Saturday, June 6, 2009

The early recordings of Jim & Jesse McReynolds with Larry Roll

Jim & Jesse
The early recordings of Jim & Jesse McReynolds with Larry Roll
A bluegrass classic recorded 1951
Label : Gateway
Distributed by Vetco Records

Side one - #38121
1. I'll Fly Away
2. God Put A Rainbow In The Clouds
3. You Go To Your Church
4. Just A Little Talk With Jesus
5. Sing Sing Sing

Side two - # 38122
1. Let Me Travel Alone
2. Camping In Canaan's Land
3. On The Jericho Road
4. I Like The Old Time Way
5. I'll Be Listening
This is a re-issue of the five singles issued by Kentucky Records (as by Virginia Trio) and by Alcar Records (as by James and Jesse McReynolds) issued by each label with the same release numbers : 509, 510, 514, 515, & 547.

In the late 1940s two young boys from the little town of Coeburn in southwestern Virginia were getting into music. Jim McReynolds played guitar and sang a lovely clear tenor. His brother Jesse sang and played the mandolin. They experimented freely in their music, searching constantly for a musical style that would suit them and yet be « different » from what had gone before.

Their varied influences pointed the McReynolds’ vocal style onto a path quite distinct from that simultaneously being explored by a couple of close neighbors – Carter and Ralph Stanley.

Just as the Stanleys did, Jim and Jesse first worked on their own in Norton, Virginia, and nearby West Virginia, calling their band « the McReynolds Brothers and the Cumberland Mountain Boys ». Around 1949 they went with Hoke Jenkins and Curly Seckler to Augusta, Georgia, where they tried a conventional Blue Grass format. In 1951, feeling a need to test something different, they put together a western-style band including steel guitar and went to Kansas. They did a « Sons of the Pioneers » type show featuring numbers like « Cool Water » and « Home on the Range ».

They would spend close to a year in 1951 working at WPFB in Middletown, Ohio. While there, they made their first commercial recording for the Kentucky label with Larry Roll. Uncertain as to how the whole thing would go, the boys decided to adopt the name « the Virginia Trio » in case things didn’t work out well.

As it turned out, the sessions were a great musical success. Joined by Larry Roll on the vocals and Dave Woolum on bass, the group produced a lovely collection of sacred trios. And there, one step behind some inspired vocal work, took place the stunning debut of Jesse’s original mandolin roll, later to be dubbed « crosspickin ».

(from the book The Bluegrass Reader, by Thomas Goldsmith)

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