Champion 15687 – Dan Hughey – 1929

Before there were folk singers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, there was “The Kentucky Mountain Boy”, Bradley Kincaid (who performs under a pseudonym on this disc).  Equally comfortable in hillbilly attire as with round framed spectacles, tidy hair, and pressed suits, Kincaid was of a decidedly more sophisticated mold than many of the more “hillbilly” folk singers of his day, while still not succumbing to the urbanity that has in some eyes damaged the credibility of such performers as Vernon Dalhart.

Bradley Kincaid was born in Point Level, Kentucky on July 13, 1895 and made his radio debut on Chicago’s WLS National Barn Dance in 1926 and later became a member of the Grand Ole Opry on WSM in Nashville in 1945.  After a long and successful career which included giving future Grand Ole Opry star Marshall Jones the nickname “Grandpa” while working with him at a Boston radio station in 1935, Kincaid died following injuries sustained in a car accident at the ripe old age of 94 on September 23, 1989.

Champion 15687 was recorded January 28, 1929 in Richmond, Indiana by Bradley Kincaid, given the nom de disque “Dan Hughey” on this release.  It was also issued on Gennett 6761 and Supertone 9362, and later reissued on Champion 45057 by Decca.  The “A” side also appeared on Superior 2656.

One of the great classic American folk songs, Kincaid first sings “Four Thousand Years Ago”, called “The Highly Educated Man” by John A. Lomax in his American Ballads and Folk Songs.

Four Thousand Years Ago

Four Thousand Years Ago, recorded January 28, 1929 by Dan Hughey.

On the reverse, Kincaid sings “Liza Up In the ‘Simmon Tree”.  This is one of those folk songs that bears great lyrical similarity to other songs; for example, “shoes and stockings in her hand and her feet all over the floor” can be heard in Wendell Hall’s “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo'”, and “well, I wouldn’t marry a poor girl, I’ll tell you the reason why…” is similar to the lyrics of “Chewing Gum”, as sung by the Carter Family.

Liza Up in the Simmon Tree

Liza Up in the ‘Simmon Tree, recorded January 28, 1929 by Dan Hughey.

Updated on June 15, 2017.

Supertone 9188 – Chubby Parker – 1927

For your listening pleasure, after a brief and unintentional hiatus, I offer this fine folk record on this nice Gennett Supertone by WLS artist Chubby Parker.

Frederick R. “Chubby” Parker, born in 1876, was a Chicago-based banjo player and folk singer popular on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio in the 1920s, which was a precursor to the famous Grand Ole Opry.  Parker was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and graduated from Purdue in 1898 as an electrical engineer.  He reportedly worked as a circus performer, and later as an electrician, patent attorney, and inventor in Chicago before turning to radio.  Parker became a very popular performer on WLS and allegedly received almost 3,000 fan letters in one week in February 1927.  He left radio and recording after 1931, with one final appearance on WLS in 1936.  He died in 1940.

Supertone 9188 was recorded on February 26, 1927 (perhaps the same week he got all those letters) in Chicago, Illinois, recorded by the Starr Piano Company, producers of Gennett Records.  Radio station WLS (an acronym for “World’s Largest Store”) was owned by Sears, Roebuck & Company, and they were eager to market records by their popular radio artists on their record labels such as Silvertone and this Supertone.

Parker’s “I’m a Stern Old Bachelor” is probably the first recording of this folk song, but I can’t guarantee it, and I haven’t researched it in depth.

I'm a Stern Old Bachelor, recorded February 26, 1927.

I’m a Stern Old Bachelor, recorded February 26, 1927.

Parker’s excellent “Bib-a-Lollie-Boo” has the distinction of being featured on Dust-to-Digital’s fine multimedia set “I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces”, and features some gems of lyrics that can be found in the little widget that displays song lyrics at the top of the home page of this site.

Bib-A-Lollie-Boo, recorded February 26, 1927 by Chubby Parker.

Bib-A-Lollie-Boo, recorded February 26, 1927 by Chubby Parker.

Updated with improved audio on June 10, 2017.