|EARLY COMMERCIAL RECORDING SESSIONS
In 1927 the Victor label advertised
auditions in Bristol, which straddles the Virginia-Tennessee line.
Usually remembered today for capturing the first commercial recordings
of soon-to-be stars Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, the
recording sessions and Bristol have been called the "Birthplace of
Country Music." In fact, many Virginia old-time artists had already
successfully recorded by 1927, including Henry Whitter and the
Stoneman Family, both of whom were present at the Bristol session. The
city hosted another Victor recording session in 1928.
For five days in October 1929, musicians from across
Virginia played their songs for engineers of the Okeh Record Company
in Richmond. Firms like Victor, Columbia, and Okeh held sessions away
from their northern studios in order to mine the rich vein of southern
music demanded by record buyers. The Richmond recording session was a
microcosm of Virginia and American music, capturing the work of
old-time bands, gospel quartets, harmonica players, jazz acts, and
even Hawaiian orchestras. Artists came from Roanoke, Richmond,
Hopewell, Norfolk, and several rural communities hoping to achieve
musical fame. A few had already made 78-rpm records, most notably Bela
Lam and His Greene County Singers, the Sparkling Four Quartet, the
Tubize Royal Hawaiians, and the Richmond Starlight Quartette. Others
had been heard on the new technology of radio.
One of the first releases of the Carter Family,
recorded at Bristol in 1927.
Courtesy of Joe Bussard.
J. P. Nestor, "Train
on the Island" (Victor 21707), recorded in Bristol, Tennessee, 1
August 1927. Re-issued on Rural String Bands of Virginia
(County CD-3502) and on The Anthology of American Folk Music
(Smithsonian Folkways 40090).
Babe Spangler and Dave Pearson, "Midnight
Serenade" (Okeh 45387), recorded in Richmond, Virginia, October
14, 1929. Re-issued on Rural String Bands of Virginia (County
CD-3502), and on Virginia Roots: the 1929 Richmond Sessions
(Outhouse Records 1001).
Tarter and Gay, "Unknown
Blues" (Victor 38017), recorded in Bristol, Tennessee, on November
2, 1928. Re-issued on Ragtime Blues Guitar (Document records,
Tubize Royal Hawaiian Orchestra, "Sweetheart
of Mandalay" (Okeh 45394), recorded in Richmond, Virginia, October
14, 1929. Re-issued on Virginia Roots: the 1929 Richmond Sessions
(Outhouse Records 1001).
Golden Crown Quartet, "The
Sign of Judgement" (Okeh 8739), recorded in Richmond, Virginia,
October 13, 1929. Re-issued on Virginia Roots: the 1929 Richmond
Sessions (Outhouse Records 1001).