David Davis & the Warrior River Boys
David Davis and the Warrior River Boys have long been recognized as modern leaders in traditional bluegrass, but on their latest release Didn’t He Ramble: Songs of Charlie Poole they throw genre boundaries aside by delving deeper into the roots of acoustic music. They have produced a masterful and exciting collection of songs originally recorded in the 1920s by the legendary Charlie Poole and his North Carolina Ramblers, a generation before Bill Monroe is credited with founding bluegrass music. “Our intention was to evolve the songs, yet leave the strength and essence of the original feel as our foundation and build on that,” explains Davis.
Didn’t He Ramble is eagerly anticipated in bluegrass circles, as well as more widely among fans of folk and acoustic music. Co‐producer David Davis is leading the charge, he is a veteran picker appearing on numerous classic bluegrass recordings and a recipient of countless awards in bluegrass and country music. Davis was partially inspired by one of Rounder Records founders, Ken Irwin, to consider a whole album of Charlie Poole material. First generation bluegrass masters Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys recorded a version of Poole’s “White House Blues,” and Poole’s music was a common source of repertoire for many other early bluegrass bands. It’s a practice that has sadly fallen into disuse, and is here revived by Davis and the Warrior River Boys.
“The idea of recording a tribute to Charlie Poole was very interesting to us,” says Davis. “For a number of years we had mentioned him as our candidate for ‘Grandfather of Bluegrass Music.’ The best tribute that we could offer was to try to take the key elements from Poole’s music and evolve that into more modern forms of traditional music, stating our case for Poole being not only a worthy candidate for ‘Grandfather of Bluegrass,’ but actually ‘Grandfather’ for a much broader roots music family.” Davis continues, “This particular recording contains the most extensive variety of traditional roots styles that we have ever included on one recording, it’s a marriage of old‐time tunes melded with bluegrass instrumentation, rhythm, and harmonies.”
Interest in Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers has never entirely ebbed, proven by Poole’s inclusion on the classic Harry Smith Anthology of American Music; in the collectors’ reissue set from Sony in a faux cigar box; and Loudon Wainwright III’s reprise of Poole on High, Wide, and Handsome, which won the Traditional Folk Grammy Award in 2010. This music may not be widelyknown, but it is deeply venerated among an ardent few, including Bob Dylan, who mentioned Poole in his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech.