Posts Tagged ‘Red Fox Chasers’

“I’m Going Down To North Carolina: The Complete Recordings of The Red Fox Chasers [1928-31]”

May 19, 2012


I’M GOING DOWN TO NORTH CAROLINA – The Complete Recordings Of The Red Fox Chasers 1928-1931 (2 CD SET), Tompkins Square (TSQ2219 )



The Red Fox Chasers began when a bunch of mountain boys from the north-west corner of North Carolina met at the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention in 1928. Fiddler Guy Brooks, banjo picker Paul Miles, guitarist AP Thompson and harmonica player Bob Cranford quickly developed into a solid unit with a wide repertoire of songs and tunes and one big burning ambition – to make records.

Paul Miles fired off letters to Columbia and Victor etc with no luck until Gennett came back with an offer and the boys scooted up to Richmond, Virginia to record a total of 32 sides over three sessions during the next couple of years. Those sides are on this 2CD set alongside 10 songs recorded in 1931 by Cranford and Thompson after the Red Fox Chasers disbanded. The records sold well on Gennett and on their budget labels Champion, Supertone and Conqueror where they were, for some unknown reason, released under pseudonyms such as The Virginia Possum Tamers and The Boone County Entertainers.

This music is classic old-time mountain stuff – minstrel tunes, murder ballads, folk songs, breakdowns, tin pan alley tunes, reels, country gospel and current ‘hits’ learned from the Carter Family, Charlie Poole and the Carolina Tarheels. The band was particularly adept at re-jigging old numbers like Omie Wise, We Shall Meet On That Beautiful Shore and Devilish Mary but they also wrote some notable items like Mountain Sweetheart, Two False Lovers and the Gid Tanner inspired skit Makin’ Licker In North Carolina.

One of their most notable compositions is the ballad Stolen Love which sounds pretty advanced musically, thanks to its beautiful shift in meter between the verse and chorus. In fact, The Red Fox Chasers revelled in their instrumental skills as you’ll hear on numbers like the jumping Mississippi Sawyers with Bob Cranford displaying his amazing technique of playing two harmonicas as the band move from the D part to the A part. They even brought a new twist to the old warhorse Turkey In The Straw with Guy Brooks hot fiddle manoeuvrings and Paul Miles quirky banjo runs making this one of the Chaser’s best selling records.

The CD is completed by the ten sides recorded by Cranford and Thompson in 1931. These are a treasure trove of old-time tunes including murder songs like Pretty Polly, Lula Wall and Murder Of The Lawson Family, the great bad-man ballad Otto Wood and a blissful rendition of the Carter Family masterpiece Sweet Fern.

Up until now The Red Fox Chasers music has been very hard to find so fans will be thrilled that these precious vintage tracks have been painstakingly remastered for Tompkins Square by Grammy Award winning Christopher King – of County and Revenant Charley Patton box fame! And the notes are by that champion of old-timer music Kinney Rorrer. This package is unmissable!