Paul Warmack

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A day's drive around Georgia and Tennessee and the reality would be quite clear, as far as gullies are concerned. There are a lot of them. The sometimes parched and scorched, other times drenched earth…
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A day's drive around Georgia and Tennessee and the reality would be quite clear, as far as gullies are concerned. There are a lot of them. The sometimes parched and scorched, other times drenched earth children of 1,000 riverbeds run riot with gullies, as if they were strands of spaghetti. To be a "gully jumper" must have really been something back in the '20s, when it wasn't so easy to hop in a fast car and drive to Nashville. An auto mechanic named Paul Warmack must have known that as well as anyone back then. His group, Paul Warmack & His Gully Jumpers, was one of the biggest hits of Nashville's first decade of country & western radio. The group had the definite honor of releasing the first record to be recorded in Nashville, opening the doors to what would become one of the South's recording superstores. Country music of course went through a radical transformation en route from gully jumping to "Achy, Breaky Heart," and a version of the Gully Jumpers with only one original member was among the final fatalities in the Grand Ole Opry's trimming of old-time music talent from its rosters, a putsch which began in the early '60s. Back in the day -- that being circa 1927 -- this kind of old-time music was proving not single-handedly but with many flailing, picking, bowing, and frailing hands that a national listening audience existed for country music. Old-time music was the country music, pure and simple. Warmack kicked off the Gully Jumpers combo as a sideline to his auto repair business in 1927. Prior to that, he had been content playing pop songs of the day on either mandolin or guitar as more or less of a hobby. The other members of the group at formation included guitarist Burt Hutcherson, banjo player Roy Hardison, and the great old-time fiddler Charlie Arrington. Warmack also played in a duo with Hutcherson, which tended to warm things up for the evening show with a supper time broadcast. The aforementioned debut record release for Nashville was a recording of "Tennessee Waltz," but not the Pee Wee King number that became a huge country hit. The flip side of the Gully Jumper's first release was the delightful "Little Red Caboose Behind the Train." The group later recorded the fiddle tune "Stone Rag," a composition by fiddler Oscar Stone from the rival old-time band Dr. Humphrey Bate and the Possum Hunters. Like several of the other famous acts from these early country days, this group settled into something of a lazy groove with its short Grand Old Opry spots, much like harmonica player DeFord Bailey. Hutcherson was the only remaining original member when the group finally retired in 1960 and there were no serious attempts to make recordings in the later period or any forward development in the combo's basic sound. Although tracks by the group appear on both the LP and CD versions of Nashville: The Early String Bands on the County label, it is the Document CD entitled Nashville, 1928 that purports to present the unexpurgated story of gully jumping.