by Kerry Blech (Old Time Herald, volume 6, number 5)
The Stripling Brothers – Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 and 2, 1928-1936
From the very first time I heard a tune played by one of Alabama’s best musical exports, The Stripling Brothers, I was totally enamored. It was so long ago, that I can’t now place the time or place, but it probably was on an LP anthology. Not long afterwards, County Records issued their wonderful set of Stripling Brothers fiddle and guitar duets. Eventually I obtained a discography and learned that they had 42 sides issued commercially (on the Vocalion and Decca labels) in toto. Thus started a search that took years to complete-my own quest for the grail-finding all the Stripling recordings.
I found a few 78s, but primarily I traded tapes with 78 collectors until I had all but a couple in my collection, in various media formats. I pooled resources with Joyce Cauthen a few years ago and I finally had the complete recordings of the Striplings, after 20 years of searching. It was about that time that Joyce told me that she would be writing the liner notes for a CD reissue of the entire Stripling commercial output. Rather than being disheartened or depressed by my seemingly wasted effort, I was overjoyed that all their material would be found in a more permanent medium, and placed on two compact discs, the better for all to behold.
As many of you now know, Document, led by Johnny Parth, is methodically issuing complete works CDs of old-time music artists. As of this writing, they have 28 CDs for sale. It is a valuable service to researchers, discographers, and fans of the so-called “Golden Age of Old-Time Music” (or “first golden Age” as some might have it). With the Stripling set, they have made easily obtainable some of the finest fiddling ever committed to shellac.
The Striplings were talented enough and sold well enough that they had a longer recording career than most of their contemporaries. Lasting from late 1928 through early 1936, they kept their careers going through the teeth of the Depression, and all this with only two vocal numbers, the rest being instrumentals. Charlie Stripling (1896-1966) was one of the great old-time fiddlers, with myriad contest championships under his belt. (more…)