Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Crooked Road: G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter

I've featured some of the fine artists from southwestern Virginia on the Bus many times in the past. The region has been home to some of the most influential musicians since recordings were first made there in the 1920's.

The Commonwealth of Virginia recognized the musical contributions of the region by designating a 225 mile trail through the hills and hollows as "The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail".

Perhaps the most influential artists to come from the hills of The Crooked Road were G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter. Fiddler and singer Gilliam Banmon (G.B.) Grayson was born in nearby Ashe County, North Carolina. He worked as a traveling musician throughout the mountains of the southern Appalachians, playing at fairs, barn dances, and picnics. He was also entered and frequently won, many fiddle conventions in the region.

Guitarist and singer Henry Whitter was born in Fries, Virginia. Whitter and Grayson met at a fiddlers' convention in Mountain City, Tennessee in 1927. The two teamed up and recorded 40 songs over a three year period. Their recording of "Handsome Molly" sold over 50,000 copies! The recordings made by G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter had a tremendous effect on country music and still does. The songs they recorded during those short three years before Grayson's death in an automobile accident are considered classics: "Cluck Old Hen," "Tom Dooley," "Rose Conley" and "Lee Highway Blues (Going Down the Lee Highway)" Ommie Wise", to name a few. Their songs have been covered by such diverse artists as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Ralph Stanley, and Doc Watson.

Perhaps not the most famous names to be found along The Crooked Road, but G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter were the most influential on all that followed.

This looks like a good place to start our trip along "The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail".

G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter - Tom Dooley.mp3

G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter - Ommie Wise.mp3

G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter - Short Life Of Trouble.mp3

G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter - Going Down The Lee Highway


Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Sure do like the violins on Short Life of Trouble. Unamerican-wise me would like to be educated about the naming of the state Virginia. I sense an ill advised John Denver post on the horizon.

August 21, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Tis a curious name, Beer.
The Virginia Company was chartered in 1607 to establish the first permanent English colony in North America. The company was named for Queen Elizabeth 1 (the "virgin queen").

August 22, 2006 6:48 AM  
Blogger kjk said...

pardon the intrusion. just found your blog the other day and have spent some off-time looking through it (to the profit of the Bing Bang Boys, so far ;) -- i love iTunes!). Anyway, here is another G&W tune for your readers ....

August 22, 2006 9:58 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

It's no intrusion at all KJK! We encourage comments and feedback.

Thanks for sharing the G&W tune with the other riders on the Bus. I've featured the music of G&W several times over the past year, and it is always difficult to choose from their great selections. You sure picked a good one.

I'm sure Mark Ruben and the Bing Bang Boys appreciate your support. That's what the Bus is all about, tradin' tunes and sifting through all the chafe to find a few gems.

Welome aboard, KJK, thanks for joining us. Pour yourself something refreshing and feel free to add your two cents at any time.

August 23, 2006 6:40 AM  
Anonymous Bob Linn said...

Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Glendale Springs, North Carolina, there is a pull out that has a display on the story of Tom Dula -- how its spelled there.
Bob Linn

August 23, 2006 8:19 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Bob - I've been there! You are right, many months ago I wrote up a piece on the story behind Tom Dula and the history of the song. Mighty pretty country up your way.

August 24, 2006 6:40 AM  

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