Walter Smith & Friends – Various Artists – Complete Recorded Works 1929-1936 Vol 2 (March 1930-February 1931) ‘North Carolina Blues’
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This is the second of three volumes featuring the complete recorded works of Walter Smith & Friends. The 3 volume set of Walter Smith & Friends covers some of the finest, and some of the rarest, recordings of what is often called the golden age of old-time music. Almost all the musicians in this collection were part of a loose clique that gathered in the 1920s and early ’30s around the charismatic Charlie Poole. Like so many other hillbilly groups of the era they were based in a section of south-western Virginia and north-western North Carolina bound by Patrick, Henry and Pittsylvania Counties in Virginia and Rockingham County, NC. One of the things all these groups had in common was an approach to making string band music that was both elegant and affecting. The second volume starts off In New York with the conclusion of the March 1930 New York recording session. Walter Smith, Lewis McDaniels, Posey Rorer and Buster Carter returned to New York in May of that year to try to further their recording careers with Columbia but to no avail so they played the radio stations. Only Smith and McDaniels would record for ARC under their pseudonyms of Kid Williams (Smith) and Roy Martin (McDaniels) this time, they were joined by Patt Patterson on steel guitar and Lois Dexter on tenor banjo, Patterson and Dexter were a cowboy act then working in New York. They went on to record for Victor later that month where they recorded “It’s Hard To Leave You Sweet Love” a reprise of “It’s Sad To Leave You Sweetheart” which appears on Volume 1. Following the excellent sales for their Columbia recordings the Carolina Buddies reformed in February 1931 and went back to the studio, this time they were joined by Norman Woodlieff on guitar and vocals and the young Odell Smith on fiddle. Again they told stories about people and places they knew in their songs. Perhaps the best known is “Otto Wood, The Bandit”, a song about a notable criminal of the day from Smith’s home state who was shot down by lawmen in December 1930. This cut was the first to be issued from the session and coupled with “Broken Hearted Lover” was one of Columbia’s best sellers from the hillbilly series. “Otto Wood” would go on to be covered by numerous string bands. Includes informative booklet notes by Tony Russell, full discographical details and illustrations.