His "Harry Choates Special" in B-flat was an amazing performance. The influence of Cliff Brunner was obvious.4
|Johnnie Ruth Manuel,|
Harry Choates Special is a far, far cry from Jole Blon--just real fine fiddle work. His Cliff Bruner influence was only too obvious...which showed in some of his plunking of strings and running fast scales from low to very high, as well as other bow action.5
The piano solo is one of the few recorded by their pianist and wife of Joe Manuel, Johnnie Ruth Manuel. Sometimes listed as "Johnnie Mae", she was born Johnnie Ruth Smyrl in 1927 to a family around Rankin, Texas and moved to San Angelo, Texas as a child. By 1940, she was playing the piano which she learned from her grandmother who played in church. After her father, a tenant farmer, moved to Lake Charles in search of work, she met Joe Manuel and they got married.2,3
Aug 14, 1947
Joe knew Harry and his talent from playing together in Leo Soileau's group in the 30s and by 1946, they teamed up for his famous "Jole Blon" recording. The following recording session, Joe convinced Harry to have Johnnie play piano in the group.
|Ronald Ray "Pee Wee" Lyons|
According to Shuler:
He was a real good musician. He’d let his fingernails grow, and they was just like the steel picks you used to pick the strings with on the steel guitar. It didn’t seem to bother him.1
- Johnnie Ruth Smyrl 1940 US Census
- Upton County, Texas Births
- Poor Hobo: The Tragic Life of Harry Choates, a Cajun Legend by Tim Knight
- Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings. Liner notes by Andrew Brown.