The Roane County Ramblers

Complete Recordings 1928-29

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In case one's geography is a bit sketchy, the Roane County Ramblers hailed from Roane County, TN, in the heart of coal country. The Ramblers, consisting of guitarist Luke Brandon, mandolinist John Kelly, tenor banjoist Howard Wyatt, guitarist Curly Fox, and the band's leader, fiddler Jimmy McCarroll, were one of many Southern string bands that recorded only a handful of sides in the late '20s. While this is a group effort, the star of the proceedings is McCarroll, who fills instrumentals like "Callahan Rag" and "Green River March" with intense, high-stepping fiddle that he learned from his own parents. It's also important to note that many of these tunes -- "Southern No. III" and "Roane County Rag" -- were either written by McCarroll or derived from his family. "Callahn Rag" was believed to have come down from his grandmother, while the original "Hometown Blues" became an oft-used fiddle showpiece. There are also fine renditions of traditional pieces like "Tennessee Waltz" and "Johnson City Rag." The recording quality, as usual with County, is very good considering the worn source material, and the liner notes, written by Bob Fulchur, are solid. String band fans and lovers of old-time music will be glad to have this music available on compact disc.

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