Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ramona Jones, March 25, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Childhood in rural Indiana

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to introduce y'all to Ramona Jones, who's a fine fiddle player, mandolin player.

Segment Synopsis: Ramona Jones is introduced. She talks about growing up in Indiana in a rural area. She had no electricity or plumbing, and her family foraged for much of their food.

Keywords: Daviess County, Indiana; Electricity; Foraging; Gathering; Horehound candy; Parents; Plumbing; Pumpkins; Schools

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Childhood; Country life; Daviess County (Ind.); Rural children; Rural conditions

00:03:07 - Learning to play music as a child

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Partial Transcript: I know in your book you said, uh--you mentioned one time when you were six years old and your dad would tune the fiddle before handing it to you...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about watching her father play the fiddle as a child and picking up musical skills herself. She talks about following her father to his job in the coal mines, playing music along the way.

Keywords: Brothers; Chords; Cousins; Encouragement; Entertainment; Family; Farming; Fathers; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Fields; Learning to play; Playing music

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Childhood; Coal miners.; Country life; Daviess County (Ind.); Music--Instruction and study.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability in children.; Musical ability.; Musical families; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Rural children; Rural conditions

00:06:37 - Job offer from Sunshine Sue

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Partial Transcript: Um, tell me the story about when you got the, the phone call in your algebra class in high school to, to go play with Sunshine Sue.

Segment Synopsis: Jones tells the story of being offered a job to work with Sunshine Sue while she was still in high school. She talks about her decision to join Sunshine Sue when she turned eighteen. She talks about traveling far from home, and how her friend Jane Allen joining the band made her feel more at ease.

Keywords: Algebra class; Allen, Jane (Artist); Amateur contests; Courage; Experience; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Friends; High schools; Hired; Jane Allen (Artist); Job offers; Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" Workman (Artist); Old Dominion Barn Dance (Radio program); Parents; Richmond (Va.); Senior years; Sunshine Sue (Artist); Teenagers; Telephone calls; WHAS (Radio station); WRVA (Radio station); Workman, Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" (Artist); Young musicians

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio programs.; Radio stations.

00:10:22 - Working for Sunshine Sue with Jane Allen

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so what are some of the things--some of the stories you remember of your adventures with Jane?

Segment Synopsis: Jones tells a story about traveling home with Jane Allen while working for Sunshine Sue and playing for the soldiers returning home from World War II. She talks about trying to continue high school while working for Sunshine Sue. She talks about being asked to wear an American Indian costume.

Keywords: Allen, Jane (Artist); American Indian costumes; Cowgirls; High schools; Homesick; Jane Allen (Artist); Joe Maphis (Artist); Maphis, Joe (Artist); Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" Workman (Artist); Native American costumes; Personal appearances; Radio shows; Richmond (Va.); Singing; Soldiers; Stage names; Sunshine Sue (Artist); Trains; Travel; WRVA (Radio station); Workman, Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" (Artist); World War II

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio programs.; Radio stations.; World War, 1939-1945

00:14:12 - Meeting and marrying Grandpa Jones

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Partial Transcript: Well, how did meet, um, Grandpa Jones?

Segment Synopsis: Jones tells the story of hearing Grandpa Jones on the radio for the first time. She talks about how she later met him while working in Cincinnati at WLW. She talks about him wearing a fake mustache and the origins of his stage name "Grandpa." She briefly describes their careers between meeting and marrying. She talks about them later moving to Nashville.

Keywords: Allen, Jane (Artist); American Indian costumes; Army; Bradley Kincaid (Artist); Brown's Ferry Four (Artist); Cincinnati (Ohio); Delmore Brothers (Artist); Fake mustaches; George Workman (Artist); Grandpa Jones and the Grandchildren (Artist); Harmonies; Harmony singing; I'm Tying The Leaves (So They Won't Come Down) (Song); Jane Allen (Artist); Joe Maphis (Artist); Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Kincaid, Bradley (Artist); Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Maphis, Joe (Artist); Married; Merle Travis (Artist); Military service; Nashville (Tenn.); Native American costumes; New England; New Hampshire; Parents; Radio shows; Sam Workman (Artist); Singing; Solo artists; Travis, Merle (Artist); WKNE (Radio station); WLW (Radio station); WSM (Radio station); Wheeling (W. Va.); Workman, George (Artist); Workman, Sam (Artist); Young musicians

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Marriage; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio programs.; Radio stations.

00:20:53 - Grandpa Jones' comedy

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Partial Transcript: Grandpa was such a wonderful comedian and wonderful person and great musician.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about Grandpa Jones' musical and songwriting talent. She talks about his natural sense of humor, and talks about how it may have passed down to their son Mark.

Keywords: Banjo players; Banjos; Brown's Ferry Four (Artist); Comedians; Comedy; Comedy in bluegrass music; Funny; Harmonies; Harmony singing; Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Jones, Mark (Artist); Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Mark Jones (Artist); Poetry; Sense of humor; Songwriting; Sons; Stairs; Talent

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

00:23:50 - Fans

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm sure, you know, with the level of, um, of fame that Grandpa had, and, and you too, you know, that people would come up to you all the time and want to meet you.

Segment Synopsis: Jones tells a story about two fans who followed her throughout her career.

Keywords: Chatfields; Concerts; Fame; Following; Gigs; New Hampshire; Orange Blossom Special (Song); Records; Shows

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music fans.; Music--Performance.; Music--Social aspects.; Musical groups.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

00:26:34 - Playing for the American troops in Korea in 1951

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about some of the, the memorable shows and tours that you played with Grandpa.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes in detail touring for five weeks in Korea during the Korean War, entertaining the American troops. She talks about her impressions of the conditions for the soldiers, their appreciation of the shows, and how rewarding the experience was for her.

Keywords: 1951; Accommodations; Airplanes; Children; Click, Mary (Artist); Concerts; Connie B. Gay; Dresses; Easter; Europe; Front lines; Gay, Connie B.; Gigs; Hospitals; Inoculations; Japan; Jeeps; Jokes; Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Letters; Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Mary Click (Artist); Paratroopers; Pentagon; Promoters; Rewarding; Shooting; Shots; Shows; Stages; Tents; Touring; Tours; Troops; Wake Island; Wartime; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Civilians in war.; Country music.; Korean War, 1950-1953; Korean War, 1950-1953--Veterans; Military life.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Relaxation.; Soldiers.; Washington (D.C.)

00:37:46 - Her children's interest in music

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Partial Transcript: Now you, um, you helped raise, um, Grandpa's two daughters by previous marriage, Marsha and Eloise.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about her children traveling with her on tour during the summers and their interest in performing. She talks about how touring has changed since that time.

Keywords: Advice; Alisa Jones (Artist); Buses; Changes; Children; Eloise Jones (Artist); Family; Jones, Alisa (Artist); Jones, Eloise (Artist); Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Jones, Mark (Artist); Jones, Marsha (Artist); Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Mark Jones (Artist); Marsha Jones (Artist); Motherhood; Mothers; Opryland; Performing; Recording; Saddlebags; Stages; Step-children; Summer; Travel; Visiting; Women

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability in children.; Musical ability.; Musical families; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Women bluegrass musicians.

00:42:19 - Music industry friends--Part I

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Partial Transcript: There were a number of, of well-known artists that you met early in your career that you remained friends with over the years.

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes her friendships with other people in the music industry, including Merle Travis, Mary Click, Joe and Rose Maphis, and others.

Keywords: Bailes Brothers (Artist); Bass players; Bassists; Bradley Kincaid (Artist); Click, Mary (Artist); Fishing; Friendships; Hunting; Joe Maphis (Artist); Kincaid, Bradley (Artist); Maphis, Joe (Artist); Maphis, Rose (Artist); Mary Click (Artist); Merle Travis (Artist); Muhlenberg County (Ky.); Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; Nashville (Tenn.); Playing styles; Rose Maphis (Artist); Songs; Tent shows; Travel; Travis style; Travis, Merle (Artist); WLW (Radio station)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Friendship; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

00:48:17 - Childhood mandolin

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Partial Transcript: We, um, have talked a lot about your fiddling and you just mentioned you also played bass, we've completely left out the mandolin.

Segment Synopsis: Jones tells the story of receiving her first mandolin as a Christmas gift as a child.

Keywords: Bass players; Bassists; Christmas; Coal mines; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Gifts; Mandolin players; Mandolins; Montgomery Ward; Presents; Sears; Snowstorms; Trading

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Childhood; Coal miners.; Country life; Daviess County (Ind.); Music--Instruction and study.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability in children.; Musical ability.; Musical families; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Rural children; Rural conditions

00:50:13 - Music industry friends--Part II

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Partial Transcript: To get back to our list of, of friends: um, Stringbean.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks more about her friends in the music industry, including David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife Estelle, John Hartford and his wife Marie, and June Carter and other members of the Carter family.

Keywords: Akeman, David "Stringbean" (Artist); Akeman, Estelle; Carlene Carter Smith (Artist); Carter Family (Artist); Carter, Janette (Artist); Carter, Joe (Artist); Cash, June Carter (Artist); Dancing; David "Stringbean" Akeman (Artist); Estelle Akeman; Fiddle players; Fiddle tunes; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Fiddlesticks; Fishing; Friendships; Hartford, John (Artist); Hartford, Marie (Artist); Hee Haw (Television program); Janette Carter (Artist); Joe Carter (Artist); John Hartford (Artist); Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); June Carter Cash (Artist); Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Marie Hartford (Artist); Neighbors; Orlando, Tony (Artist); Peaches Restaurant; Personalities; Personality; Pickings; Poor Valley (Tenn.); Pregnant; Ryman Theater; Smith, Carlene Carter (Artist); Tony Orlando (Artist); Wife; Wives

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Friendship; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:00:35 - "Hee Haw"

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, a lot of folks saw you for the first time on television, on "Hee Haw."

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about how she came to work on the television show "Hee Haw" and what it was like playing with the fiddle band.

Keywords: Acuff, Roy (Artist); Alisa Jones (Artist); Clark, Roy (Artist); Dancing dolls; Eloise Jones (Artist); Family; Fiddle bands; Fiddle players; Fiddle tunes; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Hammer dulcimers; Hartford, John (Artist); Hee Haw (Television program); Jae, Jana (Artist); Jana Jae (Artist); John Hartford (Artist); Jones, Alisa (Artist); Jones, Eloise (Artist); Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Jones, Marsha (Artist); Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Lovullo, Sam; Marsha Jones (Artist); Roy Acuff (Artist); Roy Clark (Artist); Sam Lovullo; Television shows

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Television programs

01:03:02 - Running a dinner theater in Mountainview, Arkansas

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Partial Transcript: Um, tell us the story of how did you and Grandpa end up in, uh, uh, Mountainview, Arkansas, of all places.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about why she and Grandpa Jones moved to Mountainview, Arkansas and how they began to operate a dinner theater. She talks about running the theater with her friends and family. She talks about the focus on old time traditions in the town.

Keywords: "Pounding"; Alisa Jones (Artist); Branson (Mo.); Branson, Missouri; Cannon, Sarah Ophelia Colley "Minnie Pearl" (Artist); Cathy Barton Para (Artist); Concerts; Dinner plates; Dinner theaters; Duets; Duos; Friendships; Funerals; George Smith "Goober" Lindsey (Artist); Gigs; Hammer dulcimers; James Corbitt "Jimmy Driftwood" Morris (Artist); Jokes; Jones, Alisa (Artist); Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Jones, Mark (Artist); Lindsey, George Smith "Goober" (Artist); Locals; Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Mark Jones (Artist); Morris, James Corbitt "Jimmy Driftwood" (Artist); Mountainview (Ark.); Mountainview, Arkansas; Para, Cathy Barton (Artist); Pickings; Pranks; Sarah Ophelia Colley "Minnie Pearl" Cannon (Artist); Serving; Shivaree; Shows; Songs; Songwriting; State parks; Traditions; Travel

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:13:11 - Her children's lives now

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Partial Transcript: Well, tell about, uh, what all your children are doing now.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about each of her children and their lives at the time of the interview.

Keywords: Alisa Jones (Artist); Arkansas; Children; Death; Eloise Jones (Artist); Family; Grandchildren; Jobs; Jones, Alisa (Artist); Jones, Eloise (Artist); Jones, Mark (Artist); Jones, Marsha (Artist); Mark Jones (Artist); Marsha Jones (Artist); Nurses; Occupations; Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, Arkansas; Real estate; Recording; Ron Wall (Artist); Step-children; Wall, Ron (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:15:25 - Her life now

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Partial Transcript: I, I know, uh, when Grandpa passed away in 1998 we all felt like we lost a member of our family...

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about her current life since the death of Grandpa Jones in 1998.

Keywords: Bluegrass festivals; Death; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" (Artist); Loss; Louis Marshall "Grandpa Jones" Jones (Artist); Marriage; Music festivals.; Remarried; Tributes

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:16:58 - Favorite songs and old time music

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Partial Transcript: You--in your book you mention that your favorite songs were "Lorena" and "Kentucky" and that you really love to play "Whiskey Before Breakfast."

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about some of her favorite songs to perform. She talks about her interest in old time music.

Keywords: Cycles; Favorite songs; Kentucky (Song); Modern music; Musical styles; Soldiers; Traditional music

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:19:11 - Women in music / Favorite artist

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Partial Transcript: And, um, I'm sure you're--you've been an inspiration to a lot of young girls too, that--because, you know, it wasn't that common to have, uh, women play lead instruments early on.

Segment Synopsis: Jones mentions being an influence to women musicians and being the first woman to win the Heritage Award at Uncle Dave Macon Days. She talks about John Denver as her favorite artist.

Keywords: "Uncle" Dave Macon (Artist); Albums; Denver, John (Artist); Heritage Award; Inspiration; John Denver (Artist); Lady's Fancy (Album); Macon, “Uncle” Dave (Artist); Parades; Recording; Role models; Uncle Dave Macon Days

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Women bluegrass musicians.

01:22:09 - Current band

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Partial Transcript: Now who plays in your band now when you go out and--

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about the members of her current band.

Keywords: Alisa Jones (Artist); Bass players; Bassists; Churches; Davis, Greg (Artist); Goals; Greg Davis (Artist); Hammer dulcimers; Husbands; Jones, Alisa (Artist); Jones, Mark (Artist); Larry Sledge (Artist); Mark Jones (Artist); McLain, Ruth (Artist); Ron Wall (Artist); Ruth McLain (Artist); Sledge, Larry (Artist); Wall, Ron (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:24:29 - Advice for young musicians

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else that you'd just like folks to remember about you?

Segment Synopsis: Jones gives advice to young musicians and talks about how it was easier to learn to play when she was young.

Keywords: Advice; Distractions; Family; Learning to play; Practice; Practicing (Music); Priorities; Young musicians; Young people

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

01:26:00 - Demonstration of fiddlesticks

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Partial Transcript: Well, I--if you don't mind, I'd love for you all to demonstrate the fiddlesticks for the folks.

Segment Synopsis: Jones and her daughter provide a demonstration of fiddlesticks by playing "Devilish Mary." The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Demonstrations; Devilish Mary (Song); Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Fiddlesticks; Percussion

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Music--Performance.; Musical ability.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.