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Country Chat - May 2021

May 2021. Three new CDs, this time all from the early years of country recordings, the 20s and 30s.

First, a second volume from the great Vernon Dalhart, the first million-selling country artist; 21 more recordings many accompanied by Carson Robison on guitar and harmonica and harmony singing. (CD 674)

Next, a third collection of Old Time Tunes and Songs, compiled by BACM co-partner Brian Golbey. Nice diverse set of styles and tempos for a good hour’s listening pleasure for early-country enthusiasts. (CD 675)

Finally, in tribute to BACM founder Dave Barnes who passed away earlier this year we have put together a selection of his favourite tunes, kicking of with four by his all time hero Gene Autry. (CD 673).

We close with some tributes …

TRIBUTES TO DAVE BARNES – FOUNDER OF BACM, The British Archive Of Country Music.

FROM TONY BYWORTH, COUNTRY MUSIC AUTHOR, PUBLISHER AND BROADCASTER. There are collectors -and then there are collectors. Then there was Dave Barnes, a one man collector’s institution who turned a hobby into an obsessive lifestyle. He began his amazing journey with Saturday picture show westerns and buying 78s that would eventually lead to housing an ever-expanding collection in a separate building where he opened the Archive. Then came the desire to share in the wealth of his collection by launching the BACM CDs, a series supported by a similarly like-minded team that would enrich the lives of other true country music fans. I was glad to have helped whenever asked to provide sleeve notes, always finding an enjoyable task in researching background of several of the artists I had never previously heard of!

I would have liked to have contributed more but distance made only the occasional visit possible, though every visit brought on fresh delights with memorable conversations alongside the amazement of watching the Archive forever increasing with new acquisitions, now boasting over 670,000 recordings (not forgetting books, photographs, videos and suchlike), and arguably the biggest collection outside of Nashville.

I’ll much miss the visits and the phone and email connections. Dave Barnes made a completely unique contribution in the preservation of country music and long may Archives continue as a remembrance to this quite extraordinary country music enthusiast.

RIP Dave, a good friend and collector extraordinaire. Tony Byworth

FROM MARTIN HAWKINS, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR. I shall miss Dave … and not just for the music. We shared sporting interests too, and the lunchtimes of my visits would be spent with Dave and his long-time pal Daffy debating Kent and England cricket and the fortunes of the Arsenal. Dave was an enthusiast, but in a laid-back and measured way – a very comfortable person to be around.

Dave would talk about western music and films, about buying Hank Williams records while Hank was still alive, about starting a magazine in 1958, visiting America from 1961 onwards when he attended the Opry and the DJ convention, and was taken to a recording session by Tex Ritter. Dave went from buying one 78 at a time to buying hundreds of albums at once, and since he set up the BACM many researchers have marvelled at the enticingly high-piled, sometimes dusty, fairly well-organised, but unimaginably large collection of discs, magazines and memorabilia.

Dave treated all kinds of country music as equal and collected it all for posterity. He always said, “I’m just a back-room boy, trying to preserve what I bought and what I’ve got – music that otherwise might be lost: I remember now the day he added, “It’s been fun, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m in ‘Cowboy’s Heaven’, which was the first record I purchased by Gene Autry.’ Martin Hawkins

FROM AL TURNER, COUNTRY COLLECTOR AND LONG TIME FRIEND AND SUPPORTER. My first meeting with David was in the dim and distant past, a passing encounter at a record fair in Camden Town. Fast forward ten years or more: an exchange of phone calls preceded my first trip down to BACM; a journey I was subsequently to make on numerous occasions, either on my own or in the company of my oLd chum, the late Phil Tricker.

On my first visit the two full sized billiard tables were still being used for their intended purpose, the passing years witnessed them slowly being covered in shelving to accommodate David’s ever growing collection of CDs, magazines, and books. David was generous, he allowed me the freedom to pick my way through the thousands and thousands of 45s, 78s, and albums. Not only was this privilege bestowed upon me, he also allowed me to photocopy record labels, LP covers, and magazines, if this were not enough he also set me up to play and record anything onto CD. A never-ending supply of freshly made tea, and a splendid lunch, added to the BACM experience. I shall miss David, our phone calls, exchange of email, and my trips down to Dover. Al Turner

FROM DEREK TAYLOR. BROADCASTER, DJ AND AUTHOR. I first met David after he’d written into a local radio station in Dover to say he had a large collection of country music records which they could have access to if they wished. The letter was passed to me and I contacted David and arranged to see his collection. This was in late 1991. I was astounded by what I saw. There were thousands of recordings and many boxes of files. Over a shared love of early country music, David and I hit it off and soon I was visiting the Archive every day to help sort and catalogue the contents of the boxes offiles.1 did this for thirty years. David was immensely knowledgeable about country music and leamed a lot from him. He was shy and it took a while to get to know him, but once I did we became great friends. He is an irreplaceable loss to the Archiving of country music and will be much missed. Derek Taylor

FROM ROB JONES – BACM WEBMASTER. I have entirely positive memories of Dave, a big man with a big heart: his warm welcomes whenever I visited the archive, the impromptu easy flowing chats about “anything real-Country” and his endless trove of vignettes about musicians he’d met or corresponded with, always laced with humour and laughter. And a thoroughly decent man who believed in treating others with kindness and respect, an ethic he carried through to his dealings with customers. Then there’s his mission to preserve and nurture music from the golden era of Country, his hard work and dedication bringing enjoyment to so many, in the present and in future generations. I will miss him a lot and I’m sure this is true of all who had the privilege of knowing him. Rob Jones

FROM BRIAN GOLBEY – COUNTRY MUSICIAN AND BROADCASTER; LONG TIME FRIEND, PARTNER AND CO-FOUNDER OF BACM. There isn’t much I can add to what the other guys have written so eloquently. I knew Dave for 60 years. He was always kind and considerate, willing to share his treasure trove. Although I was in contact with him almost daily over the last 20 years, I was only able to get down to Dover a few times over the years. Like the others I shall miss him big time, he was a large part of my life, and the last of those early Country collectors. Bye Mate. Brian Golbey – April 2021

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