The Georgia Yellow Hammers and Associates Vol. 1 1924 – March 1927 – Fourth of July At A County Fair
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Bill Chitwood and Bud Landress, with their friends Phil Reeve, Ernest Moody and Clyde Evans, and associates such as Andrew and Jim Baxter, the Harper brothers, Gus Boaz, Lawrence Neal and others, would represent and promote the musical culture of their region for most of a decade. Thanks to them, Gordon County, Georgia, has come to be held in high regard by lovers of old-time Southern music. Today we can see it as a prism, its facets reflecting the different forms of Southern music: old-time fiddling, quartet singing, stringband ensembles, rustic comedy, yodelling, blues.
No doubt many other counties in the South offered a similar diversity of music. What makes Gordon County special is that so much of it was permanently documented on phonograph records. Between 1924 and 1931, Gordon Countians created 104 issued recordings. These roused great interest among their fellow citizens and were frequently written about in the local press. Together, the recordings and the reports constitute a legacy of extraordinary specificity: this was what was going on musically, at this time, in this section of northwest Georgia, and this is what the people who lived there thought about it.
Aided by this collection (and the music of the Baxters, available elsewhere on Document), we can hold a magnifying glass over a map of Gordon County, so that towns and communities leap into large-print life. We see the streets of Calhoun and Resaca and Sugar Valley, hear the rattle of wagon wheels and the distant whistle of the railroad train, the massed voices from the singing convention in Calhoun’s City Auditorium, the strains of contesting fiddlers at the Courthouse, of the Baxters playing for picnickers at Dew’s Pond, and of Bill and Bud and their cronies serenading the townsfolk in Gentlemen’s Park.