The Sauceman Brothers (Carl & J.P.)March 06, 2012
Carl Sauceman died on Friday, January 28, 2005 at his home in Gonzales, Louisiana. Together with his brother John Paul "J.P." (1926-1984), the Sauceman Brothers were among the early pioneers of Bluegrass music.
He grew up in the Bright Hope community near Greeneville, Tennessee, where his father was a noted sacred singer in all the revivals in his area. Carl's mother knew a lot of old ballads and songs and in the late 30's, he listened to Mainer's Mountaineers on record. With this musical background, Carl began to sing and play guitar as well.
In 1941, he teamed up with Dudley Watson and Curley Shelton and they began working on radio at WISE in Asheville and then at WHKY Hickory, both in North Carolina. Wartime rationing hampered both their own and the fans' ability to get to their shows so they finally got on at WNOX Knoxville briefly and for a longer stretch at WWNC Asheville. Early in 1945 Carl went into the U.S. Navy, getting out near the end of 1946. He returned to Asheville briefly and then went to a new hometown station, WGRV in Greenville, Tennessee. By this time, Carl had a band called the Hillbilly Ramblers.
The Saucemans cut their first records for Rich-R-Tone. The Sauceman Brothers cut four sides and J.P. did a Country single. In between the two Rich-R-Tone sessions, they did one as the Hillbilly Ramblers for Mercury. One of their Rich-R-Tone efforts included among the sidemen such notables as Carl Butler, Joe Stuart, and Tater Tate.
The Sauceman Brothers left Greenville for WROL Knoxville in 1948, where they spent a year working for supermarket tycoon Cas Walker. They then went to Detroit briefly before going to Bristol's WCYB, where they remained for a couple of years laboring on the Farm And Fun Time program, where they shared the limelight with such luminaries as the Stanley Brothers and Curly King.
At the beginning of 1952, Carl took his Green Valley Boys south to WRAG Carrollton, Alabama where he spent ten years and signed a contract with Capitol. The boys in his band at various times included Tater Tate, Joe Stuart, Curly Seckler, Don McHan, Fred Richardson, Buddy Rose, and Monroe Fields. In 1954, they switched over to Republic, where their recordings of A White Cross Marks The Grave and I'll Be An Angel Too, constitute a pair of McHan originals and all-time Bluegrass classics.
The Green Valley Boys pioneered Bluegrass in that portion of the country and once it caught on they did quite well with three weekly TV shows, regular radio, and Carl's doing a deejay show at WRAG in Carrollton. J.P. eventually went back to Greenville and went into radio management. Carl's group worked out of Carrollton until the end of 1962. In the latter period he cut a few sides for N Records, a local label in Alabama and a few more for Pappy Dailey's D Records. Their best song for Dailey, Please Be My Love, a Monroe Fields original-later became a minor classic by George Jones and Melba Montgomery.
At the time, Sauceman quit show business, he had become part owner of the station, but his youngest son, Jerry, had a terminal illness and Carl felt he needed to devote full attention to him. After 1964, friends urged him to become musically active again, but he resisted the temptation. Carl Sauceman came to Gonzales, Louisiana in 1969 as owner and General Manager of WSLG radio. The business prospered and he sold the station and retired in 1985.
Carl returned to Carrollton for a once-a-year get-together, did three or four shows annually, and cut a new album for Rich-R-Tone in 1976 and a reunion effort for Atteiram in 1977 with one-time sideman Joe Stuart. Rebel released a few transcription cuts from WCYB on a Farm And Fun Time anthology album and Rounder did a collection of most of his pioneering Bluegrass efforts.