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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Onie Wheeler - Something New And Something Old

This has to be a mega-rare LP!! It was issued in 1982 and by that time Onie would have been a really obscure artist. By this time about all he was known for was playing the harmonica and making the train whistle effect for Roy Acuff on the Opry.
Onie (that`s a great name!!) was born in Senath, Missouri (south-east Missouri) on November 10th, 1921 and passed away at a late night gospel performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry May 26th, 1984.
Onie`s early recorded music (1953) was a new type of country music. It was some pretty hard rockin` stuff that we now would call rockabilly, or at least pre-rockabilly. Onie was also well known as an excellent harmonica player.
I`m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about Onie because there just isn`t all that much information on him. If you like this LP even a little bit I HIGHLY recommend buying a cd called Onie`s Bop on the Bear Family label. It`s a great cd featuring music he recorded in the 50`s for Columbia and Sun. There is also a 24 page booklet with the cd. The quality of the cd package is excellent, which the Bear Family label is well known for excellent sound restoration and really nice liner notes and such.
A few interesting facts I know about Onie is that he toured some with Elvis when he was first starting out. He also toured some with George Jones. Sometime in the late sixties Roy Acuff added Onie to his Smoky Mountain Boys. I never have heard the story about Roy hiring Onie. I wonder if Roy hired him more for his train whistle imitation than his harmonica player because Roy already had the best harp player in country music, Jimmie Riddle. Look on you tube for an Onie Wheeler clips, there is at least one of Onie doing one of his own songs with the Smoky Mountain Boys and some other clips of him playing harmonica for Roy. On the Roy Acuff song, Freight Train Blues, Onie and Jimmie Riddle play some pretty intense twin harmonica.
Onie wrote 4 of the songs on this LP---Onie`s Bop, I`d Rather Scratch With The Chickens, his best know number John`s Been Shuckin` My Corn and it`s "answer" song, Shuckin` My Way To The Hall Of Fame.
Well, I guess that`s about all I can say about Onie, he was a great singer with a rich baritone lead voice and great harp player. As I said, if you like this LP, buy the Onie`s Bop cd!!

Track listing---
She`s Layin` Down The Lovin`
Lunch Box Hero
Wreck Of The Ole Ninety-Seven
Lucian`s Song
John`s Been Shuckin` My Corn
Layin` Around With Susie
Living Without You
Onie`s Bop
I`d Rather Scratch With The Chickens
Shuckin` My Way To The Hall Of Fame

Download Something New And Something Old Here

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Phipps Family sings the Most Requested Sacred Songs Of The Carter Family

Hello folks, it`s Sunday so I`ve posted a gospel album called Most Requested Sacred Songs Of The Carter Family - Played & Sung In The Old Original Carter Family Style By The A.L. Phipps Family. That`s a mighty long title for an LP, but it is a pretty good LP!! I don`t really understand the "Sacred" part of the title though. Not all the songs on the album are sacred songs. We have a few songs of home, a tear jerker or two and a disaster song.
The Phipps family were from south east Kentucky, around the Barbourville area. Basically, the Phipps Family pretty much identically copy the Carter Family. Usually, a group that copies another great group never captures the "feel" of the group being copied, that is not the case with the Phipps Family. It`s uncanny how close the Phipps Family sounds like The Carter Family. Their singing is so much like the Carter`s it`s almost hard to tell them apart. A.P. Carter was well known not to sing in a regular fashion (he might sing his bass line on the first 2 lines of the first chorus, the last line of the 2nd chorus, or just whenever the mood stuck him I guess) and A.L. Phipps has the "mood" of A.P.`s singing down pretty dang good. Even the Phipps Family instrument styles pretty much totally reproduce the Carter Family`s instrumental styles.
Now I`m going to say something that might be considered blasphemy to country music fans, I`d rather hear the Phipps Family do Carter Family music than the Carter Family themselves. I can`t explain why, it`s just that way. Apparently A.P. Carter loved them too, as he played dates with them and even recorded a record or two with them.
I hope you enjoy this gospel record. What could be more pure than Carter Family gospel done by the Phipps Family??!!

Track listing---
Keep On The Sunny Side
Lonesome Valley
Cyclone At Rye Cove
No Telephone In Heaven
River Of Jordan
Little Log Cabin By The Sea
I Can`t Feel At Home
On The Rock Where Moses Stood
Motherless Children
Anchored In Love Divine
Little Poplar Log House
Diamonds In The Rough
A Distant Land To Roam
Where Shall I Be

Click here to download Most Requested Sacred Songs Of The Carter Family by the A.L. Phipps Family

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tennessee Folk Arts LP

Here`s a pretty neat LP. Some of the artists on this I know nothing about, some will be quite well known by fans of old-time and traditional country music.
The record starts with an interview of Bill Harrison by the great Charles Wolfe. Charles Wolfe has written many articles and books about country and blues music. In my opinion he is the best author ever about this type stuff. His writing was very informative while being extremely entertaining, a rare combination. Unfortunately Charles passed away a few years ago with all the information gathered for a biography he was going to write about Uncle Dave Macon stored in his head. I had the pleasure of meeting him in his home about a year before he passed away. He was a great man to get to meet, I sure wish I could have got to know him better. The interview is unique due to the fact Charles was interviewing Bill Harrison about an anvil shoot, which is demonstrated on the LP.
David Holt is no stranger to any old-time music fan, especially old-time banjo pickers. He is a great old-time banjo picker and has even got into country blues in the last few years. An artist well worth looking up if you like this track.
Next we have the great Sam McGee playing two tracks I`d never heard before. I`m pretty sure this is the last known recording of Sam before his death in an accident on his farm with his tractor.
The Hotmud Family was an old-time string band in the 1970`s. They seemed to have leaned into the library of Uncle Dave Macon as the few tracks of theirs I`ve heard, most were Uncle Dave Macon tunes. They were pretty good, but I know nothing about them.
The Perry County Music Makers were a neat group featuring Nonnie Presson on zither. A zither is the father of the autoharp without the "auto" part. If you can imagine plucking an autoharp without the chord bars you can visualize someone playing a zither. It AMAZES me that someone could play such an instrument with strings so close together (I believe some has as many as 52 strings) with any speed or accuracy!! I know of no other artists that recorded with a zither except gospel blues artist Washington Phillips in the 20`s. So you can see what a rare treat it is to hear this. The Spring Fed Records label in Woodbury, Tennessee sells 2 cd`s of the Perry County Music Makers. If you like this they are sure worth buying.
W.L. Gregory & Clyde Davenport should be no strangers to fans of old-time music. Both seem to have learned from or been influenced by Burnett & Rutherford of the Monticello area of Kentucky. This is about the smoothest old-time string band type music in existence!! Clyde has the nickname "Clyde the Glide" for being well known for his smoothness on fiddle, although Clyde plays banjo on this cut (and is great on old-time banjo too!!).
Frazier Moss was a well known fiddler from middle Tennessee, around the Murfreesboro, Rutherford County area, known for producing early old-time music stars such as Uncle Dave Macon and Sid Harkreader.
I don`t really know anything about the other artists on this LP, so I`ll let their performances speak for them------ENJOY!!

Track listing---
Anvil Shoot - Bill Harrison & Charles Wolfe
Bill Cheatham - David Holt
Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because medley - Sam McGee
Yellow Gals - Missouri Corn Dodgers
From Jerusalem To Jericho - Hotmud Family
Evalina Waltz - The Perry County Music Makers
Rain & Snow - Suzanne Edmundson & Rick Good
Greensleeves - Jim Curry
My Gal`s A High Born Lady - Sam McGee & The Hotmud Family
Lost John - W.L. Gregory & Clyde Davenport
New Broom - Rupert Francis
The Lone Pilgrim - Julia Hager & Bob Abrams
When You And I Were Young, Maggie/It`s A Mighty Dark Road To Travel - Johnny Hutt & The Bluff Ridge Boys
Festival Waltz - Frazier Moss

Click here to download Tennessee Folk Arts LP

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Howdy Forrester - Fiddlin` Country Style LP

If you are a fiddlin` fan, you gotta hear this one!!
The great Howdy Forrester was one of the greatest bluegrass & Country fiddlers ever. Howdy was from Hickman County, Tennessee, and his real first name was Howard. He started to learn to play when he was likely about 10 years old. Sometime in his mid-teens he wound up playing professionally wit an outfit in Oklahoma (I don`t know all the particulars of his early years).
While in Oklahoma, or possibly just before going to Oklahoma, he partnered up with Georgia Slim Rutland, a few years older than Howdy, and was a pretty accomplished fiddler. Howdy learned much of his technique he is famous for while with Rutland. I imagine before playing with Rutland, Howdy was likely a pretty straight-forward old-time type fiddler. I think mabey Howdy & Rutland were together performing for a few years around Oklahoma & Texas, just before the World War 2 years.
I believe just during or just after the war Howdy got a pretty good break in music when he was hired by Bill Monroe. Monroe also hired Howdy`s wife to play accordian. Those earlier Bill Monroe sides with accordian was with Howdy & his wife.
I don`t know just how long Howdy was with Monroe, but along about 1950 or just after Howdy went to work with Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys. Howdy is most well known for his career with Acuff, which lasted until Howdy died in the 1980`s.
Howdy toured with Acuff on the road till about the early 1970`s when he told Roy he was just burned out on touring. Roy replaced Howdy on road dates, but Howdy played the Opry with Roy till he passed away. After Howdy quit touring with Roy, he worked for Roy`s record label, Hickory.
Through the late 50`s up through the 70`s, Howdy recorded about a half dozen fiddle records. I think this LP is the about the first one Howdy made, if not it`s almost the first. I read somewhere that it`s thought that Howdy`s first fiddle LP was the first LP dedicated to country fiddle instrumentals. I don`t know if that`s right or not. Tommy Jackson may have beat Howdy to this. Also, in about 1949, Roy Acuff`s fiddler at the time, Tommy Magness, recorded with the Smoky Mountain Boys a 4 disc 78 album of fiddle tunes which was also issued on a 10 inch LP. I`m not sure when this 10 inch LP was issued, I believe mabey a little while after the 4 disc 78 album came out though. Mabey Howdy`s first LP may have been the first 12 inch LP issued, as I think the Tommy Magness 10 inch LP was likely the first country fiddle LP issued if you don`t count the size of the LP.
One more little fact about Howdy was that he really disliked his nickname. When his son was born some of his friends started calling him "Little" Howdy after his dad "Big" Howdy as Howdy had named his son Howard. Howdy soon put a stop to people calling him "Little" Howdy.
MANY of today`s country fiddlers are influenced by Howdy, either by directly learning from his recordings, or by listening to other fiddlers that were influenced by Howdy. I`d say anyone learning country fiddle from the early 50`s to the 70`s were certainly influenced at least somewhat by Howdy`s playing.
Some of the songs on this LP were written by Howdy, such as Doc Harris Hornpipe and Howdy In Hickman County. Doc Harris was a fan and close friend of Howdy. Howdy was also adept at playing polkas at hoedown speed. Howdy and Acuff`s harmonica player, Jimmie Riddle, often played polkas duet style on the Opry and on live shows.
In the 70`s, Howdy recorded some LP`s for the Stoneway label out of Texas. Stoneway was a well known label in the 70`s for country and bluegrass instrumental LP`s. I`ll be posting more Howdy Forrester stuff in the future---HAPPY LISTENING!!

Track listing---
Grandmammy Look At Uncle Sam
Town And Country Fiddler
Memory Waltz
Howdy In Hickman County
Apple Blossom Polka
Pretty Polly Ann
Doc Harris Hornpipe
The Weeping Heart
Wild Fiddlers Rag
Cathy With The Raven Black Eyes
The Last Waltz
Cluckin` Hen

Click here to download Fiddlin` Country Style

Monday, September 7, 2009

George Pegram Riverside LP

This is surely a pretty un-common LP. The Riverside label (what few records I have saw on this label) usually has pretty interesting stuff on them. From what I can tell, Riverside must have concentrated on old-time and folk type music. I`d like to see a discography of this label just to see what other rarely heard material there is to be found out there.
Now----a little about George Pegram (banjo) and Walter "Red" Parham (harmonica). I know very little about George Pegram other than to say I believe he was a discovery of the great folk & old-time music collector & performer, the great Bascom Lamar Lunsford (of which I`ll be posting some material of in the future). I know next to nothing about Walter "Red"Parham. I believe this LP was likely recorded in the early to mid 60`s, these men may still be living, I don`t know of it if they are though.
So---since I don`t really know anything about these fellows, I`ll just copy a little information off of the LP cover-----"George Pegram of Union Grove, North Carolina, and Walter Parham of Leicester, North Carolina, have been playing and singing together for many years. They appear together, and with other instrumentalists, performing for square dances all over western North Carolina, and are the annual stars of Bascom Lamar Lunsford`s Mountain Folk Music And Dance Festival held each year in Asheville, North Carolina, during the first week of August. When not performing, Pegram and Parham work as farm laborers and odd job men.
These recordings were made at Bascom Lamar Lunsford`s home in South Turkey Creek, Leicester, North Carolina. Pegram and Parham may also be heard on Riverside in Banjo Songs Of The Southern Mountains (RLP 12-610) and Southern Mountain Folk Songs And Ballads (RLP 12-617)."
The cover also says---"George Pegram uses a technique much like the well known "double-thumbing" style. It is a three-finger movement employing single notes; the melody is picked with the thumb and the drone is alternated between the first and second strings, using the index and middle fingers.
As companion to the banjo in this album, Walter "Red" Parham plays the harmonica, a traditional instrument whose music represents a blending of melodic elements from both Negro and white folk songs. In combination with the banjo, it brings to life many of the sounds familiarly heard in the farmyards and on the back porches of the peoples in the Southern Mountains."
So---there you know about all I know about these great old-time musicians. Listen & ENJOY!!

Track listing---
Old Rattler
The Wreck Of The Old 97
Lost John
Georgia Buck
Cackling Hen
Sourwood Mountain
Wildwood Flower
Down In The Valley
Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
Roll On Buddy
Old Joe Clark
Downfall Of Paris
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Listen To The Mocking Bird
Johnson`s Old Grey Mule
Chicken Reel
Turkey In The Straw
Foggy Mountain Top

Click here to download Pickin` And Blowin`

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wayne Raney on Starday

Hello everyone!! Now if you was peepin` through a knothole to see this album cover and all you could see was the dominecker rooster, you`d know right quick this is gonna be a pretty hardcore country record!!
I don`t really know a whole lot about Wayne, but I`ll tell what I can. Wayne Raney was originally (according to the LP cover) from Wolf Bayou in north central Arkansas. He learned to play harmonica as a boy.
Apparently in his mid teens he got on the radio. Somewhere along the way he had heard another harmonica wizard on the radio named Lonnie Glosson. Wayne met Lonnie somehow and they became musical partners on and off for the rest of their careers.
Likely in the late 40`s, Wayne also became aquainted with the Delmore Brothers and recorded with them many times on hits such as Blues Stay Away from me. They practically invented country boogie woogie music. Wayne & Lonnie Glosson even played twin harmonica on some of the Delmore sides in sort of a call & response style, that style being one of them would play a certain phrase on their harp and the other would sort of answer with part of the phrase the first player played. This Delmore music was recorded on the King label. Wayne also made several solo records himself, his biggest hit likely being Why Don`t You Haul Off And Love Me.
Another angle to Wayne`s music career was live radio. He had several shows through the years (sometimes with Lonnie Glosson). He also made program transcriptions that he sold to other radio stations around the country. My dad remembers listening to Wayne in the 50`s at night from some station somewhere in Arkansas.
Mabey one of the most fascinating facts of Wayne`s career is that on all his radio shows he sold his "talking" harmonicas (the term talking harmonica coming from some novelty songs where the harp "talked" like a child, saying stuff like "I want my mama" & "I want a drink of water") by mail order. I`d say Wayne likely made more money from the harmonica sales buissness than any other angle of his music career. I heard several stories where he had sold OVER 1,000,000 HARMONICAS over the radio!! I have even saw a story that said he had sold as many as 5,000,000 harps!!!!
Wayne had some pretty good hits around 1950, but never became a star of the size of Acuff, Tubb or Snow, but was certainly well known on the radio. He was sort of what I call a 2nd tier country star of the likes of Carl Butler, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Cowboy Copas or Hawkshaw Hawkins. Certainly a well known star, but not a super-star.
This LP was recorded in December of 1963. Starday had many great album covers, this one is among my favorite. I`d like to know where they got their ideas for their covers!!
Enjoy Wayne Raney!!

Track Listing---
Mail Order Heart
The Roosters Are Crowing
Strictly Nothing
Walking With The Blues Tonight
The Fox Chase
Love Thief
Pathway Of Parting
Don`t Try To Be What You Ain`t
Cold Cold Snow
I Stumble, I Fumble, I Fall
Gone With The Wind
I`ve Got The Habit
Why Don`t You Haul Off And Love Me
Young Widow Brown

Click here to download Don`t Try To Be What You Ain`t