Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lloyd Reading, His Journey Through The Past, Part 1 -Pumpkin Center Barn Dance

Kern County Museum for B & W Photos

"Cousin Ebb's Pumpkin Center Barn Dance"

Above Lloyd shows me the doors that he and the Bob Manning Trio used to bring there music gear into the Pumpkin Center through. What an honor this was to share this 70+ year reunion with Lloyd. The photos are taken by Lloyd's daughter Anna and myself. Bob Manning's black 1937 Chevy coupe used to park right here while Lloyd climbed out of the trunk, where he used to ride, he folded up like a human pretzel with his guitar and an accordion under him and an old stick holding the trunk lid from falling on his head.

Lloyd standing in front of where he played his music 70 years ago, on the Pumpkin Center Stage. The original asbestos tiles were put in so the bands wouldn't echo, you can still see them dangling above. Lloyd said before the tiles the echoes would mess up the band's timing.

Here is the Pumpkin Center back in the 1950s, looking much the same as it did in the 1930s, people changed. The old place still looks pretty much the same today inside and on the sides.. outside. Note the lamps are still hanging there in the modern photo above.

ABOVE: Lloyd Next to the old safe in the back office of the old Pumpkin Center Honky Tonk, 70 years later in the large quansit hut metal building.
"The earliest strains of the Bakersfield Sound emanated not from the rowdy Blackboard, but from the Beardsley Ballroom in Oildale, the Rainbow Gardens and Rhythm Ranch, both on South Union Avenue, and the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance just south of town." (BKS)

Lloyd at in the old Pumpkin Center Honky Tonk, 70 years later in the large quansit hut metal building. See the curvature of the side and the original windows that were left open to cool off the dances back in the 1930s when Lloyd laid down the swing and fiddle tunes for over 3,000 farmers, wild caters and bar room queens.

THE HANK RAY INTERVIEW WITH LlOYD A. READING June 22, 2008 at the Blackboard



Lloyd at the Buck Owens Chrystal Palace

I consider myself really lucky to have met and played music with Lloyd. He is a great
singer, guitarist and song writer. He has the voice of Ralph Stanley and writing skill of Hank Williams. Lloyd is a great source of information on the early days of country music and has toured and played with many of the greats, including Bob Wills.
He is the nicest fellow you can meet. I hope to play music with him again soon and perhaps we can get another interview! You can find Loyd at Trouts' Blackboard and Green Room for jam session, shows and festivals. Lloyd got a standing ovation at this years Bakersfield Music Festival (Buck Fest). Lloyd was also honored at the Bakersfield Music Awards at Trouts.


I’ve been doin’ this music since I was 14. I had a band in Visalia in 1952 and had the band for 47 years, “The California Playboys”. I did all the Bob Wills stuff. I grew up with that music in Okalahoma. I had Joe Holly in my band for eight years before he passed away and we did all that stuff. I always followed that trend, because I grew up with it.
I’m going into the studio soon with my grand son, Mike, as engineer and I have a lead fiddler from the Fresno area comin’ down. She does all the Bob Wills stuff….those long….. drawn out notes, were going to get those recordings started and give them to Joe Streep.
Ya, I came here in 1938 and left and came back and I’ll be here until I die. I am proud to be here.
Add Image
The above photo by Dr. Blt From:
"Bakersfield Sound Undergroud" with Don Kidwell usually on Lead Guitar is on base(BLT is a Bakersfield artist and blogger)

Below, the California Playboys, with Lloyd Reading (photos from Lloyd Reading Collection):

"Lloyd Reading was born June 2, 1919 in Oklahoma. Came out to Bakersfield, California in 1938 during the Dust Bowl. Sang at the "Blackboard Cafe" in Bakersfield in '38 thu '39 as part of the Bob Manning Trio. First group to play country music live in Bakersfield. Before them it was "Horn" Bands. Played with the "Rocky Mountain Cowboys" near Visalia from 1940 to 1950. Played with Jelly Sanders for two years in that area. Formed the California Playboys, for 40 years. Had Joe Holley, Bob Wills left handed fiddle player for 7 years in his band. Now at 89 years old he still performs at many local venues. Considers "Trouts" Nightclub as his home away from home. Anna Reading is the daughter of Lloyd Reading" (Myspace).

Category: Music


I went out to the Black Board tonight, and all this week for a free songwriting workshop.
The workshop was put on by Tom Rockwell, business manager at Trout's Nightclub, and the proprietor of the Blackboard stage and basement where the workshop was held. Rockwell (as he is known by all) is always on the move making sure everything is going right, to him everybody is important and everything that is going on in the place is meaningful. I am but a rank amateur at music but I love writing songs as a hobby, for fun and I tell you my skills were modified 10 fold by this exiting 3 day workshop. Some of the finest country music song writers in the world came in and helped out, including Red Simpson and Lloyd Reading.

Rockwell did an outstanding job and was there filming and or recording the class the whole time. We each took turns in the "hot seat" where we got real world stage experience in front of the class and interested on-lookers. I admit I had some bad stage freight, but everybody made me feel right at home and by the end of the third night I was fairly confident, lots of encouragement… unfortunately I was just too tired to perform my tunes. I did get some good performance early in the week though, so I came out of it feeling pretty good about my stage experience. I learned that song writing is a lot about writing and rewriting lyrics over and over until you get the product you desire and then working out the music with other musicians. Some of the Blackboard Playboys were there with high degree of musical expertise and were very helpful in this process.. This was like an inspirational work shop for song writing! A fun, and highly recommended, experience. That's-a-foe-show---

Watch the Trout's' Blackboard calendar for future free workshops

Letter from Lloyd's Daughterabout the article:

"Dad LOVES what you did on your site. One correction. Dad never played with Bob Wills. He met him about ten times but never played professionally with him. He appeared with Rose and Cal Maddox, knew Emogene (Jeanne) Sheppard and can tell you great stories about them. 'Course he has a lot of great stories. One photo has Arthur spelled Aurthur and in one place his name is spelled Loyd instead of Lloyd.
BUT,Good Job, Anna Reading"

Here Lloyd with country star Terry Hanson and Bakersfield sound Guitar hero Don Kidwell.


Gary Siegenthaler said...

Hi Ray, Really enjoyed this article, it brings back so many memories. My dad played for the Cal. Playboys in the 60's. That's him sitting behind his pearl white Slingerland drums in the pics; Art Siegenthaler. We all loved Loyd and the band, the music was so much a part of my family and growing up. Dad passed it on... my brother, Rocky, became a great drummer and I chose the electric and double basses.Cal Playboy lead guitarist, Bob Van Winkle was my JR. High wood shop teacher and music mentor. It was so cool at that age to be able to talk about music gigs and build projects with him in the classroom too. My dad was a gifted carpenter and craftsman. Loyd was a mechanic with his own business; Loyd's Stop Shop in Visalia, and Delbert worked hard also. I know they all worked hard for their families and looked forward to Fri Sat night gigs where they could pick and share their gift with locals at the clubs. Ray, thank you for your great articles and interesting history of the Valley country music seen. Your Friend in Country Music, Gary Siegenthaler

Gary Siegenthaler said...

Ray, I would love to visit with Loyd and hear him singing his music again. I live on the coast now and manage a resort, playing local venues when I'm lucky enough to fit it in with my routine. Would you know how I could get in touch with Loyd? I can be reached at Thank you again! Gary Siegenthaler, Cambria, Ca.