[Harp-L] History of bluegrass harmonica
- To: "harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx" <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [Harp-L] History of bluegrass harmonica
- From: Glenn Weiser <banjoandguitar100@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2012 11:32:33 -0800 (PST)
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- Reply-to: Glenn Weiser <banjoandguitar100@xxxxxxxxx>
Prof. Neil V. Rosenberg, an authority on bluegrass, wasted no time in shedding light on this subject for me. I pass along his reply. This is clearly the most complete information I have to date. Now I have to track down some of these recordings. focusing on Earl Taylor. Can anyone help with this?
"I'm glad to know you're writing about bluegrass harmonica.
"I'm not an expert about bluegrass harmonica. Perhaps someone else has written on this -- there's much out there that I'm unaware of.
"I guess any discussion of the harmonica in bluegrass begins with DeFord Bailey. Charles Wolfe and I discuss his relationship with Monroein our book "The Music of Bill Monroe", 224-225. Others have written about this as well. Like Bailey, Curley Bradshaw played harmonica on stage with Monroe. Neither recorded with him. I know of no harmonicas on Monroe's studio recordings, but there are many live recordings I've never heard.
"When Onie Wheeler recorded with Flatt & Scruggs at several sessions in the 1950s, he played bass.
The first recordings of harmonica with a bluegrass band that I know of came in 1959 on the album "Alan Lomax presents . . . Folk Songs From The Blue Grass" by Earl Taylor and His Stoney Mountain Boys, United Artists UAL 3049. Earl played harmonica on two cuts: "Mama Blues", a harmonica dialog with the band playing backup; and "Race Between A Locomotive and a Model T," a solo. It's significant that both pieces are credited to Lonnie Glosson. Glosson and Wayne Raney (who sometimes performed together on radio) were among the most influential country harmonica players of the late 1940s and early 1950s.
"The next bluegrass recordings I know of with harmonica were made in 1964 when Earl Taylor played harmonica for the Stanley Brothers at four sessions that resulted in two albums. He can be heard on "A Crown He Wore" on King 914, "Hymns of the Cross," recorded 4/2/64. And he's on "How Bad I Do Feel," "Our Darlin's Gone" and "How You've Tortured My Mind" on King 924, "The Remarkable Stanley Brothers," recorded 7/16-17/64.
"To me Tayloris THE bluegrass harmonica pioneer. I don't have all of the recordings he made in the early sixties, so I may have missed some essential stuff in the lists I've just given.
"Charlie McCoy's first session with Flatt & Scruggs was December 15, 1964. He played on all of their 1965 sessions. He did not tour with the band, just did studio work.
"Earl Taylor was a member of F&S's Foggy Mountain Boys from late 1965 until mid-1966. He recorded at three sessions: (1) 12/65 where he played mandolin and McCoy played harmonica, (2) 3/66 where he played mandolin on 4 tracks and harmonica on 2, and (3) 5/66 where he played harmonica on all 4 tracks.
"After that point in 1966 until their final sessions in 1969, McCoy played on all but two of F&S's recordings. He was essentially a part of the studio sound of the Foggy Mountain Boys from 1965-69.
"I hope you'll have room in your column to mention Mike Stevens, he's been working in bluegrass for a long time now -- most notably with Jim & Jesse. (http://www.mikestevensmusic.com/about)
"I'm copying this to Fred Bartenstein, who is more knowledgeable than I about early bluegrass recordings. If I've missed anything, he'll spot it.
"Good luck with your project.
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