Engine 143 - Dave Alvin. 2000.  Public Domain.   3.57.
Dave Alvin.Los Angeles, California.1955-    With his brother Phil was a founder member of the great Roots rock band, The Blasters. He wrote the songs & Phil sung them. After several classic albums they fell out & Dave left to pursue a solo career. Has made a number of highly acclaimed albums, ranging from roots rock to old time, such as Public Domain. Quite a number of country(ish) artists have recorded his songs, some having hits with them.

Ommie Wise – G.B.Grayson. 1927.   (an actual event in 1808)
G.B.Grayson. Ashe County, N.C. 11.11.1888 – 16.8.1930.  A fiddler, G.B. Grayson was among the first to record several folk standards, including "Tom Dooley," "The Banks of the Ohio," and "Train 45." He was blinded as an infant and became a musician. Many of his best recordings for Victor were made with Henry Whitter, a guitarist and harmonica player. Perhaps the longest-lasting (thanks to its revival in the '50s by the Kingston Trio), "Tom Dooley" was a song dear to Grayson's heart — his grand uncle, a North Carolina sheriff. arrested Tom Dooley himself. Grayson died in 1930, the victim of an automobile accident.

Single girl, married girl – Carter family. 1927. (First session)

Charles Guiteau – Kelly Harrell. 1927.
Kelly Harrell. - 1889-1942. Wythe County,Virginia.
Kelly Harrell played no instruments so had to hire players to accompany his singing. Wrote some fairly good songs, including "Away out on the mountain" which Jimmie Rodgers used on the flip side of "Blue yodel.(T for Texas)". The nearest he himself got to a hit was with "Charles Guiteau", a song about the man who assasinated President Garfield.
He came from the souths, rough textile mill culture, which was also a musical hot bed. In 1925 he made his first recordings, for Victor in N.Y.C. Later that year he recorded for Okeh in North Carolina. In 1927 he recorded with the Virginia string band backing him, & these proved to be his bestsellers. He made his last recordings in 1929. When the depression hit, companies refused to pay the bill for backing musicians so he went back to working in the mill, & just performing locally.
He died of a heart attack in 1942.  

Gonna die with my hammer in my hand – Williamson brothers & Curry.1927. (a version of “John Henry”)
The Williamson Brothers, Arnold (fiddle) and Irving  (guitar), were one of the old-timey acts prevalent around the coal-mining area of Logan County, West Virginia. Along with Frank Hutchison (a near neighbor) and Dick Justice, the Williamsons recorded several sides for Okeh during the late '20s, most with the addition of Curry (about whom nothing is known). Though they rarely recorded after the '20s, the Williamson Brothers continued to perform around West Virginia for decades. Many of their sides were compiled on the Document collection Old-Time Music from West Virginia (1927-1929).

John Henry was a little boy - J.E.Mainers Mountaineers. 1936. Harry Smith, vol.4.
J.E.Mainer. Weaversville, N.C. 20.7.1898 – 12.6.1971.  Mainer's Mountaineers, with their leader J.E. Mainer on fiddle, were one of the most popular string bands of the 1930s. They formed an important link between old-time string music and bluegrass, and their musical life exemplified several important aspects of the musical culture of the mountain southeast: the importance of the brother duet, the early link between country music and radio advertising, and the prevalence of turn-of-the-century sentimental song in the repertories of 1930s musicians. Mainer was born in Buncombe County, NC, and was raised in the mountains. His first instrument was the banjo, which he played at local square dances. Mainer's music, like that of other southeastern performers, offered an alternative to working in North Carolina's hellish textile mills; Mainer left home for mill work in his mid-teens, landing first in Knoxville, TN, and then in Concord, NC, where   he moved in 1922 and lived for the rest of his life. At one point, having turned his banjo over to his brother Wade temporarily, he sold some agricultural seed on commission and drew his pay in the form of a tin fiddle. After he mastered the showpiece "John Henry," he invested in a better instrument. Soon he and Wade had joined with other local musicians to form a band. Mainer's appetite for performing was whetted when he started winning top prizes at fiddle contests. By the early '30s, the commercial potential of country music on radio had been amply demonstrated, and Charlotte's Crazy Water Crystals Company (a purveyor of bottled water containing mineral salts of dubious medical value) offered Mainer's Mountaineers a series of promotional appearances and a slot on Charlotte's powerful WBT radio station. The group, now featuring John Love and Zeke Morris on guitars, was re-christened the Crazy Mountaineers and remained on WBT for four years. The fame they attained interested record companies in turn, and the group recorded its first sides for the Bluebird label in Atlanta in 1935. One of the 14 songs recorded at that session was "Maple on the Hill," a turn-of-the-century sentimental standard originally composed by the African-American Cincinnati janitor-composer Gussie Davis.The song had been introduced to country audiences by both Vernon Dalhart and the Carter Family, but the mournful warmth of J.E.'s fiddle and Wade's banjo made it a country standard. In 1936, Wade and Zeke Morris left to form the Sons of the Mountaineers, while J.E. and his new lineup, consisting of Snuffy Jenkins, George Morris, and Leonard Stokes, spent over a year playing on radio stations in Spartanburg and Columbia. In 1939, with new musicians once again, Mainer recorded once more for Bluebird with Clyde Moody and Jay Hugh Hall. After World War II, Mainer became one of the first artists signed to the independent Cincinnati label King and made recordings with a band featuring his sons Curly and Glenn. New musical trends were in the air by then, however, and Mainer returned home to Concord. For the next 15 years he made mostly local appearances. The Mountaineers were rediscovered during the folk revival in 1962 by Chris Strachwitz of the California-based Arhoolie label. At that time, Mainer's Mountaineers recorded The Legendary Family From the Blue Ridge Mountains, which introduced Mainer's music to a whole new generation. King reissued some of the Mountaineers recordings (such as Good Ole Mountain Music) in the early '60s, and over the course of that decade Mainer recorded several more albums and made appearances on the radio and at festivals. He continued to perform until his death in 1971.

John Henry - Snakefarm. 1999. Songs from my funeral.
Snakefarm.  N.Y.C.  1995-   Built around Anna Domino & her husband Michael Delory. Domino travelled widely, finishing up in Belgium, where she made several hit albums for a local label. They made it back to the states where her love of roots music took over & they consequently released this album, which was well reviewed.

John Henry - Tara Nevins.(voc.Jim Miller) 1999. (done as a bluegrass).(both are members of Donna the Buffalo).

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