Detroit country-western handbills

Handbills, circulars, or fliers have been around for a long time. Here we survey several rare examples of handbills advertising Detroit-based country music entertainers from the 1930s to 1950s.

Handbills, circulars, or fliers have been around for a long time. The following rare examples were made by skilled technicians using letterpress machines, setting each page element by hand, and printing a few hundred copies. Stories about the entertainers featured below appear in the book “Detroit Country Music – Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies.”

1932 handbill for Mountain Red at Calvert's Coffee Shop
Circa 1933. Source: Music City News, Michigan Edition. Oct. 1966, Vol. 1, No. 1
1936 handbill for Chief Redbird and his Tribe at Oakdale Theatre
1936. Source: Craig Maki, courtesy the Redbird family.


1939 Doc Johnson and his Arizona Bronc-Busters handbill
1939. Arizona Weston and his brother performed as the Arizona Twins, as well as part of the Black Canyon Trio (with Slim), within Doc Johnson’s group. They worked in Pontiac and Detroit before hitting the road, winding up at WCHS radio Charleston, West Virginia. The band returned to Michigan several weeks later. Source: Craig Maki, courtesy Arizona Weston’s family


1952 handbill for the Lazy Ranch Boys Barn Dance premier
1952. After spending most of the year hosting the WJR “Big Barn Frolic,” Casey Clark launched his own barn dance in the hall at 12101 Mack Avenue. Within a year, Clark was back on WJR. Source: Keith Cady, courtesy the Clark family


1954 handbill for Skeets McDonald at Dixie Belle Bar
1955. Arkansas-born Skeets McDonald performed in Pontiac and Detroit during the 1930s and 1940s. Around 1950 he cut the jukebox hit “The Tattooed Lady” b/w “Mean And Evil Blues” for Fortune Records (145). By the time he played this booking, McDonald was a Capitol Records star, based in Southern California. Source: Craig Maki


1956 handbill for Eddie Jackson, Lucky Lee and Jimmy Franklin gig at Conner Show Bar
1956. At the time, vocalist Jimmy Franklin played bass in Eddie Jackson’s band the Swingsters. Lucky Lee led his own band, and all the musicians probably switched up to form different acts (“5 complete bands”) all night long. Source: Craig Maki


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