Residents of the American Southeast, the fertile soil from which bluegrass music sprang, can take considerable pride in the broad appeal of their region's music.
But it is no accident that many southern musicians have stayed close to home where the precious sources for bluegrass may be found.
The region's traditional culture nurtures bluegrass by contributing to it's continual reinvention even as-paradoxically-it enforces stylistic conservatism.
The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys of Pocahontas County in southern West Virginia are sons of their soil, part of an extended community that includes old-time fiddlers, singers of unaccompanied British ballads dating to the eighteenth century, parlor pianists, congregations who favor a cappella hymnody, congregations who do not, and country and rock bands.
The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys embrace bluegrass tunes that connect with the upland South, like "Lonesome Ruben" and "Midnight Storm" by the Stanley Brothers, who come from a coal mining part of Virginia that lies "west of West Virginia". The tune "Muddy Road" nicely exemplifies the connection between local and national. The tune has been encounter in a number of places in West Virginia, usually under the title "Salt River". But the title "Muddy Road" (or "Muddy Roads") is favored in Pocahontas where a clawhammer banjo version was recorded by the late Sherman Hammons, a neighbor and friend of the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys. The tune became popular in bluegrass in the 1960's when the Massachusetts banjo player Bill Keith recorded it as "Salt Creek" while a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. But even this version connects back to the mountain state; Keith learned it from the banjo player Don Stover, once a resident in Boston, who had brought it with him from his native Raleigh County WV.
Bill Hefner-lead guitar, baritone vocal
Richard Hefner-banjo, tenor vocal
Harley Carpenter-rhythm guitar, lead vocal
Dwight Diller-bass, clawhammer banjo
Glen "Dude" Irvine-mandolin ("Pure Old Bluegrass" Only)
Woody Simmons-fiddle ("Pure Old Bluegrass" Only)
Guest Artist: Ralph "Joe" Meadows-fiddle ("A Million Lonely Days" Only)
Reissue of the album "Pure Old Bluegrass" is done in the memory of Glen "Dude" Irvine (1920-1973) who was an inspiration to all who met him. Although seriously disabled from infancy by polio, he became an accomplished musician and helped his brothers and nephews learn to play music.
"My grandmother was a banjo player!!" How many times I have said that, before kicking off "Little Maggie"? In fact seven out of nine kids on my mother's side of the family played music. Since Uncle "Dude" (Glen Irvine) who was crippled with polio at the age of five, lived mostly with us, we had live music at the house real often. Pickers would come visit and picked with "Dude" when they would come back in Pocahontas County seeing relatives. These were my earliest influences. We listened to music from Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Elvis, and the McGuire Sisters, and played music with locals like James Hammons, Sherman, Burl, and Maggie Hammons, Hamp Carpenter, and some great black blues guitar pickers and singers. I had known Harley Carpenter all my life, but when he and Uncle "Dude" and brother Bill talked me into trying the banjo, we became best friends. The four of us started playing with some of the finest musicians around anywhere. To these great musicians, family, and friends, I dedicate this album. But especially to Uncle "Dude" Irvine and Harley Carpenter. I hope some day we can pick again.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Gold Rush
2. Last Old Dollar
3. East Virginia Blues
4. Midnight Storm
5. Mother's Not Dead
6. Forked Deer
7. Lonesome Reuben
8. A Million Lonely Days
9. Lonesome River
10. Sittin' On Top Of The World
11. Muddy Road
12. Along The Way
13. These Old Blues
14. Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine
15. Thinking About You
16. The Memory Of Your Smile
17. I Believe In You Darlin'
18. Mill Point
19. A Million Lonely Days
20. Blue And Lonely
21. Send Me Angels
22. Working on A Building
23. You're Not Easy To Forget
24. Say Old Man Can You Play The Fiddle