Back to Carroll County players Uncle Norm Edmonds and the Old-timers for this week’s tune.  The name can’t be hardly any more common for a slew of different tunes that have the same name except for Sally Ann.

So IDA RED means lots different tunes with the same name. This version is ‘cool’  for several reasons and I don’t think there’s another name associated with it.  Please share if you know this tune and have a different name for it.

Besides being a unique melody and besides having that fiddle high note slide, notice the ELECTRIC bass as a prominent part of the back-up. The tune is in cross-tune A and was likely born out of the banjo/fiddle duet tradition of this area.

When guitars came into this area in the early 20th century adding to a tune wouldn’t really make much difference except to help the banjo player out with his/her time keeping role.  I can imagine this tune as a fretless banjo tune as well with some various slides.  So IMHO, it’s basically a dance tune where a flatfooting rhythm could be emphasized by a fiddler’s bowing pattern reacting to the back beat of the banjo and the various slides led by the banjo player.

The electric bass player’s name is unknown to me. It is definitely not being played like an upright bass is played in typical Bluegrass or OT music. This guy plays it very well and gives a ‘classic’ country flavor to an otherwise ‘old-time performance. I can imagine a crowd of dancers would still be dancing because the band is playing together so well in time. I still prefer simple solid upright bass playing with the guitar doing the transition runs not the bass. However, if the guitar can’t or won’t do basic runs then a sensitive bass player that is capable will likely do them and modernize the sound even further, so then why not go electric.   

That’s either Rufus Quesenberry or Rufus Burnette on banjo. Norm Edmonds on fiddle. John, Paul, and/or Cecil Edmonds on guitar. Not sure which is playing guitar and I am not sure who is the announcer.


Ida Red by Norm Edmonds

Response from Kerry Blech

I got reel-to-reel copies of the radio shows around 1974 (give or take a couple of  years) from music collector Marty Pahls, who was living in Chicago at the time, originally from Kent, Ohio, where I then lived). Marty never told me who had sent him the recordings. He sent a typewriter sheet with each disc with a tune list and musician list, and  noted “15-minute broadcasts from Galax, VA, 12:45 pm Saturdays”.  There is a listing of musicians (not itemized for each show) but no identification of the announcers. Marty mainly collected and traded tape copies of prewar 78 rpm records, old-time, blues, early jazz, novelty. He also was R. Crumb’s brother-in-law, and they had lived in an apartment together Cleveland when Crumb got a job at American Greeting Cards there. Marty had moved to San Francisco in the late ’70s and died about 15-20 years ago. Marty also introduced me to his fellow 78-collectors, most of whom had “catalogs” of taped recordings of their collections and were willing to sell tape copies, so I jumped into that maelstrom! 

Is Uncle Norm’s grandson (Jimmy?) still living in the Galax area? He might know some of the details, or could point to a family member who would know.