Pete's Bluegrass Weblog - or Blog

Subjects: bluegrass, old time music, and vaguely related items. You are invited to join in, as you wish. Email them to us and we'll add your comments, which are very welcome.

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March 11, 2003

Clarence "Tom" Ashley Remembered

I've had a chance to look through some old slides and photos I took, way back when, and thought I'd share a few of them with you. In the early part of 1963, I hosted a music radio show on a Santa Barbara station then called KGUD (they billed themselves as "KGOOD Country"). I still remember a large display ad the staion ran in the local paper saying: "Welcome to KGUD. We've eliminated all the racous banjos and squawky fiddles ... and play only REAL COUNTRY MUSIC!" (Emphasis theirs). I did manage to convince them to give me a couple hours a week to play some old time and country music.

In early May of that year, I talked them into sending me up to Monterey, Calif., on a reporting trip. The event: the first Monterey Folk Festival, held at the Monterey Fairgrounds - the same place as the yearly Jazz Festival. It was quite a bill of performers: for the folk crowd, they had The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, etc. For BG and old time music, we were treated to Bill Monroe, The Dillards, The Kentucky Colnels, Doc Watson (his first trip to the West Coast), along with Clint Howard, Fred Price, and Tom Ashley. Roscoe Holcomb was also there, along with the New Lost City Ramblers. It was quite a weekend, and quite an education for me!

Her's a photo of Tom Ashler, performing with the Doc Watson group:

To see a photo of Bill Monroe and Doc Watson I took during that time, click here.

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March 5, 2003

Old time music in cartoons (Peter, with Jeremy Raven)

Peter: I _have_ heard that the Crockett Family, when they moved out west to Hollywood, provided some music for early Bugs Bunny cartoons. Has anyone ever encounterd any to these?

J. Raven: I don't know for sure. But when I first heard the old 78's from a collector, as a college freshman in 1964-5, some of them gave me a strongly deja-vu-like feeling . (As a matter of fact, Skillet Licker "Turkey In The Straw" was one of them)

Eventually it got into my head that this was music from some of the black-and-white 1930's cartoons which were common on broadcast television in the 1950's. Sometimes there would be a cow playing a big bull fiddle with a bow, sort of like Edgar Meyer, and some farmer-looking guys would be scraping their fiddle-bows across the posteriors of cats, and a horse and goat would 'honor-their-partner' as the little chickens danced the do-si-do...... Whether or not my memory is entirely accurate, I had a strong sense of having heard some of those records many years earlier.

I'm sure there _were_ Bugs Bunny movies with fiddle music; I was a lot older than three when I saw those. But I'm not sure whether those were the ones with the actual country 78's on them.

It's well-known ( Journal of American Folklore 1965, wasn't it?) that the Skillet Lickers had the Toonerville Trolley comic strip in the back of their minds when they made all those records - The comic strip was their mental metaphor for themselves as some of their skit records make reasonably clear. The link above says that there were animated Toonerville Trolley cartoons as well as a Mickey Rooney movie, (and the page has detailed pictures of the Trolley). "Cartoons and Old-Timey" would make a great dissertation topic for someone.
JMR jmraven@prodigy.net

Peter: All _sorts_ of things showed up on broadcast TV in those days! All of a sudden, there was all this "dead air" that had to be filled, and filled ever single day. Wow! a new concept! Stations were desperate.

In the Los Angeles area, that meant the use of old cartoons (but typically not the Disney stuff, which they held back), travelogs, US Army training films, and the 1930s serials, such as Ace Drummond, Don Winslow of the Navy, and Flash Gordon. But the mainstay was the
old westerns, with Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue and many, many others. That's where this writer heard his first country music. Anyways, the Warner Brothers material, which included Bugs Bunny, were shown, and I do vaguely remember hearing some fiddle material.

I didn't mean to suggest the studios used 78s as the source of the music. My information was that the Crocketts were brought into a studio and recorded fresh material for the soundtracks. Many times, such film soundtracks were recorded onto film optically - the better to sync the sound with the video materal on other film. It'd be of interest if someone could look into film archives to see if any of
this material still existed...

I loand out my copy of the JAF that had all the neat articles in it to a friend (can't remember which one!) and have never seen it again <sigh>. However, in an interview with Frank Walker, A/R man with Columbia who produced those skits, Walker claimed they were his idea. It certainly could make sense that he would have had
much more of a chance to see those news funnies than say, Riley Puckett ...

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