Monday, December 2, 2013

Who were your Local Heroes?


Growing up in North Carolina in the 1950-60’s there was a couple entertainers you  would recognize right off. One was a TV Cowboy named Fred Kirby. He had a TV program with live kids in the audience and the recorded entertainment was the Little Rascals.  His program always opened with him in all his Cowboy regalia and his guitar singing a song he wrote. “How we love the Little Rascals”.  Fred was a great guy. He was second to Roy Rogers in the tryouts for the ‘King of the Singing Cowboys’, in Hollywood.

He came back to Charlotte and became famous locally. He even had his own Theme park called “Tweetsie”,  I guess the park is still there. The park was circled by a rail road and the Train was named Tweetsie, an old steam engine that had daily robberies with the good guys always riding in to save the day, etc. 

Do you remember the song, “Kansas City Star”? Every time I heard that song I thought of Fred, Kids loved him.

Arthur Smith

The other was Arthur Smith. He was strictly music. He had an hour program and not too many NC homes missed it, “Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks”, they sold 3 million records of Guitar Boogie. He wrote Dueling Banjos. He became very wealthy and known Internationally. One of the singers was my favorite,Tommy Faile. He had one BIG hit, “The Brown Mt. Light”. A song of a NC legend about a mysterious light on Brown Mt.

Arthur also searched for talent using a roaming Talent Show. The winners appeared on his TV program and sometimes a contract. When it was announced that Arthur’s Talent Show was coming to the Old Rock School in Valdese, boy, was everyone excited.

Entering the contest was a trio of High School girls well known in Valdese. They sang the Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee hit at the time, “Side By Side”.. These girls could really belt it out.

At the beginning of the song, the musician (who was one of the girls) was playing the Accordion. They strutted across the stage and back singing then back to the piano where the musician moved her left hand down to the keys on the piano and never missed  a beat as the other girls removed the Accordion and they finished, with musician tearing the piano up and them singing the last verse around the piano.

These were 16/17 year old kids. They took the house down with a standing ovation. I was proud, I was MUCH YOUNGER but one of those girls was my OLDER Sister, Shirl.  She and her friends Mickey and Margreta were very good, and the talk of the town. They were going to be on the Arthur Smith Show!

Shirl  continued to sing and play but her career went another direction. Then around retirement time She began to volunteer with a group that Sherry’s Brother Vernon had to entertain the seniors. She was spotted by another musician and began to sing with his band. She now  limits most of the singing to Jam sessions.

The girl still has a great voice. But don’t tell her I said so.

Nite Shipslog


Life is strange, Shirl’s next door neighbor is James (Jim) Arp, lead singer for the Del Ray’s, J’ville Florida 50-60’s. He did pursue a music career and as I have blogged about before, he is one of the locals who made it to the big time.



A model Woody, I hope he drives that to my house.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

We too had our local TV stars but my memories are not as sharp as yours. I watched the little rascals of course. What fun they were. Hope you both have a wonderful Monday!

Louis la Vache said...

What a story, Jack! Hats off to you, Shirl! («Louis» knows Shirl will see this!) :-)

«Louis» grew up in Lubbock, Texas. At that time in Texas each county to vote precinct by precinct whether or not to sell alcohol. In Lubbock County, there was only one "wet" precinct. So all the liquor stores and clubs were on one road in that precinct. It was called "the Strip". One of the clubs was The Cotton Club and that's where Buddy Holly got his start.

«Louis'» parents were friends of a couple, J.D. and Gladys Leftwich. The Leftwiches owned several lumber yards across the Texas Panhandle. J.D. liked to fly to his stores rather than drive, so he had (and could afford) a private plane. It was his pilot that was flying the plane that crashed with Buddy Holly on it.

shirl72 said...

Jack I didn't know you remembered
the story about us winning the
contest. We will entertain a few
gigs during Christmas. Louis la Vache what a story.. Buddy Holly
was a favorite. I also like Tommy
Faile he was best singer on the show. Jack I had forgotten about
playing the accordion. What good memories we all have and your blog brought up some lost memories.

Chatty Crone said...

Jack your memory is just awesome. I am sure we had some, but I don't remember. You tell or have some great stories... sandie


Great story about your sister.

Paula said...

We had Red River Dave in San Antonio. A pretty young woman and her brother sang on his show. My brother-in-law left my sister with three young kids to marry her.

betty said...

If we had any local heroes, I don't remember, but I enjoyed reading about yours, Jack. Great story about Shirl! Sounded like a great performance the trio did and great that she is still using her God given talent these days :)


Mevely317 said...

My lips are sealed.... lol!
This was thoroughly entertaining!

Right away, I remembered a local (well, from KOB-TV in Albuquerque) singing cowboy in the 50's-60's named Dick Bills. His goofy (my dad's word) nephew would join in the band now and then ... before growing a career of his own: Glenn Campbell.
Still recall their signature jingle --... riding down the trail to Albuquerque, saddlebags all filled with beans and jerky ....
(dang, stop me now - lol!)

Lucy said...

We had Calamity Kate and some others but my memory is not that good. I have figured out that Shirl is still talented. She will never be bored.