Eighty one years ago to the day, barber, banjoist and balladeer B.F. Shelton
travelled from his home in Kentucky to take part in a recording session in Bristol Tennessee. Now referred to as the "Bristol Sessions
", these recordings are widely viewed as some of the most important and influential in American music history. The four songs Shelton recorded that day, stark, simple and immensely powerful in their unadorned honesty, can all be heard here
. After Bristol, Shelton never recorded again.
I'd like to note here that the Wiki page and the various articles linked to on the Bristol page (both linked under Bristol sessions
of this FPP) offer some fascinating insights into the history of not only these particular recordings but also the early development of the record industry, and particularly the royalty system, which was, according to some, essentially inaugurated by Bristol recordist and entrepreneur Ralph Peer, working for Victor Records.
Here's a blog entry
from a fellow who's thoughtfully included audio files of "Pretty Polly" by BF Shelton and
the great Dock Boggs, for your listening and comparison pleasure.
Bare bones (ain't a whole lot known about the man, after all) bio
of BF Shelton.
Though not in complete versions, the Bristol Sessions recordings are available to purchase, in this volume