Western Swing at Edinburgh’s seaside.
The word was that a whole bunch of 78s had turned up in a charity shop in Portobello. That’s the Portobello on the outskirts of Edinburgh and not the famous London market. No doubt 78s turn up there all the time. This was in the early days of Forgotten Songs from the Broom Cupboard and back then I was only playing records from the collection we had gathered over the years. My addiction to the shellac discs hadn’t really kicked in.
So I sauntered along and there they were on the bottom shelf, below the LPs and 45s. Well over a 100 of them, I mean well over a 100. The thing is they were all in new, thick card sleeves, the artist and song written in ink pen long hand on the cover. Looking like they had been catalogued and were from a collection. This was a charity where everything was 99 pence. Not quite believing my luck I checked that fact with the assistant and got stuck in. I think on that visit I got about 30 records. An interesting mix. Of course there were some Bing Crosby, Guy Mitchell, Vera Lynn and Jimmy Shand. There is always Jimmy Shand, this is Scotland and the accordion was big news here. There were others I’d never heard of: Jan Savitt, Carson Robinson, Husk O’ Hara. They sound different and fun and at 99p they were worth a shot. There was also Bob Skyles and his Skyrockets, who were probably some sort of dance band, there were two of them, I took both. Actually I think it was the label that interested me the most. Not a standard HMV, Columbia or Parlophone but a Bluebird label.
So that is how way over here, in Scotland I discovered the magnificence of Western Swing. I didn’t know Bob Skyles and his Skyrockets were that particular genre of music then. What I did know was was these four tracks were different. This wasn’t dance band music, it was a crazy blend of country, novelty, blue grass, goodness knows what and these fellas were having fun. I wished I’d been in the studio with them or at a dance bopping away to this infectious sound.
Blue grass, Bob Skyles and his Skyrockets, early country, western swing
published on November 9, 2020, by Miles