Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - Valley View Park 1957

(Stanley Family Records SFR-002) 2017


Valley View Park 1957
Rear Cover Gig Advert Band Signatures (courtesy Don Morrell)

Average Album Rating: 4

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This is the first new Stanley Brothers recording to have been released since 2007, and it is a most welcome addition to the cannon of live recordings that have previously been issued either by Ralph or as part of the 'Stanley Series'.

The CD which has been released by Ralph II on his new 'Stanley Family' label, is currently only available at his gigs... Gary Reid, who produced the project, also has (or had) a few copies for sale.

Recordings from two 1957 shows are featured with only Here Today And Gone Tomorrow and Thinking Of The Old Days having previously appeared on the Shadows Of The Past LP/CD. The 12th May 1957 set from Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. has also been available on Sugarmegs, but only as a 40kbps bit-rate, so needless to say the CD sounds a lot better!

Both shows were taped by Mike Seeger and he was somewhat selective in the tracks he chose to record. The CD presumably therefore omits the more common Stanley Brothers tunes, in favour of less common / more unusal songs. For example, the Unity Hall set includes Carter and Ralph singing one of Bill Monroe's tracks I Hope You Have Learned; two songs with Bill Clifton singing lead (Flower Blooming In The Wildwood and Gathering Flowers From The Hillside); Bill Napier singing lead on Drink Up And Go Home; and an early version of Ralph's Holiday Pickin' banjo instrumental, which was then called Wild Horse.

The cover photo, which was taken by Mike Seeger at the Valley View Park show, shows Ralph's banjo with an extra banjo strap hanging below the resonator. This suggests that the banjo was borrowed. On the Valley View Park recording Ralph's banjo stops abruptly as he's playing the intro to You'd Better Get Right. I can't tell whether the loud 'pop' that can be heard is a string breaking or the head splitting... but I suspect it was the latter.

In an interview on the Stanley Series Vol. 1 No. 2 album, Lamar Grier says: "Well, one that always jumps to my mind was a place in Glen, Burnie, Maryland called the Melody Ranch.... I remember... Ralph was playing banjo, taking a break starting a song, "You'd Better Get Right" I think was the song he started. But right in the middle of his introduction banjo break, the head on the banjo broke. And so when the head broke, of course, it gets more slack and he head, since it's soft now, you could hear all the strings just, the pitch, all go lower all together. He tried to keep on going but it was just too bad, he couldn't. You could hear like a crack and then you hear all the strings going down. But by the end of the song... they kept going like nothing ever happened, kept singing. Carter came in started singing and Ralph came in and sang tenor on the chorus but by the end of the song, Ralph was playing banjo again. Mike Seeger had a banjo with him and he went and got it and I guess it must have been tuned up and he got it and Ralph played that for the balance of the tune and the rest of the evening. To me, that's really rare. The banjo that I have, I've had a few broken heads but everytime I've had a broken head, I've opened up the case to take the banjo out and the head's broken. But that really struck me as being odd, the coincidence of having it out of the case, plus playing it, plus being on stage during a performance, plus taking a break, and it happened then."

Although Lamar remembers it at Melody Ranch rather than Valley View Park... I suspect his recollection is what we can hear on You'd Better Get Right... which would explain why there is a second strap on the banjo... and probably why the banjo head is so dirty (I can't recall any other pictures of Ralph with a dirty head).

The CD comes in a 3-fold digipack, with the usual excellent liner notes by Gary Reid.

Let's hope this is the first of many new CDs - or at least that we don't have to wait another decade for new Stanley Brothers material!

 

Track:
Title:
Time:
Date:
Original Source:
Guitar:
Banjo:
Fiddle:
Mandolin:
Bass:
1
I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome
02:02
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

Lesley Riddle
2
You'd Better Get Right
02:00
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

Bill Monroe
3
Carroll County Blues
01:33
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

P.D.
4
Little Birdie
01:35
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

P.D.
5
Wildwood Flower
01:34
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

A.P. Carter
6
Feast Here Tonight
02:27
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

Pete Kirby
7
Katy Hill
00:36
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

P.D.
8
Back Up And Push
01:42
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

P.D.
9
Cumberland Gap
01:09
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

P.D.
10
A Beautiful Life
02:25
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

William M. Golden
11
Hard Times
00:40
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

R. Stanley
12
Here Today And Gone Tomorrow
02:30
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

Jim Edward Brown / Maxine Brown ?
13
Comments by Carter Stanley
00:41
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

N/A
14
I'll Be True While You're Gone
01:41
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

Gene Autry
15
Thinking Of The Old Days
03:23
12 May 1957
Valley View Park, Hellam, Pa. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Chubby Anthony
Curley Lambert
Lindy Clear

C. Stanley
16
Dickenson County Breakdown
00:28
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

R. Stanley
17
Drink Up And Go Home
02:30
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

Freddie Hart
18
Rawhide
02:29
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

Bill Monroe
19
Flower Blooming In The Wildwood - Bill Clifton
02:48
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

Bill Clifton / Buddy Dee
20
Gathering Flowers From The Hillside - Bill Clifton
02:41
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

J.E. Mainer
21
I Hope You Have Learned
02:51
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Jimmy Grier
Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

Bill Carrigan / Eugene Sanders Butler
22
Wild Horse
01:56
06 Jul 1957
Unity Hall, Dundalk (Baltimore), Md. Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley

Bill Napier
Jack Cooke

R. Stanley

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