These early waxings of Texas string band music were recorded in Dallas in the mid- to late '20s, giving the listener an inkling of the rich musical landscape of the era. This was a time when regional performers attended fiddling contests and recorded their instrumentals for traveling A&R men for almost nothing. No one thought to keep a studio log book of Oscar & Doc Harper for posterity, but luckily they did record "Dallas Bound," "Bitter Creek," and "Sally Johnson." This rhythm-filled music was -- and is -- tailor-made for dancing. Mildred Steeley lays down a steady guitar track for her father A.L. "Red" Steeley's lead fiddle on "Paddy on the Hand Car," while the East Texas Serenades raise a ruckus in "Combination Rag." With the upbeat nature of much of this music, it's easy to imagine that the performers had fun making it. Hugh Roden & His Texas Night Hawks show an affinity for ragtime with "Possum Rag" and "Crazy Rag," while Smith's Garage Fiddle Band offers fun takes on "Tom & Jerry" and "Cuban Two-Step." Also of interest is Captain M.J. Bonner's version of "Yearling's in the Canebrake/The Gal on the Log." Christopher C. King notes that ex-Confederate Bonner was 78 when he recorded this instrumental, and that his technique undoubtedly represented an earlier style of fiddling. King's notes provide a fine survey of the movers and shakers on the Texas music scene. Collectors will want to pick up a copy of Old Time Texas String Bands, Vol. 2, as will anyone interested in the state's musical history.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.