Clinch Mountain Echo

Various Artists - American Folk & Country Music Festival

(Bear BCD-16849 BK) 2007


American Folk & Country Music Festival
Rear Box Cover CD Front Cover CD Rear Cover CD Tray
Front Book Cover A few of the pictures from the book - © John Cohen A few of the pictures from the book - © John Cohen
A few of the pictures from the book - © John Cohen Boston 26th Feb 1966 Tour Programme (courtesy Gary B. Reid)

This 2xCD set features a live concert from 17th March 1966 at the Glocke Concert Hall[1] in Bremen, Germany. The show was part of the European package tour that took place between 4-20th March with gigs in Germany (10), Switzerland (2), England (1), Denmark (1) and Sweden (1). On the bill were The Stanley Brothers, New Lost City Ramblers, Cousin Emmy, Roscoe Holcomb and Cyp Landreneau's Cajun Band. - Kind of like the 'Down From The Mountain' tour, but 40 years before "Oh Brother"!

About a week before the tour the acts gathered in New Jersey to record TV shows for Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Quest" [2], followed by two warm up gigs at New York's Fashion Institute and the Boston Winter Festival.[3] They then flew out to Germany and to help promote the tour, the acts recorded a 45min TV show in the SWF studios at Baden-Baden between 1st-3rd March.[4]

Tracy Schwarz later recalled that upon arrival in Baden-Baden they were given "exactly one hour... to rest before we were picked up by our van driver and whisked to the SWF TV studios to start three days of videotaping for the show called 'Volksmusik der Welt'".[5]

Ralph also later commented that Chick Stripling who was playing bass for the Stanleys "...got to drinking right before take-off and didn't stop for a week; he went crazy on the plane ride over; he was hassling all the passengers and he stumbled into the seat of one of the Lost City Ramblers who had his little baby onboard and Chick fell over and nearly killed the baby."[6]

Carter too was suffering from jet-lag (and possibly a hangover), so his performance on the German TV show is a bit below par - Ralph:- "Carter was busy wearing himself down and it really showed. He was doing poorly, in body and in spirit both... Now he was tired most of the time; the jet lag wore him out. But it wasn't just the trip; it was all them years of hard road catching up with him. It was the first time I ever saw him really, really down. He was in a place where you couldn't reach him. He could still manage the job onstage, but it wasn't the same. His strength was gone and his old spark was fading, right in front of my eyes."[6]

After the German TV show, live concerts were held in Hamburg (4th), Nürnberg (5th), Kaiserslautern (6th), Geneva in Switzerland (7th), Düsseldorf (8th), Gießen (9th) and Köln (10th) before flying to London for a gig at the Royal Albert Hall (11th) and then back again to Germany. They then played Frankfurt (12th) and Berlin (13th), before heading to Sweden and a show in Stockholm (14th), followed by a day off and Copenhagen in Denmark (16th). By this point Chick Stripling, who'd taken advantege of the 'duty free' at the airports had wore out his welcome and was put on a plane back to the 'States. Tracy Schwarz took over on bass and and the tour returned to Germany for the show in Bremen (17th), followed by another in München (18th) and a final gig in Basel, Switzerland (20th).

The CMB's on the tour seems to have been dependant on who was available ahead of time, when passports had to be obtained. Melvin Goins had joined the band in the run-up to the tour, but was "a week too late for the trip".[7] Curly Ray Cline also later recalled that The Stanley's had wanted him to play, but that they couldn't get in touch in time.[8] The ubiquitous George Shuffler played lead guitar/bass, but instead of Melvin and Curly Ray, Chick Stripling filled the bass/comedy slot and Don Miller provided fiddle. According to Curly Ray, Ralph later commented that they really needed him on that trip.[6] Incidentally Don Miller also worked with Ed Cassady and The Hidden Valley Ramblers (aka Ed Cassady and The Georgia Corn Stompers), who recorded one excellent LP.[9]

The Bremen show on the 17th was recorded by the TV production division of Bremen Radio, although I'm not sure whether it was broadcast or just recorded by the tour promoters. The Stanley's opened and closed the concert, and despite Carter suffering with a 'little laryngitis' it's still a reasonably good appearance.

The show kicks off with a slightly sluggish How Mountain Girls Can Love, followed by the instrumental Wildwood Flower featuring Ralph, George Shuffler & Don Miller on fiddle. Carter then does a little comedy before Nobody's Business closes the first set.

One highlight is an a cappella rendition of Village Churchyard by Roscoe Holcomb with the Stanleys, and the 76-page book that accompanies the CD has a couple of priceless pictures of Roscoe and Ralph (and Carter) singing from a gospel hymn book on the tour bus. It begs the question whether this influenced Ralph's later decision to introduce a cappella singing into his live sets and recording. Either way, this 1966 performance is the earliest documented on stage a cappella gospel song by a bluegrass act. (Ralph of course re-recorded Village Churchyard a cappella in 1971 on his Old Country Church LP.)

Needless to say, the other concert material by Roscoe Holcomb and The New Lost City Ramblers is excellent, but it's Cousin Emmy's effervescent performance that galvanises the crowd and steals the show. Cyp Landreneau's Mamou Playboys (or as Carter refers to them 'The Cajun Band') are perhaps more of an acquired taste, but also one well worth checking out.

The Stanley's also close the concert with a longer second set, which kicks of with Ridin' On That Midnight Train and closes with a Monroe Brothers medley, before a finale with all the bands on stage. This second set also includes a short instrumental guitar version of Cannonball Blues, which is I think is the only version by the Stanley Brothers to have resurfaced.

One thing also I've noticed, when learning Stone Walls And Steel Bars, is that the version here is performed in the key of 'G' rather than the usual 'A'. It begs the question whether the Stanleys were lowering keys at that point to make it easier for Carter to sing?

At one point in the New Lost City Rambler's set, Mike Seeger says that usually they would normally perform at least two Stanley Brothers songs, but implies that as the real thing are on the bill they would have to go a little further back and do a version of The Blue Sky Boys (Happy) Sunny Side Of Life. Tracy Schwarz later recalled how Carter had remarked how much he liked the song, and burst into an impromptu rendition with Tracy adding tenor.[5] Perhaps they were unaware that The Stanley's had also recorded this song at their Dec. 1963 Wango sessions (which was released as a John's Gospel Quarter 45 (Wango 1783) and later resurfaced on the On The Air LP.)

The tour was also an opportunity for the New Lost City Ramblers to get to know the bands. Mike Seeger recorded separate interview's on the bus with Ralph and Carter:- "I spent some time with Carter, who, during this final year of his life, was reflective, wanting to talk, proud of his music. I had borrowed a battery tape recorder for this tour and recorded some of our conversation and some of the other goings-on during our trip."[5] Part of the one with Carter has subsequently been uploaded to youtube, where you can hear Cousin Emmy, Roscoe Holcomb and Tracy & Eloise's baby daughter in the background... as well as a lot of noise from the coach engine. I've attempted to clean some of the noise and you can download an MP3 of the result here (it's saved as a 67Mb zip file). It is quite a fascinating interview. At one point Carter mentions that he's "very sore foot" which is "making it really hard to work"[10]... I wonder whether he was also perhaps suffering from gout at the time?

Although Carter is said to have been in low spirits, he and George Shuffler were still pulling pranks... Mike Seeger:- "There were occasional practical jokes, such as Carter's pick-pocketing George's passport and observing George's increasingly frantic search for it as we approached the customs officers. I was happy at that point not to be a member of the band." [5]

Carter also wrote one of his final songs Wonderful World Outside during the tour, apparently inspired by the airplane flight, which according to Ralph he "...introduced it onstage as 'the first song I ever wrote on an airplane'" explaining "It's about a prisoner, a lonesome man cut off from all the everyday pleasures outside the prison bars, I believe that's how Carter felt. It was the last song he ever wrote.".[6] Ralph later cut the song on his Brand New Country Songs LP.

The CD's are packaged in a 12" x 12" box, and accompanied by a lavish 76-page LP sized hard cover book. This includes a plethora of photo's from the tour, including several candid tour shots taken by John Cohen, and others taken by audience members. The book also contains copies of tour memorabilia and recollections by John Cohen, Mike Seeger and Tracy Schwarz.[11] At around $65 for two CD's[12], it is a bit pricey, but there is also a MP3 version (without the lavish book) at a much cheaper price. It is a bit of a shame though that Bear didn't see fit to also include the 45min DVD of the Baden-Baden TV show...

I suspect that other material from the tour may also exist. The 2xCD live collection of New Lost City Ramblers '40 Years Of Concert Performances' (Rounder 82161-0481-2) 2001 includes Sourwood Mountain, credited as an 'on-stage jam with members of the Stanley Brothers band' from Germany, though it doesn't identify any non NLCR personnel.

 

For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's recordings, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 197 and 221-222.

Track:
Title:
CD One:
(54:05)
1
Introduction by John Cohen

N/A
2
How Mountain Girls Can Love
- Stanley Brothers

Ruby Rakes
3
Wildwood Flower
- Stanley Brothers

A.P. Carter
4
Nobody's Business
- Stanley Brothers

Porter Grainger / Everett Robbins ?
5
Village Churchyard
Roscoe Holcomb & The Stanley Brothers

P.D.
6
East Virginia Blues
- Roscoe Holcomb

A.P. Carter
7
Graveyard Blues
- Roscoe Holcomb

Roscoe Holcomb
8
Motherless Children See A Hard Time
- Roscoe Holcomb

P.D.
9
Introduction by Carter Stanley

N/A
10
Soldier's Joy
- New Lost City Ramblers

P.D.
11
Gold Watch And Chain
- New Lost City Ramblers

A.P. Carter
12
Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies
- New Lost City Ramblers

P.D.
13
Coo Coo Bird
- New Lost City Ramblers

P.D.
14
Hawkins Rag
- New Lost City Ramblers

P.D.
15
Bachelor Blues
- New Lost City Ramblers

Steve Ledford
16
Sunny Side Of Life
- New Lost City Ramblers

J. Wesley Watts / Tillit S. Teddlie ?
17
Saddle Up The Grey
- New Lost City Ramblers

P.D.
CD Two:
(53:36)
1
Introduction to Cajun music by John Cohen

N/A
2
La Danse Du Lac Charles
- Cyp Landreneau's Cajun Band

Cyp Landreneau
3
La Valse De La Prairie Ronde
- Cyp Landreneau's Cajun Band

Cyp Landreneau
4
Hipitayo
- Cyp Landreneau's Cajun Band

P.D.
5
La Valse De L'Ansemaphin
- Cyp Landreneau's Cajun Band

Cyp Landreneau
6
Introduction by Mike Seeger

N/A
7
Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
- Cousin Emmy

P.D.
8
Ain't It Hard To Love One Who Don't Love You
- Cousin Emmy

P.D.
9
Pretty Little Miss In The Garden
- Cousin Emmy

P.D.
10
I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes
- Cousin Emmy

A.P. Carter
11
Shortnin' Bread
- Cousin Emmy

Jacques Wolfe / Clement Wood
12
Danced All Night
- Cousin Emmy

Carver ?
13
Turkey In The Straw
- Cousin Emmy

P.D.
14
Old Smokey
- Roscoe Holcomb

P.D.
15
Introduction by Carter Stanley & Mike Seeger

N/A
16
Riding On That Midnight Train
- Stanley Brothers

R. Stanley
17
Leather Britches
- Stanley Brothers

P.D.
18
Cannonball Blues
- Stanley Brothers

A.P. Carter
19
Stone Walls And Steel Bars
- Stanley Brothers

Ray Pennington / Roy E. Marcum
20
Little Birdie
- Stanley Brothers

P.D.
21
Rank Stranger
- Stanley Brothers

Albert E. Brumley
22
Jordan
- Stanley Brothers

P.D.
23
Medley (Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms / Long Journey Home / Katie Cline)
- Stanley Brothers

P.D.
24
Chicken Reel
- All bands on stage

P.D.

Go To Top Of Page [1] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Glocke_(Bremen)
[2] The Stanley Brothers and Cousin Emmy were featured on 'Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest: The Stanley Bros. & Doc Watson' (Shanachie 605) 2005; Roscoe Holcomb (with Johnny Cash & June Carter) on (Shanachie 606) 2005; New Lost City Ramblers (with the Greenbriar Boys) on (Shanachie 608) 2005; and Cyp Landrenau (as Mamou Cajun Band) on (Shanachie 609) 2005.
[3] Ray Allen's book- 'Gone To The Country - The New Lost City Ramblers & The Folk Music Revival' (p.175-177)
[4] The 'Volksmusik der Welt' TV show was reissued on DVD as 'V/A - American Folk & Country Music' (Bear Family BVD-20101-AT) 2003
[5] Accompanying book to the 2xCD 'American Folk & Country Music Festival' box set.
[6] Ralph Stanley and Eddie Dean's book 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' (p.239-241) Although Ralph refers to Wonderful World Outside as the last song Carter wrote, it's more accurate to say it was the last to be completed. Lyrics to two unfinished songs were later found - see the Jeanie Stanley - Baby Girl for details.
[7] David W. Johnson's book 'Lonesome Melodies - The Lives And Muic Of The Stanley Brothers' (p. 227)
[8] Interview with Curly Ray Cline in John Wright's book 'Traveling The High Way Home' (p. 131)
[9] Ed Cassady & The Hidden Valley Ramblers - 'From The Heart Of Bluegrass Country' (Mount Vernon MVM 166) 1963. Also reissued as by Ed Cassady & The Georgia Corn Stompers - 'Bluegrass Banjo Hootenanny' (Coronet CX(S) 207). Several tracks from the album also appeared uncredited on the V/A - 'Nashville Saturday Night' (Mount Vernon VS-513) LP.
[10] At around 1:10:47 on the MP3.
[11] The book which comes with the box set has some great anecdotes = for instance after the show in Sweden the entourage had trouble finding a place to eat, John Cohen:- "We all ended up in a desolate club where tiny sandwiches cost many dollars, and it was necessary to pay for checking your coats. When the coat check man confronted us with 'but this is Sweden' Ralph Stanley summed up the whole feeling of frustration in two well chosen words."
[12] Price as of 26th April 2017:- https://www.bear-family.com/various-history-american-folk-und-country-festival-2-cd.html