It may come as a surprise to fans of jazz and Swing music that far more Soundies were made by country artists than jazz. Dave McEnery, known as Red River Dave, is a strong contender for the “Top of the Output Award” with twelve Soundies issued under his name.

            Dave McEnery was born in 1914 in San Antonio, Texas. He began singing in high school and started to write songs, often topical or political in nature, soon after. McEnery moved to New York City and by the mid-1930s, was appearing on radio, as well as on early experimental television broadcast from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Red River Dave became a popular radio, stage and recording artist. In addition, McEnery was seen in a small number of Western features and shorts including Swing in the Saddle (1944), in which he shared the screen with Jimmy Wakely, the Hoosier Hot Shots and the Nat “King” Cole Trio.

            Red River Dave’s musical output included cowboy ballads (“Brandin’ Time”), popular western tunes (“Mexicali Rose”) and novelty tunes (“Loads of Pretty Women”). His accompaniment also varied, from his own group, the Red River Boys, to a big band led by Jack Shaindlin.

            “Dude Cowboy” is a romping piece that plays off the familiar theme of the city slicker trying to make it in the West. If not Western Swing per se, the music has a delightful kick. Dave is joined by popular female vocalist Rosalie Allen, about whom in a future post. Both the recording band and sideline musicians are unknown in this series so we’ll just sit back, drink some sarsaparilla and enjoy the music.