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Benny and Vallie Cain
and the Country Clan
WGAY Silver Spring, MD
WINC Winchester, VA
WSIG Mount Jackson, VA

About The Artist

Benny and Vallie Cain were a husband-wife team who helped popularize bluegrass in the greater Washington, DC area. James Bennett Cain (B: May 21, 1921 — D: November 8, 1998) was born in New Haven, Connecticut, but moved with his family to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia about 1934 and grew up absorbing the country music favored by many of his associates. Vallie R. Cave (B: July 19, 1927 — D: April 15, 1993) was born in Kitzmiller, Maryland and also moved to Berkeley Springs about 1930. Benny served in the navy as a gunnery officer in World War II and upon his discharge went to work in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, retiring in 1985 and playing music part-time on the side.

Benny met Vallie in 1947 and they married in July 1950. With a fine and somewhat unique vocal duet they obtained a weekly program at WINC which was originally more country but soon evolved into bluegrass. Benny played mandolin and Vallie the guitar. The couple also played often in clubs at night and at parks on weekends. Later they played at some bluegrass festivals but did not travel far from their home base. Benny also developed a reputation for expertise on vintage musical instruments.

The Cains made their initial recording about 1955 as a custom single on the Adelphi label with the help of Pete Kuykendall on fiddle. About 1964 they joined Dick Freeland's Rebel Records and remained with them throughout their career. During the next two decades, they recorded three singles, a dozen songs on the Rebel 70 number, Bluegrass Spectacular four-album set and two long play albums in Benny and Vallie Cain in1968 (LP 1484) and More of Benny and Vallie Cain (LP 1537) in 1974, respectively. Johnny Whisnant played banjo and son Paul Cain played bass. On their second album Bill Poffinbarger assisted on fiddle and Bill Wheeler picked banjo.

Benny retired as an ATF agent in 1985, but soon Vallie's health began to decline. She died in 1993 and Benny followed five years later. In recent times, bluegrass lead vocalist and composer Junior Sisk successfully revived one of their best songs, "The Wolf Is at the Door."

Benny and Vallie Cain and the Country Clan; Rebel Records; Circa 1969

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • The Cains' Bluegrass Turf; Joe Sasfy; June 27, 1985; The Washington Post; Washington, DC

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Adelphi
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  47 A The Roving Gambler
  47 B Angry Brown Eyes
 
Rebel
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  237 A New River Train
  237 B Ragtime Annie
  238 A Somebody's Waiting for You
  238 B Whoa Mule Whoa
  243 B Angel Band
  243 B Seeing Nellie Home