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The Music of the Stanley Brothers

The Music of the Stanley Brothers

Foreword by Neil V. Rosenberg
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The Music of the Stanley Brothers
    Book Description:

    The Music of the Stanley Brothers brings together forty years of passionate research by scholar and record label owner Gary Reid. A leading authority on Carter and Ralph Stanley, Reid augments his own vast knowledge of their music with interviews, documents ranging from books to folios sold by the brothers at shows, and the words of Ralph Stanley, former band members, guest musicians, session producers, songwriters, and bluegrass experts. The result is a reference that illuminates the Stanleys' art and history. It is all here: dates and locations; the roster of players on well-known and obscure sessions alike; master/matrix and catalog/release numbers, with reissue information; a full discography sorting out the Stanleys' complex recording history; the stories behind the music; and exquisitely informed biographical notes that place events in the context of the brothers' careers and lives. Monumental and indispensable, The Music of the Stanley Brothers provides fans and scholars alike with a guide for immersion in the long career and breathtaking repertoire of two legendary American musicians.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09672-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Neil V. Rosenberg
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Neil Rosenberg
  6. 1 DEATH IS ONLY A DREAM: 1947–1948
    (pp. 1-19)

    The Stanley Brothers are recognized today as members of a trio of bands that helped define and popularize the style of music that came to be known as bluegrass. Along with Bill Monroe, the acknowledged “Father of Bluegrass Music,” and the duo of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Carter and Ralph Stanley were instrumental in shaping the destiny of the music, imprinting it with a soulful tinge culled from the mountainous region of their native southwest Virginia. They added a distinctive array of excellently crafted original material and delivered it in a highly emotive manner that remains unequaled to this...

  7. 2 TO US, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE IMPOSSIBLE: Columbia Records, 1949–1952
    (pp. 20-39)

    In July of 1948, the Stanley Brothers relocated from Bristol, Virginia, to Raleigh, North Carolina.¹ They had been in Bristol for a year and a half and had pretty much “played out” the area, saturating the market with repeated performances. They secured another radio program on WPTF, a station that would be home to numerous bluegrass performers in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

    The Blue Sky Boys, an old-time duo that supplied several songs to the Stanley repertoire over the years, were in Raleigh at the same time, on a competing station. It wouldn’t be the last time that...

    (pp. 40-85)

    The early 1950s continued to be a time of nomadic activity for the Stanley Brothers. In September of 1952, following their final session for Rich-R-Tone, they finished up their stay at WOAY in Oak Hill, West Virginia. From there, they journeyed to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and then back to Bristol. The onset of winter and the scarcity of show dates brought about another temporary break-up of the Clinch Mountain Boys. According to Ralph,

    [In 1952] we went to Detroit and we worked at the Ford factory. I worked ten weeks and Carter worked about between three and four months....

  9. 4 “HOW MOUNTAIN GIRLS CAN LOVE”: The Early King/Starday Years, 1958–1962
    (pp. 86-164)

    In 1958 Carter and Ralph Stanley were seasoned professionals with nearly twelve years of performing under their belts. They had recorded some classic music for Columbia Records in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and from 1953 to 1958 were under contract to Mercury Records, where what many fans consider the group’s best recordings were made.

    In spite of their past successes, though, things seemed shaky for the duo. In the early or middle part of the year, the Stanley Brothers’ contract with Mercury was allowed to lapse, leaving the duo without a label home. And, with five years of...

  10. 5 “STONE WALLS AND STEEL BARS”: The Later King Years, 1963–1966
    (pp. 165-224)

    As the Stanley brothers entered 1963, their career, which had been on an upward trajectory, seemed to be leveling off. Losing the support of their sponsor, Jim Walter Homes, put them back on the road, chasing an endless succession of gigs to earn an income. The folk music boom that had embraced their authentic brand of old-time music, while not dead, was waning and becoming less of a haven for the duo. More often than not, Carter and Ralph carried only one or two full-time musicians with them on the road and hoped they could flesh out the group with...

    (pp. 225-236)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 237-250)
    (pp. 251-258)
    (pp. 259-278)
    (pp. 279-286)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-294)