Hillbilly-Music.com—The People. The Music. The History.
Cliff Japhet
and the Western Aces
WENT Gloversville, NY
WSNY Schenectady, NY
WWSR St. Albans, VT

About The Artist

Around 1945 or so, you may have heard Cliff Japhet's 5 year old son, "Yodelin' Skippy" singing "Hear My Song As I Ride Along; I'm Just A Happy Rovin' Cowboy" and then go right into a triple yodel as he introduced Cliff Japhet and his Western Aces over the air on radio station WENT out of Gloversville, NY.

Cliff and his band were getting national attention back in October 1948. The Sons of the Pioneers had just recorded "Cool Water". Back in those days it wasn't uncommon to see other artists and bands try to capitalize on hit recordings that the public enjoyed. Jamboree magazine reported that Cliff Japhet and the Western Aces were among the groups that had also recorded Cool Water along with Bob Atcher, Foy Willing, Dude Martin, Denver Darling, Red River Dave, Ozie Waters, Smiley Burnette, Dick Reinhart and Tex Ritter.

The Western Aces were quite a popular act in the New England area long about the late 1940s. In 1948, they were headlining over radio station WWSR out of St. Albans, Vermont. Their daily show aired on WWSR from 5:00pm to 5:30pm.

The band was like many acts in those days, playing extensive personal appearances in the areas where they lived and played on the radio. The Western Aces played on Saturday nights at Cherry River in Quebec; Sundays at the folk park in Danemora, NY. As well as other dates in Vermont, too.

Cliff Japhet and the Western Aces

Cliff Japhet, Jr. or "Yodelin' Skippy" as they called him was performing with his dad's group when he was just five years old. He also sang on the WENT Youth Revue in Gloversville, New York. Needless to say, he captured the audiences up there as they wrote the mail he got outpulled anything else on the station. He started singing and yodeling on the radio when he was just two years old. He'd hear a tune on the radio then try and see if he could do it on the piano. His parents noted that they were going to start him with some piano lessons as soon as he was able to read and span an octave.

"Yodelin' Skippy"— The picture on the left is from a postcard that WWSR in St. Albans, Vermont used to sell to listeners. The picture on the right is from the National Hillbilly News from May of 1946.

The Western Aces were one of several groups that Cliff Japhet co-founded or was associated with. Be sure to read about Cliff Japhet, The Broncho Busters, the Saddle Pards, Rodeo Kings. Cliff also performed with Polly Jenkins and her Plowboys, too.

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group members included:

  • Cliff Japhet, bass, vocals
  • Willie Pellegrini, accordion
  • Louie Ponzi, guitar
  • Putch (Allen) Morley, banjo and caller
  • The Western Aces recording unit consisted of:
    • Cliff Japhet, bass, vocals
    • Larry Fournier, fiddle, harmony vocals
    • Curley (Harold) Plummer, lead guitar, harmony vocals
    • Joe Mayo, accordion
    • Jimmy Mayo, guitar
  • Other members in later years:
    • Carl Durgin, guitar
    • Pe Wee (Alfred) Arsenault, guitar
    • Billy Arsenault, pedal steel
    • Corky Arsenault, bass
    • Little Zeke (Alden) Latour, fiddle
    • Bud (Sheldon) Truax, guitar, steel guitar and fiddle

Credits & Sources

  • National Hillbilly News (May 1946); Poster Show Print Co.; Huntington, WV.
  • Jamboree Magazine; October 1948; Western Song Club; Ventura, CA.
  • Portions of Discography Listing courtesy of Hillbilly Reasearcher Team; Tricker, Turner and Sax

Sound Sample—(YouTube Video Format)

Blue River Blues

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Down Home
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  CJ600 A My Little Sweetheart In Maryland
  CJ600 B Slowly But Surely
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1000 A My Hearts Recording Of You
  1000 B Am I Ever In Your Dreams Dear
  601 A You Get Me
  601 B Lonely Heart
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  2002 A Blue River Blues
  2002 B Im Gonna Shoot The Works
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  L10-105 A Cool Water
  L10-105 B No No Never No More
  L10-106 A Rainbow At Midnight
  L10-106 B When Its Tumbleweed Time In Texas
  L10-107 A The Butcher Boy
  L10-107 B Gonna Have Myself A Time
  L10-108 A Aint Cha Sorry, Aint Cha Blue
  L10-108 B You Cant Break The Chains Of Love
  L10-109 A Filipino Baby
  L10-109 B A Mi Amigo
  L10-119 A Blue River Blues
  L10-119 B I'm Gonna Shoot The Works