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.

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