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Connecting the Dots: The Music of Serpent Handlers – the Coots Duo and the Coots Duet.

Snake handling and guitar tuning
Tommy Coots handling a snake and his wife Lou’s tuning the guitar

This photo above, is clipped from the National Geographic Snake Salvation series. Initially I took a screenshot because I collect these kinds of photos, but later I came back for another reason.

I discovered the Alabama Astronaut podcast, which explores the music of the serpent handlers. There they mention the Coots family, and that Jamie Coots’ (1971-2014) grandfather, Tommy Coots, who founded the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesborro, KY, was a singer and songwriter.

And in episode 8, of the podcast, they posted an album cover on their accompanying website, and it was an album by the Coots Duet.

I was always wondering if there were any private press, stock photo cover, seventies bluegrass gospel records out there that were recorded by serpent handling folks, and there appears to be!

Here is the transcript of the podcast, with the part about the records by Tommy Coots and his wife:

00:38:34 Abe Partridge

Yeah, so Jim Stanton recorded the coots duet it was Tom Coots and Lou every song on there is original songs Tom Coots, with exception of that one Louvin Brothers song that they recorded “The Devil is real”.

That was the last thing they recorded to my knowledge, but now prior to that I know two EP’s that exist. Two 45 RPM, 7 inch records with two songs per side. One had a white label, one had a gold label.

That’s the way Greg Coots referred to the mess. Well, the Coots family took a flood and I think this was back in somewhere in early 2000. I remember when I lived in Middlesborough in 2006 we took a flood too and I had about four foot of standing water in my basement. It could have been that very same flood.

00:39:19 Newscast

A state of emergency continues for the state of Kentucky as rising floodwaters caused even more evacuation. Certain areas have gotten more than six inches of rain in two days, time, leading to more and more damage to local businesses and homes.

00:39:33 Abe Partridge

When they had that flood, their basement flooded and a bunch of the tapes and the records from Tom Coots were destroyed, which is really sickening because, you know, Greg said they used to have reel to Reel tapes of him preaching and singing on the radio, and so at the present the Coots family, they only have just one copy of the Devil is real.

That’s all they had, and the other two EPS that they recorded they could never find.

Well, whenever I found out about the existence of those EP’s I had found that there was a seller who had obtained the White label, 45 and it was actually put out on a label called Pennant.

Jesus made the world is actually on that record and it’s a different version than they made on their LP. (Listen to the LP version of “Jesus made the world”)

What the guy did do before he sold it, was he digitized it and put it on YouTube well.

I went and found it on YouTube and downloaded it and then I burned copies and made CD’s of it for Cody and Greg and Andrew as well and I let them, you know, gave them all a a picture of what the scan the labels look like on that 45 and that was the first time Greg you know has had that music since he lost it in the flood and he was real thankful for that.

That was the surprise that I had for him. We’re still in search of the Gold label 45. I still haven’t found it. To my knowledge, there were 500 copies pressed of the LP and both the 45.

So that means that there’s only 1500 of these in existence. 500 of the LP, 500 of each of the 45.

I’ve only held in my hand one and that was that LP, but we’re still in search of the Gold label 45 because we don’t even have any idea what songs are on it.

I tried to get Greg or Cody to tell me what songs weren’t neither one of them remember and maybe.

This podcast will help us unearth, that Gold label as well, so it couldn’t be Tom Coops or Thomas Coop or Thomas Coop and his wife Lou or the Coots Duet we’re not sure how they would be listed, but there’s a Gold label EP that exists out there and if you find it I will.

Listen: Details about the lost recordings by Thomas Coots and his wife Lou in Alabama Astronaut (Abe Partridge)

So the mentioned 7″ EPs are documented here. There are even samples of the golden EP. And the complete EP can be listened on Youtube: Side 1, Side 2

Thomas Coots – The Door of Mercy & What Do You Do With Your Bible
Snake handlers: God-fearers? or, fanatics?; [a religious documentary]

Abe Partridge of the Alabama Astronaut podcast collaborated with Tommy Coots’ grandson Cody and his wife Cassy Coots on an album that includes a version of “Jesus Made the World” and other songs from their family. The entire album is highly recommended.

Listen to Jesus Made the World by Cody and Cassy Coots

While digging around, I found Pastor Jamie Coots’ old Youtube channel and videos of him making music. So, here is another version of “Jesus made the world.”

Alabama Astronaut Podcast

Edit 2022-12-15: The golden 7″ was unearthed and sent to the Coots family, and according to Abe Partridge the music will be re-released at some point.