Biography:Scottdale String Band

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Scottdale String Band

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From the liner notes to Arhoolie CD 7054, "Old Folk Better Go to Bed" (2004):

Scottdale String Band –

In the first golden age of country music, from the mid-1920s until the early ’30s, the Scottdale String Band held one of the leading names in OKeh Records’ catalog of Old Time Tunes. The band took its name from the cotton mill village of Scottdale, located between Decatur and Clarkston in DeKalb County, Georgia. String bands without fiddles, groups of mandolins, banjos, and guitars, in varying combinations, were quite well represented on records in those years. But the Scottdale String Band’s extensive and diverse legacy of sparkling performances ranging from ragtime tunes and popular songs to waltzes, breakdowns, and blues, sets them apart from their contemporaries.

The Scottdale String Band was one of those Atlanta recording acts to appear also on the city's radio stations. In publicizing the initial appearance of the Scottdale group on WSB on January 29, 1927, the Journal did not mention the band's name. Readers were told that "old-time fiddlin' selections, presented by a quartet of two guitars and two mandolins [would] comprise WSB's headline offering to the twilight listeners Saturday afternoon from 5 to 6 o'clock." Journal and WSB officials apparently considered it more important to identify the act as performers of fiddle music than to use the name under which the group recorded. Perhaps as a result of long contact with Fiddlin' John Carson and other local fiddlers the newspaper and radio station staffs seem to have equated hillbilly music in general with fiddle music. Comprising the quartet, which the Journal referred to as "a new musical unit before WSB's microphone," were Marvin Head and Ed Freeman, mandolinists, and Eunice and Bonnie Pritchard, guitarists. "The quartet has been heard at gatherings, clubs and fraternity meetings in Atlanta," said the Journal, "and many of the selections which have proven so popular with their listeners will be repeated before the microphone for the invisible audience." The Journal's radio calendar for the day lists the act as "J.M. Head, old-time fiddler, and other entertainers."

Three members of the J.M. Head group were back in the WSDB studio on Saturday night, July 9, 1927, for an appearance on the 10:45 to 11:45 program. This time, using the name Scottdale String Band, the musicians were identified as Barney [Bonnie?] Pritchard, guitarist; Belvey [Ed?] Freeman, banjo-mandolinist; and Marvin Head, guitarist. Described as "OKeh recording artists of old-time and novelty numbers," the group was expected to play "Carbolic Rag" and "Italian [Carolina?] Glide" on their program."