It's About Time
Classic Country Music
On Multicultural Media's Rootstock Records MCM 4009
18 tracks (click
on underlined titles for sample)
|At age 77, Lee Jollota, of Marshfield, VT, has made her first recording. It’s About Time: Classic Country Music features 18 songs drawn from a career that began when 45 rpm records were hot and that ended at the dawn of the CD era.
Born Doris M. Waite, in Mexico, Maine, to a musical family, Lee first sang locally with her sister. In 1956, the Vermont-based Duke and the Swingbillies came to Mexico for a show, and a friend persuaded the Waite sisters to sing for Duke after the performance. According to Lee, Duke “went ape,” and soon she was traveling all night to sing with the Swingbillies the next day on the first of their two daily TV shows on WCAX in Burlington. Because the other Swingbilly singer was named Vi, Duke asked Doris to change her name to Lee, so they’d be the Lee-Vi Girls.
For Jollota, who had never
been farther from home than Portland, ME, coming to Vermont was an adventure.
She recalls eating breakfast in the Miss Burlington diner. “I was
in awe,” she says. “Burlington seemed like a huge city to
|In addition to the TV shows, the band, which always wore Western outfits, played stage shows and dances — in town halls, schools, American Legions, and often barns — six and seven nights a week. Traveling in a 7-passenger DeSoto with the bass tied on the top, the Swingbillies covered a territory that stretched deep into Canada but always returned for the TV show.
Along with singing and calling square dances, Lee put up posters in the early morning, handled the band’s mail, and sold souvenir pictures. “It was fun,” she says, although that much close traveling sometimes strained relationships in the band. The pay was also marginal. For Lee, however, the big payoff was the enthusiasm and appreciation of the fans. “The people with nothing were the one’s who’d say, ‘please stop at the house for lunch,’” she recalls. “They just wanted to give you everything they had.”
When Duke relocated the band to Maine in 1962, Lee, who had begun raising a family, stayed behind. After settling in central Vermont, she began singing with local bands. Eventually, she started her own band, The Dawn Breakers. She called her next band Pot Luck, since it had a revolving roster of players.
Lee with (l to r) Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Dick Curless, Kitty Wells
Although Lee stopped playing professionally in 1986, she has not stopped singing and sharing her music with others. Since 1996, she has entertained residents regularly as a volunteer at several local nursing homes, sometimes joined by friends but often singing alone.
Lee is joined on It’s About Time by producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Greenberg and by harmony vocalists Coco Kallis and Paul Miller. Lee's daughter, Karin Martin, sings lead on Anne Murray’s “Snowbird,” with her mom providing the harmony.
Despite her life-long love of country music and singing, Lee never aspired to be a star. “I just play the guitar and sing songs,” she says. “I just enjoy what I do. And it rubs off. The people enjoy it. And I guess this is the important thing to me.”