Welcome to Spring Fed Records
W.L. GREGORY and CLYDE DAVENPORT with GARY GREGORY
1 PRETTIEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE COUNTRY (1) 1:23
2 OLD DAVY DUGGER (2) 2:41
3 CABIN CITY BLUES (2) 1:21
4 SALLY GOODEN/TURKEY IN THE STRAW (3) 1:53
5 SANDY RIDGE (2) 1:45
6 MY SWEETHEART IN TENNESSEE (2) Vocal: WLG 3:09
7 COLUMBIA AVENUE BLUES (5) 1:27
8 INDIAN TWO-STEP (5) :45
9 HOMEMADE STUFF (6) 2:04
10 EASY RIDER (4) 1:19
11 FREE A LITTLE BIRD (2) Vocal: WLG 3:48
12 BONNIE BLUE WALTZ (4) 1:39
13 RED WING (1) 2:44
14 UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE (2) 2:44
15 RED BIRD (6) 1:41
16 OLD DUSTY (2) 1:43
(1) W.L. Gregory, Fiddle; Clyde Davenport, Banjo; (2) W.L. Gregory, Fiddle; Clyde Davenport, Banjo; Gary Gregory, Guitar (3) Clyde Davenport, Fiddle; W.L. Gregory, Banjo (4) W.L. Gregory, Fiddle; Gary Gregory, Guitar (5) W.L. Gregory, Banjo solo (6) W.L. Gregory, Banjo; Gary Gregory, Guitar.
For those of you who don’t know him, W.L. Gregory is a veterinarian, and a fine one too. Ask anybody in Wayne County, Kentucky. His buddy, Clyde Davenport, helps W.L. at times, and does odd jobs around town. W.L.'’ grandson, Gary, just got married and spends his spare time learning how to play guitar in the old time way. On a lot of Sunday afternoons the three of them gather up a W.L.’s house on a hill overlooking Monticello and make music. W.L. gets them all tuned up raises his fiddle, and says,”Let ‘er rip.” And it rips. Some of the best and most authentic string band music found in the South today. The band doesn’t have a silly of funny name, like the Toad Stranglers or the Midnite Snipe Chasers: it’s just W.L. Gregory and Clyde Davenport. The name’s like the music: no nonsense, straight ahead, sitting knee to knee and hammering it out.
A couple of years ago we put out the first album by W.L. and Clyde and called it “Tough Mountain Music.” This album woke up more that a few people who thought the old Kentucky fiddle-banjo duet style was dead and embalmed, and W.L.'’ unique banjo style attracted a good deal of attention from young pickers. (W.L. plays fiddle and banjo with equal ease.) The “Tough Mountain Music” album was reviewed by several national magazines, and through the good offices of Mike Seeger, W.L. and Clyde found themselves making guest appearances at several major folk festivals. They appeared at festivals in Chicago, Washington D.C., Berea College, and the Tennessee State Championship old-time fiddling contest, among others. National Public Radio has featured them on “Folk Festival U.S.A.” All kinds of guys are showing up on W.L.’s front porch nowdays, and not too many of them have sick cows.
But success hasn’t spoiled W.L. and Clyde. If anything, it has made them even more aware of the value of the heritage they are preserving. The more they play, the more they remember old songs, old licks, old musicians. W.L. has been playing mountain music since World War I, and Clyde’s been going at it for about forty-odd years. Both knew and learned from Burnett and Rutherford, Wayne County’s most famous fiddle banjo player of the team, still lives about a mile from W.L.: he is about 92 now, and doesn’t play anymore. But he still gets a kick out of hearing W.L. and Clydes play for him when they drop by. Leonard Rutherford, the fiddler, has been dead about 25 years, but he taught most of his style and repertory to W.L. and the old-timers in the area say W.L. sounds so much like Leonard Rutherford that “it’s right spooky.” (For more about the history of Burnett and Rutherford and their influence on W.L. and Clyde, see the notes to “Tough Mountain Music,” Davis Unlimited DU 33014.)
There are several reasons for calling this album “Homemade Stuff.” It was literally made in W.L.’s home, recorded in his big sunny front room, with the phone off the hook to keep down interruptions. And many of the tunes are those “little old hampered up tunes” that W.L. has composed or recomposed over the years. Most of these are banjo tunes that W.L. cooks up to showcase his very personal style, but he’s also been dragging up a bunch of fiddle tunes that aren’t played by too many other fiddlers that we know of. And the instruments W.L. and Clyde use are pretty special. Clyde is a pretty good instrument repairman, and keeps the fiddles and banjos in top shape. And on this session, W.L. is actually playing with Leonard Rutherford’s old fiddle. After the last album, W.L. tracked down Leonard’s old fiddle, and Clyde put it in shape. That’s how W.L. gets that wonderful, mellow sound on the fiddle numbers. And this is not just a theatrical concession to the past: the tone of Rutherford’s old fiddle complements W.L.’s style very well.
We’ve almost stopped asking W.L. about how he came up with some of these “originals.” W.L. has created so many tunes over the years, that he’s probably forgotten as many as he remembers. And he usually doesn’t take the trouble to name them, so you might hear him play something one session and want to ask him to play it again later and you don’t know what to ask for. This disregard for naming tunes perhaps show how little W.L. cares about trying to exploit his music. He’s an immensely creative man, one of those rare fiddlers like Clark Kessinger or Clayton McMichen or Ed Haley or - - Leonard Rutherford - - fiddlers who impose their original stylings on their folk traditions. Here is not the place to try to explain W.L.’s style on the fiddle in words: the music speaks better than that. W.L. loves sliding notes, blue notes, and unexpected shifts from low to fine passages; best of all, he has the verve and drive of mountain fiddling so absent in the anemic Texas contest styles of today.
PRETTIEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE COUNTRY is a traditional number, done by W.L. and Clyde alone. OLD DAVY DUGGER is one of the oldest fiddle tunes W.L. knows, and it has been collected for years in the Appalachians. CABIN CITY BLUES, SANDY RIDGE, and OLD DUSTY are original fiddle numbers; OLD DUSTY came to W.L. last year as he was driving home from the Tennessee state championship fiddling contest. SALLY GOODEN/TURKEY IN THE STRAW shows off Clyde’s fiddling style, a more recent style than W.L.’s, but exciting in its own right. Note W.L.’s style in playing back-up banjo for Clyde here. BONNIE BLUE WALTZ was recorded by Dick Burnett on fiddle back in 1929, but the record was never released; Dick saved the test pressing, though, and after we heard it, we asked W.L. about it, and it turned out that he knew the tune well. It’s a fast waltz, as are most of the waltzes played by fiddlers in the south-central Kentucky region. MY SWEETHEART IN TENNESSEE is another old Burnett-Rutherford piece, a song written by Dick Burnett, and FREE A LITTLE BIRD was one of Rutherford’s most popular pieces. Both EASY RIDER and UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE are rather well known, but W.L.’s versions he learned directly from Rutherford. I don’t recall any other versions of EASY RIDER as a breakdown. UNDER THE DOUBLE EAGLE was popularized as a fiddle piece. In 1926, but LaPrade didn’t put in the wild octave jump that W.L. makes at the end of each chorus here. COLUMBIA AVENUE BLUES and INDIAN TWO-STEP both feature W.L. on solo banjo; the former is an original, the latter an old banjo number known in the area. HOMEMADE STUFF is an original; we asked W.L. what he called it, and he said, “Aw, that’s just some Homemade stuff, and shows off W.L.’s love of unorthodox timing. On both the latter numbers, W.L. is backed up by Gary Gregory on guitar. (W.L. has been helping Gary learn older guitar techniques, and Gary has made a vast improvement in the last three years.) Finally, RED WING is another basic fiddle-banjo duet.
Like their first album, then, this LP shows W.L. Gregory and Clyde Davenport in a number of different settings: the archaic fiddle-banjo duet, the classic string band of fiddle, banjo, and guitar; the more modern fiddle-guitar combination; and the banjo solo and banjo-guitar duet. We feel it’s a pretty fair sampling of the music of two men who are among the most exciting and gifted folk musicians in the South today. Yes, this album is homemade stuff. And with the price of sugar out of sight, and copper hard to come by, it’s probably the best homemade stuff you can find today.
Produced by: Steve Davis and Charles Wolfe – Liner Notes: Charles Wolfe – Recorded in Monticello, Kentucky in October 1975 and May 1976 – Technical assistance by: Bill and Ellyn Trigg (Kim-Pat Ent.), P.O. Box 654, Fayetteville, Tn. 37334 – Cover art by: Dan Colon, 126 Airport Rd.; Clarksville, Tn. 37040.