Today’s platter dates to the postwar 1940s, a little past Old Time Blues’ typical era but nonetheless deserving of attention. It is of the western swing variety, played by a fairly obscure group on a small West Coast label. I’ve had this disc since I first started out collecting records; it belonged to a bunch that originally belonged to my great grandmother and her father.
Leodie Jackson was born May 20, 1926 in Blocker, Oklahoma, one of three children of Bennie and Zella Jackson. He learned to play steel guitar, and with his brother Leon started his first band in Oklahoma, playing local dances. Like so many of his fellow Okies in the Dust Bowl era, he had relocated to California by the middle of the 1940s, where he found success as a steel guitarist. Jackson formed his own band, the Swingsters, sometime in the mid-1940s and recorded for the Courtney label in Los Angeles. He was featured in advertising for Bigsby Electric Guitars in 1949. He seems to have returned to Oklahoma by the 1960s, and he married Catherine Housley there in 1968. Jackson died September 20, 1995 in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Courtney 137 was recorded at 1424 East 78th Street in Los Angeles, California in mid-1946—possibly around June or July. The exact recording date is unknown, at least to me. It was listed in the August 1946 issue of Billboard in the Advance Record Data column, listed as “generally approximately two weeks in advance of actual release date.” The band includes Terry Fell on guitar, Leodie Jackson on steel guitar, Kenny Williams on vocal, and an unknown bassist, fiddler, pianist, and drummer. Interestingly, two different versions of Courtney 137 were issued, with different takes, and labels. “That Naggin’ Wife of Mine” was also issued on Courtney 230 (incorrectly numbered as 130) with the artist listed as Lucky White and his Dude Ranch Boys.
First, the Swingsters swing “That Naggin’ Wife of Mine”. The copyright for this tune was registered by Leodie Jackson on August 8, 1946, perhaps giving some indication of when it was recorded. The song gained a certain degree of popularity, and another version was recorded by Fairley Holden for King Records in 1949 (with Holden claiming authorship of the tune), and a number of further times by others.
On the reverse, the Swingsters play another of Jackson’s compositions: “Double Crossing Mama”.