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Review: Allerton & Alton, Black, White and Bluegrass

Allerton & Alton
Black, White And Bluegrass
Bear Family BCD 16559 AH

There aren’t a whole lot of names that pop up when one thinks of Maine’s contribution to the history of country music. Clarence and Roland White, Dick Curless, Hal Lone Pine and Betty Cody (Lenny Breau’s parents), and David Mallett (whose songs have been recorded by country singers) come to mind, not to mention the cultish Dick Stacey’s Jamboree. With this 27-track album, Allerton and Alton’s contribution to the state’s country music legacy can now be properly recognized. Alberton (Al Hawkes) and Alton Myers, who were active in the late 40s and early 50s and stuck close to home, never released any records. These radio sessions, complete with banter in a downeast accent, consist mostly of songs that were popular at the time. A.P. Carter’s “Keep on the Sunnyside” served as the show’s theme song.

The duo, also known as the Cumberland Ridge Runners, were distinguished by the very fact that Alton Myers, who died in 2000 at age 67, was an African American, which made for an uncommon configuration for this kind of mountain music. Allerton and Alton weren’t outstanding performers ,but their harmony singing was certainly more than competent. Allerton was a good mandolin player, and the duo’s genuine love of southern hillbilly music and bluegrass comes through in  both their choice of material and their execution of it. As is typical of Bear Family releases, the annotation by Hank Davis is commendably exhaustive. Now let’s hope the label looks into releasing a DVD of Dick Stacey’s Jamboree featuring the adorable Jennie Shontell.

—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)


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