Greenback Dollar
I first heard Clarence "Tom" Ashley's music, like most people, after I'd been introduced to Doc Watson and was seeking out his recordings. These included, I learned, a couple of Folkways albums called Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley's, eventually reissued in a two-CD, expanded edition in the 1990s on Smithsonian/Folkways. I thought of Ashley as, of course, a fine musician, but more as an older mentor to the younger Watson. In later years, hearing the occasional Ashley cut on anthologies of 1920s/30s old-time music, I began to realize that he was more than that. So this long-overdue Ashley-only reissue of his early recordings is both welcome and revelatory. You might almost say close to overwhelming: here are 20 songs in the deep-Appalachian tradition, performed by one of the masters, solo or in the company of other gifted musicians. There are the songs from the Anglo/Celtic tradition -- "Coo Coo Bird," "House Carpenter," "Rude and Rambling Man" -- and the not-so-familiar versions of native American ballads, lyric songs, and blues. The blues are a particular delight. I did not fully appreciate just what an accomplished blues singer Ashley was, putting the lie (yet again) to the canard that a white man can't sing the blues. Among them are the gleefully raunchy "Farm Girl Blues" and the forlorn "Drunk Man Blues", both performed with harmonica player/guitarist Gwen Foster. Ashley's readings of the murder ballads "Naomi Wise" and "Old John Hardy" are more intense, more explicitly violent than most versions, and intensely affecting. This is a CD awash in stirring and unforgettable performances, and not a boring or mediocre moment is to be had. Ashley was a giant, and this lovingly fashioned reissue does him all the justice he deserves. - Jerry Clark
Greenback Dollar: 1929-1933 - Released February 27, 2001

    Track Listing
  1. Little Sadie - Clarence Ashley - 2:53
  2. Greenback Dollar - Ashley & Foster - 3:05
  3. Frankie Silvers - Byrd Moore & His Hot Shots - 3:16
  4. Coo Coo Bird - Clarence Ashley - 2:57
  5. Rude & Rambling Man - Carolina Tar Heels - 3:18
  6. Baby All Night Long - Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers - 2:47
  7. Drunk Man Blues - Ashley & Foster - 3:07
  8. House Carpenter - Clarence Ashley - 3:15
  9. My Sweet Farm Girl - Ashley & Foster - 3:04
  10. Short Life Of Trouble - Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers - 2:46
  11. You Are A Little To Small - Carolina Tar Heels - 3:03
  12. Old John Hardy - Clarence Ashley - 3:25
  13. Corrina Corrina - Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers - 3:03
  14. Sadie Ray - Ashley & Foster - 3:11
  15. 3 Men Went A Huntin' - Byrd Moore & His Hot Shots - 2:39
  16. Naomi Wise - Clarence Ashley - 2:53
  17. Haunted Road Blues - Ashley & Foster - 3:10
  18. Train Done Left Me - Carolina Tar Heels - 3:30
  19. Dark Holler - Clarence Ashley - 2:57
  20. Times Ain't Like They Used To Be - Ashley & Foster - 2:57

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