Okeh Record’s Historic Session in Asheville by Kent Priestly

Click on the image above to view a slideshow by Kent PriestleThe guitarist, Henry Whitter, slid his chair across the floor to bring his instrument a little closer to the recording machine’s sound-gathering horn. A harmonica dangled from his neck on a wire truss; he made a tentative puff on it and looked over to the man behind the controls.

The guitarist, Henry Whitter, slid his chair across the floor to bring his instrument a little closer to the recording machine’s sound-gathering horn. A harmonica dangled from his neck on a wire truss; he made a tentative puff on it

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Appalachian Tradition Music, A Short History by Debby McClatchy

MOST Europeans consider the Appalachians to be mountains of the southeastern region of the United States, but in truth they encompass eighteen states, reaching from Maine to Georgia, and include, among others, the Berkshires of Connecticut, the Green Mountains of New Hampshire, the Catskills of New York, the Blue Ridge of Virginia, and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Southern Appalachia includes three hundred counties covering most of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, an area called today the Southern Highlands or Upland South, or, in Colonial times, the ‘Back Country’.

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Music of the Southern Appalachians by Mike Seeger

This area is to the west of the flat tidewater and piedmont areas of the Atlantic coastline and includes some broad valleys with good agricultural land, such as the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, as well as many smaller valleys, some just wide enough for a little bottomland next to a creek. The eastern mountains are not nearly as tall as the Rockies; they generally rise 1,000 to 3,000 feet with a maximum of 6,000 feet, and are forested with a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and many smaller bushes and flowers. Some mountains are green, rolling hills, but in

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Cracks by Bob Smakula

Winter is the time of year my crack repair business booms. Outdoors the humidity is below 35% . Inside, heating systems dry the air out even more, creating a dangerous environment for delicate musical instruments. There are two things I do to keep humidity a little bit higher during the winter months. In my workshop, where there are likely to be twenty instruments being repaired at any given time, I keep a humidifier going constantly. The brand I use and really like is Bionaire Clean Mist. They are available at most discount department and home center stores.

The instruments I

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Fitting Fiddle Pegs by Bob Smackula

Several doctors I know hate to go to parties. They know that sooner or later someone is going to come up to them, describe an ache or pain and demand an immediate diagnosis. Well, this phenomenon happens to instrument repair people too. I’m always asked to find a buzz or do a quickie repair at our local tunes sessions. The thing is, I don’t mind.

While we were jamming a few months ago, a local old-time fiddler complained to me that her fiddle was hard to tune. I gave it the hands-on test and decided she was right. A quick

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The Delmore Brothers – by John Lilly

“There was a big crowd there and everything was decorated and all fixed up like the president of the United States would be there. It was by far the biggest and most important contest in the entire country. People who had never been to a contest before gathered with the contestants at the Old Athens (Alabama) Agricultural School. My mother had made (guitar) cases for us out of cotton sacks we used during the picking season and we had our names on them spelled out in full. I painted them on the cases with pokeberry juice.

“You know how it

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History of Jimmy Rodgers, Blue Yodeler by John Lilly

“Folks everywhere knew about Jimmie Rodgers, and although some of them were reluctant at first to believe that he was really there in person, playing their own town, they soon learned that he was as much at home in Sweetwater or O’Donnell as in front of a Victor microphone or on the stage of some fancy big-city theater. Vernon Dalhart and Gene Austin might make a lot of records, but they didn’t come out into the boondocks to rub shoulders and tell bawdy jokes and laugh with the plain folks who bought them. The effects of the Blue Yodeler’s tours

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Carter Family Music & History by John Lilly

Carter Family photograph

Anita Carter was only four years old when she first saw Dr. John Romulus Brinkley in 1938 at a mansion in Del Rio, Texas, but it was a sight she never forgot: a goat-bearded, diamond-studded, round spectacled man, floating down the stairs with a pet monkey on his shoulder. Dr. Brinkley had built the most powerful radio station in the world, 500,000 watt XERA, and blanketed North America with sales pitches for snake oils and his quack remedies. A Chicago company, Consolidated Royal Chemical, also used XERA airwaves to sell patent medicines, and featured the best in country music entertainment

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The Coon Creek Girls by John Lilly

Rural Roots of Bluegrass

On the evening of June 8,1939 limousines began to deliver the cream of Washington D.C. society to the East Room of the White House. President and First Lady, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were entertaining King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England and had arranged a command performance in their honor. Chandeliers sparkled, jewelry glistened, and the royal guests sat in the front row with their hosts. Music for the evening was provided by the finest representatives of American culture, including opera tenor Lawrence Tibbett, classical musician Marion Anderson, the large and popular Kate Smith, and Alan Lomax singing Western

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