Clinch Mountain Echo

Ralph Stanley - Live At The Greenwich Coonhunters Club

(Taped 14th August 1982)

(Stanley Family Records SFR-006) 2021

Live At The Greenwich Coonhunters Club
CD Rear CD art Festival advert (Bluegrass Unlimited July 1982)

Average Album Rating: 4
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This is a CD-R release of a festival set, taped on a cassette recorder by a member of the audience. As a result the sound quality is pretty rough, with both enthusiastic crowd noise and murky festival PA affecting the fidelity - despite a concerted effort by Chris Smith, Randy & Logan Leab, and Tom Feller to clean the tape up.

You might ask then, why this recording has been released? Well, it's been a labour of love for Chris Smith, as the Greenwich Coonhunters Club festival was the place to be for bluegrass fans in & around Mansfield Ohio, with its large population of transplanted southerners. The event also regularly drew folks from as far away as Alabama and Florida each year.

Ralph commented that playing Greenwich was like being at home & was one of his favourite festivals. Chris, who would later fill-in for Junior Blankenship on some shows with Ralph recalled:- "Ernie Thacker and I spent our youth there, and always looked forward to that weekend in August."

The recording also captures a great performance by Ralph and the CMB's, no doubt spurred on by the appreciative crowd. The show, which was an evening performance from 14th Aug 1982, includes a couple of rare live cuts. Ralph's Bad Case Of The Blues had been released earlier that year on his Memory Of Your Smile LP (alongside a re-recording of Little Glass Of Wine). Likewise the splendid How Could I Dream Such A Dream is a rare performance of a song written by Candace K. Randolph (of The Lost Kentuckians) & Ralph, from the 1981 The Stanley Sound Today LP. Curly Ray Cline also showpieces his eponymous Curly Ray Cline fiddle tune (from his debut solo LP - which had recently been reissued on Old Homestead). I've not heard any other live performance of either Curly Ray Cline or Bad Case Of The Blues, so that in itself I think justifies this release.

The performance also features Larry Efaw on mandolin, although he's pretty difficult to pick out. Larry also recorded a cassette with Ralph (I Worship You), and helped run the Greenwich festival in later years.

The liner notes to the album tell us that the festival was the brainchild of Pearl Hamilton, originally from McDowell, Kentucky. Like many families the Hamilton's had migrated in the '60s to the area around Mansfield, OH in search of work. In 1979 Pearl approached a small coon dog club in the small 'one horse town' of Greenwich, OH about putting on a festival and the resulting 'North Central Ohio Bluegrass Festival' ran, in one form or another up to 2015.

Between 1981 and 1992 the festival was promoted under Ralph's name, as "Ralph Stanley Presents..." with performances by Ralph on both Friday & Saturday, in the second week of August. After Pearl left organising the show, the association with Ralph's name was dropped, although Ralph did make subsequent appearances on at least 6 more years.

Incidentally Pearl's uncle, Ed Hamilton also co-wrote Lonesome Old Home with the Wilson Brothers, which Ralph played on his Clinch Mountain Boys Reunion 2-CD in 1996.

The CD-R comes in a nicely packaged fold out digipack, with photographs taken on the day of the performance, including a great cover photo of Ralph by Chuck Walton. There's also a loose printed note from Ralph II.

It is noticeable that for this album Stanley Family Records have issued it on a CD-R, rather than regular CD. I don't know if this is significant; whether it means fewer copies are anticipated, or if we'll more live recordings made available in this format.

It is a shame that the recording quality isn't better, but hardcore fans will still want to pick up a copy, if they can.

Currently the album is only available at Ralph II's gigs.

Let Me Love You One More Time

R. Stanley
Little Glass Of Wine

C. Stanley
Curly Ray

Curly Ray Cline
Charlie Sizemore introduction and special dedications

Little Willie

How Could I Dream Such A Dream

Candace K. Randolph / R. Stanley
Will You Miss Me

A.P. Carter
Let Me Rest (At The End Of My Journey)

R. Stanley / C. Stanley
Bad Case Of The Blues

R. Stanley
Little Maggie - Pretty Polly

Money In The Bank

Curly Ray Cline
Ralph with announcement

Shout Little Lulie

Orange Blossom Special

Ervin T. Rouse

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