Spotlight On Music In Appalachia 2010

Slim Bryant

Today’s guest post was written by John Trout. John hosts an outstanding radio show-Traditional Ties on WYEP FM 91.3 Pittsburgh PA. John started his great show way back in 1985, and it’s been a huge hit ever since.

When I first approached John about writing a guest post for me, I told him to pick his topic-since I was sure he knew more about the history and importance of music in Appalachia than I did. A few days later, John told me he’d like to write about one of the most remarkable men he knew-Hoyt “Slim” Bryant-and the importance his amazing musical career had on traditional country and bluegrass music. When John wrote the piece below-Slim Bryant was 101 years old-sadly he died 2 days after John sent me the piece.

slim bryant

 

(photo by Vintage Guitar)

Hoyt “Slim” Bryant by John Trout

The musical heritage of the western Pennsylvania area has been greatly influenced by traditional country and bluegrass artists. During my formative years, the late 1940s and 1950s it was typical for county and community fairs as well as area amusement parks to feature artists from the nearby, Worlds Original Jamboree in Wheeling West Virginia.

During that period you might see Hawkshaw Hawkins, The Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper or Doc & Chickie Williams at at your local event.

One such entertainer Hoyt “Slim” Bryant, came to Pittsburgh in 1940 to do a daily show for KDKA radio. Unlike many artists, who would move on after the demand for public appearances faded in a year or two, Slim’s radio show continued until 1959 at KDKA. The early morning show was music sandwiched between news and farm reports.

Slim and his band, The Wildcats appeared on Pittsburgh’s first live TV broadcast in 1949. The station was WDTV, later to become KDKA TV.

Slim, an Atlanta native had a distinguished musical career before arriving in Pittsburgh. He was originally a member of Clayton McMichen and the Georgia Wildcats, leaving in 1940 to come to Pittsburgh.

Also a songwriter his “Mother the Queen of My Heart,” was recorded by Jimmy Rodgers in 1932, Slim played on that recording and is the last surviving artist to have recorded with Rodgers.

Slim’s music was progressive for it’s time taking the music in a jazzy direction. “Music with a beat” is Bryant’s description. Band members in addition to Slim on lead vocal and his 1936 Gibson L5 guitar included; Ken Newton, fiddle; Jerry Wallace, banjo; Al Azzaro, accordion; and brother Raymond ‘Loppy’ Bryant, bass and vocals. All but Slim are deceased.

Due to arthritis he doesn’t play much any more, but only gave up teaching guitar a few years ago. In 2007, Slim issued his first CD, 31 of his vintage recordings. At the age of 100 in 2008, he renewed his driver’s license, he limits his driving to his neighborhood during daylight hours.

Asked to comment on today’s country music, he’s been quoted as saying, “It’s all Rock and Roll, no guitar player in his right mind would buy a guitar with three pickups.”

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After reading John’s interesting post-one can see both the influence and the longevity of Slim Bryant’s musical career. I like his quote about today’s country music-cause it’s very similar to Pap’s view on the subject.

To find out more about John Trout-check out his blog John Trout’s Bluegrass World. And if you can find the time-I highly encourage you to check out his radio show Traditional Ties-I know you’ll be glad you did.

Tipper

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    July 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Tipper, I always learn something new in these posts! Keep em coming!
    Janice

  • Reply
    Jen
    July 11, 2010 at 10:42 am

    What an interesting man! Also,a nicely written tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    July 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the link-and the video was great!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    PointlessPicks
    July 9, 2010 at 12:30 am

    The blog mentioned Slim Bryant’s song, “Mother the Queen of My Heart,” that was recorded by Jimmie Rodgers is performed by my friend Mark Simpson on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxDuehUWD-c&feature=related
    I hope you liked it!
    Mark was the first person to Introduce me to the music of Jimmie Rodgers. He DJs WCXI Radio 1160 AM in Fenton Michigan which plays the old time country music.
    According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slim_Bryant), Slim Bryant wrote nine of Jimmie Rodgers’ songs. Thanks Tipper for telling us about Slim, I had never heard about him until your blog!

  • Reply
    Mary
    July 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    What a great tribute to this man! I’ve enjoyed learning about him.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    July 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Tipper: Now this is music from my hometown area. I will say one thing that is very true, I was country when country wasn’t cool. I fit the song perfectly.

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    It seems I’ve heard his name somewhere down through the years. But that’s all I can recall about him.
    He definitely had a love for music. It is a shame he didn’t get the chance to read this post.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Didn’t know of Slim, but I do now. Thanks for the post about him.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    July 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    wow! 103, incredilbe and a great tribute to him. I preferred the 50’s and would like to go back to those years but only if i could keep my toaster/coffeepot/microwave/widescreen TV/ you know what i mean.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m sorry but I never heard of Slim Bryant, but I do agree that
    the new stuff ain’t country at all. Mr. Trout however did a real
    good job with this article and we
    thank him for that. I did check out and listen to 91.3 for awhile, can’t beat the 50s-60s music, except for Paul and Pap and those Pressley Girls. Ken

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    July 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Wonderful post. Wish Slim could have read it! Thanks for the history.

  • Reply
    betsyfromtennessee
    July 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Hi Tipper, I remember a little bit about Slim Bryant… He was pregressive for his time, wasn’t he?????
    Enjoyed the post.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    July 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Very interesting post. The Wheeling Jamboree was one of the hottest venue’s around for many years. I’m so glad that it is open again. Shirley and I saw Loretta Lynn there a couple of years ago. The show was amazing, enhanced by that wonderful building. We were talking just the other day about how many people got their start at the Wheeling Jamboree.
    I’m ashamed to admit I don’t believe I’d ever heard of Slim Bryant before this post. I’m going to go do some research on him and see what I can find.

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