Dock Boggs (1898-1971) was one of the old-school "old-timey" Appalachian musicians rediscovered during the folk revival of the 1950s and '60s. Born Moran Lee Boggs, he recorded a number of now-legendary 78s in the 1920s and '30s, and while these recordings enjoyed some regional success, his career never really took off. He eventually gave up his career as a musician and returned to Virginia, where he worked as a coal miner. Folklorist Mike Seeger sought Boggs out in the early 1960s and persuaded him to record several albums worth of music and oral history, and also got him to perform -- to great acclaim -- on the booming folk festival circuit. Boggs' style is singularly dark and unruly, and his banjo style has a distinctive feel... Here's a quick look at his work.
Dock Boggs "Country Blues -- Complete Early Recordings: 1927-1929" (Revenant, 1997)
Stark, some might even say scary, old 78s by one of the legendary ne'er-do-wells of old-timey music. A fabulous set culled from the record collections of John Fahey and friends, this has all the charm of the stringband tradition, but with a blues-based roughness to it which puts to shame the bad boy images of many of Boggs' contemporaries. You can tell just from the tone of his voice that Boggs was the real deal. Packaged inside a handsome, hefty, hardcover booklet, with liner notes by Griel Marcus.
Dock Boggs/Emry Arthur "Dock Boggs & Emry Arthur" (BACM, 2009)
More early recordings... This disc isn't a collaboration, but rather two sets of tracks by two different artists, evenly divided between Arthur and Boggs. Kentuckian Emry Arthur is a pretty obscure figure nowadays, but he has a place in hick music history as the first person to record the song "Man Of Constant Sorrow," which is unfortunately not included on this otherwise super-groovy collection.
Dock Boggs "His Folkways Years: 1963-1968" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1998)
A swell 2-CD summary of the recordings Boggs made in the 1960s, after he was rediscovered by the cratediggers and folklorists of the folk revival scene. Mike Seeger of the New Lost City Ramblers was the driving force behind many of these recordings; the original albums are also available as separate digital downloads (listed below).
Dock Boggs "Legendary Singer And Banjo Player" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1964)
Dock Boggs "Volume Two" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1965)
Dock Boggs "Volume Three" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1970)
Dock Boggs "Excerpts From Interviews With Dock Boggs" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1965)
Hardcore old-timey folk fans might really get into this collection of interviews with the elderly Mr. Boggs. There are a lot of folkloric interview sessions with rural musicians from this era, but few with as important and imposing a figure as Boggs. Recorded and edited by Mike Seeger...
Hick Music Index