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Thread: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

  1. #1
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    Default Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    Hi all,

    I can find plenty of old mandolin music from the 1920s/30s recordings of blues players (Yank Rachell, Charlie McCoy etc), brother duets (Monroes, Sheltons etc) and stringbands. But moving forward to the Honky Tonk era of the late 40s and 50s, it seems that bluegrass pretty much swallowed up the vast majority of American music's mandolin players. I love the music of Honky Tonk stars like Lefty Frizell, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Webb Pierce, Hank Garland and so many others but the classic instrumentation from this period didn't feature mandolin. I've taken to learning ideas from other instruments like lead guitars, steel guitars and fiddles but was there any notable mandolinists recorded in the Honky Tonk era? Or, failing that, are there any mandolin players who specialise in that honky tonk groove in a later decade (I'm sure plenty of professional cats can do it, but is anyone actually focusing on it)?

    The closest I could probably get to these ideas was in the western swing arena with players like Tiny Moore, Jethro Burns and Johnny Gimble but there's more meat on their bones than Honky Tonk.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    Jimmy Maddox of the Maddox Bros.
    James Morrow of the Teen Kings
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    Ira Louvin comes to mind.
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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    I mostly prefer to play 40s/50s country and 50s/60s rockabilly. Not a lot of mandolin to be found from those genres. I find no problem adapting mandolin to country of that era. I find it much more difficult to play rockabilly (i.e. Jerry Lee Lewis) on mandolin. Some rockabilly not so difficult (i.e. Everly Brothers).
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    The Armstrong twins had a bit more of a honky tonk feel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqy0...&feature=share

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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Some new stuff unearthed now. Ira Louvin was an easy one to overlook because he did a lot of later stuff without the mandolin. And the earlier stuff with Charlie didn't always have a honky-tonk feel per se. They did a plethora of songs mostly in the typical brother-duet style of the time as well as their fine helping of gospel. But yes, there are some songs in their repertoire for sure that I could take inspiration from.

    I'd never come across The Maddox Brothers or James Morrow so that was a particularly nice find. Thank you. The Maddox Brothers pretty much sum up exactly the type of thing I was looking for. It's the era just before rockabilly and rock 'n' came along to change the face of popular music in the US once again. In relation to the latter, James Morrow, I'm trying to find a good example of his playing. It seems that he played electric mandolin with Roy Orbison in The Teen Kings, just before Roy hit the big time. I can find some early recordings of Roy and his band on YouTube but, so far, I can't hear any mandolin solos. Just guitar. Or maybe I'm getting confused and there are mandolin solos that sound like guitar due to the electrification. If you had any specific examples I would appreciate a link - just to be absolutely certain of what I'm listening to :-)

    And thanks also for the Armstrong Twins suggestion. That's another new find for me and, yes, spot on again with the honky-tonk feel.

    The mandolin, as you are well aware, is a very versatile instrument so there's absolutely no reason why it shouldn't work well in a genre like honky-tonk (and I would also suggest in rockabilly and rock 'n' roll) which is actually close in style to many genres where the mandolin has a more primary role. Perhaps as a rhythmic instrument it is going to be lost when placed alongside heavy-handed country rhythm guitar and rock 'n' roll drum-kits, but I believe it would hold its own as a solo instrument in the hands of the right musician. Particularly when you look at mando-caster players like the aforementioned Tiny Moore.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    Maddox & Rose great source of a style of Country Mandolin, pre-Rock a Billy. They used both Acoustic & Electric Mandolin. I love that stuff.
    As far as Roy & the Teen Kings Mandolin, the only Mandolin I can identify is the kick off to Berry’s Brown Eyed Handsome Man. Sounds like a Electric Mandolin to me. Don’t know of any other Mandolin parts.
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Country Mandolin players in the Honky-Tonk era

    For contemporary groups playing "traditional" 40s-60s country, the Malpass Brothers incorporate mandolin in their throw-back repertoire. They're great!

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