This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page . (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Hoosier Hot Shots
|Genres||Swing, comedy, country, old-time, novelty songs|
|Labels||Banner, Conqueror, Decca, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo, Vocalion|
The Hoosier Hot Shots were an American quartet of musicians who entertained on stage, screen, radio, and records from the mid-1930s into the 1970s. The group formed in Indiana where they performed on local radio before moving to Chicago and a nationwide broadcasting and recording career. The group later moved to Hollywood to star in western movies.
The Hot Shots' core personnel were multi-instrumentalists, playing brass band instruments as well as their standard instrumentation of guitar (Ken), clarinet (Gabe), string bass (various), and a strange, homemade instrument known both as the "Wabash Washboard" and "the Zither," played by Hezzie. It consisted of a corrugated sheet metal washboard on a metal stand with various noisemakers attached, including bells and a multi-octave range of squeeze-type bicycle horns; Hezzie Trietsch constructed this instrument himself. Hezzie also played slide whistle on which he was able to play melodies and variations in addition to effects. The washboard, along with other artifacts from the band, is now in the collection of the Indiana State Museum.
The Hot Shots' repertoire focused on swing and jazz standards and originals, especially those with a comedic element. Powered by a frantic and seemingly freewheeling instrumental virtuosity, grounded in the musical comedy of vaudeville, the Hot Shots were nevertheless able to cover both comic and more serious material, although some of their more serious recordings retain whimsical ornamental elements, capable of evoking a subtle musical irony.
The lineup consisted of the following members:
The story of the Hoosier Hot Shots begins in the first years of the 20th century on the Trietsch family farm near Arcadia, Indiana, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis. The Trietsch family grew to be one of four girls and five boys, two of which—Kenneth and Paul—were to become the nucleus of the Hot Shots.
Growing up in rural Indiana and aided by the example of a banjo-playing father, Kenneth, Paul and the other Trietsch children developed a keen interest in music and developed their various talents. An ensemble featuring father and sons toured the American and Canadian vaudeville circuit for several years. After the family act broke up, Ken and Paul went to work with another vaudeville group called Ezra Buzzington's Rube Band. It was while touring with the Rube Band that they met another Hoosier, Charles Otto Ward, known to his audiences as Gabriel Hawkins. "Gabe" became the third Hot Shot.
When the crash of '29 effectively ended vaudeville they, like other vaudevillians, looked to radio and landed a job at WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. One day they arrived late for a performance and the announcer greeted them with "Hey, you Hoosier hot shots, get in here!", and the name stuck.
In 1933 they moved to Chicago's WLS, the Prairie Farmer Station. Now Paul ("Hezzie", on his washboard), "Gabe" (on clarinet) and Ken (tenor guitar). With the addition in 1934 of Frank Delaney Kettering on bass fiddle, the Hoosier Hot Shots became the quartet that they would remain until the 60s.
In the late 1930s, the group had a five-minute radio show on NBC sponsored by Alka-Seltzer and appeared on National Barn Dance on WLS-AM in Chicago, Illinois; they also had a radio program for one season (1949-1950) on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Their music was characterized by novelty songs and arrangements – such as "I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)" and "From the Indies to the Andes in His Undies" – hot jazz rhythms and the occasional sweet harmonies. They also played the pop songs of the day, like "Nobody's Sweetheart." Ken kicked off the band with "Are you ready, Hezzie?"—directed at his brother Paul—and it became one of the band's big taglines, even entering the common vernacular.
Over their career the Hoosier Hot Shots recorded hundreds of 78s for such labels as Banner, Conqueror, Decca, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo, and Vocalion. Some of these releases have made it to LPs, cassettes, and compact discs.
Recordings of songs made by the Hoosier Hot Shots often include the signature spoken (by Ken Trietsch) intro, "Are you ready, Hezzie?" followed by the sound of the bustle of the musicians preparing to play their instruments. However, the tightly-rehearsed skill of the performers lets the listener in on the joke as soon as the song actually begins. Their producer avoided recording too many takes of their performances, preferring a spontaneous sound: according to one member, the producer would record at most two takes of a particular song, and use the one that sounded worse.
Between 1937 and 1950, the Hot Shots appeared in more than 20 movies, sharing billing with the likes of Gene Autry, Dale Evans, Bob Wills, the Three Stooges and Merle Travis. During the mid- to late 1940s they starred in their own series of musical westerns for Columbia Pictures.
They were an ongoing presence in the early Billboard magazine country (hillbilly) charts with songs like "Beer Barrel Polka", "When There Are Tears In The Eyes Of The Potato", "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "O-Hi-O".
The World War II era their popularity was at its peak and, in addition to their normal pursuits they toured with the USO in North Africa and Italy.
Frank Kettering left in 1943, and replaced by singer-bassist Gil Taylor. They moved to the West Coast where they continued to make movies, records, stage, and radio appearances. They made the transition to television easily and were seen on such TV shows as the Tex Ritter "Ranch Party."
The Hoosier Hot Shots' career was winding down by the late '50s but they continued recording (adding Keith Milheim on drums) and playing live venues until the death of Hezzie Trietsch (of cancer) on April 20, 1980. Gabe Ward continued to perform solo after the others had died or retired, until shortly before his own death on January 14, 1992.
The Hoosier Hot Shots were not just a comical music act, they were the inspiration for a musical genre that thrived during the '30s, '40s and, thanks to latter-day proponents like "Weird Al" Yankovic and John Lithgow (who recorded a cover of "From the Indies to the Andes in His Undies" as well as "I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones"), can still be heard today.
Among the acts that were inspired by the Hot Shots were the Freddie Fisher's Schnickelfritz Band, the Korn Kobblers, and Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Spike Jones's early recordings were heavily influenced by the Hoosier Hot Shots. Both Jones and Fisher copied the "Wabash Washboard" developed by Paul (Hezzie) Trietsch.
A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of conventional and homemade instruments. These homemade instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, bones, stovepipe, jew's harp, and comb and tissue paper. The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate homemade instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands, or juke bands because they do not include a jug player.
The washboard and frottoir are used as a percussion instrument, employing the ribbed metal surface of the cleaning device as a rhythm instrument. As traditionally used in jazz, zydeco, skiffle, jug band, and old-time music, the washboard remained in its wooden frame and is played primarily by tapping, but also scraping the washboard with thimbles. Often the washboard has additional traps, such as a wood block, a cowbell, and even small cymbals. Conversely, the frottoir dispenses with the frame and consists simply of the metal ribbing hung around the neck. It is played primarily with spoon handles or bottle openers in a combination of strumming, scratching, tapping and rolling. The frottoir or vest frottoir is played as a stroked percussion instrument, often in a band with a drummer, while the washboard generally is a replacement for drums. In Zydeco bands, the frottoir is usually played with bottle openers, to make a louder sound. It tends to play counter-rhythms to the drummer. In a jug band, the washboard can also be stroked with a single whisk broom and functions as the drums for the band, playing only on the back-beat for most songs, a substitute for a snare drum. In a four-beat measure, the washboard will stroke on the 2-beat and the 4-beat. Its best sound is achieved using a single steel-wire snare-brush or whisk broom. However, in a jazz setting, the washboard can also be played with thimbles on all fingers, tapping out much more complex rhythms, as in The Washboard Rhythm Kings, a full-sized band, and Newman Taylor Baker.
A slide whistle is a wind instrument consisting of a fipple like a recorder's and a tube with a piston in it. Thus it has an air reed like some woodwinds, but varies the pitch with a slide. The construction is rather like a bicycle pump. Because the air column is cylindrical and open at one end and closed at the other, it overblows the third harmonic. "A whistle made out of a long tube with a slide at one end. An ascending and descending glissando is produced by moving the slide back and forth while blowing into the mouthpiece." "Tubular whistle with a plunger unit in its column, approximately 12 inches long. The pitch is changed by moving the slide plunger in and out, producing ascending and descending glisses."
Skiffle is a genre of folk music with influences from blues, jazz, and American folk music, generally performed with a mixture of manufactured and homemade or improvised instruments. Originating as a form in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, it became extremely popular in the UK in the 1950s, where it was played by such artists as Lonnie Donegan, The Vipers Skiffle Group, Ken Colyer, and Chas McDevitt. Skiffle was a major part of the early careers of some musicians who later became prominent jazz, pop, blues, folk, and rock performers, The Beatles and Rory Gallagher amongst them. It has been seen as a critical stepping stone to the second British folk revival, the British blues boom, and British Invasion of the US popular music scene.
Lindley Armstrong Jones, known as Spike Jones, was an American musician and bandleader specializing in spoof arrangements of popular songs and classical music. Ballads receiving the Jones treatment were punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells and outlandish and comedic vocals. Jones and his band recorded under the title Spike Jones and His City Slickers from the early 1940s to the mid-1950s, and toured the United States and Canada as The Musical Depreciation Revue.
The New Vaudeville Band was a group created by songwriter Geoff Stephens in 1966 to record his novelty composition "Winchester Cathedral", a song inspired by the dance bands of the 1920s and a Rudy Vallee megaphone-style vocal. To his surprise, the song became a transatlantic hit that autumn, reaching the Top 10 in the United Kingdom and rising to #1 in the United States. Initially a studio group composed of session players, Stephens quickly assembled a permanent group to continue recording and to play live shows. The New Vaudeville Band placed several singles in the US and UK top 40 through 1967 before dissolving. The group has been periodically revived since, without Stephens' participation.
Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers was a country-comedy band that performed largely in the Midwest United States from the late 1930s into the 1960s.
The Memphis Jug Band was an American musical group active from the mid-1920s to the late 1950s. The band featured harmonica, kazoo, fiddle and mandolin or banjolin, backed by guitar, piano, washboard, washtub bass and jug. They played slow blues, pop songs, humorous songs and upbeat dance numbers with jazz and string band flavors. The band made the first commercial recordings in Memphis, Tennessee, and recorded more sides than any other prewar jug band.
Rockin' in the Rockies is a 1945 musical western full-length movie starring the Three Stooges. The picture was one of the Stooges' few feature-length films made during the run of their better-known series of short subjects for Columbia Pictures, although the group had appeared in supporting roles in other features. It is the only Stooges feature-length film with the team's best known line-up in starring roles.
Jackie Ward, better known as Robin Ward, is an American singer, regarded as a "one-hit wonder" of 1963 million-selling song "Wonderful Summer". However, using her real name she was highly accomplished and successful singing in groups. Ward's voice is heard in U.S. television series, motion pictures, advertisements, and pop records. She is one of the real singers of the hits attributed to The Partridge Family.
Hokum is a particular song type of American blues music—a humorous song which uses extended analogies or euphemistic terms to make sexual innuendos. This trope goes back to early blues recordings and is used from time to time in modern American blues and blues rock.
Joe Daniels, born in Zeerust, South Africa, was a British drummer and performer whose career began in the early 1920s.
Hoosier Holiday is a 1943 American comedy film directed by Frank McDonald and written by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan. The film stars George D. Hay, Isabel Randolph, Shug Fisher, Lillian Randolph, Dale Evans and George Byron. The film was released on September 13, 1943, by Republic Pictures.
Song of Idaho is a 1948 American Western musical film directed by Ray Nazarro. It was released by Columbia Pictures.
Lone Star Moonlight is a 1946 American Western film directed by Ray Nazarro and written by Louise Rousseau. The film stars Ken Curtis, Joan Barton, Guy Kibbee, Robert Kellard, Claudia Drake and Arthur Loft. The film was released on December 12, 1946, by Columbia Pictures.
Over the Santa Fe Trail is a 1947 American Western film directed by Ray Nazarro and written by Louise Rousseau. The film stars Ken Curtis, Jennifer Holt, Guy Kibbee, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Noel Neill and Holmes Herbert. The film was released on February 13, 1947, by Columbia Pictures.
Smoky River Serenade is a 1947 American Western film directed by Derwin Abrahams and written by Barry Shipman. The film stars Paul Campbell, Ruth Terry, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Virginia Hunter, Carolina Cotton and Cottonseed Clark. The film was released on August 21, 1947, by Columbia Pictures.
Song of the Prairie is a 1945 American Western film directed by Ray Nazarro and written by J. Benton Cheney. The film stars Ken Curtis, June Storey, Andy Clyde, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Jeff Donnell, Grady Sutton and Thurston Hall. The film was released on September 27, 1945, by Columbia Pictures.
Sing Me a Song of Texas is a 1945 American Western film directed by Vernon Keays and written by J. Benton Cheney and Elizabeth Beecher. The film stars Rosemary Lane, Tom Tyler, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Slim Summerville, Carole Mathews, Noah Beery Sr., Pinky Tomlin and Marie Austin. The film was released on February 8, 1945, by Columbia Pictures.
Harold James O'Halloran was an American radio announcer and a singer.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hoosier Hot Shots .|