The Vagabonds

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A vocal harmony trio of ministers’ sons comprising Dean Upson (b. 12 November 1900, d. 3 October 1975) who had first formed a trio at WLS Chicago in 1925, Curt Poulton (b. 1907, d. 1957) who joined…
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A vocal harmony trio of ministers’ sons comprising Dean Upson (b. 12 November 1900, d. 3 October 1975) who had first formed a trio at WLS Chicago in 1925, Curt Poulton (b. 1907, d. 1957) who joined Upson in 1928, and Herald Goodman (b. 8 August 1900, d. 1974), who joined them on KMOX St. Louis in 1930. All were trained musicians (though only Poulton played guitar) who read and arranged music. In 1931, their performances attracted the attention of Harry Stone, who signed them to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Their appointment represented a turning point for the Opry and Stone’s action was against Opry founder George D. Hay’s usual policy of using only what he termed ‘down home folk’ and his preference for string bands. The Vagabonds were the first really true professional entertainers to play the Opry and proved so popular that they also appeared regularly on WSM’s other shows. They made many recordings and are reputed to have formed Nashville’s first country music publishing house Old Cabin Music on their arrival in 1931. Equally accomplished with gospel, pop or country music, they are remembered for their reflective ballad ‘When It’s Lamp Lighting Time In The Valley’, which they recorded in 1933 and which has been recorded by many artists since including Tex Ritter and Hylo Brown. They remained a popular act for many years although there were naturally some personnel changes. In the late 30s, Goodman left to front his own band, Upson eventually worked for WSM and later became the commercial manager at KWKH Shreveport. Poulton became involved with promotional work. (They should not be confused with Dunn’s Vagabonds, a Houston-based band of the late 30s).