Friday, August 24, 2012

Uncle Hartford and Uncle Doc Were Recording Artists

And. A few of their recordings are available at iTunes! Karl & HartyDoc Hopkins.

Maybe I should back up a little and start this story about 85 years ago.

Karl & Harty were Karl Davis and Hartford Taylor who both grew up in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. They starting singing together in the 1920s and formed a group called the Krazy Kats along with another Rockcastle Countian, Doc Hopkins. In the early 1930s all three moved to Chicago to pursue their music careers and became part of a musical act called the Cumberland Ridge Runners. Most of the musicians who were members of the Cumberland Ridge Runners also had separate recording contracts and performed individually (or in the case of Karl & Harty, as a duet) in addition to performing with the group as regulars on the WLS National Barn Dance.

Over the years the membership of the Cumberland Ridge Runners changed but at one time or another Linda Parker, Red Foley, Slim Miller, Shelby Jean Davis, Hugh Cross and Lula Belle were also part of the act. John Lair, who later returned to Rockcastle County and started the Renfro Valley Barn dance (which still operates today), was the announcer and manager of the group.

Hartford was my grandmother's brother. Doc was my grandfather's brother. I grew up hearing about their music careers and always thought it was interesting that both of my maternal grandparents had a singing brother. I never met Uncle Hartford. He died in 1963 at age 58. Uncle Doc visited Kentucky several times that I remember - the last time for a Hopkins family reunion in the 1970s. He died in 1988 less than a month before his 88th birthday.  

For more of Karl & Harty and Doc, see tay09tay90's YouTube Channel.

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