Biographical / Historical
Alonzo Elvis "Tony" Alderman, (1900-1983) was introduced to old-time music at an early age by his relatives in Galax, Virginia. Alderman learned to play trumpet, French horn, and, inspired by Earnest "Pop" Stoneman, the country fiddle. He first performed publicly with the Galax Dixie Concert (brass)Band.
In the late spring of 1924, he formed a group with John Rector, Al Hopkins, and Joe Hopkins. Rector convinced the band to record a record. Unfortunately, due to technical problems the recording session was unsuccessful.
Undaunted, the quartet travelled to OKeh Studios in January of 1925 where they recorded six songs under the supervision of Ralph Peer. When Peer asked the band's name Al Hopkins replied, "We're nothing but a bunch of hill billies from North Carolina and Virginia. Call us anything." Reportedly Inspired by his reply, Peer named the group "The Hill Billies."
"The Hill Billies" released their first record in February 1925. In May of that year while performing at a fiddler's convention sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan in Montana, Tennesee, they recruited Charlie Bowman from Gray Station, Tennessee to join them. Later that year 'The Hill Billies' left OKeh and joined the Combined Vocalion Brunswick Company to work with artist and repertoire man Jim O'Keefe. On the Vocalion label the band's name remained the same, but on the Brunswick label it changed to "Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters."
For the next several years, the "Pine Hill Billies" performed across the country, made several more records, and broadcast on WRC radio in Washington, D.C. After the group disbanded in 1932,Tony Alderman moved to Washington, D.C. to work as an x-ray technician, as well as an investor, and he experimented with aerial photography.
In 1970, Alderman retired to Golden Beach in St. Mary's County, Maryland. He joined the "Over the Hill Gang" and played at local celebrations, including solos for the National Council for Traditional Arts festivals, the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife, and various holiday celebrations held by the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.