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Stories on This Page

The “Sourdough Singers” - from: Matador, Texas

The “Bomarc 5” - from: Breckenridge, Texas

The “Swing Kings” - from: Matador, Texas

“Buzz Barnhill & The Four Counts” - from: Turkey, Texas

The “Soundrifters” - from: Turkey, Texas

* * * Thursday Morning, June 23, 1966 -- LUBBOCK AVALANCHE JOURNAL * * *


No Sour Notes From “Sourdough Singers”

The Sourdough Singers-Matador, Tx.

From: Matador, Texas

  “The Sourdough Singers” -- by that name and organized in this typical West Texas ranch town, you would expect to be a cowboy quartet, with maybe a sun-bonneted girl singer or two. Not so. This talented group of young folk singers presents eight of the sharpest and most refreshing high school and college youngsters you could ever meet. “The Sourdough Singers” group organized in October, 1961, is making quite a name for itself.   

“Cool” But Capable

  Even with the “Sourdough” name, sour notes are seldom, if ever heard from this youthful, spirited group. They are “cool” all right, but capable, too. “They’re good,” is heard wherever the singers appear and perform. The “Sourdough Singers” will be featured at the Texas Press Association convention this weekend in El Paso. A few weeks ago, they entertained at the Panhandle Press Association convention in Amarillo -- and proved to be “a hit.”

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Geographical Problems

  The singers are finding it a problem to get together this summer. Certainly not on their singing notes, but geographically. Some of the members are in Lubbock and others are in Matador. They do manage to get together on weekends an holidays for rehearsals. The name “The Sourdough Singers” has no special significance. When the original group including Matador High School students and friends, decided a name was needed, the group members wrote down suggestions and the “best name” was picked.

Name Well Known

  It has stuck and now the name is well known in West Texas musical circles. And believe it or not, none of the singers have extensive musical training. Some of the girls had piano lessons and were members of their high school choirs. But neither of the male members have had musical training. Neither can read music. Yet one of the male members wrote both the lyrics and music for “The Lonely Nightingale” -- a recording with high rating in Lubbock and Amarillo -- which was released in 1965.

Personnel Varies

  Let’s introduce the young singers: Gary Campbell, Richard Campbell, and Patsy Hankins are graduates of Matador High School and now are Texas Tech students. Two girls, Janie Killingworth and Judy Gwinn, still attend Matador High School. Nancy Traweek, a Matador High School graduate, attends Austin College, Sherman, but is planning to transfer to Texas Tech. Two new additions are Kathy Kilgore, of Lubbock’s Monterey High, and Jim Adams, Texas Tech student from Midland. Personnel of the group varies from time to time and not “breaking up” the singing group formed while the members were high school students here.

Formed “For Fun”

  But the “Sourdough Singers” are determined to stay a group. It was back in October 1964, that seven friends from Matador --  four college students, two high school girls and a housewife -- decided to from a folk-singing group “just for fun.” The housewife was Richard Campbell’s sister, Mrs. Charles Cullin, now of Santa Fe, New Mexico. After a few months of singing and playing for banquet and social gatherings, the group decided to enter the entertainment field professionally.

Finance Recording

  Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Campbell sponsor and chaperone the singers. Campbell a Matador automobile dealer, financed travel and the recording of “The Lonely Nightingale” -- recorded at Norman Petty Studio, Clovis, in July, 1965. Although Gary on the guitar and Nancy with the banjo (or is it the other way?) accompany the group, three musicians from Lubbock were hired to accompany the singers for the recording of “Nightingale.” Lead (music) sheets, which just have the main notes but not the harmony, hadn’t arrived in time for the recording session.

Played From Memory

  The three Lubbock musicians accompanied the group from memory after hearing the song a couple of times. The singers have made a number of radio and television appearances, in addition to singing for social gatherings all over West Texas area. They won a blue ribbon in 4-H competition at College Station. “The Lonely Nightingale” was released in Lubbock, Amarillo, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth and several other Texas towns, September 5th, 1965.

Hunting Record Label

  Its release was on an independent label but the “Sourdoughs” are shooting for a major record label. The flip side of “The Lonely Nightingale” is “A Syrup Soppin’ Shindig.” Gary Campbell picks out the tunes on his guitar, then writes them down and composes the lyrics. The developing song, composed of lyrics and cords, is sent to an agent where the music and harmony is filled. More recordings are in the making. The group will record professionally, depending on the “breaks” it gets.

Paying “A Little”

  “The Lonely Nightingale” already is paying off “a little.” The singers get a small percentage from each record sold, and when the record is played on a jukebox. Being a young and beginning group, the “Sourdough Singers” have had their embarrassing moments, like when two strings on a guitar broke right in the middle of a broadcast, or the time when all five girls were 20 minutes late for a performance, leaving Gary and Richard about to appear as a duet. Last summer when the singers appeared at Floydada, Gary had a broken hand but “corded it out” anyway.

Appearances Varies

  Richard Campbell is a strapping Texas Tech football player. Gary, his cousin, was quite a grid performer himself with Matador High Matadors, one of the best Class B outfits anywhere. Richard was an all-state gridder. The group varies appearance costumes ranging from blue sports shirts and slacks for the boys and blouses and skirts for the girls, to neat red jackets and white shirts and neckties for the boys and the girls matching red dresses with white collars. A panhandle critic wrote “and by gosh the boys had haircuts and the girls wore heels.” “They’re the sort of people that make you feel good about the younger generation.”  

The Bomarc “5”

Bomarc 5 1967 Breckenridge Tx

From Beckenridge, Texas.

From: 1965 to 1969

   Billy Fox was the founder of the “Bomarc 5” in 1965. The band in the beginning was purely a garage jam band that played at the home of Billy Fox. In its conception the band consisted of Robert Allen, Danny Flatters, James Woods, Don McNallen, and Billy Fox. At This time the band had only performed for the youth group at a local Episcopal Church in Breckenridge, Texas. Don McNallen came up with the name “Bomarc 5”, supposedly referencing a new missle that the United States military had just released.

Standing: Nolan Hamil, Danny Hand, James Woods, and Don McNallen

Seated: Carla Bridges and Billy Fox

   In late 1966 the band evolved to Nolan Hamil, Danny Hand, James Woods, Don McNallen, and Billy Fox. Adding Nolan Hamil as lead guitar and Danny Hand as the front man on vocals. As the band gained some notoriety , they were approached by a person that brought some financial backing and convinced the group that he could greatly improve the showmanship and general sound of the band. The new manager then brought Carla Bridges on as a new member to get that high end harmony. This is when the “Bomarc 5” really began to take off and began to play gigs every weekend. It was amazing how many people were coming out of the woodwork wanting to be part of the band. There was one local person that actually volunteered his trailer, and became the road man, handling the equipment for free. The marketing of the band was excellent and the group began to draw large crowds. Some of the marketing of the band included interviews of band members on the local radio station a couple of days prior to out of town gigs. Some of the towns the “Bomarc 5” performed in were Ranger, Eastland, Cisco, Graham, Brownwood, Albany, Abilene, Comanche, San Angelo and many more in the West Texas area. On one weekend the ”Bomarc 5” had to follow a tough act at the Abilene Convention Center. That group was the “Five Americans.

   The “Bomarc 5” wrote and performed several songs. One of the songs was called “Raven”. Unfortunately  none of the songs really took off to be hits or hit the charts.

   The group began to lose members around 1968, when the drummer and founder, Billy Fox left the band. By 1969 the “Bomarc 5” had pretty much disbanded. Most of the members had other priorities that had come up and they moved on. Danny Hand has stayed in music and still gets the opportunity to gig on occasion. Billy Fox states that he can still play a mean “Wipe Out” on the drums.

We would like to give a hardy thanks to Danny Hand for giving us access to this information.

The Swing Kings

Swing Kings - David, Judy, Robin, Robert

David Rattan, Judy Hobbs, Robin Brown, and Robert Brandon

From: Matador, Texas

by: Robin Brown

   My first interest in playing in a band or combo occurred in about 1957, when I was twelve years old. Myself and a friend in Matador, Texas had attended a movie that starred teenage idols Sal Mineo and John Saxton. In this movie these two actors played in a band called the “DJ’s”, which I think stood for “Juvenile Delinquents”. The music was more jazz than rock ‘n’ roll, but nevertheless Robert Brandon and myself walked away from the Rogue theater that afternoon impressed and were talking about starting a band of our own. This however was not our only motivation to be musicians. The “Hepcats” were a high school group that was quite popular in Matador at the time. I  loved their Dixieland type music and wanted to be just like them. This

Gerald Piplin, Pat Seigler, Mike Groves

group consisted of Gerald Pipkin, Mike and Pat Groves, Pat Seigler, Frank Traweek, and Lee Smith. They often played at the old VFW building in town to enthusiastic crowds.

VFW Hall - Matador, Texas

The Hepcats - Gerald Pipkin, Pat Seigler, and Mike Groves

   Robert didn’t own a musical instrument at first, but I had an old arch top guitar which I could chord on a little. Soon we enlisted another boy our age (David Rattan) who could play some guitar and we comprised a trio. With myself on guitar, David on rhythm and Robert beating on an old lard bucket, we held our first practice. We continued like this until our mothers invested in some better guitars and a real drum set.  In this trio  I  recall  we played  a few instrumentals such as, Steel Guitar Rag, Forty Miles of bad road, and Dark Town Strutters Ball. I didn’t play all the leads as David could play a few instrumentals also. We called ourselves “The Three Notes” and began playing local American Legion meeting

VFW Hall - Matador, Texas

and a few other insignificant events around town. Our names would occasionally appear in the Matador Tribune and this publicity would fire our imaginations. What we received for playing other events included a few banquet meals and a lot of encouragement. A local businessman, Rat Whitworth, was our main promoter and he always sent us a thank you note, when we played the Legion meetings.

   In a couple of years we added a musician or two and then took the more elaborate name, “The Swing Kings”. This occurred about the time we had reached the eight grade. By then we were playing many annual events in Matador, including, the Amateur Talent Show, the Lion’s Club Banquet, and the Father and Son Banquet. We were beginning to play out of town. We traveled to Wichita Falls and entered the regional 4-H talent contest for several years. That was during 1959 through 1961. As I recall we placed high enough twice to qualify for the state 4-H roundup in College Station. Then at Texas A & M University we received a first or second class rating. As a result   we   were  invited   to   play  the  Gold  Star Banquet the following year (c.1960). We also had one television appearance on KLBK in Lubbock, Texas while we were still a trio. We played a show that featured “Don Allen and the Sunset Ramblers”, a regional Western Swing band. This local production was sponsored by Walsh Food Service, I don’t recall the exact name of the show. After it was over we crammed into a room and listened to the audio portion that had been recorded that  day.   I  realize  now  that  this  was  probably  the  first quality

8th grade Matador, Texas - 1960

 recording that I ever played on. Since we were only thirteen years old, to say our playing was professional would be an over statement, to say the least, of the facts. The hay day of the Swing Kings came our freshman year when Jack McCallie moved to town. He was a trained coronet player and he joined the band. Jack assisted me with my attempt to learn to play the saxophone. I was good at pocking up melodies by ear and soon we were playing horn duets together which were reminiscent of the “Hepcats”. This band had it’s beginnings in the early fifties and at one time was a darn good horn band that played Dixieland and Western Swing Instrumentals. Since my guitar playing older brother, Bennie, was a friend of their guitarist, Pat Seigler, I had the privilege of attending some of their jam sessions and dances at this time.   The way they could jam down really impressed me and  a  lot of other people, including my brother. On at least one occasion Bennie did play with the “Hepcats”, but he was married and had to give it up. For a year or so in the early sixties our little band made a  stab at replacing the  “Hepcats”   who had by then mostly disband

Don Allen & The Sunset Ramblers

Don Allen and The Sunset Ramblers

 and left Matador. At Various times “The Swing Kings” had included myself (Robin Brown), David Rattan, Robert Brandon, Jack McCallie, and Larry Keltz. The band had played with Judy Hobbs behind vocalist Vada Nichols in some regional and state 4-H contests before disbanding. I personally left Motley county in late 1961 and this ended my association with my Matador friends and the band.

Buzz Barnhill & The Four Counts

In 1959-60 three seniors of Turkey High (and Canyon High School) had ambitions to be musicians. They were Frank 'Buzzy' Barnhill, his cousin Ted Barnhill and Gary Johnson. Listening to Venture and Fireball records the two Barnhill cousins soon had guitars and were jamming around and trying to learn rock 'n roll & surf music. When Buzzy was in town, he and Ted would jam with Gary Johnson, who played a fine set of Rogers drums. Many of these sessions were held in the Johnson's basement on the west side of Turkey. Gary's parents (George and Clemma) were big supporters of these fledgling musicians and had an open door policy to them and their friends!

In 1961 Ted joined his big brother's band (The Fayros) but Gary, Buzzy and several other locals continued to practice in the infamous basement for awhile. When Gary returned to Turkey after a stint with the Highway Patrol several of the Mullin cousins had become interested in playing also and had formed a dance band with Sonny Mullin on guitar and trumpet, B.J. Mullin on bass, Buzzy on lead with James Lipscomb on drums. This foursome made some public appearances at several places including the Sand Bar in Hollis before Gary replaced Lipscomb on drums.

In about 1965-66 the group became interested in 'cutting a record' and they contacted Harry Bray (a former resident of Turkey) about recording and putting some songs out on Bray's Twixt-Tween label. Soon they found themselves in Bray's cellar studio on the outskirts of Plainview cutting their first single. Since both songs were sung (and probably written) by Buzzy, he got top billing when the record was released under... Frank Barnhill, Jr. and the Coachmen. The two original songs were 'Summers Gone Away' and 'For me to Know'. Eventually one song got some air play on a college radio station. It had a garage-band sound that the kids were reported to have just loved!

Within a year or so the band decided to record again. However, this time they chose to record in a well-equipped studio in Odessa which Tommy Allsup operated. They appear to have done this with Bray's approval as he soon released their second single on the Twixt-Tween label. Since Buzzy sang the lead on one song and played 'lead guitar' on the other song (an instrumental) he once again got top billing as the record was credited to Buzz Barnhill and the Four Counts. The vocal side of the record was a 'teenage love song' and had just a little English influence while Side #2 was an unpredictable instrumental that had a lot of drumming & surf guitar. While Gary Johnson was plugging their second record around Amarillo he approached a local DJ about airing the song. As it turned out the jockey liked Gary's drumming (possibly more than the record) and wanted to hire him to play in his own dance band. Since the boys back in Turkey had no jobs lined up, Gary considered the offer and soon was a member of Charlie Phillips and the Sugartimers. He played with this popular dance band for 1-2 years he states.

It appears that sometime while Gary was playing in Amarillo Sonny led the band in more of a country-pop direction and they took the name 'Soundrifters' and began playing clubs in Plainview, Hollis and Childress. Then in the later sixties Rod Mullin started playing rhythm guitar with his cousins and Buzzy moved to Lubbock in 1970 and became a policeman. Rod Adamson also played drums with the Soundrifters for awhile during this time. By 1973 Gary was back and performing at the VFW in Plainview for a weekend job with the band. (This session has been preserved on a CD.) Billy Joe Mullin says that their biggest thrill and job came when the organizers of the first Bob Wills Day in Turkey asked them to play for a dance at the Compress. The Soundrifters wisely agreed to do this for a good percentage of the gate. As it turned out the gate receipts were about $5,000 as a huge crowd showed up and danced to the music of the Soundrifters and Frankie McWhorter (a former Playboy fiddler)! They each made almost enough money to buy a used car, I'm told! Probably not long after the Bob Wills dance some of the Soundrifter members either moved away or became disinterested in playing and the band broke up. The oldest member Sonny Mullin also became ill and had to quit playing not many years later. After Buzzy left Sonny had become the front man and mainstay of the band with his singing, guitar picking and trumpet playing and was virtually irreplaceable.

F.Barnhill-Summers Gone Away
F.Barnhill-For Me To Know B.Barnhill-I Love
B.Barnhill-Something Different

The “Soundrifters”

Soundrifters Practicing - 2

The “Soundrifter” - practicing - left to right: Sonny Mullin, Gary Johnson, Billy Joe Mullin, and Rod Mullin

From: Turkey, Texas

   The “Soundrifters”, a country band from Turkey, Texas began playing together in the mid sixties. Initially this group consisted of Frank Doyle Barnhill, Jr. (Buzzy) - lead guitar, James Lipscomb - drums, with H. A. (Sonny) Mullin on rhythm guitar and trumpet. Gary Johnson later became the drummer at about the time the group decided to cut their first record on “Twixt-Tween” label c.1966.

   On this first record, which was recorded  in  Harry Bray’s cellar studio in Plainview, Texas. Buzzy Barnhill was featured and the band was called “The Coachmen”. A bass player from Estelline, Texas was used on the first recording session.

A while before the group cut their second and final record in Midland, Texas at Tommy Allsup’s Westex Studio, Billy Joe Mullin had joined the group as the full time bass player. This second session also featured Buzzy on one side singing an original composition, “I Love”. On the B - side of the record the group jammed down on an original instrumental titled “Something Different”.

   Not long after this second release on Harry Bray’s “Twixt-Tween” label Buzzy Barnhill left the group and Sonny Mullin took over as lead guitarist and vocalist. For a number of years this group performed regularly in night clubs in Hollis, Oklahoma, Childress and Plainview, Texas and continued to do so until c1975. During this period of time several other local musicians also performed as “Soundrifters” including Willard Neal - steel guitar, Rod Mullin - rhythm guitar, and Rod Adamson - drums.

B. J. Mulllin   in the 70's

B. J. Mullin - c.1970

B. J. Mullin

B. J. Mullin - c.2006

   The two records that this band cut and released under variant names, “Frank Barnhill, Jr. and The Coachmen” and “Buzz Barnhil and The Four Counts”, (not the “Soundrifter” name) are now being collected, especially their first record   titled   “Summers  Gone  Away”.    They 

Soundrifters Practicing

Billy Joe Mullin, H.A. (Sonny) Mullin, and Rod Mullin

played  mostly  country  hits  and  pop tunes, but their recordings have a Rock-a-Billy influence. It now seems that the “Soundrifters” produced a special sound that now appeals to some listeners and collectors

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