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Cumberland Ridge Runners
WLS National Barn Dance

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 exists today.

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 Ridgerunners".

Ridge Runners doing Goofus number 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 in mind.

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.

The Cumberland Ridge Runners 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

Group members
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 night programs.(1932)
  • Linda Parker (1934)
  • Red Foley (1934)
  • Doctor Hopkins (1930)

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Recordings
 
Columbia
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20654 A I Dreamed About Mom Last Night
 
Conqueror
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  8160 A Goofus
  8160 B Round' Up The Yearlings
  8161 A Sally's Not The Same Old Sally
  8161 B Ole Rattler
  8162 A Riding On A Humped Back Mule
  8162 B Nobody's Darling
  8310 A I'm Here Go Get My Baby Out Of Jail
  8310 B I Dream I Searched Heaven For You
  8626 A We Buried Her Beneath The Willow
  8626 B No Place To Pillow My Head
 
Romeo
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5235 A Sally's Not The Same Old Sally
  5235 B Ole Rattler


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