Sunday, February 24, 2019

KFW Artist Enrichment Grant: Audio Odes to Mamaws

Box of blank cassettes from Ruby's archiving efforts
One of the primary ongoing goals of the Reedy documentary project is to recognize the contributions that Timi's Mamaw Frances Reedy made to Bluegrass music when most of the work that she and her husband John produced was listed under his name. Similarly, Tammy's Mamaw Ruby Clemons created an extensive library of original music, lyrics, and self-recorded cassette tapes before she passed away. We were both extremely fortunate to grow up with families who documented their musical endeavors and with insightful grandmothers who knew enough to keep these treasures. This is why we are committed to honoring them through feminist counter-storytelling and to sharing their stories with more diverse audiences. 

We were recently awarded a 2018 Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant for professional development to strengthen our audio skills and purchase high-quality equipment to create new audio pieces about our grandmothers’ unsung talents and enduring legacies. This grant also funded a one-year SoundChannel subscription to online audio production training content offered by the Women’s Audio Mission, a non-profit organization that focuses on "advancing women and girls in music production and the recording arts." We will both work on audio productions about each of our Mamaws, and we plan to incorporate material from oral history interviews as well as other archival audio recordings that they produced themselves into these new productions.  

Timi plans to produce a spoken-word audio piece to inaugurate a series of related poems that she is developing called, "Mamaw Says..." She has several works-in-progress, and she has one complete piece that she wrote during a spoken-word workshop with the Louisville-based Roots & Wings collective. 

Timi and Frances Reedy, ca. 1977-1978
Tammy and Ruby Clemons, March 31, 1978

Tammy plans to produce a short audio piece about her Mamaw as her primary creative inspiration and benefactor, and her cassette tape archive of original gospel songs that she recently rescued. Tammy has a working script and plans to digitize and incorporate some analog audio as well as an excerpt from an interview that was included in an oral history project about quilting.

With this project, we want to develop further in the audio medium that both of our ancestors explored musically, and we also want to use it in new ways in terms of form, content, and technology. In addition to their personal value, our Mamaws’ stories are important to women’s history in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and to the histories of country and Bluegrass music. One goal of this work is to show (aurally) how women have innovated artistically and technologically, even in spite of their own disclaimers or stereotypes about women or the region. We are grateful for the feminist artistic support that KFW has provided for this project as well as for women artists throughout Kentucky.

(11 March 2019 3:00 pm)


We recently posted a couple of one-minute "pitches" for our projects on SoundCloud. We basically used the brief summaries that we included in our KFW proposal (and this post) as our scripts. Then we recorded them and layered the voice-over with fire crackling sounds from our wood stove, which gave them an old vinyl record sound.

P.S. These project trailers were inspired by a "Make & Share" requirement for an online KQED Teach Course on "Podcasting for Youth Radio" that Tammy is taking.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

"Jonah" & the Reedys on "An Old Revival Meeting"

We love to discover references to the Reedys and their music, including DJ's who include them in their radio programs or podcasts. One such discovery is Ivy Sheppard's "Born in the Mountain" podcast "An Old Revival Meeting" and an hour-long episode of "obscure gospel" from June 2017 that included a Reedy track.

Near the end of Episode 27*, Ivy plays the Reedys' 1962 EP 45 recording of "Jonah" (Starday SEP 209). She introduces it by saying, "We'll head out to Harlan, Kentucky now and take a listen to John Reedy and his Stone Mountain Hillbillies. Uncle Mike... This one's for you."

The Reedys recorded this track as "John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio," so it seems Ivy is familiar enough with their work to know another "nom de plume" that they played/recorded under. Interestingly, neither Frances or John Reedy sing lead vocals on "Jonah," which instead is robustly sung by their long-time friend and frequent collaborator Jimmy Murphy with Frances singing amazing backup vocals on the chorus.

* Cue the player to 43:58 min. to listen to "Jonah" (Starday SEP 209), otherwise podcast plays from the beginning

Ivy is a musician, DJ, record collector/aficionado, and preservationist based in North Carolina, and her podcast is just one of numerous projects that she spearheads. She is an inspiring young woman who demonstrates her creativity and leadership in Bluegrass by integrating analog/digital media and tradition/innovation. We're really pleased to learn about her work and her inclusion of Frances and John Reedy (and Jimmy Murphy) among her podcast playlists of "good ol’ gospel you’re not likely to hear anywhere else."

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Re(e)Discovery: "Climbing the Stairway to Heaven"

We recently discovered a new digital post of "Climbing the Stairway to Heaven," one of four songs on a 1961 Reedy 45 rpm recording (SEP 179) on the Starday label. The artist credit is listed as "John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio," but the record features Frances Reedy on vocals. The video title lists her name as it is commonly misspelled as "Francis Reedy," which is likely why we did not come across it sooner.

This record is included on the Reedy's commercial discography and was archived and digitized in the Berea College Special Collections and Archives as part of our Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship in 2009. Thanks to Mister Honky Tonk for sharing this recording, which we've also added to our "Rebel Reedy Radio" playlist on YouTube.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Audio Archives & Radio Races

Tammy recently rescued a significant portion of her Mamaw's cassette archive of original gospel music to move it to a more climate-controlled environment. It will be a while before we can organize and digitize the tapes, but we have been thinking about audio a lot lately. 

Tammy's Mamaw Ruby May Kidd Clemons' Cassette Archive Vol. 1

In fact, we recently decided to participate in KCRW's 2018 24-Hour Radio Race with our friend Robert Rorrer as Team OM Radio. We produced a 4-minute audio piece in response to the theme, "The New Normal," which we received the moment the 24-hour race officially started. We managed to mention both of our Mamaws in the brief segment that largely centers on the topics of audio and self-documentation.

We had a great time winging it for a last-minute audio production project on "The New Normal?" and hope to participate again next year. We also hope both our Mamaws would be proud, even of such documentation of our silliness!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Digital Storytelling Salutations & Citations

We previously wrote about the publication of an article we wrote for the scholarly journal Visual Ethnography. We recently discovered that Natalie Underberg-Goode, who edited and wrote the introduction for the special journal edition, included a reference to our paper and the Reedy documentary project in another scholarly article on "Digital Storytelling for Heritage Across Media" (2017:112).

Screenshot of paragraph about the Reedy documentary project in
"Digital Storytelling for Heritage Across Media" (Source: Google Books)

Screenshot of Reedy and Clemons bibliographic reference in
"Digital Storytelling for Heritage Across Media" (Source: Google Books)

We are very pleased and honored to learn that the Reedy documentary project is a useful example for "digital storytelling for heritage" that has been shared with a wider audience of museum and archives professionals in this publication. Thanks to Dr. Underberg-Goode for including part of our story in hers!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Retro Reedys Making Friends with Facebook

It's hard to believe that we started this documentary blog in 2009. After gathering some feedback from our blog poll and informal conversations, we finally decided to create a Facebook page for the "Remembering the Reedys" documentary project. We had some misgivings about Facebook overtaking the focus of the media content, research, and commentary featured on the original blog site. However, we ultimately value and want to participate in the social media networks and potential for sharing the Reedys' story with new audiences.

On April 6, the day after we launched new page, we were thinking about Frances, who passed away more than a decade ago. We still miss her every day, and we're so grateful that other people love and remember Frances and John Reedy and the contributions they made to their families, region, and music history. Feel free to share this page with other friends, family, and fans... but remember to return to this documentary blog for the most recent updates and new media content. You can like and share on Facebook below without even leaving this site.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ralph Stanley Radio Interview Refers to Reedys

We continue finding and receiving new treasures and feedback related to Frances and John Reedy. We recently learned that their rendition of the song "Oh Death" and its influence on the Stanley Brothers' version of the song is documented in a new digital audio recording and a book that was published in 2015.

We have mentioned the Reedys' recording of "Oh Death" in several previous posts, and thanks to the important work of historian Gary B. Reid, we have discovered more documentation of their background role for the Stanley Brothers' recording of the song. He recently shared an amazing archival recording that he agreed we could post. "I thought you might like the attached audio track. It's Ralph Stanley as a guest on 'The Sound of Bluegrass' radio show that was hosted by Frank Godbey in Columbus, Ohio. The date of the program is September 9, 1967. In any event, Frank asked Ralph where he learned the song 'Oh Death.'"

"We learned this song from a feller called John Reedy. He was a, him and his wife, they sang all gospel songs. They were from Harlan, Kentucky, but I think now they're probably around Dayton, Ohio." Frank responds by dedicating the song to the Reedys, saying that they might be within the broadcast reach of the station, WMNI FM. "Let's play this one for the Reedys in case they're listenin'." Timi said that her Mamaw and Papaw were already living back in Kentucky by 1967, so they likely did not hear this dedication.

Frank Godbey is well-known as a Bluegrass musician and expert aficionado, and he and his late wife Marty wrote a number of articles for Bluegrass Unlimited and other publications. He also published a cumulative index of Bluegrass Unlimited, and he is renown as the moderator of BGRASS-L, an internet bluegrass music discussion list founded in 1992. In an archived post from the list-serve, Godbey notes, "In the Summer of 1967 I had a radio show on WMNI-FM, Columbus Ohio", which is the station he identifies in the recording. Apparently he lives in Lexington and is still active as a musician in his current band, Southland Drive.

On the recording, Godbey invites the Reedys to come to Chatauqua Park the next day. According to the Cincinnati-Dayton Bluegrass Heritage list of organizations* compiled by Russell “Mac” McDivitt with help from Fred Barenstein, "The first annual Chatauqua Bluegrass Festival on September 10, 1967 headlined Ralph Stanley with Larry Sparks singing lead, Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Don Reno and Bill Harrell, Jim McCall and Earl Taylor, Moon Mullins and the Valley Ramblers, the Moore Brothers, and the Cornhuskers." An online track list of Bill Monroe's set at the concert shows that he played John Reedy's gospel song, "Somebody Touched Me." The Reedys are also included on the Cincinnati-Dayton Bluegrass Heritage list of individuals who were influential in the development of the Bluegrass music scene in Dayton and Cincinnati. While the listing is indexed under his name, Frances is included in the reference: "From Harlan County, Kentucky, John Reedy and his wife Frances appeared on radio in Harlan, Kentucky, for many years and became well-known for their bluegrass gospel recordings."

We also found a new reference to Frances and John's version of "Oh Death" in a book chapter entitled, "'Won't You Spare Me Over till Another Year?': Ralph Stanley's Late Voice" in The Late Voice: Time, Age and Experience in Popular Music (2015) by Richard Elliott. The chapter includes an entire section dedicated to the song, which references John but not Frances who actually sang the iconic vocals on their 1961 Starday recording (SEP 166). "When the Stanley Brothers recorded 'Oh Death' in 1964 for the Starday label, they also provided a surprisingly uptempo rendition. But their version, which seems to have been sourced from fellow Starday artist John Reedy, is a changed song, with fewer of the 'Chandler' verses and the addition of the new refrain: 'won't you spare me over till another year, which they or Reedy may have learned from black gospel or spiritual versions." (Elliot 2015:77)

As Gary Reid helped confirm, the 1964 recording referenced in Elliott's book was actually recorded on the King label (LP-918) instead of Starday (although the Stanley Brothers did make numerous recordings on the Nashville label).

It is always good to see the Reedys' influence as founding Bluegrass musicians acknowledged in archival documentation and contemporary scholarship. We are ever grateful to Gary Reid for sharing an important piece of radio history that connects John Reedy (and Frances as his wife) to the Stanley Brothers' famous recording of "Oh Death." Because John Reedy is still emphasized in most references, even when Frances is responsible for the vocal work under discussion, we continue the work of naming her and her contributions within a male-dominated musical tradition. We are also interested in further exploration of the direct connections that Frances and John may have had with African American churches and musicians. It is increasingly clear that their music and that of their contemporaries drew upon (and likely collaborated with) African American spiritual and gospel traditions in ways that were not always publicly acknowledged.

* The Cincinnati-Dayton Bluegrass Heritage website used to be known as the Bgrass, Inc. Heritage List and was hosted by the Miami University of Ohio.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Visual Ethnography in Appalachia

Last year, we were invited to submit an article for peer-reviewed publication in a special issue of Visual Ethnography on “Exploring Digital Ethnography through Embodied Perspective, Role-Playing and Community Participation and Design.” We're proud to say that our article, "Audiovisualizing Family History: An Authoethnography of a Digital Documentary," was recently published! While the full article is not available online without a subscription, the Visual Ethnography website includes the abstract and an image of Frances and John Reedy.

Here is the complete abstract: This article discusses issues of collaboration and voice in the ongoing production of a multimedia and multimodal documentary project about Frances and John Reedy from Harlan, Kentucky, their cyclical migration from Appalachia to Ohio, and their extensive musical recordings and contributions to the founding of Bluegrass music. The authors share insights about the educational purpose and process of producing a personal and public documentary in relation to digital design and community scholarship, family history and counterstorytelling, and memory and representation. Selected multimedia content from the documentary website are featured as examples of the Reedys’ self-documentation practices and how they relate to the collaborative documentary process and productions.

Visual Ethnography is an international scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal focusing on research about “1) the production and use of images and audio-visual media in the socio-cultural practices; 2) digital cultures; 3) contemporary art and anthropology; 4) anthropology of art; 5) vision and gaze; 6) senses and culture; 7) objects, design, architecture and anthropology; 8) bodies and places in an anthropological perspective; 9) theories and methods in anthropology.” 

Thanks to Dr. Natalie Underberg-Goode, the editor of the special issue, for inviting us to write about our project for a new audience. The table of contents and Dr. Underberg-Goode's complete introduction to the special issue are available online from the Visual Ethnography website.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Barkley Marathons Documentary on Netflix

We celebrated Frances Reedy's New Year's Eve birthday on Saturday, December 31, 2016 by finally watching the documentary, The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young. We've previously written about the film and our correspondence with the filmmakers who decided to include a cover of Frances' song "I Feel Jesus" in the closing credits. 

Screenshot (1:29:10 min.) from the closing credits of The Barkley Marathons documentary
We were excited to see that the documentary is now featured on Netflix, so anyone else with an account can watch it too, which we highly recommend. The film is a fascinating, humorous, and heart-wrenching chronicle of the 2012 Barkley Marathons, its eccentric founder, and some of the people who undertake what is one of the most difficult trail races in the world. This brief trailer doesn't include Frances' song, but it offers enough intriguing detail to entice folks to watch the complete film.

Overall, The Barkley Marathons is a well-made and entertaining documentary about an unusual annual event that takes place in Appalachian Tennessee. People from all over the world apply for one of 40 spots to compete in the 60-hour, 100-mile wilderness trek competition. The individual stories of the marathon founder and the people who undertake the grueling challenge are powerful and compelling examples of how much the human spirit and body can aspire to, endure, and sometimes miraculously achieve.

Our main critique was that the film focuses primarily on male voices, and the couple of women who participate barely have any speaking role at all. This is a significant omission in light of the film's focus on the way the race comprises layer upon layer of difficulty, all of which are consciously implemented to confound and compound the complexity of participation from beginning (i.e., finding out how to apply) to end (e.g., the 3-lap "Fun Run," the full 5-lap course, or worse... not finishing at all). So to ignore gender as such an obvious additional layer of difficulty for female participants diminishes the richness of the primary narrative. 

Gender was also an important factor in the record-breaking success of a two-time finisher and the winner of the 2012 race, whose family camped out at the park where the race takes place. Both his mother and wife were diligent and reliable caregivers who constantly fed, nursed, and encouraged him during his brief pit-stops between laps. That said, we were particularly inspired by the story of the graduate student who finished the entire course his first time participating. He achieved his own record-breaking distinction by finishing the closest to the 60-hour time limit for the race. In contrast to the winner, he didn't have a family support network pampering him between laps, but it was amazing to see many of the people who had already dropped out of the race providing him with crucial aid before he began his fifth and final lap.

We really enjoyed The Barkley Marathons and hope other folks will take time to watch it. We thought that Frances' song "I Feel Jesus" was a fitting song to end this unique film about a one-of-a-kind ritual in the Appalachian region. Happy birthday, Frances Reedy, we miss you!

p.s. We also discovered that the version of the song that was included on the soundtrack (recorded by Anna and Elizabeth as "Ooh My My") is finally available online. Happy New Year to all!

(24 June 2018 4:30 pm)

We recently realized that The Barkley Marathons has rotated off the current set of Netflix offerings (in North America, anyway). However, it is available to stream through Amazon Prime Video and can be purchased and downloaded from both iTunes and Google Play. They even have a page for how to apply to "Make-Your-Own Theatrical Screening."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Labor Day at Howard Brothers

When we first began digitizing and archiving Frances Reedy's music and memorabilia collection in 2009, there were several items that we were not able to identify their content or origin. For example, this news clipping advertising a concert featuring the Bluegrass Drifters and John Reedy and the Stone Mountain Trio included only the general location with no city, and the month and day without the year.

We recently discovered (through that the announcement was published on page 8 of the August 31, 1975 issue of The Corbin Times-Tribune. The concert was part of a larger newspaper advertisement and promotion of a Labor Day sale at the Howard Brothers Discount Store in Corbin, Kentucky. Timi was almost 12 years old at the time, and while she doesn't remember this concert in particular, she said she was likely there with her grandparents selling 45's in the parking lot. She remembers the Howard Brothers store, which was part of a larger chain of departments stores in the Southeastern US.

The Reedys were playing with the Bluegrass Drifters who were headlining the concert and had released their Bluegrass Covered with Snow LP (Jewel 524) that year. The 1975 album was among the numerous vinyl recordings of other country and Bluegrass artists that Frances collected throughout her and John's musical career and that we donated to the Berea College Sound Archives. We did not digitize many of these additional artists, but we found the entire album and playlist on a bluegrass channel on YouTube that is based in Japan.

Frances and John recorded on the Cincinnati label in 1973 as John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio, which was a 45 of "Little Sparrow" and Frances' song "Tiny Bitty Pieces" (Jewel 1017). So they may have encountered the Bluegrass Drifters through their connection to the Jewel label, but they also could have crossed paths with the band at Renfro Valley. In his book It All Happened in Renfro Valley (1999), Pete Stamper recounts that in the late 1960s "... the Bluegrass Drifters, Renfro Valley's second Bluegrass band, was expanding its role on the show. They would establish themselves as a permanent fixture in one way or the other for a long time to come. The group included lead singer/guitar player John Cosby; Bill Ferguson, playing bass; Charles Durham, playing fiddle; and Vester Parker on banjo" (p. 111).

Whether the Reedys and the Bluegrass Drifters met in Cincinnati or Renfro Valley, this piece of history shows that something was happening in Corbin as well.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Front Page News! Reedys Recognized Then & Now

Mid-year is an auspicious time to share some Reedy news, both old and new, and to acknowledge the various audiences who continue to appreciate Frances and John's music. Some discoveries are old news in new formats, some provide exact dates for documents we already had, one is a new mystery to solve, and one is a new acknowledgement of our ongoing work on the documentary project. 

We previously mentioned an article about them in the Corbin Times-Tribune, which was among the many artifacts and mementos that Frances collected that we digitally scanned and archived. We knew the article was written around 1975 when John's song, "Somebody Touched Me" was included on the Early Days of Bluegrass, Vol. 1 compilation album (Rounder Records 1013). However, we recently discovered that this article was actually front page news on June 30, 1975!
Historic newspapers are increasingly being digitized and made available online through projects like the Library of Congress Chronicling America Project, which provides free access to papers published from 1896-1922. However, some more recent newspapers are currently only available through paid subscriptions services like, so we can only post a low-resolution screenshot of the full front page where the Reedy article appeared 41 years ago. 

Even without full access, is still a valuable resource for dating and contextualizing loose news clippings. For example, another search resulted in both the particular newspaper (Middlesboro Daily News) and the date of publication (May 21, 1949) for a WCPM radio show schedule that fellow grassroots music researcher Matt Baker shared with us several years ago.

We recently posted a couple of postings related to copyright entries for songs written by Frances and John. We almost overlooked an entry for an unrecorded and otherwise undocumented song that was right under our noses in the January-June 1962 Catalog of Copyright Entries for Music. The entry (p. 324) credits "John Reedy & Francis Reedy" for writing the words and music to a song entitled, "Miracle of Modern Ages," which Timi had never heard of before!
We currently have no other reference to this song, and there is no other documentation of it that we are aware of. So we will plan to check in with some folks about whether there might be at least a copy of the lyrics if not a recording for the song. We will post any new findings as we follow this unexpected lead...
In more recent news, we learned that our blog is featured among the sample projects created by Kentucky Community Scholars on the newly updated website for the Kentucky Arts Council (KAC), which is now the primary center for the program. Last August, we had the pleasure of seeing Mark Brown, the KAC Folk and Traditional Arts Director who now coordinates the Community Scholars Program, at the It's Good to Be Young in the Mountains (IG2BYITM) conference in Harlan. Tammy participated in the IG2BYITM workshop offered by Mark and Sarah Schmitt, the KAC Community Arts and Access Program Director, and they emphasized that the point of community scholar projects is to “make it do something.” We are grateful to be part of the network of more than 200 Community Scholars in Kentucky and are honored that our documentary project is included on the new KAC webpage.

Reedy Readers Around the U.S.
We would like to close with a shout out to all of the people who have searched for and/or visited our blog since we created it almost seven years ago. In the past, we have posted on what we have learned about our audience through various website analytics tools. Since we began tracking website traffic on February 1, 2010, we have documented visitors from the District of Columbia and all 50 States as well as 106 other countries around the world! Almost 27% of these are returning visitors, and based on keywords and search terms that people use to find our blog, it serves as a reference resource for people who are interested in the Reedys as well as their contemporaries. Thanks to everyone who continues to visit the site. We'd love to hear from you!

Reedy Readers Around the World!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"I Feel Jesus" Reel-to-Reel Revisited

We previously mentioned a documentary about the Barkley Marathon that was going to include Frances Reedy's gospel song, "I Feel Jesus." Frances and her husband John recorded the song commercially in Nashville, Tennessee on the Starday label (SEP 209) as "John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio" in 1962. Jimmy and Flo Murphy, who were friends of the Reedys, covered the song on an unreleased Starday recording that was later included on compilation of Jimmy Murphy's Starday and REM sessions.

Frances Williebob Ridner (Reedy) Teens
While the film ultimately includes a more recent cover of the song by Anna and Elizabeth (re-titled "Oh My My"), we recently learned that Frances received a shout-out (along with a link to our blog) on the "frequently asked questions" page of the official Barkley movie website. "The end of the film and the final credits are accompanied by the song 'I Feel Jesus,' written by Francis Reedy in 1962." We are glad to see Frances and her song acknowledged, and we are grateful for the new folks who have visited our site as a result. 

We also found a reference to the song on page 199 of the January-June 1962 Catalog of Copyright Entries for music. Like other copyright entries and several commercial recordings, the entry misspells her name as "Francis," but the June 18, 1962 copyright credits her with writing the song's words and music.

Among Frances and John Reedy's several home-made reel-to-reel recordings, one tape includes Frances singing "I Feel Jesus" with her granddaughter Timi playing the washboard, Pete Cultice playing steel guitar, and Alonzo Honeycutt on mandolin. The recording would have been made in Corbin, Kentucky in the early 1970s. Having received some direct visits to our site in regard to Frances' song, we decided to post the digitized family home-recording in her honor on the 10th anniversary of her passing. We love and miss you every day, Williebob.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quit Kickin' My Dog Around: A Reedy Remix!

We received some interesting and enlightening information from Dick Spottswood in response to our most recent updates that included a digitized recording of one of the Reedys' versions of the song, "Quit Kickin' My Dog Around." It turns out that this song was originally written as a political campaign song in 1912, and John wrote new verse lyrics of his own that he and Frances recorded a couple of different times. 

According to the Fresno State Folklore webpage, the words and music of the original "Hound Dog Song" were apparently written by Webb M. Oungst and Cy Perkins respectively, and it served as the campaign song for popular presidential hopeful James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark from Missouri. Dick also shared this 1926 version of the song recorded by Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, entitled, "Ya Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around":

We paid close attention to the lyrics of the song, and the verses are definitely different from John's. We love that the humorous howling and barking were part of earlier renditions of the song. We are still partial to John Reedy's lyrics and delivery of his remix, but we are glad to learn that the "hound dog song" has a fascinating and varied history of its own. 

Since we recently shared an excerpt of John's 1961 Christmas eve interview, we decided to post another excerpt of the VHS video recording that Harold Reedy made of his parents' last documented performance together. This charming and humorous rendition of "Quit Kickin' My Dog Around" shows Frances teasing and covering for John when he forgets his own version of the lyrics! However, he doesn't let this glitch keep him from hamming it up anyway. At the end, he dedicates the song to Harold's dog Mac.

Thanks again to Dick Spottswood for his active interest in our research project and providing such helpful connections. We are also grateful that he has included some Reedy tracks on his WAMU radio show in Washington, D.C. We whole-heartedly agree with his sentiments that "Frances & John were the greatest!"
(23 Jan. 2016 10:30 am)

We received another interesting tidbit from Dick Spottswood in response to this post. He sent a link to the 1912 sheet music of the song with the original verse lyrics for Champ Clark's presidential campaign. We always love hearing from other folks about the Reedys and related musical knowledge and artifacts.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Holiday Memories & New Year Updates

Happy New Year! The year 2015 was difficult in some ways, but it was also fruitful in others. The holidays are always a time when we think about family, and we spent some time researching historic traces of the Reedys again this year. So far 2016 shows promise of productivity, and we have some updates to share about some new media memories, recent findings, and news about upcoming developments.

Over the holidays, we talked about how many family memories that the Reedys documented around that time of year. We've previously posted a video of Frances and John singing "Little Sparrow" from an excerpt from Harold Reedy's VHS video recording of their last documented performance together during Christmas in 1980 as well as our "Holidays with Frances" video documenting the family dinner and Timi's birthday celebration for Thanksgiving 2005. While working on another project that we'll discuss more at the end of the post, we remembered a reel-to-reel recording that Timi's grandfather John Reedy made of the family Christmas celebration in 1961 when they were still living in Dayton.

The tape includes a couple of interviews that John conducted with different family members as well as a couple of song performances. The first interview is with Junior Fields, John's nephew by his sister Cledia. He asks Junior about whether he likes living in Ohio better than Kentucky, and an interesting conversation takes place. We previously mentioned this recording but had never posted it, so we decided to share it in light of its timeliness and relevance to scholarly discussions about Appalachian migration.


While researching additional references to the Reedys, we recently found some new audio and bibliographic sources that fill in some gaps in the Reedy commercial discography, which we have updated as a result. One key discovery is the digitized copy of Frances and John's 1964 recording of "Quit Kicking My Dog Around" (Jalyn 210) on the Bopping blog of various vinyl treasures. This is a really important find for us because the Jalyn 210 recording is one of the few (of their many) that we did not have a copy of from Frances' collection. The post features "Harmony duets in Hillbilly bop songs" and describes the song as a "fine uptempo tune" with "amusing lyrics." Unfortunately, we were not able to figure out how to embed the audio directly in this post, but the track can be accessed by clicking the link above.

Front CoverThe Bopping post does not include the B-side of the record, which is one of their versions of Frances' song "Tiny Bitty Pieces." However, we did discover a reference to the song on page 1757 of the July-December 1963 Catalog of Copyright Entries for music. The entry misspells her name as "Francis," but the October 22, 1963 copyright credits her with writing the song's words and music.

Front Cover

We found a similar reference on page 77 of the The Complete Library of American Phonograph Recordings for 1963 that clarifies the release date for one of the recordings on the Reedy commercial discography. The entry is for the Starday SEP 222 by the "John Reedy Trio," which we previously had listed in the general range of the early 1960s. We have corrected this entry on the Reedy discography and plan to contact folks who maintain other Bluegrass discographies and databases as well. The track-list for this EP, or "extended play," recording is not included in the entry, but it includes two songs on each side of a 45 rpm vinyl record.

Earlier in the fall, we found an entry for John's song, "Knockin' on Your Door" on an online Bluegrass lyrics database called BluegrassNet, which listed the song as a "traditional." We posted a comment letting them know that the song was written by John to Frances when they were briefly divorced. I also shared the breakup mash-up of "Tiny Bitty Pieces" and "Knockin' on Your Door" and a link to the documentary blog. 

We recently discovered that they replied to our comment and corrected the author information! "This is great info, Tammy. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing the back stories to these old tunes. The old video of Frances and John in 1980 was awesome! I've updated the credits on these lyrics to reflect John Reedy's authorship. Thanks again." It's always great when we are able to connect with other people who are interested in documenting and preserving music by artists like Frances and John Reedy.

We engaged with this material over the past couple of months while we have been writing an invited journal article about the documentary project and process. We will share more about this forthcoming publication when we have more details, but we are excited to have some new developments for everyone to look forward to...

Finally, we want to wish Frances and John's son Tim Reedy a very happy birthday today! We hope he enjoys the day with the rest of his family as well as the new updates we've shared. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Music, Migration, & Memorial Day

John & Frances Reedy (Harlan, KY)
We have been thinking about Frances and John Reedy and other missed loved ones on Memorial Day. Timi keeps this favorite photo of her Mamaw and Papaw beside her near the dining table. 

We think it was taken sometime in the 1940's in Harlan County before John and Frances migrated to Dayton, Ohio, so they were likely about in their late twenties or thirties. Timi loves this picture because her Mamaw and Papaw are laughing and look so happy together. 

Ruby (Kidd) & Howard Clemons (1940's)
This year, Memorial Day is even more bittersweet with the loss of Tammy's Mamaw, Ruby May Kidd Clemons (1925-2015) in January. She and her husband (and Tammy's Papaw) were married for over 70 years. 

According to the memoirs she wrote for some of her Elkins cousins, she was born on Hatton Ridge in Menifee County, Kentucky where she lived with her parents and two sisters until her parents divorced when she was 9 years old. Her mother then moved to Ohio with the girls and later remarried. Ruby eventually moved back to Kentucky with her husband Howard where they remained.

While Ruby never produced any commercial recordings, she was very musically and artistically inclined and produced a plethora of paintings, poems, short stories, songs, and handicrafts throughout her 89 years of life. She got her first organ when she was six and was a self-taught musician who played the piano, guitar, and harmonica. She served as the pianist at several local Churches of God for over 60 years, and she performed publicly for various civic organizations that she was involved in. Ruby Clemons wrote and copyrighted more than 1000 country and gospel songs, and she self-recorded many of them on cassette tape. Tammy hopes to gather and archive her grandmother's extensive musical and artistic productions, and she plans on sharing her Mamaw's memoirs with the rest of her family.

Ruby Clemons (Hat Day at Hope Church, May 2014)
Ruby Kidd (age 13) with her cousin Mary
Ruby Clemons has always been a tremendous role model and support system for her granddaughter Tammy, and there is so much more to say about her life, accomplishments, and impact on the world around her. Meanwhile, Tammy created a playlist of videos featuring her Mamaw and Papaw, Ruby and Howard Clemons, in honor of their great influence on her life.

On this Memorial Day, we remember these and many loved ones, living and past, who we will love and miss every onward.