Clinch Mountain Echo

Jimmy Martin - The King Of Bluegrass

(Straight Six SS-002-B) 2003

Jimmy Martin - The King Of Bluegrass
DVD Jacket Ralph and Jimmy Martin
Ralph Stanley

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This excellent DVD merits a mention here as it includes a short interview with Ralph talking about his recent induction into the Opry and an extract from a live performance of Rabbit In A Log from Ralph's festival in McClure with Ralph guesting with Jimmy Martin. It looks like Ralph has his banjo capo'd at the ninth fret on this!

Jimmy Martin, of course is one of the all-time greats of bluegrass music and his lavish 5xCD set 'Jimmy Martin And The Sunny Mountain Boys' (Bear Family BCD-15705-E1) 1994 is well worth picking up. As a child Jimmy listened to The Stanley Brothers on the radio, and he later helped Ralph record his Hills Of Home LP in 1969. There's also audio recordings of their on-stage collaborations from Labor Day Weekend festival at Camp Springs in 1971[1], the Live From Bean Blossom 1972 Vol. 2 CD and Ralph's Live! At McClure album.

Jimmy and Ralph later recorded the First Time Together LP in 1980.

Ralph:- "I always liked Jimmy, and he liked me, too. I'd say I got along with him better than anybody in the business. We were so different in our personalities, and maybe that's why we got along so well, Jimmy was one of the friendliest fellows you'd ever meet, but some people thought he was full of bull and just couldn't handle him. It's true he talked too much and he cried too much and he laughed too loud. It was always about Jimmy. And a lot of what he said didn't amount to much, but he had a good heart."

"If Jimmy wanted to talk, I'd let him do it. When he got to talking crazy, I'd just not pay him any mind. I'd just agree with him and go on about my business. He'd cry on a dime if he got to drinking or his feelngs got hurt, and he had a temper. Large and loud as he was, he never did grow up from being that little barefoot boy from Sneedville, Tennessee. He was like a lot of us born with nothing back in the sticks, in the deep mountains. Music was all we ever had and all we could ever really count on."[2]

Aside from Ralph's input, the DVD includes contributions from former Sunny Mountain Boys - J.D. Crow, Bill Emerson and Paul Williams, plus Tom T. Hall, James King, Mary Ann Garrison and Marty Stuart. Running time is 66 min and the film includes a mix of footage of Jimmy talking about his life and music, on the road, backstage, and of course... coon hunting. There's also plenty of live footage and archive film / photo's, with a backdrop of some of his finest recordings from his Decca era and his spell as one of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. There hasn't been that much written about Jimmy's life, other than the 108-page 'True Adventures With The King Of Bluegrass' book by Tom Piazza; and the alarming/disturbing 'Don't Give Your Heart To A Rambler' by his former partner and booking agent Barbara Martin Stephens;[3] so this DVD is the best 'all round' source we have on the 'King Of Bluegrass', flaws & all...


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[2] Ralph Stanley and Eddie Dean's book 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' (p. 370)
[3] As an aside, it's nice to see Charlie Sizemore getting acknowledged in the book for refusing to add a codicil to Jimmy's will.