Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Yodelin' Slim Clark

Modern music critics forget that there was country music in the North as well as the south. Yodelin' Slim Clark was from Massachusetts originally. The tradition continues in Canada whereas New England has largely moved on. Clark himself retired in the 1970s and began painting. Strangely beyond his discography and his career painting landscapes much of his biography is convoluted.

His career began in 1936 at the age of 19. On air he used the name "Wyoming Buck" thought he had never even been to Wyoming himself. Some sources state he went pro in 1931 but that seems absurd since he would have been 0nly 14. Regardless the "Wyoming Buck" name didn't' stick. The station manager dubbed him "Yodeling Slim Clark," a nick name he kept for the rest of his career.

In 1938 he got a weekly spot on a show at WKNE with announcer, Ozzie Wade. Numerous sources put him on the radio program "RFD Dinner Bell" out of Bangor but this does not jive. RDF Dinner Bell was at WSB in Atlanta about 1000 miles away. RFD stands for Radio Farmers Democracy. The acronym was a play on the Postal Service's Rural Free Delivery service which began in 1896 for farming families in rural areas. By 1905 the Post Office was serving 32,000 RFD routes. It was discontinued in 1915 in favor of parcel post. More here.

It was a program of agriculture and country music which would have aired him. Starting in 1926, it ran three times a week at noon sponsored by Sears & Roebuck. Sears stopped working with WSB in 1928 and the show was discontinued. Clark did not appear on a show of the same name for 10 more years. However, WLS ran their own version of the show, so it's entirely possible that 910 WABI-AM in Bangor did as well. More here.

He had several bands over the years. With the Red River Rangers he played often at 1240 WHAI-AM in Greenfield, MA. His later bands The Trailriders and The Trailsmen were nearly as successful. In 1952 he started in television at WABI-TV.

In 1946 he signed a record deal with Continental Records in New York City. He stayed with them until 1957. He wasn't on to record another 50 albums before he began his second career as a painter.