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Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys: (Left to Right) Albert C. ''Dusty Trails'' Thralls, Claude R. ''Claudie'' Lister, Charlie Haggard, and Gerald ''Pappy'' Lewis Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys: The Radio Show

Back in the Nineteen-Fifties, my Father, Claude R. Lister, was a playboy. By use of that term, I don't mean to suggest that he was a martini-drinking, pipe-smoking, ascot-and-smoking-jacket-wearing, skirt-chasing, Hugh-Hefner-wannabe. Nope, he was a musician and singer in a Country & Western band that was billed as "Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys." Since Pop was not the Mr. Haggard cited in the semi-eponymous band name, he was, ergo, one of the playboys. (No ascots and smoking jackets, but this "blue sky" variety of playboy would often dress in classic Drugstore Cowboy drag flashy embroidered Western-cut shirts with smile pockets and pearl snaps, neckerchiefs or bolo shoestring ties or Western-style bow ties, boot-cut pants that were secured by big engraved chrome or cast pewter Americana-motif buckles on wide tooled cowhide leather belts, cowboy boots with tooled inlays and fancy-stitched uppers, ever-iconic Stetson hats, et cetera ad infinitum. But, hey, they did not wear fully-loaded .45-caliber pearl-handled chrome-plated six-shooters restlessly resting in strapped-down quick-draw leather holsters, though. Well, not usually.)

Blue Sky Playboy Claude R. ''Claudie'' Lister Playing 2-Neck Steel Guitar On Location At A Central Indiana Cadillac Dealership In The Mid-1950s, Est. (Not shown in this picture are the rest of the C&W band billed as ''Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys.'') My Father, referred to as "Pop" by the sibs and me back then and generally referred to as "Claudie" by his fellow band members, sometimes played his Martin D-18 acoustic 6-string guitar during gigs. However, his main instrument was a steel guitar. He started out playing a 6-string lap steel. Then later, he progressed to playing a double-neck steel that stood on its own legs, rather than resting on his. And, ultimately, he performed on a triple-neck, 6-pedal, 24-string Gibson Multiharp pedal steel guitar. He would also sing lead or back-up harmony vocals when the setlist required it.

As for the rest of the band: Charlie Haggard was the bandleader, lead singer, and rhythm guitarist. Albert C. "Dusty Trails" Thralls played electric lead guitar and, like my Father, would occasionally sing lead or back-up vocals. Gerald "Pappy" Lewis played acoustic upright string bass. And, although not a regular full-time member of the band, Bobby Johnson would often sit-in to play fiddle.

Life as a "Playboy" was not nearly as foot-loose and fancy-free as the name might imply. All the band members had full-time day jobs. Therefore, much of their so-called "free time" during evenings and weekends was spent either in rehearsal or playing gigs. The band performed in honky-tonks and bars, at county fairs, for grand openings and other special events at various retail establishments, on local TV programs, and on their own regular weekly half-hour radio show.

A few months ago, Pop received a CD in the mail. The disc had been made and sent by Bernie Walden, an old acquaintance who had worked at Central Indiana radio station WILO way-back-when and who had been involved in the production and broadcasting of The Playboys' radio show. The disc contained recordings of two (Count 'em, 2!) separate radio programs that had been tape-recorded over a half-century ago. Whoa!

After Pop played some of the CD for us, my daughter, The Kiddo, stuck the disc into Pop's computer and ripped the two tracks of audio to one of the flash drives I'd had in my pocket. She wanted copies for her MP3 player.

Not immediately but later that same week, I decided to do some processing of the audio before sending the recordings on to The Kiddo. I cut each of the radio shows into their constituent individual song tracks. I filtered out a lot of the original tape noise. When I could, I cut or otherwise attenuated the occasional clicks and bumps that had been originally recorded "live" in the studio. I tried to regenerate some of the high-end of the sound. I added a little bit of reverb. And I performed some master limiting/compression on each track. Et cetera, so on, and so forth. Although now much cleaner and more intelligible than before, these recordings are still far from pristine. But they're not all that bad when considered as being nearly-60-years-old archival recordings, which is what they are.

The CD that Pop had received did not include any information as to when either of the radio programs had originated. So, as a best-guess now, Pop imagines that 1954 might have been the year of origin for these two particular shows. The band performed their regular weekly radio show for five years or so, in the early-to-mid 'Fifties. These two shows should not be construed to be any better or worse than any of the hundreds of others that were never archived, or that were archived once but have long-since been lost. Nope, it's more a matter of serendipity that these two survive and that I'm able to provide you access to them here and now.

Following are links to MP3 files for the two radio show archival recordings and for some newly-made album art. Click to listen to the tracks on your computer or to download for playback on your personal MP3 player. Hotcha!


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Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys: The Radio Show - A Single Program To listen to or download the full half-hour program as a single stream or file, click here: The Radio Show - A Single Program.mp3

To listen to or download individual tracks from this program, click on desired links below:

01 I Bet You My Heart I Love You.mp3
02 The Golden Rocket.mp3
03 Della's Dream.mp3
04 Our Baby's Book.mp3
05 When It's Lamplighting Time In The Valley.mp3
06 Honky-Tonk Girl.mp3
07 Steelin' The Blues.mp3
08 I'd Rather Be On The Inside Looking Out.mp3
09 Boil Them Cabbages Down.mp3
10 Echo From The Hills.mp3
11 I Bet You My Heart I Love You [Reprise].mp3

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Charlie Haggard And The Blue Sky Playboys: The Radio Show - Another Program To listen to or download the full half-hour program as a single stream or file, click here: The Radio Show - Another Program.mp3

To listen to or download individual tracks from this program, click on desired links below:

01 I Bet You My Heart I Love You.mp3
02 All About You.mp3
03 I've Lived A Lot In My Time.mp3
04 My Adobe Hacienda.mp3
05 Back Up, Buddy.mp3
06 Rubber Dolly.mp3
07 My Mother.mp3
08 It's Been So Long.mp3
09 It Is No Secret.mp3
10 Old Jim Crow.mp3
11 Hawaiian Sunset.mp3
12 I Bet You My Heart I Love You [Reprise].mp3

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PS: It was early in March, 2010, when I performed audio processing on the two radio programs. And, specifically, it was on March 8th that I processed Track 07 of the "Another Program" program. If, as Pop best-guesses, the original recording was made in 1954, he would've been only 23 years old at the time. So there I was on March 8th, listening to my then-23-year-old Father sing the sad song called "My Mother," a song about a man's mom having just passed away. And that very day was my Mom's first birthday since her wholly-unexpected passing during the previous summer. Bless her heart. Coincidences like that sure can make a hobbyist home-recording sound engineer's view of the VU meters get kinda blurry.

So kiss her old brow, whisper softly and true,
"Mother, you're just an angel and I love you."


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