Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obray Ramsey - Blue Ridge Banjo (1957)

ARTIST`````Obray Ramsey
ALBUM`````Blue Ridge Banjo


Obray Ramsey is the banjo-picking cousin of old-time music instrumentalist Byard Ray, and the two worked regularly as a duo until they were "discovered" playing at an Asheville folk festival during the folk music revival of the '60s. From that point on, the two men's musical career took a strangely twisted path. Late-night television mongers who may have made it all the way through the strange psychedelic rock western Zachariah, may wonder who the two old-time musicians are that show up in one of this epic's many strange musical wonders, and the answer would be Ray and Ramsey.
Read the rest of the biography...

More info on this LP
From the back cover of Obray Ramsey’s 1957 LP Blue Ridge Banjo, notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein:

In recent years, we have heard all to often about the ‘dying’ of folkculture in the Southern mountains. Many of the collectors who ventured into this area to record the songlore of the region in the 1930s and ’40s, shed sorry tears for the passing of a beautiful and rich tradition, each proclaiming his own collection to be the “last leaves” of this once-proud heritage. So, fewer and fewer adventuresome souls have involved themselves in recording the still-living tradition of the area. Those who have, however, have been amply rewarded by finding that, even though mountain lifehas been completely revolutionized in the past few decades, tradition dies hard, and numerous singers may still be heard and recorded. To be sure, there are new sounds and new songs, but this material is, in many ways, as vibrant and vital as it was in the days of Cecil Sharp’s pioneering collecting forays.Obray Ramsey, whose sprightly banjo songs and instrumentals make up this LP, is living proof that this tradition still exists. And there are many more young, middle-aged and old folksingers like him, who have retained the best songs of their hardy mountain ancestors, perhaps changing some of them to suit their own artistic and performing abilities, but still retaining the best elements of old-style singing and playing.Ramsey was born on the banks of the three Laurels at the edge of the Smokey Mountains in western North Carolina. His father’s people came from the highlands of Scotland, and his mother’s ancestors were Cherokee Indians.Most of his songs were learned from his mother and grandmother, both fine singers with extensive repertoires. For most of his life he has sung his songs unaccompanied, though he had learned to play the guitar when still a young boy. After he married and settled down as a successful farmer near Marshall, North Carolina, he met Bascom Lamar Lunsford, folksinger, collector, and organizer of the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival held annually in Asheville, North Carolina. Lunsford recognized his fine singing talents and encouraged him to take up the 5-string banjo, which he believed would be perfectly suited to Obray’s style of singing. To show his faith in this belief, Lunsford gave Ramsey his first banjo in 1953. Now, Obray Ramsey is one of the finest banjo-pickers in the Southern Mountains. His style is a perfect compromise between old picking styles and currently popular modern styles.


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