Leon's Lone Star Cowboys : 1932-1937
BACM CD D 478
If you are a fan of vintage Western Swing, you may already have Cary Ginell’s excellent Origin Jazz Library series CD of Leon Chappelear’s music. The selections on this new CD do not duplicate those on the earlier release. In fact, this new disc contains a large number of previously unreleased tracks, so get ready to add it to your collection!
Leon started out as a singing cowboy, in the style of Jimmie Rodgers, and the first two songs on this new disc are from that era (1932). They are two of his very first recordings, unreleased until now. They’re not my cup of tea, but the rest of the disc (with a total of 28 songs) is dedicated to his work with his Lone Star Cowboys swing band and they’re well worth a listen. A number of those are from a series of what historian Kevin Coffey calls “fantastic” sessions from August 1935. Some of these are also previously unreleased, so will be treasured by collectors.
Leon was critically injured on Friday, the 13th of Sept., 1935 when a drunk driver ran into the band’s vehicle. The damage to his brain affected his memory, his personality and his musical ability and eventually led to suicide. But the change was gradual and the band was able to record additional sides for the Decca label in ’36 & ’37, and many of them can be heard on this disc. Available from VenerableMusic.com, phone (678) 232-0268.