Detroit recording sessions of Jimmy Work

 
In 1993 Bear Family Records assembled all of Jimmy Work’s records in a double compact disc package, including his earliest efforts made in Detroit for the Trophy and Alben labels. Work also cut all of his Dot records (1954 to 1956) in Detroit. Liner notes author Rich Kienzle and Bear Family’s Richard Weize made some very good guesses at the personnel on these sessions.

Tennessee Border by Jimmy WorkFrom personal conversations with Jimmy Work, as well as a timeline of Casey Clark’s Lazy Ranch Boys assembled from interviews with various members of the band, I’ve pieced together some information that’s probably as close to the truth as a body can get without being there. This information concerns just Work’s activities in Detroit, as I don’t have anything to add to his better documented Decca, Bullet, London, and Capitol sessions. Work’s story will appear in the upcoming book “Detroit Country Music – Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies.”

Around 1945, while maintaining a show over WCAR radio Pontiac, Work cut four songs he wrote, issued by the Trophy label in Detroit (his first records). The catalog numbers of Work’s sides suggest they were issued in 1946 or 1947 when compared with a Bobby Stevenson Trophy record that was in the single digits. Stevenson, a jazz pianist, returned to Detroit from military service in mid-1946.

 

1945, unknown studio, Detroit, Michigan
Trophy T14
“Those Kentucky Bluegrass Hills” backed with “You’re Gone, I Won’t Forget”
Trophy T15 “Rainy Rainy Blues” b/w “Heart That Steamboat Whistle Blow”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Dorris Woodruff: electric guitar

Autumn 1948, unknown studio, Detroit, Michigan
Alben 501 “Tennessee Border” b/w “Your Jealous Heart Is Broken Now”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Dorris Woodruff: electric guitar; unknown: rhythm guitar; unknown: bass

Listen to: Jimmy Work & his Border Boys – Tennessee Border

Circa August 1954, United Sound Systems, Detroit, Michigan
Dot 1221 “Making Believe” b/w “Just Like Downtown”
Dot 1245 “That’s What Makes The Jukebox Play” b/w “Don’t Give Me A Reason To Wonder Why”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Casey Clark: fiddle; Bronson Reynolds: bass; Buddy Emmons: steel guitar; Chuck Carroll: electric guitar

Ca. August 1955, United Sound Systems, Detroit, Michigan
Dot 1267 “Don’t Knock, Just Come On In” b/w “Let ‘Em Talk”
Dot 1277 “My Old Stomping Ground” (paired with “Hands Away From My Heart”)
Unissued “Blind Heart”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Casey Clark: fiddle; Bronson Reynolds: bass; Terry Bethel: steel guitar; Donnel Hemminger: electric guitar

Making Believe by Jimmy WorkCa. September 1955, United Sound Systems, Detroit, Michigan
Dot 1272 “There’s Only One You” b/w “When She Said You All”
Dot 1277 “Hands Away From My Heart” (paired with “My Old Stomping Ground”)
Unissued “Puttin’ On The Dog (Tom Cattin’ Around)”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Casey Clark: fiddle; Bronson Reynolds: bass; Jimmy Murrah: steel guitar; Donnell Hemminger: electric guitar

Ca. February 1956, United Sound Systems, Detroit, Michigan
Dot 1279 “Rock Island Line” b/w “That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Casey Clark: possibly bass; Dick McCobb: piano; Donnel Hemminger: electric guitar; Ted Bay: drums

Ca. April 1956, United Sound Systems, Detroit, Michigan
Dot 1284 “You’ve Got A Heart Like A Merry-Go-Round” b/w “Blind Heart”
Dot 1287 “That Cold, Cold Look In Your Eye” b/w “Digging My Own Grave”
Jimmy Work: vocal/guitar; Casey Clark: fiddle; Bronson Reynolds: bass; Billy Cooper: steel guitar; Donnel Hemminger: electric guitar
 

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