Various Artists

Old Time Texas String Bands, Vol. 1: Texas Farewell

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These early recordings of Texas string band music feature a number of fiddlers and fiddling styles. Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers cut loose on "Blues in a Bottle," the "Huston Slide," and "Wake Up Jacob." Hunt had the distinction of recording a number of sides in his bluesy style before meeting an early demise at the hands of a jealous husband. Fiddlers Eck Robertson and Henry Gilliland traveled all the way to New York for the honor of being the first country artists to be recorded on June 22, 1922. While showing its age with scratches and a bit of surface noise, "Arkansas Traveler" retains the same verve that convinced record labels that country music could make money. Robertson also recorded the vivacious "There's a Brown Skin Gal Down the Road Somewhere" and "Great Big Taters" with his family a few years later. As Christopher C. King points out in the liner notes, a specific Texas-style of fiddling never really develops over the span of these 20 recordings. Instead, one is left with rich multitude of individual styles, from the older techniques of Henry Gilliland to the ragtime rhythms of Oscar Harper. King's notes provide a fine survey of movers and shakers on the Texas music scene. Interestingly, most of the sides were recorded in Dallas in 1929, a couple within days of Black Friday. Old-Time Texas String Bands, Vol. 1 offers a good introduction to those unfamiliar with early string band music and will be eagerly picked up by collectors.

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