Bear Family Records Press Archive

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Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - maverick
William A. 'Bill' Bolick, half of the influential country harmony duo the Blue Sky Boys, passed away on March 14 at his home in Hickory, North Carolina. He was 90 years old. He was the tenor harmony vocalist in the duo, and he and brother, Earl A. Bolick (who died in 1998), were probably one of the greatest of the brother duet teams to emerge in the 1930s. Both brothers were born in Hickory, North Carolina: Bill on October 28, 1917, Earl on December 16, 1919, they were the sons of Garland Bolick, who grew tobacco and worked in a textile mill. The two brothers began playing traditional material in their mid-teens.


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - dirty linen
Bill Bollick was born in 1917 in Hickory, North Carolina, two years before brother Earl. Anno-tator Bill Malone points out that this is the Piedmont part of the state and not really the mountains, though one imagines that residents of the area feel more at home in Asheville than they do in Raleigh. Malone makes many inter-esting points in the lengthy notes that are only part of the deluxe, 75-page hardback book that comes with this beautiful package


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - Old Time Harold
123 songs (too numerous to list but including such classics as "No One to Welcome Me Home," "Midnight On the Stormy Sea," "Katie Dear," "The Lightning Express," "Why Not Confess," "The Sweetest Gift A Mother's Smile," and "Mary of the Wild Moor.")


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - Bluegrass Unlimited
Bill Malone has provided useful brief histories for each one. Foreshadowing bluegrass, the Blue Sky Boys were among those who kept older songs and styles flourishing in the 1930s. Sharing a musical mindset with the Mainers and Monroes, Bill and Earl plowed, sustained, and nourished the ground that made the bluegrass revolution possible a few years later. Each brother saw extensive service in World War II before resuming their careers in 1946. Though they could have turned to bluegrass. the Bolicks wisely chose instead to further polish the style they first brought to records in 1936. What did evolve was their ensemble sound, enhanced by the brothers' mature voices. With the addition of fiddle and bass to their postwar records. Bill's mandolin could expand interior harmonies and add further depth to the music.


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - No Depression
Maybe a handful of acts from country music's den age of close harmony singing belong in the pantheon of great brother duos, most nota-bly the Monroes and the Delmores (and maybe the Sheltons). The two siblings who produced the most sublime harmonies of all, though, were Bill and Earl Bolick, a.k.a. the Blue Sky Boys, the children of devout textile workers from Hickory, North Carolina. (The Louvin Brothers didn't come along till after the second world war, by which time the era of classic duo singing had passed, giving way to solo crooners such as Red Foley and Eddy Arnold, honky-tonkers such as Hank Williams and Webb Pierce, and bluegrassers such as the Stanley Brothers and Monroe's Blue Grass Boys.) The Bolicks sang all manner of material, from broadside ballads to centuries-old Anglo-Celtic folk songs to the sacred numbers they learned as boys in church.


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - Blues & Rhytm Magazine
The five CDs are complemented by a 76 page, 'LP sized', hardback book, which is loaded with photographs supporting a dual biography. complete lyric transcriptions (not really necessary for fluent English speakers as the Boys' vocals are perfectly clear) and a comprehensive discography. The sound quality is really splendid and I can only re-iterate my plea about supporting the labels that do the actual restoration work that others so often just rip off. Before you point out that not many people can afford a Rolls Royce ... I concur and hope that Bear Family will produce a more generally accessible single or double CD of tracks carefully selected to produce a balanced overview for the benefit of all those still subsidising their offspring, on the dole, living off grants or otherwise struggling to feed a CD habit in these Modern Times.
Keith Briggs


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - Maverick
Bill, the older brother, learnt to play guitar from a neighbour and subse-quently taught Earl though, eventually, the latter took up the mandolin, which led to them perform-ing as a local duo. Bill also performed with another local group, the Crazy Hickory Nuts. A major stage in their profes-sional career occurred in 1935 when, with fiddle player Homer Sherrill, they won a sponsorship from JFG Coffee and became the Good Coffee Boys. Originally heard on radio in Ashville, they later moved to Atlanta and changed their name to Blue Ridge Hillbillies before the brothers split from Sherrill and began performing as a duo. It was then that they began recording for RCA Victor (on its Bluebird label), with a name change to the Blue Sky Boys because, as the company's Eli Oberstein pointed out, there were already several 'brothers' recording —like the Monroes and the Delmores. The first CD in this box set opens with the selections they recorded at that first recording session on June 16, 1936 in Charlotte, North Carolina


Press Archive - Blue Sky Boys - Country Music Peolple
Where to start? Bill and Earl Bolick, the Blue Sky Boys, were one of the major brother duets in the history of country music. As the Monroe Brothers led the way with their hard driving style, the other paradigms of the genre were the Bolicks with their gentle, more folksy approach to the music, and Rabon and Alton, the Delmore Brothers, with a soft bluesy style. Until now Bill and Earl have been sadly neglected by CD compilers, but all this is rectified by this superb Bear Family box set that offers a hardback book in addition to the faultless quality of their CDs. When they started recording in June 1936, Bill was just 18 years old and his brother Earl a mere lad of 16, and listening to their music that fact is nigh impossible to comprehend. The second side they cut, which would remain their theme tune throughout their career, was Sunny Side Of Life, learned from an old holiness hymn. Earl sang lead in a strong baritone voice and played guitar, with Bill singing tenor and playing mandolin.