Classic Country: Legends of Country Music

By Charles K. Wolfe | Go to book overview

The Freight Hoppers

By the late 1950s, as country music moved into its post-Elvis era, the old-time string band tradition that dominated the music in its first generation was almost dead. Local square dance bands still held forth, playing at the local Moose club or country school auditorium, but in the commercial world there were only a handful of real, veteran string bands still working regularly. J. E. Mainer still had his Mainer’s Mountaineers, and Steve Ledford still had his band in North Carolina; on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, bands like the Crook Brothers and the Fruit Jar Drinkers still took to the stage every Saturday night, usually playing for a rowdy troupe of square dancers. In Georgia, Gordon Tanner, son of the legendary Gid, kept together his band, the Junior Skillet Lickers, though they too played mostly for dances. Most of the younger musicians who liked accoustic music had gone into bluegrass, and what string bands were left were busy imitating Flatt and Scruggs.

Then, starting about 1960, an odd thing happened: There emerged a self-conscious revival movement of the old Charlie Poole-Skillet Lickers sound. It was almost certainly an offshoot of the so-called folk revival movement of that time, spurred on by the success of groups like the Kingston Trio, and it was unique in that it transferred the venue of string band music from the country schoolhouse to the concert stage and the college campus. Its flagship band was one formed in 1958 called the New Lost City Ramblers—the name being a witty play on the old colorful names from earlier days. Its original members were Mike Seeger, a masterful collector and singer and son of musicologist Charles Seeger; Tom Paley, a mathematics teacher; and John Cohen, a Yale-educated veteran of the New York folk club scene. None of them was from the South (in fact, all of them were born in New York City), and all approached the music from a historic and even academic point of view. Their first record, on the “scholastic” Folkways label in 1961, was quite different from the lat-

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Classic Country: Legends of Country Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Part I - From the Hall of Fame 1
  • The Carter Family 2
  • Roy Acuff 19
  • Lefty Frizzell 27
  • Grandpa Jones 33
  • Pee Wee King 38
  • Bill Monroe 44
  • Hank Snow 50
  • Kitty Wells 56
  • Part II - From the Victrola 63
  • Fiddlin’ John Carson 64
  • Vernon Dalhart 70
  • Riley Puckett 76
  • Charlie Poole 82
  • The Georgia Yellow Hammers 85
  • Darby and Tarlton 89
  • Part III - From the Airwaves 93
  • Lew Childre 94
  • The Blue Sky Boys 97
  • Brown’s Ferry Four 103
  • Cousin Emmy 106
  • The Monroe Brothers 109
  • Wayne Raney 114
  • Karl and Harty 117
  • Bradley Kincaid 125
  • Part IV - From the Shadows: Unsung Heroes 129
  • Tommy Magness 130
  • Arthur Q. Smith 143
  • Zeke and Zeb Turner 146
  • Johnny Barfield 152
  • The Rouse Brothers 155
  • Seven Foot Dilly 165
  • The Jordanaires 175
  • Deford Bailey 178
  • Emmett Miller 182
  • Tommy Jackson 185
  • Jimmie Riddle 188
  • Part V - From the Stage: Classic Country 193
  • Curly Fox and Texas Ruby 194
  • The Delmore Brothers 197
  • Don Gibson 203
  • The Louvin Brothers 215
  • The Statler Brothers 221
  • Martha Carson 236
  • The Carlisles 239
  • Albert E. Brumley 243
  • Stringbean 247
  • Part VI - From the West 257
  • Girls of the Golden West 258
  • Billie Maxwell 261
  • Red River Dave 265
  • Skeets Mcdonald 268
  • Part VII - New Fogies 273
  • Hazel and Alice 274
  • Doc Watson 279
  • Roy Harper 285
  • The Freight Hoppers 294
  • Acknowledgments 300
  • Index 301
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