Archive for the ‘DaCosta Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters’ Category

DaCosta Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters

February 14, 2012


The members were banjoist/leader DaCosta Woltz of Galax, VA; fiddler and singer Ben Jarrell (1880-1946) of Round Peak, NC; lead banjoist (and occasional fiddler) Frank Jenkins (1888-c.1945) of Dobson, NC; and Price Goodson (1915-1948), who played ukulele and harmonica but whose chief attraction was his youth: when the group recorded he was only 12 years old.

The four names appeared at the top of the band’s letterhead; further down was the legend “Instrumental Music Suitable For Every Occasion, Vocal – Old Time Southern Melodies”; and between, in an imposing gothic script, was the band’s title: DaCosta Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters. It looked grand, but it was empty bragging: the group never went on radio.

Apparently Woltz saw their recording as the key to extensive touring and broadcasting, and, no doubt, the session as the first of several visits to Gennett’s Richmond, IN studio. None of it was to happen. The Southern Broadcasters’ recorded legacy was the 18 songs and tunes cut in three days in Richmond May5-7, 1927. Some were moderately successful but most of the discs are scarce: for many years the only copies of “Roving Cowboy” and “Jack of Diamonds” in collectors’ hands were barely listenable, and no copy of Jenkins’ banjo solo “Baptist Shout” had been recovered at all.  The complete recorded works of the Southern Broadcasters can be purchased through (which also includes the complete works of Frank Jenkins’ Pilot Mountaineers).

Although Ben Jarrell never recorded again, Frank Jenkins went on to record with his influential band Frank Jenkins’ Pilot Mountaineers, which included him on fiddle, his son Oscar Jenkins on banjo, and the legendary Ernest V. Stoneman singing and playing guitar. Price Goodson later became a very accomplished fiddler, even placing in an early Galax Fiddler’s Convention, but tragically lost his life at 33.

DaCosta Woltz eventually vanished into obscurity after being elected mayor of Galax and swindling the town. Ben Jarrell and Frank Jenkins would both have their music inherited by their children: Tommy Jarrell and Oscar Jenkins. Tommy went on to record several albums and would become popurlarized for his archaic fiddle and banjo playing and songs distinctive to his Round Peak home. Oscar, although never heralded as Tommy was, gained attention for his eccentric banjo style which completely left out the drone string and focused more on rhythmatic chords played all up and down the neck of the banjo.