Longing For Old Virginia (Godfather Record GR 607)
Jamboree USA, Capitol Hall, Wheeling, WV – October 2nd, 1976 (late show)
(63:23): Help Me (Anita Carter), Hold My Hand (Jan Howard), Wabash Cannonball – Worried Man Blues (The Carter Family), Ring Of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, Pickin’ Time, Big River, There You Go, Sunday Morning Coming Down, One Piece At A Time, Give My Love To Rose, A Boy Named Sue, Ragged Old Flag, Comedy Act (June Carter Cash), Yodel Song (June Carter Cash), Jackson (with June Carter Cash), I Still Miss Someone, Hey Porter, Wreck Of The Old 97, Casey Jones, Orange Blossom Special, I Walk The Line
The Jamboree USAradio show, originating on WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia, dates back to the early days of commercial radio. First aired on January 7th 1933, it is the second-longest running program in radio history (following The Grand Old Opry on WSN in Nashville, which first aired in 1925). A combination of great music and witty, down-home banter made it such a success that in April 1933 the program moved out of the WWVA studios in the Hawley Building into the bigger Capital Theater.
The Jamboree, under the guidance of director Glenn Reeves, continued to set new attendance records and, as a leading country music attraction, enjoyed a prestige it had never before known. Throughout the 1970s, nationally known country music artists joined top talent Jamboree regulars. And in November 1975, Johnny Cash set an all-time Jamboree record with six shows in three days before an estimated 15,000 people.
Cash returned to the Jamboree a year later for several shows in October 1976. Longing For Old Virgina is sourced from an excellent and well balanced soundboard recording of the show. This concert surfaced few years ago via a member of the band who was given the reels by the Jamboree and it makes its silver pressed debut by Godfather.
There is a small cut after “Give My Love To Rose” and a cut and repeat before the “Yodel Song” (the song’s introduction is heard twice).
The tape starts off with “Help Me” sung by Anita Carter, “Hold My Hand” with Jan Howard, and “Wabash Cannonball / Worried Man Blues” by The Carter Family.
Cash takes the stage for his set, beginning with a scorching version of “Ring Of Fire.” It’s a testament to the man’s talent, voice and charisma that he can completely overshadow The Carter Family, who have been the backbone of American music for more than fifty years at that point.
Cash is very charming in telling stories throughout his set (part of the appeal of the show), like when he speaks about “picking time in my part of the country” and tells the story about growing up on the cotton farm. “Pickin’ Time” talks about he faith strengthening after the flood of 1937-38 which made them run to the hills but left much rich soil for the following years crop.
He focuses upon many older songs in the set, preferring many of his hits from the fifties. He also tells man stories, speaking about his son who just started school or the car he is driving before singing “One Piece At A Time.”
His wife June does a short stand up comedy skit as her character “Polly Carter,” sings the “Yodel Song” and “Jackson.” The finale of the show is played as a medley of tunes before the set closer “I Walk The Line.”
Longing For Old Virginia is certainly an interesting release by a label not afraid to take risks with collectors. It is a tremendous slice of Americana that is a fascinating document of both Johnny Cash’s career and for a time when radio broadcasts such as there were important in creating musical tastes.