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Format: First line provides the label, record number, and band name. On the second line is the release date, followed by (in italics) musicians with instruments and vocal roles. If the performance credits vary per side, then these differences are specified for sides A or B. Below, the indented lines name each song. Side A is given first. The first line lists: master number, song title, composer credits in parentheses, date of recording, location of recording. In italics is the description as printed on the label, if the label includes a description, or elsewise from the company.

OKEH 40020 Fiddlin' John Carson
1923. John Carson (fiddle, vocals).

S-72010 When You And I Were Young, Maggie (Johnson, Butterfield) - 11/7/1923 New York, NY
Fiddling solo vocal chorus

S-72013 Billy In The Low Ground (John Carson) - 11/7/1923 New York, NY
Fiddling solo vocal chorus

In July 1923, John Carson released the first successful country music record in history. After national sales hit half a million, Carson was brought back to the studio, and his success prompted other major record labels to explore cutting country music. John Carson’s first session cut only two sides. OKeh 40020 comes from Carson’s second studio session and contains the first song recorded that session, When You and I Were Young, Maggie.
VICTOR 21074 Carter Family
1/1928 (cutout 1934). Maybelle Carter (guitar, soprano vocals [A]); Sara Carter (autoharp, alto vocals); A.P. Carter (bass vocals).

BVE 39750-2 Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow (A. P. Carter) - 8/1/1927 Bristol, TN
Singing with guitar and auto-harp

BVE 39751-2 Little Log Cabin By The Sea (W. C. Hapley, A. P. Carter) - 8/1/1927 Bristol, TN
Singing with guitar and auto-harp

This comes out of the Big Bang of country music. The 1927-1928 Bristol Sessions, one of the most significant events in the genre’s history, launched country music’s popularity and growth in the recording industry, and brought about its first star (Jimmie Rodgers) and star band (Carter Family). Victor 21074 is the third and final Bristol Sessions release by the Carter Family and features the first song they ever recorded, Bury Me under the Weeping Willow.
VICTOR 21434 Carter Family
Need to double-check date: 7/20/1928 or 5/1929 (cutout 1936). Maybelle Carter (guitar, soprano vocals); Sara Carter (autoharp, alto vocals); A.P. Cart (bass vocals).

BVE 45027-2 River Of Jordan (A. P. Carter) - 5/10/1928 Camden, NJ
Singing with auto-harp and guitar

BVE 45022-1 Keep On The Sunny Side (J. Howard Entwisle, Ada Blenkhorn) - 5/9/1928 Camden, NJ
Singing with auto-harp and guitar

The first release from the Carter Family’s second studio session and their fourth overall record. Features one of their most well-known, enduring songs, Keep on the Sunny Side, as well as Black gospel song River of Jordan.
VOCALION 00413 Coon Creek Girls
6/30/1938. Lily May Ledford (banjo, fiddle, vocals); Rosie Ledford (guitar, vocals); Esther Koehler (mandolin); Evelyn Lange (bass).

C 2243 Banjo Pickin’ Girl 5/30/1938 Chicago, IL
Singing with banjo guitar and bass

C 2249 Little Birdie 5/30/1938 Chicago, IL
Singing with banjo and guitar

A rare, early instance of a successful all-woman hillbilly band. The band was created and named by John Lair for his Renfro Valley Barn Dance show in the mid-1930s. They were honored by being the only country group invited to the White House for a June 1939 performance for President Franklin Roosevelt, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth. This record captures the original lineup. Lily May Ledford sustained a long career, helped by the Folk Revival, and received the National Heritage Fellowship in 1985 shortly before her death.
MERCURY 6181 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
4/1/1949. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Mac Wiseman (guitar, tenor vocals [A]); Jim Shumate (fiddle); Howard Watts (string bass).

2033 We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs) - 1948 Knoxville, TN (WROL Radio Station)

2034 My Cabin In Caroline (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs) - 1948 Knoxville, TN (WROL Radio Station)

After leaving Bill Monroe in early 1948, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs formed their own band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, which would grow into one of the most well-known and successful bluegrass bands of the genre. Mercury 6181 comes from their first recording session, where they cut four sides. It is their second record. Note the rudimentary ensemble sound: the musicians play on top of each other during instrumental breaks. This old-time feature would quickly disappear from the band as the budding genre’s features stabilized.
MERCURY 6247 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
3/15/1950. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Curly Seckler (mandolin, tenor vocals [A]); Benny Sims (fiddle); Howard Watts (string bass).

2663 No Mother Or Dad (Lester Flatt, Curly Seckler) - 12/11/1949 Cincinnati, OH
Vocal duet Lester Flatt Curly Seckler

2665 Foggy Mountain Breakdown (Earl Scruggs) - 12/11/1949 Cincinnati, OH
Banjo by Earl Scruggs

The initial 1950 release of one of the most well-known banjo pieces in history, showcasing then-revolutionary skill levels that could be achieved on the instrument. Groundbreaking 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde would later use Foggy Mountain Breakdown as its soundtrack’s theme, bringing Flatt & Scruggs to win their only Grammy. Foggy Mountain Breakdown was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2004 during its third year of nominations to recognize works of unusual cultural, historic, or aesthetic merit from United States history.
MERCURY 6317 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
3/15/1951. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals); Earl Scruggs (banjo, baritone vocals [B]); Curly Seckler (mandolin, tenor vocals); Benny Sims (fiddle); Jody Rainwater (string bass).

7061 Pain In My Heart (Bob Osborne, Larry Richardson) - 10/20/1950 Tampa, FL (WDAE Radio Station)

7066 Take Me In A Lifeboat (Georgia and Joe Davis) - 10/20/1950 Tampa, FL (WDAE Radio Station)

Vintage Flatt & Scruggs. Having recently made a deal with Columbia, the band crunched their final contracted sides for Mercury. Their recording marathon occurred while Hurricane King made landfall. At first planning to flee the area, the band was convinced to shelter in the WDAE radio station building. What came out of the ‘Hurricane Sessions’ is among the best of the band’s output and produced many classics.
MERCURY 6333 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
5/24/1951. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Curly Seckler (mandolin); Benny Sims (fiddle); Jody Rainwater (string bass).

7057 Doin’ My Time (Jimmie Skinner) - 10/20/1950 Tampa, FL (WDAE Radio Station)
Vocal by Lester Flatt

7064 Farewell Blues (Elmer Schoebel, Paul Mares, Leon Roppolo) - 10/20/1950 Tampa, FL (WDAE Radio Station)
Banjo solo by Earl Scruggs

A Hurricane Sessions record featuring creative banjo accompaniment on one side and a novel bluegrass arrangement of a big band piece on the other. Farewell Blues is a 1922 jazz standard first released by the Friars Society Orchestra and covered by many jazz bands.
MERCURY 6372 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
12/14/1951. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals); Earl Scruggs (banjo, baritone vocals [A]), Curly Seckler (mandolin, tenor vocals verse [A]); Jody Rainwater (mandolin, string bass); Benny Sims (fiddle, string bass, bass vocals [A]).

7062 Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms (Charlie Monroe) - 10/20/1950 Tampa, FL (WDAE Radio Station)
Vocal by Lester Flatt and trio

7068 I’ll Just Pretend (Jessie Mae Martin) - 12/11/1949 Cincinnati, OH
Vocal by Lester Flatt

Hurricane Sessions material with one of the band's most enduring classics (and one of my favorites), Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms.
COLUMBIA 20886 Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys
11/30/1951. Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Everett Lily (mandolin, tenor vocals [A]); Howdy Forrester (fiddle); Jody Rainwater (bass).

CO 47111 Tis Sweet To Be Remembered (Mas Wiseman) - 10/24/1951 Nashville, TN (Castle Studio)
Vocal duet by Lester Flatt and Everett Lily with string band acc.

CO 47113 Earl’s Breakdown (Jessie Mae Martin) - 10/24/1951 Nashville, TN (Castle Studio)
Instrumental

Debuts peg detuning banjo technique pioneered by Scruggs. Earl’s Breakdown, unlike later pieces displaying this effect, was recorded with unaltered tuning pegs. Later, Scruggs would invent a crude cam device that allowed him to twist his pegs reliably to the target pitch.
VICTOR 18956 Henry C. Gilliland, A. C. (Eck) Robertson
9/1/1922 (cutout 1933). A. C. “Eck” Robertson (violin); Henry C. Gilliland (violin [B]).

B-26664 Sallie Gooden - 7/1/1922 New York, NY
Violin solo

B-26660 Arkansaw Traveler - 6/30/1922 New York, NY
Violin duet

Widely considered the first commercial country record released in history. Limited distribution started September 1, 1922 and was brought into full circulation by April 1923. Arkansaw Traveler was the first song recorded the first day of their first session and Sallie Gooden was the first song recorded by Robertson for the second day of the session. Henry C. Gilliland, a Civil War veteran born in 1845, is one of the earliest-born Southern old-time musicians captured on record.
VICTOR 19149 Henry C. Gilliland, A. C. (Eck) Robertson
11/30/1923. A. C. “Eck” Robertson (violin); Henry C. Gilliland (violin [A]).

B-26663 Turkey In The Straw - 6/30/1922 New York, NY
Violin duet

B-26667 Ragtime Annie - 7/1/1922 New York, NY
Violin solo

Contains material from the first day of what may have been the first recording session in the history of a genre. Fiddlin’ John Carson’s inaugural release in August 1923 is considered the first successful, trend-starting record in country music, but the honor of first record is often accredited to Gilliland and Robertson with Victor 18956. These men also predate Carson in the studio. They recorded June 30 and July 1, 1922, a year before Carson’s June 1923 sessions. Turkey In The Straw / Ragtime Annie is Gilliland and Robertson’s second record and was released in response to Carson’s first record success.
BLUEBIRD B-7289 J. E. Mainer’s Mountaineers
12/1/1937. J. E. Mainer (fiddle); George Morris (guitar); Snuffy Jenkins (banjo); Leonard Stokes (mandolin).

BS-011997 Don’t Get Trouble In Your Mind - 8/5/1937 Charlotte, NC
Singing with violin, mandolin, banjo and guitar

BS-011998 Kiss Me Cindy - 8/5/1937 Charlotte, NC
Singing with violin, mandolin, banjo and guitar

Ten years before bluegrass began, this record demonstrates markedly similar sounds: high-energy harmonies, blazing tempos, a three-fingered banjo roll taking lead, and an ensemble of violin, mandolin, banjo, and guitar. The music of Wade and J. E. Mainer, the Morris Brothers, and their interrelated bands during the 1930s directly impacted Bill Monroe, who was concurrently in the area working with his brother as the Monroe Brothers. Snuffy Jenkins, the banjo picker in this recording, was the first to be heard on radio with this banjo style and arguably the one who developed it; his sound influenced Don Reno and Earl Scruggs, the latter of whom joined Bill Monroe’s band in December 1945 as the final piece to mold bluegrass into a distinct genre.
BLUEBIRD B-8568 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
11/22/1940. Bill Monroe (guitar [A], mandolin [B], lead vocals [A]); Clyde Moody (guitar [B], mandolin [A], lead vocals [B]); Tommy Magness (fiddle); Bill Wesbrooks (bass).

054518 Mule Skinner Blues (Jimmie Rodgers) - 10/7/1940 Atlanta, GA (Kimball Hotel)
Singing with string band

054521 Six White Horses (Clyde Moody) - 9/16/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Singing with string band

In 1939, Bill Monroe formed a band, the Blue Grass Boys, which he would head until 1996. Approximately two hundred musicians would be officially hired as Blue Grass Boys over the decades; many would take the music they learned through Monroe and then strike out on their own, spreading the central sound of bluegrass. However, Bill’s first record here, recorded and released in 1940, demonstrates the earliest stages of Monroe’s development, not yet the style or sound for which he’d become the Father of a genre. Not only was Mule Skinner Blues the first studio recording and hit for Bill’s new band, but it was the key song that cinched Monroe’s audition onto the Grand Ole Opry in October 1939, as well as the first song he performed on his debut.
COLUMBIA 37960 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
11/3/1946. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals [B]); Robert R. “Chubby” Wise (fiddle); Elliott Thurman “Curley” Bradshaw (guitar [A]); Lester Flatt (guitar [B], lead vocals [B]); David “Stringbean” Akeman (banjo [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo [B]); Wilene “Sally Ann” Forrester (accordion [A]); Howard Staton Watts “Cedric Rainwater” (string bass).

CCO 4360 Blue Grass Special (Bill Monroe) - 2/13/1945 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Old time playing (instrumental)

CCO 4614 How Will I Explain About You? (Bill Monroe) - 9/17/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal duet by Bill Monroe & Lester Flatt with string band acc.

The A and B sides of this record demonstrate the constantly shifting lineup of the Blue Grass Boys. Blue Grass Special highlights the brief period Monroe experimented with accordion, hiring one of two women to be part of the band in its nearly 60 year history. Monroe’s first banjo picker, Stringbean, is also present and plays a brief break. The B side, recorded a year and a half later, is the fourth record released featuring the ensemble now considered the seminal bluegrass band.
COLUMBIA 20488 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
10/25/1948. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals); Robert R. “Chubby” Wise (guitar); Lester Flatt (lead vocals); Earl Scruggs (baritone vocals); Howard Watts (bass vocals).

CCO 4882 That Home Above (Bill Monroe) - 10/28/1947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Sacred singing with guitar and mandolin acc.

CCO 4884 Little Community Church (Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt) - 10/28/1947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Sacred singing with string instrumental acc.

This Blue Grass Boys Quartet gospel music performed by the seminal bluegrass band, the lineup’s eighth release. I have a soft spot for this record because, on That Home Above, baritone Scruggs sings an unusually exposed vocals part for his career. The future influential bluegrass songwriter Lester Flatt’s name is seen with an early composition credit on Little Community Church; Monroe’s name is only present due to a common contemporary arrangement: a boss’s name would be added in exchange for allowing a sideman to record his own work.
COLUMBIA 20503 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
10/4/1948. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals); Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals); Earl Scruggs (banjo [A], baritone vocals [B]); Robert R. “Chubby” Wise (fiddle [A]); Howard Watts (string bass [A], bass vocals [A]); Birch Monroe (bass vocals [B]).

CCO 4609 Summertime Is Past And Gone (Bill Monroe) - 9/16/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal trio with string band acc.

CCO 4616 Wicked Path Of Sin (Bill Monroe) - 9/17/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Sacred singing with string band acc.

Ninth record released for the seminal bluegrass band. Though the A and B sides were recorded a day apart, the bass vocalist switches between Howard Watts and Birch Monroe, showing Bill’s brother’s current inclusion in the group.
COLUMBIA 20552 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
3/14/1949. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals [A]); Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Robert “Chubby” Wise (fiddle); Howard Watts (string bass).

CCO 4608 Toy Heart (Bill Monroe) - 9/16/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal duet by Bill Monroe & Lester Flatt with string band acc.

CCO 4879 Blue Grass Breakdown (Bill Monroe) - 10/2/1947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Instrumental (string band)

Eleventh record released with the seminal band. Although both sides are labeled Monroe originals, they likely came through collaborative efforts. Toy Heart contains unique wordplay suggesting bandmates had a hand on the lyrics. Monroe would have considered these contributions par for course and ergo unnecessary to give shared composition credit. However, Blue Grass Breakdown has disputed authorship. Earl Scruggs stated he wrote Blue Grass Breakdown and expected to receive half credit as Monroe had done for several Flatt compositions.

After founding his own band with Flatt in 1948, Scruggs composed the iconic Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which curiously contains only one chord difference from Blue Grass Breakdown: a shift half a step down from F major to e minor. Bill Monroe countered that he composed Blue Grass Breakdown and Scruggs borrowed material for Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Each man would maintain he wrote the piece for the rest of his life. Likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle of these two accounts.
COLUMBIA 20595 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
7/18/1949. Bill Monroe (mandolin, lead vocals); Robert R. “Chubby” Wise (fiddle); Lester Flatt (guitar); Earl Scruggs (baritone vocals); Howard Watts (bass vocals).

CCO 4885 Along About Daybreak (Bill Monroe) - 10/28/2947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal by Bill Monroe with string band acc.

CCO 4605 Heavy Traffic Ahead (Bill Monroe) - 9/16/1946 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal by Bill Monroe with string band acc.

The thirteenth record featuring the classic Blue Grass Boys lineup. Contains the first song they cut in studio, Heavy Traffic Ahead. Heavy Traffic Ahead may have been the result of group collaboration, evident by inside jokes appearing in lyrics that reference their inability to arrive promptly to an engagement and which mock a sign outside Lester Flatt’s hometown. The sign warned of heavy traffic on a street which may have seen two cars a day. Given as Scruggs never recorded with the Morris Brothers, this also represents his first studio recording.
COLUMBIA 20612 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
9/12/1949. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals); Lester Flatt (guitar, lead vocals [A]); Earl Scruggs (banjo); Robert R. “Chubby” Wise (fiddle); Howard Staton Watts “Cedric Rainwater” (string bass).

CCO 4874 I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky (Bill Monroe) - 10/27/1947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal duet by Bill Monroe & Lester Flatt with string band acc.

CCO 4887 Molly And Tenbrooks (The Race Horse Song) (Bill Monroe) - 10/28/1947 Chicago, IL (WBBM Radio Station)
Vocal by Bill Monroe with string band acc.

This record of the classic Blue Grass Boys lineup demonstrates an essential element of the budding bluegrass genre: banjo played as a lead break instrument. This release’s label, like several other Blue Grass Boys records, credited Lester Flatt’s singing. However, by the time the record was released, Flatt & Scruggs had formed their own ensemble; Monroe’s credits ergo assisted his competition, a potential early factor in what became a well-known and long-lasting rivalry. Monroe singles would never again list a lead singer by name, with the exception of his son James.
DECCA 28878 Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
11/30/1953. Bill Monroe (mandolin, tenor vocals); James H. “Jimmy” Martin (guitar, lead vocals); Sonny Osborne (banjo); Ernest “Ernie” Newton (string bass); Charlie Cline (fiddle).

NA 2784 / 83133 Memories Of Mother And Dad (Albert Price) - 7/18/1952 Nashville, TN (Castle Studio, Tulane Hotel)
Singing with instrumental accompaniment

NA 2785 / 83134 The Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake (Albert Price) - 7/18/1952 Nashville, TN (Castle Studio, Tulane Hotel)
Singing with instrumental accompaniment

In the early 1950s, Monroe assembled a genre-influential lineup that included Jimmy Martin on lead vocals. Their music helped define key bluegrass stylistic elements like the high lonesome sound of singing. Bill Monroe, credited here by pseudonym, contributed two early autobiographical songs, which would become a staple of Monroe’s vast artistic output.
BLUEBIRD B-6309 Monroe Brothers
3/25/1936. Charlie Monroe (guitar, vocals); Bill Monroe (mandolin, vocals).

BS-99195 What Would You Give In Exchange? - 2/17/1936 Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Corporation)
Singing with mandolin and guitar

BS-99202 This World Is Not My Home - 2/17/1936 Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Corporation)
Singing with mandolin and guitar

This represents the start of Bill Monroe’s recording career, a man who would become credited with creating his own genre of music. Albeit my label’s design is not the original pressing, this is the first record released by Charlie and Bill Monroe, their first hit, from their first recording session. What Would You Give In Exchange? was also their act’s theme song.
BLUEBIRD B-7967 Morris Brothers
12/21/1938. Wiley Morris (vocals, guitar); Zeke Morris (vocals, guitar).

BS-027628 Let Me Be Your Salty Dog - 9/29/1938 Rock Hill, SC
Singing with guitars

BS-027622 Darling, Think What You Have Done - 9/29/1938 Rock Hill, SC
Singing with guitars

Although Let Me Be Your Salty Dog was an older song and already recorded by several jazz and blues musicians, the Morris Brothers consistently claimed they were the composers. They recorded the song twice, in 1938 and in 1946. This 1938 recording was done months before teenaged Earl Scruggs joined the band. The later 1946 recording contains similar lyrics to the 1938 version as well as instrumental breaks and song structure markedly similar to the 1950 Flatt & Scruggs Hurricane Sessions recording. The Flatt & Scruggs version, seemingly banking on the Morris Brothers, would lead to Salty Dog Blues becoming a bluegrass genre staple.
COLUMBIA 15307-D Charlie Poole with the North Carolina Ramblers
1928. Charlie Poole (banjo, vocals); Lonnie Austin (fiddle); Roy Harvey (guitar).

W146769 I Cannot Call Her Mother (Johnson, Butterfield) - 7/23/1928 New York, NY
Vocal

W146775 What Is A Home Without Babies (John Carson) - 7/23/1928 New York, NY
Vocal

VICTOR 21142 Jimmie Rodgers
12/3/1928. Jimmie Rodgers (vocals, guitar).

BVE-40753 Blue Yodel (Jimmie Rodgers) - 11/30/1927 Camden, NJ (Trinity Baptist Church)
Vocal with guitar

BVE-40754 Away Out On The Mountain (Kelly Harrell) - 11/30/1927 Camden, NJ (Trinity Baptist Church)
Vocal with guitar

Jimmie Rodgers was the first solo country musician to achieve stardom and is widely regarded as the Father of Country Music. His second record, recorded at his second studio session, sold over half a million copies. On later copies of Victor 21142, the A side would be labeled Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas). This is because Jimmie Rodgers began a series of thirteen blue yodels based on the twelve-bar blues and containing risqué lyrics. Several of these, including T for Texas, became enduring standards of country music.
MERCURY 70546 Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys
1/26/1955. Carter Stanley (guitar, lead vocals [B]); Ralph Stanley (banjo, tenor vocals [B]); Joe Meadows (fiddle, bass vocals [B]); Bill Lowe (mandolin); Charlie Cline (guitar [A]); Lightnin’ Chance (bass).

YB7636 Hard Times (Ralph Stanley) - 8/29/1954 Nashville, TN (Bradley Studio)
Instrumental featuring the banjo of Ralph Stanley

YB7661 I Worship You (Ralph Stanley) - 11/28/1954 Nashville, TN (Bradley Studio)
Vocal duet by the Stanley Brothers

The first major band to imitate Bill Monroe’s style, the Stanley Brothers became a heavily influential staple of first generation bluegrass alongside the Blue Grass Boys and Flatt & Scruggs. They recorded first with Rich-R-Tone, then Columbia, before moving to Mercury. This Mercury period record contains two compositions by Ralph Stanley, both favorites of mine. The instrumental Hard Times contains a harmonic peculiarity that has disappeared with the increased average talent of country music performers; the guitar plays major chords concurrently with the band’s minor chords.
COLUMBIA 15091-D Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers with Riley Puckett
1926. Gid Tanner (vocals); Riley Puckett (vocals); Clayton McMichen (violin [A], vocals [A]); Fate Norris (banjo [B], vocals [B])..

W142034 Hand Me Down My Walking Cane - 4/17/1926 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal solo and male vocals ensemble

W142038 Watermelon On The Vine - 4/17/1926 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal solo and male vocals trio

A well-selling record from an influential early string band, organized by Columbia, of well-known regional players. Gid Tanner, a trick fiddler moreso than a nuanced performer, competed against Fiddlin’ John Carson at conventions; with Carson’s 1923 record’s success at OKeh, Columbia strategically signed his rival. Talented performers like Clayton McMichen and blind guitarist Riley Puckett were assembled to round out the band. The first song in the first session the band recorded together is Hand Me Down My Walking Cane.
COLUMBIA 15108-D Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers with Riley Puckett
1928. Gid Tanner (fiddle, vocals); Bert Layne (fiddle, speech [A]); Clayton McMichen (fiddle, speech [A]); Riley Puckett (guitar, lead vocals); Fate Norris (banjo, speech [A], vocals [B]).

W143026 Dance All Night With A Bottle In Your Hand - 11/3/1926 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal solo and ensemble

W143032 Old Joe Clark - 11/3/1926 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal solo

A pair of widespread American folk tunes. The Gid Tanner recording of Dance All Night with a Bottle in Your Hand was very influential and also a hit for the band.
COLUMBIA 15158-D Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers with Riley Puckett
6/1927. Gid Tanner (vocals); Bert Layne (fiddle); Clayton McMichen (fiddle); Riley Puckett (guitar, vocals); Fate Norris (banjo).

W143795 Dixie - 3/29/1927 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal duet

W143796 Run Nigger Run - 3/29/1927 Atlanta, GA
String band, with male vocal duet

Contains an early recording of an African American folk tune written sometime between Nat Turner’s 1831 Rebellion and the American Civil War, first documented in 1851 and said to be one of the oldest Southern plantation songs. Lyrics cheer a slave running from slave patrols. Beyond placing the escapee as the protagonist and the slavers as the villains, it allowed singers to spread awareness of dangers for anyone intending escape. By the late 1800s, the song was adopted by the minstrelsy circuit and reinterpreted by whites for racist ends. During the twentieth century, the racial epithet was dropped in favor of titles like “Run, Johnny, Run,” “Run, Jimmy, Run,” and “Run, Boy, Run.” Collecting this item is to respect the Black narrative and remember the United States’s complicated racist history.
VICTOR 20862 West Virginia Coon Hunters
11/1927 (cutout 1932). W. B. Boyles (violin); W. A. Meadows (vocalist).

BVE-39773 Greasy String (W. B. Boyles) - 8/5/1927 Bristol, TN
Orchestra with vocals refrain by C. A. Meadows

BVE-39774 Your Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy (W. B. Boyles) - 8/5/1927 Bristol, TN
Orchestra with vocals refrain by C. A. Meadows

Although Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family gained success during the Bristol Sessions, which is considered the Big Bang of country music, most musicians who participated did not find fame. Their records sold poorly; many never returned to the studio. In the case of the West Virginia Coon Hunters, this is their only record. I love both sides. In a fun demonstration of folk music’s variability, Your Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy melodically is the same as some versions of Shady Grove.