Welby Toomey was a balladeer who recorded twenty three sides for Gennett between November 1925 and November 1927 (from wich thirteen were rejected and one unissued) and went back to his barber work. Nine sides were released on Gennett and Champion, and under pseudonyms on various dime-store labels produced by Gennett such as Challenge (as John Ferguson), Supertone and Silvertone.
His work seems to have often been overlooked by country music collectors in the past and these recordings have never been reissued. He is mostly known because he shared records with Dock Roberts, who became famous afterwards. Things must have changed somehow though, given the price his records sell nowadays.

Edgar Boaz / Welby Toomey / Dennis Taylor / Doc Roberts in the Gennett studio, Richmond, Indiana.

The very first Gennett recording session for Welby Toomey (voc.) and Edgar Boaz (g.) actually occured on Sept. 30, 1925. But all recordings were rejected. The duo came back anyway for a new session on Nov. 13 of the same year. Six songs were recorded, two were rejected and the following four were released. Somehow, the Gennett executives must have not believe much in Toomey’s recordings as all released sides were on the Gennett budget line, the 3000 series – along with the Sears labels.
Doc Roberts (f.) was in the studio that day and recorded two songs with Boaz, but doesn’t appear on the Toomey sides.

Welby Toomey “Frankie’s Gamblin’ Man” (Nov. 13, 1925 – Mx 12412)
Welby Toomey ” The Golden Willow Tree” (Nov. 13, 1925 – Mx 12413)
Welby Toomey “Thrills That I Can’t Forget” (Nov. 13 1925 – Mx 12414-A)
Welby Toomey “Railroad Daddy” (Nov. 13, 1925 – Mx 12417-A)

The following day, the duo recorded three other songs, two were released but I sadly don’t own them yet. These two are the missing sides before a complete discography of Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz.

Almost a year passed before Toomey and Boaz returned to the Richmond studio, this time accompanied by Doc Roberts. This fourth recording session happened sometimes on October 1926. This time again, several songs were recorded but only the following three were released.
During the gap, they definitively improved their musical skills. The new recordings are way more solid than the previous recordings. It is frustrating thinking about the four songs rejected.

Welby Toomey “The Death Of John Henry” (Oct. 1926 – Mx 12572)
Welby Toomey “Roving Gambler” (Oct. 26 – Mx 12577)
Welby Toomey “Little Brown Jug” (Oct. 1926 – Mx 12581)

Doc Roberts recorded “In The Shadow Of The Pine”, accompanied by Boaz, during the same session. This song appears on Gennett 6025 (Mx 12575), flip side of “Little Brown Jug”.

Tony Russel’s Country Records Discography gives another session for Toomey in the Richmond studio on Nov. 1927, accompanied by “unknown musicians”. One, or maybe all instruments might have been played by Afro-american musician Sammy Brown. Unfortunately, none of the sides recorded that day were released and that is probably a pity.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten balladeers : Welby Toomey

  1. Welby Toomey was my grand father. My father donated all of his records and contracts to Renfro valley in 1990. I found out the things were sold when the museum was closed.


    1. Hi! This is Brenda Toomey, Morris’ youngest daughter. How are you & family? Wonder who bought what, I think they should’ve notified his family before selling!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s