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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #43

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
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    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #43

    James Kelly was mandolin player for and leader of the Nashville Washboard Band, who made a few non-commercial recordings for the Library of Congress in 1942, at the home of the musical scholar, John Work, in Nashville. Dr. Richard Cherry said of them, "Most of the band members were residents of the city's notorious red light district and the band was familiar sight performing on the streets of the state capital. They were led by James Kelly, who displays a dazzling array of techniques during the extended slow blues Going Away to Make It Lonesome Here and the old hillbilly number Arkansas Traveller, the latter played at a furious pace, while being further driven along by the constant and eccentric syncopation of Theopolis Stokes on his self-titled 'V8' washboard. It is a pity that the sound quality of these fine recordings, as originally produced by the mobile recording unit's equipment, leaves so much to be desired but we should, perhaps, feel grateful that such recordings were being made at all so soon after the U.S.A. had entered the Second World War."

    The prominent musician and music writer, Steven Wade, also commented on the Nashville String Band:

    "The group was a frequent sight in downtown Nashville, playing less than a hundred feet from the War Memorial Auditorium, where the Grand Ole Opry broadcast its weekly radio show. When not stationed there or beside the Andrew Jackson Hotel nearby, they entertained the lunchtime crowd that gathered on the south steps of the state capitol. The group's four principal members all lived within walking distance of these spots where they toted their largely climate-resistant instruments. They also offered a repertory bound to pique the attention of passersby."

    Unfortunately, there seems to be little else available on James Kelly, a fine mandolin player.

    (Information from Cherry, Dr. Richard, liner notes to Rags, Breakdowns, Stomps & Blues (Document) and Wade, Steven, The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience,
    http://www.universitypressscholarshi...shboard%20Band )

    Here's James Kelly playing a slow blues. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Goin' Away To Make Me Lonesome/ Nashville Washboard Band".

    And here he plays a lively blues number on mandolin-banjo. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Nashville Washboard Band/ Kohoma Blues".

    For those who are curious, here's "The Arkansas Traveller":
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Registered User maudlin mandolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #43

    Here is Soldiers Joy - an old chestnut played as you have never heard it before.

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