Friday, October 9, 2009

Larry Sunbrock, Natchee the Indian & Mac- Part 2

What do you mean we, Kemosabe?

If you look at the photo on the left you will see Cowboy Copas, Natchee the Indian and an unidentified bassist. (Click to enlarge)

According to Merle Travis, Natchee the Indian did not talk so he couldn't have utter the immortal line above- it must have been Tonto.

If you got to know Natchee The Indian you could just call him by his nickname, The Indian.

Here's how promoter Larry Sunbrock presented Natchee. This is from an actual newspaper article circa 1936:

Times were hard in the 1930s. Sometimes performers had to play anywhere just to survive. Maybe we should just let Merle Travis tell the story of McMichen and Natchee, after all he was there in 1937, playing with the Georgia Wildcats.

According to Travis in his The Clayton McMichen Story 1982: "We played lots and lots of major theaters, the biggest halls in many towns. A man named Larry Sunbrock was doing the bookings. They called them "Fiddlin' Contests" but they were nothing more than today's country Music Spectaculars.

They had worlds of people who were famous on the radio. Records didn't mean alot they couldn't be played on the radio. Records were something you did now and then. We would go to one big city, say Cleveland- Larry Sunbrock would buy an hour each day on two different radio stations.

One hour was taken by Clayton McMichen and his Georgia Wildcats. The other was taken by Natchee The Indian and his band which was fronted by a young feller who called himself Cowboy Copas.

"We were all friends but you'd never know it by listening to our radio programs. We'd play our show and all week this is the way things would go. McMichen would say in his nasal Georgian accent: Howdy, howdy howdy. I hear there's an Indian in town playing on another station that thinks he can beat me fiddlin'. If that indian Natchee beats me Sunday, I'll eat my fiddle on the stage."

"On the other show Cowboy Copas, doing the talking for Natchee the Indian (Natchee never talked on the radio) would say: I'm just a country boy from Oklahoma. This Indian Natchee is my friend. There's a man named Clayton Mcmichen that says he can beat my Indian friend fiddlin' but come down Sunday afternoon and we'll send this braggin' Georgian back down south were he belongs."

"This was the way Larry Sunbrock wanted things to go. There'd be arguments, fist fights and hair pullin' to show faith in their favorite fiddler. Pepole would line up for blocks, they wanted to get in and root for their fiddler to win. The way of judging was to hold a hand over each fiddler's head and judge from the applause. McMichen got a nice response but when the hand went over Natchee the Indian they almost tore the house down- Natchee was the winner.

Clayton McMichen went to the microphone and delivered this classic speech: Ladies and gentlemen, all of you who applauded for me, much obliged.. and the rest of you can just go to hell."

No comments: