Frank Hutchison was a white coal miner in Logan, West Virginia who could associate with the hard-luck tunes of his black coworkers. The miners, both black and white worked side by side in a dangerous, low paying job. They knew the blues as well as any share cropper in Mississippi. Hutchison learned the guitar at an early age, listening to a black railroad worker named Henry Vaughn, that he had made friends with when he was 8 years old. He played and traded licks with Bill Hunt, a crippled black guitarist who lived nearby and his neighbor, Dick Justice, both accomplished musicians also. Hutchison usually played his guitar lap style and used a pen knife as a slide. Noted author, historian, and ethnomusicologist, Charles K. Wolfe calls Hutchison the "first real white bluesman to record". His successful recording career spanned from the early '20s until pressure from his record company, Okeh, to add a fiddler and play more honky tonk tunes ended it in 1929, when he returned to Lake, West Virginia where he owned and operated a grocery store.
His song "The Train That Carried My Girl from Town" became a staple for Doc Watson, who was heavily influenced by Hutchison. His "Coney Isle" was later popularized by the New Lost City Ramblers.
Here are two fine examples of Frank Hutchison's impressive guitar work. The first, "The Chevrolet Six" is a light-hearted mountain tune extolling the virtues of the moonshiner's favorite delivery vehicle.
The second tune is a fine example of his mastery of the Piedmont style of finger-picked blues guitar. An informal instrumental, interrupted only to explain that he is "just gettin' right on good red liquor".
Both of these tracks were laid down at a recording session on July 9, 1929 in New York City.