About the Group
This group had quite a history and saw several changes in makeup. In a folio
called "Doc Hopkins and Karl and Harty of the Cumberland Ridgerunners" published
back in 1936, it seems to detail the roots of this group. As fate would have it,
Doc Hopkins, Karl and Harty all attended the infamous "Red Bud School" near Mt.
Vernon, KY - in the Renfro Valley area where another infamous barn dance started and still
They wrote that Doc, Karl and Harty took to "mountain music" at an early age and
could often be seen together at the Davis' barn or the Taylor's blacksmith shop playing
their tunes on their guitar and mandolin. In this case, it was 'birds of a feather' did indeed
flock together. When Doc returned from the world war, the three boys formed a string
band and called themselves the Krazy Kats. They got themselves quite a following in
central and eastern Kentucky. Later, they were heard singing over radio station
WHAS in Louisville, KY.
Then, in 1930, a friend of theirs, Bradley Kincaid, helped get the group on
WLS in Chicago and from that point, they became the now infamous "Cumberland
The Cumberland Ridge Runners were a versatile crew, always happy and
willing to do their best, whether it was midnight or six in the morning.
The feeling that came across from this group was that they were like a
chapter out of the past, suggesting 'the days of long rifles and coonskin
caps of pioneer Kentucky'. Many of their songs had their roots in those same
hills, passed along from memory until the group put them on paper.
Hugh Cross was one of the vocalists at one time. Known as a husky chap
and was reared on a mountain farm near Oliver Springs, TN. He was married and
had two daughters (Katherine Doris and Coloris Lou) and a son (Jack). When he wrote Daddy's Little Girls, he had is daughters
Karl Davis and Hartford Taylor, known as the Renfro Valley Boys, were boyhood
pals who secretly practiced on the guitar and mandolin until they considered
themselves expert enough to appear in public. They were born and raised
in Mt. Vernon, KY.
Red Foley was part of the group and also sang with Lulu Belle as "Burrhead".
Linda Parker was a part of the group and known as the "Sunbonnet Girl" who sang
the old quiet ballads of the hills.
Karl was a tall, lanky, good-natured person and was the only bachelor in the
group at one time.
Harty was married and had a daughter named Betty Taylor.
Homer "Slim" Miller was rated one of the best old-time fiddlers as well
as being the clown of the group. They wrote that he usually played
jokes on one of his partners or was making faces at the control room.
He made Indianapolis, In his home at the time. At the time, he had a
daughter named Betty. Later, he became associated with the Renfro Valley Barn Dance when
John Lair talked him into it.
John Lair was their manager and announcer on their Saturday night
programs. Often, he'd play the 'jug' with them. His home was in
Mt. Vernon, KY at the time, but he also had lived in Chicago for several
years. He was married and had a daughter named Ann. John Lair would
direct many of the interesting sketches of 'mountain life' that they did.
One of the regular sketches they did was "Coon Creek Social".
Timeline and Trivia Notes
at one time or another:
- Hugh Cross (the Boy from Smoky Mountain) was the tenor soloist,
played both guitar and banjo (1932)
- Karl Davis (one of the Renfro Valley Boys) Guitar and mandolin (1930)
- Harford ("Harty") Taylor (one of the Renfro Valley Boys) Guitar and mandolin (1930)
- Homer "Slim" Miller, known as the clown of the Ridge Runners.(1932)
- John Lair, manager of the group and announced their Saturday
- Linda Parker (1934)
- Red Foley (1934)
- Doctor Hopkins (1930)