This is Floyd County’s own Dent Wimmer. A strong clawhammer banjo player who never dropped thumb. His style is full and rhythmic typical of this area where house parties and frolics with flatfoot dancing were common before WW2. He was recorded for the Old Originals project in 1973 by folklorist Tom Carter.
I met Tom Carter at a festival in Minnesota recently and told him how much his work has been integral in developing my taste for the ‘local’ Old-time music that I am trying to promote by sharing these tunes. He and folklorist Blanton Owen were in this area documenting ‘old-timers’ several times.
Here, I am including two takes of the same tune/song “You’ll Never Miss Your Mama til She’s Gone.”
Take one is the one NOT used for the final LP album that was issued as Old Originals Vol 1.
Take one is played in a relatively bright sweet way by Dent even though the words are mournful and sad. He had a cold that day but played for Tom Carter anyway. He is in something close to Double C tuning in both takes.
So Tom C must have returned for another session giving Dent time to think of the words and give it the haunting touch. This take is the one that made it onto the final LP product. Check it out.
Dent credits the song to the Smith Boys from Floyd County who played and sang like they were “afraid of it.”
Reply from Clay Shelor
Tom and I had a great conversation last year about his work in Patrick County and with capturing a generation of music before it was gone. I’m so thankful outsiders like Tom had the foresight to know we had something special. We had that something and didn’t even know it. I still go back to those recordings to learn, re-learn, work to get a better feel of how the Old Originals did their thing.
I went home for Mother’s Day and bumped into Harvey Spangler at Mabry’s Mill. Harvey’s father was Tump Spangler (a fiddler and justice of the peace in Meadows of Dan maybe back in the 1930s?) and his grandfather was “Old Man” Wallace (or Dad) Spangler who taught all of my grandfather’s generation how to fiddle. Harvey lives in Meadows of Dan. I want to go visit him and ask questions while someone from his generation is still with us. He has a connection to an oral tradition that is quickly fading. Stories Dad told that we used to roll our eyes at because we heard them so often are fading from my memory.