Rural Rhythm Records has announced two new albums in their Heritage Collection series, bringing to six the number of re-releases from their deep catalog of bluegrass and old time music.
The Legendary J.E. Mainer, Volume 3 was originally released in 1968, with the artist billed as J.E. Mainer with Red Smiley with Red Smiley & The Blue Grass Cut-Ups. That’s a mouthful! It contains 20 tracks drawn from old time and early bluegrass favorites like Arkansas Traveler, Shortnin’ Bread, Home Sweet Home, Shady Grove, Polly Put The Kettle On, Don’t Tax The Gals, Devilish Mary, and more.
Mainer was a popular performer at this time, as was Smiley, who was signed to Rural Rhythm following the breakup of Reno & Smiley. In fact, Mainer had been a well-known radio performer since the 1930s, initially for his fiddle playing, but eventually as a banjo picker and bandleader.
Appearing with J.E. on fiddle/vocals and Red on guitar were Billy Edwards on banjo, Tater Tate on fiddle, Gene Burris on mandolin and guitar, and John Palmer on bass.
From 1967 comes Stars of the W.W.V.A. Jamboree from Jim Greer & The Mac-O-Chee Valley Folks. This was the third LP Greer had released with Rural Rhythm. He and his group achieved their renown performing on WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, WV, thus the album title. Greer had previously been featured on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance program with his sisters, who billed as The Greer Sisters.
One of the sisters, Valeda Wentz, continued working with Jim when the siblings split, playing guitar and singing with Jim on banjo. Other players on this set include Bob McPherson on mandolin, John Wentz on reso-guitar, Aaron Hicks on fiddle, and Dalton Burroughs on bass.
Stars of the W.W.V.A. Jamboree contains 22 tracks, most of them running two minutes or less, mixing familiar old time songs and some of Greer’s originals. Black Jack Davie, Single Girl, Jesse James, Uncle Eph Got The Coon, Curly Headed Baby, and John Hardy are all on the list.
Back in the late ’60s, these albums were almost certainly recorded live, using only one or two microphones, with no overdubs or do-overs. In fact, it would have seemed absurd to even think of such. You went in, your recorded your music, and left the label to do the rest.
Thanks to the current Rural Rhythm management, these gems are available again. You can see the complete list of Heritage Collection releases on the Rural Rhythm web site where they are available on CD and by digital download.