Sounds of Virginia: Fiddlin' Powers and Family
This week the Bus will not be straying far from home. Several weeks ago, management at the plant where I work decided that we each can't do the work of three people if we only work regular eight hour shifts, so we are back on overtime. Hell, we’ve had three weeks of working regular hours; we ought to be rested up. The latter half of last week I pulled some extra long hours. Along with the return of overtime, I have come down with an early autumn cold. The combination has left little time for writing and I’ve had to leave the Bus idling for a few days. As I am still feeling under the weather, the Bus will be staying close to home this week. Fortunately, my home state of Virginia has a rich musical heritage to explore.
The mountains of southwestern Virginia are a perfect place to start an exploration of Virginia music. After all, it was in the border town of Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee that the first commercial recordings of rural mountain music were made. Artist recorded at those famous first Bristol sessions included: The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest (Pop) Stoneman, J.P. Nestor, Blind Alfred Reed, and Uncle Eck Dunford, to name a few.
Russell County, Virginia was the home of a great fiddler by the name of Cowan Powers, known to all as Fiddlin’ Powers. Raising his own band members, Fiddlin’ Powers' band consisted of his three daughters, Ada played ukulele, Opha Lou played mandolin and Carrie Belle played guitar, and his son, Charlie, played banjo and sang for the group. Talented musicians, all. In addition to Powers' fine, clean fiddle, give a listen to Carrie Belle's lively guitar. And yes, Miss Ada's ukulele in a mountain family string band of the 1920s is proof of how influential the Hawiaain music craze at the turn of the century was.