Carolina Ramblers String Band: An unissued test!

In the mid 1930s, Columbia Masterworks issued two multi-disc albums titled The Columbia History Of Music By Ear And Eye.  One side of a disc in series II was supposed to feature selections from Frederick Handel’s Harpsichord Suite No. 8.  

Due to a serendipitous mix-up by a Columbia technician, a test pressing of the old mountain song Cumberland Gap, recorded on February 16th, 1932, was placed on the disc instead of the performance shown on the label.  The performance was by the Carolina Ramblers String band, with Steve Ledford on fiddle, along with some rare downstroke banjo by Daniel Nicholson, along with vocals and very Riley Pucket-sounding guitar runs by Audie Rogers.  So, we now have an additional song by this fairly rare string band!

Cumberland Gap – Carolina Ramblers – 1932


About Peter Feldmann

Peter Feldmann has long been a musical mainstay in Santa Barbara and Southern California. Besides actively performing bluegrass and old time music with a variety of groups, Peter is also known as a bluegrass historian, collector, music consultant, teacher, and producer, both of live concerts and radio/tv programs throughout the area. His music has been heard in clubs, concerts, saloons, universities, pre-schools, at weddings, wakes, parties, barn-raisings, calf-ropings, rodeos, auctions, fund raisers, wine tastings and chili cook offs. Peter founded Santa Barbara's Old Time Fiddler's Convention (1972), UCSB's Old Time Music Front (1964), and The Bluebird Cafe (1971). Through these and other outlets, he was the first to bring many prominent folk, blues, and bluegrass artists, including Bill Monroe, Mance Lipscomb, The Stanley Brothers, The New Lost City Ramblers, Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Rose Maddox, the Balfa Brothers, and many others to the Santa Barbara area. Peter also helped others access the music by teaching privately, and in group classes for Santa Barbara Continuing Education, UCSB Extension, and McCabes Guitars. He was the first on the West Coast to produce and market instruction Lps - three on How To Play Country Fiddle, and one each on Clawhammer Banjo, and Maybelle Carter Style Guitar. He still presents lectures on country music history at UCSB, Santa Barbara area libraries, and for various interest groups, festival workshops, etc. In 2006, he presented his monograph titled "The Big bang Of Bluegrass Music" (describing the origins of bluegrass 1938 - 1946) to the worlds first International Music Symposium at the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. He has also been very active in radio, television, and film work, producing weekly shows on country and bluegrass music over a 21 year period on various commercial and public stations. Peter currently maintains three music-related websites, a music blog, and an entertainment service company, "BlueGrass West!", based in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California. Peter performs tunes and songs from the heart of America's musical treasure chest. His shows can include fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Well-known as a historian and teacher, Peter is first and foremost an entertainer, sharing his respect, energy and love for the music with his fellow musicians, friends, and audiences.
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5 Responses to Carolina Ramblers String Band: An unissued test!

  1. It was found by the student of an ethnomusicology professor friend of mine, quite by accident. Neither knew who the band was, and I believe it was the first time that this pressing was correctly identified. I did a little detective work and figured it out. The student now has the disc, as i shipped it back to him after documenting it. I can’t say it’s unique, since every copy of that particular set should have the same, wrong disc in it.

    _Peter Feldmann

    • Bryan Bishop says:

      Hi Peter, it was really great to hear this side again – thank you! I used to have a copy of the Columbia History set, but had to give it up 12 years ago with most of my other 78s (which were mostly classical). I well remember my shock when I first played it, expecting to hear Handel but instead it was Cumberland Gap! The side grew on me, however…

      It should be noted that the copy you have pictured is (as mine was) a late ’40s pressing of a set originally issued in 1935. I don’t know if early copies also had this pressing mistake, as I’ve never seen an early copy, but I would be inclined to doubt it. A lot of schools and colleges bought these sets (there were five total) and it seems to me that someone would have complained!

      • Bryan,

        Thanks for the comment. Yes, I too wondered about how a mistake like this could have happened without someone noticing. It’s a fairly nice version of _Cumberland Gap_, but certainly doesn’t sound much like the Handel I know and love! 🙂

        “and now, something completely different . . . “

  2. What makes it a little tricky for collectors is that it is a 10-inch disc. As you undoubtedly know, many, if not most, classical discs were 12-inch size. The reverse situation, an old-time number on a 12-inch disc, happened very rarely. For example, the Piedmont Log Rollers recorded some 12-inch scroll labels for Victor. No country fans prowled the 12-inch bins in those days, so sales were very slight indeed!

  3. David Nelson, M.D. says:

    Murphy Henry put me onto it. I have been trying to come up with vocals for this song for some time. Liked the Skillet Lickers version but they weren’t very interesting to me. Murphy Method teaches 6 parts to the song and this will probably go 4 parts, verse, 4 parts verse, etc., etc. These will do nicely.

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