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Emry Arthur

The family background of this 1920s Paramount recording artist is a pretty familiar combination for Appalachia. On one side, there is tragedy, in this case the mother of Emry Arthur dying when he was only a year old. On the other side, of course, is music. Arthur's dad was a respected bass singer in their county, promoting an active interest in a musical career for his son and proud of the several dozen recordings that were the result. His brothers were also all singers, and one of them, Henry Arthur, played fiddle with him. Emry Arthur sang and accompanied himself on guitar, proving not everyone can be a Django Reinhardt. While that gypsy guitar stylist's loss of several fingers did not prevent him from playing faster than most guitarists on the face of the earth, having a finger shot off in a hunting accident prevented Arthur from ever developing much more than a simple style of rhythm playing, although it is extremely effective. He married three times, finally winding up with a wife who could sing with him on records, as Della Hatfield did for both the Paramount and Vocalion labels. Indianapolis was this artist's home for most of his life, and it was labor such as working as an elevator operator that paid the bills, not his recordings or performances. A pity that he was not able to collect in advance for all the influence he would have on the music scene, just one large example of which was his popularizing the traditional ballad "A Man of Constant Sorrow" through his recordings. Some old-time music scholars actually credit him with authorship of the song, although a question mark is always attached to this claim as firmly as a tail to a dog. He never established a legal copyright to the song, which is for example what his fellow Appalachian musician Frank Proffitt was able to do with "Tom Dooley." In the late '20s, he played backup guitar on some Dock Boggs sessions, material that was reissued to great acclaim by the Revenant label in the '90s. But by 1932, the current demand for his style had become miniscule and he was forced to sweat it out full-time in a meat packing plant. He made his final studio recordings in 1935 for Decca. He did not make his presence felt during the folk revival of the '60s, and it is assumed he had completely stopped playing by then. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Appalachian Heart: Original Bluegrass Classics

1. New Compton Races

2. Carroll County Blues

3. Blue Ridge Mountain Blue

4. Ramshackle Shack

5. Orange Blossom Special

6. Kentucky Is Only a Dream

7. Somebody Touched Me

8. Jesse James

9. Helen

10. Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues

11. Down Among the Budded Roses

12. Wabash Cannon Ball

13. Man of Constant Sorrow

14. Will the Weaver

15. Fate of Ellen Smith

16. Lowe Bonnie

17. Oh Molly Dear

x

Track List: Paramount Old Time Recordings - Disc A

Disc 1

1. C & O Whistle

2. Fox In The Mountains

3. Old Joe Clark

4. Kentucky Bootleggers

5. Cackling Hen

6. Cotton Mill Blues

7. Say Darling Won't You Love Me

8. Banjo Sam

9. Knocking Down Casey Jones

10. Been On The Job Too Long

11. The Old Bell Cow

12. Bile Them Cabbage Down

15. Chickens Don't Roost Too High For Me

16. Soldier's Joy

17. Show Me The Way To Go Home

18. Whoa Mule Whoa

19. When I Was Single My Pockets Did Jingle

20. Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane

21. The Knoxville Girl

22. Hatfield McCoy Feud

23. Tuck Me In

25. Midnight Serenade

Disc 2

1. The Marion Massacre

2. The North Carolina Textile Strike

3. Busted Bank Blues

4. Picture On The Wall

5. Got Drunk And Got Married

6. I Tickled Her Under The Chin

7. The Married Man

8. The Bluefield Murder

9. George Collins

10. Choctaw Beer Blues

11. Anuiant Et Bleu

12. Sara Jane

13. I Was Born 4,000 Years Ago

15. Broadway Blues

16. Log Cabin Blues

17. Down In Arkansas

18. When The Whipoorwill Is Whispering Goodnight

19. Only A Tramp

20. Six Feet Of Earth

21. Those Dark Eyes I Love So Well

22. Longing For Home

23. Down By The Railroad Track

24. Hen House Blues

25. Memphis Blues

Disc 3

7. There's A Treasure Up In Heaven

8. Room For Jesus

9. This World Is Not My Home

10. 'til We Meet Again

11. He Cometh

12. The Model Church - Part 1

13. The Model Church - Part 2

14. Little David Play On Your Harp

15. Jesus Is Getting Us Ready

16. I Will Tell A Wondrous Story

17. Two Little Children

18. I Shall Not Be Moved

19. Death Is No More Than A Dream

24. Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory To The Lamb

25. Give Me That Old Time Religion

Disc 4

1. Good Cocaine (Mama Don't Allow It)

2. A Pretty White Rose

4. Little Mamie

5. The Unfortunate Brakeman

6. Some Mother's Boy

7. Idaho Joe

8. Gambler's Blues

9. La Valse De La Ru Canal

11. Cousinne Lilly

12. Miserable

13. Valse De Gueydan

14. Upstairs

15. La Delaisser

17. I'm Going Crazy

18. Swinging In The Lane

19. Chicken Reel

20. Double Eagle March

21. My Little Girl

22. In The Good Old Summertime

23. Are You Angry With Me Darling

24. Julie Girl

25. Red Wing

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