Showing posts with label Ulster-Scots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ulster-Scots. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 January 2011

St Saviour's Parish Church, Craigavon - 17th Annual Evening of Music & Praise - Friday 11th Feb 2011 @ 8.00pm

This is our next diary date, taking Ulster-Scots flavoured gospel music to County Armagh! Also taking part are soloists George Walker (Lurgan) and Phillis Corrigan (Armagh), with a group called Accordion Sounds (who we think are made up from members of the excellent Pride of the Birches Accordion Band). Pastor Simon Richardson of Craigavon Baptist Church will be there too. Supper is provided. As Joe Murphy says, Craigavon is the land of "magic roundabouts", and the church is just off roundabout no. 3. Here's the church website.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

GospelFest and Portstewart!

We've had a brilliant weekend, firstly up at Portstewart Town Hall on a sunny Friday night for John Morrison's annual radio ministry concert - he broadcasts all over Ireland on independent stations like Radio North. Also performing were the trio 'Justified' and Martin Moore. We also bumped into Mark Carmichael and Soul Purpose who were in the audience. The following evening we were at GospelFest near Banbridge with Live Issue. Both venues were packed to the doors, about 350 people in attendance each night. We played more or less the same 10-song selection on both evenings and had a great time meeting old faces and getting to know new ones forbye. Some folk even came to see us on both evenings, and one couple we spoke to had driven all the way from Buckna to Banbridge. Thanks to John for inviting us up to Portstewart, and to Roy, Colin, Sam, Sam and Carl from Live Issue for making us part of their evening - we even joined them onstage for a few old classic gospel medleys! Next Sunday evening (29th August) we'll be at the People's Hall in Portavogie, and the following Friday night back up to Porstewart again. We're in for a busy Autumn, but we're enjoying these opportunities to play, to meet folk and to present the simple gospel message of Jesus.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Castlereagh St Andrews Night - Mon 30th Nov!


Here's a cutting from the current Castlereagh Borough Council Arts Programme! Should be a good night - but to reassure you all there's no way Graeme and I will be wearing kilts! (click to enlarge).

Also appearing are Noel McMaster, Brenda Stewart and the Bright Lights Highland Dancers - and a few others still being lined up.

Tickets cost £3 (or £1.50 for groups of 5 or more people) and can be booked via telephone 028 9049 4566 or email ConorMaguire@castlereagh.gov.uk

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Demos and Dates

(You might know of us from our time with the Low Country Boys from February 2002 - December 2007. This is what we're doing now)

Right, so when's this album coming out? Well, we've recorded 16 demos and they're sounding okay, so we'll probably refine the arrangements and harmonies a wee bit more. The options are then to either a) take the usual route and book a recording studio or b) try something different - like record them all live in a wee hall somewhere with a single microphone. That might be more interesting, and authentic!

We definitely want to capture a primitive old-timey, lo-fi, mission hall sound, and something that's true to our live sound, rather than some perfectly-produced highly-polished and maybe slightly sterile thing.

Any other dates coming up? Yes, plenty! Full list of Autumn dates will be added sometime soon once we've firmed them up - keep checking back!
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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Blue Sky Boys {1936 - 1948 / 1962 - 1975}

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[We play the Blue Sky Boys' song It's G.L.O.R.Y. to Know I'm S.A.V.E.D.. They first recorded it in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday 5 February 1940]


THE BLUE SKY BOYS were Earl Bolick (1919 - 1998) and Bill Bolick (1917 - 2008) from the town of East Hickory, North Carolina. Their ancestors had emigrated from Germany to America and the family was of Lutheran heritage, but were members of a Church of God (Anderson, Indiana branch) congregation. The brothers learned hymns from their father from hymnals such as "Reformation Glory".

• Signed to RCA Victor records in 1936
• First recording 16 June 1936 (10 tracks, the first of which was I'm Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail)
• Recorded 100 tracks from 1936 - 1941
• They served in the US Army from 1941 - 1946
• Stopped recording in 1948 and retired from music in 1951

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REFERENCES:
“…we did practically all the numbers with the mandolin and guitar…” (ref. Bluegrass p 34)

“…intricate yet simple harmonies, their perfectly matching voices, and their unadorned mandolin and guitar instrumental backing set them off from the competition, so much so that two generations of subsequent duet singers echo them, some without realizing it…”
(Ref. Answers.com entry)

“…This hillbilly brother act was a major influence on both the Louvins and the Everly Brothers, playing guitar and mandolin-backed mountain songs with simple harmonies. Their perfectly matched voices blended together with seamless beauty, creating a gut-wrenchingly forlorn sound…” (Ref. www.Real.com entry)

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DISCOGRAPHY:
Partial Blue Sky Boys discography available in Country Music Records, a Discography 1921 - 1942 by Tony Russell, p 113-114

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BUY:
The Sunny Side of Life 5 CD box set with book (123 tracks)
Blue Sky Boys music on Amazon.co.uk

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VISIT:
• Slipcue.com article and discography
• Independent newspaper obituary for Bill Bolick
• Wikipedia entry

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WATCH:
Two Youtube clips: Down on the Banks of the Ohio and No Disappointment in Heaven:



Sunday, 12 October 2008

The Monroe Brothers {1936 - 1938}

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[We play the Monroe Brothers' song What Would the Profit Be. They first recorded it in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday 15 February 1937]


THE MONROE BROTHERS were Charlie Monroe (1903 – 1975) and Bill Monroe (1911 – 1996) from the town of Rosine, Kentucky. They were arguably the most important of all of the guitar/mandolin brother duet acts of the 20th century.

They were raised in the rural Baptist and Methodist churches (ref. Bluegrass p 28) and began playing semi professionally in 1929.

• Signed to RCA Victor records in 1936
• First recording 17 February 1936 (10 tracks, the first of which was My Long Journey Home)
• Recorded 60 tracks for Victor Bluebird records
• Last recording 28 January 1938 (10 tracks, the last of which was When Our Lord Shall Come Again)
• Hit single What Would You Give in Exchange For Your Soul? (Bluebird B-6309)
• Disbanded 1938
• Bill went on to form Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys in 1945, inventing the new musical style called bluegrass.

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REFERENCES:
“…Until the mid 1960s Monroe used only guitar and mandolin accompaniment on religious songs… all emphasis was placed on the total performance of the song in a reverent and ritualistic way; this is the hymn, it’s treated seriously…”
(ref. Bluegrass p 236-237)

“…music sprang from ancient Scots-Irish culture transplanted to the Appalachians, where it blossomed as a traditional folk art…”
(Ref. Can’t You Hear Me Callin p 4)

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DISCOGRAPHY:
Full Monroe Brothers discography available in Country Music Records, a Discography 1921 - 1942 by Tony Russell, p 632-633

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BUY:
Monroe Brothers music on Amazon.co.uk
• Rounder Records Volume I "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?
• Rounder Records Volume II "Just a Song of Old Kentucky"

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WATCH:
Here are three YouTube clips of Bill Monroe: his intro sequence from the classic 1994 film High Lonesome / in his later years playing the tune My Last Days on Earth / a short history video about his life:







As the Mac Wiseman voiceover on the first clip says (at about 5.20) "...Across the South - Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, descendants of Scotch-Irish settlers played songs brought from across the sea. Old tunes like Soldier's Joy, Fair and Tender Ladies and Billy in the Low Ground rang through Appalachia as they had done for centuries in the British Isles..."

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VISIT:
http://www.billmonroe.com

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Friday, 10 October 2008

The McCravy Brothers {1925 - 1935}

[ Graeme and I learned the two McCravy Brothers songs below while we were at Carrowdore Mission Hall Sunday School during the 1970s and 1980s. These were on an old 78 that belonged to our Aunt Rhoda. I can remember performing these at the Christmas "Social" and prizegiving ]

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THE McCRAVY BROTHERS - Frank and James McCravy - were from Laurens, South Carolina. Their father was the local sheriff. It had also been the home of President Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the USA and one of the many Presidents of Ulster-Scots descent.

They began singing shortly after Jim graduated from Furman University - Frank also served for two years in the General Assembly of South Carolina. In their 1933 book "Album of Fireside Songs" it says "...they offer sentimental modern spirituals and semi-religious songs. They sing no 'Hot' tunes or 'Low-Down stuff'...".

• First recording February 1925 for Okeh Records (6 tracks, the first of which was One of God's Days)
• Recorded hundreds of tracks, often under pseudonyms such as the Lonesome Pine Twins, Austin Brothers, Al & Joe Blackburn, Cox & Campbell and The Mack Brothers
• Stopped recording in 1935 (last track was My Mother's Evening Prayer, Jan 29 1935)

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DISCOGRAPHY:
Partial McCravy Brothers discography available in Country Music Records, a Discography 1921 - 1942 by Tony Russell, p 531-538

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BUY:
Old Time Harmony Singing 21 track CD from Venerable Music
Mountain Gospel 4 CD box set (includes 4 McCravy Brothers songs) from Amazon.co.uk

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WATCH/LISTEN:

The Glorious Gospel Train (October 1931 - Decca 18040):


Does this Train go to Heaven? (October 1931 - Decca 18040):


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The original Low Country Boys - CDs

If you have either of these CDs - Gran Time Comin (2005) and Sangs O Bairns an Hame (2006), then you'll be familiar with our music already. You may even have seen us in concert or on TV over the years, or in many of the YouTube videos that are still online. Mark and Graeme were the "frontmen" and lead vocalists of the original Low Country Boys, but we left around December 2007. We are no longer with the Low Country Boys. Some folks have gone to see the current Low Country Boys line-up expecting us to be there - we apologise for any confusion and perhaps disappointment.

However, if you liked our vocal style and the guitar/mandolin sound, and the bluegrass gospel Ulster-Scots and Ulster-American influence, then you'll like what we now do as "The Thompson Brothers". Stay in touch!



Thanks to everyone who's come along. We'll open our meeting with the words of...

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(You might know of us from our time with the Low Country Boys from February 2002 - December 2007. This is what we're doing now)

CAN YOU RECALL a time when gospel music was simple? Following on from the transAtlantic spiritual revivals of the mid 1800s and early 1900s, congregations of people gathered together to worship in small wooden-floored halls all across Scotland, Ulster and America. Their music was sung from well-worn hymn books with soft yellowed pages. Everyone, young and old, knew the words and sang with passion. Their hymns were simple, scriptural and tuneful, accompanied by the old pump organ. Sometimes a local singer or group would bring a message in song - with instinctive untaught harmonies and a guitar.

That's the world the two of us grew up in - rural, Ulster-Scots and evangelical. It's a world that's getting more and more difficult to find today. Only a few people know Bringing in the Sheaves or are Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, are wondering Does Jesus Care? or are looking forward to My Ain Countrie and The Sweet Bye and Bye.

But even in today's global economic "credit crunch", there are parallels with the similar crash of the 1920s when this old music was first recorded - an era that inspired Hank Williams' Wealth Won't Save Your Soul, and the Carter Family's I'm Going Where there's No Depression.
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Some of the earliest recorded gospel music in the world was performed by "brother duets" during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Many of them stepped out of their rural evangelical lives and into recording studios with just a guitar, a mandolin and their voices - making records that are still available today, and that take you back in time like nothing else can do. No fancy equipment, no overdubs or mixing, no reverb or showy effects. Just voices, instruments and sincerity.


Background:

Some of you will know us from the "Low Country Boys", where we had an amazing and unexpected amount of success, recording two bestselling CDs and playing many concerts across Ulster, Scotland (such as the Fraserburgh Gospel Music Convention in 2006) and the USA (at the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC). We had quite a few radio and television appearances too.


Nowadays:

Now we're doing our best to do something similar, but simpler - the "brother duet" tradition. We're very aware of how limited our musical ability is and we have no big ambitions or rock star fantasies! What we do is simple, stripped-back and hopefully enjoyable. Thankfully, the people who have seen us play have really enjoyed it (see short article here).


Free Music!

Everything we do is free. When we start recording some songs we'll make them all available as free downloads. And we play live for free too - lots of people have been in touch with us and we're considering a number of interesting offers. We prefer wee halls and small, intimate concerts rather than anything too fancy.

We hope you enjoy this site and that it helps you learn more about the heritage of gospel music and the "brother duets" tradition. We hope that what we do will inspire you to rediscover the wonderful old gospel music that our parents and grandparents were raised on. Throw out the powerpoint and get some oul hymn books!

Mark & Graeme Thompson
Northern Ireland, November 2008



Pic below - inside the People's Hall, Portavogie.
Here's a short article about the similarity of the small churches of Ulster and Appalachia.
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Sunday, 21 September 2008

Bangor Abbey Ulster-Scots Evening, Sat 11 October

My friend Gifford Savage has tempted Graeme and I out of our musical semi-retirement to play at this event in a few weeks time. A few years ago Gifford and I worked on the redesign of the Abbey's historical book, which was a real pleasure.

Bangor Abbey is an amazing building with a wonderful Ulster-Scots heritage. It will be an honour to play at such a significant venue - I wonder how old-time mission hall gospel music will sound in such a place! It will also feature a re-enactment of the life of Sir James Hamilton, which will be interesting as he is buried under the Abbey floor!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Keeping the Tradition

Content coming soon...

The Bailie Brothers

Content coming soon...

The Dixon Brothers

Content coming soon...

The McReynolds Brothers

Content coming soon...

The Stanley Brothers

Content coming soon...

The Delmore Brothers

Content coming soon...

The Louvin Brothers

Content coming soon...

The Bailes Brothers {1945 - 1949}

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[We're currently rehearsing a number of Bailes Brothers songs]

THE BAILES BROTHERS were four, not just two, brothers. Kyle, Johnnie, Walter and Homer were all born between 1915 and 1922 in Charlestown, West Virginia. Their father - Homer Abraham Bailes - was a carpenter, teacher and Baptist preacher. He died in 1925 and the boys were raised by their widowed mother, Nannie Ellen.

• First performed on local radio in 1937
• First recording session February 17 1945 (10 tracks, including their famous Dust on the Bible)
• Became "Grand Ole Opry" stars, along with Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe
• Other famous tracks include Whiskey is the Devil in Liquid Form and We're Living in the Last Days Now
• Published a songbook which sold 175,000 copies
• Final recording session was in 1947, and included Come to the Saviour
• After the original band broke up in 1949, various combinations of the brothers recorded albums right up to 1977 when they reunited

Many Ulster gospel singers during the 20th Century recorded the Bailes Brothers' song Read Romans Ten and Nine - without ever telling the Ulster population where they had got the song from. This is one of the great cultural tragedies of the gospel music world in Northern Ireland - we have a wonderful musical heritage, but no-one told the next generation about the origins of the songs.

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BUY:
417XJA4A7GL._SL500_AA240_.jpg• The best Bailes Brothers CD is Oh So Many Years, Bear Family Records, 2002. It contains all 28 of their Columbia Records recordings - buy it on Amazon.co.uk


RememberMe-300w.jpgRemember Me: Bill Malone and Rod Moag play the music of the Bailes Brothers - click here to buy

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REFERENCES:
• "...the lyrical content of their songs, especially their sacred material, was some of the best of the period, and the full-volume, open-throated singing, coupled with their sincere personalities, delivered something very special that's still revered by those who remember them. Their musical style bridged the gap between the old-time brother duets, the mainstream country music of the day, and whta would eventually become known as bluegrass..." (from the booklet for Oh So Many Years.)

• "...The Bailes Brothers, usually performing in combinations of two, were one of the most popular harmony duets during the middle and late 1940’s. Their deeply emotional, sincere singing style and original song lyrics contributed to their lasting popularity..." from the Birthplace of Country Music website

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LINKS:
CMT Biography of the Bailes Brothers
White Dove Records / email: whitedovebmi@aol.com
• Biography on Oldies.com - click here
• Biography in the Encyclopaedia of American Gospel Music, p 22-23: click here

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