Roger Crandall and the Barn Dance Boys
Little Jimmy Dickens
The Hosier Hot Shots
Maddox Brothers & Rose
The Snead Family
The Teen Kings
My father, Roger Crandall, played music with his band in the Longview-Kelso area for more than 50 years. In 1939 he and my mom moved to Kelso from Seattle where he had been playing music with several bands for about 10 years. The band had toured the Western states in 1934-35 for the Oahu School of Music, promoting music lessons by appearing on radio programs in various cities as far east as Oklahoma and Kansas.
They spent one summer playing at a dance hall at Lake Chelan in Washington. On his arrival in Kelso, Roger played for a band led by Hank McCutcheon. Several years later he joined Billy Oudean's band in Kelso, playing with several guys who later joined his band "The Barn Dance Boys", Harry DePriest and Leslie "Red" Suttles. For several years they played every Saturday night at the Terminal Hall above the bus station in Kelso.
In 1948 Roger purchased the Glide Hall in South Kelso. The Glide Hall was a roller skating rink with one session on Saturday afternoon and an afternoon and an evening session on Sundays. As soon as the Saturday afternoon roller-skating session was over, Roger took a large push mop around the floor to clean it and then spread dance wax on the beautiful hardwood floor to prepare it for dancing.
Opening at 8:30 p.m., the music started at 9:00 and the band played with one or two intermissions until 1:00 a.m.
The "Barn Dance Boys" included Roger as on steel guitar, Harry DePriest on rhythm guitar, "Red" Suttles on fiddle, Billy Richey on lead guitar, Buck Foster on drums, Helge Johnson on bass, & Alex Webber on accordion. The band also included at various times, Jack Wohl on fiddle, Don Bean on accordion, Leon Richey on lead & rhythm guitar, a guy named Curly, whose last name I can't remember, Wes Parks on piano, a guy named Tiny on the drums, and probably several others whose names are lost to me now. At one time in the late '40's, a singer/guitar player named Hector Flateau played with the band for several months. He later resurfaced in Portland playing under the name of Heck Harper.
Every Saturday night for 6 or 7 years the band played to large crowds who came to dance their socks off! Many nights there were close to 600 people in the building. There was a many-faceted glass ball hanging from the ceiling above the center of the dance floor. Several times during the evening all of the other lights were turned off and a spotlight shone on the ball for "moonlight waltzing".
In 1951, a lady living in South Kelso asked Roger to listen to her son sing to see if he would be interested in having him play with the band. Roger was a little skeptical as the boy was only 9 years old, but he agreed to listen. The boy, Alvin Jones, was so good that Roger immediately began to plan on how he could use Alvin with the band. A radio station in Kelso had just asked Roger about doing remote broadcasts from the dancehall before the regular dancing began. He knew that Alvin would be perfect for the radio show and after hearing Alvin and his sister Helen sing as well, he hired them both.
Alvin and Roger became very close friends and spent time together over the years, playing music whenever they got together. In 1998, Alvin sang at Roger's funeral in Kelso.
Another young lady who sang with the band for several years was Carol Bloyd.
She played the guitar, sang and yodeled and was a great hit with the customers.
In 1958 the band played at Tiny Dumont's Dance Hall in Portland, Oregon. At that time, Willie Nelson was a disk-jockey on a Vancouver radio station. He and another radio personality, Ken DeBord, played in the band for about six months. It was shortly after that when Willie first went to Nashville
Over the years the band played for many Elks Club functions all over Oregon and Washington. They played their last time together for Roger's 80th birthday party in 1990, at the Longview Elks Club. The band's style of music was Western Swing, made popular by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. At their best in the 1950's, "Roger Crandall and the Barn Dance Boys" could play with the best of them. They had a loyal following who always managed to find out where and when they were playing and showed up to dance and listen to old favorites.
Judy Budge, April 2003