Location: Old Courthouse on the Square
Cost: Free but donations accepted and encouraged
The Union County Historical Society is especially pleased to present a season finale program in The Old Courthouse on the Square in Blairsville on Friday, October 17 that features the world famous Skillet Lickers.
The Skillet Lickers, lead by Gid Tanner, were the second group to record what eventually became known as country music. (John Carson, also from north Georgia only beat the Skillet Lickers into the recording studio by about a week.) It was the Skillet Lickers, however, who influenced the formation of country music more than any of the other pioneer recording bands. Many of their songs are standards today, and are performed at almost any festival or gathering of musicians. The melody line of one of their recordings "Pass Around the Bottle" is the same tune used in the University of Georgia fight song. Their 1934 recording of "Down Yonder" was the first "country" song to sell a million copies and is the favorite of most square dancing groups today. One of the hottest of the current old-time picking groups, "The Clodhoppers" credit the Skillet Lickers with giving them the inspiration to play, and they include many Skillet Licker songs in their programs.
The Skillet Lickers probably hold the record for the longevity of a band. It has now been over eighty years since their first recording, and they are still going strong. In addition, many of the present band members have family ties that go back to the original band members.
Phil Tanner and his son, Russ, represent the third and fourth generations of direct descent from Gid, himself. Rob Stanley, who plays dobro with the group, is the grandson of Rob Stanley. Rob was a protégé of both Gid Tanner and John Carson. He won the state fiddling championship in 1918. Doug Landress, bass player, is the nephew of Bud Landress who played with the Skillet Lickers and formed his own band, The Georgia Yellow Hammers. Julian McDaniel plays both mandolin and harmonica. Art Rosenbaum is a music historian and an authority on old-style banjo playing.
The Old Courthouse on the Square in Blairsville is a favorite venue of the Skillet Lickers. In fact, it is believed that the original band may have performed here more than seventy-five years ago. Band member Fleet Stanley's parents were married in the old building. The band has recorded a live album in The Old Courthouse. They have also compiled CD's from old original recordings of the Skillet Lickers and will have them on sale after their performance.
The Union County Historical Society wishes to thank everyone who has made the concerts a success, especially the member volunteers and the musicians who have donated their time and talents. There is never an admission charge to the concerts. Voluntary contributions to the restoration fund are always welcomed and appreciated.