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Clarence Ashley


A medicine display performer within the 1910s and 1920s, Clarence (Tom) Ashley influenced the metropolitan folk revival when his early recordings were included on the Folkways album Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952. Although he previously retired through the medicine present circuit in 1943, he produced a successful return in the first ’60s when he documented a set of albums that released important flatpicking guitarist Arthel “Doc” Watson. Ashley, who got his last name through the maternal grandfather who elevated him, was motivated with the jokes and tracks that he noticed performed by transients who boarded in his house. His mother’s two old sister trained him tracks and instructed him for the banjo. Signing up for his first medication present in 1913, Ashley journeyed by equine and buggy with the southern Appalachian area, playing tracks while “the doc” marketed his elixirs. In 1914, he wedded Hettie Osborne and resolved in Shouns, TN. Although he supplemented his income like a musician by farming and operating in a sawmill, Ashley continuing to execute. By 1927, Ashley was carrying out with several string bands, like the Blue Ridge Entertainers. He documented as an associate of Byrd Moore & His Warm Shots as well as the Carolina Tar Pumps. His single debut arrived in 1929 when he documented “The Cuckoo Parrot” and “THE HOME Carpenter” for Columbia. Authorized to a single agreement by both Columbia (as Clarence Ashley) and Victor (as Tom Ashley), he documented for both brands until 1933. Retiring from your medicine displays in 1943, Ashley bought a pickup truck and, along with his child J.D., hauled coal, home furniture, and lumber. His shows were limited by operating like a comedian with Charlie Monroe’s Kentucky Companions as well as the Stanley Brothers. While his tunes had been revived by string music group instrumentalists in the 1950s, Ashley vanished almost completely from your music scene. Going to the Union Grove Aged Period Fiddlers Convention in 1960, he fulfilled folklorist Ralph Rinzler, who, with folk track collector Eugene Earle, setup a recording program at Ashley’s daughter’s house in Saltville, VA. Ashley asked Watson to accompany him on acoustic guitar. The session noticeable the classical guitar debut for Watson, who experienced previously played guitar in rockabilly and nation bands. From 1961, Ashley and Watson, became a member of by fiddler Fred Cost, performed at north folk celebrations, coffeehouses, and night clubs. Their concert at New York’sTown Hall was documented and released as their second recording. Ashley documented an additional recording with fiddler Tex Isley.

Quick Facts

Full Name Clarence Ashley
Died June 2, 1967, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Profession Singer, Guitarist
Nationality American
Spouse Hettie Ashley
Children Eva Ashley Moore, J.D. Ashley
Parents Rose-Belle Ashley, George McCurry
Music Groups The Carolina Tar Heels, Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers
Music Songs The Coo-Coo Bird, The House Carpenter, Little Sadie, Dark Holler Blues, Little Hillside, Walking Boss, Peg and Awl, Greenback Dollar, Crawdad Song, Frankie Silvers, God's Gonna Ease My Troublin' Mind, Haunted Road Blues, Rising Sun Blues, Old John Hardy, A Short Life of Trouble, Maggie Walker, Drunk Man Blues, My Sweet Farm Girl, Hicks' Farewell, Maggie Walker Blues, Cluck Old Hen, Shout Lulu, Rude and Rambling Man, Lee Highway Blues, Sally Ann, Free Little Bird, Honey Babe Blues, Run, Jimmie Run, Old Ruben, Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy, Sweet Heaven When I Die, Richmond Blues
Albums Clarence Ashley and Tex Isley, Greenback Dollar, Original Folkways Recordings: 1960–1962, Country Music Pioneer, The Original Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley: 1960 Through 1962

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Lawless 2012 arranger: "The Cuckoo Bird" / performer: "The Cuckoo Bird"
Chrystal 2004 arranger: "COO COO BIRD" / performer: "COO COO BIRD"

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Archive Footage

The Old, Weird America: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music 2007 Documentary Himself

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