Clinch Mountain Echo

Ken Clark & The Merry Mountain Boys - S/T

Featuring Fiddling Don 'Chubby' Anthony

(BACM BACM-CD-D-523) 2016


Ken Clark & The Merry Mountain Boys
Rear Cover CD Tray Chubby Anthony Ken Clark

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Information on Ken Clark and His Merry Mountain Boys is a bit sketchy, but as far as I can tell Chubby Anthony played on one or two sessions circa 1958 or '59, which resulted in 4 or 5 songs.

Prague Frank's online discography lists Chubby as appearing on three sessions from c1959 to Feb 1960, but this is probably incorrect, as some of the songs from those sessions don't feature any fiddle, and the sound is noticeably different.

Chubby definitely appears on Chubby's Run, Rambler's Ride, and a track called Bluegrass Swing, which all appeared on the V/A - Fiddlin Country Style LP in 1959, credited to 'Ken Clark with Don Anthony'. Chubby also appeared on Lee Highway Ramble which came out on a 7" EP of country fiddle instrumentals, again credited to 'Ken Clark with Don Anthony' (Starday SEP-130) in 1960... but this CD-R includes Lee Highway Swing and erroneously lists it is as coming from the V/A - Fiddlin Country Style LP. It could be that Lee Highway Ramble was just an alternate title for Bluegrass Swing, and B.A.C.M have just merged the two titles? To confuse matters further, Candy Man is also listed on the CD-R artwork as featuring Chubby, but as that song doesn't feature any fiddle, and was only credited to Ken Clark on the original Starday 45, I think this is a typo.

The other track which sounds like it probably does feature Chubby is Merry Mountain Hoedown, and it is one Prague Frank has listed as featuring Chubby (along with Rubber Doll Rag which isn't featured on this CD-R). Merry Mountain Hoedown first appeared on 'Six Country Instrumentals' 7" EP (Starday EP-477) 1959 and 'V/A - Country Express' LP (Starday SLP-109) c1959 as by Ken Clark.

Ralph described Chubby Anthony as: "...one of the best (fiddlers) and it's a shame he ain't better remembered. His 'Black Mountain Blues' was every bit as good as Leslie Keith's, and some will tell you it's better".[1]

Certainly, the tracks here are great:- Lee Highway Swing (Bluegrass Swing/Lee Highway Ramble?) is a fab version of Lee Highway Blues; Chubby's Run features the same kind of pizzicato interlude that Chubby used to great effect on the Stanley's Suwannee River Hoedown and Black Mountain Blues[2]; and Rambler's Ride is another pretty fine instrumental which you can also check out on youtube).

The remainder of the CD-R is decent enough early country / hillbilly material, and there's a kind of joyful ragged feeling to it, not quite quite bluegrass, but not quite rock 'n' roll. The banjo mixed with steel guitar and drums, sound pretty good, and most of the tracks have a definite '50s vibe about them, even though they include several tracks from the early '70s too.

Nearly all of the songs were written by William Ken Clark who played guitar and lead vocal. He was born in Moultrie, Ga. in 1932 where he grew up on a farm. In 1944 he moved to Jacksonville Fl. and met Buddy Walker, who was learning mandolin. Together they started performing on the 'Dixie Jamboree' radio show and in 1948 after meeting Don O'Neil they formed the Union County Boys and joined the 'Dixie Barn Dance'. In 1950 they had their own radio show on WPDQ in Jacksonville, but broke up in 1952 when Ken Clark joined the Airforce.

When Ken was discharged he returned to Jacksonville and formed Ken Clark and His Merry Mountain Boys. The group at the time consisted of Ken (guitar), Edgar Robertson (dobro), Chubby Anthony (fiddle), John Hancock (banjo) and Chuck O'Neal (bass).

In 1957, Ken signed to Starday and recorded around 40 songs, many of which were never released. He subsequently became the manager of a local trucking firm for over 40 years, while still promoting bluegrass/country shows and recording an LP and cassette in the early '70s. He died in June 2015.[3]

Ken was a prolific songwriter, with over 300 tunes to his name. Some were recorded by Cowboy Copas, The Willis Brothers, Benny Martin, Hylo Brown, and Howard Vokes. Bill Monroe recorded Ken's Mary At The Home Place in 1964, and the song was also later recorded by Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers, Ted Lundy, Bob Paisley & The Southern Mountain Boys and Special Consensus.

The CD-R comes with liner notes from Jerry Steinberg, and can be obtained direct from the British Archive of Country Music (B.A.C.M) via their website or from County Sales. The CD-R's are quite nifty, being designed like miniature 45s, and B.A.C.M. also have a compilation of Hobo Jack Adkins (writer of Another Night) which features The Goins Brothers and Curly Ray Cline on some cuts... There's also a compilation 'Custom Made Hillbilly Vol. 2' (BACM 390) with Ken's Ho! Ho! Love 'Em Joe and Quit Fool (Mamma's Lookin') Starday 45s.

Track:
Title:
CD-R:
(65:16)
1
A Thousand Miles Of Ocean

Ken Clark / Lloyd Copas
2
Big Man

Ken Clark
3
Lee Highway Swing
- Ken Clark with Don Anthony

Ken Clark / Don Anthony
4
Buckskin Coat

Ken Clark
5
Candy Man

Ken Clark
6
Chubby's Run
- Ken Clark with Don Anthony

Ken Clark / Chubby Anthony
7
Dobro Dolly

P.D.?
8
Rambler's Ride
- Ken Clark with Don Anthony

Ken Clark / Chubby Anthony
9
Pretty Love

Ken Clark
10
Southern Pacific Shore

Ken Clark
11
Southern Moon

????
12
Truck Drivin' Joe

Ken Clark
13
We're Too Far Apart

Ken Clark
14
Standing On The Outside

Ken Clark
15
Till Summer Comes Again

Ken Clark
16
I Couldn't Stand To Give You Up Again

Ken Clark
17
Country Jumpin'

Ken Clark
18
Open The Door And Come On In

Ken Clark
19
Stacking Up Those Memories

Ken Clark
20
This Maple Tree

Ken Clark
21
Tiny Doll

Ken Clark
22
Three Silver Dollars

William Ken Clark
23
You're Nobody Unless Somebody Cares

Ken Clark
24
Turn Back The World

Ken Clark
25
I Love Nellie Brown

Ken Clark
26
Simple Things In Life

Ken Clark
27
Gold Watch Chain

Ken Clark
28
Cross Over The Mountain

Ken Clark
29
Merry Mountain Hoedown
- Ken Clark with Don Anthony

Ken Clark / Clifton Milton / William York

Go To Top Of Page [1] Eddie Dean and Ralph Stanley's book 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' (p. 191)
[2] In Gary B. Reid's 'The Music Of The Stanley Brothers' book (p. 95), Chubby says that he was inolved in the writing of Suwannee River Hoedown. The pizzicato bit can also be heard on Black Mountain Blues on 'The Stanley Brothers - On Radio' (Rebel REB-CD-115) 1991 CD taken from 1960 radio sessions at Live Oak, FL.
[3] An online obituary has some excellent photos of Ken with His Merry Mountain Boys.