Tompkins Square has put out the first major anthology of the Red Fox Chasers, a North Carolina String band that recorded in the 20s and 30s. All’s not well with this 2-disc set however, which is shocking as People Take Warning is one of my favorite box-sets of pre-war music and Fire In My Bones (review coming soon!) is just as good. This set has 42 sides,spread across 4 or 5 different sessions. Unfortunately the notes only present clues to when and where these songs were recorded – my number one pet peeve in the reissue world.
The music itself is terrific of course, the Red Fox Chasers who often live in Charlie Poole’s shadow are accomplished musicians and pull off close harmony better than almost any other string band of the time. Naomi Wise is their version of the classic North Carolina murder ballad of a girl who is beaten and drowned by her boyfriend who preceded to escape several prisons before karma would catch up to him. A brief scan of Google shows theirs a handful recorded versions of this ballad around , though I only have Doc Watson covering it – feel free to send a couple this way.
Buy Album Here!
Red Fox Chasers – Naomi Wise
Red Fox Chasers- Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?
A lot of really wonderful pre-war discs came out towards the end of the 2009 and I missed them all. Of course I get emails promoting pretty much everything BUT pre-war music so I’m playing catch up now. The first of these discs is Gastonia Gallop, a collection of pre-war country/folk songs from Gaston County, North Carolina a place that holds special place in my heart as my Grandparents lived there for most of their lives. As a kid I can remember my Grandfather driving me through the mill houses, for the mill that had long been closed, showing where his friends/cousins lived and how what the impact the mill closing had on the city and the riot of 29 that changed the racial landscape of the city.
This is and Old Hat release, a North Carolina based reissue label who, all state pride aside, are doing the best work around. Their releases are singular in thought and vision. They don’t make sprawling multi disc releases covering everyone who passed through Gaston County, but a selection of important records covering the scope of material – and presented with a strong point of view and narrative that is supplemented by wonderful liner notes. Both tracks presented here are great examples of how “urban” Gaston County musicians sounded – compare this to the string bands to the east and blues musicians to the north during the same time period and it’s a night and day difference from instrumental complexity to just the sound of the recordings, both things not normally associated with pre-war country. It’s great fun to compare the second side here with a lot of the Piedmont blues songs from this period, men had the same thoughts about Carolina girls every where.
Buy Gaston Gallop here!
Wilmer Watts & The Lonely Eagles – She’s A Hard Boiled Rose (1929)
David McCarn – Take Them For A Ride (1930)