What Do 1961, 1971, 2011, 2021 Have in Common? Hillbilly History!

ANOTHER ARCHIVAL HILLBILLY AT HARVARD

1961: The Lilly Brothers, Everett and B, with Don Stover, play a concert in Lowell House at Harvard College. Everett, who usually plays mandolin, picks up the fiddle and wows the audience with a fiery performance of ‘The Orange Blossom Special’. Cousin Mike Eisenstadt records the concert on his Nagra portable recorder. Old Sinc gets a copy.

1971: February 6th, to be exact. Old Sinc and Cousin Dave Schmalz host an afternoon Hillbilly Orgy®, which faithful listener Kim Harris of Ipswitch records on a home tape recorder. Sinc, responding to requests for LIlly Brothers music, plays Everett’s ‘OBS’ (as bluegrass fans know it). Kim Harris sends me a digitized copy of the Orgy® in 2003.

2011: March 12th, to be exact. The Celebrity Series of Boston has scheduled a joint concert with The Del McCoury Band and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, in Symphony Hall on the 19th. David Elliott is actively promoting the series, and has created promotional spots. He has also arranged for me to interview Del over the telephone, with Del at home in Henderson, Tennessee. This was the first, and as far as I can recall, the only time I have done a ‘phoner’ (as they’re called in the trade) in the studio. I was nervous at the start, but it turned out to be fun.

Ronnie McCoury, Jason Carter, Del McCoury at the Joe Val Festival, February 2016. More photos from that festival HERE.

2021: What have the 1971 and 2011 shows in common? Nothing, really, except they were Hillbilly at Harvard shows, and I have put them together for an Archival show this week. I suppose it is really a product of timing. With only three hours to fill, I was looking for a short show. March 12th, 2011 was curtailed by an early-starting Met Opry, and it had this interview that I remembered fondly, but it was curtailed so much that I needed more. Aha! I thought: how about some tracks from the 1971 disks that Kim Harris had sent me in 2003?

The sound quality of Kim’s home tape recorder, running at 1 7/8 IPS, was not as good as we would like for broadcasting a whole show, but it’s OK for a few songs (better than some of the scratchy old 78 RPM records reissued on LP), and it’s great to hear Sinc and Dave 40 years ago. So we start off with about 14 minutes of the 1971 Orgy®, and then launch into the full 2011 HAH show. The interview with Del McCoury is in the third hour.

What do these years have in common? They are all part and parcel of Hillbilly at Harvard history, which after all goes back to 1948!

I hope you enjoy the interview with Del. I play a couple of the songs we talk about. I’ve got some other good interviews that I could air on this archival series, with folks like Bill Keith, Jim Rooney, Claire Lynch, and others. Let me know if you’d like to hear them.

We’re off Thursday to Litchfield, Maine for the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival this weekend. If no cell service, I may not know if this Archival HAH runs, but let’s assume it will. Back Sunday evening. /CL

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