Thursday night I had the good fortune of spending an evening with Kent Ippolito, who is one of Fredericksburg’s foremost treasures. He is an amazing musician, cartoonist, and person. As is often the case, when we get together with Kent I badger him about music. I think this impulse stems from the fact that this is one of the many realms where I am truly ignorant, but one of the few that I really don’t want to be. We talked about a whole bunch of great stuff, and then I asked him about my recent discovery of Jimmie Rodgers and yodeling. He brought up Merle Haggard immediately (thanks Brian Lamb for making me seem knowledgeable) who he said was indelibly influenced by Rodgers and has the single greatest voice in Country music. But then he busted out The DeZurik Sisters, and all I could say is “Oh wow!”
Check out their wikipedia article, it’s impressive, and here are a few tidbits about the oft-tagged “Cackle Sisters”:
- The DeZurik Sisters were the first women to become stars on both the National Barn Dance and the Grand Ole Opry, largely a result of their original yodeling style.
- Inspired by….the sounds of the animals and birds around them, they developed an astonishing repertoire of high, haunting yodels and yips that soon had them winning talent contests all over central Minnesota.
- In 1936, they signed a contract to appear regularly on Chicago radio station WLS‘s National Barn Dance, and were hired in 1937 to perform on Purina Mills’ Checkerboard Time radio show, where they sang as The Cackle Sisters.
- In 1938, the sisters recorded six songs for Vocalion Records: “I Left Her Standing There” (Vocalion 4616-A), “Arizona Yodeler” (Vocalion 4616-B), “Sweet Hawaiian Chimes” (Vocalion 4704-A), “Guitar Blues” (Vocalion 4704-B), “Go To Sleep My Darling Baby” (Vocalion 4781-A) and “Birmingham Jail” (Vocalion 4781-B). Those six songs were the only tracks the duo would ever commit to vinyl, although some recordings exist of their appearances on Checkerboard Time.
Here are two of those Vocalion recordings, my favorite so far is “I Left Her Standing There,” but the “Arizona Yodeler” is no slouch either. Do yourself a favor and give them a listen, you may be blown away by the marvels of the human voice.
“I Left Her Standing There”
The Arizona Yodeler
Now, as is true with just about everything of real cultural worth, the WFMU’s Beware of the Blog has a rich compilation of the DeZurik Sisters radio recordings from the Checkerboard Time Radio Show recordings out of Chicago they posted back in August of 2007.
Here are a couple of gems from those posted:
Download The Yodel Lady
Download I Ain’t Getting No Place
Download Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia
Download Dude Cowboy