Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

GSCBF12: Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys: Sunday, April 28, 1974, ca. 21:15

Part of a series of back-of-the-napkin thoughts about the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival (GSCBF), held in San Rafael, CA from Friday, April 26th through Sunday, April 28, 1974.

Previous installments:
Can't believe I haven't posted in this series since November 7. Well, after John Hartford puts on a great display of musical virtuosity and fellowship, up next comes the legendary Ralph Stanley. I am trying to educate myself about bluegrass, so I won't even hazard a pithy summary. I am just not there yet.
Truth be told, it feels like a little bit of culture shock in this recording. Note (1) in the recording notes have this little interchange:

After crowd is calling stuff out, RS scolds "I tell you what, if you all want to hear me say anything, or want to hear any music, you'd quieten down, you'd be a lot better off, and the whole audience would. 'Preciate it."

Not a big deal, one little thing to extrapolate from. Very risky stuff. But given all the new-fangled bluegrass that had been played over the previous 48+ hours, to say nothing of the country stuff and the hippies smoking rope and whatnot, Ralph Stanley may have been a cultural bridge too far. I dunno.

Questions if I ever get any bluegrass readers:
  1. Did Ralph Stanley take part in the Dirt Band's Will The Circle Be Unbroken project? I have poked around online and the answer has not jumped out at me.
  2. Anyone know what Bill Monroe was doing on April 28, 1974?
  3. How about Earl Scruggs? Scruggs would have fit right into everything, I'd think. And remember that the GSCBF was dedicated to Vassar Clements, who had been in the Earl Scruggs Revue just a few years prior to this. I figure he had another engagement, but it'd be good to get confirmation, I guess.
So, this set only clocks in at 16:40 from the Debbie tapes. I don't think there's any Ralph Stanley on any of the other circulating tape sources, but I'd have to double-check. I speculate in the notes that this set might have run a half-hour or so, which is what he was scheduled for. The Debbie tapes do suggest that they were keeping to a pretty strict timetable, and anyway Stanley et al run through their numbers right briskly. So this would be the biggest missing chunk of material from Sunday after 3 pm, maybe a 15-minute gap in this recording?

Everything else in the notes.

Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival
Marin County Veterans' Auditorium Building and Grounds
San Rafael, CA

<--John Hartford precedes-->

Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys
Sunday, April 28, 1974 ca. 21:15

Source: "Debbie reel 4/27/74" CD 4 of 4
Provenance: unknown sbd recording (?maybe MSC > C?) > reel
Transfer: AKAI GX 636 playback > Apogee mini ME @ 24/96 > Apogee Mini DAC (monitoring/mastering) > lynx one soundcard > wavelab 5.0 > CD, by Matt Smith.
Lossless encoding: extraction (EAC) > initial tracking (CDWave) > minor edits (Wavelab 5.0) > FLAC level 8 (TLH).
Tagging: foobar2000 v0.9.6.8.

(8 tracks, 16:40)
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t01. % Cacklin' Hen [1:24] [0:05]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t02. Maple On The Hill [2:36] [0:03]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t03. talk (1), band introductions [2:27]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t04. Hemlocks And Primroses [2:55] [0:03]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t05. Stone Walls And Steel Bars [1:51] [0:21]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t06. Bill Cheetham [2:00] [0:11]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t07. Nobody's Love Is Like Mine [2:31] [0:06]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t08. Man Of Constant Sorrow// [fragment] [0:05] %

Ralph Stanley - banjo, tenor vocals;
Ricky Lee - guitar, bass vocals;
Cheryl White - bass;
Curly Ray Cline - fiddle;
Roy Lee Centers - vocals.

! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.
! Recording: is overloaded for the first few minutes. Mono recording.
! Personnel: Roy Lee Centers would pass away a week or so later, on May 5, 1974. The usual bass player, Jack Cooke, was unable to attend.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t03. (1) RS: "last appearance on the festival this weekend". After crowd is calling stuff out, RS scolds "I tell you what, if you all want to hear me say anything, or want to hear any music, you'd quieten down, you'd be a lot better off, and the whole audience would. 'Preciate it."
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t04. levels come up a little @ ca. 0:20. Sound was more muffled before that.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2115-Stanley-t08 is just the very start of Man Of Constant Sorrow
! It is not known how long this set lasted - the tape here runs out, and no Ralph Stanley material appears on any of the other sources for the Festival that I know of. This set was scheduled at a half-hour, so barring any other information let's assume that that's right, and that this is missing about 15 minutes of music.

<--Nitty Gritty Dirt Band follows-->

Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger


  1. Ralph Stanley was not on the original WTCBU, although he may have been on Vol 2 or Vol 3 (recorded many years later).

  2. Can't help with Scruggs' whereabouts, but Bill Monroe was billed as appearing at the 2nd Annual Florida Springtime Bluegrass Convention that weekend in Lawtey, Florida.

    This would be quite a significant tape... probably the last recording with Roy Lee Centers. After the band flew back from the festival they had a few days off the road & Roy Lee was murdered in the early hours of 2nd May...

    Is there anyway of getting a copy of the tape?

  3. Sure, send me an email. Should be linked to my blogger profile.


!Thank you for joining the conversation!