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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LARRY RICHARDSON AND THE BLUE RIDGE BOYS

















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This evening the jukebox is playing some bluegrass from 1965 by Larry Richardson, banjo and vocals, and the Blue Ridge Boys. I took an interest in the album because Buddy Pendleton played the fiddle with the band. Ordered it and it came in the mail yesterday. It's the same period of bluegass as Jr's band The Little River Boys when he was with fiddler Cleve Andrews. Richardson's banjo is right there with Jr's. He plays a similar style to Jr's, plain and articulate. I know he and Jr surely knew each other. They might have even competed at fiddlers conventions. It's some mighty satisfying bluegrass. Mountain bluegrass. The same league of musicianship as Wayburn Johnson and Cullen Galyean, also from that time. Evidently Richardson picked with Bill Monroe a few years, learning the spirit of bluegrass from the master. He learned it well.




They're playing You Left Me So Blue in the spirit of the Stanley Brothers. It's not imitation. They come from the same musical tradition in SW Virginia. These boys have the reminiscence of Primitive Baptist singing in their approach to vocals. Same as the Stanley's, stretching out the syllables in that old mountain Baptist way of singing. He opened with banjo on My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, his tone is similar to Jr's as is his manner of pickin. They come from the same place and the same time. Lord have mercy, it's a shame how much his banjo sounds like Jr's. Buddy Pendleton's fiddle takes me back to last Friday night hearing his magic fiddle. It's a corny word to use, but his fiddle has a quality of sound he gets out of it, again, articulately and plain, interpreting the tune in his own manner staying true to the notes. His fiddle has an unforgettable something about it. He's a bit of a shy, retiring man absolutely uninterested in the spotlight. Chose to stay in the mountains, work at a post office and make music on weekends with people who play mountain music.




Pendleton plays primarily with his left hand. The fingers of his left hand are noting every note, all 4 fingers going without a pause. It's almost like he uses the bow to almost pluck the notes. His fiddle and Richardson's banjo are playing note for note on Florida Blues. I see the album was reprinted in 2007 by Old Blue Records http://www.oldbluerecords.com/. It makes me mourn for the radio show. We were having such a good time, me and the listeners. They loved mountain music and I loved playing it for them. It has to be all right. Pendleton's fiddle has a fine line to it, like an ink pen that makes a fine line. He brings to mind in the classical world the pianist Murray Perahia, whose fingertips have a similarly subtle command of each note.




It's exciting to find a fiddler I've not heard before, especially one so obviously a master. Makes me feel retarded to know he's been here all along. But he's not been one to record or pursue much playing out away from home. That makes it all the better. I'm still reeling a little bit from what I heard when he put bow to strings Friday night. It was that word magical again. It has suddenly come to mind I have a photograph of Jr and some other unidentified musicians standing around behind the open trunklid of a car. This picture of Pendleton with the cd in that time brings to mind a fiddler in the picture I couldn't identify. It was Pendleton. So they did know each other. Gene Mead was in the picture too. Now another one is identified. Jr said it was at the Independence fiddler's convention. I borrowed the photo from Jr's album, took it to Kerr Drug and had a larger print made of it. I wanted to use it to make a painting. It's about time to think of what's next. Several have come to mind, but this one suddenly grabbed hold.









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