Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Sing Michigan Bluegrass

(Jessup MB 108) 1971

Sing Michigan Bluegrass
Rear Cover Side One Side Two Bluegrass Unlimited August 1971 Advert
Signed Copy

Average Album Rating: 4.67
(Total votes 12)

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This album was recorded on the Monday 30th August 1971 at Jessup Recording Studios in Jackson MI [1] after Ralph had played that weekend at Otis Woody's first annual Grassroots Music Festival near Port Huron, MI (Sat 28th/ Sun 29th) [2]. It's possible that they may have stopped over at Faye McGinnis' place in Wyandotte MI, which lies approx. half way between the Port Huron and Jackson. At the time Faye was President of the Ralph Stanley International Fan Club and also acted as the point of contact for the Grassroots festival.

In the liner notes to the 2xCD set The Complete Jessup Recordings Plus! Colin Escott says 'Stanley later said that he cut that first Jessup LP between sets at a bluegrass festival, but there was a preponderance of songs he'd never done before, so he'd certainly rehearsed beforehand.' Given the 140 or so miles between Port Huron and Jackson, it's more likely that Ralph rehearsed the material that weekend & cut it the following Monday.

All of the songs on the album were published by LA-Car Music Pub., Jessup's in-house publisher. For small independent labels mechanical royalties can be crippling, as they usually have to be paid at the point of production. It therefore makes sense to have a publishing company owned by the label & to record songs they control (or ones in the public domain (pd) that are 'free'). This may explain why all the songs on this release are new, rather than being drawn from the Stanley back-catalog.

Three of the songs: "Are You Proud Of America", "Rock Bottom" and "Let's Keep Old Glory Waving" were written by Gene Duty. The Stanley Brothers had previously recorded two of his songs ("Are You Ready" and "What A Price") at a 1965 King Session. Originally from Dickenson County, Duty was living in Michigan when he became friends with the Stanleys' and would sometimes accompany them on the road [3]. He can be heard on a live Stanley Brothers recording in Manville NJ Dec 3rd 1965 [4] playing guitar and singing on another of his compositions - "Who Was That Beautiful Woman", which Ralph went on to record in 1967. Gene also appeared with Ralph at the first Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival on 22nd June 1967. [5]

"Another Song, Another Drink" was composed by Joyce Morris, who was a friend of Ralph's wife Jimmie and with whom she is credited as co-writer of I Only Exist. Joyce was married to Bob Morris and also wrote both sides of a 1968 45 by Bob Morris & Kentucky Bluegrass Boys - I'm Pouring Out My Wine/This Weary Heart (Jalyn 324) [6]. Bob Morris played with JD Crowe in the late 60s and on 1st September 1969 took part in Carlton Haney's "Stanley Brothers Story" at the Camp Springs festival, singing a couple of songs with Ralph. [7] According to JD Crowe: He had played a little bit with Ralph... Ralph's wife and Bobby's wife used to run around together when they were single[8].

"You're Going Away" was written by Lee Allen, from Jackson KY. Lee was a friend of Roy Lee Centers [9]. The Clinch Mountain Boys had earlier provided backing on his 1970 LP Songs Of Love And Tragedy, which also included a version of "You're Going Away".

"River Underground" and "Daughter Of Geronimo" were written by Wandell 'Wendy' Smith. Ralph had previously cut four of his songs: "Sweet Sally Brown", "Lonesome" and "Hills Of Home" (between 1967-9) and "Shotgun Slade" (Feb '71). Wendy was a native of Ranger, West Virginia who had moved to Michigan [10]. He began performing bluegrass in 1959 and as Wendy Smith and The Windy Mountain Boys had a 45: Carter Stanley Will Lead That Great Band/Saviour Guide Me (Fortune F355) 1967 [11]. From the early '70s onwards Wendy has led Blue Velvet with albums on Old Homestead and a couple of CD releases. You can also find a cut by Blue Velvet on the V/A - Southeastern Michigan Bluegrass (Live And On Stage Vol. 1) LP.

As with all the Clinch Mountain Boys' albums featuring Roy Lee Centers, this a 'must have' for Stanley fans.

If I'm not mistaken, Roy Lee handles lead vocals on side one, and Keith Whitley side two...

Also worth noting that some cuts on the Michigan session may have featured Lynn Hall on bass.[12] Lynn was the son of Jim and Jeannie Hall, who recorded one Gospel LP as Jeannie Hall - 'He Walks Beside Me' (Jessup MB-110) 1971. The latter LP included Lynn on banjo, Jimmy Williams (mandolin), Virgil Shouse (fiddle) and Phyllis Williams (bs); along with Jim Hall on guitar and Jeannie Hall on vocals.[13]

Side One:
Are You Proud Of America

Gene Duty / R. Stanley
Rock Bottom

Gene Duty / R. Stanley
Another Song, Another Drink

Joyce Morris
Take Me Back

Roy Lee Centers / R. Stanley
You're Going Away

Lee Allen

Curly Ray Cline / R. Stanley
Side Two:
Let's Keep Old Glory Waving

Gene Duty / R. Stanley
River Underground

Wendy Smith / R. Stanley
Ain't It Hard

Daughter Of Geronimo

Wendy Smith / R. Stanley

Curly Ray Cline / R. Stanley
Keep My Love With You

R. Stanley

Go To Top Of Page [1] John Wright's "Travelling The High Way Home" book (p253/4).
[2] Advert in Bluegrass Unlimited p18 (August 1971).
[3] From the Staelight Room, Manville NJ. The show was recorded by Mike Seeger. Red Allen also makes an appearance on the second set: and
[4] Gary B. Reid - 'The Music Of The Stanley Brothers' book (p193).
[5] John Wright - 'Traveling The High Way Home' book (p12) & Thomas A. Adler - 'Bean Blossom' book (p95)
[8] Marty Godbey's "Crowe On The Banjo" bbok (p89).
[9] Bluegrass Unlimited (April 1975) - 'Lee Allen Rooted In The Stanley Tradition'.
[10] Gary Reid's liner notes to the 3xCD "Poor Rambler" release & Bluegrass Unlimited (April 1984) - 'Wendy Smith and Michigan Bluegrass'
[12] See the Dec 1972 Ralph Stanley Fan Club newsletter (p4). A pdf copy can be found linked from the Song & Memory book page.