Clarence "Tom" Ashley was an extremely colorful character with a fascinating career in rural entertainment that spanned over half a century. He traveled extensively on the medicine show circuit, helped give Roy Acuff his early training, and was still appearing at fiddlers' conventions in the 1960s when folklorists Ralph Rinzler and Eugene Earle discovered a then-unknown Doc Watson playing in his band. Surprisingly, Ashley has not been that well represented on record recently, perhaps because he is considered to be more of an entertainer and "character" than a musician. But from listening to this impressive 20-song collection one will quickly find that he had considerable talents as a banjo player and very distinctive singer. His vocal & banjo solos such as LITTLE SADIE and COO COO BIRD --all 6 of which are found here --are stunning and some of the classics of recorded old-time music. His work with Byrd Moore's Hot Shots and the Carolina Tar Heels, and his duets with Gwen Foster are all superior & almost unique in their individuality. A wonderful set of notes by Joe Wilson highlights this superb and important re-issue.