Friday, July 22, 2005
(Images from http://rossworx.net/ManVermt.htm. Check it out!)
As we speak, the media's pop-music mythologizers are pushing country music's starting date closer to now. 1922 used to be the official unofficial genesis year; now it's 1927 or thereabouts, the idea being that Ralph Peer, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family were the first to record it. Mythologizers have an agenda that centers on hype, not history. And facts tend to get in the way of a good story.
Of course, facts really make the best story--and they're good for us. And it's a fact that Chautauqua-circuit fiddler, storyteller, pianist, and ventriloquist (!) Charles Ross Taggart was making country records even before Don Richardson cut his first fiddle sides for Columbia in 1916. Here are two Taggart gems from 1914, dubbed from both sides of a Victor 78. Even if (like me) you're not too keen on the art of "storytelling," give Mr. Taggart a chance--he was a master of the form. And one heck of an old-time-country fiddler.
http://box.net/public/lee/files/308924.html Old Country Fiddler in New York, Charles Ross Taggart, 1914. ("Rural monologue with violin specialty," Victor 17700)
http://box.net/public/lee/files/308923.html Violin Mimicry, Charles Ross Taggart, 1914. (Victor 17700)
Something to think about. If Taggart's act was "old-time" in 1914, just how far back does country music go? Back to the 1890s? To the period just after the Civil War? To 1927?
Yeah, must be 1927....
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