Clinch Mountain Echo

The Ralph Stanley Story

(Appalshop No #) 2000

Ralph Stanley Story
Rear Cover Signed copy Ralph and The Isaacs playing 'Satan's Chains'
Ralph presents Curly Ray with an award c1986 Clinch Mountain Country session with Patty Loveless
Home movie footage Home movie footage

This is an excellent 82min DVD documentary filmed c1996-1998, which features interviews with Ralph and several key CMB's, plus snippets of live performance and glimpses of the band on the road and at home.

Ralph's story, and that of Carter and The Stanley Brothers, is told without any narration, but instead is allowed to unfold in a manner which seems organic, but which is actually a product of some deft directing and editing.

The film itself goes full circle, starting with studio footage at Maggard c1997 with the band recording I Firmly Promise You[1] and closing with Rank Strangers from an unspecified gig from the same period. In between, the story covers Ralph and Carter's upbringing, the Stanley Brothers era; and Ralph's subsequent solo career.

For anyone looking to discover Ralph's music, the DVD makes a good introduction, and for existing fans, there is plenty to savour.

The majority of the live footage/audio dates from Ralph's 50th anniversary celebrations at the 26th Annual 'Hills Of Home' festival in McClure 1996, but as far as I can tell only one song is duplicated (in part) with the 'Ralph Stanley's 50 Year Reunion' VHS/DVD-R.[2]

Archive live footage is also taken from Pete Seeger's 1966 'Rainbow Quest', with snippets of Carter singing Single Girl, Married Girl and Ralph's instrumental Clinch Mountain Backstep. Excerpts are also used from Ralph's KET special from 1977, with part of I'll Just Go Away, Katie Hill and Footprints In The Snow.[3]

There is also some priceless 'Super 8' home movie footage of Carter and Ralph at home with their mother c1966, courtesy of Norma Fannin the Stanley Brothers Fan Club Vice President.

Intermixed with the video footage there are 'talking head' interviews, with Ralph, George Shuffler, Jack Cooke, Melvin Goins, Larry Sparks, Junior Blankenship and Charlie Sizemore. Apart from Jack Cooke, non of the 'current' CMB's are interviewed, but there is plenty of footage on the bus, and in the studio recording the Clinch Mountain Country album.

Oh, and there are also short interviews with Dwight Yoakum, Patty Loveless and Junior Brown too...

Obviously, with a limited time available, some stuff gets omitted. There is no mention of Roy Lee Centers for example. But this is nonetheless a 'must have' for fans.

Picture quality is superb throughout, but is especially noticeable on the short excerpts taken from the 1977 KET TV special, which kind of begs the question, why that show has never been released.

You can find a short trailer for the film on youtube and the film is available from Appalshop as both a Stream and DVD; and on DVD from County Sales.

Music featured in the film includes, mostly partial, recordings of:-

  1. I Firmly Promise You - (My All And All session at Maggard Sound Studios, 1997)
  2. Katie Daley - ('Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  3. I'll Answer The Call - ('Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  4. Wild Bill Jones / Little Maggie - ('Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  5. Miner's Prayer - (Dwight Yoakum with Ralph. 'Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  6. Man Of Constant Sorrow - ('Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  7. Shout Little Luly - (Ralph solo)
  8. Little Glass Of Wine - (Stanley Brothers, Live Oak Florida Radio 1960) [4]
  9. Could You Love Me One More Time - (Stanley Brothers - Mercury session May 1954)
  10. Single Girl, Married Girl - (Stanly Brothers - Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest 1966)
  11. Clinch Mountain Backstep - (Stanly Brothers - Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest 1966)
  12. White Dove - (Stanley Brothers, New River Ranch 1956)[5]
  13. Will You Miss Me? - (from Something Old Something New)
  14. Sweethearts In Heaven - (with Larry Sparks. 'Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  15. Gloryland - ('Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  16. Amazing Grace - (poss. Dublin, Va New River Community College c1997??)
  17. I'll Just Go Away - (KET TV 1977)
  18. She's More To Be Pitied - (with Ricky Skaggs. 'Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  19. Cindy - (Ralph clawhammer solo)[6]
  20. Footprints In The Snow - (KET TV 1977)
  21. Katie Hill - (KET TV 1977)
  22. Gloryland - (Curly Ray Cline's funeral 1997)
  23. Satans Chains - (with The Isaacs. 'Hills Of Home' festival, McClure May 1996)
  24. Kentucky Shine - (Ralph clawhammer solo)[6]
  25. Pretty Polly - (with Patty Loveless. Clinch Mountain Country session 1997)
  26. Stone Walls And Steel Bars - (with Junior Brown. Clinch Mountain Country session 1997)
  27. Rocky Island / Shout Little Luly (Dublin, Va New River Community College c1997)
  28. Rank Stranger (c1997)

Go To Top Of Page [1] Recorded at Maggard Sound Studios in Big Stone Gap, I Firmly Promise You is the closing number on Ralph's 1997 My All And All album.
[2] Ralph's guest spot with Dwight Yoakum's Miner's Prayer.
[3] Several clips from the KET 'Bluegrass Bluegrass' TV show (air date 13th June 1977) show have appeared on youtube, but the excerpts included here are better quality. It is a shame this show hasn't been released on DVD.
[4] Little Glass Of Wine is from The Stanley Brothers - 'On Radio' (Rebel REB-CD-1115) 1991, a live radio set from Live Oak, Florida 1960.
[5] White Dove is from 'Stanley Series, Vol. 4 #1' (Copper Creek CCCD-5513) 1996, recorded at New River Ranch, Rising Sun, MD 29th July 1956.
[6] Ralph is shown playing a little clawhammer, on the bus. I can't be 100% sure I've got the titles correct. The CMB's did record Old McDonald/Cindy, Battle Ax and Kentucky Shine on 16th Aug 1996; which were released on the Old Time Pickin CD in 2008.