Southern California Bluegrass Bands: Beginings

Golden State Boys - Vern, Bobby Sloan, Skip, Don Parmley, Hal Poindexter- Rex Gosdin

Golden State Boys – Vern Gosdin, Bobby Slone, Skip Conover, Don Parmley, Hal Poindexter- and Rex Gosdin. This is the line-up that lasted from late 1962 into mid-1963, when Bobby joined the Kentucky Colonels. They cut the unreleased Bluegrass From Hollywood LP at the studios of radio station KFOX. Deejay Hugh Cheery was involved, but I don’t know if he was behind the console or wrote the projected liner notes. I’ve only ever heard a tape made from an acetate pressing that was given to me by Steve Wisner who got his copy from one of the GSBs. To this day I don’t know if any test pressings, pressings or anything was actually made up. I have no idea why Skip isn’t in uniform… this pic was from Larry Rice.

Southern California, with its vast film studios, television production facilities, radio, and recording studios, deservedly holds the title of the entertainment capitol of the world. The musical style called “bluegrass” (named after Bill Monroe’s band The Blue Grass Boys, while overshadowed by the hugely successful pop music business, still managed to find its way out to the coast from the central southern states back east.  Capitalizing on his success on the post war Grand Ol’ Opry, Bill Monroe himself traveled to California, starting in the 1950s.

Golden State Boys-1964

The Golden State Boys in April of 1964: Bob Warford (banjo), Bobby Slone (fiddle). Hal Poindexter (lead vocal and guitar), [kneeling] , Eric White (bass), and Larry Rice (mandolin). Returning Golden State Boy Slone had just left the Kentucky Colonels that same month. This version of the band played on the Cal’s Corral television show broadcast from the Huntington Park Ballroom, Huntington Park, California, every Sunday afternoon. On the television show, Skip Conover would occasionally play Dobro.

Golden State Boys-1964-promo-1

The Golden State Boys in 1964. For this promo shoot we have Bob Warford on banjo, Hal Poindexter (lead vocal and guitar), Bobby Slone on fiddle, and seated on his bass, Eric White. Larry Rice also played mandolin with the band, but due to his young age, wasn’t always able to play with the band. One would assume this photo is to reflect the fact that the group was sometimes a four-piece outfit.

golden state boys - early days

Golden State Boys 1961: Herb Rice (mandolin, vocals), Leon Poindexter (bass, dobro), Hal Poindexter (guitar, vocals), Walter Poindexter (banjo)

The four photos shown here are of a well-known California band, The Golden State Boys.  The band was featured in southern California television for several years by car dealer Cal Worthington on Cal’s Corral, a TV show running old films are some very strange car commercials — often with wild animals  — besides featuring country music by Joe and Rose Lee Maphis and others.  The photos, and most of the info in the captions, have been supplied by Jason Odd, an Australian whose interest in the music evolved from his interest in the California rock and country rock scene from the early 1960s on.  Jason can be reached via FaceBook, where he maintains several music-related pages re. music history.

Watching these programs, as they were originally telecast on Los Angeles’ KCOP, Channel 13 station, I was drawn in to the music.  I don’t remember Cal mentioning it by the name “bluegrass” during the show.  It was simply “country” music, just as Bill Monroe was, in those times, considered a country star, like Earnest Tubb, Kitty Wells, and Pee Wee King, for example.

Now that we’ve opened the door just a crack into the past of California’s bluegrass scene, I’d like to encourage others to share their knowledge and photos, etc.  It’s our hope that we can establish a relatively permanent place to store and review this part of California’s music history.

To share and comment on this page, feel free to use the form below.  Thanks again to Jason for supplying copies of photos and his time.

-Peter Feldmann

About Peter Feldmann

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. His music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs. Peter founded Santa Barbara's Old Time Fiddler's Convention (1972), UCSB's Old Time Music Front (1964), and The Bluebird Cafe (1971). Through these and other outlets, he was the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Rose Maddox, the Balfa Brothers, and many others to the Santa Barbara area. Peter also helped others access the music by teaching privately, and in group classes for Santa Barbara Continuing Education, UCSB Extension, and McCabes Guitars. He was the first on the West Coast to produce and market instruction Lps - three on How To Play Country Fiddle, and one each on Clawhammer Banjo, and Maybelle Carter Style Guitar. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and for various interest groups, festival workshops, etc. In 2006, he presented his monograph titled "The Big bang Of Bluegrass Music" (describing the origins of bluegrass 1938 - 1946) to the worlds first International Music Symposium at the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. He has also been very active in radio, television, and film work, producing weekly shows on country and bluegrass music over a 21 year period on various commercial and public stations. Peter currently maintains three music-related websites, a music blog, and an entertainment service company, "BlueGrass West!", based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California. Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America's musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Well-known as a historian and teacher, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences.
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