"Old Weird America", you say? I got some right here for ya: Oh, My Pretty Monkey, by Kelly Harrell. [more inside]
Oh yeah. There he is, Mr. RL Burnside, in the year of nineteen and seventy eight, Independence, Mississippi, porch fulla kids, singin' about when his first wife left him, million-dollar smile on his face. And there he is again, with his guitar and amp, out by the barb wire fence, a poor boy a long way from home. These two little gems just added to the Alan Lomax Archive YouTube channel, where you'll also find some wonderful newly-uploaded clips (filmed in 1983) from fretless banjo plucker Tommy Jarrell, the toast of Toast, North Carolina.
African-American fiddler Joe Thompson, probably the last living link to the black string band tradition of the 19th century, has died at the grand old age of 93. Hear Joe and his cousin, banjoist Odell (who passed on back in 1994) offer some reminiscences on the origins of their music, and a spirited rendition of Cindy Gal. Here's the short but sweet and deliciously ragged Old Corn Liquor. Hear Joe and Odell in concert in 1988, part one and part two, and this little ditty from a living room in 1987. And there's... [more inside]
Annie & Mac are a talented, independent duo from Virginia that have created one of the largest repositories of Old-Time music on their Youtube channel. Songs include The Falls of Richmond, Sandy Boys, Arkansas Traveler, the Crawdad Song, and The Eighth of January.
You'll come to crave the high lonesome sound of Obray Ramsey, whose vocals and banjo were as pure as a mountain stream, and as Whip-poor-will wild as the cold rain and snow. This is the old time Appalachian hillbilly blues.
Born in Big Sandy, Texas in 1874, Henry Thomas was one of the oldest black musician who ever recorded for the phonograph companies of the 1920′s and his music represents a rare opportunity to hear what American black folk music must have sounded like in the last decade of the 19th century. [more inside]
Good morning. It's Monday. I know that it sucks to have to come back to work after a holiday weekend. So I am going to share with you this alternative version of Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead" mixed with archival footage of old-timey American dancing. I hope this brightens your day a little bit.
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. [more inside]
Alexander "Eck" Robertson (1886 - 1975) was one hell of a fine fiddler, friend. He made, in 1922, what many country music historians consider the first commercial recording of country music. And now some kind soul has made ol' Eck a MySpace page where you can get a taste (five tastes, actually) of some of that bodacious bowing. Then head over to Ragtime Annie's place. What? She's Done Gone? She must've run off with the Arkansaw Traveler. Guess you'll have to make do with that Turkey In The Straw. [more inside]
For your weekend aural edification, courtesy of Internet Archive, a sampling of Old-Time and country blues gems: Buell Kazee's The Dying Soldier (1928), B.F. Shelton's Pretty Polly (1927), Geeshie Wiley's Last Kind Words (1930), Dock Boggs' Danville Girl, Kelly Harrel's Rovin' Gambler (1925), Clarence Ashley's My Sweet Farm Girl (1931), Charlie Poole's Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues (1925) and the Memphis Jug Band's A Black Woman is Like a Black Snake (1928).
The stark, modal banjo and achingly poignant, weathered voice of the great Dock Boggs [previous] are the perfect aural accompaniment to a slideshow of William Gedney's [previous] powerfully intimate photographs: Kentucky, 1964. [more inside]
Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old, a film by Alan Lomax, takes a loving look at the talents and wisdom of elderly musicians, singers, and story-tellers from southern American folk traditions. All the musicians featured in the film have soul and musical energy to spare: great, great performances and engaging reminiscences make this film a real treat. Please see the [more inside] for a collection of links to several of the outstanding performers featured in the film. [more inside]
Each of the following MySpace Music pages features bios and/or photos and/or videos and/or miscellaneous related materials and/or up to four songs by each of the following Old Time, Traditional, Appalachian folk (and related) artists: Lowe Stokes, Clarence Ashley, Charlie Poole, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Roanoke Jug Band, Roscoe Holcomb, Hobart Smith, The Weems String Band, Burnet & Rutherford, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, John Masters, Dock Boggs, Tampa Joe & Macon Ed, William Stepp, Buddy Thomas, Buell Kazee, Isidore Soucy, John Salyer, Cousin Emmy, Luther Strong, Elizabeth Cotten, Fred Cockerham, G.B. Grayson, Melvin Wine, Lewis Brothers, Uncle Dave Macon, George Lee Hawkins and Wilmer Watts. And here's some general Old Time (etc.) pages, featuring various artists: Dust To Digital, Traditional Music of Beech Mountain and North Carolina Folklife Institute. [more inside]
For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan! [more inside]
Are you ready, Hezzie? I have a complicated family history that allows be to be simultaneously from Washington state and Indiana. Over the last few years my tastes have migrated toward post-rock and traditional music played with a certain frantic desperation. Somehow, I knew that Indiana was a crossroads for these styles of music - but somehow, I missed out on the Hoosier Hot Shots, apparent popularizers of the beloved washboard!
Sure, we've all heard the classic old time radio dramas, but what about more recent classics, like the wonderful Jack Flanders series from ZBS Media? And what is being produced today? Bonus points if it's broadcast free online.