Our family was recently given a dobro, or a resophonic guitar. Our eldest son, who lives away at college, dropped by this weekend to visit us and to try out the dobro. He’s a quick study with music – he played this song within moments of picking up the instrument! We’ve missed him so much since he moved out, so I was really glad he chose to play the Blue Ridge Mountain Blues. I guess Mike and I are now the “heads of snowy white” wondering “where is our wanderin’ boy is tonight.”
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues was written by Cliff Hess in 1924, under the pseudonym Cliff Carson. The song was first recorded by George Reneau and Gene Austin, and soon after also recorded by Bill Cox )1933) and Riley Puckett (1935). It was made famous nationally by bluegrass musicians such as Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. More recently, the song has been revisited by John Fogerty in his 2009 album, “Comin’ Down the Road.”
I am happy to share this video of Nathaniel playing the Blue Ridge Mountain Blues. I loved it, squeaks and all. (Dobro is hard to play, y’all. Squeaks happen!)
If you’d like to do a little field research (or YouTube study) about the folk music of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you should know that the Blue Ridge Mountains were the home of the legendary Doc Watson. Here are a couple of our favorite recordings, to get you started:
And for extra credit, here is an example of how the old songs were changed in the new world. Doc Watson is always our favorite teacher for this concept, and we’ll revisit it often on this blog.
Little Musgrave (This is performed by Christy Moore with Planxty. The storytelling style of the sung ballad, and the lyrics themselves, are very old. The countermelodies and musicianship are Planxty’s own addition.)