Thomas Hoyt Bryant, commonly known as “Slim” Bryant, was one of the last links with the earliest days of country music. When we say that, we mean, the time when the genre was still labeled as “hillbilly”. Slim Bryant was a fine guitarist known for his groundbreaking use of single-string solos and rock rhythms. For many years, he was the last living composer to have recorded with Jimmie Rodgers, the man now revered as the “Father of Country Music”.

His Life, A Colorful Journey

Slim Bryant was born in Atlanta, Georgia. The son of Posey and Aurora Bryant, a fiddler and guitarist. Slim, as he was called, did not take up music until he was in his teens. Originally, he admired jazz as a child and idolized Nick Lucas. Eventually, he started to eye the development of commercial country music in the region. Until then, he would recall performances by notable early stars such as fiddlin’ John Carson. Moreover, he performed with the Skillet Lickers and played with Elmer McMichen’s string band. In 1931, Slim became a member of Clayton McMichen’s Georgia Wildcats the Skillet Lickers cut their final recordings.

In 1939, the Wildcats separated from McMichen. After a transitory contract at the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia, he aimed for Pittsburgh, where he would be based for the rest of his career. From 1941 until 1960, they performed daily on the early-morning shows. In January 1949, they appeared on the very first television show program in the city. They occasionally recorded, enjoying their utmost commercial success with the novelty number “Eeny Meeny, Dixie Deeny”. Nevertheless, they cut a large number of records for distribution to radio stations across the United States.

How He Met Jimmie Rodgers

In 1932, the Blue Yodeler, Jimmie Rodgers summoned Clayton McMichen Georgia Wildcats to participate in a recording session. Slim played the guitar on Rodgers number of sessions. During the session, Bryant played his composition “Mother, Queen of My Heart” for Rodgers and Ralph Peer. The two recorded it, and it became a hit for Jimmie Rodgers. A couple of weeks later, Bryant again recorded with Rodgers. This session turned out to be the Singing Brakeman and Slim Bryant’s last recording together.

Although Bryant successfully retired from performing in the late 1960s, Bryant offered guitar lessons and continued to be a pillar on Pittsburgh’s musical scene teaching generations of area guitarists.

Thomas Hoyt “Slim” Bryant died on May 28, 2010, after a long illness. He was 101 years old.

Listen to “Mother, Queen of My Heart” audio of Jimmie Rodgers with “Slim” Bryant on the guitar. How we wish we can hear them play, again.

Slim Bryant, thank you for being a priceless source for musicians to gain visions into country’s distant past!

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