About The Artist
Columbus Stockade Blues
In the late 1920's, Tom Darby and Jimmy Tarlton were among the major country artists on Columbia Records, ranking in the main four along with Charlie Poole's North Carolina Ramblers, Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers, and Riley Puckett. Their two-sided hit "Birmingham Jail" b/w "Columbus Stockade Blues" sold about 200,000 copies and achieved standard status. They recorded frequently through 1929, and last in 1933.
Apparently, the two did not always get along, Although both were rediscovered in 1962, by which time Darby's musical facilities had declined considerably. Tarlton made a brief comeback and recorded again, but soon fell back to obscurity.
Thomas P. Darby the older of the two men (B: August 25, 1891 — D: August 20, 1971) spent most off his life in Columbus, Georgia, and was apparently one-quarter Cherokee Indian. He was a distant cousin of Riley Puckett and learned to play guitar at the age of ten. His style showed considerable African-American influence. He went to Florida for a time in the mid-1920's, but then came back to Columbus, where he met South Carolina-born, but much-traveled Jimmie Tarlton who played a Hawaiian style acoustical guitar.
The two played well together and the owner of a music store suggested that they audition for Columbia records and even drove them to Atlanta in April 1927 where they cut two numbers "Way Down in Florida on Hog" [a variant of "Lonesome Road Blues" referring to the Florida land boom of the 1920's] b/w "Birmingham Town." Brisk initial sales led to a return visit to Atlanta in November where they did four more numbers including their big hit.
For the next three years, they did two sessions yearly, although for some unknown reason Tarlton did the December 1930 session by himself. In 1932, they did a session for Victor and in June 1933, a final one for the American Record Corporation in which of six numbers only two were released
Seemingly, the two did not play or travel much together outside of their recording sessions. Darby remained mostly around Columbus, and in May 1931 along with a banjo picker named Jesse Pitts did two numbers as the Georgia Wildcats. Tarlton wandered about considerably playing for tips, or working at odd jobs when desperate for cash.
In his travels, he met Howard and Dorsey Dixon in a textile mill village in the Carolinas where he inspired Howard to play steel and learned Dorsey's song "Weaver's Life" which he cut for Victor under the title "The Weaver's Blues", (the Dixon's would not record it until 1937).
After their last recording in 1933, Darby and Tarlton saw little of each other until 1963. Their reunion was warranted by researchers and record collectors, Robert Nobley, Ed Kahn, and Emory Ward. The old pair of legends were cordial, but little more. Darby's musical talents had eroded badly, but Tarlton, in spite of physical problems, was as able as ever. He played and sang at a few folk clubs including a week at the Ash Grove in LA and recorded an album for Testament. He then retired musically for good and died in 1979.
Many of their original recordings have been reissued on albums, but most notably in a complete boxed-set from Bear Family (BCD 15764).
Credits & Sources
|Printer Friendly Version
Yes, Hillbilly Music. You may perhaps wonder why. You may even snicker. But trust us, soon your feet will start tappin' and before you know it, you'll be comin' back for more...Hillbilly Music.
It's about the people, the music, the history.
Copyright © 2000—2023 Hillbilly-Music.com