Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Old Mother Hippletoe-Rural and urban children's songs

Here's an interesting lp that compiles recordings from The Library of Congress by the Lomaxes and others to present an overview of children's songs in both rural and urban America. Songs were collected from different ethnic groups,mostly blacks and whites from the South, but also Cajuns, Mexicans, native americans... Some performers are well-known to folk music fans: Almeda Riddle, E.C Ball, Uncle Alec Dunford, Bessie Jones from the Georgia Sea islands singers, Vera Hall...In reading the liner notes (included as a pdf file) we understand that children's songs are a very important part of a folk tradition, one where spontanious creativity is best represented and also a strong link to the adult's world. A good part of the material on the record is in fact sung by adult singers who remember songs from childhood.
Enjoy and happy new year...
DOWNLOAD HERE (zip file including pdf of the liner notes)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Delta Sisters- Music From The Old Timey Hotel

I bought this lp a few weeks ago just because i loved the sleeve and the title and was not disappointed by the music also. In fact it's a great record, issued in 1981 on Rooster Records, from a duo of two girls who sing in harmony and play guitar and fiddle some very fine cajun, old-time country, Delmore Brothers numbers. They are accompanied by friends from the west-coast old-timey/folk/bluegrass community and among them, surprise, some of my all-time favorite musicians, Jody Stecher and Eric and Suzy Thompson who provide their vocals and instrumentals excellence on some tracks.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jean Ritchie- Elektra LP

This is one of the oldest Jean Ritchie lp, issued by Elektra Records in the 1950's. Coming from a very musical family from Viper, Kentucky, Jean Ritchie came to New York to study in the 1950's and introduced many people there to the traditional music of the Appalachian mountains. With her sweet voice and gentle dulcimer playing, many fell in love with this type of music and the great folk revival was on his way... On this lp, her very first recordings, she sings her usual repertoire of old ballads, play-party songs and dulcimer pieces. It includes her most popular pieces like Shady Grove, The Cuckoo (2 versions here) or Black is the color...
Enjoy! (this lp is more than 50 years old so it includes a few clicks, pops and crackles...)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Eight-Hand Sets & Holy Steps- Early Dance Tunes and Songs of Praise From North Carolina Tradition

The lp i'm introducing today is a beautiful document of black folk music from the North Carolina region. It's a sampling of the rich and diverse music blacks were playing around the middle 1800's through the early years of the 20th century. It was recorded in North Carolina in the 1970's, at a time were you could still here this kind of music among older black musicians or by their children who kept the tradition alive. The first side of the lp is devoted to dance tunes, also called rags and reels, that were played at social gatherings with guitar, banjos, fiddle, harmonica, bones etc... The second side features songs of praise and spirituals played either by groups or individuals. Some of the musicians are well-known by fans of pre-Blues and Black String-band music ( The duets of Joe and Odell Thompson on fiddle and banjo for example).
In addition to the digitalized version of the lp cut in MP3 tracks, i added a pdf document of the 25-page booklet that goes with the lp (including photographs, notes and lyrics)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Benny Thomasson-Country Fiddling from The Big State

We continue this week with fiddle music, this time from Texas, with one of the best fiddler from the Big State, Benny Thomasson. Texas fiddle music is a bit more sophisticated than in the rest of the South, with longer bow strokes, variations and the influence of Fiddlers Contests and popular music. This will eventually give birth to a genre of music called Western Swing in the 1930's and Benny was an adept fiddler in this style too but on this lp he plays mostly old-time fiddle tunes (it contains maybe the most beautiful rendition of the haunting "Midnight on the water"), with a few rags in between. He learned the old-time tunes at a very eary age with his father Luke and his uncle Ed, both excellent fiddlers and soon was competiting and winning many a fiddle contest with his own variations on the old tunes. He did record commercialy in 1929 but the two sides were never released by Okeh. Rediscovered in the 1970's, he recorded and participated in many fiddlers contests and many young fiddlers learned from him, and was remembered not only for his skills on the instrument but also for his generous and warm personnality.
-Go here to read a article about Texas Fiddle and Benny's music

Thursday, October 1, 2009

John W. Summers-Indiana Fiddler

Here's a great and out-of-print lp by Indiana fiddler, John W. Summers. Issued by Rounder Records in 1984, it was recorded by banjo player, painter and folklorist Art Rosenbaum and by Summers's fiddling friend, Judge Dan White. I took pictures of the booklet that came with the record so that you can read extensively about this great fiddler.

Monday, September 14, 2009

CD Review- Casey Joe Abair and Hunter Robertson "If you want to sleep, go to bed"

Here's a quick review for an excellent new cd i received a few days ago. Under the evocative title "If you want to sleep, go to bed" (A saying by banjo-player Charlie Lowe, who was a major figure of the Round Peak old-time musical tradition and who liked his music fast...) it contains almost exclusively fiddle and banjo duets by two young musicans, Casey Joe Albair and Hunter Robertson. The fine art of fiddle and banjo duets is the core of american old-time music and the two musicians gives us an excellent and energetic selections of instrumental tunes, some well-known, some more obscure, along with a few old-timey songs sung in the expressive and rough vocal style of banjo player Hunter Robertson. The contrast with the delicate voice of his wife Fereale who join him on three numbers makes a delightful combination (it reminds me of some Blind Willie Johnson numbers where the rough street singer sings with a woman).
An elegant and tasty packaging along with some fine liner notes (the source and tunings are provided for each track) to boot makes this cd a must-have for every fan of authentic and deep appalachian old-time music.
-Go to Hunter Robertson's website to hear some samples of it. You can order the cd directly from the website or from various places like ITUNES, AMAZON, ELDERLY...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mike Seeger-Fresh Oldtime String Band Music

This is my tribute to Mike Seeger who passed away this summer... Mike was one of the greatest revivalist musician that came out of the folk revival and a passionate advocate of american old-time music for more than 50 years, alone and with the New Lost City Ramblers. He played on almost every folk stringed instruments: Guitar, banjo, autoharp, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer... and was a model for a lot of people(including myself) to learn and play authentic old-time country music.
The lp i'm offering today was recorded for Rounder in 1984 and was the result of a project Mike had to present old-time string band music played with new ideas, settings and combinations. He took his more adventurous musical friends along with him, including Norman and Nancy Blake, Alan Jabbour, Kirk Sutphin, Paul Brown and members of new old-time string bands of the time like The Stepping Stones from Washington D.C, Tha Agents of Terra and The Horseflies from Ithaca N.Y.
This recordings sounds as fresh and exciting now as it should have been 25 years ago.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fields Ward-Bury me not on the prairie

Well, already a month passed without uploading a new lp... So, hoping that quality is better than quantity, i offer you today an out-of-print lp by Fields Ward, issued by Rounder in the 1970's.
Fields Ward was a superb singer and guitar player from Virgina (he could play the banjo too... Listen to "Cotton Blossom" on the lp) who was part of a talented musical family. His father was Crockett Ward, a fiddler who recorded in the 1920's and his uncle was Wade Ward, the famous old-time banjo and fiddle player. Fields recorded with his father Crockett, Wade and Uncle Eck Dunford as  The Bogtrotters, a great old-time band that was recorded by The Library of Congress in the 1930's. The present lp includes many fine songs and instrumentals and a moving acapella rendition of the cowboy song "Bury me not on the Lone Prairie". The fiddler on the disc is Jerry Lundy, grandson of the famous old-time fiddler Emmet Lundy and Fields's wife Nancy sings with her husband on a couple of tracks. I strongly recommmend that you read the liner notes on the back of the lp for more informations about the Ward Family and their music.
(On the back of the lp it says that side 2 has 7 tracks but in fact there's 8, they ommited the song "Alas my darling")

Monday, June 22, 2009

Erik Darling

Erik Darling was a fine folk singer, banjo and guitar player that emerged during the Folk Revival and passed away last year at the age of 74.. In the 1950's, he formed the Tarriers, a succesful folk group that created a calypso craze with "The Banana Boat Song". He later joined the Weavers to replace Pete Seeger and formed another succesfull band called "The Rooftop Singers" who made a hit with the old jug band song "Walk Right In".He played on many sessions with other folk singers, including Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Judy Collins, Jean Ritchie, etc... He recorded also some fine solo lps and wrote an autobiography which tells of his experiences and aventures during the great days of the Folk Revival, including the famous folk music sunday sessions on Washington Square in New York.
You can visit his website and order the book (which contains a cd with 24 songs) here.
Here's is first solo lp for Elektra Records.
DOWNLOAD HERE (my copy is a bit scratchy but i hope you'll enjoy this nice folk lp from the 1960's)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The World's Jukebox

The World's Jukebox, my blog devoted to ethnic and regional musical from all around the world is taking a new direction. Since i started it, i would post once in a while some tracks from cd reissues of ethnic music that i loved, hoping it would give to people interested in the music the desire to eventually buy this records and learn more about the musical traditions that i find fascinating. I want now to do more than that and present entire lp records from my collection that features one country's musical traditions. I'll start by posting some volumes of a serie edited by Alan Lomax called "The World Library of Primitive and Folk Music". Issued in the 1950's and 1960's by Columbia Records, its a pioneering project to present the world's musical traditions on long playing records, with extensive liner notes. I'll try to post a new volume every week, depending on the time i have,between working on my other blog "The Old, Weird America", my job, my family and playing music... Of course, i'll continue to post from time to time Old-time, folk and Blues lps here... See you soon, and enjoy the music...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Holly Tannen & Pete Cooper- Frosty Morning

After a few weeks far from home i'm back for a new post, another fine folk lp from my collection that i want to share with you. "Frosty Morning" is a collaboration between an american dulcimer player and singer, Holly Tannen, and a english fiddle player, Pete Cooper. (Martin Simpson plays guitar on some tracks also);It was recorded in England in 1979 and issued by Plant Life Records. The record is a good mix of musics i love: American and Irish fiddle tunes, traditionnal ballads and old-timey american songs, an elizabethan lute piece played on the mountain dulcimer, etc... The duo had recorded only this album together but you can check their websites (click on their names) to learn more about them and their music. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dykes "Magic City" Trio

Here's a lp that compiles all the 78rpm records by Dykes "Magic City" Trio, an old-time square dance band of the 1920's. The band was in fact a trio with in his center the appalachian fiddler John Dykes. The guitar player was Hubert Mahaffey and the autoharp player, Myrtle Vermillion (a cousin of Sara Carter). The trio came from the Virginia region and recorded two sessions in the 1920's, thanks to Dock Boggs, who introduced them to the record company. Their records apparently had some success in their time but the band did not record again. 
All their music is dance oriented, due to the driving sound of John Dykes's fiddling, one of the best mountain fiddler recorded in the 1920's but they recorded also a few "murder" ballads (Frankie, Poor Helen Smith) and two religious numbers.
-Be sure to read the liner notes to learn more about them (sorry for the bad shape but you can manage to read)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

John Molineux-Douce Amère

Here's a really beautiful folk lp from 1978 by John Molineux, musician and instrument-maker, featuring his invention, the dulcichord, a kind of sophisiticated dulcimer. John was born in America but lives in France since the 70's (in Britain, not so far from where i live). He was a member of the John Renbourn Group for a few years and released two lps on his own. This is his first one, and it includes a good selection of traditionnal tunes and songs from Ireland, England and France. The irish harp tunes in particular, (from O'Carolan and others) sounds beautiful on the dulcichord. It features also some of my favorite ballads (Rosemary Lane, Lowlands of Holland), so, in brief, it's a record i cherished for many years and i wanted to share it with you...
-John, who is also a story-teller, has a website you can visit here
-You can buy a compilation cd of his first two lps here (french record company's Kerig)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mike Seeger-Music From True Vine

This is an out-of-print lp released in 1972 by Mercury Records by Mike Seeger, one of my favorite american roots music revivalist. Mike can play on most of the folk instruments and always delivers refreshing versions of old ballads, string-band music, country blues... On this lp he plays guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, jaw's harp, fiddle and sings a delightful unaccompanied version of the ballad "Black is the color of my true love's hair". He also plays a really nice tune/song on the banjo called "Little Betty Ann" which is a variation of the "Shady Grove" melody.

For Jeff of "Deep Creek Strings"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Africa and The Blues

"In 1969 Gerhard Kubik chanced to encounter a Mozambican labor migrant, a miner in Transvaal, South Africa, tapping a cipendani, a mouth-resonated musical bow. A comparable instrument was seen in the hands of a white Appalachian musician who claimed it as part of his own cultural heritage. Through connections like these Kubik realized that the link between these two far-flung musicians is African-American music, the sound that became the blues.

Such discoveries reveal a narrative of music evolution for Kubik, a cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist. Traveling in Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, and the United States, he spent forty years in the field gathering the material for Africa and the Blues. In this book, Kubik relentlessly traces the remote genealogies of African cultural music through eighteen African nations, especially in the Western and Central Sudanic Belt.

Included is a comprehensive map of this cradle of the blues, along with 31 photographs gathered in his fieldwork. The author also adds clear musical notations and descriptions of both African and African American traditions and practices and calls into question the many assumptions about which elements of the blues were "European" in origin and about which came from Africa. Unique to this book is Kubik's insight into the ways present-day African musicians have adopted and enlivened the blues with their own traditions.

With scholarly care but with an ease for the general reader, Kubik proposes an entirely new theory on blue notes and their origins. Tracing what musical traits came from Africa and what mutations and mergers occurred in the Americas, he shows that the African American tradition we call the blues is truly a musical phenomenon belonging to the African cultural world.

Gerhard Kubik is a professor in the department of ethnology and African studies at the University of Mainz, Germany. Since 1983 he has been affiliated with the Center for Social Research of Malawi, Zomba. He is a permanent member of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London."

This week, my post is the companion cd of the book descibed above, 36 tracks of excerpts from both afro-american Blues and african music that illustrates the theories of Gerhard Kubik regarding the vocal and instrumental patterns that occurs in the two musical styles. A fascinating listening experience...

I included photos of the liner notes inside the zip file but to really appreciate this disc, you'll have to read the book...


To Nicolas, of "River's Invitation"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Paul Anastasio, Joe Holley and Frank Hicks-We Ain't Misbehavin'

Here's a superb album of fiddle swing jazz by two masters of two genrations: Paul Anastasio, the younger one, have been playing fiddle since he was 9 years old, classicaly trained first, he turned afterwards towards the world of jazz and country music, assimilating a lot of different styles, from western swing to old-time, and studied with the great Joe Venuti. The older fiddler here is Joe Holley, who was a member of Bob Wills's Texas Playboys, one of the finest western swing band ever. The guitarist who accompanies them, Frank Hicks, played with various western swing and jazz bands but also with Any Old Time String Band and Jean Ritchie. (For further informations on the musicians, you'll have to read the liner notes above).
The playing here is hot and tasteful and the dialogue between the two fiddlers is marvelous.If you like the music of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang or Django Reihnardt and Stefane Grappelli, you'll love this record.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jody Stecher & Friends-Snake Baked a Hoecake

"Snake baked a hoecake" is Jody Stecher's first lp, issued by Bay Records in 1974. In my previous Jody Stecher's post ("Rasa" with sitarist Krisna Bhatt") i already told how great musician he is and how he manages to pick up the best from every musical traditions he goes into. On this album, there's a mix of american and irish/celtic tunes and a awesome song with a indian flavor (Leela,leela...every time i listen to it, it makes me want to sing and dance and go live in an ashram). Jody is playing with a bunch of friends and the whole atmosphere of the lp reflects the good time they have playing together. On his next album, "Going up on the mountain" (one of my favorite lp of all time), he would continue in a more bluegrass vein, with more singing than on this one. There would be also the first duets with Kate Brislin, her wife and musical partner with whom he made some superb records ever since.
Acoustic disc, the record company run by David Grisman have reedited in cd "Going up on the mountain" a few years ago and half of the tracks of "Snake Baked a Hoecake" were on it...
Now you can listen to the whole record, enjoy!
Download here (zip file of vinyl rip cut in mp3 tracks+photos of the liner notes and covers) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Georgia Sea island Songs

This week's lp is recordings made in the Georgia sea island by Alan Lomax of both religious and secular traditionnal songs. You'll have to read the liner notes that i provide in the zip file to learn about these ancient black traditions that remained for so long  in these island and you'll know how wonderful these performances are by listening to it. In a way it reminds me a lot of another group singing, those of the Bahamas islands from which Joseph Spence comes from.
You can hear the same performers in many other recordings by Aln Lomax, notably in the Southern Journey cd series.
(zip file of the vinyl rip cut in mp3 tracks with pictures of the record sleeves and inside liner notes with the lyrics of the songs)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Almeda Riddle-How Firm A Foundation

This week i post a lp by the great traditionnal singer, Almeda Riddle. Born in Arkansas in 1898, Almeda was considered a national treasure by american folklorists. She knew hundreds and hundreds of old ballads and songs and was a very important figure of the folk revival. Many came back to the tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing after they heard her performed at a folk festival in the sixties. Unfortunately, there's not many records available today of her, apart for a few tracks on the "Southern Journey" collection by Alan Lomax. But there's a website dedicated to the collection of John Quincy Wolf, the folklorist who discovered her, that features more than 80 recordings of Mrs Riddle along with many other perfomers from the Ozarks. Check it out, it's a great resource for those interested in american traditionnal traditions.
The lp "How Firm a Foundation" was the last she recorded before her death and features only the religious material from her repertoire. Almeda's singing here is as strong and intense as ever and the songs were an important part of her life, and you can feel how deep her spiritual life was listening to this recordings.
-Here, you'll read her biography and on the "Folkstreams" website (An important collection of movies concerning folklore and many marvelous ones about music) there's a documentary about her.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tony Mac Mahon- Legendary Irish Button-Accordion Player

I noticed that many of my previous posts featured guitar or banjo players (maybe because that's my main instruments) so i decided to post something different today. This is the first album of Tony Mac Mahon, a famous button-accordion player from County Clare, Ireland. A true master of his instrument, deeply rooted in his tradition and in the same time very innovative and emotive player, he's reknowed for his playing of slow airs, as you will hear on this lp, but the lively tunes are wonderful as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rev. Pearly Brown "It's a mean old world to try to live in"

 Reverend Pearly Brown was a blind street singer and preacher, like Reverend Gary Davis, with a simple but effective guitar style and a very soulful voice. His repertoire, while purely religious was very large; Spirituals, Holy Blues, gospel,traditionnal slave songs, etc...
This lp was first issued in 1975 and is available again through Rounder Archive with six aditionnal tracks. There's another album from him on the Arhoolie label.
-This is my rip of the original lp-

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Dave Van Ronk

Here's an lp from 1964 by the great folk/blues singer Dave Van Ronk. A major figure in the New-York folk scene of the early sixties and an inspiration for the young Bob Dylan, Van Ronk remained somewhat an outsider all his life and never gained popular success. A Singer with a strong voice, and a fine fingerpicking guitarist, he was one of the few white man who could sing the Blues with real passion and authenticity. New-Orleans jazz was his first musical love and he was the first one to play ragtime pieces on the guitar. During 40 years he stayed true to his music and beliefs, and his autobiography, "The mayor of Mac Dougall", that he wrote with the help of Elijah Wald just before his death, is the finest and funniest portrait of Greenwich Village and the folk scene of the sixties ever written.

Track list:
2.Frankie's Blues
3.Bad dream Blues
4.Pastures of plenty
5.Didn't it rain
7.God Bless The Child
8.Blue Monday
9.Baby let me lay it on you
10.House of the rising sun