Annotation:L and N Rag

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L & N RAG. AKA and see "Sleeping Lulu." Old-Time, Country Rag. USA, Kentucky. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Phillips). Alex Hood and the Railroad Boys (who recorded the tune in 1930) came from Corbin, an eastern Kentucky railroad hub where many people worked for the lines--in the group's case this was the Lousiville & Nashville (L&N) line. Another old-time group, Walker's Corbin Ramblers also made Corbin home at the time (in fact, mandolin player John Walker was a member of both groups). The "L & N Rag" featured the playing of Emory Mills on fiddle, while banjoist Alex Hood and Vocalion A & R man Bill Brown provide commentary on Corbin:

Brown: Old Alex Hood and his Railroad Boys, playing that L&N Rag.

Hood: Yeah, boy. They just down from Corbin.

Brown: That's a good place to be away from, Corbin.

Hood: All right, step on it there now, Alex.

Brown: When I say 'away from Corbin', I mean it's a pretty good town after all. We like it, whether the rest of you folks do or not.

The pair go on to talk about the railroads in Corbin, the L&N "and that old Southland too." David Nelson [1], in his account of the recording session, writes:

Under the sponsorship of the Middlesboro Piano Company, the group, called Alec Hood’s Railroad Boys (Since all were employed by the L & N) were to record ten numbers for the Vocalion Company. When they arrived at the recording studio they were told that a group which included Lowe Stokes and Slim Miller were working on a skit called “The Hatfield-McCoy Feud”. The Hood musicians were pressed into service as actors in the skit, which was practiced all day before satisfactory takes were made. Mr. Walker recalls them sending out for yards and yards of calico to tear for simulated fighting, and using pads and paddles for sounds of gunfire and running. His own line was “Stand back boys, I’ll shoot”. It was not until late evening that the “Feud” session was completed, and the Railroad Boys were told to cut two numbers, and there would be a supper break, after which they were to return and the other eight pieces. Since they had a train to catch, they were unable to work on the after-dinner session. Hence, only two sides were put on wax. “L &N Rag” was a popular fiddle tune of the area which was usually called “Sleeping Lulu”. It was recorded under this title by fellow Kentuckians Richard D. Burnett and Oscar Rutledge. The other side of the disc was “Corbin Slide.”…The record had some impromptu talking on it, and this was done by Mr. Brown, the man in charge of the recording studio—probably the talking itself was to break up the straight instrumentalism of the number.

See also Alex Hood and His Railroad Boys only other recording, "Corbin Slide."

Sources for notated versions: Bill Christopherson & the Lazy Aces (Conn.) [Phillips]; Greg Canote (Seattle) [Phillips].

Printed sources: Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 74. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 86.

Recorded sources: Cartunes 105, Bruce Molsky and Bob Carlin - "Take Me as I Am" (2004. Sourced to Alex Hood). County 531, Alex Hood & his Railroad Boys - "Old Time String Band Classics, 1927-1933" (1975). Marimac 9008, The Lazy Aces - "Still Lazy After All These Years" (1986. Learned from the Alex Hood & his Railroad Boys recording). Vocalion 5463 (78 RPM), Alex Hood and the Railroad Boys (1930).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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  1. JEMF Quarterly, 1972