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Tennessee Ramblers
WBT Charlotte, NC

About The Group

The Tennessee Ramblers came together along about 1928 or so. They appeared on numberous radio stations including:

  • WHAS - Louisville, Kentucky
  • WSB - Atlanta, Georgia
  • KDKA - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • WBT - Charlotte, North Carolina
  • WRVA - Richmond, Virginia

In August of 1936, the Tennessee Ramblers made a movie with Republic Pictures called "Ride Ranger, Ride". They returned the following May and made another picture, "Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge". They also recorded on the Blue Bird label for RCA Victor.

A song folio put out by the group in 1940 provided us with some information about the group members. "Horse Thief" Harry Blair was one of the original members of the Tennessee Ramblers. He was born in New Martinsville, West Virginia around 1913. He worked at other jobs such as steel works, glass works and in road construction. They wrote he liked to tinker with radios and could usually be found at the radio station or by the radio at home. They mentioned that as to how he got his name, they could not divulge that in definite details.

Tennessee Ramblers

"Montana Jack" Gillette played the violin and "...many queer musical novelties" they wrote, listing instruments such as the saw, balloon, musical bass drum, bicycle pump, hot trumpet and even an instrument he created himself, a slip horn which Montana Jack called a "poobaphone". That instrument, he created when he was with Louis Prima's band in 1928. Montana Jack looks to have started with the group around 1934 or so. His career started when he left his home town of Providence, Rhode Island when he was 18 and went with a vaudeville act known as the "Rodeo Boys". Then he was with a CBS road show that included other stars such as Jack Little, Stoopnagle and Budd, Tony Wons and Vaughn De Leath. He also got to play at Teddy Roosevelt's first inauguration. They don't give a date of birth, but if the folio was published in 1940 and he was 32 then, then he was born back about 1908.

"Curly" Campbell started with the group around 1932. He was known for the many stringed instruments he played for the band, including the Hawaiian guitar, straight guitar, banjo and mandolin. He also sang baritone in the trio songs. He was 28 then, born in Belew's Creek, North Carolina about 1912. He spent his youth working in the tobacco farms there. It stuck with him, for even after he grew up, he still had a tobacco farm in North Carolina.

"Tex" Martin played the bass fiddle and hot guitar for the Tennessee Ramblers. He had traveled with many other bands around the country and was also featured with a Spanish orchestra for some time. He was born in Chenoa, Illinois along about 1915.

Author Wayne W. Daniel mentions in his chapter on the "Cross Roads Follies" that the Tennessee Ramblers were a part of that show for a brief while in September of 1939. Mr. Daniel mentions that Cecil "Curly" Campbell had assumed the leadership of the group after the retirement of Dick Hartman, who had been on WSB in the early 1930s.

Timeline & Trivia Notes

Group Members:

  • "Montana Jack" Gillette, violin and other instruments
  • "Curly" Campbell, Hawaiian guitar, straight guitar, banjo, mandolin
  • "Tex" Martin, bass fiddle, hot guitar
  • "Horse Thief" Harry Blair
  • Dick Hartman, former member

Credits & Sources

  • Songs of the Tennessee Ramblers; American Music, Inc.; Studio One Building, Portland, Oregon; 1940.
  • Pickin' On Peachtree, Wayne W. Daniel; University of Illinois Press; 1990;

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  8516 A Neath Hawaiian Palms
  8516 B All My Natural Life
  8571 A Blue Eyed Baby
  8571 B Grab Your Saddle Horn And Blow
  8678 A Won't You Sometimes Dream Of Me
  8678 B Sweet Mama Tree Top Tall
  8742 A Steel Guitar Swing
  8742 B Come Swing With Me
  8765 A The Beach At Waikiki
  8765 B I'm Through Wishing On The Stars
  8894 A You Certainly Said It
  8894 B New Red River Valley
  8941 A Oh, Mary Don't You Weep
  8941 B I Love Hawaii
  8984 A Why Should I Be Blue
  8984 B You're Always On My Mind
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  225 A Cackling Pullet
  225 B Arkansas Traveler
  257 A Fiddler's Contest
  258 B Satisfied
  259 A The Preacher Got Drunk And Laid His Bible Down
  259 B Medley Of Mountain Songs
Montgomery Ward
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7640 A Coquette Polka
  8498 A Don't Put A Tax On The Beautiful Girls
  8498 B I'll Keep On Loving You
  8499 A There's A Blue Sky Way Out Yonder
  8499 B Over The Santa Fe Trail
  8500 A Carry Me Back To Carolina
  8500 B Tonight You Belong To Me
  8501 A Four Or Five Times
  8501 B Hootchie Kootchie Koo
  8502 A The Washboard Man
  8502 B Doug Ain't Doin' The Jitterbug
  8503 A Out On The Lone Prairie
  8503 B Steel Guitar Blues
  8744 A I'd Love To Be A Cowboy
  8744 B I Like It That Way
  8745 A I'll Never Let You Cry
  8745 B Hard Hearted Love
  8746 A All My Natural Life
  8746 B Neath Hawaiian Palms (W)
  8747 A Coquette
  8747 B I Don't Know Why I Should Cry Over You
  8894 A Blue Eyed Sally
  8894 B Grab Your Saddle Horn And Blow
  8895 A Won't You Sometimes Dream Of Me
  8895 B Sweet Mama Tree Top Tall
  8896 A Come Swing With Me
  8896 B I'm Through Wishing On Stars
  8897 A Steel Guitar Swing
  8897 B The Beach At Waikiki
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20-1790 A Hawaiian Skies
  20-1790 B Midnight Boogie
  20-3116 A Chant Of Hawaii
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  05362 A Give The Fiddle A Dram
  05362 B Ramblers March
  05378 A Garbage Can Blues
  05378 B Tennessee Traveler
  05394 A Hawaiian Medley
  05398 B In My Dear Old Sunny South

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