Ferd 'n Jed were truly the Charlie Parkers of country music.
Known by many to have been the progenitors of such legendary country music artists as Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline, their influence can still be heard in the singings of modern country superstars like Garth Brooks and The Judds. Unfortunately, Ferd 'n Jed, like so many other early, groundbreaking musical phenomena, enjoyed a relatively sort-lived recording career. In fact, up until the release of this album here on Bandcamp, the legacy of this foundation-laying musical duo survived simply through good old fashioned word of mouth.
Throughout my career as a music journalist and historian, specifically during my travels through Tennessee and Alabama, I have heard countless tales of the dynamic, history-altering performances of Ferd 'n Jed.
"I had never seen no group of boys a pickin' and a grinnin' like that before in my life," said "One-Eyed" Jack Jergan, the founder and owner of Moonshine Records. Nestled in the quaint little town of Muddy Ford, Tennessee, just a few miles outside of Nashville, country music's historical epicenter, Moonshine's tiny studio served to be the only place where Ferd 'n Jed would ever record.
One night Jack witnessed the duo working an audience over at a bar called The Rusty Hinge in Nashville. After a while, they had stopped playing completely and instead had endeavored to divide up the audience into two halves; the "Ferd side" and the "Jed side". The people on the Ferd side of the crowded hall were then asked to cry "Ferd!" when Ferd yelled "Ferd!" in to the microphone and then the others on the Jed side to say "Jed!" when Jed yelled "Jed!" into his microphone. At first Jack thought that the performance had simply decomposed into some sort of juvenile chaos, but after about twenty minutes of this it dawned on him that the whole thing had been a brilliant segue into the duo's classic, crowd-pleasing hit "You Can Get with Ferd or You Can Get with Jed". Jack had, of course, never seen anything quite like it.
"I had never seen anything quite like it," he told me during an interview I was doing at the time for Rolling Stone Magazine. After that he paused reflectively, lighting up a cigar, before adding, "yep".
So, I invite you right now to sit back and listen to country music history in the making. Painstakingly remastered in our sound labs from a handful or rare, scratchy 78 recordings found at a garage sale in Rohnert Park, California, these performances sound as fresh and lively as they probably did to good old Jack Jergan back in the Moonshine Studio recording booth in 1943. So go on, lend us your ear while you pour yourself a beer, but be warned, you may end up shedding a tear in it before the night is through.
-Rob Sheffield is still a columnist for Rolling Stone Magazine, as well as the founder of the Country Music Hall of Fame, in Nashville, Tennessee.
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released 14 December 1991