About The Country Pardners
"Another Old Dog in the Race" is one of the best records made by this enjoyable country and bluegrass outfit from the mid-'50s Ohio scene. Guitarist and vocalist Carlos Brock assembled the group following a fairly long period of employment as a guitarist and frontman singer in Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys. Brock's fellow guitar picker in the group was Bill Price, a player whose talents were strong enough during his high-school days that bluegrass band leader Jimmy Martin took an interest in the lad. Following graduation from high school, Price wound up in what sounded like an excellent trio with Martin and the young J.D. Crowe on banjo.
Problems developed with employment for this group, however, and Martin went on to collaborate with the Osborne Brothers while Price and a banjo player named Bobby Simpson headed for Cincinnati, where they wound up meeting Brock at a record store run by Jimmy Skinner. The latter picker and businessman was also broadcasting live right out of his shop. The players put together a new unit and were quickly courted by both RCA Records and the publishing firm of Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff. The new group rehearsed for a month at the home of Brock's mother -- "She wouldn't charge us no board," Price recalled in interviews, and, "It's good she didn't, we didn't have any money much" -- before being offered a new song by a new country songwriter. The song was "Why Baby Why," by the songwriter George Jones. Unfortunately, the scent of this song was about the closest the Country Pardners got to a hit, since by the time they got together with producer Chet Atkins to cut it, he had the unfortunate news that the group had been beaten to the question by both Red Sovine and Webb Pierce, both of whom had versions of "Why Baby Why" ready to be released. The group did record four songs other for RCA including the aforementioned canine choral.
Then Brock went into the army while the other players moaned about the diminishing popularity of bluegrass caused by the oncoming of rock & roll and artists such as Elvis Presley. It was a situation that forced the individual players into other lines of work. Price went back to college and wound up in business, while Simpson began selling insurance. This was hardly the end of the story, however, as the members decided to take another crack at the professional music business, enlisting new management and winding up with some Opry guest spots for Price, who began combining music activities with his day job. His wife and he began a booking agency in the late '60s, and got a large boost from Bill Monroe when he became a client. By the '70s, the couple was organizing several large-scale bluegrass festivals each year and began to collaborate on music together as well, cutting several albums for Rural Rhythm. The group itself received a boost, at least in name only, when Price began appearing under the billing of Bill Price & the Country Pardners. Former member Simpson quit playing banjo entirely, running a bonding company out of Charlotte, NC. Brock wound up based out of Jacksonville, FL, where he raises cattle and has a weekend band with his brothers Lonnie and Bobby Brock. Price once harbored a dream of reuniting all the old members for one of his bluegrass festivals, and was also offering "five dollars each no matter what shape" for any existing copies of old Country Pardners sides in the mid-'70s when Rounder reissued some of the group's tracks as part of the label's excellent Early Days of Bluegrass series. Price died in 2001 at the age of 66 from liver cancer. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi