Living Room Songs — track 10 “Feast Here Tonight” by the Stanley Brothers from An Evening Long Ago: Live 1956
I was recently told by a friend of mine that the album that this was taken from was, by a significant margin, his favorite CD of those that I had given him. It’s a very cool recording, AMG describes how it happened:
Larry Ehrlich was at end of a long day in a studio in Bristol, VA. Carter and Ralph Stanley as well as Ralph Mayo and Curley Lambert entered the studio in front of one microphone, and Ehrlich, after seeing them play hog callings, a couple of radio shows, and a barn dance, asked the band to sing some of the traditional songs they had been recording for the past 16 years. The results, completely unearthed until now, are no less than stunning. This is the Stanleys as listeners have never heard them: laid-back, relaxed, and full of recollection and goodwill, singing and playing songs as familiar to them as their upbringing. . . .
This track is one of the faster songs on the album, so it isn’t typical in that way, but the fact that it isn’t extended at all is. On several of the songs they’ll just play the tune a couple of times though and then stop. It’s very casual.
This was a track that I decided on late in the process. I had already read Bob Coltman’s line, “this is one of those [songs] I love, that just entangle you deep in the brush and mire and dust and deep woods of somebody’s intensely felt locality.” and that made me think that I couldn’t resist the line, “I’m goin down the track with a chicken on my back” in this song.
It’s interesting, listening to it know, how early in the career of the Stanley Brothers (in particular Ralph) it was recorded, since it sounds so experienced. Ralph and Carter Stanley were, respectively 29 and 31 years old at the time of that recording. Ralph Stanley was well known in Bluegrass circles, but received much wider recognition after his recording of “O Death” from “O Brother Where Art Thou” released in 2000, 44 years after this recording. Not that the Stanley Brothers were novices, according to Wikipedia, had released about 30 singles at that point and were clearly experienced performs. But, as it happens, they were also comparatively youthful.