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Thread: Porter Wagoner and the Wagonmasters

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    Registered User goldtopper's Avatar
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    I've been watching a bit of Porter's old show on RFDTV lately and am amazed at Porter's band. The fiddler, guitarist and banjo player-he plays an electric?!?- simply kick butt!

    For any of you Porter-files out there: what's that guitar he plays? Never seen any like it other than some folks on his show play them ocaisionally. It's a dreadnaught size body with an ugly flared out headstock. Anyone know?
    Staying Tuned

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    Buck Trent! - plays/played an "electrified 5-string banjo - Man could he hit them "steel-licks" - he used - heavily - the "Scruggs Tuners' -(i.e. installed on the "peghead" - reach an' twist 'em - "drop" or "raise" the/a string - HE used this technique on Country songs. And MAN could he wail!! - I've often wondered why no one else has used THAT technique - still gives me "goosebumps" whenever I hear those great Porter songs). EACH of those band members were "stars" in their own right - Buck, Don Warden:"stand-up" steel(incidently.., Mr. Warden went on to become Dolly's road-manager - I think he still is) - "Speck" Rhoades the comedian ; "Mac" McGeihey(*sp.) a great fiddler - who started out in Bluegrass. When the "break-up" happened, Porter "broke-up"/disbanded the Waggonmasters - go figure....

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    Porter W. often played a Grammer Guitar, built by Billy Grammer of Nashville, Tennessee. Good guitars with a distinctive peghead, kind of a Martin wanna-be.

    He said of his show, all the frills is on the clothes, none is on the music.

    The original Wagonmasters were something else. Seems obvious that they cut their teeth on bluegrass, and that the electric instruments were "new technology" for them. IMHO, they are one of the "missing links" between country and bluegrass. Check out the "Essential Porter Wagoner" CD, especially the early stuff before the more uptown Nashville sound started creeping in, with slicker backup singers and studio pickers.

    Buck's electric banjo had a wooden head, four Scruggs tuners and two push-buttons near the bridge that activated some kind of pedal steel changer. (Pre-dated Clarence White and his b-bender by several years). Don Warden had Sho-Bud pedal steel #0001. It was stand-up height with only one pedal, if I recall. He toted it around the stage, like a Dobro player, bringing it with him to the "big mic" when he sang harmony. Mack Magahey danced an Irish jig while he fiddled, an almost unbelievable skill. George McCormick played a big F-hole Gibson guitar and sang high tenor. Spec Rhodes on doghouse bass and comedy, with a derby hat, checkered suit and blacked-out teeth, talking with his girlfriend Sadie over the old wall crank telephone. Pretty little miss Norma Jean was the pre-Dolly girl vocalist. Hot band for it's era! Used to watch 'em every Saturday night. Still would, if they were on our cable system.

    In old Nashville, they told Porter not go go on TV, because that would cut into his live appearances. He didn't listen, and started up the first (?) syndicated country music TV show. After the first TV season was over, I read that he drew 10,000 people to his first live show somewhere in Alabama.

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    Buck Trent's electric banjo always got to me too. It made me want to change the channel on the TV.
    Keep it acoustic.

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    addendum: I believe - somewhere - I read that it is "documented'.... Porter Wagoner had(has?) the "longest-running syndicated TV Show" - Now THERE was a SHOW!! - THAT was pure Gold Country - (IMHO) - Hey Ironweed.. ; I once heard Porter say on a Ralph Emory Show, "....the worst mistake I ever made in my career was takin' five girl musicians on the road with me." (remember that all-girl band he tried..."post-Dolly" era).

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    Not all that important but.... Porter Wagoner visited my home many times when I was a very little lad in the mid to late '60's. I never really knew why because my Dad died when I was young. But, I recently found out why he visited when my aunt relayed some stories (She's in her mid-eighties now). Evidently Porter asked my Dad on several occasions to be a guitar player with him when he was on the road. He would come by (one time with Jean Shepard) and Mom would fix a big spread and the grownups would talk for hours. Now for the "funny" part. I never saw a guitar in my father's hands! According to my Aunt, dad was concerned that he would be on the road so much that he not be around to raise me properly. So he never picked up a guitar again. What a sacrifice. I wonder what he would say to me today when I asked him to jam with me and my mando. I think he would be pleased.

    As for the cross from Bluegrass to Country...I think you are right. Dad only allowed true old timey bluegrass in the house. He liked Duffy but did not like some of his experimentation. He liked the Dobro, but nothing electric or hawaiian. Only Reno, Smiley, Flatt, Scruggs, Ralph and Carter would do. That may be another reason he did not go with Porter.
    Al Henderson
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    Great story! - Thanks for sharing. I would suspect your Dad is somewhere still watching over you - and if I know dad's..., I'll bet he's very proud of you - and YOUR music! - Happy Holidays.... Moose.

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    Wow, thanks all for the great information and personal stories on Porter.
    I am so lucky to have RFDTV on the Dish Network thingy.
    The band does cook!

    Merry Christmas all!
    Staying Tuned

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    Thanks Moose and Goldtopper.

    But I was simply a bystander. I could tell you some stories about my Dad having over people like Red Buttons, Strother Martin and other western actors...but that would have no mando content.

    How my Dad met those type of people and cultured a friendship, I'll never know. We were so poor It's hard to imagine.

    As for RFDTV it is great. My wife and I were at the opening of the Bill Monroe Boyhood Home in 2001. We spent three days just simply taking in all of the great picking. Early Sunday morning they started to tape The Cumberland Highlander's Show on the steps of Bill's home. We set up our lawn chairs and watched them for hours taping show after show. Probably about 8 to 10 shows worth. We left after about 5 hours of taping. To our dismay, when we saw these shows starting to air a few months later, my wife and I were in every show as they panned the audience. I'm glad I shaved!

    It was really neat to see what goes on behind the scenes and how many takes even professionals need to "get it right".
    Al Henderson
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    "Only two kinds of people never make mistakes: Dead people and people that do nothing!" [Al's Dad]

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    Hey goldtopper,
    I have that Dish network thingy but can't find RFD tv.Do you have a channel # handy?
    Thanks, Stanley
    Great Granpas are just Antique little boys.

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    I remember seeing Porter Wagoner out of KYTV (Channel 3) in Springfield, Missouri. Does RFDTV show any of the original Duz commercials? (Dolly & Porter used to endorse a laundry (?) detergent called Duz. Motto was "Duz does it." You got a free towel in every box. Larger box = larger towel. We had a few around the house.) Fond memories.

    And who remembers Slim Wilson and the Tall Timber Trio on the old Slim Wilson Show? Sponsored by Kitty Clover Potato Chips.

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    Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
    Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past." -- D. H. Lawrence

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    Don't forget Miss Norma Jean, Dolly's predecessor.
    Keep it acoustic.

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    Distressed Model John Ritchhart's Avatar
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    Ok ..but did Buck... you know..?
    We few, we happy few.

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    Well, since we're getting into that gray "conjecture" area..., do ya' think there was anything "between" Porter and Dolly..!? - inquiring minds want to know....

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    Moose, I'd venture to say there were two BIG things between Porter and Dolly
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Stanley Cox @ Dec. 22 2004, 08:28)
    Hey goldtopper,
    I have that Dish network thingy but can't find RFD tv.Do you have a channel # handy?
    Thanks, Stanley #
    The channel on my dish Network thingy is 9409.

    It's agreat network- the Cumberland Highlanders air at least twice a week. Good Bluegrass!
    Porter and co., the Wilburn Brothers, and for all you rural folk, Trainng Mules and Donkeys.
    Enjoy and Merry Christmas to everyone!
    Staying Tuned

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    Thanks Goldtopper,Igot in the middle of Joes Polka Party but didntsee a polka mando. ch. 9409
    Stanley
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Moose @ Dec. 21 2004, 10:36)
    still is) - "Speck" Rhoades the comedian ; "Mac" McGeihey(*sp.) a great fiddler - who started out in Bluegrass. When the "break-up" happened, Porter "broke-up"/disbanded the Waggonmasters - go figure....
    The spelling is Mac Magaha, and I've heard his name pronounced
    muh-gay-hey. He was with Reno and Smiley for 10 years
    and played an all (or almost all) of their
    LP:s for King.

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    Yes! - Peter.., I forgot to mention that in his bio - TV shows in both Roanoke and Richmond - WRVA..!?? WW..??? - Thanks for the "addendum" - He's gone now - RIP MAC.

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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    I have a friend here in SC who is related to Mac...oddly enough he pronounces his name m'gah-hah...and said that Mac did pronounce his m'-gay-hey...geez, I must be getting old...I can usually add some piece of trivia



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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    And..my good buddy Bud Brewster (Pauls uncle) used to play on the Cas Walker show with Dolly...we will save those stories for another forum on another website
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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    "Another story, another time, another place"(E.Tubb, circa '1960) - Not to worry Darryl..., in several important "areas'.., "you da' man" - Have a great Holiday. EL MOOSO!

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    Can I swap a bit of Mac Magaha trivia for an answer to a Porter W. question?

    According to Don Reno's and Red Smiley's video "The Early Years", Mac Magaha's courtship and breakup with a gal was the inspiration behind Don Reno's composition of the hit "I Know You're Married But I Love You Still".

    Maybe can someone tell me whether Porter actually wrote the song "Satisfied Mind" that he recorded 50 years ago. #I've always liked that number.

    BTW, Merry Christmas to everyone on the board.

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    Moose...Mac also had his own group and they played at Opry Land for a few years, he had James Bailey with him on banjo after he left the Country Gentlemen ...I sat in with them for two shows when I made a visit down there, I knew Mac when he played with Reno and Smiley and of course James from here in this area when he was with the Gents...If you tied Macs feet down he couldn`t play a lick, but he was a good`un...Happy Holidays to all....Willie
    W.G. Poole

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    yea but..
    We few, we happy few.

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