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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Cataloger’s Corner: Barns

Our Photos of the Week this time feature 2 examples of tobacco barns taken from the CD-ROM companion to John Michael Vlach’s 2003 book Barns (Norton/Library of Congress). The book and accompanying disc feature black & white photos of barns across the U.S., taken by a variety of photographers, and currently housed the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Air-cured tobacco barn, Lexington, KY. Marion Wolcott, 1940. (From Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

Air-cured tobacco barn, Lexington, KY. Marion Wolcott, 1940. (From Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

The photo above shows an air-cured tobacco barn in Lexington, KY and was taken in 1940 by Marion Wolcott. The one below shows a flue-cured tobacco barn (with advertising for Lucky Strike) near Gordonton in Person County, NC. It was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1939.

Flue-cured tobacco barn, Person County, NC. Dorothea Lange, 1939. From the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Flue-cured tobacco barn, Person County, NC. Dorothea Lange, 1939. From the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

The Barns CD-ROM is now available at the Southern Folklife Collection as call # CD-11794.

78 of the week: Ida Cox and Lovie Austin on Paramount

78_11107_Kentucky_Man_Blues_Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillSorry to be so quiet around here lately. Summer in Chapel Hill may be quiet, but activity at Wilson Library intensifies as the temperature goes up. We’ve got exciting news about the SFC 25 year anniversary coming up so stay tuned to Field Trip South over the next few days. You’re going to love it.

78_11107_Death_Letter_Blues_Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillBut for this afternoon, to ease back into blogging this week I thought we could start slow with call no. 78-11107 by the remarkable Ida Cox accompanied by the one and only Lovie Austin. “Death Letter Blues” and “Kentucky Man Blues” are but two of 78 sides Cox recorded for Paramount between 1923 and 1929. Enjoy these segments, presented with no noise reduction or post-processing. Love the sound.

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Cataloger’s Corner: Moondog!

During a recent cataloging session, we stumbled across this 1953 EP by composer/performer/inventor/poet/philosopher Moondog (born Louis Thomas Hardin, b.1916-d.1999), hidden in between recordings by Dizzy Dean & his Country Cousins and the Circuit Rider Quartet.

Moondog, Improvisations at a Jazz Concert, Brunswick, 1953

Moondog grew up in the Midwest and became blind at age 16 after playing with a dynamite cap. In the 1940s, he moved to New York City, renamed himself after an ex-pet (a dog who liked to wail at the moon), and stationed himself on a Times Square traffic median where he played his own compositions on instruments that he’d designed and built. Some time during the 1950s, increasing crowds at his performances drove him to relocate to a quieter spot near the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue—and to switch from playing music to standing still for eight hours a day, sometimes reading and selling his poetry. He typically carried a spear, wore a Viking helmet, long beard, and a robe he made from pieces of army blankets. (In 1965, the New York Times reported that he’d changed to a green velvet outfit in order to avoid the “G.I. connotations” of the army blankets).

In the meantime, Moondog also recorded a number of albums for Decca, Prestige, and Columbia and gained recognition as a serious avant-garde composer. Improvisations at a Jazz Concert is the only Moondog record on the Brunswick label. It features two of his self-made, self-designed instruments—the oo (a sort of miniature dulcimer) and the trimba (two small triangular drums with a cymbal attached), as well as his characteristically elastic approach to tempo and meter that he sometimes referred to as “snake time.” Billboard magazine called the EP “one of the unusual recordings of the year” when it came out in 1953, the reviewer suggesting that “those who react to rhythm should be intrigued.”

We’ve included here an excerpt from Side 1, entitled “Improvisation in 7/4.” The EP is available at the SFC, call no. 78-16420.

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Moondog, Improvisation in 7/4

A Moondog documentary is soon to be released, the trailer for which is available here: http://thevikingof6thavenue.com/

 

 

Photos of the week: life according to Photo-Sound Associates

 

20239_pf0101_01_0002. Lee Hoffman and John Schuyler "Jock" Root at the races. Photo by Aaron Rennert, ca. 1957-1960.  Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

20239_pf0101_01_0002. Lee Hoffman and John Schuyler “Jock” Root at the races. Photo by Aaron Rennert, ca. 1957-1960.  Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

It’s hard not to get drawn into the Photo-Sound Associates images in the Ron Cohen Collection (20239). My intention is always to grab a quick photo to share on the blog and before I know it, I’ve grabbed six. I started off with the image above including the Caravan magazine founder and renaissance woman Lee Hoffman (ed. note: I recommend reading her website, Ms. Hoffman led a remarkable life) at some car races. I was looking for a different Washington Square Park photo when I saw the image below with the enormous crowd on a spring day. I can’t imagine the sound of that environment in the middle of the city. The street scenes documented by Rennert and photographer Ray Sullivan provide a fascinating look into New York City in the late 1950s. Framing musician Eric Weissberg and his Puch/Allstate 250CC two-stroke motorbike in the distance allows for a wonderful view of the architecture and 1950s automobiles. Finally, the image of Izzy Young through the window at the Folklore Center seemed the perfect way to end the tour along with this tired cat, so sleepy. The folk scene in NYC was a happening place to be in the late 1950s.

20239_pf0102_02_0003. Car races. Photo by Aaron Rennert, ca. 1957-1960.  Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill20239_pf0102_02_0003. Car races. Photo by Aaron Rennert, ca. 1957-1960. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

 

20239_pf0082_01_0006. Crowd in Washington Square Park, 5 May 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill20239_pf0082_01_0006. Crowd in Washington Square Park, 5 May 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

 

20239_pf0082_01_0010. Listeners, small boy playing harmonica, Washington Square Park, 5 May 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill20239_pf0082_01_0010. Listeners, small boy playing harmonica, Washington Square Park, 5 May 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

 

20239_pf0098_01_0013. Eric Weissberg and his Puch/Allstate 250cc two-stroke motorbike. Photo by "LH," ca. 1957-1960.  Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill20239_pf0098_01_0013. Eric Weissberg and his Puch/Allstate 250cc two-stroke motorbike. Photo by “LH,” ca. 1957-1960. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

 

20239_pf0100_0015. Izzy Young looking in the Folklore Center, 27 July 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill20239_pf0100_0015. Izzy Young looking in the Folklore Center, 27 July 1959. Photo by Aaron Rennert. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

 

20239_pf0097_0003. Photo by "LH," ca. 1957-1960.  Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Tired Cat.Photo by “LH,” ca. 1957-1960. Photo-Sound Associates, Ron Cohen Collection (20239).

Southern Folklife Collection Flamenco photo of the week

Carmen Rivas, photo by Aaron Rennert for Photo-Sound Associates. 20239_pf0022_0023_Ron Cohen Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Stunning photographs made by Aaron Rennert for Photo-Sound Associates, from the Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Shot in New York City, in the late 1950s, the images document a party attended by members of the famed Ballet Español de Ximenez-Vargas. Dancers include (from top to bottom): Carmen Rivas, an unidentified man, Maria Alba (Flamenco dance star who studied with Mariquita Flores and by 1957 or so was dancing with Ximenez-Vargas), and Antonio Hector de Jesus.

Unidentified dancer_photo by Aaron Rennert for Photo-Sound Associates. 20239_pf0022_0001Maria Alba, photo by Aaron Rennert for Photo-Sound Associates. 20239_pf0022_0040_Ron Cohen Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillAntonio Hector de Jesus, photo by Aaron Rennert for Photo-Sound Associates. 20239_pf0022_0035_Ron Cohen Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Lard Have Mercy! 30 Years of Southern Culture on the Skids

SCOTS1The Southern Folklife Collection is pleased to announce our first exhibit and program of 2014, “Lard Have Mercy! 30 Years of Southern Culture on the Skids.” The exhibit opens Friday, March 14, 2014 at 6PM on the 4th floor of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill. The exhibit opening will be followed by a concert at Historic Playmakers Theater featuring none other than Southern Culture on the Skids. Both events occur in conjunction with the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) taking place March 13-16 at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Lard Have Mercy” traces the history of Chapel Hill’s “Legendary Bards of Downward Mobility,” Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS). Formed in 1983. SCOTS embody a raucous, sleazy, good-natured, good-time take on Southern traditions and traditional music playing a unique hybrid of Americana, surf, R&B, rockabilly, and swamp pop, driving fans into ecstatic, sweat-drenched paroxysms of joy.

Featuring photography by Kent Thompson and Michael Benson as well as instruments, posters, recordings, and other ephemera from the SCOTS collection in the Southern Folklife Collection.

Events are free and open to the public but seating is limited. Concert Tickets will be available via Memorial Hall Box Office (919) 843-3333 the week of March 3rd. More information about the concert below.

Ticket booth opens: 6pm

Doors: 7pm

Concert: 7:30pm

“A HELL RAISING ROCK AND ROLL PARTY” – ROLLING STONE

scotspress

Noble Ray Price, the Cherokee Cowboy

P3910_Standing from left to right: KBBQ disc jockey Hugh Jarrett, musicians Ray Price and Tex Williams, and tailor Nudie Cohn. The four are backstage at the KBBQ First Anniversary Show_Southern Folklife Collection Radio and Television Files (30015)P3910. Standing from left to right: KBBQ disc jockey Hugh Jarrett, musicians Ray Price and Tex Williams, and tailor Nudie Cohn. The four are backstage at the KBBQ First Anniversary Show. Southern Folklife Collection Radio and Television Files (30015).

Country legend, Ray Price died this week at his home in Texas at the age of 87. The “Ray Price Shuffle,” a 4/4 beat developed by the Cherokee Cowboy himself remains a staple of the honky tonk sound. Combined with his velvet voice and countrypolitan ballads, Price changed the sound of Nashville. We picked out a few items from the Southern Folklife Collection to share in remembrance of Price and his lasting legacy. The photo above, P3910 from the Southern Folklife Collection Radio and Television Files (30015) features Price along with one of his great friends, fashion designer Nudie Cohn. Price could often be found on stage wearing one of Cohn’s “Nudie Suits.”  Price’s visual style remained impeccable throughout his career, but it was always his voice that separated him from the rest of the crooners. Listen to his great rendition of the Harlan Howard tune, “Heartache by the Numbers” from call no. 45-1472. 

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45_1472_Ray Price_Southern Folklife CollectionAnother classic from Price’s massive catalog is his hit, “Take Me As I Am (or let me go). This Don Law produced single has the full “Nashville Sound,” a full orchestra and choral arrangement to back Price’s powerful voice and make the syrupy lyrics wonderfully bittersweet. We found a unique promotional flier for the song in the Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name Files (30005), NF1596. These items are but a blip in Price’s 65 year career. We’d love to show you more but you’ll have to make a visit to Wilson Library. For now, let’s sit back and enjoy one more song.

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NF1596_Ray Price_Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name Files (30005)45_1858_Ray Price_Southern Folklife Collection

 

 

Goldband Records approved “Sweet Potato Mash”

P0072_0010_X9444

Sweet potato patch in Cleveland County,

call no. P0072/0010, Commercial Museum Collection of North Carolina Photographs (P0072)

North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Don’t forget your eat your sweet potatoes tomorrow. No matter whether you roast them, bake them, fry them, hasselback them, or cook them with marshmallows on top, the Southern Folklife Collection has your soundtrack covered thanks to a seasonally appropriate tape from the Goldband Recording Corporation Collection (20245) that came up in the Rivers Studio just this week.

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William Parker Guidry, Jr., came up in Southwest Louisiana and Lake Charles, performing and recording as Bill Parker for a number of labels, including Eddie Shuler’s Goldband Records. A drummer and bandleader, he appears all over the Goldband discography, and the man must have been a huge fan of the sweet potato because he wrote and recorded at least two tunes, including a cha-cha, dedicated to the noble tuber.

For you dear readers and listeners, we have “Sweet Potato Mash” by Bill Parker and his Showboat Band. FT7003 was digitized as part of the Southern Folklife Collection digitization project, From the Piedmont to the Swamplands: Preserving Southern Traditional Music, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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