by John Hoffman (excerpted from http://www.fieldrecorder.com)
It was the summer of 1959 and a young Peter Hoover, having flunked out of Harvard the summer before, was volunteering at the Library of Congress, transcribing inventory information of aluminum disc recordings made in 1937 of Crockett Ward’s Bog Trotters, from Ballard Branch, Virginia (the original Bog Trotters, consisting of Davey Crockett Ward and his neighbor Alec Dunford on fiddles, Fields Ward, Crockett’s son, playing guitar and singing, and Crockett’s brother Wade Ward often playing the banjo). . Not bad work if you can get it.
It seems the young Mr. Hoover had gotten interested in the traditional music of the southern Appalachian Mountain region over the past couple of years and he was driven to immerse himself in all aspects of this musical genre. In between working as a janitor at a local private school to pay the rent, the 20-year old was hanging around the archive listening to numerous field recordings and engaging in conversations about the music with the director, Rae Korson.
Peter was spending the summer developing a list of favorite old-time music performers as he hatched a plan that would take him on a journey throughout the southern Appalachia region in search of these old-time musicians. Not long after, in the fall of ’59, Peter drove out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania having borrowed his parents 1955 Rambler sedan, his Revere recorder in tow, heading straight for Hillsville, Virginia and the homes of Glen Smith, Wade Ward, and Charlie Higgins.
Over the course of the next five years, Peter would make these summer journeys an annual affair. During this time, Peter recorded musicians in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. After five years, Peter had recorded more than sixty players and singers, all documented on fifty reel-to-reel recordings, copies of which are now deposited in the Library of Congress and the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University in Bloomington. (more…)