Carolina Bluegrass Summit

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Jimmy Martin Fan Club Newsletter, December, 1972, in Folder 78, Southern Folklife Collection Fan Club Newsletters (30023)

Please join us at UNC Chapel Hill on November 11 and 12, 2016 for the Carolina Bluegrass Summit. Sponsored by the UNC Department of Music and the Southern Folklife Collection. All events take place on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill except for the closing social (which is at Linda’s Bar and Grill, just across Franklin street from campus). We are extremely excited to welcome musicians, scholars, writers, industry leaders, and especially bluegrass fans to celebrate the first year of the UNC Bluegrass Intiative. 

Exhibit and symposium are free and open to the public. Steep Canyon Rangers concert is a ticketed event. Concert tickets on sale via Carolina Performing Arts.

See more details and schedule below. We look forward to seeing you at UNC!

Friday, November 11, 2016

3pm: WORKSHOP w/ Steep Canyon Rangers, Person Hall, UNC-CH.

5pm: EXHIBIT OPENING Folk Music on Overdrive: Bluegrass Music in the Southern Folklife Collection.
4th Floor, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-CH. Music performance by Emily Kirsch and Bailey Coe.

7pm: LECTURE Concerts in Context: A Pre-Concert Lecture Series with Dr. Jocelyn Neal, Associate Chair of the Department of Music, and Dr. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Chair of the Department of History. Gerrard Hall, UNC-CH.

8pm CONCERT Steep Canyon Rangers w/ special guest the Carolina Bluegrass Band. Memorial Hall, UNC-CH. (Ticketed)

Saturday, November 12, 2016. BLUEGRASS SYMPOSIUM
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, 2nd floor, Wilson Special Collections Library. UNC-CH.

8:45am: COFFEE

9-10am RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS
Jordan Laney (Virginia Tech): “What’s Cooking in Kathleen’s Kitchen? Exploring Feminized Performances and Spaces in Bluegrass Festivals,” and
Erica Fedor (UNC Chapel Hill): “Sounding Out Against HB2: Music and Protest in Local North Carolina Perspectives”
Respondent: C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music (Pomona College)

10-10:30am: Joseph Decosimo (UNC Chapel Hill) “‘This Train Has Got Two Tracks, and We’re Just on One’: Navigating Bluegrass/Old-Time Boundaries in Southeast Tennessee”

10:45am-12pm: BLUEGRASS ON RECORD: Dave Freeman (County and Rebel Records), Marian Leighton Levy and Ken Irwin (Rounder Records), and Barry Poss (Sugar Hill Records), with Allison Hussey (Associate Music Editor, INDY Week), moderator

12-1:15pm: LUNCH on your own

1:30-2:15pm: C. Joti Rockwell, Associate Professor of Music, (Pomona College) “Acousticism’s Electric Roots”

2:15-3:45 pm: WRITING BLUEGRASS/BLUEGRASS WRITERS: Fred Bartenstein, Jack Bernhardt, Tommy Goldsmith, and Penny Parsons, with Art Menius, moderator.

4-5pm: KEYNOTE: Robert S. Cantwell. Professor Emeritus, Department of American Studies (UNC Chapel Hill): “‘Folks, Don’t Try this at Home:’ Bluegrass and the Liberal Arts”

6-8pm: CLOSING SOCIAL Grass Cats Bluegrass Band. Linda’s Downbar, 203 E Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.

From Tobacco Road to the Broadway Strip: remembering John D. Loudermilk

P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel Hill

Loudermilk in the Studio, in Image Folder P-20418/1, JOHN D. LOUDERMILK COLLECTION (20418), SOUTHERN FOLKLIFE COLLECTION

John D. Loudermilk, Jr. composing, recording, and working in his project studio is how we like to remember the North Carolina born singer, songwriter, performer, and producer. We scanned the image above from the John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418)  after spending some time looking through the photographs documenting Loudermilk’s remarkable career in country and pop music. Loudermilk died on September 21 at his home in Tennessee at the age of 82.

P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel HillBorn and raised in Durham, and a cousin of Ira and Charlie Loudermilk (better known as the Louvin Brothers), John D. Loudermilk started his music career under the pseudonym Johnny Dee (the “D” in his name does not stand for anything). Loudermilk’s mother learned to play the guitar while serving as a missionary in Cherokee and taught her young son how to play so that he could join her with the Salvation Army band gatherings at Durham’s Five Points. By age 13, Loudermilk appeared weekly on the “Little Johnny Dee” radio show on WTIK singing country hits. After graduating from Durham High School in 1954, Loudermilk attended Campbell University and was known as an adept local musician performing with with a variety of different groups playing across popular music styles. He recorded novelty songs under the name of “Ebe Sneezer” with “The Epidemics,” Johnny Dee_45rpmsharpening his songwriting skills while finding a niche with sugary teen pop like  “A-plus in Love,” released on Colonial Records, a Chapel Hill label owned and operated by Orville B. Campbell. Loudermilk is backed by some of Colonial’s best session musicians, Asheboro’s Bluenotes with Joe Tanner on the Guitar,  

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1954 Durham High school graduation program, in Folder 250, John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418), Southern Folklife Collection

While working as a set painter at Durham television station WTVD, another rising country music star, George Hamilton IV, heard a sacharrine sweet pop number penned by Loudermilk, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” and recorded it for Colonial Records in 1956. The song was a hit for Hamilton and for Loudermilk, launching both of their careers.

Loudermilk continued to sing and record his own songs throughout his career; however, he is primarily known for his work as a songwriter. After scoring another hit in 1956 when Eddie Cochran sang Loudermilk’s tune “Sitting on the Balcony,” his musical path was set. In 1958, Loudermilk moved to Nashville, where he was hired as Chet Atkins’s assistant. After a brief period with Cedarwood Publishing, Loudermilk spent the 1960s writing for the publishing behemoth Acuff-Rose, founded by country star Roy Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose in 1942.

One of his most popular songs and a 1964 hit for British band the Nashville Teens, is the semi-autobiographical “Tobacco Road.” It has been recorded by a huge range of artist including Lou Rawls, Hank Williams Jr, David Lee Roth, Shawn Colvin, and many more. We particularly love thisunexpectedly funky 1978 version by Richie Lecea (SFC 45-5754)

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  Over 300 Loudermilk songs have been recorded by over 1,000 artists in the last 60 years. His song “Abilene” was another hit for George Hamilton IV in 1963 and became a country music staple. Listen to the recording by Sonny James with his Tennessee State Prison Band from a 1977 Columbia 45 rpm disc, call number 45-5543 in the Southern Folklife Collection:

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Another hit, “Indian Reservation,” originally recorded by Marvin Rainwater in 1959, the went to the top of the charts when released by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1971. The song laments the forced removal of Native Americans from tribal lands to reservations and Loudermilk was honored with the first Cherokee Medal of Honor in 1999.

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 45 RPM discs from the JOHN D. LOUDERMILK COLLECTION (20418), SOUTHERN FOLKLIFE COLLECTION

During the 1960s and 1970s, Loudermilk became one of the most prolific of the Nashville songwriters; his songs were recorded by Roy Acuff Jr., Ernie Ashworth, Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Marianne Faithfull, George Hamilton IV, Stonewall Jackson, Robert Mitchum, the Nashville Teens, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sue Thompson, Johnny Tillotson, Tracey Ullman, Bobby Vee, Porter Wagoner, and others.Here’s a favorite Chet Atkins tune, written by Loudermilk, from SFC 45-5570. 

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   Loudermilk was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Hall of Fame in 1976. As a sign he had truly made it in country music, Loudermilk appeared on Hee Haw in 1981.

Hee Haw P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel Hill

In addition to maintaining his songwriting career, Loudermilk also actively supported folk and country music through his participation in folk festivals. He participated in a number of tours as part of Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project, an organization created by Anne Romaine and Bernice Johnson Reagon dedicated to presenting black and white traditional musicians together on stage. He produced albums by a number of artists recording traditional music, including a 1980 album by Chet Atkins and Doc Watson.

Throughout his career, Loudermilk also worked with young artists, providing opportunities to record as well as support of musicians he saw as unique. In 1966, he saw a young group called the Allman Joys, led by brothers Duane and Greg, perform at a small Nashville club called the Briar Patch. He invited the group to the studio to cut some sides, one of which “Spoonful” became a regional hit. P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk and Duane Allman, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel Hill

Loudermilk and Duane Allman, from P20418/2_John D. Loudermilk Collection (20418), Southern FOlklife COllection, UnC Chapel Hill

with a telescope P-20418/2_John D. Loudermilk in his studio, Southern Folklife Collection_UNC Chapel HillAs the 1980s wore on, Loudermilk turned his attention to other interests including ethnomusicology and meteorology. The John D. Loudermilk collection (20418) includes papers, photographs, audio recordings, posters, and artifacts, including a paper dress with from 1957 with the Baby Ruth printed on the side. Papers consist of sheet music, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia, correspondence, and other printed materials. Besides those included in this post, photographs include images of John D. Loudermilk alone or with others, as well as a few images related to album covers. or venues at which Loudermilk made appearances. Audio recordings in the collection include 45s, 78s, LPs, acetate discs, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, and a reel-to-reel tape.

While he moved to Nashville early in his career, Loudermilk always kept North Carolina close to his heart. We leave you with his celebration the trials and tribulations of life on I-40 from his 1965 album, John D. Loudermilk Sings a Collection of the Most Unusual Songs. Remember be careful out there out on Interstate 40, we’ll see you on the road. 

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SFC videos of the week: Bertie Dickens and Enoch Rutherford

20113_VT0005_0001_Nancy Kalow Collection_Videotape 5: Bert Dickens, Ennice, N.C., 31 January 1987, 3 of 3

You read the title correctly, “SFC videos of the week.” We have been slowly rolling out streaming archival videos held in the Southern Folklife Collection, but now there are just too many not to share widely. These first two videos, Videotape VT-20113/5 featuring Bert Dickens (above) and Videotape VT-20113/8 Enoch Rutherford (below) are part of the Nancy Kalow Collection (20113).  To go directly to the streaming video click on the images in this post or visit the finding aid for the finding aid for the Nancy Kalow Collection (20113) here.

The Nancy Kalow Collecion collection comprises 29 videotapes of various aspects of North Carolina folklife recorded by Kalow between 1987 and 1991. These two tapes, Videotape VT-20113/5 are part of a series documenting traditional North Carolina musicians that Kalow made in association with musician and founder of The Old-Time Herald Alice Gerrard as part of a project for the North Carolina Arts Council. Originally recorded on Hi-8 video, digitization and streaming of these videos and others is made possible through support from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Old-time banjo player and North Carolina Heritage Award recipient, Bertie (Bert) Caudill Dickens spent most of her life the community of Ennice in Alleghany County, North Carolina. The video was recorded in her home on Jan 31, 1987.

Recordings of Enoch Rutherford were also made on January 31, 1987 at his home in Independence, Virginia (for an excellent article on Enoch Rutherford, see this remembrance written by musician Martha Spencer in 2013 from Mountain Music Magazine). Accompanied by Alice Gerrard and Andy Cahan, Rutherford’s hard-driving clawhammer style is in full force. The versions of “Sugar Hill” and “Whoa, Mule” on this tape are spectacular (as noted by an enthusiastic audience member off camera hollering support). 20113_VT0005_0001_Nancy Kalow Collection_Videotape 8: Enoch Rutherford, Independence, Va., 31 January 1987, 3 of 3

Other musicians documented in the collection include Thomas Burt, Calvin Cole, Walter Raleigh Babson, Joe and Odell Thompson, Piedmont blues musicians George Higgs and James Bud Powell, and John Rector. There are also tapes documenting a 1987 performance at the UNC Forest Theatre by storyteller Steven Henegar and Uncle Eli’s Quilting Bee, an annual event that has taken place in Alamance County since 1931 and which Kalow recorded on 7 April 1988 at Eli Whitney Recreation Center.

Stay tuned to Field Trip South for more streaming media updates or browse our collections and finding aids through our website here.

 

In memory of Eddie Watkins

OP20398_63_Ron Liberti Collection_Polvo CD release 1994_Southern Folklife Collection_001

Last week the news of Eddie Watkins’ sudden passing circulated through the Triangle music community and beyond. We have lost many musical giants in 2016; here’s hoping Bowie, Merle, Phife, Billy Paul, Papa Wemba, Steve Young, and Prince are all enjoying a big pancake party right now. There will be room at the table for Eddie Watkins as well.

A lifelong musician, first with local legends (as much as that descriptor might confound them) Polvo and later with Dr. Powerful and Strangers in the Valley of the Kings, Watkins touched as many lives in his roles as a chef, librarian, friend and father as detailed in a recent article by Danny Hooley in the Indy and celebrated on WXYC Chapel Hill 89.3FM “Thursday Night Feature” on April 28. Watkins may not be as famous as those listed above, but his absence cuts as deep and his impact on the expressive culture of the Triangle community is equally profound.

Parts of Polvo’s early career and the musical communities and scenes where they operated are documented in the Southern Folklife Collection. These early Polvo posters made by Ron Liberti, whose band Pipe played the CD relase for the stunning 1994 EP Celebrate the New Dark Age (Merge) at Cats Cradle (then located on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill), call numbers OP-20398/63 and OP/20398/70 in the Ron Liberti Collection (20398). Also on the bill that night, Shiny Beast, whose drummer, artist Brian Walsby, would later replace Watkins in Polvo for a short time. Considering three of the four original members of Polvo formed at UNC, the basketball imagery is no surprise (guitarist Dave Brylawski has spoken about his love for basketball before) and reflects Polvo’s grounding with a particular sense of place even when their music demonstrated far ranging global influences.

Part of the Merge Records roster since their “El Cid” split 7″ with Erectus Monotone in 1992 (that included the track “Anything’s Fine” by Erectus Polvotone), Polvo can also be found in the Merge Records Collection (20473). Besides master tapes, test pressings, and videos (including VT20479/162, Superchunk, Polvo, Taintskins, Grifters: Live at the Antenna Club, Memphis, Tenn., 5 September 1992) there are documents detailing the artwork change for Today’s Active Lifestyles (Merge, 1993), artwork samples for other releases, correspondence, tour documentation, and even a mastering note from the Southern Folklife Collection’s own Brian Paulson in Folder 50. Anyone interested to see more from the Merge or Ron Libarti collections or other materials about our vibrant musical communities, please visit the Southern Folklife Collection or contact us at The Wilson Library. We offer our sincerest condolences to Eddie Watkin’s loved ones, family, and friends.

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78 of the week: Arthur Smith and His Dixie Liners

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A side from SFC 78 call no. 78-17489 for a rainy Saturday.

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New streaming audio!

Southern Folklife Collection John M. Rivers, Jr. Studio. Photo by Dan SearsThe Southern Folklife Collection now has well over 5000 streaming audio files of digitized archival recordings. Recent additions have been made possible through support from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We’ve shared streaming recordings from the William R. Ferris Collection (20367), Goldband Recording Corporation Collection (20245) and the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) in the past, but we have since more than doubled the amount of streaming content. We’d love to hear your favorites, but as an introduction, we pulled a few that we found particularly fascinating from the most recent additions. Click on the link to go directly to a streaming audio file:

8611: AG 427: Joe Caudill, Bertie Dickens, and Dan Williams, recorded in December 1971 in Ennis, N.C. (continued from AG 424) / Various Others. Side 1Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.30.47 PM

  • From the Bob Carlin Collection (20050), The Spencer Brothers, Lance and Maynard. Originally from Virginia, The Spencer Brothers performed on Greensboro’s WBIG and with Stringbean as part of Charlie Monroe’s Kentucky Partners Troupe in the 1940s.

7009: Spencer Brothers at Sister Ruth’s home; recorded by Brad Spencer. 1985.: Side 1Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.35.26 PM

  • From the Tom Davenport Collection (20025), we’ve added a number of interviews with Arthur Jackson, aka Peg Leg Sam, and members of the Joines family . Here is one of Jackson conducted during the making of the excellent documentary film, Born for Hard Luck (view it on Folkstreams.net).

324: Peg Leg Sam: interview: Side 1Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.36.36 PM

272: John Kelly, fiddle. Dublin. Paddy Glacken, fiddle. Dublin. 2 August 1972. Tony Smith, fiddle. Dublin. 3 August 1972. Side: 1Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 12.37.37 PM

Merle Haggard, April 6, 1937-2016

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

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

The world lost another giant today when Merle Haggard left this earth for honky-tonk heaven. The Southern Folklife Collection was privileged to welcome Mr. Haggard at our 25th anniversary celebration in 2014. Seeing him perform at UNC’s Memorial Hall is an experience that will not be forgotten. It was a spectacular performance and I was practically giddy when Haggard picked up the fiddle.

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At the SFC, we would like nothing better to spend the foreseeable future exploring the collections for Merle Haggard content to geek out on and reminisce about the first time we heard one song or another, but, and I think Merle would agree, we have other work to do; other fiddle players to celebrate and mountains of music to share with the world. I discovered countless artists through Haggard, not the least of which was Bob Wills. Even though I come from Texas, it was Merle who introduced me to the “best damn fiddle player in the world.” But for today, I’ve got “Rainbow Stew” on the deck and I pulled out these pictures I have looked at many times from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001) documenting the recording sessions for Bob Wills’s final album, For the Last Time. Sessions, produced by the legendary guitarist Tommy Allsup (another former Cricket like Bobby Durham), took place just outside of Dallas on December 3 and 4, 1973.

Haggard drove all night from Chicago to participate on the final day after begging permission from Wills to attend. Sadly, Wills was unable to complete the session after suffering a severe stroke on the night of December 3 and slipping into a coma the following day never to retain consciousness. Haggard and the band, the first reunion of the Texas Playboys since Wills disbanded the group in the 1960s, pressed on with noted successor of the Bob Wills sound Hoyle Nix stepping up into the boots of his hero to lead the group.

We are not positive, but we believe the photos above include Haggard, fiddlers Keith Coleman and Johnny Gimble, steel guitarist Leon McCauliffe, and the back of guitarist Eldon Shamblin’s head.

Rest easy, Merle. Hope the music is as good in the next place as you made it here.

Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell, 8 July 1971, 16mm film by Blanton Owen

This morning, I had the great privilege of inspecting some 16mm film with AV Archivist Anne Wells and AV Conservator Erica Titkemeyer. The film is part of an unfinished documentary project created by folklorist Blanton Owen and features Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham playing music and talking on the front porch at the Cockerham home in Low Gap, North Carolina on July 8, 1971. For more details see the Blanton Owen Collection (20027) finding aid. The collection includes an edited ten minute segment that Owen created from original elements. This unsynced segment consists of a 16mm magnetic soundtrack (F-20027/9) and a silent 16mm reversal print (F-20027/10), so we put the elements up on a Steenbeck flatbed editor to review the contents and shoot some quick cell phone video for documentation.

Owen recorded the image on 16mm film and recorded the audio on 1/4″ open reel using Nagra sync-sound. Owen then transferred these original 1/4″ open reels to 16mm magnetic soundtrack for editing purposes. The series includes both these original 1/4″ open reel audio recordings (FT-20027/16006-16011) and 16mm magnetic soundtrack film elements (F-20027/8-9) along with the original 16mm picture elements and outtakes (F-20027/1-7, F-20027/10), and field notes associated with the master 1/4″ open reel audio recordings (Folder 1).

The film is not currently digitized for access, however, the quality of the image and the sound recordings are such that we could not help but share.

 

NC Folk Heritage Awards Wikipedia-edit-a-thon, April 5

wikieditathonOne week from today!

Wikipedia edit-a-thon: North Carolina Heritage Award winners

Tuesday, April 5, 5:00 to 8:45 p.m.

Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

On April 5, the North Carolina Collection and the Southern Folklife Collection will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, with support from PineCone and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Join us for an evening of social Wikipedia editing in Wilson Library.

We’ll use collection materials to create, update, and improve articles about North Carolina Heritage Award winners, in anticipation of the Heritage Awards ceremony presented by PineCone and the North Carolina Arts Council: https://pinecone.org/events/north-carolina-heritage-awards

Everyone is welcome, even if you’ve never edited Wikipedia before. Staff will be on hand to help with Wikipedia edits, find books and articles on topics that interest you, and to help you with Wikipedia edits. We’ll provide a list of suggested topics, but participants may pursue any topic they choose.

We’ll have free pizza (and a few salad options) to fuel your research and we’ll be raffling off prizes throughout the evening. 

The event will begin with a brief workshop on Wikipedia editing, but feel free to arrive and leave whenever it suits you.

Please bring a laptop if possible.

More details and RSVP at our Facebook event or on the Wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/UNC/NC_Heritage_Award_Winners_2016.

This edit-a-thon is part of a series that will be hosted by UNC Libraries in March and April.

George Hamilton IV “Behind the Iron Curtain”

"The International Ambassador of Country Music" (BILLBOARD MAGAZINE) in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union, March 1974.

“The International Ambassador of Country Music” (BILLBOARD MAGAZINE) in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union, March 1974.

Looking into the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410) recently, we were reminded that this month is the 42nd Anniversary of George Hamilton IV being the first performer to take American folk-country music “Behind The Iron Curtain.” His 1974 performances and lecture concerts at the Palace of Railway Workers and Moscow University were the first for an American country music performer. Other “first” performances on this tour were in Hungary, Poland, and in former Czechoslovakia, where Hamilton performed four sold-out Concerts for over 28,000 fans at the Sports Arena in Prague. It’s no surprise that later that year, Billboard Magazine began to refer to Hamilton as the “International Ambassador of Country Music.” He would eventually tour around the world, performing multiple times in Japan, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, and India. See this April 2, 1974 New York Times review of the Moscow performances on the George Hamiton IV “Folksy Music Festival” page here.
George Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

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