The Austin Chronicle

The Boxing Lesson

Box sets grow up and out

By Ed Ward, December 20, 2013, Music

Big "D" Jamboree: Live Recordings From the Stage of the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, 1950-1958

(Bear Family)

It was October 5, 1957, and, as emcee Johnny Hicks noted, "It's kind of hard these days to draw a line between country style and rock & roll; they've kindly gotten all mixed up together." The place was the Sportatorium, a huge wrestling arena in Dallas, and the event a transcription segment of the Big "D" Jamboree, one of numerous sub-Opry shows airing weekly around the country on which big-name stars did walk-ons and local stars found their apogee. It was a big night out for country fans, and Dallas studio owner David Dennard was certain tapes existed. Years of research proved him right: Big "D" contributed to Saturday Night Country Style, beamed worldwide via the Armed Forces Radio Network, and the Library of Congress had unplayed transcription discs of 19 shows. Dennard's hard work turned up performances by Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent, and locals Johnny Carroll and Ronnie Dawson, along with stars like Leon Payne, Hank Locklin, Wanda Jackson, and a bunch you've never heard of, including perky Charline Arthur, a wildcat with a tragic story. Not all of it's great, but a very real slice of Texas music history gets preserved at last.

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