Mac Benford and the old-time music boom

Mac Benford and the old-time music boom

2:00pm Apr 14, 2017
Mac Benford, a member of the Highwoods Stringband in the 1970s, reminisces this week on how he came to old time music and wound up in a highly influential band.
Paul Brown

One outcome of the folk music boom of the 1950s and ‘60s was an increased interest in the music from which much pop and folk had sprung: old-time and bluegrass.  While The Weavers, The Kingston Trio and other groups developed a slick, commercialized sound for largely elite northern urban audiences of the time, The New Lost City Ramblers dug into 78 RPM recordings and paid visits to old time musicians.  Dressing the part of early country musicians in white shirts and vests, they interpreted the music they’d encountered when they performed on the college and urban folk club circuits, spreading the word about the importance of going back to roots. By the 1970s, with the Vietnam War and early repercussions of civil rights advances pulling at the American social fabric, a spirit of rebellion emerged among many young adults.  Part of that produced a search for things sincere and down to earth – including old-time music.  The Highwoods Stringband, slightly younger than the New Lost City Ramblers,  was heavily influenced by the Ramblers but took a somewhat different path.  The band came together almost by accident, established its own consistent sound rather than interpreting a variety of styles as the Ramblers did, and for some six years brought a level of energy and infectious good humor to its performances that electrified old-time music enthusiasts worldwide and set a style template for many other players.

In this week’s Across the Blue Ridge, we hear from Mac Benford, the Highwoods banjo player, about how he came to be deeply involved in old-time music.  He tells us about a time many listeners may not be aware of, when folk music ruled the radio charts.  Mac also recounts his first trip to a southern fiddlers’ convention, and his encounters with two iconic banjo players: Kyle Creed and Wade Ward. 

Along the way, we hear some of the best Highwoods Stringband music, plus classic cuts of the old timers who influenced the Highwoods musicians and thousands of others. 

Playlist

  1. Money Musk
    Highwoods Stringband
    Feed Your Babies Onions
     
  2. Dance All Night With A Bottle In Your Hand
    Skillet Lickers
    Skillet Lickers Volume 1
     
  3. Way Down The Old Plank Road
    Highwoods Stringband
    Feed Your Babies Onions
     
  4. Riding On That Train
    New Lost City Ramblers
    Volume 2 1963-73
     
  5. Danville Girl
    Dock Boggs
    Country Blues
     
  6. Parkersburg Landing
    Mac Benford
    Half Past Four
     
  7. Break 1 - Wake Susan
    Mac Benford & The Woodshed Allstars
    Willow
     
  8. Free Little Bird
    Highwoods Stringband
    Feed Your Babies Onions
     
  9. Mac Benford Interview
    Mac Benford
    ATBR interview
     
  10. Tom Dooley
    The Kingston Trio
    Their Greatest Hits
     
  11. Mac Benford Interview 2
    Mac Benford
    ATBR interview
     
  12. Tom Dooley
    Frank Proffitt
    Traditional Songs & Ballads of Appalachia
     
  13. Mac Benford Interview 3
    Mac Benford
    ATBR interview
     
  14. Country Ham & Red Gravy
    Uncle Dave Macon
    Travelin' Down The Road
     
  15. Parkersburg Landing
    Mac Benford
    Half Past Four
     
  16. Break 2 - John Hardy
    Kyle Creed
    Liberty
     
  17. Mac Benford Interview 4 Wade Ward
    Mac Benford
    ATBR interview
     
  18. June Aplple
    Wade Ward
    Clawhammer Banjo Vol. 1
     
  19. Mac Benford Interview 5 Kyle Creed
    Mac Benford
    ATBR Interview
     
  20. Breaking Up Christmas
    Camp Creek Boys
    Old Time String Band
     
  21. Lee Highway Blues
    Highwoods Stringband
    Feed Your Babies Onions
     
  22. Boatsman
    Mac Benford
    Half Past Four