Mary McCaslin - vocals, guitar; Jim Ringer - vocals, guitar
As with the late show, which is also posted at Wolfgang's Vault, this intimate musical segment shows the fragile but memorable musical alliance that was Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer. This recording was done at the Bottom Line in New York City as part of a two-night stand when they opened for Doc and Merle Watson, and although it was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, the duo was an unlikely musical candidate for the popular FM radio concert series.
Of the several years they spent on the road together, it is likely this (and the previous early show recording) caught the singers when they were both in their prime. At the time these shows were recorded, McCaslin and Ringer had not yet released their only album, 1978's Bramble & The Rose, which would receive rave reviews for its ability to juxtapose McCaslin's sweet soprano against Ringer's masculine baritone voice.
The two had performed separately as folk artists on the same circuit for years. They had known each other since 1972, and became fast friends. Eventually Ringer, who was married with children, began performing as a duo with McCaslin. The year after this show was recorded he divorced, and they were married. He and McCaslin stayed together professionally and personally until 1989; three years later, Ringer (who had been in declining health from years of fast living) died at age 56.
The two performers had seen limited success on their own and eventually hooked up while on the Philo folk label. Philo marketed the duo as best they could but ran into financial problems shortly after the Bramble & The Rose album was released. As a result, McCaslin and Ringer never received the recognition they should have found in their prime.
McCaslin came from a supportive family life, which allowed for a balance against the hard-knock artistry of Jim Ringer, a drifter who had been jailed several times for getting into trouble with police over the years. While the two performers may have enjoyed only limited celebrity, they made great music in the time they worked together.