In 2010, I reviewed a wonderful CD of recordings made in the Great Smoky Mountains in 1939 and 1940. This CD is a compilation of contemporary renditions of 23 songs and tunes inspired by the first CD. The first hint of something very special is the list of participants: Carol Elizabeth Jones, Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin, David Holt, Travis and Trevor Stuart, Alice Gerrard, Corbin Hayslett, Sheila Kay Adams, Bruce Greene, Ed Snodderly, John Lilly, Stephen Wade with Kalia Yeagle, Bryan Sutton, the Brother Boys, Amythyst Kiah with Roy Andrade, Martin Simpson with Dom Flemons, Norman and Nancy Blake with the Rising Fawn String Ensemble, Tony Trischka and Courtney Hartman, Dolly Parton, and Dale Jett and Hello Stranger.
The background to this recording lies in the 4,250 people from 700 families who gave up their homes for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That history is documented in the generous accompanying liner notes. In 1937, the National Park Service hired Joseph Sargent Hall to study the culture of the people living in the park before their dispersal. Hall was a linguist, and his first project was to study their speech, but on his next trip, he recorded music, and he returned twice in the 1950s to record the White Oak String Band, which featured banjoist Carroll Best.
The CD opens with Carol Elizabeth’s a capella rendering of “On Top of Old Smoky.” Jody and Kate sing and play “Come, All You Young Ladies” and “I Started Out A-Courting.” This CD has the last recordings of fiddler Trevor Stuart before his untimely death. He and twin brother Travis play “Lost Indian” and “Black Mountain Rag.” Bruce Green fiddles “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Bryan Sutton sings and picks “I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home.” Norman and Nancy and friends contribute “The Dying Cowboy.” Tony Trischka plays Carroll Best’s version of “Chinquapin Hunting.” Dolly’s number is “Little Rosewood Casket.” Rather than list all the rest of the excellent material on this CD, I will just recommend that you get your own copy. (Great Smoky Mountains Assoc., P.O. Box 130, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, www.smokiesinformation.org.)SAG