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The Wonderful Times of Bud Moore and the Hillsdale Hillbillies
Bud Moore was born in the small community of Hillsdale, which was on a hill just outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Bud's career goes back to the roots of country music for he started playing square dances in 1929. His scrapbooks go back to 1934 he tells us - and include enough material to fill several books.
In the early 1930s, he was chosen as a boy scout to represent Troop 5 at the 1st National Jamboree in that was held in Washington, DC. He notes that singing was a large part of that experience then.
In a 1981 interview with Andy Petkac, Bud says he used to go to his grandmother's house who had the first radio receiver in her part of town. He said he used to go there to listen to Nashville's WSM Grand Ole Opry and had visions that he'd be on stage someday with the stars who'd do the songs he liked such as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" or "Tennessee Waltz".
The original band was composed of Bud Moore, playing banjo, Cal Aughenbaugh, playing the big bass fiddle, Grant 'Zeke' Ogden on the fiddle and Bill Jenkins, playing the accordion. Some articles indicate this group of fellows had begun playing together as early as 1935.
In 1941, Stewart Ogden joined the group. (We assume he was related to Zeke, but no mention is made in this 1991 article to verify this.)
Bud's band would have several members through the years. He notes in a 1991 article that Mel Johnson was going to be honored for his 50 years in the music industry on April 3, 1991 at the Country Music Awards show in Clearfield, PA. In fact, on that show, Bud's band backed legendary WWVA Jamboree star, Doc and Chickie Williams.
In 1948, Tommy Mayersky joined the band as a featured guitarist and vocalist who was said to have sounded like Cowboy Copas in an old Cowboy Songs magazine article. We will write of Mr. Mayersky elsewhere on this site. At this time, the band included his wife, Carrie, Hal Walls on the triple-necked Hawaiian steel guitar, Bob Spicher, doing vocals and guitar work.
Bud's band gave the start to some country music legends. Buddy Spicher did his first stage appearance with Bud's group. Bud mentions that Buddy's brother Bob taught Buddy a few tunes on the fiddle and he took it from there. Bob told Bud that Buddy had been a part of over 1,500 recording sessions in Nashville. Now that's a lot of fiddle playing! Tommy was said to sound a bit like Cowboy Copas, played rhythm guitar and did some emcee work for the group as well as recording for their own Buddy Records label.
Tommy came from a musical family, too. His uncle was Dale Carson, who headed up the Hillbilly Jamboree over WCPA in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Tommy's cousin was another Pennsylvania country music legend, Howard Vokes. And then there was Henry Mayersky who headed up the "Rhythmaires in Clearfield.
The band included some luminaries who played with some of the top acts of the era back then. That included Hal Walls and Bobby Spicher, who had appeared with such folks as Dusty Owens, Toby Stroud and Roy Scott of the WWVA Jamboree. They also toured for a time with the famous western star, Lash LaRue. Hal Walls was a steel guitar player. In fact, they mentioned in a 1956 article that Hal and Bobby did many of the Jimmy Bryant-Speedy West tunes that were popular back then.
While Bud started his musical career in 1931, the band was first organized in 1935, Bud Moore and his Hillsdale Hillbillies got some attention around 1953 as one of the newest hillbilly and western dance bands when they were heard over WKBW, a booming 50,000 watt station out of Buffalo, New York. From that appearance, they were in demand for personal appearances at the leading theatres and night spots in New York, Pennsylvania and Canada. The band holds several firsts in their radio career. In a 1991 article, Rebecca J. Williams wrote that Bud Moore and the Hillsdale Hillbillies auditioned for a spot on radio station WCED in DuBois, Pennsylvania and won a spot to be the first band on the station in 1941. They were also the first on WCPA in Clearfield, Pennsylvania.
Bud recalls in a 1981 article that he and the band would make daily trips between the radio station during those days, driving from Clearfield to Punxsutawney. Later, they would also do live television on station WFBG (which is now WTAJ) in Altoona. While those programs were only 15 minutes on the radio stations, Bud notes that the stations needed a drawing card and the live performances by his and other bands were what did that while at the same time improving their band's popularity and demand for appearances.
Bud and his band hold claim to some 'firsts' in their career. One would be breaking the color barrier in country music long before Charley Pride would become a household name and Country Music Hall of Famer. Back in the 1930s, their band included Bill Jenkins on accordion. His band also started using the saxophone and trumpet before it became an acceptable instrument in Nashville.
The station didn't forget him, for as part of their 50th anniversary celebration, they asked him and his band to appear live again. All of the original members except for Bill Jenkins who had passed away were able to appear. And entertain they did. Bud was quoted as saying, "I thought they wanted a couple numbers ... but we ended up playing for an hour and a half." Their appearance was recorded and later played on Gene Allen's Bluegrass Hour. Mr. Allen told Bud that it got more responses than any other show in recent history. Think Bud knows how to entertain the folks? They were also the first band to appear on WCPA in Clearfield.
Bud Moore and the Hillsdale Hillbillies appeared at numerous radio stations in Pennsylvania over the years in cities such as Altoona, State College, Connellsville, Barnesboro, Erie and more. They've also worked at Ogedensburg, NY and Watertown, SD.
In fact, that appearance led to requests to do more. He was asked to open for WSM Grand Ole Opry star, Stonewall Jackson at Barnesboro High School.
They had some experience before arriving there. They were the first featured band on a couple of Pennsylvania stations - WCED out of Dubois and WCPA out of Clearfield. And they spent time with other radio stations in State College, Barnesboro, St. Marys, Huntington and Erie.
In 1942, his wife, Carrie Moore, joined the band and was said to have not missed more than ten days a year all the while raising their kids. She was quite a trooper for they noted she was the mother of ten kids by the time she was 28. Carrie was known as one of the fastest yodelers and a bass player and was featured doing sentimental folk songs and duets with her husband, Bud.
During his career, Bud got to work with some of the well known stars that fans are familiar with. One of them was Hoyt 'Slim' Bryant, who once worked with Jimmie Rodgers and co-wrote the classic, "Mother, The Queen of My Heart" with Jimmie. Bud tells us that when Hoyt had a personal appearance that required some square dancing of sorts, he would ask Bud and his band to appear with them on the same show, too.
They did some shows from Radio Park in State College and had such famous guest stars as Tex Ritter, Al "Fuzzy" St. John, Wesley Tuttle. They also shared the same bill with artists such as Eddy Arnold, the Duke of Paducah, Texas Jim Robertson. In 1958, the band was working out of Clearfield, Pennsylvania.
Bud tells us in a letter that he made numerous appearances on the famous WWVA Original Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, but was never an official member of the program.
In a 1981 article, Bud notes that "...From the very beginning, we decided to get some comedy in the act to get people laughing." So Bud would often don raggedy clot's and adopt the character of Abner, who had a tie that nearly touched the ground and played the accordion.
In a 1950 newspaper clipping, Bud and the Hillsdale Hillbillies were guests on a half-hour television program over WICU in Erie, PA from 4:30pm to 5:00pm one Sunday afternoon. This was a result of their appearance at the St. Bonafice parish picnic where several thousand were present. Appearing with the band at that appearance were: Tom Mayersky, Hank Sekula; Mel Johnson, Carrie Moore and Bud Moore.
In a January 1950 newspaper clipping, Bud and the group where noted as stars that were appearing over WKBW, a 50,000 watt radio station in Buffalo, on the Western Roundup show. That show aired from 1:30pm to 2:30pm and included other acts that were visiting the area at the time, too. The band then included tom Mayersky, Dude McMullen, Henry Secula and Waly Eckbert.
In 1956, they were appearing over WFBG-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania at 6:00pm every Wednesday evening. They generated thousands of letters from fans and were in constant demand for personal appearances.
Bud was noted as quite a versatile entertainer in a 1956 article in Country Song Roundup. He was one of the top country comedians, banjo picker, harmonica player and square dance caller.
Bud's brother, Bob, was another country music lover. We'll see a picture of Bob with the legendary female Western singer, Patsy Montana thanks to Bud. Bob got to interview most all of the stars that Rambling Lou (Shriver) brought in to play in the Buffalo, New York area. Bud said he knew more about country music than anyone he knew. And corresponded with people all over the world and had over 14,000 albums before he passed away in 2002.
Bud tells us that he and the band recorded a single that included "Candy Kisses" b/w "Money, Marbles and Chalk" that had Tommy Mayersky doing the singing. The record got a lot of regional airplay, including Buffalo's popular country music station at the time, WKBW. That record was released on their own Buddy Records label. Bud told Andy Petkac in a 1981 interview that the band went to Cleveland, Ohio to make the recording. It was pressed by the RCA Victor folks and released by them. But at the same time, some of the original members of the band began leaving to pursue other musical interests or business careers, not to mention the interruptions caused by World War II.
In 1981, an article mentioned he had done over 5,000 personal appearances but had never played the WSM Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But Bud did appear with many of the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree stars when they were on tour in the area and also the Opry stars such as Hank Williams, Cowboy Copas and Tex Ritter.
No writeup of Bud's career would be complete without a sampling of his comedy. He belongs to the old country school of comedy, having its roots in the early days of country music and evolved as did country music in its booming popularity in the post World War II era. For a time in 1955 and 1956, Bud had a regular column in Cowboy Songs magazine called "Comedy Capers".
In one column, he mentions some comedians would use one-liners or humorous possible song titles as an introduction to a song or an instrumental. Some of those pun-ful tunes were:
In another column, he talked about the times when "hillbilly comedians" would spend a few minutes on a gag, if they don't get a laugh, they're a flop. But Bud mentions they had built up a routine of jokes that they felt would "...get a dozen laughs" and having one in reserve. Another sampling:
Bud's scrapbook of memories includes a letter of congratulations in March 1985 from President Ronald Reagan for his band's 50th anniversary.
Bud's family has also taken to music. His sons were a part of many bands in the local area - "Moore or Less", "The Moore Brothers", "Sweet Revenge", and "Rare Breed". Their family is so active that Bud noted that if there was anything going on musically in the area, chances are someone in his family was involved.
Bud may have slowed down some to accommodate the march of time, but even in 2002, was still performing and entertaining the folks. He tells us that he would be performing at the famous Frenchnell Picnic. He was also going to play at the High Arts Festival at Eleat Park that draws crowds in the thousands. On July 18, he was going to play the Curwensville Days - an event they've played every year for over 25 years and draw their biggest crowd. And on top of that, he plays at family reunions and nursing homes and every Monday night, calls dances for the Altoona retirees.
Bud noted in a 1991 interview that he had been calling square dances for over 50 years by then. And on top of that, had begun teaching square dancing in the area for several years.
Bud noted that, "It's amazing sometimes, to be playing for people who are younger than you in a retirement home. I'm just glad to have my health and to be able to play on the same stage I did 50 years ago." Bud told us in 2002 that they had been taking square dance entertainment to nursing homes the past twenty years.
The musical and entertainment traits of Bud Moore are seen also in his sons. They have performed in such bands locally as "Moore or Less", "The Moore Brothers", "Sweet Revenge" and "Rare Breed." In fact, Bud told Rebecca J. Williams in a March 28, 1991 article, "If there's a band or something musical going on in the area, you can almost bet a member of my family is involved."
Bud told a reporter in a 1981 article of his philosophy of what his job as an entertainer / musician should be. He said, "The main job of a musician is to let people forget their troubles." And for over 60 years, we can opine that he has done just that.
Timeline & Trivia Notes
The original members of the band included:
Other members through the years:
Credits & Sources