Early MWSD Callers
Al Brundage was calling traditional square dancing long before MWSD came into existence. His prompt style of calling changed only slightly even as his repertoire of singing calls exploded. He mostly stays on a single note almost speaking his calls as you can hear in this clip from a 1952 dance. His melodic style was little changed with a few more notes used 10 years later in the second clip.
In his patter calls Bill Castner uses a wide range of notes following the melodic line of the music occasionally interrupting with conversational instruction. In his singing call, I Don’t Know Why, (SIO #1119) Bill follows the melody of the original song with words for every note.
Marshal Flippo, in his patter calling, stays pretty much with a single note delivering directions in a conversational way with melody added only when long filler phrase are used. In his calling of the song Mary Ann (Kalox #K1107, C.O.Guest), he follows the full melody.
Max Forsyth was a widely traveled caller who used very little melodic variation in his patter call delivery. Mostly, it was on a single note with occasional use of one of two other notes.
Ed Gilmore was an early classic caller and teacher of callers whose style was copied by many later callers. His patter calling was tied closely to the major key note of the music with occasional use of the other notes in the major chord. The rhythm of his patter calling followed the rhythm of the music closely.
Les Gotcher was well known for his driving delivery of patter calls and this clip illustrates that. Many thought Les didn’t do singing calls but, at least in the early days of MWSD, he did many and was well able to sing the melody in delivering his call. This recording from a 1959 dance shows that. (False Hearted Girl - ?Kalox # 1004)
Jerry Haag made many great singing call records. In this patter delivery he sticks to a single note for most of the commands but occasionally breaks into a melodic line for variety.
John Hendron is widely known for his challenging choreography but many fail to notice the musicality of his patter calling as this clip illustrates. Note also, the slower tempo in this 1995 clip. His presentation of singing calls was also very musical as you can hear in this recording of the song Sunny at a 1984 dance weekend.
We have several examples of Jack Jackson singing at an after party on this site but his patter call delivery was also very musical as this clip shows. His musical skill can also be heard in his calling of Baby Face. (?Windsor #4877, Al Brundage)
It’s no surprise that one of the most musical of patter callers was Joe Lewis. He modified an accordion and used it for music for both patter and singing. He, too, can be heard on this site entertaining with his singing but this clip shows that he carried it into his patter calling as well. His delivery of the singing call You Were Only Teasing Me carries the full melody of the song. (J-Bar-L, #5010)
Bruce Johnson was one of very few MWSD callers who used 6/8 rhythm music for patter calls. This clip shows that he delivered the call with the same 6/8 rhythm and a very limited melodic variety using only 3 or 4 notes. Note also the figure, Right Lady High, Left Lady Under, in this 1957 recording. His singing call, Me and My Shadow recorded on Windsor Records # W 4828, is unique. He managed to deliver the call with an exact match to the word metering of the original song.
Earl Johnston had a very driving patter call delivery. It stayed mostly with a single note with occasional insertion of another. The calls were more spoken than sung.
Dick Jones was one of the great singing callers. His patter call was more spoken than sung but included a lot of melodic variety.
Frank Lane’s patter style was almost conversational with a lot of dynamic variation. This recording from 1969 also shows a technique that was to become almost painfully common, of varying the volume of the music between spoken commands. This was made possible by Jim Hilton’s inclusion of a music volume control on the microphone handle in his equipment.
Bill Peters was another very musical caller who used a wide melodic variation in his patter calling. He also made his calls very conversational with dynamic variation in addition to the melodic. This recording from 1986 also shows a reduced tempo that was becoming more widespread at that time.