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Hoosier Hot Shots

In the 1930s, at the height of the Depression, rural Americans desperate for a laugh tuned in their radios to enjoy the cornball musical antics of the Hoosier Hot Shots. Their odd-sounding blend of a slide whistle and clarinet as the two lead instruments, the solid rhythm of the washboard, and their bizarre song lyrics made them the top novelty act of their day and the true precursor to the latter-day success of Spike Jones & His City Slickers. In the passage of some 50 to 60 years since their heyday and in the current climate of digital samplers, it becomes hard to imagine just how weird this four-piece combo sounded to the average listener. As clarinetist bandleader Gabe Ward put it, "People started to laugh as soon as we started playing. We had a funny sound with the whistle and the clarinet. The way Hezzie played it, it was funny." The Hezzie that Ward refers to was one Paul "Hezzie" Trietsch, the washboard-playing, slide whistle-blowing heart of the group. Ward had met him and his older brother Ken in their teenage years. All three had music in their blood and by the late '20s, they were playing together in an outfit called Ezra Buzzington's Rube Band. Buzzington's outfit worked the vaudeville circuit, its main claim to fame being its huge assortment of freak musical instruments. It was here that the trio stared honing their chops, with Ken becoming equally adept on guitar and banjo, Ward's clarinet style veering from swing to sweet to silly, and Hezzie coming into his own playing washboard, slide whistle, and a wild assortment of whistles, bells, and horns.

They stayed with Buzzington until he disbanded the group in 1929, the three vowing to stay in touch, and playing together in various on and off situations. In 1932, the Trietsch Brothers and Ward -- their stage moniker at the time -- were broadcasting over WOWO in Fort Wayne, IN. Doing a charity broadcast to help Ohio River Valley flood victims, they quickly found and developed their style doing novelty renditions of good-time songs, playing one after another during the course of the radio-thon. They picked up a 15-minute sustaining program on the station for no pay but with the chance to promote their own live appearances over the airwaves. They soon came to even wider prominence via their radio appearances on the National Barn Dance, broadcast over powerful station WLS in Chicago. The show was the first of its type to be broadcast and reach a wide audience, predating the subsequent success of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and counting a young Gene Autry, Lulubelle & Scotty, and Red Foley among its many stars.

The show became a radio staple, broadcasting every Saturday night across the country for over 35 years. The trio -- under their new name, the Hoosier Hot Shots -- were an immediate hit, considering it an honor to be hooked up with the most prestigious show in country music. But the group just as quickly moved over to a regular guest spot on the Uncle Ezra Pinex Cough Syrup program, and when Uncle Ezra secured a national spot with NBC, he took the Hot Shots with him, and the group's national success was quickly assured.

They started making records around this time, and the Hot Shots couldn't have asked for a more sympathetic producer on their sessions than Art Satherly. Satherly, a distinguished Englishman, was in charge of Columbia Records' (at that time ARC) country and blues A&R division. As Gabe Ward put it, "What Art Satherly wanted on record was out visualness; he was trying to get that through. And he succeeded with us, because we were about the only people who could make people laugh after only four bars of music!" Satherly, for his part, would strip down to his shirt, put a bath towel around his neck, and go into the studio and dance to illustrate the tempo he wanted the Hot Shots to record at. The formula -- with Gabe calling out, "Are you ready, Hezzie?" at the start of each tune -- was a wildly successful one, with the band's records fitting comfortably on jukeboxes around the country in the "novelty dance" category. Among their hits were "I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones," "The Coat and Pants Do All the Work," and "From the Indies to the Andies in His Undies," exactly the type of tunes that fitted the group like a glove. "We were tops in the novelty field," Ward would later reminisce, "all because of Art Satherly. He had the nerve to put them on the jukeboxes, even though they weren't always the top tunes. We'd do it for Art Satherly, with a beat for the jukeboxes." What Ward also fails to mention, however, is the group's tireless promotion of those records, making in-store appearances at all the Sears and Roebuck outlets nationwide when their 78s started appearing on the company's budget label, Perfect.

By the late '30s the Hot Shots started making movie appearances, debuting with a turn in In Old Monterey in 1939. The success of this and a couple others led the group to give up their sustaining radio spot with Uncle Ezra, relocating to the West Coast after World War II. Signing a movie deal with Columbia Pictures, the Hot Shots would go on to appear in 22 films into the early '50s. With the advent of changing tastes and the rise of television, the boys' star fell into eclipse somewhat, although they found steady work on the Nevada gambling casino circuit. The group soldiered on into the '70s, when Paul "Hezzie" Trietsch's death broke up the original group. Although nowhere near as wild as Spike Jones, nor possessing the "thinking man's hillbillies" personas of Homer & Jethro, it is impossible to think of either of those two acts existing -- much less prospering and finding an audience -- without the groundbreaking efforts of the Hoosier Hot Shots. ~ Cub Koda
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Essential Hoosier Hot Shots

Disc 1

1. Meet Me By The Ice House Lizzie

2. Them Hill-Billies Are Mountain Williams Now

3. I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)

4. Wah-Hoo!

5. I Like Mountain Music

6. You're Driving Me Crazy! (What Did I Do?)

7. Take Me Out To The Ball Game

8. Hot Lips

9. (Back Home Again In) Indiana

10. I Ain't Got Nobody (And Nobody Cares For Me)

11. The Coat And The Pants Do All The Work (And The Vest Gets All The Gravy)

12. How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)

13. Red Hot Fannie

14. Down In Jungle Town

15. A Hot Dog, A Blanket And You

16. From The Indies To The Andies In His Undies (78rpm Version)

17. The Martins And The Coys

Disc 2

1. Rural Rhythm

2. Connie's Got Connections In Connecticut

3. My Wife Is On A Diet

4. The Guy Who Stole My Wife

5. Noah's Wife (Lived A Wonderful Life)

6. Windmill Tillie

7. Since We Put A Radio Out In The Henhouse

8. Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me)

9. Let's Not And Say We Did

10. There'll Be Some Changes Made

11. My Bonnie

12. Dude Cowboy

13. When The Lightnin' Struck The Coon Creek Party Line

14. One-Eyed Sam

15. She's Got A Great Big Army Of Friends

16. She Was A Washout In The Blackout

17. The Covered Wagon Rolled Right Along

18. You'd Be Surprised

x

Track List: Who's Your Little Hoosier?

1. Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?

2. Rural Rhythm

3. Skeede-Waddle-Dee-Waddle-Doo

4. Too Little, Too Late, Little Darlin'

5. Bringin' Home The Bacon

6. After You've Gone

7. It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'

8. Meet Me By The Icehouse, Lizzie

9. This Is The Chorus

10. Sweet Georgia Brown

11. Bye Bye Blues

12. Down Home Rag

13. Farewell Blues

14. Four Thousand Years Ago

15. No Romance In Your Soul

16. Goofus

17. Bow Wow Blues

18. Who's Your Little Hoosier?

19. San

20. Bye, Bye, Bessie

21. Alexander's Ragtime Band

22. When The Grown Up Ladies Act Like Babies

23. How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

24. The Dummy Song

25. Them Hillbillies Are Mountain Willies Now

26. In A Little Red Barn

x

Track List: Everybody Stomp Disc 3: Are You Havin' Any Fun?

1. Like A Monkey Likes Cocoanuts

2. From The Indies To The Andies In His Undies

3. Look On The Bright Side

4. Willie Willie Will Ya

5. Are You Havin' Any Fun?

6. Put On Your Old Red Flannels

7. Sam The College Leader Man

8. The Pants My Pappy Gave To Me

9. He'd Have To Get Under Get Out And Get Under

11. Connie's Got Connections In Connecticut

12. Shirley

13. Big Noise From Kokomo

15. Swanee

16. Moving Day In Jungle Town

17. It's A Lonely Trail

18. Avalon

19. Who's Sorry Now

20. No No Nora

21. O-Hi-O

22. Diga Diga Do

23. The Kitten With The Big Green Eyes

24. Everybody Loves My Baby

25. The Guy Who Stole My Wife

x

Track List: Everybody Stomp Disc 1: Hoosier Stomp

1. Hoosier Stomp

2. Whistlin' Joe From Kokomo

3. Farmer Gray

4. Oakville Twister

5. I'm Looking For A Girl

6. Black Eyed Susan Brown

7. Down In The Valley

8. Ha-Cha-Na

9. Meet Me By The Ice House Lizzie

10. Back In Indiana

11. San

12. Everybody Stomp

13. Bow-Wow Blues

14. I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones

15. Ida (Sweet As Apple Cider)

16. They Go Simply Wild Over Me

17. Wah-Hoo

18. At The Darktown Strutter's Ball

19. I Like Mountain Music

20. You're Driving Me Crazy

21. Hold 'Er Ebner

22. Bye Bye Blues

23. I'll Soon Be Rolling Home

24. Take Me Out To The Ball Game

25. Ain't She Sweet

x

Track List: Everybody Stomp Disc 2: Hot Lips

1. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

2. It Ain't Nobody's Biz'ness What I Do

3. Margie

4. Hot Lips

5. Shake Your Dogs

6. Sweet Sue Just You

7. Toot Toot Tootsie

8. Pick That Bass

9. The Coat And The Pants Do All The Work

10. I Want A Girl

11. I've Got A Bimbo Down On Bamboo Isle

12. When You Wore A Tulip

13. Farewell Blues

14. Down Home Rag

15. Meet Me In The Cow Shed

16. Oh By Jingo

17. You Said Something When You Said Dixie

18. The Flat Foot Floogie

19. The Girl Friend Of The Whirlin' Dervish

20. Skeede-Waddle-Dee-Waddle-Do

21. How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm

22. Red Hot Fannie

23. Swinging With Dora

24. The Sheik Of Araby

25. Wabash Blues

x

Track List: Everybody Stomp Disc 4: Way Down In Arkansas

1. Way Down In Arkansas

2. That's Where I Meet My Girl

3. I Just Wanna Play With You

4. When There's A Tear In The Eyes Of A Potato

5. Beatrix Fairfax Tell Me What To Do

6. St. Louis Blues

7. Keep An Eye On Your Heart

8. With A Twist Of The Wrist

9. Swing Little Indians Swing

10. Dude Cowboy

11. The Band Played On

12. Since We Put The Radio In The Henhouse

13. He's A Hillbilly Gaucho

14. When Lightnin' Struck The Coon Creek Party Line

15. She Broke My Heart In Three Places

16. She Was A Washout In The Blackout

17. The Musket Came Down From The Door

18. Them Hill-Billies Are Mountain Williams Now

19. Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia

20. Is It True What They Say About Dixie

21. Sioux City Sue

22. When Johnny Brings Lelahani Home

23. You Two Timed Me Once Too Often

24. There's A Tear In My Beer Tonight

25. Divorce Me C.O.D.

Comments

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Great stuff!! Love the detail, this is what the Lover of music was dreaming of, keep up the good work!

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