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FOUR AND A HALF    OLD BLUE CD-704
The New North Carolina Ramblers
Kinney Rorrer, Kirk Sutphin, Jeremy Stephens, Darren Moore

Four And A Half"Well folks, we're the New North Carolina Ramblers and we're going to play you some old timey dance music, the kind of thing that sets people's feet to dancing up on Shooting Creek. We're going to do Posey Rorrer’s RAGTIME ANNIE...let her go boys." Thus might a typical concert of the Ramblers: Kenny Rorrer, Kirk Sutphin, Jeremy Stephens and Darren Moore start. And that is what you’ll hear on this, their second Old Blue CD.

"These talented and dedicated musicians do more than preserve the great Charlie Poole legacy—they extend and expand it, and in the process reassure us that old-time music can be renewed and revitalized in our day without...departing from the richness of the old repertoire."
–Art Rosenbaum, The Old-Time Herald
( This was from the review of OB-703, the Ramblers first CD. It is still true.)

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SUPPLEMENTAL LINER NOTES

  1. RAGTIME ANNIE  Posey Rorer's recording in 1926 with Charlie Poole is the source for our version of RAGTIME ANNIE.  Posey said that he learned it from a fiddler in Tennessee.  Dudley Vance may have been his source as Posey played at a fiddlers' convention in Kingsport, Tennessee in March of 1925 in which Vance participated.  Vance recorded the tune in 1927.

    RAGTIME ANNIE is certainly one of the five great fiddle tunes ever recorded. Tony Russell, in his Country Music Records A Discography, 1921- 1942, lists seventeen different recordings under that name, two as RAGGED ANN, and one as RAGGED ANN RAG and one as RAGGED ANNIE. Eight of were by Texas fiddlers.

    The intriguing part is that few of the recordings are exactly alike. Each fiddler imparts his distinctive personality. And each version is truly memorable. Like honey to a bee, there is something about RAGTIME ANNIE that attracts fiddlers.

    Personal observations: I have heard it played in Texas in and outside of contests and never quite the same way. Bennie Thomasson plays it four different ways on County Records CD TEXAS HOEDOWN REVISITED. On Old Blue 701, THE SOLOMON FAMILY – THREE GENERATION OF CHAMPION TEXAS FIDDLERS, there are two more versions, one by Vernon and a second by his father, Ervin, and Jim Hughes. On County’s BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY, there’s a great recording by Richard Bowman of The Slate Mountain Ramblers, different from any of the Texas versions. Dwight Lamb, a fine fiddler from Iowa, made me a copy of his video of Cyril Stinnett playing another fantastic version. Rich Nevins and I even recorded a version by the Riendeau Family, a fine French-Canadian band from Berlin, New Hampshire.

    In Chris King's opinion, that there were so many old-time Texas fiddlers who played RAGTIME ANNIE is not surprising. He believes that the song was originally a Polish tune, like FIRE IN THE MOUNTAIN, that was well known to the many Czechoslovakian/Polish/Bohemian immigrants who settled in Texas and that it traveled from there to the southeast.

    Fiddler David Lynch told me about his experience at the Southern California Fiddlers' Association meetings (the group was founded by Southern Illinois fiddler Mel Durham). One of the rituals during the meeting was to gather all the fiddlers to play RAGTIME ANNIE together, each taking a turn to "solo" in front of the microphone.


    More important is his observation that the Texas recordings are decidedly more embellished. This embellishment is both within a fiddler’s own performance, e.g., versions by Eck Robertson in 1922 [County C D-3515] and Benny Thomasson in 1968, or from one fiddler versus another, e.g., the versions by Vernon Solomon and his father on Old Blue 701. On the other hand, the fiddlers in the southeast, mostly in Virginia and West Virginia emphasized the rhythm, focusing upon producing danceable music.

    Two female fiddlers from Connecticut have a website, hotfiddles.com, in which they talk about a fiddle contest in Indiana in which the contestants had to play RAGTIME ANNIE.

    Jane Keefer’s website Folk Music - An Index to Recorded Resources is a comprehensive listing of recordings (LPs, cassettes, CDs) magazines and books. In it she cites more than 85 recordings of RAGTIME ANNIE.

    It is truly a remarkable tune. Additional comments about RAGTIME ANNIE are welcome.

    — Charlie Faurot, February 2009


  2. GOLDEN SLIPPERS  Jess Johnston and Bernice Coleman's twin fiddle version with Roy Harvey in 1931 is the source for the NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS.

  3. AUNT DINAH'S QUILTING PARTY   The Floyd County Ramblers (Virginia) recording of this 1859 tune inspired the version done by the NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS.  The song is also called SEEING NELLIE HOME.

  4. FADED COAT OF BLUE  Though the song was written at the end of the American Civil War Between the States, it was updated to the Spanish American War in the version recorded by the Carter Family in 1934.  Jeremy Stephens and Darren Moore follow the Carter Family rendition.

  5. BACK TO THE BLUE RIDGE  The core of this twin guitar instrumental recorded by Roy Harvey and Leonard Copeland is built around the 1924 composition BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN BLUES.  The Harvey-Copeland version was never issued on a 78-rpm record.

  6. THE GREAT REAPING DAY   Roy Harvey and the West Virginia Ramblers 1931 recording of this 1918 gospel piece is the source for THE NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS.  Ernest V. Stoneman and Riley Puckett also recorded this song in the 1920s.

  7. THERE'S A MOTHER OLD AND GREY WHO NEEDS ME NOW  Roy Harvey, Posey Rorer and Bob Hoke recorded this song in 1928 for Brunswick Records at a session held in Ashland, Kentucky.  Charlie Poole associates Norman Woodlieff, Odell Smith and Kid Smith also recorded the song in 1931.  Our version is modeled after the Harvey recording.

  8. FANNY HILL     Kirk Sutphin learned this tune from field recordings of legendary Galax, Virginia fiddler "Uncle " Charlie Higgins.  Higgins was heavily influenced by the great Emmet Lundy of Galax.

  9. LEAVIN' HOME  Both Charlie Poole and his son recorded this FRANKIE AND JOHNNY song about 10 years apart.  The elder Poole played in his traditional style while his son did a very swinging up-tempo version.  The NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS combine the two Poole versions.

  10. HELLO STRANGER  The Carter Family is the source for this duet by Jeremy Stephens and Darren Moore.

  11. STONY FORK  "Uncle" Charlie Higgins is the source for Kirk Stuphin's version.  Higgins had variations in the tune that Kirk did not include. Various bluegrass fiddlers have also recorded this old-time piece.

  12. YOU AIN'T TALKING TO ME  Charlie Poole recorded this 1909 Tin Pan Alley composition in 1927,though he modified it to fit his style.  Our version is based on Poole's but we did add one of the Tin Pan Alley verses that Poole did not include.

  13. THE MURDER OF THE LAWSON FAMILY   Walter "Kid" Smith composed this ballad about a Stokes County, NC farmer who went on a killing rampage on Christmas Day of 1929.  Smith along with Lewis McDaniel, Posey Rorer, and Buster Carter recorded the song early in 1930 as THE CAROLINA BUDDIES. Kinney Rorrer's father went to the viewing of the family in their caskets in Madison, NC.  Kinney visited the abandoned home where the murders took place when he was a student teacher in Stokes County.

  14. NO DEPRESSION IN HEAVEN  This Carter Family song recorded during the Great Depression of the 1930s inspired the version by Darren Moore, Jeremy Stephens and Kirk Sutphin.

  15. BROOKSIE  Lonnie Austin of Charlie Poole's North Carolina Ramblers cited "old man Billy Booker" as his source for this tune.  Lonnie's father had purchased a fiddle from Billy Booker that Lonnie went on to use on his recordings with Poole in 1928 and 1929.  Grey Craig also played this tune under the name of BROOKS COTILLION.  Kirk and Kinney learned the tune from playing with Lonnie.

  16. GOODBYE MAGGIE, GOODBYE DARLING This 1885 song was recorded under various titles in the 1920s and 1930s. Roy Harvey and Jess Johnston and the West Virginia Ramblers called it BY A COTTAGE IN THE TWILIGHT.  It is their version that influenced our recording.

  17. WHEN THE WORLD'S ON FIRE   Jeremy Stephens and Darren Moore model their rendition of this gospel song from the 1930 Carter Family recording right down to Maybelle Carter's slide guitar.

  18. GOODNIGHT WALTZ   Kirk Sutphin learned his version of this waltz favorite from Lonnie Austin with whom Kirk often played in the 1980s and 1990s. Kirk adds the variations that Lonnie often used.

  19. YOUNG FREDA BOLT   Though the Floyd County Ramblers recorded this song about a 1929 murder on Bent Mountain in Floyd County, it is the later Carter Family version that influenced the song heard here by Stephens and Moore.

  20. CHINESE BREAKDOWN   Lonnie Austin and Buck Easley often played this as a twin fiddle tune.  Kirk learned his version directly from them.  The tune was highly popular in the 1920s with hit versions by the Scottdale String Band and Jack Reedy and the Walker Mountain String Band.

  21. GYPSY GIRL   Charlie Poole recorded this seventeenth century British ballad in 1930.  The NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS adapted their version from Poole.

  22. MOTHER'S FAREWELL KISS   Charlie Poole recorded this song at his farewell session for Columbia Records in September of 1930.  Jeremy Stephens and Kirk Sutphin name Poole as the source for their performance.

  23. THE FUN IS ALL OVER   Galax musicians "Uncle" Charlie Higgins and John Rector inspired Jeremy Stephens' version of this Galax favorite.  The West Virginia musicians The Williamson Brothers and Curry as well as the McClung Brothers recorded this tune in the 1920s.

  24. SAD AND LONESOME DAY  The Carter Family's 1937 recording of this blues song is related to Blind Lemon Jefferson's 1927 hit of SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS KEPT CLEAN.  The bluegrass song SIX WHITE HORSES is also related.

  25. DEVILISH MARY   This British ballad was recorded often in the 1920s and 1930s by southern string bands. No one other than Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers could have inspired this version by THE NEW NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS.

— Kinney Rorrer, February 2009

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