We recorded this CD in June, 2012, at the Studio on campus at East Tennessee State University. As many of you know, ETSU has the oldest and largest Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music studies program in the country (all of us are or have been associated with the program as instructors or students). Ben Bateson, who engineered our sessions, teaches all the recording and sound courses at ETSU and is a master in the studio (he’s also a fine banjo player). Our goal was to put together an album with the feel and sound of earlier recordings from the fifties and sixties, and we used microphones and filters that would capture that sense. We did not lay down individual tracks, but recorded together, “live,” with baffles around each of us, to facilitate mixing.
Kris plays a Gibson F5L mandolin; Richard plays a Gibson ball-bearing Mastertone; Greg plays a Martin DH28 guitar; Jeff plays a blonde Engelhardt bass.
1. Cryin’ Heart Blues: Kris showed us this tune from the Kitchen Tapes CD, produced by Dave Grisman, which features Red Allen and Frank Wakefield rehearsing for their Folkways album of the early 60s. It’s originally a Johnny and Jack tune, in ¾ time. We changed the words a little and rearranged it with solo, duet, and trio parts swapping around in the singing. Greg sings lead; Kris on tenor; Richard on baritone.
2. Put My Little Shoes Away: We all knew this song from different sources (it was written by Samuel Mitchell and Charles Pratt, in 1873) but had never heard it as a trio and decided to see what could happen. It was recorded in the 50s and 60s by the Everly Brothers, Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, and Bennie & Vallie Cain. We worked it up originally on a break during shows at Tweetsie Railroad, in North Carolina. Greg sings lead; Kris tenor; Richard baritone.
3. I’ll Be No Stranger There: In the mid 60s The Shenandoah Quartet (Jim Eanes, Hershel Sizemore, Billy Edwards, Tater Tate) released two traditional gospel albums with all sorts of great old tunes on them. This was a showpiece. We’ve rearranged it, trying to keep the same edge. Richard sings lead; Kris tenor, Jeff high baritone; Greg bass.
4. All That Remains: Kris wrote this tune last winter, working his way into the “lover-in-heaven” tradition. Kris sings lead; Jeff tenor; Richard baritone.
5. Are You Tired of Me?: This is a great Carter Family tune that they recorded in 1934. It’s been done in bluegrass by Jim & Jesse and others, but Kris and Richard have reworked it in an original duet arrangement where they swap the lead line around and get up into high lonesome territory.
6. Dailey’s Reel: A traditional fiddle tune in Bb. Here, Kris and Richard play the leads and do a nifty instrumental harmony on the final run.
7. Every Knee Shall Bow: A gospel tune in traditional call-and-response style, written by Richard. Kris sings lead; Jeff tenor; Richard baritone; Greg bass.
8. If Only My Heart Could Forget: Kris wrote this edgy song and he and Richard worked-up a strange, tension-filled duet, with the second part below the lead. Kris lead; Richard baritone.
9. God Holds the Future in His Hands: Greg taught the band this traditional gospel tune on a break at Tweetsie Railroad (where the band spends most of the day waiting for the next show, and so gets a lot of pickin’ done). Its age comes through in its form and the great lyrics, with words like “zephyrs,” etc. Greg sings lead; Kris tenor; Richard baritone.
10. Over the Hill to the Poorhouse: This began as a poem by Will Carleton, in 1897 (with a female persona). In 1920, it became a silent film, also about a woman, directed by Harry F. Millarde. Our version was recorded by Flatt & Scruggs in the 1950s (a rare band makeup with Everett Lilly on mandolin and tenor). Richard sings lead; Kris tenor.
11. Sugar Hill: This old time bad-guy tune was recorded by the Buckle Busters in the 1930s. It has a lot of variants, and, in fact, once they get into picking, the band is playing Granpa’s “Liza Up A P’simmon Tree.” (Sugar Hill doesn’t have the five-chord on the B part.) Billy Edwards recorded a version he called “Tinker Creek,” with the Shenandoah Cut ups. Greg sings lead; Kris tenor; Richard baritone.
12. The Voice of My Lord: Written by Richard, this gospel song is in the “fast ¾ time” reminiscent of the Stanley Brothers. Richard sings lead; Kris tenor; Jeff high baritone.
13. No Home Blues: Richard wrote this song in the Jimmy Rodgers style. Rodgers recorded for only six years before his untimely death in 1933, but he pretty much created country/western music. Here, Richard mutes his banjo with clothespins. Kris sings lead; Jeff tenor; Richard baritone.
14. Blood of the Lamb: This well-known gospel tune has been recorded by Red Allen & Frank Wakefield, the Stanley Brothers, and Jim & Jesse. The traditional version has a slightly different melody line. Here, the band does a mini a capella version. Kris sings lead on verses, tenor on chorus; Jeff sings lead on chorus; Richard baritone; Greg bass.