It’s payday Friday and I’m home working on my PowerPoint presentations. It’s kinda overcast out and I’m not sure if my other two planned workouts for the day are going to happen but, for the moment, I’m rolling in the moment with a little Folkways Records (#FA2410) bluegrass I grabbed from the St. Catharines Record Fair a few weeks ago, the ‘John Duffey, Charley Waller & The Country Gentlemen Sing and Play Folk Songs and Bluegrass‘.
Say that three times fast!
Originally released in 1961, ‘Folk Songs and Bluegrass’ was the first album by the band known retrospectively as “The Classic” Country Gentlemen: Charlie Waller (guitar), John Duffey (mandolin), Eddie Adcock (banjo), and Tom Gray (bass). Originally hailing from the Washington, DC area, they started up together on July 4th, 1957 as the replacement group for Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys when several members of that band were injured in a car accident. Since then, they have created a unique sound, expanding musical horizons and attracting new audiences. They rightfully earned the band their reputation as the originators of progressive bluegrass and they were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1996. Some of the immediate offshoots of the band were Emerson & Waldron, the Seldom Scene, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
This album bears 16 classics which serve as the hallmarks of their distinctive sound, such as a cutting-edge repertoire bolstered by a variety of instrumental and vocal techniques. For example, listen to Gray’s dynamic bass on ‘Little Bessie‘ and the group’s striking trio harmonies on ‘Remembrance of You‘. Other standouts on the album include ‘Train 45‘, ‘Red Rocking Chair‘, ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken‘, and ‘Southbound‘ – all of which have served serious tours of duty in the song books of popular bluegrass bands and musicians for generations.
Sadly, John Duffey passed away in 1996 and Charles Waller in 2006 signifying the official end of the Country Gentlemen. These songs, however, will likely live on forever.