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.