Along with the Ralph Stanley autobiography and the Tony Rice book, another bluegrass-related tome worthy of your attention as you consider Christmas gift lists is If Trouble Don’t Kill Me by Ralph Berrier. The book tells the story of the Hall Twins (Clayton and Saford Hall), who were popular “hillbilly” entertainers in western Virginia and North Carolina in the 1930s.
Berrier is both the grandson of Clayton Hall, and a master storyteller, taking this far beyond a family history or artist biography. While recalling the life of the twins, Ralph also evokes a palpable vision of rural mountain poverty in the Appalachian region prior to WWII, something unknown in the US today to even the poorest of the poor.
Trouble would be a good read for anyone interested in the pre-bluegrass history of mountain music, or who just enjoys a great story, well-told.
Berrier will be a guest on WBRF FM on Saturday evening to talk about the book, and play some old time music with host Judith Burnette. The show airs from Galax, VA on 98.1 FM, and streams live over the Internet. Check it out at 7:30 p.m. (EST) online.
There is also a nice video overview of the book on YouTube.
You can find more details on If Trouble Don’t Kill Me at www.ralphberrier.com.
UPDATE 12/6: Oops… It turns out that Ralph’s appearance on WBRF was preempted by a Wake Forest basketball game on Saturday evening. It has been rescheduled for 12/11 at 7:30 p.m.