M-B Corral
Wichita Falls, TX


The former M-B Corral Club in Wichita Falls
Photo courtesy Google streetmaps

The M-B Corral was/is a large Quonset hut, hangar shaped building in Wichita Falls built around 1949 and opened as a night club around 1950 or 51 as the home venue for the local based Miller Brothers band. The 1958 city business directory listed it at 1169 Sheppard Access Road and owned by Gene E. Wagner, A. L. (Lee) Cochran, Leon F. and Samuel E. Gibbs.  At the suggestion of Lee Cochran's wife Eloise, who also worked the door, the club was named the M-B (for Miller Brothers) Corral.1


The Miller Brothers band - Bill Jourdan, Billy Thompson, Leon Gibbs, Dutch Ingram, Sam Gibbs, Jerry Byler, Lee Cochran, Madge Bolin onstage at the M-B Corral in Wichita Falls, Texas in the early '50s

Photo courtesy Kimberly (Ingram) Dunn

The Miller Brothers Band was a touring western dance band based in Wichita Falls that originated in the '40s as the Gibbs Brothers with Leon on fiddle and twins Samuel and Nathaniel on guitar and bass.2 While working at the Times Publishing Company and also hosting their own radio show on radio KWFT they changed the band's name to the Miller Brothers to avoid a conflict of interest between the two competing media outfits.3


The Miller Brother's Band - Bill Jourdan, Smiley Weaver, Jim McGraw, Leon Gibbs, Dutch Ingram, Troy Jordan, Pascal Williams, Madge Bolin and Lee Cochran on stage at the M-B Corral in the early '50s

Photo courtesy Kimberly (Ingram) Dunn

 


The Miller Brother's Band - Bill Jourdan, Smiley Weaver, Jim McGraw, Leon Gibbs, Dutch Ingram, Troy Jordan, Pascal Williams, Madge Bolin and Lee Cochran on stage at the M-B Corral in the early '50s

Photo courtesy Keith Ward and Prairie Nights to Neon Lights

By the time they opened the Corral they were broadcasting six radio shows a week and Sam was running his own booking agency, called Sam Gibbs' Orchestra Service. With a different last name, he could wholeheartedly recommend the Miller Brothers to promoters, who would not know Sam was talking about his own brothers. The group saw many personnel changes in its history but their greatest popularity came in the '50s while recording for the California based 4-Star Records.2  They had an endorsement with Rickenbacker.


The Miller Brothers band - Bill Jourdan, Billy Thompson, Leon Gibbs, Dutch Ingram, Lee Cochran, Pascal Williams, Troy Jordan, Madge Bolin onstage at the M-B Corral in Wichita Falls, Texas  in the early '50s

Photo courtesy Kimberly (Ingram) Dunn

In 1955, the group was ranked number three in the nation by Cashbox magazine. During this period they recorded fifty-two sides for 4-Star and in the summer, when the heat slowed down attendance at the club, the group traveled throughout the United States, and Canada. They traveled to Greenland and according to a retired member, were the first western swing band ever booked in Bermuda and Puerto Rico. When the group was on tour, other acts were booked into the Corral, including acts like Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb.2


Local ads for the show at the Corral
courtesy Lee Cotten and WFPL

On April 25, 1955, Eloise Cochran was working the door at the Corral when Elvis, Scotty and Bill played there, their first appearance in Wichita Falls.1 Ads for though misspelled Elvis' name as "Elvis Prestley."  It was the start of a four (five) stop in five days tour with Capitol recording artist Dub Dickerson and Chuck Lee and Gene Kay, artists from the TNT (Tanner 'N Texas) label from San Antonio who had sponsored the shows.


TNT Artist Dub Dickerson
Photo courtesy Jim Hilmar and RCS

Dub Dickerson, from Grand Saline, Texas, was the guitarist with Zeke Clemons' band before recording for Decca.  By the end of 1952, with new management, he signed with Capitol, recorded with them and Ken Nelson first in March of 1953 and by 1954 had made several appearances on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. His latest, and last, with Capitol, "I Must Have Drove My Mules Too Hard," was released around the time of this tour.

According to Lee Cotton, unaware to Elvis, Scotty and Bill at the time, Sam Gibbs had also booked the acts on a double bill that night to play a benefit show for the Volunteer Fire Department in Seymour, a small town 52 miles southwest of Wichita Falls. That show was advertised to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the auditorium of Seymour High School.4


Ad for show at Seymour High School
Photo courtesy Steve Bonner

After performing at the Corral the boys began their trip to Seymour and ran out of gas en route along Seymour Road. Varied accounts exist as to whether it was in Holliday or Mabelle, Texas and also as to the events as to how and when the boys ultimately arrived in Seymour but suffice to say to the dismay of the promoters and audience that remained that they didn't arrive until late.  They still, however, managed to perform.

The tour took then them to dates in Big Spring, Texas followed by Hobbs, New Mexico and ended at the Cotton Club in Lubbock, Texas.  Their next appearance in Wichita Falls came the following August, at Spudder Park.

By July, Dickerson would leave Capitol, his management and start booking himself. By October he and his band the Rio Grande Boys would be playing the Round-Up Club in Dallas seven nights a week, another venue where Elvis, Scotty and Bill would later perform. He only recorded a few more times, with different labels, until the early 'sixties though in 1957 Ricky Nelson would record "Stood up" a song written by Dickerson.


Veterans raising the flag at VFW Post 2147
Photo courtesy KAUZ

The Corral would later see acts like Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Tina Turner, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Dominoe, and even Paul Revere and the Raiders.1 By the late '50s western swing and big country combos were largely on their way out or being relegated to lounges in gambling towns. The Miller Brothers Band was together until the early '60s and would later sell their interests in the club. The Miller Brothers band name was sold to Bobby Rhodes of San Jon, New Mexico, in 1965.2 Lee Cochran passed away in 1968.1


The Hangar MD and VFW Post 2147 in Wichita Falls
Photo courtesy Google streetmaps


Aerial Photos courtesy Microsoft Earthdata

The Corral was purchased by the VFW Post 2147 on January 1, 1972.  Buford Hudson, the business mgr at the VFW since 1972 said little has changed aside from minor remodeling. Over the years membership at the VFW began to drop off and they no longer needed the big hall. It was sold to Mejia Ventures of Wichita Falls in August of 2005 and the building was named "The Hangar MD."  The VFW now lease their portion of the building while the hall is rented out for other entertainment uses.


Lone Star Troubadours at the Hangar MD formerly M-B Corral - 2008

Photo courtesy Lone Star Troubadours


Lone Star Troubadours at the Hangar MD formerly M-B Corral - 2009

Photo courtesy Lone Star Troubadours

Sam Gibbs continued to operate his booking agency throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s and from the late 1950s until Bob Wills retired was Wills' manager. His Family still operates Sam Gibbs' Music in Wichita Falls. Nat relocated to Dallas in 1952 and became a successful businessmen.5 Leon outlived them both and continued to perform. In 2009 he celebrated his 88th birthday at the Hangar MD, the old M-B Corral. Today, as "The Hangar" at 3305 Sheppard Access Rd., the old M-B Corral is a still a popular venue for music.


Motionless in White at The Hangar - Aug. 2010

Photo Liliana Navarro


Atilla at The Hangar - Aug. 2010

Photo Liliana Navarro

page added March 17, 2011

 

Much of the the history of Dub Dickerson was obtained from Billboard magazine. Special thanks to Buford Hudson, the business manager of the VFW Post 2147 in Wichita Falls and to Graham Tedesco-Blair and the Wichita Falls Public Library for thier assistance with this page.

1 according to Jim Cochran and members of Wichita Falls Facebook
2 according to Prairie Nights to Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music in West Texas By Joseph J. Carr, Alan Munde
3 according to At 88, Leon Gibbs still fiddling 'round By Lana Sweeten-Shults Times Record News - March 20, 2009
4 according to or excerpt from Did Elvis Sing in Your Hometown? by Lee Cotten
5 according to obituary for Nat Gibbs - September 29, 2010

 

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