Monday, January 05, 2015

The Delmore Brothers - Truth is Stranger Than Publicity - Alton Delmore

The Delmore Brothers were a country/bluegrass/blues duo popular in the 30's and 40's, in the vein of the Stanley Brothers, Louvin Brother, Monroe Brothers, etc. They were a hit act on the Grand Ole Opry and made a large number of recordings throughout the years and wrote songs for many other artists, as well. This autobiography of older brother, Alton, gives the reader an idea of what the industry was like in the formative years of the "hillbilly" genre.

Alton is not a great writer, although he did pen articles for magazines through his life, and this manuscript was unfinished by the time of his death - with 20+ years still to go when he left off. The editor, Charles Wolfe, gives us an overview of these years, based on Alton's outlines and other sources, including his son. Alton's stories are very home-spun and use (now) outdated colloquialisms and some clumsy sentence structures (something that I can identify with!) but he always gets his thoughts across and gives a lot of insight to the machinations of show business back in the day - from the types of places the bands would play to the way that bookings were secured to the work on radio stations to record contracts. There were lots of innocents taken advantage of (as there always are), and these Brothers are included in that sorry lot.

But Alton always shows his love for their music and lets us know a bit more about how they worked as well as their influence in the country/bluegrass/hillbilly genre. The read can be a bit difficult at times, but the story is worth it.