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Review: Iron Mountain String Band

Lighter 13 Apr 15 - 09:01 PM
cnd 13 Apr 15 - 10:49 PM
Lighter 14 Apr 15 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,gillymor 14 Apr 15 - 08:42 AM
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Subject: Review: Iron Mountain String Band
From: Lighter
Date: 13 Apr 15 - 09:01 PM

It seems impossible, but a search shows that in 17 years of Mudcat this extraordinary old-time North Carolina band has been mentioned only twice - in passing - and in reference to a single song!

And they've been playing since 1963! (!!!)

Four albums are still available:

The Iron Mountain String Band (Folkways 2473) (1973)

Walkin' in the Parlor (Folkways 2477) (1975)

Someday We'll Meet Again (Folkways 3846) (1981)

Songs of Old Time America (Peach Bottom Records) (1998)

If I Go Ten Thousand Miles (2001)

From the Notes to "Songs of Old Time America":

"The Iron Mountain String Band plays old-time mountain music from the days after the Civil War up to the Bluegrass era. Typical of Appalachian string bands before the 1930's, the Iron Mountain String Band consists of only five-string banjo, fiddle and guitar. This music, though regional, has a wide and deep influence throughout America.

"Starting in the 1950's, Eric Davidson, subsequently accompanied by Caleb Finch and others, visited Grayson and Carroll Counties in Southwest Virginia to learn the music in that heartland of Appalachia. The band's name refers to a favorite camping site used in early days of collecting.

"Over the next thirty years, they and others who joined in their effort listened to, taped dozens of people whose families had carried the musical tradition for generations. Among the most important of these musicians were the legendary Wade Ward and Tommy Jarrel, masters of claw-hammer banjo and fiddle respectively, Glen Smith, noted for fiddle and fretless banjo, and Ruby Vass and Glen Neaves, ballad singers. A series of eleven albums from these field recordings were issued by Folkways/Asch Records. These albums are available through the Smithsonian Folkways on CD, vinyl, or tape (

"The Band began in New York City in 1963. With Davidson on the banjo and Finch fiddling, they were joined by Peggy Haine on guitar and played widely throughout the 1960s to make the first Iron Mountain String Band record in 1972, published by Folkways. Davidson and Finch relocated to Southern California at about this time and the Iron Mountain String Band was re-formed with Brooke Moyer taking over the female lead and guitar. The three have played together for 35 years. ...

"Throughout, the Band has kept to the old mountain flavor of the music. While the original musical material of the Southern mountains has been much expanded in innovative ways by many other groups, the Iron Mountain String Band has remained strictly traditional. Their goal is to represent the roots of music that has now branched into Bluegrass, Newgrass, Pop/Folk, and Country, among others. ...

"The Band has given numerous concerts at clubs, museums, dances, and festivals in Southern California and has often played on KPFK. We were featured in the soundtrack of Jane Fonda's "Dollmaker", a major TV network movie (1984) and were listed in the Touring Artists Directory of the California Arts Council, 1992-4. Recent concerts include July 15, 2007 at the Boston Court Theater in Pasadena and a house concert Jan 17, 2008 hosted by Don Breyer, in Clairmont."

Sample a few tracks at or elsewhere. The Iron Mountain String Band compares well - very well indeed - to groups like The New Lost City Ramblers and even to genuine traditional groups like the Hammons fanily and the Stoneman family.

If you're a fan of this variety of folk, you will NOT be sorry.

I'm only sorry that it took me so long to discover them.

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Subject: RE: Review: Iron Mountain String Band
From: cnd
Date: 13 Apr 15 - 10:49 PM

Never heard of them. Will give it listen, though!

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Subject: RE: Review: Iron Mountain String Band
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Apr 15 - 07:50 AM

> Never heard of them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Iron Mountain String Band
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 14 Apr 15 - 08:42 AM

Got an LP of theirs called Walking in the Parlor somewhere around here. A classic. To me they are right up there with NLCR, Double Decker String Band and The Renegades.

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