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Dorothy Dandridge - A Zoot Suit and other soundies

Dorothy Dandridge - A Zoot Suit
Dorothy Dandridge - Cow Cow Boogie
Dorothy Dandridge, the Nicholas Brothers & Glenn Miller - Chattanooga Choo Choo
Hoagy Carmichael - Lazybones
A very young and very beautiful Dorothy Dandridge, exploding with talent and charisma... [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Oct 26, 2012 - 12 comments

An interview with MaryBeth Hamilton, author of In Search of the Blues

...The cult of and luster for country blues among these record collectors came about because not only were recordings by Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James and Robert Johnson not successfully sold to African Americans, but other record collectors were not interested in them either. There were so many collectors of New Orleans jazz that not only did the recordings became too expensive to collect, they also didn't want them -- they wanted to find something that required more energy to uncover, and more energy to actually appreciate. Anyone who has ever listened to Charley Patton knows that you have to learn how to listen to him, you have to really struggle -- it is a work of archeology, really, to make out what he is saying. It is powerful, and I don't want to deny its power, but you have to learn how to hear that power, and African Americans, when these records came out, didn't necessarily hear that.
From an interview with Marybeth Hamilton, author of In Search of the Blues [more inside]
posted by y2karl on May 26, 2012 - 13 comments

''Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you'': Vachel Lindsay reads The Congo

Vachel Lindsay reads The Congo.
Jim Dickinson reads The Congo.
Laura Fox reads The Congo.
Vachel Lindsay as Performer
Lindsay and Racism
See also Race Criticism of "The Congo"
A podcast: Noncanonical Congo: A Discussion of Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo." [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Feb 10, 2010 - 28 comments

O Black and Unknown Bards - Among Other Things, Regarding The White Invention of The Blues

...The narrative of the blues got hijacked by rock ’n’ roll, which rode a wave of youth consumers to global domination. Back behind the split, there was something else: a deeper, riper source. Many people who have written about this body of music have noticed it. Robert Palmer called it Deep Blues. We’re talking about strains within strains, sure, but listen to something like Ishman Bracey’s ''Woman Woman Blues,'' his tattered yet somehow impeccable falsetto when he sings, ''She got coal-black curly hair.'' Songs like that were not made for dancing. Not even for singing along. They were made for listening. For grown-ups. They were chamber compositions. Listen to Blind Willie Johnson’s "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.'' It has no words. It’s hummed by a blind preacher incapable of playing an impure note on the guitar. We have to go against our training here and suspend anthropological thinking; it doesn’t serve at these strata. The noble ambition not to be the kind of people who unwittingly fetishize and exoticize black or poor-white folk poverty has allowed us to remain the kind of people who don’t stop to wonder whether the serious treatment of certain folk forms as essentially high- or higher-art forms might have originated with the folk themselves.
From Unknown Bards: The blues becomes apparent to itself by one John Jeremiah Sullivan. I came across it while browsing Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers On The Albums That Changed Their Lives. For Sullivan, that album was American Primitive, Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants (1897 - 1939), which is my favorite CD of the year. Which came out in 2005 while I just got around to buying it this year. Foolish me. It is a piece of art in itself in every respect--all CDs should have such production values. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Aug 6, 2009 - 50 comments

Regarding Paramount Records

...In 1924 New York Recording Laboratory decided to expand its reach into that market by purchasing the Black Swan label. Founded in 1920 or 1921 by black entrepreneur Harry H. Pace, the pioneering company recorded everything from ragtime to grand opera, as long as it was sung by African-Americans... Paramount's biggest star was Ma Rainey, a blues moaner who influenced the legendary singer Bessie Smith... Paramount did not neglect male blues singers, who tended to be folk artists in the sense that their music was made initially for the entertainment of isolated rural communities. These included the singers and guitarists Charlie Patton... Blind Lemon Jefferson...
Compliments of the Season from ParamountsHome--where, among many other things, one can find an online copy of David Evans's biography Charley Patton in Parts 1, 2 and 3 or look at a picture of Skip James in 1932, not to mention a view of Paramount's promotion of Patton as the Masked Marvel. And that is not, as they say, all...
posted by y2karl on Dec 18, 2006 - 14 comments

Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated - 6 bodies found at Dome; 4 at Convention Center

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying. The real total was six, Beron said. Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside. At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.
Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated
posted by y2karl on Sep 27, 2005 - 48 comments

The Two Americas

Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died. What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go. Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes... "Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable.. Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin." They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff," Valdes observed.

The Two Americas. See also A Nation's Castaways, 'To Me, It Just Seems Like Black People Are Marked' & White Man's Burden
posted by y2karl on Sep 4, 2005 - 69 comments

The Minstrel Show 2.0: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter

Jump Jim Crow, through the hoops of one Robert Christgau's erudition as he surveys the literature extant in In Search of Jim Crow: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter, through multiple readings of Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World and and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Consider, too, The Minstrel Cycle from Reading The Commitments and other various and sundry attempts to peek inside the minstrel mask—all multiple readings reading blackface minstrels from the pejorative to the explorative, subversive to oppressive, past to future, unfolding tesseractly, if not exactly, with singing, dancing and extraordinary elocutions. Buy your tickets and step within for The Meller Drammer of Minstrelsy in The Minstrel Show 2.0
posted by y2karl on Mar 31, 2005 - 17 comments

Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 & The reparations Question Revisited

Otis Granville Clark is a wonder. At 102, the former butler of Joan Crawford - who served Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin - still drives, lives on his own and twice a week attends church in his home city of Tulsa, Oklahoma... Today his blue eyes have gone milky but they still sparkle, his wiry frame remains agile, and his most painful memories are still fresh - even after 83 years. Coiled on the edge of an understuffed sofa, Clark leans back and screws his eyes tight to summon up "that day". It remains the most vivid of his life... Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations. To most Tulsans it is simply "the riot". But the carnage had nothing in common with the mass protests of Chicago, Detroit and Newark in the 1960s or the urban violence that laid siege to Los Angeles in 1992 after the white police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted. The 1921 Tulsa race riot owes its name to an older American tradition, to the days when white mobs, with the consent of local authorities, dared to rid themselves of their black neighbours. The endeavour was an opportunity "to run the Negro out of Tulsa". Burnt Offerings
.See also The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 or the tale of the lost city or another The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. See also Frequently Asked Questions from the Tulsa Reparations Coalition. Previous post by allaboutgeorge re: Tulsa Race Riot Reparations on March 1, 2001 .
posted by y2karl on Feb 22, 2005 - 172 comments

Ragtime, Cakewalks, Coon Songs and Vaudeville, Barbershop Quartets & etc.

While culling my clippings file for the big move, I came across Ragtime: No Longer a Novelty in Sepia, which led me to the The Rag-Time Ephemeralist, a labor of love by one Chris Ware , whose 'The Acme Novelty Library' and Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy In The World I had long admired. The Ragtime Ephemeralist's mention of Out of Sight - The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895---here's a review from Musical Traditions--and, its very own links page, as a consequence, led to this post about Ragtime, Cakewalks, Coon Songs and Vaudeville, with a slight nod to Barbershop Quartets. There's more, of course...
posted by y2karl on Jan 21, 2005 - 27 comments

Gone To Croatan: Runaway Slaves, Lost Tribes, Tri-Racial Isolates & Hi, Iconomy!

In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe - red, white & black - called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.

But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the ~official~ pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by "civilization." Now it was a ~slum~.


Maroons, Ramapaughs, Jackson Whites, the Moors of Delaware, Melungeons, the Ben Ishmaels--hat tip to Footnotes of History on that last--Red Bones, Brass Ankles, Turks, Lumbees, Croatans and other lost tribes and rebel slave communities.

The questions raised are what is race, tribe and family ...among others.

Included by extension are Hakim Bey, The Moorish Orthodox Church, various tribes of Black Indians, Jukes, Kallikaks, Margaret Sanger, The Bell Curve and Heather Locklear. (Step within the tent for the latter's interpetive dance)
posted by y2karl on Nov 15, 2002 - 38 comments

Race/Music: Corrine Corrina, Bo Chatmon, and the Excluded Middle

Race/Music: Corrine Corrina, Bo Chatmon, and the Excluded Middle. Bo Carter is not the household name that, say, Robert Johnson is but he first recorded and most likely wrote one of the standards of the 20th Century. The essay linked deals with him, his song and the push me-pull you of race and culture in America. It's a post graduate thesis rife with postmodernist terminology--yet full of ideas and insights, not all of which I necessarily endorse or agree with--but which I've found thought provoking. (Details Within)
posted by y2karl on Aug 1, 2002 - 15 comments

The Minstrel Show: Academic Histories of Blackface Minstrelsy

The Minstrel Show The Minstrel Show presents us with a strange, fascinating and awful phenomenon. Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the 1830s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms. By the Civil War the minstrel show had become world famous and respectable. Late in his life Mark Twain fondly remembered the "old time nigger show" with its colorful comic darkies and its rousing songs and dances. By the 1840s, the minstrel show had become one of the central events in the culture of the Democratic party.. The image of white men in blackface, miming black song, dance and speech is considered the last word in racist bigotry for some. And yet, standing at the crossroads of race, class and high and low culture, blackface minstrelsy is one fascinating topic in academic circles. It’s history is intertwined with the rise of abolitionism, the works of Mark Twain and the histories of vaudeville, American vernacular music, radio, television, movies, in fact all of what is called popular culture. Details within.
posted by y2karl on Mar 13, 2002 - 26 comments

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