Sunday, July 16, 2006

County 709 to 2719

County Records, based in Floyd, Virginia, has been the premiere record label of Old Time and Bluegrass music for four decades. I'd venture that most of the riders here on the Bus have at one time, subscribed to the County Sales Newsletter, own a few County records (or CDs), or at least are familiar with County and Floyd.

During the early days of radio it was rare to hear recorded music. Most radio shows were live, on-the-air performances. Often, a band would do their radio show on Saturday afternoon and be playing in town at a local schoolhouse that evening.

That started to change during WWII, when many big city radio stations made the switch to mostly recorded music. But in the rural communities up and down the Appalachians the live radio show remained a way of life well into the 1960s. In fact as the rest of the country was moving towards recordings of Elvis and the Beatles, the interest in Old Time music was gaining in the mountains of North Carolina Tennessee, and Virginia, where roots run deep.

The community of Camp Creek is located in Surry County, North Carolina, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far below the Virginia line. I've mentioned Surry County in this space in the past. You may recall that Surry County was the home of Fred Cockerham, whom I've featured here before. Surry County, like most rural Appalachian communities, has a strong connection to the sounds of Old Time String Bands.

Kyle Creed was the best banjo picker in Surry County, and probably most surrounding counties. He had assembled a band including himself on banjo, Fred Cockerham on fiddle (and sometimes fretless banjo), Paul Sutphin on guitar, Verlin Clifton on mandolin, Ronald Collins on guitar and Ernest East on fiddle. All were regulars on the radio, schoolhouse and fiddler's convention circuit. Teamed up as The Camp Creek Boys they were one of the hottest string bands in all three states.

In 1967 they recorded an album for County Records (catalog number County 709). The record was a huge hit, not just in their native hills. Folks who purchased the record, then wrote it's praises in letters to County Records, were from such far-flung places as New England and California! I believe that it was the Camp Creek Boys use of twin fiddles that influenced the Highwoods String Band.

It's no wonder! The Camp Creek Boys were the definition of southern Old Time String Band Music in their time. In 1997 County Records re-issued old County 709 as a CD, County 2719.

Buy a copy here.

Camp Creek Boys - Lonesome Road Blues.mp3

Camp Creek Boys - Let Me Fall.mp3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do have a lot of good memories of the old live radio broadcast from the late 60's
my dad was in a couple of bluegrass bands that played every Saturday night for a few years
up in Tenn.


July 17, 2006 11:21 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Joey - I've known you for almost a quarter century and I don't believe you've ever mentioned your dad's musical career!

There are a few stations in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina that still have live shows.

July 17, 2006 7:54 PM  

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