When it comes to singin’, ridin’, and ropin’ cowboys in the Boston area, even though there haven’t been a lot of them, Rexford Trailer (1928-2013) was the king. The Texas native is best known in these parts for creating and hosting the Western-flavored kids variety show “Boomtown,” which ran Saturdays and Sundays on WBZ from 1956-1974. But Trailer had a lot of experience before that gig. Growing up near Fort Worth, he did some trick riding, and worked with ropes and bullwhips on the rodeo circuit as a teen. A cowboy named Bob Layman taught him to play guitar and call square dances, and Trailer soon formed a band called the Ramblin’ Rustlers, covering country tunes. When he was 18, he traveled with the rodeo to New York, where he met Western character actor Gabby Hayes at Madison Square Garden. Hayes became a mentor, first having Trailer entertain kids at his summer camp, then suggesting that if he was set on a show business career, he should stick with performing for kids, which seemed to come naturally. A brief time as a Saturday morning cowboy host in New York on the Dumont network led to a 5-year stint hosting and singing songs on a number of Western shows for Westinghouse Broadcasting in Philadelphia. A job offer in Boston led to the creation of “Boomtown.” Trailer would open each show by riding in on his white-maned palomino Goldrush (his horse in Philadelphia was Bamboo), and there would always be time for a song or two, accompanying himself on his big Gibson SJ-200 guitar. He was already well acquainted with country music, but was turned on to bluegrass when he discovered the Boston-based Charles River Valley Boys, whose mandolinist, Joe Val, was a regular guest on “Boomtown.” Trailer also wrote a lot of songs, among them the theme song for “Boomtown,” “Lovin’ You Is Like a Rodeo,” “It’s Your Dog,” “Hoofbeats,” “and “Cowboys Don’t Cry.” Those last two were the A and B sides of an ABC-Paramount 45 Trailer recorded in 1955. After “Boomtown’s” run, Trailer briefly hosted the TV show “Earth Lab,” then went on to create Rex Trailer Video Productions in Waltham, and teach television performance and production at Emerson College. In 1960 he made the album “Country and Western” on the Crown label. He was admitted into the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007.
(by Ed Symkus)
Published on May 14, 2013