Friday Folios: Brought to you by the Letter “B” and the Southern Folklife Collection

A few folios for you this Friday. First the famousĀ Bailes Brothers from West Virginia. Only two of the brothers are featured here, although Walter and Kyle were certainly in the group at the time of the publication of this folio in the mid-1940s. That Johnnie and Homer would soon go their separate ways makes the image of them as apparently conjoined twins that much more poignant.

While Johnnie and Homer look happy together, the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills looks downright menacing on the cover of this 1946 folio. While Wills’s iconic grin often gives him the appearance of a mad man (and his happy hollers help to reinforce the diagnosis), here the bright red background an Wills’s laconic eyes makes him look especially dangerous. Featuring some hit songs like “Texas Playboy Rag” and “Faded Love,” along with patriotic propaganda-pop like “G. I. Wish” and heartfelt memorial ballads penned by Wills like “White Cross on Okinawa,” this folio was certainly a hit although it might have given some players pause when they pulled if from their parlor piano bench.

For more fantastical folio flights of fancy see collection #30006, the Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, circa 1882-1983.

Photo of the Week: Merle Haggard and the Texas Playboys

P2998, from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Collection (#20001), is but one of a series of photographs documenting the recording sessions for Bob Wills’s final album, For the Last Time. Sessions, produced by the legendary guitarist Tommy Allsup (another former Cricket like Bobby Durham), took place just outside of Dallas on December 3 and 4, 1973.

Haggard drove all night from Chicago to participate on the final day after begging permission from Wills to attend. Sadly, Wills was unable to complete the session after suffering a severe stroke on the night of December 3 and slipping into a coma the following day never to retain consciousness. Haggard and the band, the first reunion of the Texas Playboys since Wills disbanded the group in the 1960s, pressed on with noted successor of the Bob Wills sound Hoyle Nix stepping up into the boots of his hero to lead the group.

We are not positive, but we believe the photo above includes Haggard, fiddlers Keith Coleman and Johnny Gimble, steel guitarist Leon McCauliffe, and the back of guitarist Eldon Shamblin’s head.