Charlie Poole & the Roots of Country Music | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Charlie Poole & the Roots of Country Music

3 CDs, 72 TRACKS – FIRST BOX SET EVER COMPILED ON MUSIC, INFLUENCES, AND FOLLOWERS OF "THE PATRON SAINT OF MODERN COUNTRY MUSIC." HARD-LIVING BANJOIST, SINGER, INNOVATOR DIED 1931 AT AGE 39 – SET THE STAGE FOR JIMMIE RODGERS AND HANK WILLIAMS.

"[Izzy Young of the Folklore Center] played me 'White House Blues' by Charlie Poole and said that this would be perfect for me and pointed out that this was the exact version that the [New Lost City] Ramblers did."
– Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume One

Charlie Poole was a hard-driving, hard-drinking Depression-era character – mill-worker, bootlegger, scalawag – who lived fast and died young, at age 39. In the process, Poole left his mark on a century of musicians from Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams to Earl Scruggs and Don Reno, from Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott to the New Lost City Ramblers and Bob Dylan, from the Holy Modal Rounders, Jerry Garcia and the group whose name paraphrases a Poole song – Old & In the Way – to John Mellencamp and today's generation of alt-country rockers who are embarking on their own rediscovery of Charlie Poole. What Robert Johnson was to blues and rock and roll, Charlie Poole was to bluegrass, folk, and modern country music.

The man who is rightly called the patron saint of C&W spent virtually his entire recording career – from July 1925 to September 1930 – as a Columbia artist. For the first time since the onset of the digital era, a deluxe 3-CD box set finally puts his life and music in historic perspective, as You Ain't Talkin' To Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music arrives in stores May 10, 2005, on Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY BMG Music Entertainment. The release precedes the tenth annual get-together on May 20-21 of "The Charlie Poole Festival" in Poole's old hometown of Eden, North Carolina, and anticipates the upcoming 80th anniversary of Poole's first Columbia recording date in New York City.

Over the course of 3 CDs and 72 tracks (clocking in with more than 222 minutes of music), You Ain't Talkin' To Me presents the music of Charlie Poole in four distinct contexts. First, there are the timeless Columbia sides, as 40 of the near-70 tunes recorded by Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers are collected here (along with three others from 1929, in a slightly expanded lineup under the pseudonyms of the Highlanders for Paramount, and the Allegheny Highlanders for Brunswick).

The remaining 29 tracks explore three facets in which a wide range of Poole's contemporaries (and a handful of his predecessors) are featured on several other record labels: Earlier singers and groups from whom he borrowed material on which to apply his unique stamp (ranging from Victorian ballads and Tin Pan Alley pop, to coon songs and country blues); banjoists who exerted a significant influence on Poole's innovative instrumental style (or from whom he also merely borrowed material); and banjoists, singers and groups who were influenced by Poole during his reign, and who helped incorporate his progressive ideas into the evolution of hillbilly music. These tracks are drawn from 78s and cylinder recordings originally made for the Bluebird, Busy Bee, Edison, Gennett, Little Wonder, Okeh, Victor, and Vocalion labels. Transferred from rare original 78s by Grammy Award winning sound engineer Christopher King (for the Charlie Patton box set in 2003), these are the first digital transfers of many of these sides, and bring out a sound quality even Poole's most ardent fans have never before heard.

You Ain't Talkin' To Me was compiled and produced for reissue by Henry Sapoznik, who brings to the project his expertise as a professional musician (adept at banjo and guitar) in the old time and klezmer fields. As an award-winning author, producer, archivist, historian and radio producer he also wrote the definitive 6,000 word liner note essay that completes the package.

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