Sara Carter, The Carter Family and “New Old Timey” Music

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Today marks the birthday of Sara Carter, one of the original members of The Carter Family.  She was A.P. Carter’s wife and the main singer for the group.  Marital problems forced the group to end their performing career, however not before they left an amazing amount of great music.

The Carter Family is considered one of the primary forces that created country music, but is also heralded along with influencing artists such as Bob Dylan, and others of the 60s folk movement by way of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. Along with Jimmie Rodgers inspiring country musicians from Bill Monroe to Ernest Tubb, Left Frizzell and Hank Williams to Johnny Cash.


The German record company Bear Family Records known for their comprehensive collections of seminal recordings has issued a boxset of all of their music, and while expensive, it is a very good set to own, not only for the high-quality recordings but also for the hardcover book documenting the history and importance of the group.

MI0001774654The Carter Family: In The Shadow Of Clinch Mountain (12-CD Deluxe Box Set) 12-CD box (LP-size) with 220-page hardcover book, 307 tracks. Playing time approx. 933 mns.

Many of these recordings are appearing for the first time on CD, and the sound of these ageless classics has been digitally enhanced without damaging their integrity or purity. All known photographs of the original Carter Family have been included. Mother Maybelle’s personal photo collection has been included as well as all the photos belonging to Janette Carter, some previously unpublished, and there is a full-length newly-researched Carter Family biography by preeminent country music historian Charles Wolfe. ‘These recordings are archetypal and timeless,’ writes Wolfe. ‘They are as elemental as the wind or water, and have the simple beauty of the landscape of (the Carters’ home in) Poor Valley. It is hard to underestimate the importance of the Carter Family to country music, and to American music in general’.


Over the last twenty or so years, there has been something of a resurgence of this kind of music.  Gillian Welch is arguably the most well known young artist to incorporate the musical and production values of music from a much earlier period.  I call this trend New Old Timey music, but it coincides with a re-invigoration of Bluegrass music with artists such as the Steeldrivers, Crooked Still and other bands breaking through to a much wider audience than traditional Bluegrass bands.

Otis Gibbs, Cahalen Morrison, Danny Barnes, The Crooked Jades, Goodnight Texas, The Lonesome Sisters are just a few of the many young artists producing new music that sounds as if it could have been made during the Depression.

New acoustic music that is well worth hearing.

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