02 December 2021

A BU feast for Stanley fans

The December 2021 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine has 'Stanley Brothers' on the cover, and the contents include two major articles by Gary Reid, '75 years & counting: the birth of the Stanley sound' (eight pages on the first two years of the brothers' band) and 'Roy Sykes: bluegrass incubator' (six pages on the Virginia fiddler and bandleader who gave Carter Stanley and Jesse McReynolds their start as professional musicians).

BU editor Dan Miller writes on George Shuffler, whose widely influential singing and guitar- and bass-playing became an integral part of the Stanleys' sound, and on the Dr Ralph Stanley Hills of Home Memorial Day Bluegrass Festival, held annually for fifty years. Bill Conger writes on the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Music Center and on Don Rigsby (veteran of several trips to Ireland), for whom Ralph Stanley was a major influence. In an interview by Derek Halsey, Ralph's son Ralph Stanley II 'shares stories of his dad and uncle including a sign from beyond the grave'.

There are also features on the song 'Wild Bill Jones', as recorded by the Stanleys, and on the banjo with an 'Eagle' peghead, formerly played by Ralph, which is one of four made in the 1960s by Johnnie Whisnant. These are by no means all the good things in this issue of BU.

Yesterday (1 December 2021) was the 55th anniversary of Carter Stanley's death. To mark the occasion, here's a 1992 performance by the Johnson Mountain Boys of Carter's composition 'Harbor of love'.

© Richard Hawkins

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