Sunday, December 18, 2011

VETERANS' DAY SONGS IN COUNTRY MUSIC WXDU 1989


VETERANS' DAY SONGS IN COUNTRY MUSIC
By Art Menius for WXDU  November 1989
WORLD WAR I
Jimmie Rodgers: "The Soldier's Sweetheart" The Bristol Sessions Side 1, Track 5 Recorded Bristol, TN 8-4-27.
Rodgers' first recording for Ralph Peer. Rodgers had been doing Tin Pan Alley covers in Asheville. Peer asked for songs that could be copyrighted. Rodgers recalled reworking an old ballad to the tune of "When the River Shannon Flows" in memory of boyhood friend Sammy Williams, killed in the great war. Tacitly pacifist message fit the 20s. Compiled more than composed.
WORLD WAR II
Ernest Tubb: "Soldier's Last Letter" E.T. Favorites Side 1, Track 4, recorded 1943
Composed by Tubb and Sgt. Henry "Redd" Stewart, long time vocalist for Pee Wee King. Mother's sorrow at learning of son's death in combat.
Molly O'Day: "Teardrops Falling in the Snow" The Unforgettable M.O'D. Side 1, Track 1, recorded 12/16/46
O'Day, born 1923 in Pike County, KY, considered greatest female country singer by Art Satherly. Mac Wiseman on bass in recording debut. Retired from music in 1952 with husband Lynn Davis. Considered one of the two most affecting songs about tragedy of war by Bill Malone. Mother's trip to train station to retrieve son's corpse.
Molly O'Day: "A Hero's Death" The Unforgettable Side 1, track 5
A similar song that sound's as if it dates from much earlier conflict than WWII.
Elton Britt: "There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" 60 Years of Country Music, Side 2, Track 5, recorded 3-19-42
Recorded when things looked grim for the Allies, two months before the great turning point at Midway. Released as a B side, it became the most popular WWII theme country song and the first official country gold record in 1944. Born in AR 1917, went to LA at age 14 after winning talent contest. Recorded 50+ LP's and 672 singles, but never topped this success. This tale of a crippled hillbilly boy who wanted to do his part crossed over to pop audience, selling 1.5 million copies and a like number of sheet music.
Johnnie Lee Wills: "Smoke on the Water" Tulsa Swing, Side 2, Band 2, track 5 [MUST BE CUED AUDIBLY] 1951 radio transcription
Recording ban in effect during most of WWII caused many war songs to either not be recorded or done so after the war was over. Also, very much of this material has never been reissued on LP or CD or even 45. Bob Wills had several WWII songs that have never made it onto his many, many reissue projects. Zeke Clements, the Alabama Cowboy, a major star of the Opry during the 1940s and the voice of Dopey in the Walt Disney "Snow White" movie, wrote this song shortly after Pearl Harbour, and his recording was the top country record of 1945. Defiant American optimism incarnate.
Bob Wills "G.I. Wish" 31st Street Blues Side 1, Track 6, radio transcription for Ascot 1945
Deals with the daily life of the American Soldier in WWII. Tommy Duncan lead vocal.
Bill Boyd: "American Patrol" 78's tape #2, Side A, pre-cued.
Boyd, born in Texas 1910, cut some of the finest western swing for Bluebird during the 1930s, with "Under the Double Eagle" a major hit, popularizing the Austro-Hungarian anthem with country listeners. After 1939 his success, musically and commercially, waned although he kept cutting for RCA until 1950, but only 1 post-war hit, 1949's "Lone Star Rag." This cut is, of all things, a topical instrumental!
Whitey & Hogan: "The Ole Gray Mare is Back Where She Used to Be" Early Radio, Side 2, Track 5, mid-1940s WBT radio show
A whimsical look at the tribulations of life on the home front.
Judy Canova: "Goodnight Soldier" The Women, Side 2, track 7, recorded 10/9/44.
A comic who recorded both pop and country material discovered by Rudy Vallee. Cover of a Patsy Montana song. Presages the pop crossover sound of country music's future.
Karl & Harty: "When the Atom Bomb Fell" Atomic Cafe, Side 1, track 2 [MUST BE CUED AUDIBLY], recorded 12/4/45
Gotta have an Atom Bomb song on any veteran's day show. One of the earliest brother duet's, Karl Davis & Harty Taylor were long time stars of the WLS National Barn Dance, 1930 until early 50s.
KOREA
Jimmie Osborne: "Thank God for Victory in Korea" Voice of Free America, Side 1, track 2, released 10/2/50.
Osborne, a Kentuckian, had a big hit for King in 1947 with his debut, "My Heart Echoes," and followed it up with a topical Gold Record smash, "The Death of Little Kathy Fiscus," whose memorial fund received 1/2 the royalties. Spent the next ten years alternating topical and love songs with no further success. After Rock 'n' Roll  hit he topped himself in 1957. This song was released just in time for the Red Chinese counterattack.
Kirk McGee: "Missing in Action" 78s tape #1, Side B, pre-cued.
Sam & Kirk McGee from sunny TN were Opry old timers, appearing regularly from the 1926 on with Uncle Dave Macon and then he remarkable Fiddlin' Arthur Smith. They toured with a variety of Opry stars and recorded on their on. Kirk McGee recorded this, probably in the early 50s, for the Tennessee label. He remained on the Opry until his death at 84 in 1983. The saddest song we'll hear tonight.
Bill Monroe: "Rotation Blues" Monroe CD Vol. 2, Track 7
A very rare topical song from Monroe. In fact, topical songs are rare in bluegrass and rather contrary to the general tenor of the genre. Recorded on 1 July 1951, when Decca executives Paul Cohen and Owen Bradley were trying, without commercial or artistic success, to dictate material to Monroe. Composed by Lt. Stewart Powell, an officer in Korea, this was a cover of an Elton Britt release on RCA. Carter Stanley (gtr), Rudy Lyle (bnj), Ernie Newton (bass), and Gordon Terry (fdl).
VIETNAM
Red Allen & the Yates Brothers: "A Purple Heart" 45
A mid-1960s County release by Allen, a remarkable bluegrass singer from Dayton, OH. Worked with the Osborne Brothers and recorded widely from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s. Worked the bars of Ohio and DC, but never achieved big success on the festival circuit. Produced by young David Grisman with Porter Church on banjo.
Don Reno & Benny Martin: "A Soldier's Prayer in Vietnam" 45
When Red Smiley's declining health forced the break-up of popular King artists Reno & Smiley, Don Reno cut one solo album for Dot, with whom R&S had signed in 1963), and went in 1966 with Monument for his final stint on more or less major label. Among his least memorable or remembered material.

DESERT ISLAND 25 OLD-TIME RECORDINGS (circa 1990)


DESERT ISLAND 25 OLD-TIME RECORDINGS (circa 1990)
By Art Menius probably for The Independent

That the old-time string band music that the major labels exploited during the 1920s survived from the era of the 78 and the cylinder testifies to its tenacity. Along the way it spouted both roots and branches: brother duet music, bluegrass, traditional country, and hillbilly boogie, while influencing French Louisiana and western swing music. By the late 1950s young urban folks began playing these old styles and seeking out old masters to document, creating a new universe of recorded old-time music.
1. Various Artists, Anthology of American Folk Music (Smithsonian/Folkways).
Available in perpetuity through Smithsonian/Folkways, this multi-record set compiled in 1953 by Harry Smith collects a breathtaking array of commercially recorded roots music of the 1920s and 1930s.
2. Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers (County 505)
Country music's first self-destructive hero, banjoist and singer Charlie Poole became one of Columbia Record's best sellers in 1925 with songs collected here including "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "White House Blues."
3. The Skillet Lickers (County 506)
Georgia's fiddle driven Skillet Lickers encapsulated the struggle between progressive and traditional musicians way back when in their wild edged string band.
4. Various Artists, It'll Never Happen Again (Marimac Recordings 9110)
A fascinating, geographically diverse cassette sampling of lesser-known string bands of the late 1920s and early thirties, most otherwise available only on 78.
5. Various Artists, Cotton Mills & Fiddles (Flying Cloud FC-014)
Cotton Mills & Fiddles, on the other hand, assembles rare 1920s and 1930s recordings from a very specific area: the cotton mills of Piedmont North Carolina, which produced such artists as Poole, Kelly Harrell, and Walter "Kid" Smith.
6. Jimmie Rodgers, First Sessions (Rounder 1056)
"The Singing Brakeman," Rodgers became the first country entertainer to achieve mass popular stardom, selling hundreds of thousands of records during the late 1920s, but died poor and tubercular in 1933. Since his influence lingers yet, it proves most appropriate that Rounder began placing his entire output on CD beginning with these 1927 and 1928 cuts.
7. The Carter Family, Clinch Mountain Treasures (County CCS CD 112)
For now these 20 tracks cut during their penultimate sessions in the fall of 1940 serve as the best helping on CD of the artists who, along with Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills, epitomized commercial country music between the wars.
8. Various Artists, Ragged But Right: Great Country String Bands Of The 1930's (BMG/RCA 8416-2-R)
Although guitar/mandolin duets gained prominence during the 1930s, full string bands continued to perform including the latter day Skillet Lickers, first female country star Patsy Montana and the Prairie Ramblers, and groups lead by brothers J.E. and Wade Mainer.
9. Fiddlin' Arthur Smith & His Dixieliners, Volume 1 (County 546)
During the 1930s Fiddlin' Arthur Smith reigned supreme as the foremost fiddler on the Grand Ole Opry with backing from such superlative musicians Sam & Kirk McGee and, on these 1936-1938 sessions, the Delmore Brothers.
10. Various Artists, Are You From Dixie?: Great Country Brother Teams of the 1930s (BMG/RCA 8417-2-R)
Directly fueling both bluegrass and the Everly Brothers, the lead/tenor "brother" duet became a fixture in country music during the second half of the 1930s with some of the best group's on Victor's Bluebird label: Charlie & Bill, the Monroe Brothers, the Delmores, the Dixon Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys: Bill & Earl Bolick.
11. Various Artists, Something Got A Hold of Me: A Treasury of Sacred Music (BMG/RCA 2100-2-R)
Country music has always worn faces both sacred and profane. This CD contains 16 gospel recordings, mostly from the 1930s, by the Monroe Brothers, Carter Family, Wade Mainer, Uncle Dave Macon, Blind Alfred Reed, and others.
12. The Blue Sky Boys, In Concert 1964 (Rounder 0236)
Although the Blue Sky Boys, North Carolinians Bill & Earl Bolick, officially retired in 1951, they continued to perform and record sporadically through the mid-1970s with their classic brother duet style totally intact as their live recording demonstrates.
13. Nathan Frazier, Frank Patterson, Murph Gimble, John Lusk, & Albert York, Altamont: Black Stringband Music From The Library of Congress (Rounder CD 0238)
Before the ascendancy of the blues, rural African-Americans played old-time string band music for dances by both races. This disk makes available some inspiring 1940s field recordings from Tennessee.
14. Uncle Dave Macon, At Home: His Last Recordings, 1950 (Bear Family BFX 15214)
Tennessee's Uncle Dave Macon, the first star of the Grand Ole Opry and possibly the first professional country music entertainer in any modern sense, drew a great deal of his performing style and material from African-Americans. While far from his strongest technical work, these 1950 recordings capture both his spirit and the breadth of his repertoire.
15. The Hackberry Ramblers, Early Recordings: 1935-1948 (Old Timey 127)
Fifty years before anyone coined the term "World Beat," Louisiana's Hackberry Ramblers fused Louisiana French music, southeastern string band, and western swing into a breathtaking music of their own.
16. Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, Mule Skinner Blues (BMG/RCA 2494-2-R)
This CD collects all 16 of Monroe's 1940 and 1941 recordings for Victor, made at a critical stage in his transition from the duet style of the Monroe Brothers to the full-fledged bluegrass sound he achieved by the end of 1945. Nothing better explains the connection, and the differences, between old-time music and bluegrass.
17. Woody Guthrie, Struggle (Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40025)
Using traditional tunes as the basis for political songs, Woody Guthrie developed the modern concept of "folk singer" as can be heard here on some of his most labor oriented recordings of the 1940s.
18. The New Lost City Ramblers, The Early Years: 1958-1962 (Smithsonian/Folkways CD SF 40036)
Mike Seeger, Tom Paley, and John Cohen, the original New Lost City Ramblers, can claim most of the credit for inspiring the string band revival by proving that younger folk could play evocative versions of the old-time songs and tunes.
19. The Doc Watson Family (Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40012)
By the beginning of the 1960s folklorists and musicians were heading to the hills looking for musicians and singers who had learned traditional material within the oral tradition. Ralph Rinzler came back from North Carolina with one of the greatest discoveries, Doc Watson, heard here on 1963 recordings.
20. Tommy Jarrell, Sail Away Ladies (County 756)
Soon the youngsters had unearthed both genuine folk musicians who played for their own enjoyment and recording artists of the 1920s and 1930s. Fiddler and banjoist Tommy Jarrell, whose father recorded commercially during the 1920s, played it the same at home or on stage and served as tutor to hundreds of old-time revivalists.
21. Double Decker String Band, Evolution Girl (Marimac #9021)
All too many of the excellent recordings from the 1970s of masters and revival groups had gone out of print even before the demise of the album, but groups remain recording fantastic old-time based music. Maryland's Double Decker String Band has a sense of humour that Uncle Dave would like and an appreciation for the many different styles filed under old-time music.
22. Joe & Odell Thompson, Old Time Music From the North Carolina Piedmont (Global Village C217)
Cousins Joe & Odell Thompson are leaders among the precious few exponents of African-American string band music still performing with vigor and foot-moving drive.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

From the Roots Playlist for November 7, 2011


From the Roots November 5, 2011 on WMMT-FM 88.7, real people’s radio from the Appalshop (91 Madison Ave; Whitesburg, KY 41858. www.wmmtfm.org). Hosted – remotely - on the first Saturday of each month by the Lazy Farm Boy (aka Art Menius; 3525 Young Rd; Manchester, MD 21102), 11 AM and on until 2 PM eastern.

John Hartford / Turn Your Radio On (II) / Aeroplane / Warner Brothers / 2:16
Steve Martin / Clawhammer Medley / The Crow / Rounder / 2:16
Gillian Welch / Six White Horses / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 3:40
J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers / Maple on the Hill / Ragged but Right / RCA Legacy / 2:45
8/6/1935
J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers / John Henry Was a Little Boy / Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 4 / Revenant / 3:13
6/15/1936
Zeke Morris & Wade Mainer / Just as the Sun Went Down / Bloody War: 1924-1939 / Tompkins Square / 2:42
Zeke Morris & Wade Mainer / Riding That Train 45 / Ragged but Right / RCA Legacy / 2:45
Wade Mainer’s  Smilin’ Rangers / Wild Bill Jones / Bluegrass Early Cuts 1931-1953: Classic Recordings Remastered / JSP / 2:24
Wade Mainer & The Sons of the Mountaineers / Lonely Tomb / How Can I Keep from Singing, Vol. 2 / Yazoo / 2:50
Wade Mainer & The Sons of the Mountaineers / Farther Along / Something Got a Hold on Me: A Treasury of Sacred Music / RCA / 3:34
Wade & Julia Mainer / Charles Lawson / In the Land of Melody / June Appal / 2:51
Wade & Julia Mainer / Ramshackle Shack / In the Land of Melody / June Appal / 2:24
Ginny Hawker / Not A Word of that Be Said / Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music / Rounder / 4:10
Morris Brothers / Salty Dog Blues / / Bluegrass Early Cuts 1931-1953: Classic Recordings Remastered / JSP / 2:37
Gillian Welch / Down Along the Dixie Line / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 4:51
Abigail Washburn / Corner Girl / City of Refuge / Rounder / 3:24
Abigail Washburn / Backstep Cindy & Purple Bamboo / Song Of The Traveling Daughter / Nettwerk / 3:01
Slaid Cleaves / Texas Top Hand / Sorrow and Smoke / Music Road Records / 3:16
Slaid Cleaves / Rolling Stone from Texas / Sorrow and Smoke / Music Road Records / 3:39
Nell Robinson / Big Ball in Texas / On the Brooklyn Road / Red Level Records / 1:22
Pharis & Jason Romero / Out on the Western Plains / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 2:46
Pharis & Jason Romero / I’m Just Here to get my Baby Out of Jail / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 3:26
23 String Band / Raleigh & Spencer / Catch 23 / 23 String Band / 2:33
Pharis & Jason Romero / Hillbilly Blues / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 4:26
Red Hen String Band / Cluck Old Hen / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 3:48
Emily Pinkerton / Black Light / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 2:56
Red Hen String Band / Walnut Gap / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 2:34
23 String Band / Deer Tick / Catch 23 / 23 String Band / 2:43
Hal Cannon / Hittin’ the Trail / Hal Cannon / Okehdokee Records / 2:42
Hal Cannon / That’s How It Is on the Range / Hal Cannon / Okehdokee Records / 2:57
Nell Robinson / Woe is Me / On the Brooklyn Road / Red Level Records / 2:43
Nell Robinson / Turn Your Radio On / On the Brooklyn Road / Red Level Records / 2:525
Red Hen String Band / Martin Said to His Man / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 3:14
23 String Band / Fat Frankie / Catch 23 / 23 String Band / 2:48
Dehlia Low / Cannonball Blues / Ravens & Crows / Rebel / 3:07
Emily Pinkerton / Kingdom Down / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 4:17
Emily Pinkerton / Hevenido Caminando / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 3:08
Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii / Hit 'Em Up Style / Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii EP / Nonesuch / 4:52
Gillian Welch / The Way it Goes / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 4:03
The Decemberists / June Hymn / The King Is Dead / Capitol Records / 3:57
released on Capitol Records on 14 January 2011.
Maria Muldaur / Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down / Steady Love / Stony Plain Records / 4:10
Maria Muldaur / I’ve Done Made it Up in My Mind / Steady Love / Stony Plain Records / 4:10
Alvin Young Blood Hart & Teenie Hodges / Step it Up and Go / Music From & Recorded For The Motion Picture The Great Debaters / Atlantic / 2:20
Etta Baker / Goin’ Down a Road Feeling Bad / North Carolina Banjo Collection / Rounder / 2:21
Wilmer Watts & His Lonely Eagles / Cotton Mill Blues / North Carolina Banjo Collection / Rounder / 3:04
Otis Taylor / Ran So Hard / Recapturing the Black Banjo / Telarc / 3:54

From the Roots Playlist for December 3, 2011


From the Roots December 3, 2011 on WMMT-FM 88.7, real people’s radio from the Appalshop (91 Madison Ave; Whitesburg, KY 41858. www.wmmtfm.org). Hosted – remotely - on the first Saturday of each month by the Lazy Farm Boy (aka Art Menius; 3525 Young Rd; Manchester, MD 21102), 11 AM and on until 2 PM eastern.

John Hartford / Turn Your Radio On (II) / Aeroplane / Warner Brothers / 2:16
Ernest V. Stoneman / Wild Bill Jones / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:54
1926
Fiddlin’ Powers and Family / Old Joe Clark / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol/ 4:34
1925
Vernon Dahlhart and Company / Prisoner’s Song / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol/ 4:02
1924
Gene Austin & George Reneau (The Blue Ridge Duo) / You Will Never Miss Your Mother / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:07
1924
Vernon Dahlhart / The wreck on the southern Old 97 / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:47
1924
Charles D'Almaine / Fishers Hornpipe (take two) / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 4:08
1913
Edward Meeker / Chicken Reel / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:30
1914
James Scott Skinner / The birlin' reels / [cylinder Single] / Edison Standard / 2:16
1910
Ernest V. Stoneman and his Dixie Mountaineers / Hand Me Down My Walkin’ Cane / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:39
1927
Vernon Dahlhart & Carson Robison / My Blue Ridge Cabin Home / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 3:05
1927
Cal Stewart / War Talk at Punkin Center / [cylinder Single] / Edison Blue Amberol / 4:36
1915
Vess L. Ossman / Stars and Stripes Forever / [cylinder Single] / Columbia / 2:39
1896
Fred Van Epps / Yankee Medley / [cylinder single] / U.S. Everlasting Record / 4:09
1909
Gillian Welch / Six White Horses / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 3:40
Tara Nevins / Wood & Stone / Wood & Stone / Sugar Hill / 4:10
Low Anthem / Keep on the Sunny Side / What The Crow Brings / The Low Anthem / 3:07
Gillian Welch / Hard Times / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 4:54
Abigail Washburn / City of Refuge / City of Refuge / Rounder / 3:42
Tara Nevins / What Money Cannot Buy / Wood & Stone / Sugar Hill / 3:03
The Heartbeats / Hollywood Dreams / American Fogies Vol. II / Rounder / 3:29
Tara Nevins / Songbird / Wood & Stone / Sugar Hill / 3:05
Gillian Welch / The Way That it Goes / The Harrow & the Harvest / Acony / 4:03
Slaid Cleaves / Texas Top Hand / Sorrow and Smoke / Music Road Records / 3:16
Pharis & Jason Romero / Out on the Western Plains / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 2:46
Hal Cannon / That’s How It Is on the Range / Hal Cannon / Okehdokee Records / 2:57
Christopher James / Catch That Train / When the Moon Gets High Tonight / Christopher James / 4:31
Dehlia Low / Cannonball Blues / Ravens & Crows / Rebel / 3:07
Pharis & Jason Romero / Engine 143 / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 3:40
23 String Band / Bees Knees / Catch 23 / 23 String Band / 2:43
Red Hen String Band / Cluck Old Hen / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 3:48
Emily Pinkerton / Black Light / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 2:56
Nell Robinson / Sweet Sunny South / On the Brooklyn Road / Red Level Records / 3:52
Pharis & Jason Romero / Foresaken Love / A Passing Glimpse / Lula Records / 2:14
Red Hen String Band / Walnut Gap / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 2:34
Emily Pinkerton / Kingdom Down / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 4:17
Red Hen String Band / Blue Yodel #3 / Birds of a Feather / Wepecket / 2:47
Dehlia Low / Goin’ Down / Ravens & Crows / Rebel / 3:50
Emily Pinkerton / Bluebird / Valparaiso / Green Jeans Records / 2:59
23 String Band / Raleigh & Spencer / Catch 23 / 23 String Band / 2:33
Nell Robinson / Turn Your Radio On / On the Brooklyn Road / Red Level Records / 2:52