1936 - 1976
(LP Cover Photo by John Alexander)
Back in the 1950s, When I was growing up in my hometown of
Danville, Kentucky, I would often go to the Saturday night amateur
contest and country music show at the old State theater there. There
would be many local performers who would come to show of their talents.
There was one who would often win the contest, and that was Carlos
Carlos was a left handed guitar player. Now I know left handed guitar
players are pretty common. But there was nothing common about the way
Carlos played the guitar. Instead of reversing the strings on the guitar
as most left handed pickers do, Carlos left them as they were, and
played the instrument upside down and backwards. He chorded over the top
of the neck with his right hand, and strummed or picked upwards from the
bottom with his left hand. But that was only one small part of this
teenís talents. He could sing you a song that would make you jump up,
clap your hands and dance a jig, or he could sing a tearjerker that
would have you reaching for your hankie.
I moved away from Kentucky in 1962, and donít know too much about
Carlosís career after that. I do know that he took on the stage name of
Little Enis, with his band being ďThe Table Toppers. He worked the clubs
in the Lexington Kentucky area, and toured for a while with Jerry Lee
Little Enis is remembered by many as a rockabilly artist, and is
listed in the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame. He is also remembered as a rocker
and Elvis impersonator who could tear the house down. But I know down
deep his true roots were in traditional country music, which will come
out on the songs listed on this page.
Carlos died in 1976 at only 40 years old. He was never a big star,
but he did have his fans. More than 1000 people showed up for his
There are many of us who will never forget the little left handed boy
who played his guitar backwards and upside down. And to this day, I
believe heís a folk hero in Kentucky. Especially to the folks of Hogue
Hollow, Danville, Lexington, and many other Kentucky counties.
I would like to extend a personal thanks to Virgina Hammons of
Kentucky and Pamela Manning of Florida for making this music available
to me, so I could make it available to you. And a great big thanks to
Michael Cassidy of Canada for sending me the tape of Little Enis songs.
And also to Ed McClanahan for sending Michael the tape in the first
place. Now I ask you, ain't this internet somthing?
After much seaching, yours truly finally found an Enis LP, and I ain't lettin' go!
Now why not rare back and listen to Little Enis!
Left click on song title to play song in MP3 format
Here's a 45 RPM record from Enis that I found on eBay, which I considered a great find, as the record was unplayed. One side's rockabllly, the other Doo Wop. Click on records to listen to the MP3 files
Comments about Little Enis from my discussion group.
Little Enis' work was something....I especially enjoyed "I'll Get
Over You When Grass Grows Over Me". I'm glad that I learned about
Toadvine and his music. Lena
Gary.....man! this man gives me cold chills...I listened to " When
the Grass Grows Over Me and Life Turned her That Way. This man could
sing a country song! Jack
Little Enis does have a very distinctive voice. I like it, I like
Ireally enjoyed Little Enis' music. They really had some good
singers come out of Ky back then. Richard
Comments From My Guestbook & E Mail
I happened onto your web-site by accident, it is great. In 1976 when Carlos Toadvine died I was a Junior in high school in Lexington. My days of going to Boot's Bar to listen to country music had not arrived, but I had heard him around town a few times. Many of the men I knew were big fans. I am fairly certain that the brick building on the album cover was on South Limestone Street and once housed a small grocery and a restaurant called Alfalfa's there were apartments upstairs, it was only a few blocks from Boot's and Comer's. Last time I ate at Alfalfa's they still had photo's of Carlos on the wall nicely framed, so I suspect the connection. Alfalfa's is now on Main Street. The building may have been torn down, I seldom get back home anymore.
I knew Little Enis, Bucky, Frank and Johnny, mostly at Brocks also at
Comer's and The Palms. I loved dancing to the Table Toppers back in the
60's. I live in Florida now, but I will never forget them.
I really enjoyed reading this page. So many nice things you said
about him and we still miss him to this day. I'm his youngest daughter
and he has one grandadaughter. Her name is Hannah Toadvine. I have some
old pitures that I would like to share with you if you're interested let
me know. Take care and thanks again for the many compliments you made
about my Father.
hi gary--my name is ed mcclanahan, and i wrote the article
about little enis for Playboy, back in 1974--the piece also appears, in
slightly different form, in my book Famous People I Have Known--
--i'm aware that some members of the toadvine family disapprove of my
essay, in the belief that it casts carlos in a bad light--but my motives
were deeply affectionate, and i believe the essay contributed much to
the longevity and durability of the enis legend, especially here in
kentucky, where it continues, more than 30 years after its original
publication, to be read with pleasure by a great many people--
--Famous People I Have Known has never been out of print--the current
edition was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2003, and
is available from UPK ($20), or from amazon.com--
--a friend discovered your website, and directed me to it--i enjoyed
it very much--
by the way, i think you're absolutely right that
enis's roots were in country music; his album, I Kept the Wine and Threw
Away the Roses, proves that, indisputably--
Thanks for the memories. I remember Little Enis mostly from Comer's
Restaurant and Bar. Best Hot Brown Sandwich ever! My Mother was a
teacher at Cassidy Elementary School, and had both of Carlos' daughters
in 5th or 6th grade; one in each, I think. When Donna arrived, Mom
expected trouble, due primarily to the "Little Enis" reputation. She was
astounded at the little girl's manners. It was always, "Yes, Ma'am",
"No, Ma'am", "Please" and "Thank you". She was an excellent student,
too. Mom was better prepared when Hannah started in her
I worked the band scene in Lexington for a few years when I was
young. I played with Little Enis, Bucky Sallee, Frank Tremble, and Jerry
Musselman on drums (the TableToppers). Frank's brother had drummed but
left for Louisville and better pay. We worked primarily at The Palms
(belonged to Linville Puckett). I worked mostly with other bands but sat
in with them quite a bit playing bass guitar. We were extremely loud for
those days; Frank's Hammond organ had twin Leslie speaker cabinets.
Mostly top forty and rock and roll with some country thrown in. It was a
grand time for sure.
I played with Little carlos, at the Zebra Lounge in Lexington,Ky.
when he was to weak to carry his box in, I would carry it for him. He is
This is the best page I've seen on Daddy in some time. I wanted to
thank Ed for making Dad part of his book and his life...Getting his
article into Playboy along with adding Daddy into his own book &
life was just the nicest and most poignant thing I could ever think of.
That's a big deal considering it was about a wonderful, short,
multitalented, caring, father along with being a young boy that came out
of the stix to make a difference in many lives. Including my own and my
Thank you all for this. It is a wonderful page and I have
it saved in my favorite places as well as in my heart. I can't thank you
Always, Cynthia Toadvine (Always Daddy's little girl)
of Lexington Kentucky recently interviewed Ed McClanahan and Guy Mendes
on a weekly college radio show that he does called TRIVIAL THURSDAYS.
There's some great talk here about Enis, as well as other Lexington
personalities. You don't want to miss this, and you don't have to. Click
to listen to or download this interview. Thanks, Mick, for contacting me
about this outstanding show.
If anyone has any pictures of little Enis, or more music that they
would like to share for this tribute page, please send them to the e
mail listed below. It would be much appreciated. Also, if you knew
Carlos, and have any info you would like to share, just e mail me or
sign the guestbook below. Of course, I would like for you to sign the
Thanks a million, Gary
Click HERE to read a wonderful story about Enis and Shirley. " My First Love" written by, and sent to me by Shirley Carman Hines. Thanks Shirley!
Click HERE for an excellent story about Little Enis from Lexington writer, Don King