We find mention of Little Joe Isbell as he was known in several publications
in the mid-1940s. Evidence indicates he was known a bit for his yodeling abilities.
Several mentions were found, including author Wayne Daniel's "Pickin' on Peachtree"
that indicated Little Joe was at one time part of the WSB Barn Dance in Atlanta,
In fact, Cowboy Music World listed Little Joe as one of the candidates for Cowboy
Yodeler of the Year in one of its 1945 editions. And in that group were some
interesting names like Gene Autry, Elton Britt, Jerry Smith, Kenny Roberts,
Zeke Clements, Smilie Sutter, Skeets Yaney and Wilf Carter among others.
Around 1946 or so, Little Joe was a part of the Tacoma Barn Dance gang that was
in the Cincinnati area. One article back then featured the group, not for the
musical show, but for a vacation trip up to Thunder Bay for a bit of relaxation
We learn a bit in another issue that the group traveling together on that trip
was known as the Thunder River Boys and was lead by Walter Sweet. Nicola and Rose
Fantetti reported they were on a ten-day trip to Thunder Bay, Michigan and would
do personal appearances "here and there" while staying at the cottage they
rented for their stay. Other folks on that trip were Harold Baker, Paul Deal
who was being heard over WHIO in Dayton, Jack Rodgers who was visiting for a few
days before heading back to Hollywood, California, Bug Fuzz from WSB as was
Little Joe. Walter was also known for his comedic character known as Lemrock
Buddy Starcher's fan club newsletter noted in 1949 that he was in Chicago at the time
working at the Bismarck Hotel in the Swiss Chalet and was billed as a "Swiss Yodeler"
as opposed to being touted as a yodeler in country music.
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Music World; Vol. 1 No. 6; March - April 1945; New York
- National Hillbilly News; Vol. II No. 4; November 1946; Poster Show Print Co.;
- National Hillbilly News; Vol. 2 No. 9; July-August 1947; Poster Show Print Co.;
- Buddy Starcher Fan Club Newsletter; Vol. 1 No. 1; January - February -
March 1949; Buddy Starcher Fan Club; Marietta, Ohio