Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Crooked Road: Early String Bands

Virginia figured promenently during the first wave of recordings in the rural south by the major record labels in the 1920's. Virginia proved to be the motherlode of Old Time string bands and rural music that the record companies were looking for, surpassed, perhaps, only by Georgia.

In the past I have featured several of those great artists that the record companies went so far into the hills to find. Fiddle greats such as Crocket Ward and Uncle Eck Dunford, who each played with Pop Stoneman and played together as the Ballard Branch Bogtrotters, Fiddlin' Cowan Powers (pictured above) and his family string band from Russell County, Danville's long bow fiddler Charley La Prade and his highly influential Blue Ridge Highballers, and Jack and Claude Grant who's band called the Tenneva Ramblers played around the Bristol area and included a singer by the name of Jimmie Rodgers up until he left the band a week or two before their recording session. Jimmie Rogers left to record his own session in Bristol that would change country music forever.

It has taken me many years to collect all of the music in my library. Those of you who want some of these great old recordings without the time and research required to collect them individually, have a much simpler solution. Back in 1994, County Records released the compilation CD "Rural String Bands of Virginia" that includes 16 of these rare recordings remastered from old 78's. The CD contains a wonderful selection of songs by some of the best Old Time string bands the Commonwealth had to offer in the 1920's and 30's. "Rural String Bands of Virginia" includes excellent liner notes including background info on all of the bands, the Old Time music scene of 1920's Virginia, and the influence these recordings had on the country music that was born in these hills.

New Roanoke Jug Band - Triangle Blues.mp3
Recorded in Richmond, VA - October 18, 1929

Fiddlin' Powers Family - Old Virginia Reel.mp3
Recorded in Winston-Salem, NC - September 28, 1927

Buy "Rural String Bands of Virginia" from County Sales or


Blogger kjk said...

Hi Ed!

Here's a nice picture that includes the Powers' among others that you've highlighted.

Since you bring up the Bogtrotters, I was wondering if you knew of any commercial sources of their tunes. There are a bunch at the Library of Congress, but very pricey if you have them convert from reel-to-reel. There is a also a Tribute to Wade Ward, and Uncle Eck is featured in a few compilations that I've seen. I haven't seen much other than that.


August 24, 2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi KJK - Thanks for the link to that great picture! What a collection of some of the best old time musicians.

Sadly, I believe that everything that was available by the Bogtrotters is now out-of-print. There are individual cuts on several compilations, but not much other than that. I posted a few cuts back on Feb. 14th of this year. If you like a few .mp3's let me know I can point you to a couple of places that may still have them.

August 26, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 27, 2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

That would be great, Ed! I would love to have those links. I have a few tracks that were converted from 78s. I don't know if it is the complete album:

Ain't That Trouble In Mind 1:48 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Cold Icy Floor 2:16 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Fortune 1:47 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Make Me a Pallet On the Floor 1:23 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Old Jimmy Sutton 1:29 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Shoo Fly 1:55 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Western Country 1:40 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942
Who Broke The Lock 2:40 Bogtrotters The Original Bogtrotters- 1937-1942

"Who Broke The Lock" was covered by the Highwoods String Band, who you have showcased in the past.

I presume this stuff is so old it is out of copyright.

August 27, 2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Wow KJK! Great stuff!
I believe these were included on the now out-of-print "The Original Bogtrotters - 1937-1942" on Biograph Records. I have five other cuts that I believe are from that album. I’ll send them your way.

August 28, 2006 10:14 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

Thanks, Ed! You can find my e-mail address in my blogger profile.

August 29, 2006 9:21 AM  

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