Carolina Boy

Carolina Boy

by Jim Smoak & the Louisiana Honeydrippers
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Carolina Boy

Although Jim Smoak made his rep playing banjo for Bill Monroe way back in 1954, he ceased performing for a living after the early '60s. Smoak, however, never lost his love for bluegrass, and as Carolina Boy shows, never lost his ability to pick the banjo. His banjo playing, though, is only one of several reasons to like Carolina Boy. Smoak is also an affable singer, and has a knack for choosing both straightforward classics ("I'll Fly Away") and unexpected jazzy gems ("Old Shanty Town"). He's joined by the L.A, Honeydrippers, a group that includes fiddler/mandolinist Mike Cleveland, bassist Sonny Stephens, and guitarist Brian Allen. Both Cleveland and Allen are virtuosos in their own right, and it's fun to hear them cut loose on an instrumental like "Swing That Pretty Girl Round." The lineup is further bolstered by the harmonies of Johanna Smoak, Joanie Prentice, and Sonny Prentice. Smoak, on top of his other talents, is a good songwriter, willing -- unlike most bluegrass writers -- to add an unusual chords and a ragtime flavor. All of these elements -- good songs, hot picking, and solid vocals -- come together in the most natural way on Carolina Boy, making the album easy to listen to and easy to enjoy.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/21/2004
Label: Copper Creek
UPC: 0722321022621
catalogNumber: 226
Rank: 238999

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jim Smoak & the Louisiana Honeydrippers   Primary Artist
Brian Allen   Guitar
Sonny Stephens   Bass
Jim Smoak   Banjo,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Michael Cleveland   Fiddle,Mandolin
Michael Cleveland   Fiddle,Mandolin
Brian Allen   Guitar
Joanie Prentice   Background Vocals
Johanna Smoak   Background Vocals
Sonny Stephens   Double Bass
Sonny Prentice   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Buell Kazee   Composer
Ballard MacDonald   Composer
Philip Bliss   Composer
Jim Smoak   Arranger,Composer,Sound Effects,Producer,Audio Production
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Little Jack Little   Composer
Joe Young   Composer
John Siras   Composer
Timothy Haertel   Engineer
Lisa Berman   Graphic Design
Traditional   Composer
Kinney Rorrer   Liner Notes
James Hanley   Composer

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Carolina Boy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – 41:56 -- Born in Round O, South Carolina, Jim Smoak grew up listening to his grandfather’s banjo and tall tales, as well as tuning into Snuffy Jenkins’ daily radio show. This album is strong on nostalgia as Jim remembers his childhood in the songs “Carolina Home,” “Charleston Western Carostolina Railroad,” “Carolina Boy,” and “Cookin’ in the Kitchen.” Before finishing high school, Jim declined a job on the WLS Barn Dance with the Prairie Ramblers. He finished school and took off on a post-graduation trip. He landed a job with the Cas Walker Show (with Carl and Pearl Butler), then joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1952 (with Jimmy Martin and Charlie Cline). Lack of work after Bill Monroe’s auto accident gave Jim Smoak the impetus to move to Jimmy Dickens’ group, but he was laid off when the Musicians’ Union scales went up in late 1953. Smoak went back to work with Monroe (this time with Jack Youngblood and Ed Mayfield). After Youngblood returned to his native Louisiana, Jim took a job there with him. Then he played with Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith (replacing Don Reno). After a stint in the Army, Jim joined Hylo Brown and the Timberliners. That band alternated with Flatt and Scruggs on the Martha White TV show. When that group disbanded about 1960, Jim moved to his wife’s home in Louisiana. The Folk-Lyric label recorded and released his first album called “Louisiana Bluegrass with the Louisiana Honeydrippers” (joining Smoak were J.C. Myers, V. J. Myers, Bucky Wood, and Lum York). After moving to Alexandria, La. to be a commercial photographer, Smoak formed a trio with Harold and Betty Thom called The Cumberlands until late-1972. They recently reunited and released an album on the Copper Creek label. He had a successful banjo instruction book and cable TV show called “Let’s Play the Banjo.” Smoak published additional fine banjo instruction books in the 70s. Smoak recorded a 1979 solo album entitled “Moonshine Sonata” for the Blue River label. “Bayou Bluegrass” (including many of the 1961 Louisiana Honeydripper material) was released on the Arhoolie label in 2002. Smoak currently lives in Pekin, Indiana. “Carolina Boy” teams up the legendary banjo-player and songwriter with a new bunch of Honeydrippers -- Michael Cleveland (fiddle), Brian Allen (guitar), Sonny Stephens (bass) and Johanna Smoak, Jeanie Prentice and Sonny Prentice (harmony vocals). Jim’s lead vocals, while nothing spectacular, fit this music comfortably like an old shoe. Jim’s a musician who’s seen some pretty good days in his musical life, but we can’t say his hinges creak. Just listen to his snappy renditions of “Goin’ Back to Harlan” and the swingin’ “Back Home to Indiana” and “Old Shanty Town.” The eight originals are what really make this a special project. “Goodbye Jim” is a tribute to guitarist Jim McReynolds. “Pickin’ in the Pokey” is a cute novelty number, while “Swing that Pretty Girl Around” is a hoedown that steals the show with its frailing banjo. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)