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Southland Echoes - Pgm 49-23

May 14th, 2008

Note: The contents of the program may be offensive to some listeners due to racial stereotyping themes.

Here's an oddity I can't find much information on. "Southland Echoes" was a syndicated 15 minute program of music and comic routines, probably dating from the late 1940s, that was produced by the Nelson Chesman Company, Chattanooga. The show is sponsored by the Chattanooga Medicine Company and includes ads for the patent medicines Black Draught, a laxative, and Cardui, a tonic for women. Likely, it had limited distribution and is a typical example of the many regional country music shows of the period. The program features the Homeland Harmony Quartette, performing Southern Gospel songs with piano, the Jones Sisters and blackface comics Jam-Up and Honey.

I couldn't turn up any info on the Jones Sisters, but the Homeland Harmony Quartet, formed in the 1935, was a major influence on Southern Gospel with many "firsts" to their name, creating the more modern gospel quartet sound that used more complex harmonies and rhythms influenced by jazz and blues. (Read more about them here).

Honey Wilds, half of the comedy team of Jam-Up and Honey, was a major figure in the history of the Grand Old Opry, signing up as an act with the organization in 1932 and staying with them for over two decades. He was the main driver behind the highly successful touring Opry tent shows of the 1940s and was close friends with Opry figures like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb. Wilds is mostly forgotten today, spending most of his efforts on live performances and leaving very few recordings. You can find out more about Wilds in an interesting interview with his son located here.

"Southland Echoes" appears to have been recorded at the studios of WGST in Atlanta (at least that's a handwritten notation etched into the wax on each disc). WGST had a rather odd history, operating as a commercial station and owned by Georgia Tech for much of its history, btw. The school has a brief history of the station that highlights their archival collection from WGST.

In this program in the series, the Homeland Harmony Quartette perform "Do Your Best, Then Wear a Smile" and "At Peace with Jesus Now"; the Jones Sisters sing "My Happiness" and "The Man on the Carousel". Jam-Up and Honey do a routine about a men's club and another about a job with a carnival.

Updated 5/17/08: Corrected the name of the Jones Sisters.

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