About The Artist
Frank Hutchison, known as "the Pride of West Virginia," was one of the Mountain State's first recording artists, putting more than two dozen numbers on disc between 1926 and 1929. His songs, all on the OKeh label, displayed a strong African-American blues influence as did his guitar style. These cultural borrowings were supposedly absorbed from black railroad workers he heard playing near his home in rugged Logan County.
Two of his songs "Coney Isle" (renamed "Alabam") and "Train that Carried My Girl from Town" are still heard today (2020).
Frank Hutchison was born in Raleigh County, but his family moved to Logan County when he was a child. There he often listened to black laborers on the railroad tracks and learned something of their style. He also played harmonica.
As Hutchison grew up he often worked as a carpenter, a cook and on occasion in the coal mines. For a few years from 1926, his main source of income was music. He often played in school houses, theaters, and also showed motion pictures along with singing. Although he did not sell records at his shows, knowing that he was a recording artist helped draw crowds to his shows.
He did five sessions in the record studios including skits in the OKeh Medicine Show series and two numbers featuring fiddle tunes with his friend Sherman Lawson.
The Great Depression put an end to Frank's recording career and crippled demands for his music. Briefly he moved to Chesapeake, Ohio and entertained on river boats until this market also dried up.
He opened a little grocery store in Lake, West Virginia, but it burned in 1942, destroying most of the family's belongings. He then moved back to Ohio and died three years later, virtually forgotten until interest revived in his music in the 1970's.
Credits & Sources
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