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Worried Blues

Worried Blues

by Frank Hutchison
This intriguing four-disc set collects the complete recorded works of guitarist Frank Hutchison and singer Kelly Harrell, then splits the final disc between two very different mountain string bands, the Tenneva Ramblers and the Blue Ridge Highballers. All of these artists were active in the Virginia/West Virginia area in the


This intriguing four-disc set collects the complete recorded works of guitarist Frank Hutchison and singer Kelly Harrell, then splits the final disc between two very different mountain string bands, the Tenneva Ramblers and the Blue Ridge Highballers. All of these artists were active in the Virginia/West Virginia area in the 1920s. Hutchison, in particular, was an arresting talent, with a striking and consistent slide guitar style and a rough but charmingly everyman vocal style that gives the songs he recorded for OKeh Records like "Worried Blues," "Train That Carried the Girl From Town," "The Miner's Blues," "The Last Scene of the Titanic," and the impressive guitar instrumental "Logan County Blues," an individualistic twist almost unique in Appalachian music. Much like banjoist Dock Boggs, he incorporated a high degree of black blues into his repertoire. Not nearly as steady a performer as Hutchison, singer Kelly Harrell recorded 40 some sides for Victor and OKeh Records between 1925 and 1929, which was an accomplishment in itself considering he didn't play an instrument and possessed a voice that creaked and cracked around the melodies of his ballad-based folk material. The two tracks of his that stand out the most are " My Name Is John Jo Hannah" and "Charles Giteaux." The former is a variant of "The State of Arkansas" set to a "Maggie Walker Blues" melody and it benefits mightily from the fiddle playing of Posey Rorer, but Harrell's wild and loose vocal is a good part of why it works. "Charles Giteaux" has the assassin of President Garfield telling his story, and again, Harrell's cutting, barely in control singing gives the song a haunting kinetic push. "Peg and Awl" is also interesting, since it details the effects of new technology on workers in the shoe industry, but the balance of Harrell's output tends to the generic and maudlin. His earliest sides also suffer from being backed by big city musicians unfamiliar with the southern musical traditions from which Harrell drew his inspiration. The Tenneva Ramblers were actually the Grant Brothers (guitarist Claude Grant and mandolin ace Jack Grant) with Jack Pierce on fiddle and Claude Slagle on banjo, and for a time they were Jimmie Rodgers' backup band, although the Ramblers never made any recordings with Rodgers. The group, on their own, issued 13 tracks between 1927 and 1929 for the Victor and Columbia labels, most notably their haunting version of "The Longest Train I Ever Saw," a song that has been recorded countless times and had many titles but is probably best known as "In the Pines." The Blue Ridge Highballers (Charley La Prade on fiddle, Arthur Wells on banjo, and Lonnie Griffith on guitar) were a hyper-charged instrumental string band that prefigured the pace of bluegrass by a quarter of a century, and they tore through their mountain dance tune repertoire like a train at full steam. Taken together like this, these four very different acts form a kind of survey of the kinds of traditional music being played in a very specific region of the southern mountains in the mid to late 1920s, which gives this generous box set a unique horizontal and historical sweep. These were commercial recordings at the time they were made, but the record industry was in its infancy and wasn't yet placing marketing over musical substance to the degree that would come later which gives these old 78s an added collective authenticity.

Product Details

Release Date:
Jsp Records


Disc 1

  1. Worried Blues
  2. Train That Carried the Girl from Town
  3. Stackalee
  4. The Wild Horse
  5. Long Way to Tipperary
  6. The West Virginia Rag
  7. C & O Excursion
  8. Coney Isle
  9. Old Rachel
  10. Lightning Express
  11. Stackalee
  12. Logan County Blues
  13. Worried Blues
  14. Train That Carried the Girl from Town
  15. The Last Scene of the Titanic
  16. All Night Long
  17. Alabama Girl, Ain't You Comin' Out Tonight?
  18. Hell Bound Train
  19. Wild Hogs in the Red Brush
  20. The Burglar Man
  21. Back in My Home Town
  22. The Miner's Blues
  23. Hutchison's Rag
  24. The Boston Burglar
  25. The Chevrolet Six

Disc 2

  1. Cumberland Gap
  2. The Deal
  3. Railroad Bill
  4. Johnny and Jane, Pt. 1
  5. Johnny and Jane, Pt. 2
  6. Cannonball Blues
  7. KC. Blues
  8. New River Train
  9. Rovin' Gambler
  10. I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again
  11. Butcher's Boy
  12. I Was Born About 10, 000 Years Ago
  13. Wild Bill Jones
  14. Peg and Awl
  15. I Was Born in Pennsylvania
  16. I'm Going Back to North Carolina
  17. Be at Home Soon Tonight, My Dear Boy
  18. The Wreck on the Southern Old 97
  19. Blue Eyed Ella
  20. New River Train
  21. Rovin' Gambler
  22. I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again
  23. Butcher's Boy
  24. O! Molly Dear Go Ask Your Mother
  25. Broken Engagement

Disc 3

  1. The Dying Hobo
  2. Beneath the Weeping Willow Tree
  3. My Horses Ain't Hungry
  4. Bright Sherman Valley
  5. The Cuckoo She's a Fine Bird
  6. Hand Me Down My Walking Cane
  7. Bye and Bye You Will Soon Forget Me
  8. Oh, My Pretty Monkey
  9. I Love My Sweetheart the Best
  10. Henry Clay Beattie
  11. I Want a Nice Little Fellow
  12. My Name Is John Jo Hannah
  13. In the Shadow of the Pine
  14. Charles Giteau
  15. I'm Nobody's Darling on Earth
  16. She Has Gone and Left Me
  17. Row Us Over the Tide
  18. I Have No Loving Mother Now
  19. For Seven Long Years I've Been Married
  20. Charley, He's a Good Old Man
  21. The Henpecked Man
  22. She Just Kept Kissing On
  23. All My Sins Are Taken Away
  24. Cave Love Has Gained the Day
  25. I Heard Somebody Call My Name

Disc 4

  1. The Longest Train I Ever Saw
  2. Sweet Heaven When I Die
  3. Miss Lisa, Poor Girl
  4. Darling Where Have You Been So Long
  5. If I Die a Railroad Man
  6. I'm Goin' to Georgia
  7. The Curtains of Night
  8. Seven Long Years in Prison
  9. When a Man Is Married
  10. Goodbye, My Honey, I'm Gone
  11. Tell It to Me
  12. Johnson Boy
  13. Green Mountain Polka
  14. Skidd More
  15. Flop Eared Mule
  16. Darneo
  17. Soldier's Joy
  18. Darling Child
  19. Under the Double Eagle
  20. Fourteen Days in Georgia
  21. Sandy River Belle
  22. Round Town Girls
  23. Wish to the Lord I Had Never Been Born
  24. Going Down to Lynchburg Town

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Frank Hutchison   Primary Artist,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Soloist,Spoken Word
Carson Robison   Harmonica
Roy Smeck   Harmonica,Jew's Harp
Posey Rorer   Fiddle
Sam Freed   Violin
Claude Grant   Guitar,Vocals
Jack Grant   Mandolin,Vocals
Kelly Harrell   Vocals,Human Whistle
Jack Pierce   Fiddle,Vocals
Claude Slagle   Banjo
Henry Whitter   Guitar,Harmonica
Lonnie Austin   Fiddle
Joseph Alfred Stegall   Guitar
Arthur Wells   Banjo
Sherman Lawson   Fiddle
Charley La Prade   Fiddle
Lonnie Griffith   Guitar
Blue Ridge Highballers   Track Performer
Luther B. Clarke   Vocals
Gorodetzer   Fiddle
Raymond D. Hundley   Banjo
Henry Norton   Vocals

Technical Credits

Pat Harrison   Liner Notes

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