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1- AND HOW ABOUT 'THE DOWN SOUTH BLUES?' CAN YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU HEARD THAT? "Well, I learned that off of a phonograph record. My brother- in-law -- that was when we lived over here at Sutherland working for a while for Wise Coal and Coke Company -- he was a person that bought an awful lot of these phono- graph records at that time when was selling quite a lot of them in through here. Played them on these old- fashioned machines. I guess that he had probably 2 or
3 hundred of them. He had that there "Down South Blues." If I'm not mistaken, he had "Mistreated Mama Blues" on a record. I think it was sang and recorded by Mary Martin, or Sara Martin, or some woman; and it was accompanied by a piano. Anyway, I never did hear it played on a banjo or guitar or nothing else -- any kind of string music -- 'till just I commenced learning it myself, commenced playing it. In fact, I played for years that I never heard a man playa banjo that could play any kind
of blues on a banjo -- any kind. I got to playing with some boys, Scott Boatwright and anoLher one, I believe
it was Melvin Robenatt. And Scott says, 'I'm going to playa piece of blues, ' and said to me, 'Dock, you can wait till we play this here piece of blues.' I said, 'You think them blues ain't on this banjo neck the same as they're on that guitar? They're just as much on this banjo neck as they are on that guitar or piano or any- where else if you know where to go and get it, and if you learn it and know how to play it. 'Play the blues and see if I don't play them, see if I don't follow you.' And he played a piece of blues and sang them, and I went right along with him very good for the first time, hearing
them while he was playing them. I don't remember what that blues was, because I had some blues myself, 3 or 4 different blues that I played then all the time - - I mean all along. "
HAD YOU PLAYED 'THE DOWN SOUTH BLUES' THEN? I don't remember whether I was playing "The Down South Blues" then or not. "
WHEN DID YOU START WITH THE 'DOWN SOUTH?' "I commenced playing "The Down South Blues - - must have started, oh, must have been 40 years ago, maybe. About 40 years ago, I guess. "
ABOUT 1923? "Yes, I have an idea that's about -- no, I must have started before that, because I know I took
my banjo and I went to Hemphill -- that's for the Elkhorn Coal Corporation -- and stayed over there a little while, had my banjo over there. I played "The Down South Blues" then, and "John Henry, " and " Poor Ellen Smith, " and "John Hardy, " and different pieces like that, and "Pretty Polly." Then people would gather up out there. We'd get out from a boarding house and sit under a big tree, and I'd have great big bunches of men gather up to hear me play. I was working in the mines loading coal, but I had my banjo over there with me and I played a lot of different pieces at that time. "
2- AND 'THE COAL CREEK MARCH' WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TUNES THAT YOU... ? "That was one of the first chording pieces that I learned. "
DO YOU REMEMBER WHO PLAYED THAT? "No, I don't. I didn't learn it off of a phonograph record. I learned it -- I don't know who. I seen them chording, and I knowed the tuning that they had it in, and I just kept on fOOling with it. I seen two men with banjos that really could play "The Coal Creek March." And they had words for the song of "The Coal Creek March." I never learned them. If I had wanted, and insisted, I could have got the words -- they would have given them to me, if they would have cared to at all. Back along about - - just after I made those phonograph records, I guess it may have been in '27, last of '27, i 27 or i 28, that I seen these fellows. They was good on that there "Coal Creek March," the best that ever I heard -- anybody -- 'cause they had the words to it; that's what made it so good. "
DO YOU REMEMBER HOW THE WORDS GO? "No, can't remember nary a thing about that... "
4- DOCK, I REMEMBER AFTER YOU PLAYED 'THE COAL CREEK MARCH' FOR ME DOWN IN ASHEVILLE, DID YOU - - IT WAS THEN THAT YOU LEARNED SOME MORE ABOUT IT? "Yes, I found -- my brother-in-law, he's from Tennessee. He was telling me where that song "Coal Creek March" originated from and how it come about. It was made -- they had some labor trouble down in Tennessee. The men had been out on a strike and the state or government or something brought in ... convicts to try to run the mines with convict labor, and the people there tore it all up and turned them all loose. They had the state militia or guards or home guards whatever you call it in there, and they played up and down the road then a song they called" The Coal Creek March, " and it originated from that there strike and labor trouble they had there, what I understand, and there was a song made up about it. I have·never got the words of it. "
WHEN YOU SAY THE PEOPLE 'TORE IT UP, 9 YOU MEAN--? "When they brought in this here convict labor, why, they went and turned them loose where they was in stockades, and broke it up. They was going to use the convict labor for to mine the coal and so on. They had on a strike, and the people just wouldn't stand for it. "
5- "They was a doctor in town here, one doctor; M. L. Stallard, Moran Lee Stallard was his name, and that's my name: Moran Lee. We had one doctor in town and he had so many calls he couldn't fill near all of them, but they wasn't many people in Norton at that time and he was out of town. So, my father thought a lot of Doc Stallard, and mother did, too; and so whenever I was born -- whenever I came into the world -- a boy, why, they named me after Moran Lee Stallard. When I was just a little toddler toddling around, why, my dad com- menced calling me Dock, and all my brothers and sisters and everybody called me Dock. And even people, my acqua.intances -- and when I was going to school I didn't even want anybody to even mention the name Moran Lee-- M-o-r-a-n L-double-e. I thought that was awful ugly; I'd rather be called Dock two-to-one. So, after I got older, why, doing my official business and so on I Signed my right name Moran Lee, and when I made phonograph records, why, I decided I'd better have my name put on there the way that everybody knowed me. And nearly everybody knowed me Dock and they didn't know anything about my name being Moran Lee or M. L. Boggs."

6- "When I was -- I started to Atlanta, Georgia, one
time I come out from Ashland, Kentucky, and I was
alone -- just had my banjo -- and pass off the time I started playing the banjo up through there, and I must have been going through close to where some of this trouble had happened. There's a man reached over and said, 'Buddy, if I's you I wouldn't play that through here. ' He said, 'I love to hear you play, I like to hear you
Sing, I love to hear the song, I love to hear you play the banjo, but I wouldn't play that through here, because you know Ws been years and years since that trouble hap- pened, but up here at Prestonburg in the courthouse yard about a month or two ago or something like it a colored fellow playing that "Rowan County Crew, " playing it on the guitar and Singing it sitting under a tree there in the courthouse yard. One of those hotheads, boys -- must have been a distant relative or something to some of these people -- walked up to him, must have been about drunk or.something or other, just pulled out a •45 and shot the whole top of his head off.' And he said, 'It's a fact and I wouldn't play it through here.' I said, 'Mister, I'll not play it through here!' So I just stopped playing
it through there. So, I'm down here too far now, I don't guess that there's anybody wants to shoot me for playing it; so I'll play it for you the best I know how. "
1- AND HOW ABOUT 'THE DOWN SOUTH BLUES?' CAN YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU HEARD THAT? "Well, I learned that off of a phonograph record. My brother- in-law -- that was when we lived over here at Sutherland working for a while for Wise Coal and Coke Company -- he was a person that bought an awful lot of these phono- graph records at that time when was selling quite a lot of them in through here. Played them on these old- fashioned machines. I guess that he had probably 2 or 3 hundred of them. He had that there "Down South Blues." If I'm not mistaken, he had "Mistreated Mama Blues" on a record. I think it was sang and recorded by Mary Martin, or Sara Martin, or some woman; and it was accompanied by a piano. Anyway, I never did hear it played on a banjo or guitar or nothing else -- any kind of string music -- 'till just I commenced learning it myself, commenced playing it. In fact, I played for years that I never heard a man playa banjo that could play any kind
of blues on a banjo -- any kind. I got to playing with some boys, Scott Boatwright and anoLher one, I believe
it was Melvin Robenatt. And Scott says, 'I'm going to playa piece of blues, ' and said to me, 'Dock, you can wait till we play this here piece of blues.' I said, 'You think them blues ain't on this banjo neck the same as they're on that guitar? They're just as much on this banjo neck as they are on that guitar or piano or any- where else if you know where to go and get it, and if you learn it and know how to play it. 'Play the blues and see if I don't play them, see if I don't follow you.' And he played a piece of blues and sang them, and I went right along with him very good for the first time, hearing
them while he was playing them. I don't remember what that blues was, because I had some blues myself, 3 or 4 different blues that I played then all the time - - I mean all along. " HAD YOU PLAYED 'THE DOWN SOUTH BLUES' THEN? I don't remember whether I was playing "The Down South Blues" then or not. " WHEN DID YOU START WITH THE 'DOWN SOUTH?' "I commenced playing "The Down South Blues - - must have started, oh, must have been 40 years ago, maybe. About 40 years ago, I guess. " ABOUT 1923? "Yes, I have an idea that's about -- no, I must have started before that, because I know I took
my banjo and I went to Hemphill -- that's for the Elkhorn Coal Corporation -- and stayed over there a little while, had my banjo over there. I played "The Down South Blues" then, and "John Henry, " and " Poor Ellen Smith, " and "John Hardy, " and different pieces like that, and "Pretty Polly." Then people would gather up out there. We'd get out from a boarding house and sit under a big tree, and I'd have great big bunches of men gather up to hear me play. I was working in the mines loading coal, but I had my banjo over there with me and I played a lot of different pieces at that time. " 2- AND 'THE COAL CREEK MARCH' WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TUNES THAT YOU... ? "That was one of the first chording pieces that I learned. " DO YOU REMEMBER WHO PLAYED THAT? "No, I don't. I didn't learn it off of a phonograph record. I learned it -- I don't know who. I seen them chording, and I knowed the tuning that they had it in, and I just kept on fOOling with it. I seen two men with banjos that really could play "The Coal Creek March." And they had words for the song of "The Coal Creek March." I never learned them. If I had wanted, and insisted, I could have got the words -- they would have given them to me, if they would have cared to at all. Back along about - - just after I made those phonograph records, I guess it may have been in '27, last of '27, i 27 or i 28, that I seen these fellows. They was good on that there "Coal Creek March," the best that ever I heard -- anybody -- 'cause they had the words to it; that's what made it so good. " DO YOU REMEMBER HOW THE WORDS GO? "No, can't remember nary a thing about that... " 4- DOCK, I REMEMBER AFTER YOU PLAYED 'THE COAL CREEK MARCH' FOR ME DOWN IN ASHEVILLE, DID YOU - - IT WAS THEN THAT YOU LEARNED SOME MORE ABOUT IT? "Yes, I found -- my brother-in-law, he's from Tennessee. He was telling me where that song "Coal Creek March" originated from and how it come about. It was made -- they had some labor trouble down in Tennessee. The men had been out on a strike and the state or government or something brought in ... convicts to try to run the mines with convict labor, and the people there tore it all up and turned them all loose. They had the state militia or guards or home guards whatever you call it in there, and they played up and down the road then a song they called" The Coal Creek March, " and it originated from that there strike and labor trouble they had there, what I understand, and there was a song made up about it. I have·never got the words of it. " WHEN YOU SAY THE PEOPLE 'TORE IT UP, 9 YOU MEAN--? "When they brought in this here convict labor, why, they went and turned them loose where they was in stockades, and broke it up. They was going to use the convict labor for to mine the coal and so on. They had on a strike, and the people just wouldn't stand for it. " 5- "They was a doctor in town here, one doctor; M. L. Stallard, Moran Lee Stallard was his name, and that's my name: Moran Lee. We had one doctor in town and he had so many calls he couldn't fill near all of them, but they wasn't many people in Norton at that time and he was out of town. So, my father thought a lot of Doc Stallard, and mother did, too; and so whenever I was born -- whenever I came into the world -- a boy, why, they named me after Moran Lee Stallard. When I was just a little toddler toddling around, why, my dad com- menced calling me Dock, and all my brothers and sisters and everybody called me Dock. And even people, my acqua.intances -- and when I was going to school I didn't even want anybody to even mention the name Moran Lee-- M-o-r-a-n L-double-e. I thought that was awful ugly; I'd rather be called Dock two-to-one. So, after I got older, why, doing my official business and so on I Signed my right name Moran Lee, and when I made phonograph records, why, I decided I'd better have my name put on there the way that everybody knowed me. And nearly everybody knowed me Dock and they didn't know anything about my name being Moran Lee or M. L. Boggs." 6- "When I was -- I started to Atlanta, Georgia, one
time I come out from Ashland, Kentucky, and I was
alone -- just had my banjo -- and pass off the time I started playing the banjo up through there, and I must have been going through close to where some of this trouble had happened. There's a man reached over and said, 'Buddy, if I's you I wouldn't play that through here. ' He said, 'I love to hear you play, I like to hear you Sing, I love to hear the song, I love to hear you play the banjo, but I wouldn't play that through here, because you know Ws been years and years since that trouble hap- pened, but up here at Prestonburg in the courthouse yard about a month or two ago or something like it a colored fellow playing that "Rowan County Crew, " playing it on the guitar and Singing it sitting under a tree there in the courthouse yard. One of those hotheads, boys -- must have been a distant relative or something to some of these people -- walked up to him, must have been about drunk or.something or other, just pulled out a •45 and shot the whole top of his head off.' And he said, 'It's a fact and I wouldn't play it through here.' I said, 'Mister, I'll not play it through here!' So I just stopped playing
it through there. So, I'm down here too far now, I don't guess that there's anybody wants to shoot me for playing it; so I'll play it for you the best I know how. " read more read less

8 years ago #banjo, #blues, #country, #folk, #oldtime