From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- The Okie Blue-Pink American West Night- The Maddox Brothers And Rose- A CD Review
Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Maddox Brothers and Rose performing Okie Boogie.
The Maddox Brothers and Rose; America’ Most Colorful Hillbilly Band: Original First Recordings 1946-1951, includes informational booklet, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Arhoolie Records, 1993
Hey, I have spent a lot of cyber-ink in this space touting my version (and that of my fellow traveler met on the long ago merry prankster yellow brick road magical mystery tour “on the bus” road , Peter Paul Markin) of the search, the seemingly primordial search for the great blue-pink American West night. In short, California dreaming, California searching. Apparently that search has been endless, and endlessly varied, since the first 19th century prairie schooner treks as the informative booklet that accompanies the CD under review, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, informs us.
This family hillbilly band (mostly the brothers and Rose) came out of the Okie, arkie, ‘bama, kentuck hillbilly migration west in the Great Depression of the 1930s (the big one before this current one) searching for, for something to eat for starters. But they, like intrepid 1960s hitchhike road merry pranksters, were not going to leave it at that. They had hard-scrabble times that sounded like something out of the Joads of Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath fame. Yes, picking crops, picking whatever what around for picking. But as soon as some dust settled they set out to make a name, maybe not a big name, but a name for themselves as musicians following the rodeo circuit and the moonbeam radio shows selling biscuits and baskets between songs. Tough, yes, but not tougher, as one of the family band members put it, than stoop labor under the hot California sun. Check.
And if you think about the possibilities under those conditions mix a little musical talent (or enough) with a lot of stagecraft geared to entertaining their audiences a whole career could be made, be made in California anyway, out of playing nostalgia stuff for the Okie migration just before and immediately after World War II. That is before they became the self-satisfied “civilized" parents with a little extra cash of those corn- fed wild boy surfers, hell’s angels, and hot rod aficionados whom the novelist Tom Wolfe chronicled in a number of his early books. That is the Maddox clan to a tee as they captured a niche in that market going to carnivals, corrals, and western outfit stores with their fresh brand of music and fooling around.
This CD is centered on their most productive and original period, 1946-1951, and has a number of covers of material by the likes of wild boy Hank Williams. Some are from the early stages of the modern cowboy, country and western section of the American Songbook with the likes of Bob Wills and Milton Brown covered. The most surprising cover though to me, an old time folkie, is their early cover of Woody Guthrie’s Philadelphia Lawyer. But, silly me, of course Woody was out there in California in the Joad 1930s too singing like crazy on those big blue-pink California airways. Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, guys and gals, this stuff is part of our plebeian cultural heritage, Listen up