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Thread: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

  1. #1
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    Default Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    If I could play like this just once I would call my musical career accomplished.
    I believe that's a Lyon and Healy style C maybe?

    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  3. #2
    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    Charming piece. I like his Mandolin tunes, melodic, not fast fiddle tune finger busters. It appears to be a Lyon & Healy Model B, 2 points with non-scroll peghead.
    Joe B
    A Splendid Time is Guaranteed for All

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    What a nice way to start the day!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    The mandolin is a Lyon & Healy style B with stairstep or art-deco peghead, 13 3/4" scale, and a low 3 digit serial number.
    The bridge has an ivory saddle inlaid into it, which appears to be factory original. It is the only L & H that I have seen with such a saddle.
    The mandolin has the extendable "knee rest."

    I bought it from George Gruhn's first Broadway shop in the early 1990's for $1250. Within the first year or two that I owned it, I installed a set of Stew-mac #147 frets; which at that time had a crown height of .040" and a crown width of .078".

    I played the instrument frequently for quite a few years. It mikes so well that if your sound man can't dial it in, you need to find another sound man. It is a very fine instrument indeed.

    Norman acquired the mandolin from me sometime around the time the "O Brother" movie came out. He sold it a couple of years ago.

    The studio recording of the rag is on Norman's album "Flower From the Fields of Alabama." My guitar backup part is inspired by the piano rags of Scott Joplin. The mandolin used on the studio recording was a 1930's Vega flat back with sunburst finish, pearl bordered top, and fancy fingerboard inlays. I have not seen another one like it. It was tuned a step low and strung with octaves on the 3rd and 4th courses. Norman traded it off in the early 2000's. We heard that it might have ended up in David Grisman's hands, but I cannot confirm that.

    TAG Railroad Rag is a favorite of mine. We thank you for the kind words.
    Bob Chuckrow, a.k.a St. Elmo Slim
    Last edited by rcc56; Oct-14-2021 at 1:26pm.

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    Registered User Kirk Higgins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    Nice appropriate backup on the guitar as well. Who is the maker of the guitar? Looks like a 12 fret 000 but the side depth looks like they could be a little deeper than a standard 000.
    Kirk

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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    Correct. The guitar in the video is a Santa Cruz in spruce and mahogany, built on their version of a Martin 12 fret 000 footprint, but with the extra body depth of a Gibson Nick Lucas.
    The guitar was Norman's. That was the only time I played it. I don't believe that he owns it anymore.

  9. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    That's really nice Bob.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    Thank you.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Norman Blake & Saint Elmo Slim - T.A.G. Railroad Rag

    I really enjoyed this, thanks for posting!

    I've been listening to a lot of Peter Ostroushko lately. You can hear the musical kinship in this composition.
    Girouard Concert A5
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