Born April 1st, 1913 in Bayport Texas, Leo Raley was possibly the first professional musician to record with an electric mandolin. His brothers Randall (Red) and Darold were musicians too... one went on to play with the San Antonio Symphony, the other had Music stores in Ft.Worth and Amarillo. Raley played with Western swing fiddle legend Cliff Bruner and the Texas Wanderers, as well as other Houston based bands. (Bruner, a former sideman with Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, formed the Wanderers following Brown's death in 1936.) Raley used a Martin 2-15 style mandolin with a pickup built by Ted Daffan, the proprietor of a Houston radio repair shop. Daffan later became a songwriter/performer and partnered in a Nashville publishing company with Hank Snow. It was Raley's playing that first inspired Tiny Moore to use the electric mandolin on stage and in the studio. His contemporaries included Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Milton Brown, Homer and Jethro and countless others. His son tells stories of all the personalities of the time stopping by their house!
Post Great Depression Era America was a hard place.. Many struggled to find any work at all to feed their families and Parents, although the Houston area where the Shipyards and Oil fields were seem to have been economically busy. There were a lot of clubs in the area catering to the many workers... some seating as many as a 1000 or more people. I could see where Amplification could start to be critically needed.
TV hadn't been invented yet... if you lived outside a metropolitan area chances are you had a "party Line". A phone line shared with other neighbors.... But everyone had a Radio! It was the Ultramodern convenience that linked you to a world of Music and News and Entertainment.
Leo seems to have played on lots of Radio stations with many different band members. A band with a following on the Radio could do pretty well for themselves. I love the pictures of the Texas Wanderers 1930's Tour Bus! Please enjoy the Pictures... they are a Musical Time Capsule.
The Raley brothers Leo, Randall (Red) and Darold - circa 1935-36 (note the pickup!)
Leo's first band... Must be Houston friends!
Gigging in 1947 at the Magnolia Gardens... The Raley Brothers with Leon Payne in Houston Texas
with the same pickup on a sweet Martin Mandolin.
All Photos ©2017 Gary Raley