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Light Crust Doughboys Interview

Written by Gene Fowler.

Light Crust Doughboys. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

In the January 2013 issue of Texas Highways, writer Gene Fowler explores the history of the Light Crust Doughboys, which began in Fort Worth in 1931 when Burrus Mills hired some musicians to advertise their Light Crust Flour on the radio. In the course of his research, Gene visited with longtime bandmember Art Greenhaw about the group's long career.

Web ExtraGF: Art, how did you first hear about the Doughboys?
 
AG: I've always loved history and music. A mentor of mine, Walter “Bitsy” Hailey, who was also from Mesquite, was the Doughboys' announcer in the early 1950s. His mother and my grandmother were good friends. So I grew up with the lore and mystique of the Light Crust Doughboys.
 
GF: What was it about the Doughboys music that especially appealed to you?
 
AG: I loved their sound because it's organic. It's non-formula music. They just didn't sound like anyone else. They had a rock and roll approach to their music.
 
GF: Rock and roll? How so?
 
AG: They were aggressive in their playing. They played with enthusiasm and terrific energy. Smokey Montgomery, the longtime Doughboys banjoist and bandleader, played a little before the beat. He made the rhythm really drive. It's much different than laid-back country music. It was an aggressive folk sound, a hot string sound, and the vocals always had great two and three-part harmony. I was a fan of their music in childhood.
 
GF: So how did you become a Doughboy yourself?
 
AG: In 1983, I was booking artists for the Mesquite Folk Festival and the Mesquite Opry. I booked the Doughboys the first chance I got because I'd always loved them. Then I just developed a friendship with Smokey and the boys, and I joined the band when bass player Jim Boyd died. Of course, I had to learn to play bass first! But I'd been a musician since childhood, got my first guitar at eight years old, so it was a natural progression. Smokey said a Doughboy is a Doughboy until he or she dies or is physically unable to play, so as long as I can stand up and play, I'm a Light Crust Doughboy from Burrus Mill.

 

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