Jennie and Pauline Bowman were the daughters of the famous early old-time fiddler Charlie Bowman. The girls were practically show business veterans by the time they began their duo sister recording act, having begun performing when just a touch past the toddler stage. Each of the sisters was a quick study at various instruments, Jennie Bowman playing the accordion and fiddle quite well, while Pauline Bowman was an excellent guitarist and superb on the ukulele. The Bowman Sisters were quite well-known in Tennessee, "the best-known kids in East Tennessee" according to their proud father. At this early stage in the country music business, the idea of a sister act with both of the girls playing several instruments was quite a novelty. Proof of its gold weight in novelty value was the fact that neither sister could remember being influenced musically by anything or anybody. So it is fairly obvious the music of the duo was their own invention, which is a lot more than can be said for the Dixie Chicks. The Bowman Sisters were able to record twice -- far from enough, in the minds of their fans. Johnson City, TN, was the locale of the first session, with Jennie Bowman only 15 at the time. This session was the first recording by sisters in the history of country music. For the next session, the sisters went to New York City, actually moving up a rung in terms of personal safety compared to the raucous atmosphere of Johnson City in the late '20s, with its gun-blazing moonshine wars. The big city sessions were part of a package tour with the Blue Ridge Ramblers, plus about a dozen other Appalachian performers. The lovely "Old Lonesome Blues" was one of the songs recorded by the sisters during these sessions and was reissued on the Rounder label as part of a compilation of female country artists entitled Banjo Pickin' Girls. This bluesy track features the delightful efforts of old-time accordion maestro Fran Trappe, a German musician who was a member of their father's band, the Hill Billies.
Following her marriage, Pauline Bowman dropped out of professional music. Her sister went on as a solo act, a cowgirl costume part of her regular stage get-up, and died in Baltimore in 1976. She was survived by her sister, who stayed in Johnson City. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi