Thursday, November 12, 2009

Martin Bogan and Armstrongs - Barnyard Dance (1972)

Track List

Side One: Side Two:

Lady be Good French Blues
Carl's Blues Mean Mistreatin' Mama
Corrina, Corrina Old Man Mose
Barnyard Dance Alice Blue Gown
Cacklin' Hen Knox County Stomp
Sweet Georgia Brown
Carl Martin-Mandolin
Ted Bogan-Guitar
Howard Armstrong-Violin
L.C. Armstrong-Bass

I found out about Howard Armstrong from an instructional blues mandolin DVD taught by Steve James . My interest was further piqued when I purchased a blues mandolin book written by Rich DelGrosso. I next found a movie soundtrack from a Terry Zwigoff documentary featuring Howard Armstrong and Ted Bogan. The movie itself was up on Youtube for a while, but Zwigoff had it taken down. I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of the movie myself. If you would like information on where to find it shoot me out an email. It is thoroughly entertaining and I'd say inspiring as well.

I found this particular album at the library and could not find anywhere to purchase it online, so i transferred it to MP3 format. I know that Rounder Records has the rights to it, but I do not believe that it is still in print. Sooo... Enjoy at least for now.

If you end up liking this album, another really good one is an album Carl Martin did called Crow Jane Blues. You can download this album at Muddy Sava Riverbank. Link

Liner Notes:

Carl Martin, Ted Bogan and Howard Armstrong, the core members of the Four Keys which originated in Huntington, West Virginia in 1931, played all throughout the Southeast and North for radio broadcasts, square dances, churches, picnics, weddings, and taverns. They played the tunes most often requested, including many popular songs of the '20s and '30s, the blues and old-timey fiddle tunes. Either the fiddle or mandolin would take the lead, while the other would play around the melody. The guitar would play backup rhythm while the bass was usually bowed.

Carl Martin was born April 15, 1906, in Big Stone Gap in the coal-mining region of virginia, one of 13 children. His father was a stone mason who played the violin, and was known as Fiddling Martin. Carl took up guitar at an early age, and recalls the first tune he played was John Henry. At 17 he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he first met his brother Rolan, some 30 years older than Carl. Rolan had lost his sight to glaucoma while working as a barber, and by the time Carl met him he had taken up fiddle and formed a string band. Carl played guitar and bowed bass with Rolan's band, and although Carl didn't take up the violin until several years later, Rolan's fiddling had a strong influence on him: fiddle tunes like Sourwood Mountain, Downfall of Paris, Cumberland Gap, Cacklin' Hen; blues tunes like Hesitation Blues, Railroad BLues, St. Louis Blues and Wang Dang Blues.

While playing with Rolan's Band, Carl met Howard Armstrong who was 14 at the time and played mandolin, violin and guitar. Carl and Howard broadcast over WNOX in Knoxville for awhile, and then went on the road with an herb medicine show. On returning to knoxville they met Ted Bogan, formed a group and went to Bristol, Virginia, where they broadcast over WOPI. The radio station featured live broadcasts with a studio audience and phoned-in requests. The request they most often received was Nobody Know when You're Down and Out. After playing Bristol several months, they played many towns in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia before forming the Four Keys.

TedBogan was born May 10, 1910, in Spartenberg, South Carolina. He learned to finger pick guitar and picked up techniques listening to Blind Blake and Leroy Carr records. HE played in a medicine show run by a Canadian who called himself Dr. Mines. Besides Musicians, the show hired comedians, including Bozo Brown, Ham Bone and Leroy. Two of the dances popular then were Bucking Wing and the Possum Walk. After playing the medicine show several months, Ted started broadcasting over WSPC in Spartenberg.
When Ted moved to Knoxville where he met Carl and started playing with a group, he took up flatpicking the guitar. He developed a stye using chords he called octahaves, with the first and sixth strings the basic notes of the chord. He makes use of minor ninths to elaborate on the chord structure of his songs. and example on this album is Lady Be Good:

G, /, Dm9, G, Cm9, ///, G, /////, F#m9, /
Dm9, ///////, G, /, Em, /, Am, /, D7, /
G, Dm9, G, Cm9, ///, G, /////, F#m9,/
Dm9, ///////, G, /, C, Cm, G, / G7, /
C, ///, Gdim, ///, G, /////, Gaug, /
Em6, ///, A7,///, Dm9, ///////
G, /, Dm9, G, Cm9, ///, G, /////, Ddim, /
Dm9, /////, D7, /, G, ///////

Howard Armstrong was born in Lafayette, Tennessee, and began playing violin at an early age. Howard recalls his mother insisting he play hymns and spirituals, soft and slow, but when she left the house he'd pick up the tempo and add a few blue notes until he got it to where it was sounding really good. He showed an interest in all musical instruments, and could play anything that had string on it. He also learned fiddle tunes from Rolan Martin, such as Cacklin' Hen on this album, and to this day one of the best compliment he could receive when he gets the fiddle singing is that he "sounds like old Rolan on the fiddle.

Howard took to music and went on the road at 16. He's self-educated and speaks some seven different languages, including Mandarin Chinese.

Also and artist, he has contributed the front cover of this album.

L.C. Armstrong, Howard's Brother, was born in Lafayette, Tennessee, and plays guitar and bass. He has played popular music and jazz with several bands, and for many years was the leader of his own highly successful jazz group which broke up only a few years ago. L.C. still plays whenever he gets the chance. He currently lives in Detroit, Michigan.

1 comment:

  1. You are doing a great public serivce sir!
    Pizza's Off To You!