Arkie The Arkansas Woodchopper

Biography by

b. Luther William Ossenbrink, 2 March 1906, Knob Noster, Missouri, USA, d. 23 June 1981, Marshall, Missouri, USA. Ossenbrink played guitar and fiddle and acted as the caller at local square dances as…
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Artist Biography by

b. Luther William Ossenbrink, 2 March 1906, Knob Noster, Missouri, USA, d. 23 June 1981, Marshall, Missouri, USA. Ossenbrink played guitar and fiddle and acted as the caller at local square dances as a boy before making his radio debut on KMBC, Kansas City, in 1928. The nickname was drawn from real life; he had actually worked with an axe felling trees and splitting rails, and later took an axe on stage with him as a gimmick. His act, which comprised humour and recitations (frequently drawn from his own country boy upbringing), plus a mixture of popular ballads, mountain music and cowboy songs, soon endeared him to the listeners. In 1929, he was hired by WLS Chicago as a regular for their National Barn Dance. He stayed with the show until it was dropped by WLS in 1960, a stay only beaten by one other artist, contralto Grace Wilson. When the programme restarted on WGN in 1960, Arkie joined the cast and remained with it until it finally ended in 1970, when he retired to his native Missouri. He recorded a few sides for ARC and Columbia Records but achieved little fame as a recording artist. He was, however, always very popular as a square dance caller, which led to the publication of a book of his calls in 1940 and the following year, he recorded some for an album release. He regularly toured with theNational Barn Dance shows and on occasions worked with Lulu Belle.