Lum: Rusty and Doug revisited
When I was 19 and engaged to my first husband, Gil, we used to huddle by the radio after 11 p.m., when, if we were lucky, we could pick up radio station WWVA out of Wheeling, W.Va.
W (pronounced dub-ya) WVA was, despite crackles and pops, the best country-music station ever, and the ads (“Send your dollar now for your genuine Jesus tablecloth”) were as good as the tunes.
Gil was a country-folk singer who had a radio show at our college. Although I was about to quit school, I was determined to meet him and our relationship began when we made a deal that I would write him, an 80-page letter and he would reciprocate with a tape of him singing “The Cat Came Back.”
Our favorite WWVA number was a hit tune, “So Lovely, Baby,” sung by Rusty and Doug — “I’ve walked and walked for many a mile to get a glimpse of her sweet smile, so lovely, buy-bee, better watch out or I’m gonna get chew, maybe.”
Out of the blue the other night, I started to sing this to my dachshunds (buy-bees) and then got the idea to Google Rusty and Doug. I’m always amazed by what you can find on the Internet; there they were, Rusty and Doug, with “So Lovely, Baby” first on a list of five of their hits, the last being “Diggy Liggy Lo.”
Wait a minute. Double take. “Diggy Liggy Lo” was Doug Kershaw’s signature song — look further, and yes, the last name of Rusty and Doug was Kershaw. The Doug of Rusty and Doug was Doug Kershaw, the famous Ragin’ Cajun who tore it up at The Aspen Inn, always ending with “Diggy Liggy Lo,” as did The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band when it played there.
“Diggy Liggy Li loved Diggy Liggy Lo, everyone knew he was her beau. No one else could ever show so much love for Diggy Liggy Lo.” The lights went out, the crowd screamed in the dark, and then bang, the lights came on again for a repeat of the chorus. Pandemonium. You had to be there.
I saw Doug Kershaw several times in Aspen, never dreaming that it was him and his brother who sang “So Lovely, Baby” back in the mid-’50s. He’s my age, so he must have been 19 when they cut that record in 1955. The Doug Kershaw two decades later was a wild man with long, black hair and a gap-toothed grin who stomped and sawed at his fiddle so enthusiastically that the horsetail hairs snapped and flew off his bow.
Then he got really hot and performed with the likes of Itzhak Perlman, but I hadn’t heard about him for years. I thought I’d read someplace that he’d died.
Not so. I’m happy to report that he’s still alive and trucking and on Facebook, as is his musician son of the same name, who looks just like him.
Su Lum is a longtime local whose granddaughter Riley will be playing at the Woody Creek Community Center Thursday night at 8. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach Su at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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