Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Dude" Martin Songbooks

Recently the library has received gifts of two songbooks by Bay Area country music performer and broadcast celebrity Dude Martin. Born John Steven McSwain on a farm in Plainsburg, Merced County, California on March 21, 1915, Dude Martin grew up in Oakland and Berkeley. His first band, The Nevada Nite Herders, first appeared on KLX radio on April 15, 1932 (KLX was the predecessor at 910 AM to KNEW). One of our songbooks, Songs of the Nite-Herders, was published in Oakland by F. E. Cox and Staff in 1936. It consists entirely of Martin’s original compositions as well as photographs of the band, their radio studio, and of Dude Martin roping a steer. It also features a glossary of “cowboy lingo” and signatures of the band’s members.

By the mid-1930s, Martin’s show was known as the “Round-up” and was in syndication. Our other song collection, “Dude” Martin’s Folio of Original Songs of the Plains, was published in 1939 by American Music, Inc. in Portland Oregon. This songbook only includes a handful of Martin’s original songs like “Yodel Mountain” and the “Night Herder’s Lullaby.” It shows photos of his group, then called the Wild West Show Revue Gang, at the Columbia Studios in San Francisco and at the World’s Fair on Treasure Island. By this time Martin had moved to KYA in San Francisco at 1260 AM (today known as KOIT).

"Dude" Martin's Band with audience, photographed by Dorothea Lange (image from the Oakland Art Museum)

In the mid-1940s, during World War II, photographer Dorothea Lange took a series of photographs of Richmond, California, then bursting to the seams with newly arrived shipyard workers. This collection includes photographs of Martin entertaining the Richmond audience. This photographs are available to view from the Oakland Museum's collection at the Online Archive of California. Martin’s various bands performed music ranging from country music, cowboy songs to Western swing. Some of his band members, like Carolina Cotton, Sue Thompson and Rusty Draper, went onto to have successful careers on their own.

Martin was also a pioneer of Bay Area television, hosting a variety show in 1949-1950 called the Hoffman Hayride. His success – the Hayride was voted by San Francisco Examiner readers as their favorite television program – led to his move to the more lucrative Los Angeles market where he broadcast from KTTV. Martin died on February 11, 1991 in Orange California. Jim Goggin has written a book The Dude Martin Band Story that includes interviews with band members and is replete with photographs and newspaper clippings.


Karen Okerman said...

We just found a 78 RPM record by Dude Martin. It has the songs-"Deep Freeze Dinah" and "I Hate You". Are there CDs of his songs anywhere?

San Francisco Public Library, Art, Music and Recreation Center said...

There have been no CD reissues of Dude Martin's bands as far as we can tell. Over the years there have been a couple of reissues on LP, but these are difficult to find. There is a recent compilation entitled Atomic Platters: Cold War music from the golden age of homeland security released by Bear Family Records in 2004 that includes one song by Dude Martin's Round-up Gang called "Atom Bomb Baby". Unfortunately our library does not own this multi-disc set. Let's hope someone will release a complete set of Dude Martin's music.

wdbones said...

Just bought a Dude Martin CD today!! Available at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, across from The Guitar Center on San Pablo Ave..24 songs from the late '40's to early '50's..On Cattle Compact Records..

galen white said...

Does anyone remember the Dude Martin Hoffman Hayride TV show at the Hayward High School in the 1950's?
It may have been his first. I was

"The Rockin' Gipsy" said...


"The Rockin' Gipsy" said...

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