Bluegrass enthusiasts of a certain preference and/or of a certain age will be familiar with the name Monroe Fields.
His musicianship has been compared with such excellent side-men as Joe Stuart, Paul Warren, Curly Lambert, George Shuffler, Ralph Mayo, Ernest Ferguson, Claude Boone and Bobby Hicks. Fields is in very good company, and not out of place.
He worked with Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Jim & Jesse and, as here, with Carl Sauceman and his band the Green Valley Boys, with whom he played from 1953 until the early 1960s, approximately ten years in all. He played mandolin primarily – the bass was an alternative instrument –and he possessed a keen high tenor voice.
In due course he became a successful song-writer, with a few cuts by country music star George Jones.
The Green Valley Boys were based in Carrolton, Alabama, for about a decade and they appeared regularly on Radio WRAG, using their studios to make records as well.
13 radio recordings have been selected for this new album, 1950s – 60s Broadcasts from Monroe Fields with Carl Sauceman and the Green Valley Boys.
These include The Old Home Town, on which there is a noticeable Lester Flatt inflexion in Fields’s voice; Jimmy Work’s Making Believe, the Louvins’ Must You Throw Dirt in My Face; Treasure of Love and You Gotta Be My Baby (both George Jones numbers); Silver Threads and Golden Needles and Shackles and Chains; a Monroe Fields’ original, Poor Me, that bears a touch of another Monroe, Charlie in this case; and a couple of PD numbers. All are a reminder that country music was very close to bluegrass music at one time and, each song was, no doubt, very popular at the time of the radio performance.
Each of them is a good showcase for Fields’s talents as a lead singer. Carl Sauceman provides the complementary tenor part.
Here is a video from roughly this period.
The players are Fields on mandolin, Carl Sauceman (guitar), J P Sauceman (bass), Jim Brock (fiddle) and Fred Richardson or Baskell (Buddy) Rose (banjo).
The reproduction is good and the quality is consistent throughout, the restoration and re-mastering having been done by Tom Mindt of Patuxent Music.
1950s – 60s Broadcasts (Patuxent CD 259) can be purchased at all the usual outlets, including direct from Patuxent.