The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21967   Message #982105
Posted By: Stewie
12-Jul-03 - 10:24 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Your Long Journey / Your Lone Journey
Subject: RE: Long Journey
Cetmst, apart from Tony Russell's article in 'Old Time Music #1' [April 1971] and a couple of pages in Charles Wolfe's essay on white blues in Lawrence Cohen (Ed) 'Nothing But the Blues' Abbeville Press 1993, little is written (or known) about Hutchison beyond that contained in notes to reissues of his recordings:

Mark Wilson notes to 'The Train That Carried My Girl From Town' Rounder LP 1007 [1976]
Charles Wolfe notes to Various Artists 'White Country Blues' Columbia Legacy C2K 47466 [1993]
Tony Russell notes to Hutchison's complete recorded works on Document DOCD-8003 and DOCD-8004
Russell also drew on a 1971 interview of Aunt Jennie Wilson, a Longan County banjo player and friend of Hutchison, by John Coffey [unpublished].

The gist of Wolfe's brief sketch in Cohn's book is as follows:

Hutchison was born in 1897 in Raleigh County, West Virginia, and grew up in Logan County. When he was seven or eight he met one of the black railroad workers who came to the county to lay tracks for the mines. This man's name was Henry Vaughan and he taught Hutchison to play blues on the guitar, using a knife as a slide. Some time later, Hutchison met 'a crippled Negro living back in the hills' named Bill Hunt who was a songster as well as a bluesman. Hunt taught the young Frank dozens of songs from his repertoire of 19th century traditional tunes that 'blacks and whites had shared before the blues became fashionable'. By 1920, Hutchison's repertoire contained a variety of rare old rags, blues, traditional ballads and novelties.

In the early 1920s, Hutchison eked out a living, playing small shows in mining camps, at political rallies, at private parties and at movie shows to introduce and even accompany silent movies. Pop Stoneman and others remembered him as 'a big red-headed Irishman' who 'always specialised in blues, just blues of all kinds'. Hutchison travelled often, but seldom left the West Virginia-Kentucky area. Somehow in 1926, he connected with Okeh Records and travelled to New York to record his first two sides: 'Worried Blues' and 'The Train That Carried My Girl From Town', both featuring him using a knife as a slide. Subsequently, he recorded a total of 32 sides for OKeh [1926-1929]. Later, Okeh seemed to want him to diversify, insisting on his working with a fiddler by the name of Sherman Lawson. After being involved with 'The Okeh Medicine Show', a six-part record series of skits, Hutchison ceased recording and then stopped playing music altogether. This was most likely because of the Depression rather than Okeh's demands. He spent his later life as a storekeeper and eventually moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he died in 1945.