Joe Thompson, American musician, RIP
February 24, 2012 6:33 PM   Subscribe

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...

Here's a little more on Joe and Odell Thompson from Folkstreams.

Also at Folkstreams, Joe and Odell appear in the excellent Alan Lomax-produced film Appalachian Journey (at 26:22).

Joe was an early mentor to North Carolina's popular roots music band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Finally, here's Joe's offering of the old spiritual I Shall Not Be Moved. No fiddling here, just Joe singing, displaying the kind of unaffected, powerfully simple vocal delivery that can't help but take you back to a bygone era of musical honesty.
posted by flapjax at midnite (9 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
posted by smirkette at 7:01 PM on February 24, 2012

posted by librarina at 7:12 PM on February 24, 2012

What a loss to our American musical tradition. (I have an album he did with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and it's fantastic.)
posted by immlass at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow. Thanks for the music Joe.

posted by spitbull at 4:23 AM on February 25, 2012

posted by Smart Dalek at 8:04 AM on February 25, 2012

Oh goodness, that "I Shall Not Be Moved" is hair-raising.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:23 AM on February 25, 2012

Thanks so much for posting this treasure, flapjax ... you are our own treasure with your awesome posts.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much, my dear madame!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:49 PM on February 25, 2012

The Carolina Chocolate Drops used to spend their Thursday evenings jamming with Joe at his home in North Carolina, so if anyone can be said to be carrying the tradition of Black string band music, it would have to be them. And they are taking it places one would never imagine!
posted by zaelic at 5:01 AM on February 26, 2012

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