Curley Parker & the Garvin Brothers on Cozy Records

Cotton Eyed Joe, Curley Parker & the Garvin Bros.Newly cataloged at the SFC is an obscure bluegrass release on Cozy Records by Curley Parker and the Garvin Brothers, call number 78-17403.

Cozy Records was based in Davis, West Virginia and named after a restaurant in nearby Grafton. It was founded by coal miner and minister John Bava, who’d played and sung along with his wife Lucy in a band called the Country Cousins.

In addition to his record label, Bava also started a magazine called Musical Echoes (printing facilities for which sat in a converted chicken coup), and a music publishing company under his own name. It seems that Bava may have used Musical Echoes partly to promote his compositions among musicians who might perform them. For example, in the SFC’s Sheet Music and Song Lyrics collection, we found this copy of Bava’s composition “Upon the Cross of Calvary” which has a red-and-white sticker referring to Musical Echoes as “song book for the entertainer.”

SFC Sheet Music and Song Lyrics Collection #30013, folder 97

SFC Collection 30013, folder 97

The back cover has been addressed and stamped, with Musical Echoes as the return address. At the bottom, the recipient is told to “request Hank the Cowhand of WMMN, Fairmont, W. Va. to sing ‘Would You Care.’” (Hank recorded this song for Cozy as Hank Stanford & the Sagebrush Round-up some time in the early 1950s; the song was written by Bava).

BAVA-SFC004Cozy recorded local, West Virginia-based talent, as well as musicians who appeared regularly on radio but who’d had trouble making inroads with bigger labels. Besides Hank the Cowhand, Cozy artists included Cherokee Sue, Rita Flory, Rex Parker’s Merry Men, Chuck Palmer & the Cornmuffins, and eventually the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.

Curley Parker and the Garvin Brothers only made one recording for Cozy Records, “My Guiding Star” / “Cotton Eyed Joe”, released in 1950. Originally from Gilmer County, Georgia, Parker is today best known for having played fiddle with the Blue Sky Boys during the 1940s, as well as for the duo he started with Pee Wee Lambert in 1951. In addition to his musical career, Parker also worked as a land surveyor; ultimately, he phased out professional music appearances in order to focus on his “day job.”

Side A, “My Guiding Star,” features singing by Parker and Earnst Garvin in a song about the unexpected death of the narrator’s fiancé. We’ve included an excerpt here:

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Side B, “Cotton Eyed Joe,” is an instrumental, and showcases Parker’s fiddling technique (as well as that of an unnamed banjoist, presumably one of the Garvin Brothers). The virtuosity is especially apparent towards the end when the tempo verges on breakneck.

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It does not appear that the Garvin Brothers have any surviving output beyond this release.

Our copy of the Parker-Garvin Brothers release came from SFC donor Guthrie Meade and was autographed by Parker. In the image below, you can (sort of) see the inscription on the lefthand side of the label: “To Gus, Curley Parker.”

My Guiding Star, Curley Parker & the Garvin Brothers

Thumbs up for Mother Universe, UNC welcomes Lonnie Holley

UNC-Chapel Hill is fortunate to be welcoming performance-, recording-, and visual artist Lonnie Holley to campus from September 29 through October 3, 2014.

On Tuesday, September 30, the Southern Folklife Collection will provide materials for Mr. Holley to engage participants in an interactive, public art-making event at The Wilson Library from 9:30 AM to Noon and from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

The SFC also pleased to announce that over 1500 slides documenting Lonnie Holley’s art work are now processed and will soon be available for viewing through the finding aid for the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Photographic Collection (20491). The finding aid currently provides access to the digitized images documenting artists Ronald Lockett and Asberry Davis.

lonnie_holleyOver the last four decades, Lonnie Holley has created countless sculptures, assemblages, and multimedia performances, working primarily with found objects, “scrap,” and recycled materials. Holley is one of several African-American vernacular artists to emerge from the Birmingham-Bessemer area of Alabama in the last quarter of the twentieth century, along with Thornton Dial, Joe Minter, and Ronald Lockett. Although he has recently been featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, his work has largely lived outside art museums and, therefore, critical reviews.

During his week-long visit to campus, Holley will visit classes in the Departments of Art, Folklore, and American Studies, create new artworks with found and recycled materials, engage in public conversations, and give a musical-spoken word performance.

Public Programs

Monday, 29 September, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Lonnie Holley: The Golden Belt Project
Stop by Room 100 in Building 3 of Golden Belt Studios in Durham and see artist Lonnie Holley making art in collaboration with Golden Belt artists.
The work created will be on view through Friday, 3 October.

Tuesday, 30 September, 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM:
Public art-making with Lonnie Holley in front of Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
and again from 3:00-5:00 PM, when Holley will complete the project and will be interviewed by Steve Weiss, Curator, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Wednesday, 1 October, 5:00-7:30 PM:
Music on the Porch at the Center for the Study of the American South
Lonnie Holley will offer a public musical-spoken word workshop performance, “Thumbs Up For Mother Universe,” on the porch at CSAS. Learn more!

“Thumbs Up for Mother Universe” is made possible by:

NCAC_LogoColor-241x300UNC-Chapel Hill Southern Studies Fund

North Carolina Arts Council

Department of American Studies

Ackland Art Museum

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

Calling all country music fans

meade_countryDick Spottswood is preparing to update the reference book COUNTRY MUSIC SOURCES, first published by the John Edwards Memorial Forum and the Southern Folklife Collection in 2002.  Anyone with corrections, additions or updates is invited to contact him online at dick@wamu.org. UPDATE: Joe Hickerson has generously signed on to expand and update bibliographic entries; contact him at jhick@starpower.net 

The book provides information on some 14,500 recordings of 3,500 old-time folk and country songs recorded between 1921 and 1942. Each performance receives a full citation, including the date and place of recording, original and variant artist, and title credits. Whenever possible, songs are traced back to their original lyricists and composers or to major published and unpublished folksong collections. Entries are grouped into broad subject categories: ballads, popular songs, religious songs, and instrumentals.

Based on 35 years of research in public and private collections of recordings, broadsides, pamphlets, and sheet music, this valuable resource allows a fresh understanding of pre-World War II country music and its intricate connections to the blues, old world folk music, and the broad spectrum of American popular song.

“One of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of country music scholarship. It is a big, juicy mother-lode that contains more new, hard data than anyone in this field has seen in years. . . . A definitive reference book that should be on every library shelf and in the hands of any serious student of American music.” –Journal of Country Music

2003 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Country Music, Association for Recorded Sound Collections

 

 

In memory of George Hamilton IV

20410_folder35_SFC_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV with Mary Dabney Hamilton, Back cover of George Hamilton IV, souvenir book edited by Bob Powell, folder35, George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

20410_p4985_SFC

George Hamilton IV at Grandfather Mountain, 1973, P4985 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410)

We were saddened to hear that George Hamilton IV passed away on September 17, 2014. In memoriam of Mr. Hamilton, we pulled some items The George Hamilton IV Collection (20410) in the Southern Folklife Collection to highlight his remarkable career and contributions to the canon of Country music. A native son of North Carolina born and raised in Winston Salem, Hamilton started his singing career while a student at UNC Chapel Hill, recording for Orville Campbell’s Colonial Records. By the late 1950s, Hamilton had moved to Washington, D.C., and became a regular performer (with Patsy Cline, for a time) on Jimmy Dean’s “Town and Country Jamboree” show. He toured with Bobby Darin, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers, along with many other well-known pop stars, and made numerous national television appearances.

20410_p4939_SFC005_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV and Patsy Cline, P4939 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

p4866 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillHamilton became a teen pop sensation in 1956 with his recording of John D. Loudermilk’s tune “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” but Hamilton’s heart was in country music and in 1959 he moved to Nashville, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960. Listen to Hamilton’s performance of “A Rose and A Baby Ruth” from one of his first appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, introduced by the one and only Ernest Tubb. From open reel tape, FT12086 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (201410):

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Later that year, he began recording for RCA Records, having been signed by Chet Atkins. In 1963, John D. Loudermilk’s “Abilene” became a number-one hit for Hamilton on the country charts and reached the top 20 in pop.

20410_p4953_SFC001_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillChet Atkins, John D. Loudermilk, Bobby Moore, George Hamilton IV, P4953 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

He toured Canada and across Europe, developing a devoted fan base. He would eventually tour around the world, performing multiple times in Japan, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, and India. His performance at Moscow University in 1974 was the first for an American country music performer. Other “first” performances on this tour were in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Later that year, Billboard Magazine began to refer to Hamilton as the “International Ambassador of Country Music.”

George Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Hamilton’s recording career highlights a mutual admiration for Canadian and European songwriters. In 1965, Hamilton was the first American singer to record a hit penned by Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and in 1967, he also became the first to record “Urge for Going,” a song by another Canadian songwriter, Joni Mitchell. In 1969, his first record of all Canadian music was released and he hosted a variety show on the CBC for six years.

George Hamilton IV and others on the set of Up Country at the Elizabethan Barn, early 1970s, P4821 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV on the set of “Up Country at the Elizabethan Barn,” early 1970s, PHOTO BY DOMINIC MCKENZIE P4821 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410),                    Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

His long-standing involvement with the annual International Festival of Country Music, held at Wembley (UK) led to an association with the BBC where Hamilton hosted many programs–variety and documentary–that showcased country music.

George Hamilton IV, Rolf Harris, an unidentified woman, Frank Ifield, Olivia Newton-John, Slim Whitman, Miki & Griff, an unidentified man, and Mervyn Conn, at Wembley, 1974, b&w print, roughly 8x10, photo by Dominic McKenzie, P4920 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV, Rolf Harris, an unidentified woman, Frank Ifield, Olivia Newton-John, Slim Whitman, Miki & Griff, an unidentified man, and Mervyn Conn, at Wembley, 1974, b&w print, roughly 8×10, photo by Dominic McKenzie, P4920 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

In 1971, Hamilton left Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry for Charlotte, N.C., to join the broadcasts of Arthur Smith’s country music televison show. He continued to work overseas while also maintaining a busy touring schedule in the United States

20410_OP_4_SFC007 20410_OP_1_SFC008

                                                                    In the 1990s, he became involved with several musical theater and concert productions that featured the work of Patsy Cline, with Irish singer Sandy Kelly playing the title role. Hamilton has continued to record country, folk, and gospel albums, including two with his son, George Hamilton V . In 2006, he celebrated his 50th year as a recording artist, which included a special reception hosted in London by the United States Ambassador to Britain. Hamilton died on Wednesday at the age of 77. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recordings by Hamilton,Break My Mind,” arranged by his longtime collaborator and fellow North Carolinian John D. Loudermilk, from Hamilton’s 1967 LP, Folksy, call number FC 17005.

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0410_folder35_SFC_001_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV by Bud Powell, Folder 35 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Thank you, from the Southern Folklife Collection

 

Rebirth Brass Band lead the second line down the steps of Wilson Library. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Rebirth Brass Band lead the second line down the steps of Wilson Library. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

All of us at the Southern Folklife Collection extend our most sincere gratitude to all the people that worked to make our 25th anniversary celebrations a wild success. To all the musicians, writers, library staff, volunteers, and especially to our researchers, patrons, and all those that attended our concerts and programs, we thank you. These photos by Mark Perry Photography are just a glimpse into the weekend events and we’ll have more to share in the future. The SFC 25th Anniversary exhibit detailing the history of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation and the birth and growth of the SFC will be open to visitors to Wilson Library through December 2014 so please do stop by for a viewing. Also, if you haven’t had a chance, our exhibit “Lard Have Mercy!: 30 years of Southern Culture on the Skids” has extended for three more weeks. It’s going to be a great Fall so keep in touch. 

Los Texmaniacs at the Cat's Cradle for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Los Texmaniacs at the Cat’s Cradle for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Peter Guralnick at the Cat's Cradle for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Peter Guralnick at the Cat’s Cradle for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Dumpstaphunk at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Dumpstaphunk at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Tift Merritt at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Tift Merritt at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Merle Haggard at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

Merle Haggard at Memorial Hall for SFC25. Photo by Mark Perry Photography.

 

Cataloger’s Corner: Trumpet Records

Carolina Kings of Harmony, "There's a Narrow Path to Heaven," Trumpet Records TR-207, 1953

Carolina Kings of Harmony, “There’s a Narrow Path to Heaven,” Trumpet Records TR-207, 1953

Newly cataloged at the SFC is a 1953 release by the Carolina Kings of Harmony on Trumpet Records, call no. 78-16736. Trumpet Records was based at 309 N. Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi, at a combined furniture and record store in one of the city’s African American commercial districts. When Lillian McMurry and her husband (both white) first moved into the space, Lillian found some 78rpm R&B records that the previous tenant had left behind. Upon listening to the records, she fell in love with the sound and decided to sell recordings by black artists out of the store. She also attended blues and gospel performances by touring musicians at the Alamo Theater down the street and got the idea to start her own label featuring those genres.

Photo of Lillian McMurry, undated. From the William R. Ferris Collection, 1910s-2011, Folder PF-20367/978.

Photo of Lillian McMurry, undated. From the William R. Ferris Collection, 1910s-2011, Folder PF-20367/978.

In the summer of 1950, Lillian established her label as the Diamond Record Company—and then learned that Diamond was already in use as a record label name. Since she planned to record music with a spiritual theme, she chose Trumpet Records as a second option—“trumpet” referring to the angel Gabriel’s signature instrument. Lillian searched for talent at the Alamo, in her shop’s listening booths (where customers often sang along to the records), and through word-of-mouth. When she heard about vocalist and harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson II, she canvassed the area until she found him. Sonny Boy went on to record a number of songs for Trumpet between 1951-1955 before signing to Chess Records. According to Marc Ryan in his book on Trumpet Records, Sonny Boy had such respect for Lillian that he observed her requests to leave all weapons outside the recording studio, as well as to stop all foul language on the Trumpet premises.

The Carolina Kings of Harmony met Lillian and signed a contract with Trumpet after a tour stop in Jackson. Consisting of lead singer Weldon Gill (who also ran a diner in Lewisburg, NC), along with William Battle, T.D. Jones, Vernon Joyner, Bennie Ruffin, Paul Cooley, the group recorded four sides in April 1953 in Raleigh, NC. Dubs of the recordings were then sent on to the Audio Company of America in Texas for mastering. Two of the tracks, “Going On Home to Glory” and “There’s a Narrow Path to Heaven” were released as Trumpet 207; the other 2 were not released until the 1994 Alligator Records compilation, In the Spirit: The Gospel and Jubilee Recordings of Trumpet Records.

We’ve included an excerpt from “There’s a Narrow Path to Heaven” here:

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Though Trumpet Records only lasted until 1955 (partly because there was so much competition in the Southern gospel and blues market at the time), it has since become known as the first nationally known Mississippi-based label. Additionally, Lillian McMurry is now recognized as a key figure in the birth of American rock ‘n’ roll and as someone who resisted racial segregation of 1950s Mississippi. In 1998 she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Her papers, including significant documentation of Trumpet Records, are available for research at University of Mississippi’s Special Collections.

SFC25

Southern Folklife Collection 25th anniversaryIn just over one month, Southern Folklife Collection will celebrate our 25th Anniversary, August 21-August 23. As one of the nation’s foremost archives of Southern vernacular music, art, and culture, available for research in the University’s Wilson Special Collections Library, the Southern Folklife Collection is honored to had the opportunity to serve as an educational resource, an archive dedicated to collecting and preserving cultural heritage, and a focal point for the public appreciation of Southern art forms for 25 years.

Since its opening in 1989, the SFC has grown to contain over half a million items including sound recordings, moving images, photographs, manuscripts, books, song folios, serials, posters and ephemera. The Collection is especially rich in materials documenting old-time, country-western, bluegrass, blues, folk, gospel, rock, Cajun and zydeco music. The SFC holds numerous recordings on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, including Dolly Parton’s first recording “Puppy Love.”

As part of the Southern Folklife Festival, we are presenting a number of events. You can visit our event website, sfc25th.web.unc.edu for more details, and come back to Field Trip South where we’ll highlight the our programs over the coming weeks.

August 21-23 is going to be a really good time to be in Chapel Hill.

SFC25

A benefit reception, dinner and concert (5:45pm, 8/21)
New Orleans Brass Band Symposium (5pm, 8/22)
Rebirth Brass Band and Dumpstaphunk (8pm, 8/22)
Big Star’s #1 Record and Third/Sister Lovers (9pm, 8/22)
SFC25 Festival at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC (1-4pm 8/23)
Merle Haggard and Tift Merritt (8pm, 8/23)
A retrospective SFC25 Exhibit (8/21/14 – 1/15/15)

We hope you can join us!

Cataloger’s Corner: Bluegrass on Blue Ridge Records

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, "No One to Love Me" (Blue Ridge, 1952)

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, “No One to Love Me” (Blue Ridge, 1952), call no. 78-16864

Newly cataloged at the SFC (call no. 78-16864) is a 1952 release by the Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, a short-lived ensemble on a short-lived label, both based out of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

The oldest of the three Church Brothers, Bill Church, had played during the 1940s with Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers and on a radio show in Asheville, N.C. called “Farm and Fun Time.” After serving in World War II, he and his brother Ralph began playing with cousin Ward Eller and a few other locals—Drake Walsh (son of Dock Walsh), Gar Bowers and Elmer Bowers. Eventually a third Church brother (Edwin) joined the group. Calling themselves the Wilkes County Entertainers, they played on the local radio stations WILX and WKBC and at schoolhouse shows.

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, with songwriter Drusilla Adams (center)

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers with songwriter Drusilla Adams

By the 1950s they were performing as the Church Brothers and their Blue Ridge Ramblers and making recordings with a lineup featuring Bill Church (guitar), Edwin Church (fiddle), Ralph Church (mandolin), Ward Eller (guitar), Ralph Pennington (bass), and Johnny Nelson (banjo). They also began recording songs written by a local lyricist, Drusilla Adams. Initially the band planned to have these recordings come out on Rich-R-Tone Records (at the time based in Johnson City, TN). Because of various delays, Drusilla and her father decided expedite the process by setting up their own Wilkesboro-based label called Blue Ridge Records, which issued several Church Brothers singles. Blue Ridge Records went on to record the Stanley Brothers and Bill Clifton; the label lasted until 1958 when Noah Adams passed away and it was sold.

The single “No One to Love Me,” featured here, received a somewhat mixed review from Billboard magazine: “A lively performance by the Church Brothers with hoedown accompaniment of a so-so piece of material.” About the B-side, “You’re Still the Rose of my Heart,” the critic simply stated: “More of the same.”

We’ve provided an excerpt from “No One to Love Me” here:

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In addition to their releases on Blue Ridge, the Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers eventually did go on to sign a contract with Rich-R-Tone, recording several tracks for that label. In 1952, the group disbanded—though the members continued to play on their own at various dance events in the Wilkesboro area.

The Church Brothers’ output on Blue Ridge Records and was later released on LP compilations by Gerd Hadeler Productions and Rounder Records. These LPs are also available at the SFC, as FC-4743 and FC-2046, pictured below.

Church Brothers compilation released on GHP Records

Church Brothers compilation released on GHP Records, call no. FC-4743

Church Brothers compilation on Rounder Records

Church Brothers compilation on Rounder Records, call no. FC-2046

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An article and video feature on former Rambler Ward Eller’s experiences with the band appeared in the March 2014 issue of Mountain Music Magazine.

NC Folklife Festival, 1974

FT3419_002Lovers of North Carolina folklore have a lot to celebrate this year. The Southern Folklife Collection celebrates our 25th Anniversary this year with numerous events August 21 through August 23. See our event website, SFC25, and follow Field Trip South for more information as we lead up to the event. Tickets are on sale now for Memorial Hall concerts featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Tift Merritt and Merle Haggard. See more information from Carolina Performing Arts.

FT3419_001In other celebratory news, Our good friends at the North Carolina Folklife Institute are kicking off their 40th anniversary commemoration this weekend at the Festival For the Eno. The NCFI has been sharing fantastic photo documentation of the 1974, 1975, and 1976 festivals on their website and Facebook page, highly recommended viewing. They also encouraged us to look back into the SFC for sound recordings of the events, which we located and are in the process of digitizing. Performances from the 1974 festival, organized on the campus of Duke University by George Holt, are documented on open reel tapes FT3418 through FT3421. Performers included Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham, Elizabeth Cotton, The Golden Echoes, Willie Trice, Ernest East, The Blue Sky Boys, The Bluegrass Experience, and many more. We are excited to share some clips of these performances from FT3419 (pictured above) with you and encourage you to visit the NC Folklife Institute table at the Festival for the Eno this coming weekend. Happy Fourth of July!

Introduction from George Holt

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Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham

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Golden Echoes

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Willie Trice

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The Blue Sky Boys

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The Bluegrass Experience

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