A Gem of a Find
One of the joys of searching through old 78 records is finding an artist that you weren’t familiar with. It’s even better when the music on the record is really good.
Halfway through the first album of records from Walt and Wes I came across a record by Dee Stone with Ted Prillaman's Virginia Ramblers.
Short side trip: It occurred to me that the younger riders on the Bus may not know what I mean by ‘album’ when talking about 78 rpm records. In the days of 78s, one would buy a bound album, similar to a photo album with a hard cover and a dozen empty, heavy paper sleeves bound inside. One would bring their new records home from the store (at first records were sold in furniture stores since that’s where you bought the record player) and place it in one of the sleeves in the album. On the inside of one of the covers was usually a blank index for one to write the name of the performer and the name of the song on each side of the record. The albums of records could then be stored on any bookshelf. My grandmother’s old Magnavox had two doors below the workings of the platter where two shelves held her collection of record albums. Since 78s had only one song on each side, each album would hold two dozen individual songs. When the long-play record (LP) came out, it contained nearly as many songs as a dozen 78s, so it was referred to as an ‘album.’
Getting back to the Virginia Ramblers...
As I said, I was not familiar with Dee Stone, Ted Prillaman, or The Virginia Ramblers, so I was anxious to give them a spin. I gave the record a good washing and was amazed at how black the wash water turned with decades of dust and grime. The record’s surface was in fairly good condition with just a few surface scratches. The label has the stylized word ‘Liberty’ on the top. It didn’t appear to be the logo of the well known Liberty Records of Hollywood, California. Liberty Records was founded in 1955 and released a long string of hits, mostly rockabilly, until they were bought out by United Artists. The Liberty logo always included a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty, as you can see in the photo, this was not California’s Liberty. Besides, to my knowledge, Liberty Records of Hollywood (later moved to Los Angeles) never issued 78 rpm records. This record must have been from another Liberty Records.
After the record was cleaned, dried, and treated, I put it on the turntable. Hey, this is some really good fiddle music! What a great find!
I have searched my books and looked on line trying to find some information about Dee Stone, Ted Prillaman and the Virginia Ramblers. I have not found much more than a mention that they were popular in Southwest Virginia and from the Roanoke area. One of the songs on this record Answer to Little Pal was recorded by Dee Stone with Ted Prillaman and the Virginia Ramblers and released as a 45 on Mutual Records in 1951. It is one of those ‘answer’ songs in response to the song Little Pal. The song is sung by Al Jolson in the 1929 film “Say It With Song” and is a goodbye from a departing dad to his young son.
"Little Pal, if Daddy goes away
Promise you'll be good from day to day
Do as Mother says and never sin
Be the man your Daddy might have been
Your Daddy didn't have an easy start
So this is the wish that's in my heart"
Since the record is from our friend Walt’s cousin Wes’ collection, and Walt and Wes are from the area west of Roanoke, it is probable that this record is from a small pressing by the long gone Liberty Records of Roanoke.
Great fiddle music, a little history, and a bit of mystery.
I just love this stuff!