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Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music

Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music

5.0 1
The traditional music of the Appalachians was nearly killed off in the 20th century by the rise of radio, television, and the phonograph, which all but replaced the social function of homemade music in the Southern mountains, while hot new musical forms like bluegrass and rock & roll drew young players away from the music of their parents and grandparents, breaking


The traditional music of the Appalachians was nearly killed off in the 20th century by the rise of radio, television, and the phonograph, which all but replaced the social function of homemade music in the Southern mountains, while hot new musical forms like bluegrass and rock & roll drew young players away from the music of their parents and grandparents, breaking the chain that saw the old songs and melodies get passed down hand to hand through the oral folk process. Powerful as these modern forces were, however, they were also the same forces that helped preserve the Appalachian tradition in amber, as young musicians, many of them from the big cities, bought old-time records and took them to heart during the folk revival of the 1960s, learning to play and replicate the music itself. No longer learned so much at the feet of elders, but learned instead from Surround Sound speakers, the old-time music of the Southern mountains is arguably more accessible now than at any other time in the past 60 years, thanks in part to the old-time soundtracks of two hugely popular movies, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain. One of the record labels at the center of all this is Rounder Records, which, starting with its first release by banjo picker George Pegram in the early '70s, has been steadfast in supporting the music through numerous album releases. Mountain Journey is a well-sequenced sampler disc of several of these releases, concentrating on the last purveyors of the original folk process. Among the many highlights are Ola Belle Reed's stirring and intelligent "My Epitaph," sung in stark fashion with just acoustic guitar accompaniment. Also worth noting are Pegram's propulsive banjo on the old dance tune "Cindy" and two pieces by Etta Baker, one that finds her playing gorgeous modal five-string banjo runs on "Cripple Creek" (with Mike Seeger on fiddle) and another that features Baker's virtuoso guitar playing on what has become her signature tune, "Bully of the Town." Another gem is Dry Branch Fire Squad leader Ron Thomason's solo banjo reading of a G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter classic, "He's Coming to Us Dead," which reminds listeners that the price of war is perhaps most costly for the poor. That the old-time music of the mountains has survived so well into the 21st century is somewhat of a miracle, and that it occasionally even flirts with the pop charts (thanks to certain successful soundtracks) is even more of a miracle, but then, perhaps not, because these sturdy, ancient songs deal with joy, innocence, anguish, anger, seduction, lust, heartbreak, hope, despair, death, and love with an uncommon directness that defies both time and place even as they help form its definition.

Product Details

Release Date:
Rounder / Umgd


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Etta Baker   Vocals,5-string Banjo
Doc Watson   Vocals
Hazel Dickens   Guitar,Tenor (Vocal)
Mike Seeger   Fiddle
Hugh McGraw   Leader
Ralph Blizard   Fiddle
J.P. Fraley   Fiddle
George Pegram   Banjo,Vocals
Ola Belle Reed   Guitar,Vocals
Buddy Thomas   Fiddle
Gaither Carlton   Fiddle
Alice Gerrard   Autoharp,Vocals
Ginny Hawker   Vocals
Phil Jamison   Guitar
Carol Elizabeth Jones   Baritone (Vocal)
Pete Kennedy   Guitar
Bruce Moisky   Guitar
Tim O'Brien   Guitar,Vocals
Malcolm Owen   Fiddle
Dirk Powell   Banjo,Fiddle
Ron Thomason   Banjo,Vocals
Marshall Wilborn   Bass
David Reed   Guitar
Bill Bolick   Mandolin,Vocals
Earl Bolick   Guitar,Vocals
Bascom Lamar Lunsford   Banjo,Vocals
Connie Gately   Guitar
Fred Gately   Bass
Vickie Owen   Dulcimer
Annadeene Fraley   Guitar
Ron Stewart   Fiddle
John Lilly   Bass
Red Parham   Harmonica
Red Roberts   Fiddle

Technical Credits

Hazel Dickens   Arranger,Composer
J.P. Fraley   Arranger
Ola Belle Reed   Composer
Wade Mainer   Composer
Alice Gerrard   Arranger
Ginny Hawker   Arranger
Dirk Powell   Composer
Benny Thomasson   Composer
Scott Alarik   Liner Notes
Public Domain   Composer
Traditional   Composer

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Mountain Journey: Stars of Old Time Music 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Joe_Ross More than 1 year ago
At first glance, one has to chuckle at the subtitle of this album, "Stars of Old Time Music." Perhaps with a few more "O, Brother Where Art Thou" and "Cold Mountain" movies, old-time music will have its stars, but I think that's still a long ways off. Twenty-one cuts pulled from Rounder Record releases spanning from 1972-2005 comprise this sampler. The "stars" featured are among the best purveyors of this genre of music - Ola Belle Reed, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Mike Seeger, Doc Watson, Hazel Dickens, Etta Baker, Ginny Hawker, Blue Sky Boys, and others. Similar to another Rounder old-time music sampler "Come to the Mountain: Old-Time Music for Modern Times," this album provides thoughtful liner notes (by Scott Alarik), artist descriptions, and credits for each song. This old-time mountain music is performed by ordinary folk, with plenty of emotional electricity and without any grandstanding. The vocals particularly impart an intensity that is emotionally-charged. Most tracks feature solo vocals, although it's nice to hear a few cuts with harmonies, such as "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" (Blue Sky Boys) and "Time Are Not What They Used to Be"( Ginny Hawker and Hazel Dickens). There is even a one-minute song, "The Traveller" featuring sacred harp singers of Georgia and Alabama. "Cripple Creek" (Mike Seeger & Etta Baker), "Sweet Sunny South" (fiddled by Buddy Thomas), "Midnight on the Water" (Ralph Blizzard and the New Southern Ramblers), "Cruel Willie" (Connie & Babe and the Backwoods Boys) and "Bully of the Town" (guitar by Etta Baker) are the instrumentals among the cuts. Major record label samplers like this one are welcome entries in their catalog of offerings. The multitude of songs resonates with authenticity of our deepest musical traditions. As producer Ken Irwin once said, "In thinking about how to sell the music, I came up with the idea of ‘Stars of Old Time Music,' and we all liked it. For those who don't know the old-time music scene, they might actually buy it thinking it was what it sounded like and for those who knew the scene, they'd see it as being tongue in cheek….When I was growing up, we used to collect trading cards, and the matched sets were highly valued. You tried to collect all of those with the same frame or the same look or whatever. With some of the reissues, we have been successful reaching some of the newer fans to the music by putting together compilations of quality music with a similar look to them hoping that people who had enjoyed the earlier ones would take a chance on the newer ones." The compilations from this record label are a great way to showcase many singularly impressive talents. Find your favorites among the sampled artists, and then buy their complete albums to explore them further. (Joe Ross)