Tennessee Ramblers (Tennessee Band) - Career

Career

William Sievers and his two children formed the Tennessee Ramblers in 1922. Walter McKinney typically appeared with the band playing steel guitar or Hawaiian guitar. James chose the name "Tennessee Ramblers" one night while they were driving to a show in Virginia. Throughout the 1920s, the band played at various venues across the eastern United States. They appeared on numerous radio stations, including WNOK in Knoxville, WLW in Cincinnati, and WFJC in Akron. At the fiddler conventions held by Frank Murphy at Market Hall in Knoxville, the Tennessee Ramblers were often paired with fiddlers Charlie Bowman and Earl Johnson.

In February 1928, the Tennessee Ramblers recorded their first record at a Brunswick session in Ashland, Kentucky. The recordings included "Cackling Pullet," which is based on the traditional tune "Hen Cackle," and "Fiddler Contest," which includes a guitar solo by Willie and a banjo solo by James. The session also produced "Preacher Got Drunk and Laid His Bible Down," which, as the chorus suggests, is based on the 1909 Robert Hoffman song, "I'm Alabama Bound."

In August 1929, Brunswick began the first of a series of large-scale recording sessions at the St. James Hotel in Knoxville. At this session, the Tennessee Ramblers recorded "Ramblers March," which was written by James, and "Garbage Can Blues," which they typically used to open performances. The group recorded several sides at Brunswick's follow-up Knoxville session in April of the following year, but no recordings from this session were released. Willie, however, is believed to have supplied the brief guitar solo on Uncle Jimmy's Favorite Fiddlin' Pieces, recorded at the same session by fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson of Grand Ole Opry fame.

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