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Friday Morning Music: Do the "Dallas Rag"

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The jaunty pick-me-up "Dallas Rag" by the Dallas String Band appears on a number of compilations, among them the easy-to-find Texas Black Country Dance Music (1927-1935) and Before the Blues Vol. 2 and the hard-to-get American Pop: An Audio History - From Minstrel To Mojo: On Record, 1893-1946. By most accounts, it was recorded here in 1927, though I've seen mention of a '28 recording date as well. But as the great Eugene Chadbourne's Allmusic entry on the band suggests, a proper history of the great Coley Jones's band -- the link between Blind Lemon Jefferson and Aaron T-Bone Walker, more or less -- is hard to come by: "Enough lies are told about the group to resemble another great cover-up in Dallas history, the one with the grassy knoll and the book depository."

A long time ago I contemplated a book on the Dallas String Band, or at least a cover story for the paper version of Unfair Park. (I once wrote by way of summary: "Local band signs to major label; lead singer gets own solo deal and probably ends up more famous. Good God, but that sounds familiar.") After all, the band did record for Columbia and scored at least two significant hits, among them the incredibly influential "Dallas Rag," which mandolin players and guitar pickers still love to tackle. Matter o' fact, Bad Liver Mark Rubin performed the song last week in the KNON-FM studios. And now comes word there's a (downloadable!) jug band version from Devine's Jug Band on its due-next-month Terrible Operation Blues. Below you'll find another Dallas String Band classic: "Sugar Blues." An old-timey howdy-do on this lovely morning.

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Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.