Sunday, January 12, 2014

Henry Whitter - first eleven 78`s issued

 Here is something I`ve not done in a long time, post some 78`s.
What we have here is Henry Whitter`s first eleven issued 78`s. I realized while back I have almost all of his discs issued on the OKeh label and thought it would make a neat post.
Henry Whitter may be an "acquired" taste, but he is very important to the history of country music. He is either the second or third country artist to record. The only other vocalist recorded before him would be Fiddlin` John Carson. Eck Robertson was the very first country artist to record, in 1922 on Victor, but his records were fiddle solos and fiddle duets with Henry Gilliland. All those cuts were instrumentals and may possibly have not been issued until after Fiddlin` John Carson`s records proved successful for the OKeh label in 1923.
So, as I said, Henry Whitter is sort of an acquired taste. His voice if very nasal and his guitar picking isn`t anything to brag on on his vocal tunes, but his solo harmonica sides are very well played, especially the solos with no guitar. Also, the last disc is a string band record with Henry on guitar, James Sutphin on fiddle and John Rector on banjo. It is a great string band record. Henry was best on guitar in a band situation, as can be heard on the later records of him backing up the great old time fiddler, G.B. Grayson.
Just a word about sound quality here. These discs were all recorded acoustically (no microphone) and haven`t got very high volume. Also, they are very old, some very worn. I have done the best I could to clean up the sound. Many discs start out very rough and noisy for 10 or 20 seconds, then suddenly sound good. If any more noise is taken out, at least with the equipment I have, you start to lose treble sounds, which make the record sound muffled, which I hate. I`d rather hear some noise and static and still hear all the high end sounds. Anyhow--- Download and enjoy! And stay tuned, I will have two more Henry Whitter posts coming up in the next few weeks.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40015
Lonesome Road Blues / Wreck On The Southern Old 97
recorded December 10, 1923
Two war horse tunes in old-time music, the B side is what supposedly inspired Vernon Dalhart to try recording a country tune, which became the first million selling country record.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40029
The Old Time Fox Chase / Lost Train Blues (Lost John Blues)
recorded December 10, 1923
Two excellent harmonica solos, possibly the first Fox Chase record. The song was later made famous by DeFord Bailey.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40063
Little Brown Jug / She`s Coming Around The Mountain
recorded February 25 & 26, 1924
Two more famous hillbillie tunes. I love the price sticker on the label from some shop at some time. You can`t buy anything for a nickle now!

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40064
Tippy Two Step Blues / Hop Out Ladies & Shortenin` Bread
recorded February 26, 1924
Tippy Two Step Blues is pretty much a version of It`s A Long Way To Tipperary with some variations, the other side is an excellent harmonica solo side

 Henry Whitter / OKeh 40077
Western Country / Chicken, You Better Go Behind The Barn
recorded February 25 & 26, 1924
Western Country is the same as Oh Susanna, the B side is an old "coon" song

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40109
Sydney Allen / Where Have You Been So Long?
recorded February 25, 1924
I tried to look on the internet to find out some history of Sydney Allen, but had no luck. The other side is made of what I`d say are some "floating" verses, as in verses that get used in more than one song. They especially show up as words for fiddle tunes.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40120
Double Headed Train / The Weepin` Blues
recorded February 26, 1924
Two good harmonica solos. The Weepin` Blues was a common harp tune under other titles. Double Headed Train is of course a train imitation tune. A double headed train means a train pulled by two engines, which was fairly uncommon in steam locomotive days.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40143
The New River Train / The Stormy Wave Blues
recorded February 25, 1924 & December 10, 1923
Any old time music fan know New River Train. The Stormy Wave Blues is sort not familiar to me. Some phrases of it make me think of Over The Waves.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40169
Goin` Down The Road Feelin` Bad / The Drunkard`s Child
recorded July 16, 1924
Goin` Down The Road Feelin` Bad is very common. The Drunkard`s Child is a classic old time tune with many different versions out there.

Henry Whitter / OKeh 40187
Rain Crow Bill Blues / The Weeping Willow Tree
recorded December 10, 1923
Rain Crow Bill Blues is a great harp solo, Weeping Willow Tree is a harp & guitar solo of this common tune.

Whitter`s Virginia Breakdowners / OKeh 40211
Jennie Lind Polka / Nellie Gray
recorded July 16, 1924
These two tunes are fairly common tunes, played very well here. This is possibly the first old time string band to record a record.

Click here to download Henry Whitter 78`s on OKeh #1


  1. Thanks for this, I just randomly found your blog, (well munju helped). Love these old 78s

  2. Can't pass up a bunch of classic 78's! Thanx...........

  3. hi Allen, this is such a great find ! Thanks a million !

  4. Thanks for these 78s, Allen! Wiki "Floyd Allen" and you'll find all you wanted to know, and then some, about the Allen family and the 1912 shootout in the Hillsville, VA, courthouse which sent Floyd and his son Claude to the electric chair and Floyd's brother Sidna to the penitentiary. The song cut by Whitter was composed by Carson Robison for the hillbilly record market; there's also a traditional song called "Claude Allen" (the version I have is by Hobart Smith), which deals with the same events but more emotionally than journalistically. I'll be looking forward to more Henry Whitter, and thanks in advance.

  5. Wonderful, thank you very much! I've been trying to find Whitter's version of "Shortnin' Bread" for a long time, as I believe it is the first recorded version of that number. Just one thing, can you provide a photo/scan of OKeh 40064-B Hop Out Ladies & Shortenin' Bread, please?