James Bryan and Carl Jones became friends through a mutual love and respect for the old tunes and from the thorough enjoyment of sitting down and making music together. This recording presents some of the fruits of their long friendship and musical collaboration.
James Bryan has been inspired by traditional fiddle music since he was a boy. His father loved country music and encouraged his son to play. On several occasions he sent James to Nashville to study under now-legendary fiddler Kenny Baker. Like Baker, James became a professional musician, fiddling with bluegrass and country bands. In the 1970's he began to tour with Norman and Nancy Blake in the Rising Fawn String Ensemble.
James' passion for old-time fiddle music led him to track down its earliest documentation. An excellent sight reader, he pours through old tunebooks and sheet music searching for now-obscure tunes. He has a rare talent for learning pieces from written sources and making them sound like treasured family heirlooms. His repertory also includes tunes from old 78 rpm records. Through his own collecting, James has become an authority on the early history of country music, rural blues, and Southern sacred song traditions.
Carl Jones started playing guitar when he was ten years old, inspired by Roy Rogers strumming on television. He played bluegrass music in college, and developed an ear for traditional fiddle music. Hearing James with Norman and Nancy Blake hooked him for good on old-time music. Clawhammer banjo player Tom Jackson added further inspiration. Carl delved into a study of the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and various styles of guitar. Eventually he toured as a multi-instrumentalist with James, Norman and Nancy.
Although they now live far apart, James and Carl are as compatible as ever when they sit down to play. While they have a deep respect for their sources, they manage to create each tune anew. By popular demand, a number of their original compositions are offered here. Carl and James have been winding their way through many a tune for a number of years now; we are fortunate that they have finally documented their partnership through this recording.
Many of the instrumentals were learned from written collections, tunebooks, tutors, and old sheet music. Kicking Up the Devil and Dr. Hecock's Jig come from nineteenth century banjo tutors. Indian Whoop was included in G.P. Knauff's Virginia Reels, one of the first collections of southern fiddle music.
Beethoven's Favorite Waltz was found in a tunebook published in the 1840s by Elias Howe. Carl fingerpicks the accompaniment in open G tuning. Jimalong Josie is credited to minstrel Dan Emmett; James sets the piece in DDAD tuning raised one-half step to the key of e-flat. The guitar is tuned to an open D chord and capoed at the first fret. Belles of Blackville and Hang On were learned by James from fiddle tunes collected by folklorist Samuel Bayard. Forty Drops comes from sheet music lent to James by friend Doug Seroff. It is an early rag arranged for mandolin.
A 78 rpm recording by the George F. Davie Quartette is the source of Grant's Rant and Dekalb Rangers. James is the author of the beautiful Spirit of '92.
Camp Meeting On the Fourth of July comes from Tom Jackson, who learned it directly from Coleman Barwick, an old-time fiddler from Blountsville, Alabama.
Long Lost Love was composed by Almeda Riddle to sing to her four year old son,
Lloyd, after her husband and baby were killed by a cyclone on Nov. 25, 1926 in
Heber Springs, Arkansas. Annie D. Green (Marian Douglas) wrote Two Pictures which Carl found in a 1925 old poetry collection and set to music. Some good advice was passed along in a 1904 singing primer via The Whistling Song by J. H. Kurzenknabe.
As part of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble in the early eighties, Carl heard, "This is the last time!” exclaimed more than once on the home trek. Somewhere along the way, The Last Time On The Road popped out.
The Goosey Boy and Little Toesy were named by Carl’s daughter Kelli, in honor of their tickling shenanigans with her little brother, Tyler. The Last Look At Lonesome Rock waltzed out of a viola one morning while on the ol’ Bluebird bus in a Ramada Inn parking lot. It’s named after a large solitary rock that dwells in a picturesque canyon in Flatrock, Alabama. After finding an old James Whitcomb Riley poem book entitled Farm Rhymes in an Alabama junk store, Tale Of The Airl’y Days jumped off the pages and became the first poem Carl ever set to music. Father James #1 is just one of the hundreds of beautiful songs and melodies from Daniel Patterson’s definitive work
The Shaker Spiritual.
Special thanks to Wayne Martin for assistance and patience
above and beyond the call of duty. Wes Lachot for engineering expertise and
encouragement. Tim and Brenda Currin for their gracious hospitality and hearty whistling. Ben Runkle for instrument repair and his generosity. Edwin Wilson for his
partnership, friendship, and his decision not to whistle. Carl would like to thank James for his friendship and musical inspiration and his mother for passing along her
love of music and always encouraging him to play— Carl Jones and James Bryan
Produced by Wayne Martin in collaboration with James Bryan and Carl Jones.
Production assisted and supervised by Edwin Wilson.
Recorded by Wayne Martin & Wes Lachot. Mastered at Overdub Lane, Durham NC.
Photo this page by D. Kent Thompson. Band photo by Wayne Martin.
Cover photo illustration and design by Sue Meyer.