Its sound quality is nothing to write home about (I'm guessing multiple gramophone plays and/or a worn needle), but this 1905 Victor 10" 78 is quite an historical document. First, however, here's the common mis-take on country history, courtesy of allmusic.com (though it could be from anyplace). As ever, Eck Robertson is credited with making the first country records, beginning in 1922:
"Eck Robertson can only be called the source of a hidden history of country music. Probably the first fiddler to record on record (and also probably the first country record commercially available), Robertson seems to be the pinnacle and the origin of the Fiddle Contest tradition, and at the very least, his records and contest appearances in Texas were an inspiration for a generation of fiddlers."
I don't know what "the source of a hidden history of country music" means, but, like most 78 collectors, I do know that country fiddle recordings predate Robertson's. By a number of years, in fact. Just a few weeks ago, I featured 1916 country fiddle recordings by Don Richardson, for instance. Folks have known about Don for decades. And about Charles D'Almaine's amazing fiddle work on Len Spencer's 1902 Arkansas Traveler. Traveler, a huge hit in its day, isn't part of any hidden history. Google it and see.
So, when I say "folks," obviously I'm not talking about the majority of music journalists. Because most music journalists could care less about what's known or not known--they just copy off of each other. I hate to be so mean about it, but that's my conclusion after all these years. Please note I'm not insulting all music journalists--just most. I know an R&B writer, for instance, who is scholarly as can be. I wish he were the norm.
Yes, sir--making friends is my goal here at MY(P)WHAE.
Anyway, here's Two Rubes and the Tramp Fiddler by Frank Stanley and Byron Harlan and an excellent but uncredited fiddler. This "rube specialty" is a typical "specialty"--i.e., awful. My favorites: "Back pension," "...to save my life." I can't make out the closing line. If anyone can, please share your transcription.
The abrupt ending is in the record--I didn't fade early:
Two Rubes and the Tramp Fiddler, Stanley and Harlan, 1905. From Victor 78.
With my EQ, I focused on reducing distortion and making the words audible. Accomplishing those goals took longer than you might think....