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Rambling Blues
The Life & Songs of Charlie Poole
By Kinney Rorrer
McCain Printing Co., Inc.
104 Pages
ISBN:  0-904395-01-4

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Among the thousands of musicians active in the 1920s and '30s - what has been called the "Golden Age" of country music—a select few stand out as larger-than-life figures. One of these is the North Carolina singer, banjo-picker and bandleader Charlie Poole.

Into an all-too-brief playing life he packed a wealth of songs that have been enjoyed, reproduced and built upon by generations of later musicians. Many of the numbers Poole originated or popularized such as "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down", "There'll Come A Time", "If The River Was Whiskey" and "White House Blues", have passed into the repertoires of country luminaries like Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, and are staples of the bluegrass songbook.

Charlie Poole was not only a great country singer but a pioneering country banjo-player. His three-finger picking style, virtually unique in his own day, was also one of the formative sounds in the development of bluegrass.

Poole's North Carolina Ramblers have often been called the classic old-time stringband, and their intricate texture of fiddle, banjo and guitar is one of the artistic high points of early country music. With such superb musicians as the fiddlers Posey Rorer, Lonnie Austin and Odell Smith, and guitarists Roy Harvey and Norman Woodlieff, the North Carolina Ramblers were one of the best-loved and most eagerly followed of all the old-time bands, both in person and on their magnificent recordings.

Writing from the heart of "Poole Country", Kinney Rorrer tells for the first time, the whole story of this remarkable man and his music. It's been said of Charlie Poole that everyone who ever saw him, however briefly, has a story to tell, and the book is crammed with first-hand anecdotes of Poole's rambunctious humor and rambling ways. More than a hundred illustrations—most of them never published before—provide a unique pictorial history of Poole, his musical associates, and the cultural landscape of the North Carolina piedmont. The book also includes the words of all Poole's recordings—more than 50 immortal old-time songs and ballads—and a comprehensive discography.

Kinney Rorrer's book is the product not only of years of devoted research but also of a deep and understanding affection for Charlie Poole's music and personality. It must surely become the standard work on one of the most fascinating, rewarding and lovable figures in the history of country music.


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