Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Live In Seattle - 1969

(Stanley Family Records 75531-01487) 2018

Live In Seattle - 1969
Rear Cover L-R: Curly Ray Cline, Barney Munger, Ralph, Larry Sparks

Average Album Rating: 4.6
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This 2xCD set features a live performance by Ralph from 27th May 1969 at the University Of Washington in Seattle. The gig was the penultimate show in a 4-5 week tour of the West Coast that was organised by Steve Waller (Sawtooth Mountain Boys)[1] and which included dates in Hollywood, Santa Barbara, California and La Grande, Oregon.[2]

Sound quality is pretty good and it's great to have a complete show with two sets and a total running time of 1 hr 34 mins, even though Ralph's vocal occassionally sounds a bit fatigued, and a couple of numbers during the 'request' section are a bit sloppy. Having said that, at the time of the recording Larry Sparks and Curly Ray Cline had been with Ralph for a couple of years, and the band were generally on top form. Larry Sparks lays down some excellent lead guitar work, and Curly Ray and Ralph were a hard combination to beat at this time.

Melvin Goins the regular bassist was absent from this gig, with local musician Barney Munger filling in. According to a stage announcement by Ralph, Melvin was sick and had to stay behind in Kentucky. Melvin later gave the date he left Ralph as 18th May 1969,[3] about a week before the Seattle show.

This recording was also made about 6 weeks before the Carlton Haney' Berryville festival performance that was partially released on the Live at Watermelon Park CD. It's not surprising then that there is a degree of overlap in the song selection / dialogue. The Watermelon park set probably has the edge sound-wise, but is now quite hard to find. This Seattle show does have the advantage, however, of being recorded in stereo and with all the dialogue seemingly intact.

At the time of the gig I Only Exist and My Long Skinny Lanky Sarah Jane had yet to be recorded by Ralph, and were later cut for the Hills Of Home LP a few weeks later in 14-15th July 1969. Four songs are also feature on Ralph's first two solo King LP's with Lost Train, Hemlock And Primroses being from Brand New Country Songs and Going Up Home To Live In Green Pastures and What Kind Of Man from Over The Sunset Hill. The remaining song selection is drawn largely from the Stanley Brothers' catalogue and Curly Ray's ...And His Lonesome Pine Fiddle debut LP.

A large proportion of the second set consists of requests, and it's noteworthy that Ralph turns down a request for Footprints In The Snow saying "We don't know the Footprints In The Snow", when the lyrics for it are included in his recently produced 'Song & Picture Folio No. 1' which he advertises heavily at the end of the first set! (This is presumably down to the abscence of Melvin Goins, who sometimes sang a Bill Monroe number in shows around that time.)

The 'Songbook Sales Pitch' is also interesting as Ralph goes through the pictures at the front of the booklet, giving a few details on each of them, and cracks a joke about a fictional picture of Curly Ray (which must have been refering to either fan club president/vice president Fay McGinnis / Norma Fannin, as aside from a group pic. Curly Ray doesn't otherwise figure in the photos).

Overall this another welcome archive release on Ralph II's 'Stanley Family Records'. Let's hope there's more to come!!

The 2xCD set comes housed in a three-fold card sleeve, with liner notes by Gary Reid, and can be obtained from
(If buying from the UK however, be aware that CDBaby will declare the full customs value and with Royal Mail's handling fee, you can expect to pay a surcharge of 12.25 or so for Customs/Handling.)

One cut from the album, Clinch Mountain Breakdown can also be found on youtube.

Further Notes:

Another recording of Ralph from Montreal 26th April 1969, was presumably made at the start of the tour. This duplicates about 12 tracks but features Melvin Goins and a guest spot by the Canadian bluegrass duo 'Bob & Rose'. A highlight of this set is a version of The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers' You're No Good with Melvin Goins on lead vocal, though he notes in the introduction "We don't mean anything by the title of this song".

A first hand report of the Seattle and La Grande shows appeared in the Dec. 1969 Ralph Stanley Fan Club newsletter by Steve Waller. I've reproduced part of this this below, but worth noting that after the La Grande show on the 28th, the band had to hit the road to travel to their next date two days later in Chicago - approx. a 1,900 mile drive!

L-R: Steve Waller, Ralph & Callean Waller at the Seattle show.

On May 27, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys put on an excellent concert for the few but greatly enthusiastic fans at the University of Washington in Seattle. Phil and Vivian Williams were responsible for bringing Ralph to the great Northwest and the concert sponsored by the Seattle Folklore Centre, a very active organisation. This concert was reviewed by my friend John Bieker in the recent newsletter. Naturally my wife and I went and saw Ralph again. And after the show, Ralph and his wife, Curly, Larry, Callean and I went over to Phil and Vivian's house where the troupe was spending the night and listened to the superb tape of the show on Phil's equipment. After visiting quite a while, we drove back to Ellensburg and go to bed at 4.00am. Well worth it!

The next day was to prove even more fun than the first. Ralph with everyone in his station wagon drove from Seattle to Ellensburg and met Callean and I at noon. The boys wanted to look at some 'western wear', so I took them to the local saddle and cowboy duds store. They didn't find anthing they wanted. We then left for La Grande in eastern Oregon (the town where my folks live fall and winter, and where I went to high school) where the boys had a concert that night, May 28. Ralph followed our little Chevy II. We crossed some of the prettiest parts of Washington and Oregon -- beautiful mountains of 6,0000 feet to sage brush covered deserts. Just before we crossed Columbia River into Umatilla, Oregon a drunk driver (the only other car we'd seen for 40 miles) nearly ran our car and Ralph's off the road. Just ask Larry, he was driving. We got to Pendleton site of the famous Pendelton Round-Up Rodeo and where the famous shirts are made, at about 4:00 pm. Again we stopped and looked for western wear. Jimmi wanted a blouse, so Calleen helped her look, while Ralph, Curly and Larry and I went to the western wear store in town and they still didn't find what they wanted. I guess our western clothes out here are just too practical and for working the ranch in, and not showy enough for bluegrass musicians. Well, after a cup of coffee at the restaurant in town, we all left Pendleton for La Grande just 55 miles east and over a big mountain. This drive had some of the prettiest scenery we'd had all day. Many western movies are filmed in this area of Oregon.

Well we finally go to La Grande, and went to Ron Emmons' home. He and Duane Boyer were hosts for the La Grande show. Both boys are college students at Eastern Oregon College in La Grande, and play in a bluegrass band called the Blue Mountain Crested Wheatgrass Boys (to be reviewed in BU in the near future). The concert started at 8:00 with Ralph playing the first 45 min., then Ron and Duane's band, then Ralph again to end of the show. I was lucky enough to be asked to play with Ralph on the last set. As Melvin Goins dropped out of the group, Duane Boyer (who usually picks banjo) stood in with the Clinch Mountain Boys on bass during this show. A great time was had by all, despite the fact that bluegrass music is relatively new to this area. Most of the people there had never heard of Bluegrass music or Ralph Stanley, but that night they got a lesson or two from the masters. I'm sure these people will want more bluegrass and old time music and more Ralph Stanley in the near future. (We are hoping to get them again before or just after the Far East Tour in November).

That night, after the La Grande show, a tired Ralph and the boys left in their trusty station wagon for Chicago, Illinois, where they had a show on the evening of the 30th. That's a heckuva long drive in two days, but Larry and Ralph were determined to do it. That shows the energy this great group of musicians puts forth. They deserve a great deal of credit, and all the support we can give them.

CD One:
Pig In A Pen

P.D. or Arthur Smith?
Lost Train

Curly Ray Cline / Arthur Smith
Don't Step Over An Old Love

Fred Stryker
Little Maggie

Long Journey Home

Black Mountain Blues

Leslie Keith
Going Up Home To Live In Green Pastures

Avril Gearheart / R. Stanley
What Kind Of Man

R. Stanley / Larry sparks
I Only Exist

Joyce Morris / Jimmie Stanley
My Long Skinny Lanky Sarah Jane

R. Stanley
Clinch Mountain Backstep

Ruby Rakes
Songbook Sales Pitch

CD Two:
How Mountain Girls Can Love

Ruby Rakes
Hemlock And Primroses

Landon Messer
Little Birdie

Daybreak In Dixie

Bill Napier
Rank Stranger

Albert E. Brumley
Gonna Paint The Town

R. Stanley
Hard Times

R. Stanley
Angel Band

Jefferson Hascall / William B. Bradbury
Big Tilda

R. Stanley
Stone Walls And Steel Bars

Ray Pennington / Roy E. Marcum
Orange Blossom Special

Ervin T. Rouse
How Far To Little Rock

Ruby Rakes
Pretty Polly / Wild Bill Jones

I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow

R.D. Burnett
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms


Bill Monroe (aka Joe Ahr)
Closing Remarks

Think Of What You've Done

C. Stanley

Go To Top Of Page [1] Ralph Stanley comments dedicating Daybreak In Dixie to Steve Waller on the 5th July Afternoon show at Watermelon Park, Berryville Va. Ralph:- "I'd like to do it for a real good friend of ours,, that we've been knowing know for a few years. Steve Waller, lives out on the West Coast. The last 4 or 5 weeks and he led us all over the state of Oregon and Washington and I don't where we're all (be) if it hadn't a been for Steve, I guess we'd a been lost yet."
[2] Album liner notes by Gary Reid.
[3] Melvin left 18th May 1969 - liner notes to The Goins Brothers - Bluegrass Hits Old & New (REM LP-1041) 1969