New Music Video Produced To Celebrate 'The Possum Tapes' Anniversary
Tim White is playing possum. Possum music, that is.
White, one of East Tennessee's most prominent bluegrass musicians and broadcast personalities, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of his early albums, "The Possum Tapes," by releasing a new music video for the song "Five Pounds of Possum."
Written by White, "Five Pounds of Possum" is a humorous tribute to the animal known as a culinary staple in many rural Appalachian households. Since it was first recorded, the song has been covered by countless other artists.
"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery," White said. "You can go on YouTube and see that hundreds of people have either recorded 'Five Pounds of Possum' or performed in live. It always makes me smile, to be walking through a fiddlers convention and hear someone playing that song."
The music video features White and bandmates Donnie Ollis and Garry Ollis performing in a cabin, interspersed with shots of "Seemore Possum," a costumer character mascot that used to entertain crowds at White's concerts.
Nowadays, White is known as the host of the nationally syndicated public television concert series "Song of the Mountains" and the radio program "The Tim White Bluegrass Show." However, in the late 1980s, he was just another struggling bluegrass banjo picker.
"I used to promote a bluegrass show," he said. "Bill Monroe would come and there was always a guest band. That's where I met Jim and Jesse McReynolds, who were regulars on The Grand Ole Opry. They took me under their wing and offed to help me with a project. I woke up one morning and just had this idea to do an album on possums. It just seems like everybody's amused by possums."
"The Possum Tapes" was released in 1993. Though it began as a novelty album, it has gained cult status among fans of bluegrass music, thanks in part to the involvement of several prominent artists, some of whom have since passed away, including Jimmy Martin, Rory Husky, Jr., and Grand Ole Opry legend Jim McReynolds, who coproduced the album with his brother and fellow Opry star Jesse McReynolds.
"What got me interested in 'The Possum Tapes' is I grew up with possums," Jesse McReynolds said. "We used to hunt them in Virginia when I was a boy. I had a good time doing Tim's album. It was the most interesting project that I ever got into because I never thought about doing a possum project otherwise."
Other well-known musicians on "The Possum Tapes" include 2-time Grammy winner Carl Jackson and Wayne Taylor. Taylor is now a member of the popular bluegrass band Blue Highway, but was a coal truck driver, when "The Possum Tapes" was made.
"I used to run into Wayne at local festivals," White said. "I knew he had what it took to be a successful musician, but he just needed to get with the right people, so I asked him if he wanted to write a song for the album."
Taylor ended up writing three songs for the project, each with younger listeners in mind.
"I wanted to stay away from anything that had to do with killing or eating the possum," Wayne said. "The idea for 'Possum Promenade' came about one day, when I was thinking about those old Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons. I imagined possums getting together at a barn dance. I still think that song would make a great cartoon."
Meanwhile, Taylor's song "God Made the Possum" is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the possum's anatomical diversity. "I started thinking about what a possum looks like, and how it seems like God just took parts from different animals and threw them together," he said.
Through the years, Tim White performed with, and interviewed, many acclaimed artists. But "The Possum Tapes" remains one of his most enduring and memorable projects.
"It was one of those pinch-me moments, to get to play on this album with some of these legendary pickers," White said. "It was a real event in my life."
"The Possum Tapes" is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify and other digital music outlets. For more information about Tim White, visit www.TimWhiteEntertainment.com and www.FatDogRecords.com.
1. Ole Blue
2. Possum Blues
3. Pattie On the Turnpike
4. Possum Promenade
5. Boil Them Possums
6. Possum Breakdown
7. Possum Party
8. Tennessee Possum Chase
9. Momma's Not Dead, She's Just Playing Possum
10. Possum Hollow Road
11. God Made the Possum
12. Middle of the Road
13. Five Pounds of Possum