One of the greatest things about running Folk Radio UK is the amount of time I get to spend searching out both new and old music. If I was given half the chance, I would happily spend most of the day doing it, OK, and night! I came across this one during another late night hunt. This time I was tracking down old albums through Smithsonian Folkways. The title of the album is 37th Old Time Fiddler’s Convention at Union Grove North Carolina.
The first Union Grover Fiddle conventions were held in 1924 to help raise money for a public high school and to build community spirit, the Union Grove Convention is the oldest continuous festival of its kind in America. The tracks on the compilation were recorded at the Convention in 1961 and present virtuosic talent and deep repertoire. They also feature some of the fastest old time music I’ve heard. Even the “Hitchiker’s Blues” was damn fast but the highlight for me was Lost John by Red Parham and the Heywood Ramblers of Leicester, North Carolina. Red Parham was one of the best mouth-harp players around at the time and had been recorded by the prestigous Riverside and other labels. You’ll hear the host, Harper Van Roy referring to Mr Parham’s practice of playing the mouth-harp by placing one end of it in his mouth and playing it with his tongue and cheeks while also playing guitar! Harper asks Parham whether he ever got excited and swallowed any…Parham said the most he’d swallowed in one night was three…
The album was recorded and produced by Mike Seeger and Lisa Chiera. If you want to find out more, you can download the album liner notes here.
You can buy it on CD, Cassette or download here