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The Lilly Brothers And Don Stover
On The Radio 1952 - 1953

Review By Steven Stone
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The Lilly Brothers And Don Stover On The Radio 1952 - 1953

CD Number: Rounder Records 82161 - 1109 - 2

 

  New England isn't a place you typically associate with bluegrass music, but it has been a hotbed of activity ever since the early 1950's, due largely to the regional influence of The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover. Their disciples included Joe Val, Herb Applin, Jim Rooney, Bill Keith, Dave Dillon and Peter Rowan. The close-harmony vocal style of the Lilly brothers is reminiscent of other great brother duets like the Louvin and Delmore Brothers, but they were among the first to apply it to bluegrass. Their radio career began in 1939 on West Virginia's WJLS, and they went on to be regulars on "The Old Farm Hour" on WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia, and WWVA’s Wheeling Jamboree, before moving north in 1952 to join fiddler Tex Logan in Boston. There, along with banjoist Don Stover, they hosted a daily radio show on WCOP, performed on the station’s Hayloft Jamboree program, and spent the next two decades as regulars at Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch nightclub.

Unfortunately, except for two singles released on Page records, no recordings were made during the first twenty years of the Lilly Brothers career. On the Radio 1952 – 1953 is the first and only recording of their early work. Collected from the actual acetate disks the Lillys made for their morning radio show, transferred to tape in 1970, and then to digital masters, these performances effectively capture The Lilly Brothers early fun-loving style. Sure, the recording quality is not up to today’s high standards, with little top end extension and a certain amount of groove noise, but you can still hear each part clearly and appreciate their rock-solid harmonies and hot solos. Mandolinists will especially appreciate the chance to study Everett Lilly’s tremolo-laden double-stop solo style. His version of the Bill Monroe mandolin showpiece "Rawhide" drives just as hard as Bill's. Don Stover’s banjo playing is also first rate. On "Why Did You Wander" Stover sets the pace with blistering banjo licks.

If your library of older bluegrass begins with Bill Monroe and ends with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, you need a copy of On the Radio 1952 – 1953. The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover typify the more Northern and urban bluegrass style that has had a major influence on contemporary bluegrass. You want roots? You found ‘em.

 

 

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