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Old Blue Records

The New North Carolina Ramblers


Larry Richardon And The Blue Ridge BoysInformation from Kinney Rorrer is in regular type; Charlie Faurot’s comments are in italics.

1. OPENING AT THE HERITAGE HALL OF FAME - The tunes in this track are ubiquitous to northwestern North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia and are probably very familiar to anyone listening to this CD. What is unique is the musicians themselves; never before have they all played together as one group. As is true of all the NNCR’s concerts, every one – on stage and in the audience – had a great time.

2. MY NAME IS JOHN JOHANNA - Source: 1927 recording with Kelly Harrell vocals, Posey Rorer fiddle, R.D. Hundley banjo, and Alfred Steagall guitar. The guitar plays a major role in emphasizing how forlornJohanna felt. Jeremy Stephens’ comments –“The tune is in D. I tuned my guitar down one whole step (2 frets) and played out of E position without a capo. That is how Steagall did it on the original recording.”

3. TEXAS GALS - Source:  1926 recording by Charlie Bowman and the Hillbillies.  Al Hopkins of Galax played piano on the Hill Billies recording.

I e-mailed Darren to confirm my suspicions that his piano accompaniment was entirely his own. His response: “Yes. Charlie Poole used piano on several recordings for Brunswick, Gennett, Paramount etc. I have heard these and the piano is not as "busy" as what I did on this songs. There were other groups that used piano on old time recordings and some of those are a little more lively. I don't read music very well and don't have the sheet music of the songs that we did. I get my piano influences from lots of people. From Lucy Terry (Roy Harvey's sister) to Del Wood. From Jeremy to my great-aunt Ruth. I listen to everyone and take bits and pieces from what I hear. I've played piano by ear since I was about 12 years old. That's when mom and dad bought me the piano that we used on this recording.”
4. THE FATE OF DEWEY LEE - Source:  1935 recording by the Carter Family.  Lee, a coal miner from Norton, Virginia was murdered in 1931.

5. ALABAMA GALSAs the old fiddle tunes floated around with fiddlers, the same tune picked up many different names. WESTERN COUNTRY is a good example: its other titles include SUSANNA GALS, FLY AROUND MY BLUE-EYED MISS, and PRETTLY LITTLE PINK. ALABAMA GALS has been recorded and performed frequently from the ‘20s on under a variety of names including: ALABAMA GIRL, AIN’T YOU COMING OUT TONIGHT?, BUFFALO GALS, and ROUND TOWN GAL, or GIRL, or GIRLS. This version is most like the Blue Ridge Highballers’ 1926 version. The banjo player was Arthur Wells who lived in Danville; he was one of the many old-time musicians that Kirk visited. Jeremy’s clawhammer version here includes Wells’ flamenco-type brushes.

6. DAN CARTER WALTZ - Source:  Lonnie Austin.  Dan Carter was a fiddler in Eden, NC well-known locally for his waltz tunes. The tune played in Surry County is different though known by the same name.

7. DON’T LET YOUR DEAL GO DOWN BLUES - Source: Charlie Poole. This was Poole’s best selling record.

8. BALTIMORE FIRE - Source:  1929 recording by Charlie Poole with the NC Ramblers. The 1904 fire raged for two days and destroyed over 100 acres in central Baltimore. Even though firefighters from nearby cities came to help out, they were not of much help because their fire hose couplings (hose to fire hydrant) were incompatible with those in Baltimore.

Surprisingly this problem still exists. In trying to help control the 1991 firestorm in Oakland, CA, which resulted in an economic lost of over $1.5 billion, the out-of-town fire fighters who came to help out found that their hoses didn’t fit on the Oakland fire hydrants.

9. WILL YOU MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE - Source:  1928 recording by the Carter Family.  The song was composed about 1900.

10. HICKMAN RAG - Source:  1926 recording by the Hill Billies that also featured piano.

11. AFTER THE BALL - Jeremy e-mailed me that “it was the biggest hit of the 1890s. It was written by Charles K. Harris in 1891. Its total sales exceeded 5 million copies. I learned my version from Bill Bolick. It was on live recording of the Blue Sky Boys from 1964. Darren and I adapted it to semi-Carter style by using guitar and harp.”

Harris also wrote THERE’LL COME A TIME, FALLEN BY THE WAYSIDE and WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT LOVE?, all of which Charlie Poole recorded.

12. ROUND TOWN GALS - Jeremy cites Arthur Wells as his source.

The two versions by the NNCR were purposely included because they are spectacularly great versions of the song. They illustrate how the choice of instruments dramatically changes the song. Imagine you were a judge in a fiddle contest and had to pick one over the other.

13. COTTAGE BY THE SEA - Source:  1930 recording by The Carolina Buddies with Posey Rorer on fiddle, Buster Carter on banjo and Lewis McDaniel on guitar.

14. THE LETTER THAT NEVER CAME - Source:  Charlie Poole's 1927 recording is the primary source though many of the words come a 1930 recording by the Blue Ridge Mountain Singers.  The song was written by Paul Dresser in 1886.

15. SANDY RIVER BELLE - Source:  1926 recording by Danville, Virginia fiddler Charley LaPrade. Posey Rorer and Dad Blackard also recorded versions that influenced the NNCR. I recorded it twice in the mid-‘60s; once with George Stoneman and the other by Buddy Pendleton. Buddy is related to the Shelor Family who where part of Dad Blackard’s Montaineers. Clarice Blackard played a piano on those 1927 recordings.

16. UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE - Source:  1929 recording by Charlie Poole and the Highlanders. Lucy Terry played the piano on this recording.

Although the American bald eagle is emblem of the United States, this song has nothing to do with the song. UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE was a march composed by Austrian Josef Wagner in the later 1890s. The title refers to the national coat of arms of Austria-Hungary, during its existence from 1867 – 1918. That coat of arms had two eagles facing each other; my assumption is that they represented the two countries. It was recorded on an Edison brown wax cylinder in 1898.

It was first recorded as a fiddle tune by Charlie LaPrade and the Blueridge Highballers in 1926. It probably entered the oral fiddle tradition from that recording.
17. WEARY PRODIGAL SON - Source:  1931 recording by the Carter Family.  The song was written in 1889 by Charles Gabriel.

18. WRECK OF THE C & O SPORTSMAN - Source:  1931 recording by railroad engineer Roy Harvey.  Bernice Coleman, a member of Harvey's West Virginia Ramblers, claimed composer credit.  The wreck occurred near Hawk's Nest, West Virginia in 1930.
19. MISSISSIPPI SAWYER - Source: 1920s recordings by the Hill Billies and the Skillet Lickers among others. This was the practice tune that the NNCR played with their guests, Riley Baugus and Kevin and Trish Fore.

20. YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS - Source:  1927 recording by DaCosta Woltz and Ben Jarrell. The song dates from 1858. The NNCR play this song in the Key of D. Darren tuned his guitar one and a half steps down (C#F#BEG#C#) and used the F-chord fingering. 

Lorraine RorrerTracks 1 and 19 were recorded at the Heritage Hall of Old-Time Music. The three pieces with Darren’s very lively piano — TEXAS GALS, HICKMAN RAG, and UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE and two vocals — THE FATE OF DEWEY LEE and AFTER THE BALL were recorded in Darren’s living room. The remaining tracks were recorded in Kinney’s basement.

Recording that way has many benefits, the best being that all sort of unexpected good things can happen. The first was the table on which the recording gear was placed – the table came from Charlie Poole’s house. It originally belonged to Charlie Poole's wife Lou Emma, and now resides in Kinney’s basement. 

The photo on the left was made in late 1925. It features Kinney’s dad's niece, Lorraine Rorer, sitting on the table. The swing visible in the background is the swing Charlie sat in for the iconic photo that is in Kinney’s book and is featured on the cover of County 509.

The second surprise was Jeremy’s choice of banjos on SANDY RIVER BELLE. Kinney had the 1895 S. S. Stewart hanging on the wall at the bottom of the stairs leading into Kinney’s Record and Antique Victrola Room. As we were getting ready to record SANDY RIVER BELLE, Jeremy got up and took the Stewart off the wall; it was the perfect choice for the tune.

All the Jeremy’s photos for OB-706 were made at Darren’s house. Darren commented to me later: “The [cover] picture was taken looking towards the north-west. If the picture were larger or a panoramic shot, you would see White Oak Mountain to the left in Chatham and Candler’s Mountain to the right in Lynchburg. On a clearer day, in this same shot, you would be able to see the Peaks of Otter in the far distance.”

The guitar work on this CD by Jeremy and Darren is exceptional; not too much, not too little. The tuning of the guitars and the chord position used are key factor.

TRACK # TITLE Guitar Info Tuning/Chords
used by Jeremy Stephens
Guitar Info Tuning/Chords
used by Darren Moore
2 My Name is John Johanna down 2 E pos   D
3 Texas Gals C pos open   C
4 The Fate Of Dewey Lee down 2 G pos capo 5 C pos F
5 Alabama Gals   G pos open G
6 Dan Carter Waltz G pos open capo 2 F pos G
7 Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues capo 2 F pos G pos open G
8 Baltimore Fire A pos open   A
9 Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone   down 3 C pos A
10 Hickman Rag C pos open   C
11 After The Ball down 3 C pos   A
12 Round Town Gals     G
13 In A Cottage By The Sea D pos open down 3 F pos D
14 The Letter That Never Came C pos open   C
15 Sandy River Belle   G pos open G
16 Under The Double Eagle C pos open   C
17 Weary Prodigal Son down 2 G pos capo 5 C pos F

The Wreck Of The C&O Sportsman

C pos open C pos open C
20 Yellow Rose Of Texas D pos open   D


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