Doug Wallin

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Doug Wallin and Berzilla Wallin: Doug’s farm lies at the head of Crane Branch, two or three miles away from the settlement of Sodom Laurel.  The path up the cove follows, and often crosses, a rock-strewn stream, which is almost impossible to negotiate by car.  When I first called to see Doug (b.1919) and his mother, Berzilla Wallin, the banks of the stream were covered with the most beautiful milky-blue dwarf iris.  Cecil Sharp called this country, “The most magnificent I have ever seen.”

Like his neighbours, Doug grew tobacco and corn and also raised a few animals.  Many of his songs came from his great-aunt, Mary Sands of Allenstand, who sang twenty-five songs, including The House Carpenter, to Sharp.  Cas Wallin, Doug’s uncle, did not remember Sharp.  But another uncle, Lloyd Chandler, was only 14 when he gave Sharp a fine version of the ballad of Young Hunting. Many of Doug’s fiddle tunes, including Shoot that Turkey Buzzard, came from Mitchell Wallin, Mary Sands’ half-brother, who not only played for Cecil Sharp but who also acted as a chauffeur for the collector. (For further details of Mary Sands and Mitchell Wallin, see the article A Nest of Singing Birds on the internet magazine Musical Traditions).

Berzilla Wallin may be heard singing Love Has Brought Me to Despair, Johnny Doyle and Conversation With Death on the Folkways LP Old Love Songs and Ballads from the Big Laurel (Folkways 2309), while Doug and his brother Jack also have an album, Family Songs and Stories, out on Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40013.

Part of the booklet notes, written by Mike Yates, to the Musical Traditions Records CDs Far in the Mountains (MTCD321-4)