CD Review: Curly Ray Cline: Chicken Reel

Ralph Stanley called him “The old Kentucky fox hunter.” Curly Ray Cline was my favorite fiddle player back in the 1970’s when I was a young boy. I loved to hear and watch him have the time of his life with every performance it seemed. He was always polite, happy and grateful of his supporting audiences. He had an old time mountain style on the fiddle and played with a real heartfelt love of music. Anybody that has ever had chickens at home will be able to relate to “Chicken Reel” which sounds very much like a bunch of chickens. I am sure Curly Ray had chickens at home.

There were more accomplished fiddlers, but he was my favorite because of his attitude and approach to old time mountain music. He began his professional career at age 15 when he and brother-in-law/cousin Ezra Cline founded the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers in 1938 and played on the radio in nearby Bluefield, Virginia. Both Curly Ray and brother Charlie played fiddle for Jimmy Martin, and Charlie also played with Bill Monroe.

I saw him many times during the early 1970’s when he always made me feel as if he remembered me–which he probably did not. He was just being himself, friendly and polite. He was always smiling whenever I saw him. He was always happy to sign an autograph and have his picture taken. I was fortunate to have had him sign my original copy of “Chicken Reel,” an old 33RPM record I bought from him at a festival in the 1970’s.

“Chicken Reel”

Credits have been given to Cline for all selections. This is not entirely correct, as Curly Ray surely did not write all these songs. If the credits meant it was Curley’s arrangements, then I would say quite possibly yes! Some of these tunes are traditional, passed on from generations prior to Cline, most of the cuts were written by Bill Monroe and others. Some are actually penned by Curly Ray Cline, such as “Blue Eyed Verdie” which I believe was written about his wife, Verdie Cline, who quite possibly had blue eyes.

This CD by Rebel Records is a trip down memory lane for me as I grew up hearing this stuff and I have a real soft spot for my past. I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did hearing it all once again.

A real old time mountain style fiddle player here!

Tracks on this CD
1.Chicken Reel
2. Soldiers Joy
3. Walkin’ In My Sleep
4. Yodeling Waltz
5. Dixon County Blues
6. Old Rugged Cross
7. Irish Washerwoman
8. Raggedy Ann
9. Blue eyed Verdie
!0. Leather britches
11. Carroll County Blues
12. I’ll Fly Away

Rebel Records

Steve Brandt

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