Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1207

Ranch Radio's Roots Week continues with Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers and their 1925 recording of Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues.  Poole is on vocals and banjo, Poole's brother-in-law Posey Rorer is on fiddle and Norman Woodlief is on guitar.  You'll recognize the tune as its become a country and bluegrass standard.  This selection is from his first recording session on July 27, 1925 where four songs were recorded.  This was two years prior to the Bristol Sessions so they had to travel to New York City to record.  There is plenty of info on Poole and his influence on Country Music, but I like these liner notes from the Poole compilation You Ain't Talking To Me:

A millworker and moonshiner, Charlie Poole spent most of his adult years wandering the South, raising hell. He and the band he called the North Carolina Ramblers would leave home for weeks at a time, playing for barn dances and on street corners. Through that piecemeal work, his spry sound spread, influencing countless musicians. It later became a core component of bluegrass. Poole (1892--1931) played the banjo with three fingers. He'd damaged his right hand in a drunken wager (he claimed he could catch a baseball without a glove no matter how hard it was thrown, and lost), and taught himself to play in what was called a "clawhammer" style. His time was flawless: On this anthology of his 78-RPM recordings, Poole taps out a tempo so strong it carries his accomplices (usually a guitarist and a fiddler) right along with it. Poole's nimble group favored brisk tempos that kept people dancing. The band's repertoire included Civil War ballads, woebegone drifter laments ("May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister" is one of the highlights on this three-disc set), early blues, mountain dances, and vaudeville numbers. Poole's drinking binges and renegade exploits made him a legend in the Piedmont hills of Virginia and North Carolina, where he sold most of his records. He continued to record until 1930, and when Columbia records canceled his contract, Poole went back to millwork, suffering from depression. He died at age thirty-nine, after a thirteen-week bender. His records survived, however: Several famous bluegrass banjo stars, including Don Reno, learned their craft listening to Poole. But it wasn't until Harry Smith's 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music that those outside the Piedmont region appreciated the fiery sounds of country music's first renegade.

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