Thursday, October 14, 2010

Snuffy Jenkins & Pappy Sherrill-Crazy Water Barn Dance

Snuffy Jenkins and Pappy Sherrill
Crazy Water Barn Dance
Rounder Records 0059 

DeWitt "Snuffy" Jenkins - Banjo, Guitar, Washboard
Homer "Pappy" Sherrill - Fiddle
Julian "Greasy" Medlin - Guitar and Vocals
Dick Harmon - Guitar
Buddy Harmon - Bass

Wang Wang Blues,Sharon,No Name Blues,Down Yonder
Peekaboo Waltz,The Preacher and The Bear
Frankie And Johnnie,Sugar Tree Stomp
House Of David Blues,Draggin' The Bow,Wake Up, Susan
Careless Love,Greasy's Blue Heaven,Nine Pound Hammer
Home Brew Rag,Missouri And Goodnight Waltzes
Sally Johnson,Home Made Ice Cream
Green Mountain Polka,Room 202
Group Info: Snuffy Jenkins Pappy Sherrill
Give Name: Snuffy: DeWitt Jenkins Pappy: Homer Lee Sherrill
Date of Birth: Snuffy: October 27, 1908 Pappy: March 23, 1915
Place of Birth: Snuffy: Harris, North Carolina Pappy: Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina
Date of Death: Snuffy: April 30, 1990
Marital Status: Snuffy: Margaret Cannon Pappy: Doris Lyle
Children: Snuffy: Toby DeWitt Pappy: Wayne, Carol, Gerald
Musical Syle: Old-Time Country/Bluegrass
Talents: Snuffy: Singer, Banjo, Washboard, Guitar Pappy: Singer, Fiddle
Recommend Record Albums:
"Carolina Bluegrass" (Folk-Lyric)(1962) [Re-issued on Arhoolie] "33 Years of Pickin’ and Pluckin’" (Rounder)(1972) "Crazy Water Barn Dance" (Rounder)(1976) "Something Special" (Old Homestead)(1989)
Snuffy Jenkins and Pappy Sherrill rank as key transitional figures in the evolution of Old-Time music as it moved toward Bluegrass. Jenkins pioneered in the use of three-finger banjo on radio and record, which protégés such as Earl Scruggs and Don Reno further developed. Jenkins was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Both Snuffy and a brother Verl took to music early in life with the former eventually settling on banjo. According to his own recollection, Snuffy started playing in the three-finger style about 1927, the same year that he and Verl began competing in fiddling contests. In 1934, they added a guitar-picking cousin and another picker to their entourage and became the Jenkins String Band at WBT Charlotte. In 1936, this band dissolved and Snuffy joined J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers, first at WSPA Spartansburg and then at WIS Columbia, both in South Carolina. Jenkins recorded several numbers on Bluebird with the Mountaineers, being especially prominent on the song, Kiss Me Cindy, from a 1938 session. When Mainer left to go elsewhere, the band members remained at WIS and Verl Jenkins first filled in on fiddle and then Homer Sherrill on a permanent basis in October 1939. Announcer Byron Parker took leadership of what now had become the WIS Hillbillies on radio and Byron Parker’s Mountaineers on record. Homer Sherrill was born near Hickory, North Carolina, and took to the fiddle at age 7, making his radio debut at 13, in Gastonia. His first real professional experience of note came at WBT with his East Hickory String Band, also known as the Crazy Hickory Nuts. He also gained some brief experience with the Blue Sky Boys, Mack and Shorty, Mainer’s Mountaineers, and with the Morris Brothers (Wiley, Zeke and Homer). Sherrill managed to get in some sessions with the latter three groups, all on the Bluebird label. The Parker-led group also included two guitar pickers, Leonard Stokes and Clyde Robbins, among their members when they recorded twice in 1940 (February 9 and October 10) in Atlanta for Bluebird. The band cut eight sides each time and featured a variety of numbers that included vocal solos, duets and quartets, as well as instrumentals. Jenkins and Sherrill served as the instrumental stars, while Stokes and Robbins divided the vocal chores. Parker confined his role to singing bass in the quartets. The band did not make records again until 1946, when they did four sides on the DeLuxe label, by which time Floyd Lacewell and Gene Ray had joined the WIS Hillbillies. After Byron Parker died in October 1948, Snuffy and Pappy took over the band, changing their name to the Hired Hands (Parker referred to himself as "the Old Hired Hand"). By this time, Snuffy had added a great deal of comedy to his act and the group worked up some elaborate skits, several of which also involved Julian "Greasy" Medlin, a former medicine and minstrel showman, who joined them in 1941. When WIS added TV in 1953, the Hired Hands added television to their resume. The band got another recording opportunity in 1962, making an album on the Folk Lyric label. With the growth of Bluegrass festivals, Jenkins & Sherrill, by then legendary figures, received opportunities to be heard by audiences outside their native Carolinas who appreciated their blend of Old-Time and Bluegrass music mixed with comedy, which they also had ample opportunity to display on a pair of Rounder albums, featuring some of Medlin’s varied show-business background. With the passage of time, advancing age began to take some toll on the group. Medlin died and ill health increasingly plagued Snuffy. Harold Lucas, who handled rhythm guitar and most of the vocals after 1971, took on a bigger role and his son Randy showed promise as an up and coming banjo and lead guitar picker. By the time of the group’s last album, in 1989, Snuffy picked banjo on only two numbers and washboard on a few others. When the venerable musician passed away the following year, he was buried with Masonic honors. Homer Sherrill continues as one of the true living masters of the Old-Time fiddle.

Ivan M. Tribe

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