"Old-timey music" (*)-- that plinky-planky acoustic hick style -- is admittedly an acquired taste. The grumpy backwoods aunt and uncle of bluegrass music, old-timey harkens back to an older, plainer, more down-country era. Even though there's a lot of stylistic crossover, many bluegrass and country fans find the old-timey stuff to be a bit too nasal, or twangy, or primitive, or goofy... while legions of other listeners love the stuff.
If old-timey music so damn irritating, then what is its appeal? Maybe part of it is some sort of elitist/obscurist search for something "different", and the shock at finding something so exotic and foreign sitting right there in your back yard... Perhaps it's an academic impulse, the fascination of seeing folk material reworked and retranslated into so many forms, with each gulley and hamlet spinning out its own version of some time-worn theme, and the thrill of realizing that -- like so many folk forms -- this music has been brought back from the brink of extinction by only a thread... and there it is for you to listen to and enjoy. Finally, maybe it's actually just the starkness of the material, the sincerity of the performers, the discovery of an art form that really is pure and self-contained, and the low-key familiarity these singers have with weird old tunes that they've heard all their lives... Especially their sense of humor when that wide-eyed kid from New York shows up on the porch with a microphone, asking if you could break out the banjo and play Grandma's version of "Froggy Went A-Courtin' " one more time.
At any rate, after years of qualifying my reviews of old-timey albums by starting off, "this might not be for everyone, BUT..." I have finally decided to put up a web page devoted to the style and be done with it.
Here, then, is my celebration of old-timey music and the art of the plinky-planky.
Roy Acuff - see artist discography
Clarence "Tom" Ashley "Greenback Dollar" (Rebel/County, 2001)
A top-notch set of blues-tinged early country music from this North Carolina guitarist. Many of these songs are now folk scene standards, including the title track, which was one of the pivotal early hits for the late-'50s folkie revival, when recorded by the Kingston Trio. In these original versions, Ashley's Depression-era recordings strike the perfect balance between the grimly morbid sensibilities of the old-time mountain music and the buoyancy of the emerging commercial country scene. He has an edge, yet avoids the psychotic intensity of Dock Boggs, who could also be considered a precursor to rock-style music. This is a great set, full of lively, good-humored performances and plenty of great tunes. Highly recommended!
Clarence "Tom" Ashley & Doc Watson "The Original Folkways Recordings, 1960-1962" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1994)
Clarence "Tom" Ashley & Tex Isley "...Play And Sing American Folk Music" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 1994)
The Bailes Brothers "Oh So Many Years" (Bear Family, 2002)
Walter and Johnnie Bailes followed in the path of many other "brother bands" such as the Monroe Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys, although the Bailes's came to the game a little late, and hit their peak in the late 1940s, just as the brother act sound was giving way to larger, more aggressive bluegrass arrangements. Even with added musicians (these recordings from 1945-47 feature added guitar, bass and even a steel guitar), they sounded remarkably like the Blue Sky Boys, so much so that they seem to lack an original style of their own. No matter, however: if you like the style to begin with, then these are grand recordings, fun of energy and life, tight harmonies and tremendous musical drive. Most of the material is religious, including fine gospel songs such as "Do You Expect A Reward From God" and "Has The Devil Got A Mortgage On Your Soul"... Mighty fine listening for fans of the old-timey sound!
The Bailes Brothers "Sing Their Hearts" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records, 2005)
E. C. Ball & Orna Ball "Through The Years: 1937-1975" (Copper Creek)
E. C. Ball & Orna Ball "E.C. Ball With Orna Ball" (Rounder, 1972)
Gentle, Carter Family-styled religious material, with the Friendly Gospel Singers... Very sweet!
Bud & Joe Billings "Singing Pals From Kansas" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records)
Apparently this duo was really an alias for old-timey vets Frank Luther and Carson Robison, who -- although not actually brothers -- were really both from Kansas. Kansas: a good place to be from. Anyway, this is some fine old-fashioned country music, made by two major stars of the Great Depression era, recorded between 1928-30.
The Blue Sky Boys - see artist discography
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. (Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)
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...
Bashful Brother Oswald "Don't Say Aloha" (Rounder, 1972)
An interesting confluence of old-time country, traditional bluegrass and 1930s-style Hawaiian music. Oswald Kirby, (aka Bashful Brother Oswald) once a key member of Roy Acuff's old band, was a veteran radio performer way back in the Depression era, whose career was revitalized by the '60s/'70s folk revival... Here he works through a nice slice of his wide repertoire -- clompy old banjo tunes, gospel recitations and Hawaiian ditties, as well as over-the-top sentimental weepers, such as "Should I Tell My Wife I'm Dying?" They just don't make 'em like this anymore! Oswald was pretty long in the tooth when he made these recordings, but it's still nice stuff, delivered with a simplicity and sincerity that stands the test of time.
Bashful Brother Oswald "Brother Oswald" (Rounder, 1972)
A classic dobro instrumental set, made with young'uns Tut Taylor and Norman Blake in tow, as well as another former member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, Charlie Collins, also pitching in. Sweet stuff, also with a healthy odes of old-fashioned Hawaiian music in the mix. Recommended!
Bashful Brother Oswald "Carry Me Back" (RME, 1995)
Harry C. Browne "Early Minstrel Songs" (BACM, 2005)
Burnett & Rutherford "Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 : 1926-1930" (Document, 1998)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 : 1923-1924" (Document, 1997)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 : 1924-1925" (Document, 1997)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 : 1925-1926" (Document, 1998)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 : 1926-1927" (Document, 1998)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 : 1927-1929" (Document, 1998)
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 6 : 1929-1930" (Document, 1998)
Also features Carson's daughter, guitarist Rosa Lee Parson, aka Moonshine Kate...
Fiddlin' John Carson "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 7 : 1930-1934" (Document, 1998)
Also features Carson's daughter, guitarist Rosa Lee Parson, aka Moonshine Kate...
Martha Carson & James Roberts "I'm Gonna Let It Shine" (BACM, 2005)
Old-time gospel favorites from the fabled Martha Carson and her husband James Roberts... These old recordings haven't see the light of day in a long, long time...
Martha Carson "I'll Shout And Shine" (BACM, 2005)
The Carter Family -- see artist discography
Crockett's Kentucky Mountaineers "Classic Old Time String Band Music" (BACM, 2002)
Hugh Cross "Old Time Music From The Smoky Mountains" (BACM, 2005)
Vernon Dalhart "Lindberg, The Eagle Of The USA" (BACM, 2005)
Vernon Dalhart "Puttin' On The Style: The Edison Collection" (Document, 2007)
Vernon Dalhart "Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame, 1981" (King, 1999)
John Dilleshaw "Complete Recorded Works: 1929-1930" (Document, 1997)
Hillbilly humor and good, squeaky fiddle music and plunky-thunky stringband tunes, from an extraordinarily tall feller who was nicknamed "Seven Foot Dilly," for obvious reasons. As frequently happens with these old, old hillbilly recordings, there are a few of unfortunate dips into racial humor, but for the most part these songs were full of references to rural life -- square dances, trips to town, liquor, mules and other livestock, and some pretty funny riffs about the composition of band itself while they play at gigs. There are even some running gags that travel from song to song. Really, it's a pretty extraordinary performance... I don't know much about this artist, but the music's pretty fun.
East Texas Serenaders "Complete Recorded Works: 1927-1937" (Document, 1998)
A pretty remarkable set of Depression-era music with hot fiddling and a strong rhythmic bounce that anticipates the jazz-hick fusion of western swing while still showing the style's deep roots in the old-time stringband sound. This is a really cool record, with lots of music that's way ahead of its time. Recommended!
The Delmore Brothers "That Old Train" (, 2005)
Arthur Fields & Fred Hall "Eleven More Months & Ten More Days" (BACM, 2005)
Fleming & Townsend "Little Home Upon The Hill" (BACM, 2005)
The Georgia Yellow Hammers "Johnson's Old Grey Mule" (BACM, 2005)
Esco Hankins "Rising Sun" (BACM, 2005)
Fisher Hendley "...And His Aristocratic Pigs" (BACM, 2005)
Charlie Herald & His Roundup Rangers "Pioneering Canadian Country Group" (BACM, 2005)
Roscoe Holcomb "That High Lonesome Sound" (Smithsonian Folkways, 1998)
Roscoe Holcomb "An Untamed Sense Of Control" (Smithsonian Folkways, 2003)
Hard to imagine anyone raspier and more "high lonesome" than old-timey banjo balladeer Roscoe Holcomb, who wowed the 'Sixties folk revival crowd with his extensive repertoire and uncompromised, rough-edged style. The irregular meters and weird subject matter of old-timey music remained intact in Holcomb's work, right up through the 1970s, despite decades of performing. These recordings are an interesting mix of showmanship and backwoods authenticity... For fans of the style, this stuff is tops!
Roscoe Holcomb "Close To Home" (Smithsonian Folkways, 1975)
Doc Hopkins "...And His Country Boys, v.1" (BACM, 2005)
Doc Hopkins "...And His Country Boys, v.2" (BACM, 2005)
Kenneth Houchins "The Yodeling Drifter" (BACM, 2005)
Earl Johnson "Complete Recorded Works, Volume 1: 1927" (Document, 1997)
Very muscular, brisk stringband music, with a heavy dose of vaudeville showmanship. Johnson had the same manic, almost psychotic, intensity that you sometimes felt in the music of Grandpa Jones or Bill Carlisle -- very in your face and energetic, and sometimes a bit jarring.
Earl Johnson "Complete Recorded Works, Volume 2: 1927-1931" (Document, 1999)
More great old-timey music. Some of the racially-themed song titles (which are only one or two) will raise a few eyebrows, but the music is solid, and Johnson's repertoire doesn't seem particularly racist... just, um, "of its time," in a few regards. Also includes a few gospel tunes towards the end; all pretty good stuff.
Grandpa Jones "An American Original" (CMH Records, 1989)
Best known during the '60s and '70s for his comedic bits on the Hee-Haw TV show, Grandpa Jones' country pedigree goes 'way back to the Depression era, where like hundreds of performers he roamed from radio show to radio show, broadcasting to Mom and Pop audiences for the better part of two decades. Eventually Jones landed a gig on the Grand Ole Opry, in the early '50s, and built his reputation as a comic singer, although he was also a formidable traditional musician. His work -- particularly his 1940s recordings on the King label -- formed a unique bridge between the for-real old-timey music of the hills and the blues-influenced hillbilly boogie and honkytonk country that took root in the postwar years. In the 1970s and '80s, CMH Records recorded a series of LPs with Jones and his family -- this CD boils those albums down to their essentials. Lots of old standards like "Old Rattler" and "Chewing Gum" are included, along with a wealth of more folkloric tunes. Admittedly, he was pretty long in the tooth by this time -- and the reissue art is pretty lame -- but the source material is cool, and since his classic recordings from the 1940s are still pretty hard to come by, this might fill the gaps for curious fans.
Grandpa Jones "Country Music Hall Of Fame Series" (MCA, 1991)
This disc collects all fifteen tracks Jones made for Decca in the late 1950s, and it's a doozy. On several tracks Jones reprises the themes and songs from his '40s heyday, when he recorded with Merle Travis and the Delmore Brothers on the King label. Remakes of old standards "Dark As A Dungeon" and "Mountain Dew" fall a bit flat, although only in comparison to the rawer King originals. Later on, Jones finds his feet with newer material, including a slew of great novelty tunes such as the "protest" song, "Daylight Saving Time" and the rocknroll spoof, "The All-American Boy." Sentimental material provides balance, and tracks like the gospel song, "Falling Leaves" are genuinely haunting. Definitely recommended.
Grandpa Jones "Steppin' Out Kind" (Ace, 2006)
It's been so, so very long since Hee Haw has been on the air that I suppose there's no reason anymore to half-apologize for Grandpa (Louis Marshall) Jones' role on the show... (Don't get me wrong: I loved Hee Haw when I was a kid, but I'm sure for many people it was nothing more than a hallmark of cornball humor...) Anyway, it's been a long time. Finally, Jones' music -- his old stuff, made back when TV was barely a viable medium -- has emerged from underneath the long shadow of his best-known role, and now it's just out there in reissueland, plain old hardscrabble country music, the kind of stuff that only hardcore hick music weirdos (like me) can really get into. Now, if that description fits you as well, and you haven't already delved into Jones' work, then you're in for a treat. This is a top-notch collection of his earliest recordings for the up-and-coming King label, made back in the mid-1940s, when Jones worked closely with King's other country stars, particularly hotshot guitarist Merle Travis and the Delmore Brothers, whose driving rhythmic style trailblazed country music's contributions to the rock'n'roll explosion of the 1950s. Some of that fire is evident in Jones' old 78s, mostly through Travis's peppy, consistently innovative picking, which weaves throughout these discs. The material tends to be a little weird thematically -- Jones cut his teeth in country's vaudeville circuit, and he maintained his novelty-song edge throughout his career -- but he also recorded some great serious material, like his mournful 1946 hit, "It's Raining Here This Morning," and his heartfelt version of "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone." Jones's raw, plaintive delivery was pure, old-school, pre-honkytonk country, tempered with a strong feeling for the blues... This disc might not be for everyone, but for the right old-timey/country boogie fans, it'll be pure heaven. Recommended!
Grandpa Jones "You're Never Too Old For Love" (BACM, 2005)
Grandpa Jones "16 Greatest Hits" (Starday/Hollywood, 1978)
Grandpa Jones "16 Sacred Gospel Songs" (King, 2000)
Includes vintage material with The Brown's Ferry Four (including the Delmore Brothers) along with old solo stuff, from Jones's gospel side.
Grandpa Jones "Country Music Hall Of Fame: 1978" (King, 1999)
Grandpa Jones "Pickin' Time" (MCA Special Products, 1999)
Grandpa Jones "Rollin' Along With Grandpa Jones" (King, 1962) (LP)
Grandpa Jones "Live" (Monument, 1969)
Grandpa Jones "...Sings Hits From Hee Haw" (Monument)
Grandpa Jones "Family Album" (CMH, 1979) (LP)
Grandpa Jones "Pickin' And A'Grinnin'" (Sony, 1995)
Grandpa Jones "Everybody's Grandpa" (Bear Family, 1997)
Karl & Harty "Old Time Harmony Singing" (BACM, 2005)
Karl & Harty "Memories Of The WLS Barn Dance" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records, 2001)
Buell Kazee "Sings And Plays" (Smithsonian Folkways, 1958)
Folkloric recordings with banjo plunker Buell Kazee, recorded a couple of decades after his heyday as an old-timey recording star... Kazee chats quite a bit on this one, which may be of interest to the more historic-minded among us. But if you really want to hear Kazee "sing and play," you might want to check out some of his older recordings, available on the specialty-label titles listed below.
Buell Kazee "Legendary Kentucky Ballad Singer, v.1" (BACM, 2005)
Buell Kazee "Legendary Kentucky Ballad Singer, v.2" (BACM, 2005)
Frank Luther "Will The Angels Play Their Harps For Me" (BACM, 2002)
Frank Luther "An Old Man's Story" (BACM, 2005)
Mac & Bob "Songs For Country Home Folks, v.1" (BACM, 2005)
Mac & Bob "Songs For Country Home Folks, v.2" (BACM, 2005)
Uncle Dave Macon "Country Music Hall Of Fame Series" (MCA, 1992)
Uncle Dave Macon "Travelin' Down The Road" (County, 1995)
Uncle Dave Macon "Go 'Long Mule" (County, 1995)
Uncle Dave Macon "Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy: The Complete Recordings" (Bear Family, 2004)
A 10-CD (!) box set covering all of Macon's work... Yow.
Uncle Dave Macon "Classic Sides: 1924-1938" (JSP, 2004)
Uncle Dave Macon "Classic Cuts, v.2: 1924-1938" (JSP, 2006)
Uncle Dave Macon "Uncle Dave At Home" (Bear Family/Spring Fed, 2002)
J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers "The Golden Age Of J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers" (Binge Disc, 2000)
If you thought old Bill Monroe sounded rough and rowdy back when he started the bluegrass sound way back when, then you gotta check these guys out! Mainer and his family enjoyed a healthy career revival in the 1960s and '70s as the old-timey folk scene unearthed them... Their latter day recordings were all quite nice, but this collection of material from the 1930s and '40s is flat-out awesome. When they play fast, there's no one more clattersome and rambunctious, and when they play slow and sentimental, few folks are more hearfelt. For fans of squeeky, scraping fiddles and grizzled old-man vocals, this is the disc to check out.
J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers "1935-1939" (BACM, 2005)
Ernest Martin "...And His Gospel Melody Makers" (BACM, 2005)
Harry McClintock "The Great American Bum" (BACM, 2005)
Frank & James McCravy "Old Time Harmony Singing" (BACM, 2005)
Clayton McMichen "The Legendary Fiddler, v.1" (BACM, 2005)
Clayton McMichen "The Legendary Fiddler, v.2" (BACM, 2005)
Bob Miller " 'Leven Cent Cotton Forty Cent Meat" (BACM, 2005)
Polk Miller "...And His Old South Quartette" (Tompkins Square, 2008)
We're talking deep old South here, like a bunch of pre-jazz, pre-ragtime, Antebellum "plantation Negro" music, drawn from a traveling show that Virginia-born performer Polk Miller toured with in the 1890s... This collection comes from some cylinder recordings from 1909 and 78s recorded two decades later. Polk himself apparently did not perform in blackface, but the cultural context is much the same, so you have to be open to filtering out the negative connotations in order to see the historical value of these old songs. Cool stuff, but it's part of a long, sometimes troublesome, historical narrative.
Bill Monroe -- see artist discography
The Monroe Brothers -- see artist discography
Spencer Moore "Spencer Moore" (Tompkins Square, 2007)
A nice set of modest, modern recordings by an old-timey elder... Guitarist Spencer Moore started his musical career in the 1930s, and in the 1950s was captured in field recordings by folklorist Alan Lomax. Here, at eighty-eight years of age, Moore runs through a set of old-timey tunes, including standards such as "Little Rosewood Casket," "Wildwood Flower" and "Great Speckled Bird," as well as several less well-known songs from his extensive repertoire. If you enjoy old-coot recordings (I do) this one's pretty nice. Nice that they managed to get one of the precious few living links to the Depression-era music scene back in front of the mic to bring the old music back.
The Morris Brothers "Salty Dog Blues" (BACM, 2005)
Chubby Parker "...And His Old Time Banjo" (BACM, 2005)
The Pickard Family "Walking In The Parlour" (BACM, 2005)
Fiddlin' Jack Pierce "...And The Oklahoma Cowboys" (BACM, 2005)
The Pine Ridge Boys "Mississippi River Blues" (BACM, 2005)
Charlie Poole "Volume One: Old Time Songs Recorded From 1925 To 1930" (County, 1994)
Charlie Poole "Volume Two: Old Time Songs Recorded From 1926 To 1930" (County, 1996)
Charlie Poole "Volume Three: Old Time Songs Recorded From 1926 To 1930" (County, 1999)
Charlie Poole/Various Artists "You Ain't Talkin' To Me" (Sony Legacy, 2005)
This fascinating 3-CD set sheds light on the career of country music pioneer Charlie Poole, whose Depression-era recordings helped set the standard for the energy level and professionalism of the new musical style, and who recorded many songs that became hillbilly standards for decades to some. This set is unusual, however, in that it spotlights not only Poole's work, but the recordings of several of his contemporaries, rivals and imitators in the 1920s and '30s, artists such as Arthur Collins, Kelly Harrell, Uncle Dave Macon, Ford Van Eps, and numerous craggy old-time stringbands from the pre-bluegrass, pre-swing, pre-honkytonk era. There's plenty of homespun humor, salty raunchiness, bluesy twang and several dazzling tracks, including whizbang instrumentals like Dave Macon's amazing "Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo." Poole emerges as an immensely charismatic figure, and hearing him in the full context of his times is a treat. If you just want to hear Poole by himself, the old anthologies on the County label will do ya right, but this is a fun, well-thought out collection... Recommended!
Charlie Poole "...With The North Carolina Ramblers And The Highlanders" (Proper, 2005)
Riley Puckett "There's A Hard Time Coming" (BACM, 2005)
Riley Puckett "Gonna Raise A Ruckus Tonight" (BACM, 2005)
The Red Fox Chasers "Classic Old Time Music From North Carolina" (BACM, 2005)
The Red Fox Chasers "I'm Going Down To North Carolina -- The Complete Recordings Of The Red Fox Chasers: 1928-1931" (Tompkins Square, 2009)
The Rice Brother's Gang "King Cotton Stomp" (BACM, 2005)
Leslie Riddle "Step By Step" (Rounder, 1993)
Speaking of the Carter Family, here is a lovely disc that a pal of theirs, guitarist/folklorist Lesley Riddle, made during the waning days of the '60s folk revival. Riddle was a local African-American performer who shared (and sought out) many songs for A.P. Carter to add to the group's early repertoire -- in fact, you could almost say he was to the Carter Family what George Martin was to the Beatles, acting as a musical mentor to both A.P. and Sara Carter. This disc shows that Riddle shared their gift for delicate lyrical expression, and emotional resonance. This disc is getting harder to find, but is well worth the search.
Jean Ritchie/Various Artists "Field Trip" (Greenhays, 1954)
A fascinating album in which one of America's supreme folkloric artists drew close the connections between American old-time music and its British and Celtic roots. Travelling through England, Ireland and Scotland on a Fulbright scholarship, Ritchie collected many wonderful performances from the locals, of well-known songs such as "Pretty Polly," "The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Barbara Allen," then contrasted the Old World versions to the ones she learned as a child in Appalachia. This is a great record, which still holds its charm, all these decades later. Recommended!
Roane County Ramblers "Complete Recordings: 1928-1929" (County, 2004)
In the 1920s, during the early, hazy days of the country music business, scrappy stringbands like Roane County, Tennessee's Roane County Ramblers dotted the landscape, playing a driving style of acoustic music that was the transition between the old-timey music of the Antebellum South and the more modern "bluegrass" style that would arise over a decade later. The Ramblers were one of the most musically accomplished of these groups, featuring the sleek, nuanced fiddling work of Jimmy McCarroll, a mine worker and mill worker who wrote several well-known breakdowns, notably "Hometown Blues," with a tune that was covered by numerous other artists and morphed over the years into Bill Monroe's "Heavy Traffic Ahead." While just writing the song was enough to put him on the map, his performance style was also pretty striking -- bluegrass fans and fiddling enthusiasts in particular will enjoy this collection for its richness and textural depth, as well as for the phenomenally clean sound quality... Kudos to the County label for another fine reissue!
Carson Robison "Home, Sweet Home On The Prairie: 25 Cowboy Classics" (ASV, 1996)
Carson Robison "Blue River Train & Other Cowboy And Country Songs" (Jasmine, 2007)
Carson Robison "Goin Back To Texas" (BACM, 2005)
Carson Robison "Old Kentucky Cabin" (BACM, 2005)
Carson Robison "Transatlantic Traveller" (BACM, 2005)
Carson Robison "The Later Years" (BACM, 2005)
The Skillet Lickers "Old-Time Fiddle Tunes And Songs From North Georgia" (County, 1996)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1926-1927" (Document, 2000)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.2: 1927-1928" (Document, 2001)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.3: 1928-1929" (Document, 2000)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.4: 1929-1930" (Document, 2000)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.5: 1930-1934" (Document, 2000)
The Skillet Lickers "Complete Recorded Works, v.6: 1926-1927" (Document, 2000)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith "...And His Dixieliners" (County, 2002)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith "Give Me Old Time Music" (BACM, 2005)
Hobart Smith "Hobart Smith Of Saltville, Virginia" (Folk-Legacy, 1964)
Hobart Smith "Blue Ridge Legacy" (Rounder, 2001)
Hobart Smith "In Sacred Trust: The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes" (Smithsonian-Folkways, 2005)
Walter Smith & Friends "Volume One: 1929-1930 -- The Bald-Headed End Of The Broom" (Document, 2003)
Walter Smith & Friends "Volume Two: 1930-1931 -- North Carolina Blues" (Document, 2003)
Walter Smith & Friends "Volume Three: 1931-1936 -- I'll Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" (Document, 2004)
The Stewart Family "Come On In And Make Yourself At Home" (BACM, 2005)
Lowe Stokes Vol. 1 (1927-1930) (Document, 1999)
Solo work from one of the members of the Skillet Lickers band; mostly a rural white blues sound...
Ernest Stoneman "1928 Edison Recordings" (County, 1996)
Ernest Stoneman "...And His Dixie Mountaineers" (Diamond Cut, 1998)
Ernest Stoneman "...With Family And Friends, v.1" (Old Homestead)
Ernest Stoneman "...With Family And Friends, v.2" (Old Homestead)
Ernest Stoneman "Gospel Music Treasures" (King, 2003)
Ernest Stoneman "The Unsung Father Of Country Music: 1925-1934" (Five-String Productions, 2008)
E. V. Pop Stoneman & Stoneman Family "The Great Old Timer At The Capital " (Starday, 1964) (LP)
The Stoneman Family "Old-Time Tunes Of The South" (Folkways, 1957)
The Stoneman Family "28 Big Ones" (King, 2000)
One of the most generously programmed of the recent King/Gusto releases, with over two dozen tracks included (as opposed to their usual skimpy eight or ten songs...) The Stonemans were an old-timey family act with deep, deep country roots ("Pop" Stoneman was an early country star, way back in the 1920s...!!) During the 1960s folk boom, they found a new resurgence of interest in their music, and tried to hit the bigtime, mixing their old-fashioned mountain rambling with the glitzy modern show-biz style of the new Nashville. It wasn't always an easy balance to make, particularly as the venerated but aging vocalist, Pop Stoneman, slowed them down quite a bit. His two daughters, Donna and Roni, (mandolin and banjo) were dazzling instrumentalists, and you can hear them tearing it up on a few of the instrumental tunes on this disc, but the vocal numbers are a little clunky, and the rest of the band rarely seemed to be able to keep pace with the gals. Still, it's a great assortment of material, ranging from gospel and novelty numbers to topical ballads like "The Sinking Of The Titanic" and "Heroes Of Bataan," written about the conflict in WWII. I'm not sure of the vintage of these recordings, but it's pretty recent, to be sure -- early 1970s, perhaps?
The Stoneman Family "Family Tradition: The Stoneman Legacy" (CMH, 2002)
Stringbean "Stringbean And His Banjo: A Salute To Uncle Dave Macon" (Starday) (LP)
Stringbean "Front Porch Funnies" (King, 1996)
An iffy set of later recordings by 1950s country comedian, David "Stringbean" Akeman, who performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry, toured with Porter Wagoner, and later was in the cast of Hee Haw. This isn't electrifying material, but it does give a good sense of his latter-day vaudeville showmanship, and cornball humor routines. (The Kentucky Konnections website has a brief entry on Stringbean's career.)
Stringbean "Barn Yard Banjo Pickin" (Gusto, 2006)
A 2-CD set...
The Stripling Brothers "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1: 1928-1934" (Document, 1997)
Excellent fiddle music from Alabama... These Depression-era tunes have great melodic hooks and nice, concise accompaniment on guitar. Great stuff, with good sound quality. Recommended!
The Stripling Brothers "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2: 1934-1936" (Document, 1997)
Some fine, fine fiddle music, with alert, sparse accompaniment on guitar. Great music, although perhaps best heard in moderate doses, along with other artists of a similar vintage. These tracks are drawn from some rare old 78s, and many have the surface noise to prove it. But other than the pops and occasional needle burn, the sound quality overall is pretty good -- a lot brighter and cleaner than you might imagine. Fiddle fans will definitely want to check this one out.
Ernest Thompson "Pioneer Artist From North Carolina" (BACM, 2005)
The Tobacco Tags "Get Your Head In Here" (BACM, 2005)
Uncle Henry's Original Kentucky Mountaineers "Rocky Mountain Lullaby" (BACM, 2003)
The Vagabonds "Old Cabin Songs" ( (BACM, 2005)
Doc & Merle Watson -- see artist discography
Arkansas "Arkie" Woodchopper "Old Time Songs & Square Dances" (BACM, 2005)
Hick Music Index