Mother Maybelle’s L-5

Here’s what Austin has to say about his 2015 composition celebrating the legendary music pioneer and her famed guitar:

After their historic session with Ralph Peer in Bristol VA-TN, in 1927, Maybelle bought a brand new 1928 L-5 Gibson. She played that guitar the rest of her career for 50 years on songs like Wildwood Flower, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, and Keep On The Sunny Side. Her guitar now has a tag on it for $575,000, and for sure headed for the Hall of Fame. Before I caught wind of that story, I had a thought while listening to the Carter Family, especially honing in on Maybelle’s guitar: “I come alive on Mother Maybelle’s L-5”. When you listen to those songs, you really hear how she drives the song with her guitar. She plays the melody on the bass strings with her thumb, and picks up the rhythm with her fingers on the three high strings. She referred to her style as “The Carter Scratch”.

Mother Maybelle’s L-5

The song, featuring Austin’s vocals and rhythm guitar, was recorded Jan 13, 2016, at Jimmy Jensen’s “Barefoot Studio” on Sanibel Island, FL, and appears as Track 10 on Austin’s 2017 album Kill Devil Sessions – Flight of Aaron Jett.  The musicians included Fred Ermentrout on lead and rhythm Telecaster guitar, and Jimmy Jensen on bass.  Fred and Brent Moyer provided vocal harmonies.  Below, Austin and Fred meet up after the session at Jensen’s Marina on Captiva Island, FL.


Maybelle_L5_1Photo: John W Iwanski cc by-nc 2.0

Maybelle’s guitar on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Here’s a video produced by Jimmy Jensen, combining archival footage and stills of the Carter Family with Brent Moyer’s live video capture of Austin and Fred during the session.

“Mother Maybelle’s L-5”
words and music by
Austin Church
Churchman Music (BMI)
Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved

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