Tom Darby (l) & Jimmie Tarlton. Real Photo Promotional Postcard, 1927. Collection of Brian Brown.
This postcard came into my possession through the estate of a cousin, who was a great niece of Tom Darby. Largely forgotten today, Thomas P. (Tom) Darby [1892-1971] and James J. (Jimmie) Tarlton [1892-1979] were considered not only legendary bluesmen but pioneers of country music as well. They’ve been called the first country musicians to employ the steel guitar. Their most famous work, “Columbus Stockade Blues”, has been covered by artists ranging from Doc Watson and Willie Nelson to Bill Monroe, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Dylan. When they made the recording for Columbia in Atlanta in November 1927 Tom Darby pressed for a flat payment of $150 but Jimmie Tarlton wanted royalties. The song took off and sold over 200,000 copies in a short time and though the duo recorded 63 more songs dating to 1933, hostilities over lost royalties finally drove them apart. They reunited in 1965 for a symphony appearance in Columbus but no further collaborative recordings were made. Tarlton, always considered the standout of the duo, did make solo recordings in the 1960s. Search Amazon for compilations, which are available and provide valuable insight into the birth of American popular music.
Whether you’re a gospel fan or country music is your preference, you’ll find a perfect combination of those two styles with The Parish Family’s newest CD, Old House. (I was honored that they used one of my photographs on the cover). Longtime country and gospel fans familiar with the band Shenandoah will enjoy Marty Raybon’s guest spot. The Parish Family is based in Bainbridge and consists of brothers Ronnie & Mark, and Ronnie’s wife, Kesha Parish. All three members are accomplished songwriters and perform largely from their own catalog. They’ve had number one hits and continue to receive numerous awards, but when you listen to their work, you’ll know that they’re not in it for that. There’s no doubting that they love what they do. To me, it’s like hearing the old-time gospel I remember from my childhood with a slightly modern twist.
Originally a dry goods store and bank, this structure has been known for years as the Swampland Opera. In 1975, the late Joe Boone, Jr., started the business as a weekend venue for musicians and each Saturday until 2000, a country, gospel & bluegrass music hoedown was held here.