Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brad Leftwich (with Dan Gellert, Linda Higginbotham...)

Here are two out-of-print records featuring old-time fiddler Brad Leftwich, one with fiddle and banjo player Dan Gellert and the other with his wife and musical partner Linda Higginbotham. Brad is well-known as a musician and teacher of appalachian fiddle and banjo music. He learned directly from old-time fiddlers giants like Tommy Jarrell and has spread his love and skills for the idiom ever since, both as a solo artist and with fellow musicians like Tom Sauber and Alice Gerrard (Tom, Brad & Alice).
The first record, called "A Moment in Time", was issued in 1993 in the tape format by Marimac and was never reissued. And it's a shame because it's one of the best old-time fiddle record I ever heard. The playing here is astonishing, especially on the many fiddle duets, an art in itslef, and the rest is all fiddle and banjo music of the highest order. Brad and Dan's styles are very complementary and blend perfectly together. I would come back to Dan Gellert's music in a future post as he's one of my favorite contemporary old-time musician...
The other record was issued in 1984 on County Records and features Leftwich with his wife and musical partner Linda Higginbotham (and Mark Richie and Bob Herring on guitars). It's a great mix of fiddle tunes and songs (with three originals by Linda) and sounds as fresh and charming today as it sure was more than 25 years ago...
-Dan Gellert & Brad Leftwich "A Moment in Time" (Marimac tape 1993)
1.Johnson Boys
2.Indian Nation
3.Fiddler's Dram
4.John Brown's Dream
5.Leather Breeches
7.Nancy Rowland
8.Hell on the Nine Mile
9.Paddy on the Handcar
10.Kansas City Rag
11.Molly Put the Kettle on
12.Danced all night with a bottle in my hand
13.Sandy Boys
14.Old Joe Clark
15.Prairie Dog
16.Ryland Spencer
17.Crystal Stream Waltz
18.Echoes of the Ozarks
(and here's a pdf of the liner notes, giving the tunings and the sources of the tunes)

-Leftwich & Higginbotham "No One To Bring Home Tonight" (County Lp, 1984)
1.No one to bring home tonight
2.Breaking Up Christmas
3.Dry and Dusty/Bonaparte's Retreat
4.Deep Elm Blues
5.Back to Scholl Blues
6.Tom and Jerry
7.Jack of Diamonds/The Lost Child
8.Ozark Mountain Home
9.I want more out of life than a broken heart
10.Rio Grande
11.Poor Girl's Story
12.John Lover's Gone

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kentucky String Band Music Update

I have corrected the tags on the tracks for the lps "Wish I Had My Time Again" and "Way Down South in Dixie" and also everything should be in correct order now....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Old-Time Fiddle Band Music From Kentucky

This three lps were issued in 1980 by Morning Star Records, a short-lived record company owned by Richard Nevins, who would continue Nick Perls' work with Yazoo Records a few years after. It's a superb compilation of 78rpm records of Kentucky string bands made in the 1920's and 1930's for Gennett. Like Nevins said: "As the Mississippi Delta is to Blues, Kentucky is to fiddle music, banjo playing, and classic old ballads and songs". The emphasis here is on string band music, with a few songs included as well. The Gennett 78 records are famous for their bad quality pressing and it shows here with lots of surface noise and scratchs. But the music is excellent all the way through, especially the fiddle playing on the dance numbers, with great fiddlers like Doc Roberts, Leonard Rutherford, Andy Palmer or Jim Booker. Booker was the only black fiddler who recorded with a hillbilly string band (Taylor's Kentucky Band) back then but many of this white Kentucky musicians talked about black fiddlers who were sharing the same repertoire of old-time tunes in the region.
The liner notes were written by Guthrie Meade, who made a lot of detective work to find out about all this musicians. Remember that during the 78rpm records aera only the name of the band or singer was written on the disc and it took a lot of leg work and talking with old musicians to bring some informations about this rare recordings.
A few years ago, Yazoo Records released other great compilations of Kentucky old-time music. First there were two cds called "The Music of Kentucky" which included the two most important Kentucky old-time fiddlers ever recored , William Step and Luther Strong, along with recording by banjoists B.F Shelton, Hayes Sheperd, John Hammond and other great artists. Then, there was a box set of 7 cds called "Kentucky Mountain Music" which contained most of the recordings on the 3 lps (I counted only 9 tracks on the lps that aren't included on the boxset) plus many other by the same string bands, many Buell Kazee tracks and a lot of great field recordings of fiddlers, banjo players and ballad singers. All this is of course is highly recommended...

"Wink The Other Eye"
1.Gate to go through Jimmie Johnson's String Band
2.Wink the other eye Hack's String Band
3.Soldier's joy Taylor's Kentucky Boys
4.Richmond Blues Rutherford & Foster
5.Soap in the washpan Jimmie Johnson's String Band
6.Monroe County Quickstep Rutherford & Foster
7.Grey Eagle Taylor's Kentucky Boys
8.Cumberland Gap Rutherford, Burnett & Moore
9.B-Flat Rag Madisonville String Band
10.Old blind dog Jimmie Johnson's String Band
11.Let her go i'll meet her Rutherford & Foster
12.Washington Quadrille Jimmie Johnson's String Band
13.Pretty little girl Hack's String Band
14.Forked Deer Taylor's Kentucky Boys

"Wish I Had My Time Again"
1.Fire in the mountain Ted Gossett's String Band
2.The Fate of Ellen Smith Green Baily
3.Brick Yard Joe Doc Roberts
4.Going across the sea H.L Bandy
5.Fox Chase Ted Gossett's String Band
6.Black Snake Moan Cobb & Underwood
7.Wish I had my time again Hatton Brothers
8.Eight of January Ted Gossett's String Band
9.Knoxville Rag Taylor, Burnett & Moore
10.If I die a railroad man Green Baily
11.Old Buzzard Doc Roberts
12.Sail away ladies H.L Bandy
13.Bow legged Irishman Ted Gossett's String Band
14.Wild hog in the woods Lonesome Luke and His Farm Hands

"Way Down South In Dixie"
1.Cuttin' at the point Charlie Wilson & His Hayloft Boys
2.New Money Doc Roberts
3.Old Voile Blue Ridge Mountaineers
4.Lost Love Asa Martin
5.That's my rabbit... Walter Family
6.Way Down South in Dixie Doc Roberts
7.Five Up H.L Bandy
8.Shaker Ben Walter Family
9.Glide Waltz Green's String Band
10.Old Flannagan Blue Ridge Mountaineers
11.Monkey Show H.L Bandy
12.StovePipe Blues Kentucky String Ticklers
13.And the cat came back Doc Roberts
14.We'll understand it
better... Kentucky Mountain Choristers