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Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?

Les B 06 Apr 02 - 03:02 PM
Mark Ross 06 Apr 02 - 11:15 PM
Art Thieme 06 Apr 02 - 11:39 PM
GUEST,Dale 07 Apr 02 - 12:13 AM
Les B 07 Apr 02 - 04:05 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 07 Apr 02 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Dale 07 Apr 02 - 10:34 PM
GUEST,Les B. 08 Apr 02 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Cathy 03 Nov 09 - 12:24 PM
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Subject: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: Les B
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 03:02 PM

Are there any recordings available of Powder River Jack Lee, the cowboy singer from Montana/Wyoming who performed in the late '20's and early '30's ?

I can find cowboy anthology CDs that imclude him and his wife, Kitty, singing a song here and there, but no complete albums. He's the one who, supposedly, made famous the phrase "Powder River let'er buck" from one of his songs.


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 11:15 PM

"Powder River, let 'er buck" was a common phrase among cowboys. I don't know if anyone has released a whole collection of Powder River Jack & Kitty Lee, they were great singers. Jack had the habit of claiming authorship of other peoples songs, which did not endear him to the rest of the cowboy singers. But his song "Powder River"(which he did write) is a great piece of work. The only other song I think that I've heard them sing was "Tying Knots in the Devils' Tail", which, of course he claimed copyright for.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 11:39 PM

and, of course, Gail Gardner wrote "Knot In Devil's Tail".

Skip Gorman and Ron Kane did a fine record (LP) of cowboy songs and dance music for FOLK LEGACY RECORDS. The song "Powder River" is on that if I'm remembering right.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 12:13 AM

http://www.library.arizona.edu/cowboysongs/katielee_jah.html

Interesting story from the above, written by Katie Lee.

Gail's first encounter with the thieving of his song happened back in 1931 when the old pirate Powder River Jack Lee took it, along with Curley Fletcher's Strawberry Roan, put them in a songbook, and claimed them for his own.

"That dude come swingin' into Phoenix thirty years ago packin' a steel guitar and a hula skirt fer his wife, Kitty. They found a rather sorry reception for that sorta music on the radio, so he bought hisself a fancy cowboy outfit, loaded him and Kitty down with belt buckles 'n boots and began singin' every cow song he could wrap his tonsils around. Curley and me got pretty damn sore about his liftin' our songs without so much as a by-your-leave, but when we got together to see what we could do about it, we found our only recourse was to sue him. Hell, he didn't own the clothes he stood in, and of course neither of us wanted Kitty."

I have a copy of the songbook mentioned, and sure enough, it says "Words and Music by POWDER RIVER JACK LEE." Most of the songs though, say "Arr. by Powder River Jack Lee." (note that he doesn't use all caps on those!)


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: Les B
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 04:05 AM

Mark Ross - are you still in Butte?

Guest, Dale - I know where there's a signed copy of Powder River Jack's songbook for $65 - is that a good price, or highway robbery ?

I take it from the above Katie Lee quote that she is not related to Powder River Jack Lee.


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 12:16 PM

The story of the "Sierry Petes" (aka Tying knots) and some of Powder River's thieving ways is spelled out in thread 13471: Here
Also see Katie Lee's (no relation) book, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, 1976, Northland Press.


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 10:34 PM

Les, As you suspected and Dicho confirmed ~~ no relation.

About the book. I have bought a few (well, quite a few) but I have never paid anywhere near that for any of them. I think I got my copy for about about $10, which was more than my normal limit. It is the 1937 edition, and of course is not autographed. I wouldn't pay that much for it, but I would think it might be worth that to some. I just checked Ebay, and nothing is currently available by him. They do come up occasionally, though.

The only autographed book I have bought is a 1937 WLS Family Album for which I also paid about $10 US, even though I already had a better copy of it for which I paid about $4. BUT, with signatures of Lily May Ledford, Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, George Gobel, and a bunch more, it was more than I could resist. It wasn't particularly well spelled out on Ebay as to what it was, so I think I rather got away with a pretty good bargain. That is a prized possession, especially for Lily May's signature.

Oh, you can call me Dale if you like, rather than GUEST, Dale. I have been around for a good long while, as you have. It is just that I never bother to sign in anymore, nor do I normally use my full name.

OK, back to Jack ~~ there are no full recordings that I am aware of. The anthologized bits here and there are pretty much it. My guess is that if anyone around here knows for sure, it would be Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 12:11 PM

Dale - thanks for the info. The Powder River Jack song book has been on the shelf at a local used book store for over two years. I'd like to have it, but just can't swallow that price, since I know there's only one or two songs in there I'd like to learn. It's an interesting document of song "rustling," however!


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Subject: RE: Help: Powder River Jack Lee - any recordings?
From: GUEST,Cathy
Date: 03 Nov 09 - 12:24 PM

I do not have any recordings but i do know He was a friend of my grandfather's and would play in his bar in Socoby, Montana. He was also an artist. a painting of his on a block of wood was always in our home. I know there are recording at the smithsonian.


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