Who's Got That Old-Time Mountain Murder Music?
March 31, 2009 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Gimme That Old-Timey Religion!

I'm a huge fan of Carter Family, Doug Wallin, Roy Acuff, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Doyle Lawson, the Alan Lomax Collection of Southern music, Smithsonian Folkways, etc. and am looking for other artists that are similar.

I'm hoping the Metaverse can turn me on to some great old-timey musicians that may have escaped my notice. Same for any fantastic compilations or collections of Appalachian, old-timey, trad country music.
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Goodbye Babylon.
posted by box at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2009

He's modern, but Curtis Eller captures the spirit of "Old-Time Mountain Murder Music" surprisingly well.

(Plus he's live shows are just insane, sweaty revivals.)
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 AM on March 31, 2009

You'd probably enjoy "The High Lonesome Sound" of Roscoe Holcomb and "Old Time Songs" by Charlie Poole
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:24 AM on March 31, 2009

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys?

This site Document Records has tons of stuff too.
posted by Max Power at 7:26 AM on March 31, 2009

Check out Hazel the Delta Rambler's show on WWOZ, New Orleans; you'll be introduced to a ton of fantastic music.
posted by taz at 7:31 AM on March 31, 2009

Hard to imagine that the Stanley Brothers have escaped your notice (maybe you just forgot to include them on this list?), but if they have, you should definitely look them up.
posted by littlecatfeet at 7:48 AM on March 31, 2009

The Staple Singers are more soul/gospel than appalachian, but definitely have an old-timey religious feel.
posted by hellogoodbye at 8:21 AM on March 31, 2009

Best answer: Check out www.bluegrasscountry.org, WAMU-FM's online site and click on "Listen Live." Under the Programs tab, I think you'll particularly like the Ray Davis show and Stained Glass Bluegrass. The folks behind this website know bluegrass like nobody else knows bluegrass--check the "About" tab for the history of WAMU and bluegrass in the DC area.
posted by apartment dweller at 8:22 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

This time with a link: www.bluegrasscountry.org
posted by apartment dweller at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2009

Yes yes yes to Goodbye Babylon, Roscoe Holcomb and the Stanley brothers. Also, although there's less religious stuff on it, Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music is crucial.

Clarence Ashley and Bascom Lamar Lunsford are a generation before the stuff you're listening to — both were born in the 1800s — and they were a huge influence on it. Ashley in particular played with Roy Acuff, the Stanley brothers and Doc Watson as they were getting their respective starts, and he's got a voice to die for. Lunsford is more proper and sedate, but still damn good, and he preserved a lot of very old tunes. Both have recordings that are old enough to be out of copyright and available online.

A little farther afield, you should really give Sacred Harp singing a listen. It's a tradition without any real "stars," but there's a lot of it recorded, much of it very good, and it was another huge huge influence on the stuff you're into. You may as well start with the albums of it that Alan Lomax recorded.

(And, even further afield, have you heard any Piedmont blues? It's a lot closer to Appalachian music than the more familiar Delta stuff is, and a lot of the same songs show up in both traditions. Start with the Reverend Gary Davis, especially his older recordings — he got uneven as he aged, but at his peak he was one of the best singers and guitarists ever recorded.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:28 AM on March 31, 2009

There isn't a lot of religious music on it, but the People Take Warning box is really great.
posted by box at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2009

The two John-Fahey-curated American Primitives comps are also awesome.

Dunno how obscure any of this stuff is, though, so you might already know about it. Then again, I might not be the best judge of musical obscurity.
posted by box at 8:43 AM on March 31, 2009

Levon Helms's newish CD, Dirt Farmer, has that old sound.
posted by raisingsand at 8:49 AM on March 31, 2009

Louvin Brothers
Dock Boggs
posted by rhizome at 8:54 AM on March 31, 2009

WDVX is Knoxville's superb community bluegrass/roots station, and they webcast. You'll hear both old and new music there.
posted by workerant at 9:02 AM on March 31, 2009

There is just so much in the broad genres that you've identified, that it's tough to know what you know and what you don't. There are great string and jug bands that probably fit your bill (there was a whole jug band scene from Memphis that was fabulous, The Memphis Jug Band will get you started). Music from the Lost Provinces on Old Hat is a really good comp from Western NC/Eastern TN. The other comps on Old Hat are really interesting. You could search Amazon for JSP boxsets, a lot of stuff will come up, including some Appalachian Gospel boxes that you would probably like. The Kentucky Mountain Music cds on Folkways are great, as are many of the things already mentioned here (Dock Boggs, Roscoe Holcomb). There are a couple of good Grayson and Whittier cds out there, although I also really recommend the Ralph Stanley cd Short Life of Trouble where he sings Grayson and Whittier songs (this isn't a bluegrass cd).

The show to listen to on Bluegrass Country is the Obsolete Music hour with Dick Spottswood.

Check out EldiabloTunTun for more suggestions.
posted by OmieWise at 9:10 AM on March 31, 2009

You'd probably enjoy the music of Elizabeth Cotten. There are several CDs available.
posted by trip and a half at 9:12 AM on March 31, 2009

There's a right nice and right cheap 4-disc set of the music of Uncle Dave Macon avaiable on JSP.

Nice one for the Delmore Brothers, too.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:26 AM on March 31, 2009

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk is indispensable and just so amazing. Includes not one but two! two! two! songs about the assassination of President McKinley.

Gratuitous WFMU plug: Sinner's Crossroads, a gospel show with tons of free archives. (I've got nothing to do with FMU or the show, I just love it.)
posted by scratch at 9:47 AM on March 31, 2009

Streaming old-time music: Sugar in the Gourd
posted by PatoPata at 10:09 AM on March 31, 2009

The Freight Hoppers from western North Carolina.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:12 AM on March 31, 2009

Oh yeah, you also might want to check out the Country Gentlemen.
posted by littlecatfeet at 10:14 AM on March 31, 2009

Also see this discussion in which old-time musicians recommend their favorite recordings.
posted by PatoPata at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I could swear I already posted this but it's not showing up, so I'll try again: The Lewis Family from Lincolnton, GA.
posted by TedW at 10:30 AM on March 31, 2009

You will LOVE Washington Phillips (he plays a couple of cobbled together zither/auotoharps of his own design).
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:42 AM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: You people are AWESOME! I do know about the Stanley Brothers, Mavis Staples, Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb. I LOVE ROSCOE HOLCOMB. Ditto the Louvin Brothers and the Country Gentlemen. Double ditto for Clarence Ashley.

Keep 'em coming, though! This is a fantastic thread and I'm obviously keeping good company here.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:47 AM on March 31, 2009

Tony Rice.
posted by bluejayway at 11:03 AM on March 31, 2009

A great resource for finding new talent in a genre is Pandora. Click on Create a New Station, enter someone you like and start listening.
posted by RussHy at 11:14 AM on March 31, 2009

I remember emusic.com having a huge collection of old-time recordings. Mostly the Yazoo/Shanachie catalog. The 7+ volumes of Times Ain't Like They Used to Be are terrific.

Anthology of American Folk Music is not optional. The American Primitive series on John Fahey's label are outstanding. Down in the Basement is a ton of fun.

Here is a good search to start with on archive.org.

I really have enjoyed both of the records of R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders — mid-70s recreations, yes, but very loose and loving and good ways to dig backwards.

Some names: Skip James; Charley Patton; Burnett & Rutherford; Buell Kazee; Dock Boggs; Mississippi Sheiks; Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters; William Moore ("Old Country Rock" may be my overall favorite old-time recordings); Memphis Jug Band; Charlie Poole; Clarence Ashley; Weems String Band; a million others.

Enjoy the digging!
posted by argybarg at 1:04 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: Already have the entire American Folk Music Anthology, folks, and you're right. Absolutely ground zero for this kind of music.

Keep 'em coming, folks, and assume I already either own or know about the bigger names - your Ralph Stanleys, Dock Boggses, etc.

FWIW - Ola Belle Reed and Roy Acuff are my all-time favorite singers. Hands down.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:22 PM on March 31, 2009

Huzzah for old time! I discovered some amazing music in a Music of Southern Appalachians college course. Here are my faves:

Agree with Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten, and Sacred Harp (also referred to as Shape Note, and has some neat history behind it).

New Lost City Ramblers (revivalists, but worked with old-timers like Elizabeth Cotten)
Bruce Molsky (amazing modern fiddler)
The Highwoods String Band
Iron Mountain String Band
Mike Seeger (founding member of NLCR but does solo recordings, too)

If you start getting into ballads, Texas Gladden is awesome.
posted by Tall Telephone Pea at 6:53 PM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: I love Texas Gladden!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:05 PM on March 31, 2009

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