In early August of 1927, Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, his wife Sara and his sister-in-law Maybelle made the bumpy trip on rutted roads from their home in Maces Springs, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee American music would never be the same.
The Carter Family recorded half-a-dozen songs in Bristol for Mr. Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company, at a series of makeshift recording sessions sometimes called “the Big Bang of Country Music.”
Now, the Gospel Train – featuring Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck – honor the rich musical legacy of A.P., Sara and Maybelle with a special concert, “Wildwood Flower: Songs of the Original Carter Family,” at Caffe Lena at 7pm Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10. The date also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Maybelle.
Along with her daughters June, Helen and Anita, Mother Maybelle continued the Carter Family musical tradition into the 1970s, while performing with famous fans like Mike Seeger, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and, of course, Maybelle’s son-in-law Johnny Cash.
The Gospel Train's lineup for the Carter Family show: Joe Gumpper, Michael Eck, Tom Lindsay, Ryan Dunham, and Ashley Pond (photo by D. Lockrow/ART Photography).
Joining the Gospel Train for the show at Caffe Lena will be three very special guests. Albany singer-songwriter Ashley Pond, who is still riding high on the reviews of her debut album, “Dala,” will sing classics like “Wildwood Flower” and “Single Girl, Married Girl.” And harmonica ace Ryan Dunham and fiddler Joe Gumpper – both from the roots-rock band Red Haired Strangers – will bring an additional musical flair to the evening, especially on such American standards as “Worried Man Blues,” “Keep On The Sunny Side” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
The Carters were a prime influence on important artists like Cash and his forebears, Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. Their music – a combination of mountain folk songs, parlor ballads and original compositions – continues to hold sway even today, and its strains can be heard in the sounds of Emmylou Harris, Dave Alvin, The White Stripes and Bruce Springsteen.
In recognition of the Mother’s Day holiday, and in an effort to make mom’s life a little easier, Caffe Lena has also partnered with the legendary Hattie’s restaurant to present a special Mother’s Day buffet in conjunction with the show. The meal, just right for a Sunday country supper, will feature Hattie’s famous fried chicken, red beans and rice, cornbread and coleslaw. The buffet, available for an additional $15 charge, begins at 6pm.