01 November 2021

A new act - the Stanley Brothers

Bluegrass Today has published a major article by Richard Thompson, 'Stanley Brothers got their start 75 years ago', focused on the brothers' forming their first band around 1 November 1946 (a very short time after Ralph got his discharge from the US Army) and on their early recordings on the Rich-R-Tone label. YouTube audio recordings are included for 'Mother no longer awaits me at home' and 'The girl behind the bar', from their first recording session in mid 1947.

The image above, based on a 1960 photo of Carter and Ralph, is the jacket design of Gary Reid's book The music of the Stanley Brothers, published early in 2015 by the University of Illinois Press as part of its 'Music in American Life' series. As a study of the brothers and their music together, it is unlikely ever to be superseded.

Gary Reid writes (ibid., p. 7): 'When the Stanley Brothers first began their professional career, they were very much in the old-time camp.' However, their admiration for Bill Monroe led them to model their sound on his - something which at first annoyed him, but which has since been seen as a decisive step in the transition of bluegrass from the sound of one band to the sound of a genre of music.

© Richard Hawkins

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