Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obray Ramsey Sings Folksongs From The Gateways To The Great Smokies

Here`s an LP you`re going to like if you are a fan of REAL old-time banjo picking and singing. Nothing fancy out of Mr. Ramsey here, just good, solid, straight forward old-time singing with banjo. Most of these songs are sure enough traditional songs, some even going back to the traditional English ballad type songs.
I don`t know much to tell about Obray Ramsey, so I`m just going to type the one paragraph about him on the back of the LP cover-----
"Obray Ramsey is an excellent example of these processes (referring to the history of the "handing down" of this type of music). Ramsey was born on the banks of the Three Laurels to a western North Carolina family rich in Appalachian tradition. From his mother and grandmother he inherited his basic store of Anglo-Irish-American song. His repertoire includes not only the old ballads and lyrics, native and imported, but later forms and songs distributed by Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, and other early hillbilly entertainers. He learned the guitar as a young man, but usually performed without accompaniment. The folksinger-collector-impresario Bascom Lamar Lunsford "discovered" Ramsey, encouraged him to become an excellent banjo picker, and featured his performances on the Asheville Folk Festival. Ramsey`s performances show varied influences, and he has extended his repertoire by festival contacts. He seems to have completely absorbed all he has learned of old and new styles, and his performances are excellent examples of a good portion of Appalachian song today. His singing often echoes the oldest of mountain styles; he plays "clawhammer" banjo without the flamboyance of the "bluegrass" performer; he is the composer of a number of gospel songs. Performers like Ramsey are of great importance in presenting folksong tradition to the "outsider" and preserving it for their own people."
So there you have it---hope you enjoy!!

Track listing---
The War Is A-Raging
Little Margaret
Down Beside The Ohio
Worried Man
Hold Fast To The Right
Pearl Bryant
Cripple Creek
I Wish I Were A Single Girl Again
Little Sparrow
Shortening Bred
The Roaming Boy
I Want To Go Home
Pretty Saro
Pretty Fair Miss
Man Of Constant Sorrow

Click here to download Obray Ramsey Sings Folksongs From The Gateways To The Great Smokies


  1. Thanks for this. Loved hearing him ever since I saw him in a documentary on Bascom Lunsford =) these things really need a CD reissue.

  2. I`m not sure but I think I have all the Lp`s there are on him. I`ll be posting more of his stuff soon.

  3. I NEVER knew this LP existed... I know he also did a Jimmie Rodgers album and there's one called "Folk Songs From the Three Laurels". Would love to hear those if anyone out there has them... More Obray the better. Thanks for sharing this!

    Would also give anything to hear the LP he did with Byard Ray (as White Lightning)on ABC entitled "File Under Rock" - I've never seen a copy of it.

    Again, thanks so much for what you do!

  4. Thanks for this! This seems to be the rarest of all his records -- at least I've never seen one for sale on Ebay (there are three copies of "File Under Rock" on there now, by the way).

    One correction to the profile on the record - Obray does NOT play clawhammer style banjo. He plays a three-finger picking style that, to me anyway, sounds more influenced by bluegrass than old-time styles of picking. He picked up the banjo later in life at the urging of Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Before that I think he sang unaccompanied.

  5. Yes, I had intended to mention he don`t play clawhammer like the liner notes said. He plays a 3 finger style that`s somewhere between old-time 3 finger and bluegrass style in my opinion. Stay tuned for more from Obray Ramsey in the next week or 2!!

  6. Track 3 Down Beside the Ohio can be repaired as follows:

    copy (9s363ms) between 53s157.1ms and 1mn3s120.5ms (in 1st chorus)

    paste between 1mn53s982.9ms and 2mmn9s946.2ms (in 2nd chorus)

  7. sorry paste between 1mn53s982.9ms and 2mn3s946.2ms

  8. Regarding "File Under Rock," I always preferred the second White Lightnin' LP "Fresh Air," which has been posted over at the "Friends of Old-Time Music" blog:

    I like the second LP more because it has less rock and studio excess (less fuzz guitar and more modest production).

  9. Thanks so much for posting this. I don't know why Obray Ramsey isn't better known. He's a brilliant talent. I have one of his albums with a different (and I think somewhat more powerful) version of the great "Little Margaret," but it's great to have variations. Thanks again!

  10. Thanks, I didn't have this one as mp3s. I've got the Three Laurels album, and Obray sings Jimmy Rodgers, but they are one big wave file, not broken into tracks. If anyone has one broken into tracks that'd be cool. I also have the two White Lightning albums but only as side1/side2 mp3s I made from the vinyl. What do you folks use to break it into tracks? I learned to play from a friend who learned to play from his uncle Mel, who learned from Obray.

  11. hi rounder would you allow me to view please? thanks

  12. Vinyl is defectife :(
    The niddle jumps on 3rd track "banks Of Ohio" on something about 2:07.
    Please buy another vinyl, rip it and upload.

  13. For anyone who is interested, I have posted a tab of Down Beside The Ohio, as recorded by Obray Ramsey on my blog,

  14. Thanks so much for posting this! He's hard to find, for whatever reason, in any format!

  15. "I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again" never made it on to your upload.

    1. I just downloaded it to check and it is there. Give it another try. Good luck!

    2. I gave it another try. I got it. Thank you Sir. I love your site.