Reviews

“The Bay Area had a thriving country music scene from the mid-to-late ‘20s, boasting stars like Haywire Mac and Charlie Marshall, though the performer probably most associated with San Francisco, Oakland and surrounding parts, Dude Martin, whose career began to take off in the mid-30s, took his inspiration mostly from acts coming out of Southern California like the Beverly Hill Billies and Stuart Hamblen. Despite their vibrancy, the local scenes have not to this point been too well documented beyond a welcome (though uneven) book devoted to Dude Martin and his musical partner Ted Johnson published in 2005 and a documentary about Martin released in 2007. So Shorty Joe, the new autobiography by one of the stalwarts of the local scene – and one of the last survivors of western swing’s Golden Era -- Shorty Joe Quartuccio, written with the noted, veteran western swing scholar and champion Steve Hathaway fills a crucial gap in the documentation of the history of western swing, not only in the Bay Area and Northern California, but also more generally. 

Shorty Joe might seem a relatively minor character at first glance, and he was never more than a regional star, but he is significant in a number of ways. His career is emblematic of that of many similar local institutions the country over, and he not only led some excellent bands but also served as mentor to two of the best steel guitarists to emerge in the 1950s (or any era), Pee Wee Whitewing and Bobby Black (still very active musically, the legendary Bobby Black supplies a vivid and telling forward to this volume).  Quartuccio’s story is also significant for its detailed documentation of the lives and trajectory of an immigrant family in 20th Century America (Quartuccio was born in Sicily in 1924). Although there is ample detail about Shorty Joe’s life and work – in and out of music – the always engaging text is relatively brief. But the book is fleshed out by a fascinating and detailed timeline (which documents as many of Shorty Joe’s performances as Hathaway has been able to confirm), a similarly detailed discography and sessionography, and many great photos. These photos include family and non-music related work shots as well as dozens of band shots covering Quartuccio’s long musical journey. To many readers, the reproduction of so many fantastic photos will be the book’s biggest draw and its most historically significant aspect, alone worth the price of the book and then some. Shorty Joe Quartuccio and Stompin’ Steve Hathaway have crafted a historically valuable, deeply enjoyable memoir. Shorty Joe: An Autobiography is highly recommended. ”

“…Shorty Joe Quartuccio and Stompin’ Steve Hathaway have crafted a historically valuable, deeply enjoyable memoir. Shorty Joe: An Autobiography is highly recommended.”

KEVIN COFFEY , 8/27/2017

“Shorty Joe Quartuccio may not be a familiar name to many but he was a significant figure in the country music scene in California in the 1940s ad 50s. His relative obscurity is due to the fact that music was a part time career for him - his day job was as an aircraft and spacecraft mechanic working for NASA and its predecessor NACA. He was born in Sicily in 1924 and he and his family emigrated to the USA in 1930. Once here he fell in love with American country music and in particular the music of Dude Martin & His Nevada Night Herders and The Sons of the Pioneers and worked at honing his skills on guitar and together with some friends formed his first group The Red Rock Canyon Cowboys in 1941. After returning from his spell in the services he reformed his band and started performing regularly around the San Jose area and was pretty soon backing some of the great performers that came through town including Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell and many others and made some highly regarded recordings for the Bella label and his own Golden West label. His band had various fine musicians pass through its ranks and two of his steel guitarists Pee Wee Whitewing and Bobby Black were inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. This entertaining book tells Joe's story in his own words and is copiously illustrated with photos of Joe and his bands as well as pictures of the artists Joe performed with including Hank Williams (three photos including the only known picture of Hank playing electric guitar!), Jimmy Wakely, Foy Willing & The Riders of the Purple Sage, Jim Reeves, Skeets McDownald and others. The book also includes a full discography of Joe’s recordings and a timeline of his performances..”

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"...highly recommended..."

FRANK SCOTT, Roots and Rhythm Records , 9/10/2017

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SARA BROWN, CULTURA , 9/31/2023

© 2017 by STEVE HATHAWAY.| Modesto, California| steve@westernswing.com                    Proudly created with Wix.com

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