Program Notes: ‘A Distant Country 2’

“Worried Man Blues” (Carter Family, 1930). I have a theory about this song.  I’m struck by the lines “I went across the river and laid me down to sleep.  When I woke up, I had shackles on my feet.”  Clearly the narrator has crossed a river and ended up in the wrong place, a place … Continue reading Program Notes: ‘A Distant Country 2’

‘The Most Important Event in the History of Country Music’

On August 6, 1927, Ralph Peer left Bristol.  By Monday, August 8, there weren’t many people who even remembered that the Bristol Sessions had happened.  Most of the musicians who had auditioned for him were already back in their everyday lives, scrambling to get by.  Peer returned to New York, Bristol went about its business … Continue reading ‘The Most Important Event in the History of Country Music’

The Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers

The most important event of the August 3, 1927, Bristol Sessions happened not on the second floor of the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building, where Ralph Peer had set up his portable Victor Talking Machine Company recording studio, but rather across town at Mrs. Pierce’s boarding house. Different parties involved had different recollections of what went … Continue reading The Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers

If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions

The Bristol Sessions looms large in history for artistic reasons:  They launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, whose music would define the parameters of country music for generations to come. However, the Sessions were not primarily an artistic exercise, but rather an economic one.  Ralph Peer wasn’t in Bristol looking for … Continue reading If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions