This week's tune is Cacklin' Hen and Rooster Too from the playing of the Skillet Lickers of Atlanta, GA.
Gid Tanner formed The Skillet Lickers in 1926. Between 1926 and 1931 they recorded 88 sides for Columbia. Eighty-two of these were commercially issued. They disbanded in 1931, but reformed for occasional recordings after a couple of years with a changing line-up. The Skillet Lickers, helped make Atlanta and North Georgia an early center of old-time string band music, especially the hard-driving fiddle-based style employed by them.
James Gideon Tanner (6 June 1885--13 May 1960) began playing fiddle at age 14. He reportedly had a repertoire of 2,000 songs and tunes. He made a living as a chicken farmer most of his life. In 1924, he and Riley Puckett traveled to New York City made a series of recordings for Columbia Records.
Riley Puckett (7 May 1894--13 July 1946) was blind from infancy due to an incorrect eye treatment using lead acetate. He sang and played guitar and banjo. He was referred to as the "Bald Mountain Caruso" in newspapers, and he played with the Home Town Boys, an Atlanta-area string band, for many years. This band included Clayton McMichen, and they made their debut on the radio in 1922. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1986.
Clayton "Mac" McMichen (26 January 1900--4 January 1970) learned fiddle at a young age from his father and uncle. In 1918, he formed the band Lick the Skillet, which was soon renamed the Home Town Boys. After the Skillet Lickers split up, he started a new band called the Georgia Wildcats.
Singleton Lafayette "Fate" Norris (23 August 1878--11 November 1944) had previously performed as a one-man band and had made a device with strings and levers which he played with his feet. He was only occasionally a member of the band. By 1931 he appears to have disappeared from the line-up, and was replaced by Gid on banjo.
Bert Monroe Layne (14 December 1889--22 October 1982) was brother-in-law- of McMichen and occasionally played with the Skillet Lickers. He began playing fiddle as a boy. His siblings also played instruments, which their father made. He recorded with McMichen's bands and participated in the comedy skits of the Skillet Lickers.
A later member, Marcus Lowell "Lowe" Stokes (28 May 1898--14 July 1983), was an excellent fiddler and considered McMichen's equal. He lost his right hand to a shotgun blast in the late 1920s, in the midst of the Skillet Lickers' popularity. He later began fiddling again using a prosthetic attachment to hold his bow. . (source for all above information: Wikipedia and Bluegrass Messengers site)
The Columbia recording of Cacklin' Hen and Rooster Too consists of Clayton McMichen, Bert Layne and Lowe Stokes on fiddle, Gid Tanner on banjo and Riley Puckett on guitar. The source recording at the end of this video comes from Larry Warren at Slippery-Hill, slippery-hill.com/recording/ca...oster-too
Joining me in our recording is Stephen Rapp on banjo (Kent, OH), and Jeanie Creamer on guitar (Hocking Hills, OH). It was a fun and memorable weekend spending time with Jeanie at her home.
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