Monday, September 15, 2008

Tribute to the Carter Family

Finally,  I have an urge to update.  Although Jenny and my musical activity has been lower than usual this summer, we are looking forward to being a part of the Floyd Country Store's  'special' event on Sept 20th.  An evening of Carter Family music will feature grandson of AP and Sara, Dale Jett and his wife Teresa along with others.  The 'others' include Jenny and me along with Gary and Jackie Ferguson with Rhoda Kemp and her sister Iva Stillwell.  To top the evening off will be the duo of Jeremy Stevens and Darren Moore who will replicate the 'sound' of the Original Cater Family. They will demonstrate exactly how Sara and Maybelle played their instruments and sang on a whole set of numbers. I may even get to sing AP's part on a couple of numbers in their set.  Yay!

 So using my ipod I have been pumping into my head the music of the Carter Family that I got in a huge 12 CD collection from Floyd's own  County Sales at the bottom of Talley's Alley.  Its very interesting to  hear the details of their style which was so strong and captivating to the rural audience of the 20's and 30's.  Women should be proud to have been represented in such a high profile  and effective way especially in those days.  I am a huge fan of Maybelle's guitar innovations and her links to the black community from where she was influenced.  As a person who drawn to the rhythmic aspect of old-time music as opposed to the melodic I find their approach to backing up a song full of life and power.  If you are not already a fan of the Original Carter  Family I urge you to open your mind and listen to all aspects of their music from the 
words, the melody, the harmony, the autoharp rhythm and the various ways Maybelle chose to play her Gibson L-7 archtop with its top quality tone.  By the way she had it tuned 3 frets below standard to get those deep notes on certain songs.  

The story of their music is one thing but the story of how their popularity in the world of 
commercial music business affected their everyday lives is fascinating.   I recently read their biography entitled "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone".  I recommend it to you as it will help anyone to understand  the way life was for them in such a rapidly changing time in America's history.  Visit your local library ASAP.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer News

Summers on the fly and days are getting shorter so what can I say.  We've been gone some on family trips not music trips as it has been a different season of life for us and our family.  We are intentionally not going far away for a while.  Its hard to make plans for anything following the loss of family members and old friends in the past few weeks.  I even lost a great employee to a more serious employer, but, with a slower than usual season in my cabinet shop,  its been a good thing for now. 

 So having fixed up a neat old Gibson L-00 guitar for country music lady extraordinaire Sue Edmonds I am ready to get on to some banjo-making.  I just made a terrific haul of some birdseye maple from Ontario (where Jenny's parents live) and hope to do some trading to my banjo making buddies Mike Ramsey and Greg Galbreath.  I have curly maple and dark chocolate walnut as well.  Yum Yum!

 I have been asked to exhibit  my  banjo making for two dates later this summer.  First, on Saturday August 30th at the Blue Ridge Music Center, there will be myself along with several other luthiers who are known as players of their handmade instruments. Visit their website for more info.  There will be a playing demonstrations as well as the opportunities to see the construction methods for various string instruments.  A similar day will be held at the old Whitetop school the next Saturday September 6.  This day is dedicated to the memory of the prolific fiddle maker and player Albert Hash who was an inspiration for so many of us.  There will be arts, crafts, food, and several bands including Jenny and me performing in the afternoon.  See

Check our calendar for more performances coming up like 'Floydfest' and 'Stepping Out'

Our new CD has been getting airplay and great reviews.  Be sure to check our myspace page for a quick and easy way to listen to some sound clips.      
To obtain a copy direct from us  please come back to this blog and get the info from the very bottom of this page.   Thanks for any and all support for old-time country music. 

  Check back often as I hope to post more. Let us know who you are as we welcome contact from anyone.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New CD unleashed in Minnesota

We just returned from our 'gig' of the season in Southeast Minnesota in a town called Lanesboro.  It was the 10th anniversary of Bluff Country Gathering,  a weekend music camp  with workshops, concerts and a big Saturday night dance mostly held in a small community center.  It was great place to introduce our new CD 'Never Grow Old'  to a fantastic audience of old-time/bluegrass  and dance enthusiasts.  We sold out and wish we had brought more. 

 Anyway, we want to let everyone whose interested know  that the title is 'Not Ragged But Right' as was mentioned in a recent Floyd publication  although that fine song is Track 2 of 15.  We are proud of our efforts to finally have a compilation of the many kinds of songs we know and perform.  As Professor Kinney Rorer says  it " will appeal to the Saturday night sinner as well as the Sunday morning saint".

We will be the primary source for this at first so if you want one that's still 'hot'  of the presses
then see the ordering info at the bottom of the page.  

As always it is best to deal directly with the 'artist' to keep the middle man at bay, but, we plan to have them available in our usual consignment locations around Floyd in the coming weeks. It will also eventually be available through County Sales, the Floyd Country Store, and Ol '97 Wreckords and others.

Mark Hodges of Mountain Fever records and studios will be setting things up for folks to purchase digital downloads from our new myspace music page.  You can now hear 90 second clips of a few songs on the CD by visiting anytime.

We plan to put some more clips  of the new effort on this site soon as well.

Thanks for your reading this and for any and all of your support for old-time music. 

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Down to the Wire

By this time next week we'll be in the air returning from our 'Gig of the Year'  known as The Bluff Country Gathering  located in Minnesota.  It is put on by the professional husband and wife duo Bob Bovee and Gail Heil who we have heard of for years.  They were kind enough to invite us to come be a part of their annual 4 day music camp.  We'll be part of a staff of 10 or so musicians from the national old-time music scene  teaching the student participants the details of our particular kind of old-time music.  There will be lots of jamming, song swapping, dancing and even a concert for the general public.  We are very fortunate.  
In spite of my Mom's recent passing,  we have been working as diligently as we can to get our 'new' CD printed so we can have them on hand for the event.  As I mentioned before, we are calling it 'Never Grow Old' not 'Ragged But Right'.   We will officially 'release' it there in Minnesota when we open our suit case.  Something so 'hot' of the press from the Mountain Fever studios printing facility will definitely be  needing air by the time we get there. 
Hopefully, we won't have any left to bring back.
  We will be announcing it's release through the New River Old Time (nrot) list serve and on a newly created 'my space' page.  Check out myspace/macandjennytraynham  for sound clips and photos. Thanks to Chris Gowin of WSVS-AM radio in Crewe Virginia for suggesting we do this.  We'll upgrade it as we get time
to make develop it into a site much like this one but with a higher profile to the music world.   So please check it out too.  There'll be info about how to order the new CD if so you are interested or you can find that info further down on this site.  We hope to add more
to this site as well.

Thanks for coming back and let us know who you are and where you are from.

We appreciate all your support. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We hope  we don't cause any confusion over this but we are going to call our new recording Never  Grow Old  NOT Ragged But Right.  After looking online I found that 'Ragged But Right'  is already in use in the form of at least two old-time/bluegrass groups named that and several recordings titled such. So not to add another Ragged but Right  to an already well used  list we have changed to  something that is perhaps a happier thought.  Never Grow Old  is used by others but not in our genre. We hope  we can help a new Generation discover some cool songs  that happen to be 'old' songs but now are 'new' to them.   The title is taken from the words to one of our tracks titled  In the Land Where We'll Never Grow Old.   It recently occurred to me that if you were to live by the words of the songs Tell it to Me or  Ragged But Right  you might 'never live long enough to grow old' anyway.  We obviously get a kick out of songs that are written from a 1920's derelict's perspective as well as a 2008 unemployed American male. (hear my words to All I Gots Gone). 

 So we   hope you'll check it out when I get some sample tracks for you to hear.  I think we have much more variety than we have had on our recordings in the past.  Other songs not mentioned  in the previous post include the Carter family song  My Old Clinch Mt Home with switching lead and harmony as well as a fast clawhammer banjo version of  their song There's No Hiding Place Down Here.  We also  have our Blue Sky Boys inspired version of Turn Your Radio On' as well as a fun 'mother' song called Mama, I'm Sick which has graphic culinary detail as described by  'her boy who went away'.   We also have Don't Let My Ramblin Bother Your Mind and In the Blue Hills of Virginia  from the repetoire of the Delmore Brothers.  

 Any one who is familiar with the names and musical style of our sources should be able to relate to these versions  as we  really don't change the words or melodies unless we have a good reason.  As you can tell we like many songs for a variety of reasons. Inside the  CD liner  each track will have a description of where we got it and why we like it just like on our other recordings.   Our new CD is an attempt to reflect the great variety of  our repetoire and of early 'country' music.  Professor Kinney Rorrer, our respected historian, friend and banjo picker is providing a paragraph or two to help enhance  one's understanding of us and our music.  I think I have come up with a cool photo for the front cover which has lots of details and a dichotomy as to the subject.  You'll have to see it and to know what I am talking about.  

We just hope we can get this CD out soon.  I am working on the details in between my regular shop work and weekly visits to my Mom's overnight.      Please check back  for the sample songs and if you ever hear one played on the radio or on-line please make a request for that song or another one.  It will help some of our obscure numbers to have a chance to be heard for their sake, first, and yours, second and ours, third.  THANKS 



Monday, March 31, 2008

New CD in the works

Jenny and I finally got back in the studio in late February and March and finished recording several numbers for a CD project hoping it will come to fruition this May. There's still lots to do about the information and graphics but the music is 'in the can'. It will include several songs in our newest format of Mac -guitar/ harmonica and Jenny- fingerstyle OT banjo.

We are calling the project 'Ragged But Right' as it has been our theme since we started getting into arranging and performing 'cool' sounding old songs in the late 1970's. In addition to the rowdy song of that title, we have a new version of the social commentary song from the 1920's 'All I Got's Gone' except the word's are mostly original and are for today's realities. The project as a whole seems to be contrasting sacred versus secular numbers that are from older sources. We have included 'Tell it to Me' , a lively song that recommends corn licker over cocaine, as well as the high powered evangelistic number 'Are You Afraid to Die?' from the Stanley Brothers.

Our new friend, Jackson Cunningham, lends his voice and tasteful mandolin style to a couple of old-time gospel trios; namely " I'll Not Be A Stranger" and "Going up Home to Live in Green Pastures". Our old friend, mountain fiddler Shay Garriock, leads the melody on a newer stringband type song we all learned from the repetoire of the famous Kimble Family, entitled 'Red Mountain Wine'. We also include Shay in our old-time sounding rendition of the tear jerking number from Grayson County's Fields Ward called "In Those Agonizing Cruel Slavery Days."

Of course we are including a several upbeat numbers from our main inspirations, the Delmore Brother and the Original Carter Family as well as others. So check back often as I will be including sound clips of several numbers. I will also post the day of release and how you can order copies or downloads.

Our calendar is light this year because of my Mom's terminal cancer. We believe nothing is more important than family support so we are doing all we can to be there for her as long as needed. We intend to get out more as things ease up. Such is Life.

Thanks for coming to our page and reading this. Please tell others. We welcome comments too.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A big Dose of Inspiration

WOW! 2008 is here and the busy holiday season is past finding us out of practice a bit.  Our final 07 gig at the Todd Mercantile  was a blast but left us ready for a break from performing.  We still got out for some fun though.

Just before Christmas we went to super party at guitar maker/player Wayne Henderson's.  The Saturday after Christmas  we managed
get in a few tunes with Eddie Bond and the New Ballard's Branch Bogtrotters  as well as Trish Fore at a large family gathering at the Moose Lodge in Galax.  A fine potluck meal was had while visiting with
old-time stalwarts fiddler Whit Sizemore and up-side down banjoist Tom
 Flatfoot dancers and fans of the local BlueRidge old-time scene of the 70's will remember their band The Shady Mountain Ramblers who played every weekend mostly at the weekly dance at the Fancy Gap for over 15 years in the late 70's and 80's.  Only fiddler Ivan Weddle of Floyd County has ever come close to such a streak of playing for flatfooters with his band the Kornkutters during that same time period.  We got aquainted with many old-timers during that time.

  We ourselves played very often  for dances and community events with friends
in the Grayson County area where we lived from 1980-84.  We also played for radio shows like WPAQ's  Merry Go  Round  and Harold Mitchell's evening show
on WBOB Galax and the Grayson-Carroll Hoedown live broadcast.  All this led to us making a LP on the Heritage label which we reissued in Spring of 07 along with our early 90's cassette now both on CD.  There was a lot
happening then and still is now.  It is hard not to get sentimental with out getting the blues but we are looking forward to 2008.  We have got a few things on the calendar now.  
This past Sat we hosted a house concert for our friends The Hush Puppies,  a string band specializing in old-time music from the 30's 40's and 50's rural country music legacy as preserved initially on 78 RPM records.  They also cite  old-timers from the NC Piedmont as well as the Blue Ridge mountain as sources  for a wide variety of songs and tunes.  Our Sunday afternoon jam with some of them left us
filled with a BIG dose of fresh inspiration to learn more new 'old' songs for our repetoire.  Like them and all our house concert performer friends we are JUNKIES
when it comes to this genre of music.  

 We intend to finish a new recording  before our big trip to the Bluff Country Gathering in May.  This is a prestigious music camp headed up by
Bob Bovee and Gail Heil who are a long running professional country duet from
the northern mid-west.  We'll be one of several musician and performers from the
international 'Old-time' scene to be there to teach and perform.  

So Keep checking back.  We'll  be posting new clips of our latest recording ASAP.
Thanks for your support and interest in our music life.