The “Notes & Queries” column in Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine is one of the subscriber favorites.  This column started in the October 1967 issue.  For the first several years, it did not run in every issue.  Readers would write in with questions, answers, or “notes” and they would appear occasionally.

When a Question came in and the editorial staff did not know the Answer, or could not find someone who knew the answer, the question would still be printed in the magazine and readers who may know the answer could write in.  If this occurred, the answer would be printed in a later issue.  For instance, in Volume 2, Number 8 a question with no answer was printed.  The answer was not printed until Volume 2, Number 12 (with a reference back to Volume 2, Number 8 where the question first appeared).

 Today one person writes this column.  He researches the questions and provides the answers.  Early on, the magazine editor answered many of the questions (indicated with “Ed.” after the answer), but also knowledgeable professionals—such as Bill Emerson, John Duffy, Benny Cain, Tom Morgan, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Doug Green, Ralph Rinzler, and others—provided the answers.  When this occurred, these names were listed after the answer.

For fans of “Notes & Queries” this Archive Article provides the first twelve “Notes & Queries” columns that appeared in the magazine (between October 1967 and March 1969)

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine 

October 1967.     Volume 2, Number 4

Q – Who are the lead singers, baritones, etc. on Monroe’s albums “Bluegrass Ramble”, “Bluegrass Special” and “I’ll Meet You In Church”? —Peter Hackman, Stockholm, Sweden

Q – Has Del McCourey recorded any numbers with Monroe besides “Roll On Buddy”? —P. H.

A – Del says that he is also singing on “One Of God’s Sheep” which is on the “I’ll Meet You In Church” album. He also played guitar on several others, but can’t remember which ones. —Ed.

Q – Who wrote the “Dark Hollow” that McCourey used to sing with the BG Boys? —P. H.

A – Bill Browning who used to be an uptown country singer on WWVA in Wheeling, W. Va.—Ed.

Q – What is McCourey doing presently? —P. H.

A – Del has been playing carnival dates with the Shady Valley Boys (Billy Baker-fiddle, Donny Eldreth- banjo, Jerry McCourey (Del’s younger brother)-bass). —Ed.

Q – Who sings lead on “True Life Blues”? —P.H.

A – Possibly Tex Wills, who played guitar on the session according to Ralph Rinzler. —Ed.

Q – Does anyone know the exact whereabouts of Molly O’Day, also known as Mrs. Lynn Davis? —C.R.F.

A – When last heard from, she was living in Lexington, Ky. Can anyone be more specific? —Ed.

Q – Is there available a good, thick bluegrass songbook including gospel bluegrass? —Joe Dareing, Ohio

A – The best one we know of is the Bill Clifton song book which has long been out of print. —Ed.

Q – Who sings lead on Bill Monroe’s Decca recording of “The First Whippoorwill”? Gene Bretecher, Canada

A – Jimmy Martin. —Ed.

Q – Where are the Dillards working these days? G. B.

Q – Who is the Joe Ahr whose name appears as the author of “Roanoke” and “Roane County Prison”?  John Prael, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A – “Joe Ahr” was credited with a number of Monroe’s songs during the late 50s. It seems to be a nom-de-plume for Monroe himself, as seemingly were the credits to “James B. Smith” and “Rupert Jones”. According to the labels, “Smith” wrote “Blue Grass Ramble” and “Jones” wrote “Pike County Breakdown”. —Ed.

Q – What is the status of the Ode banjo since Baldwin Piano Company bought the firm? —Bob Lindsey, Jr. Port Crane, N. Y.

A – Having corresponded with the Guitar Divison (also responsible for banjo manufacturing) I am convinced that Baldwin will be working diligently to hold the standards of quality established by Ode. Several unusual items such as brass stretcher bands, resonator flanges, tail pieces and tone rings, are being continued by Baldwin. The L:1 ratio planetary tuning pegs (a direct copy of prewar keys) are recognized as the best banjo gear currently made. The Baldwin company has cut back considerably on the variety of items that were previously available at Ode in the hope of standardizing, retaining the better ones, and concentrating on possible improvements. They are very conscious of the idea that quality might decrease through the change of management, and are anxious to prove this isn’t the case. —Tom Morgan

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

February 1968.  Volume 2, Number 8

Q – Could anyone tell me about Fender 5-strings? How do they sound? Are they made well? Also, are the designs Fender originals? Does Fender even make them? —B.A., Maryland

A – I recently had a chance to play a Fender Artist Model banjo and it sounded very good. They are well made of fine materials, and of definitely superior design in the style of pre-war banjos. The banjo was originally designed as a Salstrom banjo by the late Ralph Robinson and the manufacturing rights were purchased by Fender. Fender is probably assembling them now from parts purchased from Salstrom. As far as I am concerned it is one of the best new banjos available today. —Bill Emerson

Q – What is the production history of Gibson mandolins other than the F-5 Artist Model (the history of which has already appeared in BU)? So far, I have seen nine A models, three of which are still in production, and six F models, of which only two are still made. Have there been others? Can Gibson mandolins be dated by serial number? When did the inlay “The Gibson” change to “Gibson” with a script “G” and when did that inlay change to the inscription with the plain “G”? —L.B., Maryland

A – There were eight known F models, maybe more, and 14 A models, maybe more. There were also C models and E (electric) models.

“The Gibson” changed to “Gibson” about 1935. Gibson changed to the present type “G” about 1950. During 1950 the Company sold mandolins with both the script “G” and the “G” that is currently being used. It is reasonable to assume that the company must have had a number of old head stock veneers still on hand at the time the change was made. It is my understanding that they retained a small supply of the old head stocks and other older accessories to use in repairing older instruments being returned to the factory for repair.

It is impossible to accurately date Gibson mandolins except the Lloyd Loar models, because the company’s records were destroyed by fire. However, we can date them within a few years if we know the serial number. Vallie and I are in the process of compiling a mandolin directory listing all the Gibson mandolins, as well as mandolins made by other companies, with pictures, and other details. Watch for its announcement in BU. —Benny Cain

Q – I would like to know what has happened to the Martin Co. I recently purchased a new D-28 which had a bowed neck. It used to be you could not get a D-28 anywhere or even place an order, but now you can get them most anywhere it seems. One newspaper ad stated orders within 30 days. Are they yielding to the demand? Are they pushing them out too fast?

— L.E.B., Virginia

A – Nothing has happened to Martini In spite of a few disgruntled owners, the quality remains. Stop and think how many good ones are produced compared to the low percentage of “lemons”.

Wood is unpredictable and unless guitar necks are made of solid steel, there will always be problems. As for the availability of Martin guitars; the guitar boom is over. Sales are off 30-50% in some areas. Back orders (some 3 years old) are being caught up with. As for the newspaper ad you mentioned, often dealers in cities where sales are off will become overstocked, then they run ads in towns where they believe their stock can be sold. Many times this is profitable—kind of like the Fuller Brush man bringing the product to your door.

—John Duffey

Q – Can you tell me what the effects of a loose “T” bar would be in an old Martin dreadnaught? Could it critically affect string life or brilliance of tone? Also, could you comment on the degree to which a Martin neck, if warped or bowed, will effect tuning! How much does it take before tuning becomes difficult? Should a Martin stay in tune if properly capoed?

—E.H., Pennsylvania

A – If by some strange quirk a “T” bar should become loose you’d know it right away—it would rattle! Obviously, it would have no effect on string life or instrument tone (except for a new dimension in sound—clank, clank). If there was substantial vertical play in the bar, this might allow the neck to bow slightly. A warped neck will not affect the open tuning of a guitar, however, when you try to make a chord, it’s murder!  As the neck bows, the strings rise higher from the fingerboard. When you have to depress a string say l/4 of an inch instead of l/8 of an inch, it pulls the note sharp—thus the tuning problem. NO FRETTED INSTRUMENT IS MADE TO BE USED WITH A CAPO!  Of course, most of us use capos at one time or another and the best results are obtained with the lowest possible overall action. The capo creates the same relative problem as a bowed neck. —John Duffey

Q – I have a picture of two sisters I saw in person in the 40s, although they were not bluegrass.  It is an old picture and I was wondering what ever became of them, The Morris Sisters, Geneva and Eunice? — D.B., Virginia

Q – What ever became of Tommy Magness? —D.B., Virginia

A – Tommy Magness (who, incidentally, was the fiddler on the first Bill Monroe session for Bluebird—Ed.) is presently recuperating from a stroke in the Copper Hill-Morgan, Georgia area. —Don Reno

Q – What was Bill Monroe’s best selling single record and how many copies did it sell? —D.B.

Q – What ever became of Danny and Charlie, the Bailey Brothers? —D.B., Virginia

A – Charlie Bailey is now a barber in Wilmington, Delaware. Danny is in Knoxville, Tennessee playing music. —Ed.

Q – Do you know anything about Delmer Sexton and the Roan County Boys?

A – Delmer Sexton, Bobby Jewell & The Roan County Boys BREEZE 274 “I’m Lonesome For You, Little Darlin’”/“Too Young To Understand” was reviewed in BU, Vol. 1, No. 3, P. 8. The same issue carried a listing of the Roan County Boys Fan Club, c/o Selma Lee Patterson, Route 1, Lafayette, Tennessee 37083.—Ed.

Q – I hear that Don Gibson was once a bluegrass musician. If so, what has he recorded besides “Carolina Breakdown”? And please tell me the personnel at that time? H.K., Japan

A – Victor 21-0424 “Carolina Breakdown”/”I Love No One But You” was recorded by Don Gibson and his King Cotton Kinfolks. “Carolina Breakdown” was composed by H.F. (Hubert) and J.C. (Pee Wee) Davis and is the only bluegrass record made by Don Gibson. The other side of the record is uptown country. —Ed.

Q – May I identify Jim & Earl of the PALACE label with Vern & Ray of the STARDAY label? Also, please tell me their present situation. —K.K., Japan

Q – The Lilly Brothers are considered the most authentic bluegrass group among Japanese bluegrass fans. Is it true that Mitchell B. Lilly died? Why did Don Stover leave the band?—N.H., Japan

A – As far as we know Bea Lilly is still around. Don Stover left the band to play banjo with the Virginians (see The Bill Harrell Story in this issue). —Ed.

Q – Is Red Allen still working with Flatt and Scruggs? —N.H., Japan

A – No. —Ed.

Q – Where are Curly Seckler and Paul Williams now? — H.H., Japan

A – Paul Williams is living in Morristown, Tennessee. We don’t know Seckler’s whereabouts, but we did learn from Bill Emerson that Curly played banjo on at least one of the McReynolds’ Capitol dates. He also made several Bluebirds with Charlie Monroe (as “The Monroe Boys”) around 1940. He played mandolin, and two of the titles were “The Great Speckled Bird” and “Every Time I Feel.” —Ed.

Q – Who sings with Charlie Monroe and plays mandolin on the Monroe Brothers record, “A Beautiful Life.” —B.F., Maryland

Q – Who are “Homer & The Barnstormers” who made a cheapie album: “Bluegrass Banjos On Fire” on Somerset P-19500? —J.K., Kentucky

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

March, 1968.  Volume 2, Number 9


After reading in the February issue of BU about Fender Banjos I thought I might mention that a Fender Sales Representative informed me that Fender was trying to decide if they should spend several thousand dollars for manufacturing equipment or to keep it more as a hand crafted banjo, as it is right now. Maybe this is the reason why Fender banjos seem to be among the best made today. I just hope they keep it up and don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. —Wesley Clemmer, Harleysville, Pa.

I think Bill Emerson is mistaken about Curley Seckler on the J & J Capitol recordings. Curley did indeed play on one Capitol session, in April, 1952, but he played guitar. The personnel for that session was: mandolin, Jesse McReynolds; guitars, Jim McReynolds and Curly Seckler; banjo, Hoke Jenkins; fiddle, Sonny James; bass, unknown studio musician. Eight tunes were recorded at this session. Hoke Jenkins is the brother of Oren Jenkins, who played on the other two J & J Capitol sessions; they are nephews of Snuffy Jenkins. That information comes from an interview with Jim & Jesse done by myself and Scott Hambly on February 5. 1966 in Chicago, Illinois.

Seckler had played with the Stanley Brothers prior to joining Jim & Jesse. I doubt if he played or plays the five-string, but he did play the tenor banjo when he first joined the Charlie Monroe band. Charlie once told Marvin Hedrick and me that Curly’s banjo playing at that time was so weak that Charlie made him use a felt pick!

On the other questions, I’m pretty sure that’s Bill Monroe struggling to get the bass part of “A Beautiful Life;” the mandolin sure sounds like him. Jim & Earl of Palace are indeed Vem & Ray of Starday. I’ve lost track of them but in 1960-61 they played around Stockton, California. They did a joint concert with the Redwood Canyon Ramblers of Berkeley in 1962, and performed at the UCLA Folk Festival in 1965. They are both from the Ozarks—full names are Vem Williams and Ray Park. I don’t know if they’re still playing. —Neil Rosenberg, Bloomington, Indiana

…About the question about Vern & Ray. Ray Williams (?) is now living in Mt. View, Arkansas (home of Jimmie Driftwood). We met Vern and Ray last year there at Mt. View’s festival in April. Ray moved there about Thanksgiving time 1967. Mt. View has a wonderful old time mountain sound to their music for their festivals and the most “jig” dancers you ever saw. We have attended each festival since it started. —Barbara Thomas, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Q – I recently bought a National Triolian mandolin, apparently about 30 years old. The serial number is 599 W. The body is all metal and it has a dobro resonator. Around the rim of the covering plate are 8 four sided patches of large screen holes like something out of a fanning mill. Can anyone tell me the value or affinities of this beast?—N.C., Indiana

A – The company also made a dobro-mandolin. Value depends on what someone would be willing to pay for an instrument that is just a curiosity. —John Duffey

Q – Can you tell me the banjo picker’s name who plays “Bugle Call Rag” on Bill Monroe’s album “Bluegrass Ramble” (Decca DL 1+266)? Y.L., Maryland

A – “Bugle Call Rag” which was recorded December 4, 1951 features Bobby Joe Lester on banjo. —Ralph Rinzler

Q – Are Jody Rainwater and Cedric Rainwater related? What are their real names? What are they doing now? Are they related to C&W star Marvin Rainwater? —D.C., Vermont

A – Cedric Rainwater’s real name is Howard Watts. As far as we know they are not related to each other or to Marvin Rainwater. —Ed.

Q – Are Curley Lambert and Pee Wee Lambert related or the same person? What are they doing now? —D. C., Vermont

A – Pee Wee Lambert died June 24, 1965. They are not related. —Ed.

Q – What is the status of The American Bluegrass Society? —D.C., Vermont

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

June 1968, Volume 2, Number 12

Q – On what date did Gibson change the rim design of the 3-point F-4 mandolin to the 2-point rim design?

A – 1911 – 1912. —Benny Cain

Q – On what date did Gibson first start using the elevated pick guard on mandolins instead of the inlaid type?

A – 1908 – 1909. —Benny Cain

Q – Did any of the 1922 and 1923, F-5 mandolins have “Virzi Tone Producers”?

A – Yes. —Benny Cain

Q – During what years was the F-10 mandolin sold. Also, how many frets did it have and was the fingerboard elevated like the F-5 or laid flat on the top like the F-12 and others?

A – The F-10 mandolin was sold during 1934 – 1935.  It had 25 frets and the fingerboard was elevated. —Benny Cain

Q – On what date was the peghead of the F-5 mandolin changed from the old small size to the current large size?

A – 1950 – 1951- —Benny Cain

Q – How long was Lloyd Loar an acoustic engineer with Gibson?

A – Mr. Loar was with Gibson for 8 years. He left the Company around 1925 and took a job as professor of acoustics at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. —Benny Cain

Q – Are there arrangements of tunes in Scruggs style (tablature) available.—E.R., Brooklyn, N.Y 

A – A book by Earl Scruggs should be on the market very soon. —Bill Emerson

Q – Does Gibson now manufacture brass stretcher rings for their banjos? If so, would they fit a pre-war flat top? —R.R., Massachusetts 

A – No. Gibson stretcher rings are made of pot metal now. Baldwin (Ode) does make a brass stretcher ring that will fit pre-war flat-tops. —Bill Emerson

A – To D.C., Vermont (Vol. 2, No. 9)—Jody Rainwater is now a DJ at WSVS, Crewe, Va. —Edward Sams, Richmond, Va.

A – (Vol. 2, No. 8) Delmer Sexton now lives and works in Bowling Green, Ky. Still has the Roan County boys band. Bobby Jewell now has his own group, The Jewell Bros, and the Sandy Mountain Boys and works in Indianapolis. —Frank Overstreet, Indianapolis, Indiana

Q – Who plays mandolin on the Stanley Brothers recordings? R.L., Maryland 

A – Pee Wee Lambert, Jim Williams, Bill Lowe, Curley Lambert, Bill Napier, George Shuffler, to name several. A Stanley Brothers discography is available from Fay McGinnis, President, Ralph Stanley Fan Club, 1156 21st Street, Wyandotte, Michigan 48192. —Ed.

Q – What has happened to the following dobro players: Bill Carver, “Speedy” Crise and Ray “Duck” Adkins? —F.B. Texas 

A – “Speedy” Crise is working in an auto factory in Akron, Ohio. Ray Adkins is playing in the Knoxville, Tennessee area. —Ed.

Q – Can anyone tell me who played accordian on some of Bill Monroe’s earlier Columbia records? —J.H. Pennsylvania 

A – Sally Forrester, wife of Howdy Forrester. —Ralph Rinzler

[Ed. Note— We cannot answer the many questions from persons requesting names and addresses of instrument repairmen, sources of parts, inlay material, etc. We suggest that you check the ads and classifed section in BU.]

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

October 1968.  Volume 3, Number 4

A—to question in Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 15. Steve Waller of the Sawtooth Mountain Volunteers writes that he asked Jake Tullock where Curly Seckler lives and was told that his current address is 1508 Dickerson Road, Nashville, Tennessee, and that Curly had sold his mandolin and was driving house trailers in that area.

Q—Who played mandolin for Reno and Smiley and recorded with them before Ronnie took over?  Who played second fiddle on some of their numbers? Who sang the third and fourth parts on harmony numbers? Is it true that Reno and Smiley reunite with the original cutups for an annual concert? If so, where and when. —D.L., Michigan 

A—Red Rector, Smiley Hobbs and Bill Haney all played mandolin with Reno and Smiley before Ronnie joined the band. Jimmy Lunsford, who was playing with the band at the time, was joined by Mac McGaha in twin fiddling on about 20 sides. Harvey Raeburn and Red Rector sang third and fourth parts on songs cut in this same session. Rector and Lunsford and Hobbs and McGaha were on some of the other sessions. The group does reunite for an annual concert in Richmond, Virginia around March of each year. —Don Reno 

Q—Where is Johnny “Stubby” Clark, the baby-faced banjo player/tenor singer who made so many recordings with Bill Clifton on Starday, etc.? N.B. Connecticut 

A—Johnny is co-owner of Clark Brothers Antique Shop on Route 29-211 near Warrenton, Virginia.

Q—Who were and what ever happened to the Country Partners (RCA Victor circa 1956)?

A—Bill Price, mandolin player now lives in the Hickory, North Carolina area and plays locally. Other members of the group were Bobby Simpson—banjo and Carlos Brock—guitar. —Ed.

Q—What has become of the McCormick Brothers? —T.G., Missouri

A—The McCormick Brothers live in Gallatin, Tennessee and play a Saturday night Square Dance near there. —Don Reno

Q—How can I get the very first album the Country Gentlemen ever made (if it isn’t the Starday “Carnegie Hall” album which I already have)? How about a discography of the Country Gentlemen? Y.L., Maryland 

A—Folkways 2409 and 2410 were both recorded before the Starday album. We’re working on a discography and hope to have it ready in the not too distant future. —Ed.

Q—Who are the banjo and guitar pickers on the Kenny Haddock and Billy Baker ZAP album? —R.L., New York

A—Kenny Haddock side has Smiley Hobbs on banjo, Charlie Waller on guitar and Frank Goolsby on bass. Billy Baker sides “Black Mt. Rag” and “Orange Blossom”—Walter Hensley-banjo, James (Porky) Hutchins-guitar, Vernon (Boatwhistle) McIntyre-bass. “Blackberry” and “Paddy”—Del McCoury-guitar, Bill Keith-banjo, Jerry McCoury-bass. “Billy in the Low Ground”—Smiley Hobbs-banjo and Charlie Tomlinson-bass. —Ed.

Q—Can you tell me the lead singer with Jimmy Martin on “There Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” (Decca DL 4285)? —R.L., Maryland

A—Paul Williams. Paul is also singing lead on “Little White Church” and “Stepping Stones” on the same album. —Bill Emerson 

Q—In the early 50s, Columbia released a record (21298) by Jack Youngblood called “Hitch Hikers Blues”/ “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” which features some of the finest bluegrass ever heard — it must be regarded as a classic. Who are the musicians heard and what are they doing now? —G.B., Canada 

Q—I understand Doug Dillard’s gold Mastertone with a hand-carved resonator is one of the finest old banjos around. Can anyone provide details as to age, price and availability of a similar banjo?—G.B., Canada 

Q—Who plays the mandolin featured on Red Smiley’s “The Pale Horse and His Rider” (Rural Rhythm 182)? If it’s Gene Burrows, why doesn’t he play on personal appearances?—Y.L., Md.

Q—Who is singing lead on Bill Monroe’s “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” (Decca DL 4382)? —C.W.L., Maryland?

Q—Does anyone know the address of Don Stover and Earl Taylor?—H.U., Japan 

A—Don Stover has gone back to Boston to play with the Lilly Brothers and probably could be reached at the Hillbilly Ranch, 27 Eliot Street, Boston, Mass. —Ed.

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

November 1968. Volume 3 Number 5

A-To Nicholas Barr (Letters, Vol. 3, No. 4). The banjo player on the Capitol album by Hylo Brown was not Joe Drumwright, it was me. —Jim Smoak

A-To G.B., Canada (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4). Musicians on Columbia 21298 by Jack Youngblood were as follows: Jack Youngblood—fiddle, Ed Mayfield—guitar, Johnny Seibert—guitar, Buddy Killen—bass, Jim Smoak—banjo. Jack Youngblood lives in southern Mississippi and still plays some, I believe. Ed Mayfield died while working with Bill Monroe in 1958 (19591).  Buddy Killen is a kingpin with Tree Publishing Company, Nashville, Tennessee. Johnny Seibert is with the old Hank Williams group. I am a charter member of the Cumberlands now about five years. —Jim Smoak, Alexandria, Louisiana

A-To C.W.L., Maryland, (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4). Frank Buchanan of Spruce Pine, N. C. is singing lead on “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” (Decca DL 4382). It has always seemed a shame to me that although he cut many songs with Bill Monroe, and worked with him for over two years, Frank has remained relatively unknown. He is currently living and playing some music in Detroit and recently made an album with Cranford Nix on the Fortune label. In my opinion he has one of the finest lead voices in bluegrass. Frank sings lead on all the duets of that album (DL 4382 “Bluegrass Special”) and lead on all the quartets on DL 4537 (“I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning”). He tells me that he cut a few more, as yet unreleased, although some may appear on Bill’s next religious album which is being prepared. Frank is 34, unmarried, and looks as Scottish as his name. —Doug Green, Nashville, Tennessee

A-To G.B., Canada (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4) Doug Dillard picked up that banjo in Nebraska, I believe, and had a 5-string neck made by a friend of his. The peghead carving and inlay were scavenged from the old tenor neck, but the fingerboard “Granada” inlays were cut.  I just finished making an identical neck for another arch-top Bella Voce, and the serial number on it is 8615-26 which would put it in the late 20s. The Bella Voce isn’t in the 1931 price sheets, but in 1928 and 1929 it listed for $400. Don’t bother looking for one— it’s a waste of time. If you stumble over on somewhere, though, you’ll pay about $1000 for a tenor, maybe $1500 for an original 5-string. —Chuck Erikson, Van Nuys, California

A-To R.L., New York (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4) There was an error in the listing of personnel for the Zap Kenny Haddock and Billy Baker album. “Orange Blossom Special” should have been included in the session with Bill Keith on banjo. —Ed.

A-To Y. L., Maryland (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4). Last time I saw Smiley’s group, Tater Tate played mandolin on several of the gospel numbers, including “Pale Horse and Rider”. It would seem likely that it is Tate playing on the record. Apparently, Gene Burrows doesn’t play mandolin on this. I’ve seen the group numerous times, and I’ve never seen Gene Burrows do any more than chord the mandolin. —Kathy Kaplan, Oceanside, New York

A-To H.U., Japan (N & Q, Vol. 3, No. 4). Earl Taylor’s present address is 1401 West Walnut, Santa Anna, California. —Tom Mullen, Pasadena, California

Q-What is a good record to hear Bill Keith for learning his style banjo? —W.W., Graham, Texas

A-“Sailor’s Hornpipe” on Decca DL 4601 and “Camptown Races” and “Catnip” on Folkways FA 2408 are a few you might try. —Ed.

Q-In your review of Ralph Stanley’s “Old Time Music” (Jalyn JLP-118) in Vol. 3, No.3, you imply that Ralph is playing mandolin on “East Virginia Blues”. Since there are no notes on the LP to substantiate this, where did this idea originate? Does he play mandolin on that cut only? —C.H.G., Penland, N. C.

A-“East Virginia Blues” has been Ralph’s mandolin specialty for years. That is the only cut on the record with Ralph playing mandolin. —Ed.

Q-Who is the dobro player backing up Jim Eanes on ZAP MLP 102 (“Your Old Standby”)? Who is the dobro player on a London (EB.116) LP “Bluegrass Fire” by the Southern Ramblers? —B.R.B., Allentown, Pennsylvania.

A-Russ Hooper is playing dobro on the Jim Eanes album. —Ed.

Q-What has happened to Wayne Yates who used to play mandolin for Red Allen and Bill Emerson? —M.F.R., Weirton, West Virginia

A-Wayne is living in Woodbridge, Virginia and plays occasionally with local groups. —Ed.

Q-Does anyone know the present whereabouts of the Blue Grass Gentlemen? —H.B.

A-The group has disbanded. —Ed.

Q-Didn’t Curly Seckler play the banjo with Cahrlie Monroe at one time? —H.B.

A-Yes, tenor banjo c. 1940, but he did not record with the banjo. —Ed.

Q-Who played the mandolin for Charlie Monroe and the Kentucky Pardners? —H.B.

A-Curly Seckler, Ira L. Loudermilk (Ira Louvin), W. E. Red Rector, Ome Osborne (on same session as Rector) and C. Baum. —Ed.

Q-Did Toby Stroud and the Blue Mountain Boys make any records, if so on what label? —H.B.

A-Toby Stroud is not playing any more and lives in Ohio, possibly in the Dayton area. He has not recorded since “Jesse James” on New Star about 14 years ago. He also recorded for Decca and MGM. All records are out of print. —Ed.

Q-Does anyone know of a group called the Blue Ridge Mt. Boys from Parkersburg, West Virginia? I heard them on a radio broadcast out of London, Ohio several times. Their five-string banjo player was Thomas Kirk. Did these boys make any records? F.W., Menasha, Wisconsin

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

December 1968.  Volume 3, Number 6

A—To Y.L., Maryland (BU, Vol. 3, No. 4). Tater Tate is playing mandolin on

    “The Pale Horse and His Rider” (Rural Rhythm 182). Gene Burrows has 

    switched over to the mandolin recently and chords rhythm for the Bluegrass

    Cut-ups. —Red Smiley 

A—To G.B., Canada (BU, Vol. 3, No. 4). When Joel Burkhart and I were 

     attending the University of Tulsa in 1961, the Dillards came through that 

     summer on “the circuit”. They were booked into Steve Brainard’s folk coffee 

     house The Buddhi in Oklahoma City. At this time, so the story goes, Doug 

     went out and went through the pawn shops of every town they played in. As I 

     understand it, he went into a pawn shop there in Oklahoma City and found 

     the banjo hanging as a tenor with a $260 price tag on it. He bought it and 

     from there all I know is he had a neck put on it. —Tom Foote, Oregon 

Q—I have a Rich-R-Tone record #1Q46A&B by Jim Eanes on a 78 rpm. Is he 

      still singing and who played on the record? L.H., Ohio 

A—This record (“I Took Her By Her Little Brown Hand”/”I’ll Never Ever Love

       You Any More”) features Eanes (vocal & guitar) and Hubert Davis (banjo). It 

       is part of a large session made for Blue Ridge c. 1951, several masters of 

       which were leased to Rich-R-Tone. —Ed.

Q—Are the Greenbriar Boys still performing? If so, who is currently in the

        group? R.H. Can.

A—We understand that the Greenbriar Boys disbanded, but Frank Wakefield 

       occasionally gets a group together for personal appearances and they call 

       themselves the Greenbriar Boys.—Ed. 

QWho are the musicians performing on “Heart Attack” by Bill Carroll (Rebel 

       R-1474)? R.H.

A—Frank Wakefield (mandolin’, Ed Ferris (bass), Leon Morris (guitar) and 

       Lamar Grier (banjo).

Q—Are Herbert Hooven and Joe Val still performing? R. H. Canada 

A—Joe Val is presently with the Charles River Valley Boys. —Ed.

Q—What would make an older Martin guitar lighter in weight than a newer one 

       of the same model? J.C., Maine

A—Newer models have roto-natic keys which are heavier than the old tuners. 

       Wartime guitars or pre 1934 guitars didn’t have a rod in the neck. 

       Sometimes on the old Martins the tops varied in thickness and sometimes 

       the neck sizes varied. —John Duffey 

Q—What year did Gibson start making the F-12 mandolin? J.M., W. Va.

A—About 1938. —Benny Cain

Q—Do the King Brothers that recorded some 45s for Rebel have an album out? 

       C.C., Missouri 

A—No. They do have a few bands on the Rebel Bluegrass Package though. — 


Q—Where are Jimmie Williams and Red Ellis new? —C.C., Missouri 

Q—Who played the 5-string banjo with Charlie Monroe from 1948 to 1951.

  I believe his first name was Joe? H.B., Ohio 

A—Not Joe Medford. No banjo regularly used. —Ed.

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

February 1969. Volume 3, Number 8

Q—Who is performing on “Travelin’ This Lonesome Road” By Bill Monroe,   

      apart from Monroe and Mac Wiseman? D.G., England

A—Chubby Wise, Rudy Lyle, Cedric Rainwater. Ed.

A—To C.C., Missouri: In the summer and early fall of 1964, Scott Hambly did   

     some picking with Jimmy Williams, then living in Panama City, Florida. I   

     was there stationed in the Navy. Jimmy was at the time working for a local 

     firm of some sort. Scott and I tried to get a hold of him a couple times, but 

     found that he had quit his job there and moved to Jacksonville where he was 

     making music for an evangelist, Jimmy Strickland. Jimmy was travelling the 

     south holding tent meetings. Ralph Mayo, by the way, off-again on-again 

     fiddler with the Stanley Brothers for 14 years or so, also made his home in 

     Panama City, as did Bill Napier and Charlie Moore at this time. Tom Foote, 


Q—Who is singing and playing “Little Old Country Church House” on the Flatt  & Scruggs Mercury album (MG 20542)? R.B., Maine

A—This is actually the Masters Family. It was originally issued on the release of F&S’s “Cora is Gone”, Mercury 6302 and reissued by mistake. Ed.

Q—What sides did Rudy Lyle record with Monroe? G.S., California

A—”Rawhide”, “Georgia Rose”, “On my Way Back To The Old Home”, “White 

       House Blues”, “Get Up John” and more, too numerous to mention. Ed.

Q—What is the personnel of Jimmy Martin’s band now? H.B., Ohio

A—Chris Warner-banjo, Vernon Derrick-mandolin and fiddle, David Fisher-

        bass. Ed.

A—To B.R.B., Pennsylvania: The dobro player on the London (EB116) LP by the  

       Southern Ramblers is Guy Carpenter. He also plays dobro on the Bobby Hill 

       Show when they are on CBC radio. Fred Isenor, Nova Scotia

Q—From which label did the material for the Country Gentlemen Design LP  come? I’ve heard it was Kentucky, but I notice that “Eddie on the Freeway” on this LP is the same recording as “Patty on the Turnpike” on the Rebel package. D.G., England

A—This material was recorded for the Design LP through Rebel. Yes, those two recordings are the same. Ed.

Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

March 1969. Volume 3, Number 9

Q—Is the Jimmy Williams you mentioned the same one that played mandolin with Mac Wiseman in the early 50s? J.R., Ohio


Q—You say Rudy Lyle recorded “Georgia Rose” and “On My Way Back to the Old Home”. For many years I thought Don Reno was on these sides; now I think Don Reno recorded only a few sides with Bill Monroe. How about listing them? J.R., Ohio A—Don Reno made no records with Bill Monroe.

Q—Can you tell me when Sunset Park is scheduled to open? J.A.W.

A—April 27th with Don Reno, Bill Harrell & the Tennessee Cut-Ups.

Q—What is the address of the Dillards? D.H., Virginia A—c/o Mitch Jayne, 13833 Archwood Street, Van Nuys, California.

Q—We have an album called ‘Ten Shades of Bluegrass” by the Lonesome Travelers on the Wyncote label. The banjo is exceptionally well played and we are wondering if you could tell us who it is? W.C., New York

A—Bob Johnson-banjo, Norman Blake-mandolin, David Johnston-guitar, Roy (Jr.) Huskey-bass.

Q—Did the Country Gentlemen record “Bringing Mary Home” on Starday Records? C.C.

A—No, but Bill Clifton’s version of the song (Nashville NLP 2018) utilized the talents of John Duffey, Charlie Waller, Eddie Adcock and Tom Gray, along with Bill Clifton, Mike Seeger and Roy and Paul Justice.

Q—Who was Willard Hale who recorded “Banjo Breakdown” and “Don’t Do It” with Rusty York on Starday records? Did they have any lps? C.C.

Q—I want to know what has happened to Charlie Moore and the Dixie Pardners? Pee Wee Davis A—They have disbanded. —Bill Emerson

A—To J.K., Kentucky, BU, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 15, re: Homer & the Barnstormers. Most likely all the musicians are Nashville sidemen, probably with names that are familiar. I do know that the banjo player is Charles (Buck) Trent.—Nicholas E. Barr, Connecticut 

A—To L.H., Ohio, BU, (Vol. 3, No. 6, p. 18.) Further answer to question re: Jim Eanes. In addition to Jim and Hubert Davis the remainder of the group were Pee Wee Davis (Hubert’s brother) on fiddle and Benny Jarrell on bass. As stated in BU, Vol 3, No 6, this was in fact recorded for Blue Ridge. The recordings were taped at Radio Station WPAQ, Mount Airy, North Carolina in the Fall of 1951. I am at present preparing a very extensive bio-discography on the life and recordings of Jim Eanes for publication. In this connection I would very much appreciate any help readers may be able to offer in regards to the following questions. With the answers to these the whole work will be almost complete.

Q—The whereabouts of a certain Mr. Green who was the owner of National Records of New York City in 1947. His son is now president of Mercury.

Q—Any release dates (as listed in Billboard) of any Starday 45s of Jim Eanes.

Q—Release dates of the Salem 45s by Jim (numbers 503, 508 and 512).

Q—Address of Dominion Records.

Q—Does anyone know of the exact location of the recording of Rural Rhythm LP of Jim Eanes with Red Smiley and the Tennessee Cutups? Uncle Jim O’Neal of RR is not willing to cooperate with any detailed recording data.

A final note which should interest readers is that a release is planned for the GHP label (that which produced the Church Bros. LP), containing some of the recordings Jim Eanes recorded for Blue Ridge. —Robert Ronald, Surrey, England 

Q—Does anyone know of any brothers of Earl Scruggs who play a distinctive style of banjo?  R.B., Maine

A—Junie Scruggs who may be heard on the album: “American Banjo, Scruggs Style,” Folkways FA 2314, playing in an older Snuffy Jenkins related style.

Q—Could you give me any information on a singer who recorded in the early fifties under the name Joe Cannonball Lewis on M-G-M, with lots of mandolin backing? Was his real name Lewis and do you know his present mailing address? F.I., Nova Scotia, Canada 

A—To H.H., Japan, BU, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 15. Curly Seckler is living now in Nashville and makes his livingcToing hauling jobs with his truck. He doesn’t even own a mandolin now, but says he still has a guitar. —Doug Green, Nashville, Tennessee 

Q—Who played mandolin and sang duet with Mac Wiseman on “I’m A Stranger”? D.G., England 

Q—Who played banjo on “John Hardy” by Bill Monroe? D.G., England

Q—Who comprised the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers who had an LP on Crown? D.G., England 

A—This question was answered in Sing Out!, Vol. 15, No. 6, p.’ 119 (January, 1966) by Michael Cooney: “They’re from the San Diego area but are no longer together. The bass player: Ed Douglas now owns and runs a guitar and banjo shop (The Blue Guitar) in Saii Diego. The Banjo player: Kenny Wertz is in the Air Force stationed in Germany where he has a bluegrass band of his own. The Dobro player: Larry Murry is rumored to be playing the part of a Hillbilly Sailor who knows all the answers on a new TV series which may not be out yet. The mandolin player: Chris Hillman is now part of a rhythm and blues “Folk Rock” group—the Byrds—which had a hit single of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” The guitar player: Gary Carr is in the Air Force stationed at Edwards Air Force base in California and he practices every day.” The record “Blue Grass Favorites” (Crown CLP 5346) was repackaged as “Best of Blue Grass Favorites” by the Kentucky Mountain Boys (Crown CLP 5444) complete with a pretty girl and an electric guitar on the cover!

Q—I have a Maple Leaf LP (CML 1010) with two tracks (“I’ll Never Be Happy” and “Path of Life”) by an artist with the pseudonym Hank Varney. Who is this? (it isn’t Lowell Varney as he appears on the same LP as Lowell Simpson!) D.G., England Q—Who is performing on “Eating Out of Your Hand” by Bill Harrell, Starday 480? D.G., England 

A—Smiley Hobbs—mandolin, Roy Self-bass, Carl Nelson-fiddle, Bill Emerson-banjo, and Bill Harrell-guitar. —Bill Emerson

 Q—I have an old Martin guitar, and would like to identify the model and the approximate year of manufacture and would like some estimate of its value. It has no model number or serial number inside where the usual Martin number is found. Instead it is stamped “C.F. MARTIN, New York” there, with a similar stamp on the backside of the head and another directly under the sound hole. It is a flat top, slotted head guitar, with neck joining body at the 12th fret. The back and sides are of nicely grained rosewood, with a D-45 type inlay on the centerline of the back. R.V.C., Iowa 

A—The guitar is a “New Yorker” but not necessarily made in New York. The factory was in Nazareth, Pennsylvania for 58 years before the stamp was changed. Using a small light and a mirror, look on the under-side of the to D near the sound hole. Often the date of manufacture was penciled in (example—5/92) which would be May, 1892). The value is more or less between buyer and seller. —John Duffey 

Q—How about a few kind words for the D-35. I’m sure that a little pearl inlay won’t improve mine. Who can tell me how I may identify my Gibson Southern Jumbo? It was purchased in 1947. List $180 (without case). Was the model and serial number on a paper inside? What would it be worth now? Also, information on a refinish job and new frets of the original quality. P.R.B., Maine 

A—The D-35 is the top of the Martin line. It has even more bass response than the D-28. You are right—pearl inlay is beautiful, but has no tonal qualities. If your Gibson has no serial number stamped in the back of the head stock or in ink somewhere inside, then this information was on an oval shaped paper beneath the sound hole and has either fallen out or been removed. The value is more or less between the buyer and seller. You could check the price of a comparable model today and take it from there. To refinish your guitar would cost from $130 up depending on condition. Fret work runs $1.00 a fret installed. —John Duffey

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  1. Excellent. Excellent.

    You should have mentioned Walter Saunders, who did the column for many years. I was one of his “detectives” who furnished him information on records and recordings. I have my collection computerized.

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