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Dave Woolum

Although he was never a full-time musician, the Kentucky-born Dave Woolum has been active in bluegrass and country music practically his whole life. As a teenager, he supposedly played over the somewhat mystical WHBB radio in Mt. Orab, OH. This local station had a combination studio-and-headquarters crammed into the back of a store, and apparently was the source of almost as much early bluegrass and historic old-timey music as the Grand Ole Opry itself, that is if the Mt. Orab locals are to be believed. By the '80s, Woolum was still actively leading bluegrass bands out of a Florida base, although this was not the most sympathetic decade in terms of an audience for traditional bluegrass.

The guitarist and vocalist had already learned the rudiments of music by the time his family moved from Kentucky to Ohio, and worked in several different bands before deciding to start his own outfit, usually known as the Kentucky Mountain Boys. This outfit was officially formed in 1945, working regularly on a variety of Ohio radio stations including two stiff competitors in Dayton. During the '50s and '60s, this loose-knit ensemble stayed together off and on, not falling victim to the burn-out syndrome that sometimes can go along with being a full-time working band. Musically, the efforts of Woolum and company have been of great interest to bluegrass fans, primarily because of the presence of master banjo picker Noah Crase, who was as tragically under-recorded as he was brilliant. Fans of banjo are doubly delighted by the band's recording entitled "Old Age," not only a beautiful song but an arrangement boasting the dual banjo team interaction of Crase and Curtis Allen. This track, reissued in the '70s on Rounder as part of its valuable Early Days of Bluegrass series, is the side Woolum was most proud of cutting out of a batch done for small local companies such as the modest Excellent and steadily growing Pinetree, as well as bigger country and bluegrass outfits such as Starday and Sage. The group also collaborated with country singer Rusty York on a series of albums available only on mail order, issued under the name of Rusty York and the Kentucky Boys. Woolum later taped albums that were combinations of bluegrass and gospel for the Melody and Pine Tree labels out of Hamilton, OH. Bluegrass package shows such as the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and Bill Monroe's Brown County Jamboree also welcomed Woolum and the Kentucky Boys on-stage on a regular basis.

Through the '70s, Woolum renamed his backing band the Laurel County Partners, bringing mandolinist Paris Decker into the fold. He retired from his day job in 1974, and headed to Florida, where he found the scene for traditional bluegrass wanting, but well worth the efforts of a bluegrass journeyman whose contributions have been as significant as they are obscure. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bluegrass: Independent Label Sides 1951-1954

Disc 1

1. Just Let Me Fall

2. I'm Lonesome

3. Highway 220

4. Countin' The Days

5. Long Journey Home

6. Returned From Missing In Action

7. You're Still The Rose Of My Heart

8. Three Nights In A Bar Room

9. Blue Ridge Mountain Blues

10. Pilot Mountain Rag

14. There'll Be No Wedding Bells For Me

15. The Burglar Man

16. A Flower Blooming In The Wildwood

17. All The Good Times Are Past And Gone

18. Wake Up Susan

21. An Angel With Blue Eyes

22. When Jesus Calls You Home

23. A Sweeter Love Than Yours I'll Never Know

24. Drunkard's Highway

25. Way Down In Ole' Caroline

Disc 2

1. Preaching & Praying

2. Paul & Silas

3. Boat Of Love

4. Bouquet In Heaven

5. Mansions For Me

6. White Dove

7. Down In The Willow Garden

8. Ho, Honey, Ho

15. What Would The Profit Be?

16. When The Saints Go Marching In

21. I'll Stay Around

22. Letter From My Darling

23. Where The Soul Never Dies

25. Black Mountain Rag

Disc 3

11. Mother Won't Grow Old So Soon

12. Stop Knocking On My Door

13. The Church Of God

23. Too Many Blues

24. All Night Long

25. Piney Woods

Disc 4

3. Culloeka

4. Broken Hearts Mean Nothing To You

5. Come Along To Glory

6. Reunion Day In Heaven

19. Orange Blossom Special

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