|Doc Watson from the hills of North Carolina, along with his son Merle,
will be appearing at the Call of the Wild Festival this year. Watson is
the undisputed greatest flat top guitarist in the world today and brings
to his listeners the best in old time coiuntry and bluegrass music heard
anywhere. Born "Arthel" Watson in 1923 at Stoney Fork, North Carolina,
th General Dixon and Mrs. Annie Watson, Doc picked up his name in an interesting
way. It seems that he was to do a radio sho with Paul Greer from a local
furniture store on Saturday and the announcer felt his name was too difficult
to pronounce. A lady who was listening outside said "Call him Doc," and
that name has stuck.
Doc was born blind and was educated at the State School for the Blind in Raleigh. His mother was an accomplished ballad singer and his father a top banoist. Doc cut his teeth on singing at the Mount Parron Baptist Church where General Dixon led the singing. Later they recorded as a family on Folkways Album 2366. Doc's first real musical instrument was a harmonica and he received a new one each Christmas. He wasn't satisfied with just one intrument and his musical ingenuity began to manifest itself, as he later recalled:
"After I had learned to play the harmonica a little bit, my dad built a big new woodshed and granary which had a sliding door at the front. I attached a piece of steel wire to the stple driven into the doorpost and fastened the other end to the door; then by pushing the door, I could put tension on the wire thus tuning it to a bass tone, the same key as my harmonica. I sure had a lot of fun pickin' on the wire and playing the harmonica along with it, but I guess it had a kind of primitive sound."
He soon had the opportunity to graduate to a more complex instrument. When Doc was about nine, his father hand-crafted him a fretless banjo from hickory, maple and catskin. He started learning old banjo tunes and also learned to play fiddle tunes on the harmonica. About three years later he heard a cousin play guitar and was fascinated with it. "Son," his father told him, "if you learn a tune when I get back from work this evening, or maybe this week, I'll add whatever it needs to your savings and buy you a guitar." By nightfall, Doc had taught himself to pick When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland as he had heard it played on a Carter Family Recording. He learned many Carter Family songs from them: Beaumont Rag, Victory Rag, Little Darling, Pal of Mine, I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. Granny Lottie Watson taught the aspiring young singer songs that she had preserved: Tom Dula, Talk About Suffering, The Wagoner's Lad. Doc's later version of Tom Dooley was based on the song that Granny Lottie taught him. Her mother-in-law, Doc's great grandmother, was Betsy Tiplett Watson, who knew the individuals in the Tom Dula murder case. Tom Dula, who lived a few miles from Doc's home, was hanged in 1866 for the murder of Laura Foster. There were other influences, closer to home, besides the radio shows and the recordings by singers as diverse as Merle travis, the Mississippi Sheiks, Frank Hutchison, Alfred Karnes, and Jimmie Rodgers. A constant source of music was the Christian Harmony hymnal, first published in 1866 by "Singin' Billy" Walker. The Christian Harmony sold three-quarters of a milliion copies, had a place beside the Bible in Appalachian homes, and Doc was never far from its influence.
A neighbour, Olin Miller, taught Doc finger-style guitar picking in about 1939 and from Miller he learned such songs as Memphis Blues. About three years later, Doc met and married Miss Rosa Lee Carlton. Her father, Gaither W. Carlton, was a mountain fiddler who passed on to his son-in-law a treaure of traditional songs; among them, Georgie and The Old Man Below. After his marriage, Doc began to perform more with groups, but not yet on a professional basis. It was not until he was 29 that music became a paying proposition, as he later recalled:
"In 1954 I met a man from Johnson City, Tennessee, whose name was Jack Williams. He came to my house that summer and when he heard me play the guitar, he said, 'Doc, let's start us a little band. We'll get you an electric guitar and I'll teach you a few of the old pop standards.' Jack and I worked together for eight years, sometimes with a five-piece band and sometimes four. We played in V.F.M. clubs and for lots of other organizations in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Music we played was a combination of Rock and Roll, Country and Western, Old Pop standards and a few of the old square dance tunes."
Doc made his first trip north in 1961 and appeared with Ashley at a Friends of Old Time Music Concert in New York. The next year he played both the Ash Grove in Los Angeles and Gerde's Folk City and in 1963 shared a bill with Bill Monroe at New York's Town Hall. He was very much demand and his 1963 performances at the Newport Folk Festival are still talked about.
Throughout the 1960s, as the folk movement waned, Doc made a series of fine recordings for Vanguard and introduced his son Merle as an extremely competent second guitarist and banjoist. Especially on BALLADS FROM DEEP GAP (VSD 6576), their picking together demonstrates the empathy two performers can share -- the degree to which they can anticipate each other's moves is at times uncanny. Merle, like his father, has taught himself but it's tempting to believe that there is some kind of genetic transference at work. "When Merle picks something," Doc has said, "he either won't pick it, or he'll pick it with some feeling . . . that's three-fourths of it right there." The same might be said for Merle's father. As the Sixties rolled on and folk music was largely discarded and replaced with a rock resurgence, Doc continued to play his music, regardless of whether or not it was fashionable. His was not as prominent a name as it had been but he kept his music honest. Some of his contemporaries finally gave into rock's siren call and tried to electrify and supercharge their music, but mostly they came to regret the results. Still there was always a Doc Watson audience, eager to hear this unassuming North Carolinian and his incredibly fluid picking style and his genuine warmth and felling. When it came time for the country music revival of the early 1970s, Doc was there again and, without calling attention to himself, he was looked to for leadership. A generation of young guitarists learned from him, just as he had looked to Merle Travis and the other pioneer pickers in his youth.
A watershed of sorts for traditional country and folk music occurred in 1971 when Doc finally got the chance to sit down and pick with his idol, Merle Travis. The occasion was a historic gathering in Nashville of some of the pillars of C&W: Watson, Travis, Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, and Jimmy Martin got together with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to re-create some of country music's finest moments. The sessions yielded a much-acclaimed triple album (released in 1972 as WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN, UAS 9801) that introduced Doc's talents to yet another generation. Not too surprisingly, Doc emerged as the "star of the stars" and his work eclipse that of his idol Merle Travis. Watson, it soon became apparent, was there to create not to re-create. His songs showed that he's an artist who's still willing to learn, to assimilate, to improve on the past. Only a genius could possess Doc's technical ability with the steel string guitar, an ability to play anything from classical guitar to avant garde jazz, from fingerpicking blues to the svelte country swing of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis -- and all with a flawless grace and perfect balance.
Fifteen years after being "discovered" in 1961, the pride of Deep Gap, North Carolina, has been instrumental, through his sweet, clean flatpicking and unvarnished singing, in keeping old-time country music alive and healthy 50 years after its heyday. "Son," he told a reporter (to Doc, anyone younger than he is "son"), "let me just say this. We still include a lot of the old-time music in our sets and the people still love it. We get more work now than we can handle, so I have to say the old-time music is treating us just fine." To understand Doc's background is to know just how true that observation is. His blindman-gets-discovered-and-makes-good success story is not just another PR hype to inflate a good musician in to a living legend. Doc and his history are as real as the Blue Ridge Mountains he has called home for his 53 years. But it's Watson's ability, considerably enhanced by his son Merle's bluesy accompaniment, to deal with it all that is outstanding. Together the Watsons represent just about the ultimate in stylized picking -- Doc with his intimidating speed and flair and Merle filling in the gaps with slide-style solos so economical and appropriate that a rock musician might build a career on any one of them. If he gets any better, it'll be impossible to dispute the claim made by some critics (and many fans) that Doc Watson is the finest guitar picker working in America today. He's already an invaluable contribution to this country's musical history and I keep having the nagging feeling that this man hasn't yet even reached his stride. What would perfect to others is but a warm-up to Doc Watson.
A young Doc Watson
Len Henry and Good Company will be making the scene at the Boggy Creek Festival.
Len is a native of Boggy Creek. He comes from a very musically inclined family. His Mom and Dad were born in the U.S. and homesteaded in Boggy Creek, Manitoba. Len's first guitar was a mail order Gene Autry, bought at the tender age of seven. This started him on his way. He has been a professional musician for sixteen years, with many good songs to his credit, such as: Cold Wind On The Mountain, Yesterday's Dreams and many more, of which Len does some of the writing himself.
The vocal contributions from Len, Lionel, Allen and Sonny, all being lead singers, add up to one of the best vocal sounding groups around. Their adaptations of tunes by groups such as the Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, Gatlin Brothers, etc., are extremely accurate. Combined with other current Top 40 country material and their own recorded original songs, it is easy to see why this group was voted "Most Popular Country Band of the Year" at last year's M.A.C.A. Awards. Good Company -- Good Sounds -- Good Feelings at the Call of the Wild Festival.
|"Translating those backwoods rhythms into fancy footwork is what
the Coal Country Cloggers are all about..."
~ Rochester PatriotFrom the southern Appalachians came old time music filled with an energy that compels people to take to their feet and step out the beat. The "buckdancing" that resulted is as limitless in its variety as it is personal in its expression.
Team clogging is a new form of dance that has emerged within the last 50 years. As a group dance it integrates the energetic style of the individual buckdancer with the patterns of traditional social dances. Such teams have played an important part in spreading to a wider population the music and dance of the Appalachian Mountain region.
For a number of years, the old time dances held in Pittsburgh have drawn folks together to dance for the sheer joy of it in ways reminiscent of the old social occasions. The Coal Country Cloggers, founded by people from these gatherings, maintain the enthusiasm shared at these events. With their spirited performances, the Coal Country Cloggers hope to inspire in others the urge to dance.
The Coal Country Cloggers have travelled extensively in the Northeast and Midwest, thrilling audiences with their creative interpretations of traditional country dances. The group has perfomred at numerous festivals, community affairs, schools, colleges and universities. An engagement can include any combination of workshops ~ clogging ~ square dancing. The Coal Country Cloggers are guaranteed to put your feet a-tappin' as they bring to exuberant life traditional country dance.
|Ralph Carlson and Country Mile from Ottawa, are a very professional
band and extremely good musicians. They have been together for the last
six years, and in that short time have become one of Canada's top country
acts. Through personal appearances, recordings, TV and radio shows, they
have built up a solid following nationally. Their popularity, however,
is not limited to Canada. Their 1980, seven-week tour of Great Britain
and Ireland was a tremendous success.
Ralph Carlson is the leader of the group - rhythm guitar and lead vocalist. His recording career began in 1965 when he signed with Rodeo Records. He now records for Snocan Records in Ottawa. "Thanks for the Dance," was a top ten single for the group. Sam Henry is the group's drummer as well as handling some of the lead vocals and harmony. His solid drum work is in demand on many Snocan recording sessions. Rod Coulombe is lead guitarist and banjo ace. Although quite young, Rod is a veteran with his instruments and harmony vocals. Bass work is provided by Bill Green.
Country Mile's repertoire covers every spectrum of country music. Their musical excellence, stage presentation, and audience rapport have earned them numerous RPM Big Country Awards nominations. In 1979 and 1981, they were voted outstanding group of the year. This, their first appearance on the Boggy Creek stage, will make the festival an outstanding event not to be missed.
||Every once in a while, a performer comes along who has the ability
to reach out and touch your innermost feelings, capture your imagination
and entertain you on every emotional level. Such a performer is Marie Bottrell.
A native of London, Ontario, Marie began writing songs at an early age. Her professional career began in 1978, with the recording of her own composition "Just Reach Out and Touch Me." This, her first single did very well on the charts across Canada, as a result, Marie was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry Show on its Canadian tour. The success of her follow-up single "Always Having Your Love," coupled with its predecessor led to a nomination at RPM's Big Country Awards as Outstanding New Artist. To follow were nominations from the Canadian Radio Programmers for Outstanding New Artist, a Juno and a RRPM nomination for Top Country Female Vocalist.
Marie was voted Outstanding Female Performer by RPM in 1979, and her single "The Star" won the 1980 Best Country Single Award. "Wonderin' if Willy," was nominated for Best Country Single as the 1981 RPM Awards.
As a star of radio, TV, and stage, Marie has performed on shows such as the Tommy Hunter Show, Ronnie Prophet's Grand Ole Country, and appeared with Nashville stars like Tammy Wynette, Tom T. Hall, Minnie Pearl, to name a few. Marie's touring schedule extends right across Canada, including the top country/western clubs, concerts, TV and radio shows. Her schedule, however, is not limited to Canada. She recently returned from a European tour of TV shows promoting her single "Walk Right Back" and "Flames of Evil Desire," released throughout Europe on Polydor. Her break into the American market began with successful appearances at International Fan Week in Nashville, at Jerry Lee Lewis' club on Printers Alley, and the Ralph Emery TV show. Although she is a relatively new artist, people in the music business are already familiar with Marie's vocal talents and song writing abilities. Stars like Emmy Lou Harris are already including Bottrell compositions on their tour dates. Marie along with her four piece band, Cottonwood, will be performing at the Call of the Wild Festival.
|The Hotfoot Quintet from Cleveland, Ohio, will be at Call of the Wild. Once this group gets going with their own blend of Bluegrass and Swing Music, you won't want to miss one note. They play and sing superbly and their arrangements have been freshly conceived. When fiddle player, Steve Slottow, takes teh vocal on "Pretty Pollly," you know the meaning of presence. The singing on the swing numbers is usually handled by banjo player Paul Kovac. Serving as an instrumental centre and anchor, the bass playing of Jim Blum has many textures. Ronald Kausen, on mandolin is the only one in the group who hails from Canada and is the newest member of the band. Bob Frank plays guitar and harmonica and is responsible for the blues selections in the group's repertoire. Put them all together and you've got "Hotfoot." Just one more reason why you don't want to miss the Call of the Wild.|
||Since his major hit nine years ago with "Countrified," Dick has built
a solid career as an artist and writer on the international country/western
music scene. His songs have been recorded by other artists in Canada and
abroad, and has picked up eight BMI/PRO awards for Outstanding Contribution
to Canadian Music. 1977 brought Damron Big Country's Songwriter of the
Year Award, and has been voted Top Male Vocalist three times. Added to
these credits, he has been nominated for two Juno awards, and has had five
#1 Canada Country records.
Tours have taken Dick across Canada many times, as well as to Holland, Germany, USA and Great Britain. He has four LPs released in Britain and has built up a storng following in that country. Texas Proud magazine voted Damron "Best Foreign Artist." Catch Dick's show at Boggy Creek and see why he's also one of Canada's best artists.
Manitoba Entertainers of the Year
|Manitoba's Bill and Sue-On Hillman are a virtual record making factory.
Not only do they write, produce and record their own music (9 LPs to their
credit on their Maple Grove label) but they promote, distribute and sell
their own product even to the extent of having a catalogue to advertise
their LPs worldwide.
Bill, born in Strathclair, Man., and Sue-On who was born in China but raised in Newdale, Man., became a singing team shortly after they were married in 1966. Holding degrees in Arts, Science and Education, their teaching responsibilities make it necessary to schedule their performing activities to weekend dates and annual summertime tours in Western Canada, USA and Great Britain. The duo won the 1979 Entertainers of the Year Award based on the strength of their top-ten hit "One Night Stand" -- a song penned by Bill.
Absent from the 1981 Festival due to "Great Expectations" -- a 7 pound, 7 ounce baby boy, born on the Saturday of the Festival -- Sue-On is reunited with hubby Bill for their third appearance at the Call of the Wild Festival. Appearing with the Hillmans this year will be drummer-bassist, Kerry Morris.
||Whiskey Jack -- the Entertainment plus group took Boggy Creek by storm
two years running and this year will undoubtedly be no different. These
four talented individuals excel in all facets of entertainment - vocals,
instrumentals, stage presence and audience interaction. The group consists
of leader, Duncan Fremlin on banjo and vocals; John Hoffman on humour,
mandolin, fiddle and vocals; Bob McNiven on guitar and lead vocals, and
Chip Street, winner of the 1981 Best Bass Player Award at the Annual Canadian
As a group, their list of accomplishments is impressive: a national hit - "Southbound Passenger Train," two highly acclaimed LPs "Uptown" and "One More Time," appearances on national TV and radio programs - and - to top the list - a s regular cast on Cnada's longest running country music TV show - The Tommy Hunter Show. Whiskey Jack's repertoire is a fine potpourri of material. There is something for everyone - from Beatles' "Help" to the traditional "Crying Holy," a bit of the blues, and old timers like Bill Bailey. Whatever they're pickin', whether it's bluegrass standards, straight-up country, swing or fiddle favourites, they bring new life to each and every tune.
||Voted six times Top Country Group (1976-1981), voted 1981 Canadian
Artists of the Year, and Top Canadian Country TV Show, the Family Brown
have been invited back for numerous appearances at the Festival. Truly
international stars, these RCA recording artists have been playing to sell-out
audiences wherever they go, in England (including Wembley's International
Country Music Festival) and across Canada. As well, they are enjoying great
success on TV and radio appearances and with their numerous recordings
on both sides of the Atlantic.
The seven piece group consists of four members who are related. Patriarch to three members of the group is Joe Brown, who provides solid bass work acquired through years of experience. Joe is also a fine singer and writer of songs. The other three family members are Barry, Lowanda and Tracy. All three are outstanding solo vocalists, but together with father Joe, they put out the sweetest harmonies. Barry plays rhythm guitar and is the group's leading songwriter. He was voted for outstanding performance at the Big Country Awards and their single "But It's Cheatin'", penned by Barry, was nominated single of the year for 1981. Lowanda has also written some of the songs recorded by the Family Brown. "Light at the End of the Hall," lyrics by Lowanda, was a top ten record for the group. She is also one of the lead vocalists. Tracy isthe youngest member of the group, and has been featured on many of their singles. Her powerful voice and easy flow of her stage presentation makes her a hit with audiences everywhere.
Non-related members of the group are drummer-business manager, Ron Sparling. He has been with the group since its formation, and is a prime mover of "Country Music Week," an annual event in CAnada. Dave Dennison is the lead guitarist and the man of novelty songs. He is also adept on harmonica and accordion. Gary (Spike) Spicer plays steel guitar, lead guitar and fiddle; vocally, his impression of Johnny Cash is a highlight of every show. The Family Brown have been a group for the past ten years. Through years of experience they have developed a stage show that appeals to both young and old.
Everyone who has heard this group is sure not to have forgotten the great harmony and fine pickin' from this Western Canadian group. They are sincere in their love of entertaining and this is apparent in their stage shows with George Larsson, manager of the group, on guitar, mandolin and harmonica.
||"Let Us Entertain You" might be the theme song for the Needham Twins
as they are definitely one of the most entertaining groups you will ever
see. The multi-talented Twins have put together a show that equals many
seen in Las Vegas or New York, combining both musical talent and showmanship.
The Needham Twins, Jerry and Larry, began their singing career together in 1966 during their days in the Armed Forces. After being discharged, Jerry and Larry started singing professionally throughout the eastern and southeastern United States.
Many labels have been pinned on the Needham Twins: pop, country, contemporary and folk. All of these fit and yet none of them do. Their style is all their own and must be heard to be appreciated. Their music comes form the heart. The Needham Twins sing for the sheer joy of singing. They communicate their enthusiasm to the audience, and it spreads at the speed of sound... the sound of music.
The Needham Twins are also recording artists with four albums to their credit released under their own label of Identical Production. Residing in Nashville, Tennessee, the Needham Twins are currently performing concerts, television and club dates all over the United States and Canada. The group has been expanded to a five-piece band and are working for the next six months in the North Dakota area of the United States.
Recently the Twins have appeared for the Ramada Inns, Holiday Inns, American Legion Clubs along with a number of top Nashville clubs such as the Carousel, Rodeway Inn, and Tudor Innn. They have appeared on such television shows in the United States as Dateline Atlanta, Gene Carroll Show, Ronnie Prophet Show, Grand Ole Opry, Noon Show WSM and the Ralph Emery Show. They have worked with Lynn Anderson, Minnie Pearl, Connie Smith, Roy Drusky, Del Wood, Pat Boone and others.
THE CANADIAN PLOWBOY
|It's been a long time since a 14-year-old Edwards, Ontario farm
boy named Orval Prophet climbed to the stage and sang "Beautiful Dreamer."
This signaled Orval's first public appearance. Since then, Orval has made
a number of recordings, rising to the top many times; has had five heart
attacks, open heart surgery and was inducted to the Canadian Music Hall
In between all this Orval performed with most of the popular names in country music including Wilf Carter and Johnny Cash. Carter engineered Orval's first record contract with Decca Records back in 1949 and after a lot of penny pinching he arrived in Nashville to record and eventually released, "Going Back To Birmingham / Don't Trade Your Love For Gold," on March 8, 1952.
In July, 1952 Orval released "Judgement Day Express" which was co-written by Orval along with Ken Macrae, Ken and Orval also wrote another release titled "The Travellin' Kind" which was released on the Point Label.
In 1957 the rock and roll craze hit the country and Orval started to perform under the name "Johnny Six." This was short lived and proved to be of little success. He recorded three records under this name, including "Mademoisell / Tennessean Rolling HOme; Half a Heart / Town of Memories; and Forgotten Dreams / Over in that Happy Land." It was on these three records that Orval first used a vocal backing with the services of the Anita Kerr Singers.
Orval was married in the spring of 1961 to his first wife, Lois. Later Orval wrote a song about Lois titled "My Lois and Me" which was a big seller for him and can still be found on his Cascade LP Greatest Hits. Tragedy struck when Lois became seriously ill and passed away in September 1969.
Another hit for Orval released on the Sparton Label in Canada was "Travelling Snowman / Big River Joe." The "A" side was a tribute to Canadian Country Star, Hank Snow. In 1970 Orval suffered serious heart trouble and in 1971 he underwent open-heart surgery. This kept him out of action for quite awhile. In 1972 Orval released a double sided hit titled "It's Good To be Home Again / Heading Down the Line." Later "Mile After Mile" was released. Over the years Orval has released several more recordings. This kept him busy with personal appearances throughout Canada and the United States. For two years he appeared with the Johnny Cash Show and has been a regular on the Tommy Hunter Show and "cousin" Ronnie Prophet's Show, "Grand Old Country."
Orval's philosophy toward performing is simple. He told Country Music writer Dave Mulholland, "I'm happy, I got all the work I want. Why should I kill myself to make a million dollars? What for? I'm going to look after my health. I like to work two weeks and take one week off." Orval says his career is brighter today than it has ever been. "Age mellows a man. My long experience is a help. I can record much faster than other artists, because I know what I'm doing from experience," he said. Recently he has recorded such hits as "Ol' Amos, Lisa Mae, Leroy Can't Go Home, I've Seen Some Things, Sorry and the Hobo, and the Tractor Pull." In June of 1979 Orval was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. This could be suggested as the ultimate in a creer that has nearly spanned half a century. But in September 1979 Orval's life story was produced by Stan Campbell formerly of CFGM Radio in Toronto and was released during Country Music Week. Orval is no slacker in business either. He is a partner with his brother in "Lynwood Mobile Homes" which is in Edwards, Ontario, just across the road from the family farm.
Yes, Orval Prophet is truly a pioneer in the Canadian Country Music scene who, despite many setbacks, has found success and has helped to pave the way for many future country stars in Canada. Orval is about to add a new dimension to this performances. He will be appearing at the Call of the Wild Mountain Music Festival in Boggy Creek, Manitoba. This is Orval's first appearance in this area and it is looked on with great anticipation by the festival organizers.
The years have slipped quickly for Orval ... from his first radio show at the young age of 14, to his appearances with Wilf Carter, Johnny Cash and a host of others, to his performances on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and his 15-minute radio show on WWVA Wheeling West Virginian. Orval has done it all and still he goes on to newer things. There is no sign of slowing down and as Orval puts it, "the cut off date for his heavy schedule is...'A lifetime away.'"
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