”