Visit with the Legendary Howard Armstrong in 1997


Time is short, so I’ll just quote from my introductory announcement for this Saturday’s Archival Production of Hillbilly at Harvard:

Today we’re going back in time to January 18, 1997. There’s a note on the DAT cassette of this show, “Much talk.” Yes, it was a rather talky day. Gerry Katz was in to talk about the upcoming BBU anniversary show with Third Tyme Out and The Stevens Sisters—and a Birthday-Cake Contest! Ken Irwin was there with background on those two bands (both with new releases on Rounder), and other record-industry tidbits. And Flo Murdock, from Johnny D’s, was in with news about an exciting lineup over the next couple of weeks.

But the most fascinating conversation was between Old Sinc and the legendary Howard Armstrong, who spent the best part of an hour playing music and telling stories about his youth and life. Howard, ‘Louie Bluie’ Armstrong was a month shy of 88 years at the time, and still sharp as the proverbial tack, “don’t-cha see?” as he would say. Believe me, the talk is worth it! And so are the great old tunes that Howard and his back-up musicians offer us (Elijah Wald on guitar, Robbie Phillips on washtub bass, and Barbara Ward with occasional vocals and tambourine).

I left out Larry Flint, who also contributed to the musical selections and the chatter. There was a good deal of impromptu record reviewing, which was typical, and a lot of Country Calendar announcements. We were being pre-empted for the next two weeks because of long classical-music Orgies®, so there were a lot of events to plug.

Howard Armstrong was performing at Club Passim that week. I think he visited our studios another time, but I haven’t seen a tape yet. He was the subject of a book and movie about his life, both bearing his stage name, ‘Louie Bluie’ as titles. There was a second film, called ‘Sweet Old Song’, about his marriage to the much younger Barbara Ward. He died in 2003 at age 94. /CL

This entry was posted in Administrivia, Archival Productions, Country History, Hillbilly History, Program Notes, Radio Talk and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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