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Fiddlin’ Frank Nelson playing And the Cat Came Back

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: Audio, TweedBlog. Tags: , , ,

I listened to this expecting to hear the song Riley Puckett sang so well, and was surprised to hear this very nice fiddle instrumental instead. Surprised, especially, in that I had never heard of Fiddlin’ Frank Nelson.

A quick check of Tony Russell’s Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 the Rosetta Stone for prewar country music, solved the mystery. Fiddlin’ Frank is a pseudonym for the great Kentucky fiddler Doc Roberts.

This track was cut in Richmond, Indiana, at the studios of the Starr Piano Company, with Joe Booker providing the guitar accompaniment. It was recorded on Saturday, August 27th, 1927, and paired with Roberts’ interpretation of Billy in the Lowground. That pairing was released on half a dozen labels, under half a dozen names. Here’s a mapping for you:

  • Champion Records -> Fiddlin’ Jim Burke
  • Silvertone and Supertone Records -> Jim Burke
  • Challenge and Superior Records -> Fiddlin’ Frank Nelson
  • Bell Records -> Fiddlin’ Bob White
  • Bell Records (again) -> Bob White
  • Gennett Records -> Doc Roberts

Roberts had a career rebirth during the folk revival of the 1960s. Berea College in Kentucky has an extensive collection of his papers.

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