WUMB May Program Guide

King of the Hillbilly Piano Players

As I look back over my old playlists from the Dixie Bee Line (every Saturday night from 9 – Midnight Eastern time) the one most consistently played artist jumps out as Moon Mullican.  Indeed, I have a ton of his material.  Thing is, it’s all good.  That’s pretty unusual for a full canon to be so consistently good.  But I guess that’s how I like my music, with a bit of grit.  A tree with the bark still on.  And thus Moon Mullican delivers.  He was a dyed in the wool Texas honky-tonk piano player of some renown.  Born and died in Texas, and was musically influenced by both the church organ he played as a youth, and the black sharecroppers who taught him the blues on the farm.  He recorded in the 1930’s with Cliff Bruner, and made famous the “Truck Drivers Blues”, the first of whole sub-genre of trucking songs.

If I had to estimate his two most famous numbers, I’d have to say “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”, a true country classic, and the “Cherokee Boogie”, replete with Native American language snippets.  Those two songs have been covered more times than I could possibly count.  Take a peek at this video, here is is performing on the mid-1950’s Ganaway films.  Believe me, the Ganaway series deserves its own whole post!!  I could rave about Al Ganaway’s recordings for hours.  And perhaps I shall!

Here’s Moon doing the Cherokee Boogie:

And here’s “I’ll sail my Ship Alone”

Not always the most politically correct!  Least-wise by 2019 standards, but well within the province of 1950’s sensibilities. Here’s a quote that kind of captures Moon’s style:  “We gotta play music that’ll make them goddamn beer bottles bounce on the table.” That’s the style you’ll see in these videos.
And no video recording of Moon Mullican would have been complete without a cadre of pretty young women fawning over him.  They’re in these videos for sure.

I hope you enjoy Moon’s music, and I invite you to tune in each Saturday night for an idiosyncratic assortment of vintage 20th century hillbilly music, as well as some new artists with that “old” sensibility.  Happy August!!


 ~ Jon G.
Write to me!   jon.gersh@umb.edu.

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