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Some Thoughts about the Hammons Family & Old Time Music

I just ordered the Sherman Hammons collection from Wayne Howardsf recordings, and cannot wait to get it in the mail.

I have listened to all of the Hammonsf recordings I could find over the last few years, and there has long been a huge void when it came to finding recordings of Shermanfs music. I have acquired plenty of the other Hammonses, but only a scant few of Shermanfs. So I was pleased to learn of the FRCfs new release of Shermanfs work.

Thinking about what Wayne Howard and others have done has prompted me to share my thoughts, which are nothing more than what any serious student of old time music might think about, so nothing special of themselves, but I want to express something here that I think is important to the preservation of OT music.

Over the years, I have been inspired to think of Edn Hammonsf signature tune gShaking Down The Acornsh in a certain way. (I know it is more often spelled gEdden.h)

I think a lot about the way old tunes, and stories, survive. Most of the tunes I am interested in go all the way back to the beginning of this country, with many of those going all the way back to the countries that the early settlers originated from. Things like Maggie Hammons Parker singing old English and Scottish ballads that had been extinct for centuries in their countries of origin, but had survived intact up in the mountains because they were passed down directly from one generation to the next.

This is something that just does not happen so much in the modern family, caught up as it is in this fast paced, highly technical world, where music is often gotten from a computer, some of it even being created by means of a computer.

There is no telling how many old tunes have been lost over the many years, but your site shows how fortunate we are today that there have been people who made it their life mission to preserve as much of what was left as could be gathered.                     — Andy Fults

2013 CDs

New Releases from the Field Recordersf Collective—
Now Available

SPECIAL DEAL: buy all 6 of our recent CDs (including The Hellbenders) for only $84.

  • Sherman Hammons (FRC701) - West Virginiafs Sherman Hammons was an accomplished singer in the traditional Appalachian style and a fiddler in a fine, archaic style reminiscent of his Uncle Edden. He learned banjo from a wide circle of West Virginia musicians.
  • Harold Hausenfluck, Volume 2: Banjo Workshop (FRC702) - Harold describes a wide variety of banjo tunings and traditional styles which he demonstrates on many classic and unusual tunes learned from the masters.
  • Jerry Lundy with Hilary Dirlam (FRC703) - The grandson of the great Galax, VA fiddler Emmett Lundy, Jerry Lundy (1942-2001) was a skilled and driving fiddler who was well respected in bluegrass as well as old-time music circles.
  • Calvin Cole, Fancy Gap Banjo (FRC704) - Calvin Cole (Fancy Gap, VA) played clawhammer-style banjo with tremendous precision and drive. Though he was old enough to have been recorded in the 1930s by the Library of Congress, these recordings (made by Peter Hoover in 1960) show Mr. Cole still at the top of his game.
  • Parley Parsons, Old Galax Fiddling (FRC705) - A member of the last generation of fiddlers firmly rooted in the local style, Parleyfs playing was immediately recognizable as having been influenced by Emmett Lundy (b.1864-d.1953) and Charlie Higgins (b.1878-d.1967), two iconic older Galax fiddlers.

The Hellbenders CS

New CD Available Now: The Hellbenders

The Hellbenders, Bruce Molsky and James Leva (fiddles), David Winston (banjo), Mary Winston (guitar) and Dave Grant (bass) made these recordings in Charlottesville, VA released on cassette in 1990 and digitally remixed and remastered by Al Tharp from his original recordings for this CD. Dave Grant, who was the soul of the band, was killed in a work accident in 2002. He was an inspiration in music and in life. This album is dedicated with love and appreciation to Dave Grant. More info...

2010 CDs

We are offering 5 stellar recordings for 2010 available for sale on this page. Please check out our index page to find all our issues for the last seven years.

Reverend Gary Davis - FRC116 - John Cohen recorded Gary Davis in Davisfs home in 1952 using a wire recorder. These recordings from Johnfs collection pre-date the Smithsonian Folkways release of his 1953 tape recordings (gIf I Had My Wayh) and do not duplicate any of the material there. A rare visit with a blues master, relaxed and in his prime.

Jont Blevins | Grayson County, VA Banjo Player - FRC117 - This disc represents one of the masters of the old clawhammer banjo styles of Virginia and North Carolina. Jont Blevins was respected by his peers for being one of the finest banjo players around. On this volume, taken from tapes made by some of the many who came to visit and learn from him, he plays many of the great local tunes of his area. He also plays in some rare tunings that arenft often heard today.

Gaither Carlton 1972 - FRC118 - This is the very first full-length recording devoted entirely to Gaither Carlton (of Deep Gap, NC), a revered and highly influential figure in the world of old-time music. A superb banjo and fiddle player, Carlton toured extensively with his son-in-law, Doc Watson, during the folk music revival of the 1960s and early e70s. Tom Carterfs field recordings, made a few months before Carltonfs death in June 1972, capture Gaither Carlton in top form, validating his legendary stature among old-time musicians.

Harold Hausenfluck | Vol. 1: The Fiddling Collection - FRC119 - This first volume of Harold Hausenfluckfs music focuses on his powerful fiddle playing, gleaned from personal, radio and Heritage Records recordings. Harold pays homage to some of his fiddling influences (John Carson, Joe Birchfield, Tommy Jarrell, Norman Edmonds, French Carpenter) with stylistic accuracy and great feeling. Harold also plays a number of tunes that are largely unique to his repertoire.

Vernon Riddle | Old-Time Texas Style Fiddle - FRC120 - As a young man in the Air Force stationed in Amarillo, TX in the 1950s, Vernon Riddle spent a great deal of time with legendary fiddler Eck Robertson. He learned a great number of tunes from Eck as well as from other iconic Texas fiddlers, including Benny Thomasson, Jack Mears, and the Solomons. This collection presents Vernonfs fiddling from his Texas years up through his time in Spartanburg, SC in the early 1990s.


Fred Cockerham and Ray Alden

Ray Alden: July 2, 1942 | September 19, 2009

Ray's Dream CDOur dear friend and the founder of the Field Recorders' Collective died this fall after a long and valiant struggle with cancer.

During the last project-filled months of his life, Ray worked to restructure the Field Recordersf Collective as a new not-for-profit entity under expanded leadership. The current officers of the new FRC include Ambrose Verdibello, Executive Director, Lynn Frederick, Secretary and Susie Goehring, Treasurer. Susie is handling the orders and fielding special requests; it is her email address that is on this website. The seven board members include the officers as well as Diane Alden, Rayfs wife, Jim Garber, John Schwab and Kilby Spencer. By continuing to preserve and produce recordings of valuable and original performances of traditional old time music, the board members of the FRC are dedicated to sustaining Rayfs vision of the FRC.

As a tribute to Ray and his longtime work and love of old time music, Bruce Molsky and the FRC produced gRayfs Dream,h a very special collection of Ray playing with many of his friends. It was Rayfs request that this CD be produced and distributed at the service celebrating his life which was held in November of 2009. You can buy it in our online store.

Field Recorders' Collective on NPR

Remembering Some Remarkable Lives Lost In 2009 - Talk of the Nation (December 30, 2009) - Paul Brown's remembrance of Ray Alden starts around 33:00 and lasts about 5 minutes

Saving Folk History, One Recording At A Time (January 22, 2009)- Click on "Listen Now" at the top of the page to hear the actual broadcast. David Gura did a LOVELY job and it is interesting to boot.

Field Recorders' Collective in The Old Time Herald

Paul Brown's memorial, The Connector: Ray Alden appears in The Old-Time Herald Volume 12, Number 2.

Letters from Musicians' Families

I received the CDs yesterday along with the check. I have just finished listening to it with tears of sadness and joy. I wanted to write to you and thank you for recording this CD. This is my favorite one of him, getting to hear his voice again is an added bonus. When I was a young girl my favorite fiddle tune that I always asked my Uncle to play for me was "Turkey in the Straw." I never thought that I would be blessed to hear this tune by my uncle again. I remember my uncle listening to those old 78rpms. He would practice and practice till he got the tune to his satisfaction. And if you talked you got hit in the head with his fiddle bow. Since my nickname was "gabby" you can imagine how many picks I received on my head with that fiddle bow.

I also had the pleasure of listening to Perry Riley, Jimmy Wheeler and Morris Allen when I was younger. I had this privilege because Leona (Stamm, played guitar on Buddy's Rounder CD) was my mother and either Uncle Bud was at our house or we were at his. I have to tell you with much sadness that my mother passed away November 1988. Out of the ten children my grandmother had, only Aunt Jean and Aunt Bessie are left living. I know this CD will be the family's favorite one.

– Noretta Thomas, January 2006

Ray, I received the CD. Thank you for doing this for me. When I listen to it I cried. It seemed like Lonnie was sitting in our room playing like he did every day till he became ill with cancer. He couldn't play but he had me to get his fiddle so he could hold it and look at it. Our son Fred wishes to thank you also.

– Betty Seymour, January 2006

Translated from a review in Trad Magazine, France, June 2007

We have made the discovery of a remarkable record label, the Field Recorders' Collective, which is dedicated to the promotion of rural American music. Collectors of traditional music are often confronted with this problem: how to make a larger public aware of their best recordings. This particular brand of music, interesting as it is, is not always the record stores' cup of tea…

Now let's talk about the music, the most important thing after all! The emphasis is placed on the traditional repertoire of the Appalachians, in the Eastern United States, a region of fiddlers and banjo players. Good singers, too! Not a bad record in the bunch! And beyond the music itself, there's the human story: these old musicians are the representatives of a quickly disappearing world.

A Note from the Field Recorders' Collective

"All things pass; all that lives must die. All that we prize is but lent to us, and the time comes when we must surrender it. We are travelers on the same road that leads to the same end."

The Field Recorders' Collective, originally formed with five collectors, is now a growing group of collectors who have generously agreed to share their field recordings with the old time community. Both the collectors and the musicians they recorded have traveled parts of the same old time music road. Members of the collective, just as did the musicians they recorded, wish to share the tunes and creative individual styles that developed in isolated communities with others seeking their own right of way on the road.

Virtually none of these musicians have been heard on commercially released recordings, and certainly none of these performances have been previously available on recordings with such good sound quality. Attention to the best possible sound re-mastering has been accomplished through use of digital audio workstations featuring advanced software that applies techniques such as noise reduction, compression, fast Fourier analysis and multi-band frequency equalization. Most of the musicians recorded by the collective have passed on; however, in many cases we are in touch with their immediate families and, when so, are able to share financial benefits of these recordings with them. We are extremely pleased to yearly receive letters of appreciation from these families for honoring and keeping the memory of their treasured musician-relative alive.

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