Frank Rice and Ernest L. Stokes got together as "Mustard & Gravy" in 1933 in North Carolina, and spent the next 20 years entertaining country audiences, writing a few folk-style classics and one rockabilly-style number in the process. They both hailed from Wilson, NC, and were related by marriage to a pair of sisters. After winning a local talent contest on WGTM in Wilson, they moved up to bigger radio stations and also got a recording contract with RCA-Victor's Bluebird label, cutting sessions in September of 1938 in South Carolina. Mustard & Gravy's music was essentially country-novelty with a hillbilly edge, although they could also do minstrel-style numbers and even helped anticipate rock & roll to some degree. They were discovered by Smiley Burnette -- himself a country-novelty performer -- and recommended by him to Columbia Pictures, which put them in two B westerns in 1946 and used them for another in 1949. The duo also appeared in one movie with Eddy Arnold, whom they had toured with as well. After World War II, they cut at least one single, "Be Bop Boogie," written by Rice, for Gotham in 1950, which was, in turn, first covered by Harry Gay and later, in pure rockabilly fashion, by Don Hager and the Hot Tots late in the '50s. The B-side of that single, "That Ain't in Any Catalog," represents the novelty-song side of their sound, and is a funny and lusty piece of country humor. The Library of Congress has reissued one of their recordings of a Frank Rice original, "Circus Parade."
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