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Updated  Monday, March 04, 2019 07:55 PM est                                          Your online source for old time music news



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DeFord BaileyDeFord Bailey: 
A Legend Lost

This special was aired on PBS Feb. 14, 2005, but the online biography and music clips are worth checking into.

DeFord Bailey was the most influential harmonica player in the first half of the 20th century. Second to Dave Macon as the most favorite performer on the Grand Ole Opry, he performed for 15 seasons from 1925 through 1940. Despite such acclaim, DeFord died quietly without recognition of his place in American music history. Read about his life and listen to some of his music at the PBS website:


Digital Collections in The Library Of Congress

The Library of Congress is not only the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, it is also the largest library in the world, with millions of resource items in its collections. An increasing number of these are becoming available for 

Henry Reed with Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band (1967)
Henry Reed with Bobbie Thompson of the Hollow Rock String Band (1967)

experiencing online at the Library of Congress website, with free and open access to historic maps, photos, documents, audio and video. A subsection Collections with Audio Recordings  includes over 40 collections of articles, photographs, video, and music recordings. Among these is a collection titled Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection.

Henry Reed was a fiddler from Monroe County, West Virginia, who lived from 1884 to 1968. He never performed as a professional musician, or recorded commercially, but has become known for preserving the music of his life and his culture through these archival recordings, now accessible for everyone to hear online. Read articles, view photographs of his life, listen to over 180 audio files of Henry playing his tunes collected by folklorist Alan Jabbour in 1966-67. Also view a video of Mr. Jabbour demonstrating Henry's bowing technique.

Be sure to also explore the many other collections available from the Library. Other topics include:

African-American Band Music & Recordings, 1883-1923
Alan Lomax Collection of Michigan and Wisconsin Recordings
The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
National Jukebox
Now What a Time: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943

Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip

Slim Bryant
Country Music 
Legend and Local TV Pioneer
Dec. 7, 1908 ~ 
May 28, 2010 

Slim Bryant

Slim Bryant was a country guitarist and songwriter with a performance career stretching back over 75 years. He was known by many Pittsburghers for having performed on the first television program to air in this city, a musical variety show broadcast live on WDTV (later to become KDKA TV) from the Syria Mosque in Oakland in 1949. 

Thomas Hoyt "Slim" Bryant was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 7, 1908. His father was an electrician who played old-time fiddle, and his mother was an amateur poet who sang, played guitar and piano. Slim's music career took off in 1931 when he joined up with Clayton McMichen and the band that would soon become The Georgia Wildcats. Bryant and his band came to Pittsburgh's KDKA radio in August, 1940 and played on "The Farm Show'' every morning until 1959. The group harmonized, sometimes crooned and could play styles from ballads to polkas to novelties. "We played, gave news and market reports for the farmers,'' he explained. It was a time when the radio and record industry were young, and automobiles were making it possible for itinerant musicians to tour like never before. They were part of the first generation of country music "professionals" who could earn a living in the recording and performing business.

Bryant was also best known for his recording days with the legendary country singer Jimmie Rodgers, who died in 1933. Rodgers recorded Bryant's song "Mother, the Queen of My Heart," on Oct. 21, 1932 with Bryant accompanying him on guitar. The song has since been done by singers ranging from George Gobel to Merle Haggard. In addition to the Georgia Wildcats and Jimmie Rodgers, Bryant has performed with The Skillet Lickers, Gene Autry, Eddy Arnold, Tex Ritter, Les Paul, Joe Negri, Burl Ives, Rosemary Clooney and Snooky Lanson, many of them he still counts as friends.

Slim Bryant and his WildcatsSlim Bryant has written about 200 songs, including country western standards, as well as jingles for ad agencies. With his Wildcats he recorded hundreds of songs for a variety of labels, more than 180 of them at NBC in New York. A CD recording featuring Slim's music was released in the Spring of  2007. The CD contains 31 songs that were recorded more than a half-century ago. Slim wrote music and or words for a number of them, among the tunes are these titles: "Thunderstorm" "Penny Ante Polka" and "My Saddle, My Bronco and You.''

When the music business slowed in the early 1960's Slim and his wife Mary Jane opened a card shop and a basement studio on Potomac Avenue in Dormont. Mrs. Bryant died of a neurological disease in 1987. 

On his 100th birthday, Slim was honored at an open celebration at his church, Dormont Presbyterian.


Follow these links for more about the life of Hoyt "Slim" Bryant:

WQED Multimedia TV OnQ

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 19, 2007 
Vintage country recordings released on CD

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May 10, 2007
Slim Bryant, 98, returning to country music with CD

Pittsburgh Magazine December 2006
Our Own Country Music Legend Turns 98 This Month

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, August 11, 2002
A Life in tune The real Slim's heyday
(This site has some audio clips of Slim's songs, and interview)

The Old Time Herald Vol. 8, No. 5 
The Varied Musical Career of Slim Bryantó93 Years Young

Thomas Hoyt Slim Bryant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Clayton McMichen and his Georgia Wildcats on their first visit to KDKA in 1931.
From left: Pat Berryman, Clayton McMichen, Johnny Barfield and Slim Bryant.


The Appalachians:
3 Part Documentary
Aired on

The dramatic history of a land and its people, told in story and song


The story of the Appalachian Mountains is the story of America: immigration, settlement, the Revolution and the Civil War, the growth of industry and the use and abuse of land. Appalachia has also had a great impact on American music, folklore and culture, giving birth to what we know today as country music.

THE APPALACHIANS is a three-hour documentary which aired on public television stations nationwide on April 1, 2005. Following an historical chronology, the narrative thread features the colorful writings of common people and historical figures. Personal stories are told on camera by people whose families have lived in Appalachia for generations. Along with comments from historians, artists such as Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Loretta Lynn and a host of others help to tell this remarkable story through word and song .

For a more detailed description of the series, visit https://www.aptonline.org/catalog/APPALACHIANS-THE

Carter Family Documentary Aired on PBS: American Experience



One of the most influencial music groups in the early days of American country music is the focus of a PBS documentary airing the week of May 8, 2005. The Carter Family is responsible for writing many well known songs such as Wabash Cannonball, and I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes, and popularizing many others others such as Will The Circle Be Unbroken, and Keep On The Sunnside. Their pre-bluegrass folk style created an audience and set the stage for much of the bluegrass and country music that would develop in the years following the depression of the 1930s.

An online description of the program can be viewed at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carterfamily/index.html