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:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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

SFC Spotlight: Alva Greene, Fiddler’s Conventions, and Guthrie T. Meade

2nd Annual Old time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Convention, 1970, Marion, VA.  Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.4. Fiddle Contests and Conventions: General, 1889-1979. Folder 197: 1960s-1990s.

While looking for information about the great Kentucky fiddler Alva Greene, recorded by Kevin “Chris” Delaney (see SFC tapes call nos. FT-284 and FS-7169) as well as Guthrie Meade and Mark Wilson in the 1970s, I had the opportunity to spend a brief moment with a few of Guthrie Meade’s vast fiddle files.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Grampaw” performed by Alva Greene, from SFC open reel tape call no. FT-284, side 1. Recorded by Chris Delaney at Mr. Green’s home in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Sept. 20 1973.  Mr. Green was 78 years old at the time of the recording.  He was born in Elliot Co., Kentucky.  For a fuller fiddle fix, hear more recordings of Alva Greene by Delaney at the Digital Library of Appalachia.

A seemingly inexhaustible scholar, Meade was constantly developing his discographical research, as documented by a page from this early 1970s spiral notebook (below). The notebook also chronicles some of Meade’s 1970s fieldwork exploring his lifelong interest with fiddling contests and fiddlers conventions so we pulled out a few fliers and programs from Meade’s festival files, including the “Creed of Civitan” according to the Marion Civitan Club, to share with you as well (further below).  Our continuing tribute to Hazel Dickens will conclude next week. Have a great weekend.

** CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE **

Fieldnotes, Guthrie T. Meade, 1970s. Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.3. Kentucky Fiddling, 1919-1990. Folder 178: Kentucky fiddlers and tunes: General research

Program, 1st Annual Old Time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Convention, Marion, VA, 1969. Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.4. Fiddle Contests and Conventions: General, 1889-1979. Folder 197: 1960s-1990s.
“Civitan Creed,” back of program, 1st Annual Old Time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Convention, Marion, VA, 1969. Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.4. Fiddle Contests and Conventions: General, 1889-1979. Folder 197: 1960s-1990s.

 

Flier, WHBN’s 3rd Annual Ole Time Fiddlers Contest, Harrodsburg, KY, 1990. Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.4. Fiddle Contests and Conventions: General, 1889-1979. Folder 197, 1960s-1990s.
Registration form, WHBN’s 3rd Annual Ole Time Fiddlers Contest, Harrodsburg, KY, 1990. Guthrie T. Meade Collection, 1817-1991 (#20246). Subseries 6.4. Fiddle Contests and Conventions: General, 1889-1979. Folder 197, 1960s-1990s.

 

Photo of the Week: Ed Haley

West Virginia fiddler Ed Haley (1883-1951), photographed ca. 1930s. Though a professional musician, Haley never made a commercial recording due his suspicion that record companies would take unfair advantage of his blindness. Home recordings made late in his life were issued on Rounder Records’ 1976 LP Parkersburg Landing and 1997 CDs Forked Deer and Grey Eagle. Photograph from the Guthrie T. Meade Collection.