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Fiddlin' Powers & Family

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Biography

Based in St. Paul, Virginia, USA, the band had an enthusiastic following in their locality. Fortunately for present-day interest in early American folk music, the band was tracked down by record company scouts and was recorded in 1924, apparently in New York City, for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The band was led by fiddler Cowan Powers (b. 3 October 1877, Russell County, Virginia, USA, d. USA) and included his daughters, Ada, Orpha and Carrie, and son Charlie. The girls played mandolin, guitar and ukulele, while Charlie played fiddle. (A photograph of the band included another male holding a guitar.) The line of influence in folk and old time country music can be discerned from the fact that Charlie later played in the band of Dock Boggs and passed on songs such as ‘Papa Build Me A Boat’, from where it was handed down to the current generation of musicians. Among the Powers Family’s successful records, a particular favourite was ‘Old Virginia Reel’, which, unusually for that period of recording, runs for some six minutes and hence occupied two sides of a 78. The urgency and drive of this piece is such that it is the most frequently reissued of the band’s recordings. Among other pieces the band recorded are ‘Callahan’s Reel’, ‘Patty On The Turnpike’, ‘Have You Ever Seen The Devil, Uncle Joe?’ and ‘Old Molly Hare’.