SFC25

Southern Folklife Collection 25th anniversaryIn just over one month, Southern Folklife Collection will celebrate our 25th Anniversary, August 21-August 23. As one of the nation’s foremost archives of Southern vernacular music, art, and culture, available for research in the University’s Wilson Special Collections Library, the Southern Folklife Collection is honored to had the opportunity to serve as an educational resource, an archive dedicated to collecting and preserving cultural heritage, and a focal point for the public appreciation of Southern art forms for 25 years.

Since its opening in 1989, the SFC has grown to contain over half a million items including sound recordings, moving images, photographs, manuscripts, books, song folios, serials, posters and ephemera. The Collection is especially rich in materials documenting old-time, country-western, bluegrass, blues, folk, gospel, rock, Cajun and zydeco music. The SFC holds numerous recordings on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, including Dolly Parton’s first recording “Puppy Love.”

As part of the Southern Folklife Festival, we are presenting a number of events. You can visit our event website, sfc25th.web.unc.edu for more details, and come back to Field Trip South where we’ll highlight the our programs over the coming weeks.

August 21-23 is going to be a really good time to be in Chapel Hill.

SFC25

A benefit reception, dinner and concert (5:45pm, 8/21)
New Orleans Brass Band Symposium (5pm, 8/22)
Rebirth Brass Band and Dumpstaphunk (8pm, 8/22)
Big Star’s #1 Record and Third/Sister Lovers (9pm, 8/22)
SFC25 Festival at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC (1-4pm 8/23)
Merle Haggard and Tift Merritt (8pm, 8/23)
A retrospective SFC25 Exhibit (8/21/14 – 1/15/15)

We hope you can join us!

Cataloger’s Corner: Bluegrass on Blue Ridge Records

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, "No One to Love Me" (Blue Ridge, 1952)

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, “No One to Love Me” (Blue Ridge, 1952), call no. 78-16864

Newly cataloged at the SFC (call no. 78-16864) is a 1952 release by the Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, a short-lived ensemble on a short-lived label, both based out of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

The oldest of the three Church Brothers, Bill Church, had played during the 1940s with Roy Hall & his Blue Ridge Entertainers and on a radio show in Asheville, N.C. called “Farm and Fun Time.” After serving in World War II, he and his brother Ralph began playing with cousin Ward Eller and a few other locals—Drake Walsh (son of Dock Walsh), Gar Bowers and Elmer Bowers. Eventually a third Church brother (Edwin) joined the group. Calling themselves the Wilkes County Entertainers, they played on the local radio stations WILX and WKBC and at schoolhouse shows.

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers, with songwriter Drusilla Adams (center)

The Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers with songwriter Drusilla Adams

By the 1950s they were performing as the Church Brothers and their Blue Ridge Ramblers and making recordings with a lineup featuring Bill Church (guitar), Edwin Church (fiddle), Ralph Church (mandolin), Ward Eller (guitar), Ralph Pennington (bass), and Johnny Nelson (banjo). They also began recording songs written by a local lyricist, Drusilla Adams. Initially the band planned to have these recordings come out on Rich-R-Tone Records (at the time based in Johnson City, TN). Because of various delays, Drusilla and her father decided expedite the process by setting up their own Wilkesboro-based label called Blue Ridge Records, which issued several Church Brothers singles. Blue Ridge Records went on to record the Stanley Brothers and Bill Clifton; the label lasted until 1958 when Noah Adams passed away and it was sold.

The single “No One to Love Me,” featured here, received a somewhat mixed review from Billboard magazine: “A lively performance by the Church Brothers with hoedown accompaniment of a so-so piece of material.” About the B-side, “You’re Still the Rose of my Heart,” the critic simply stated: “More of the same.”

We’ve provided an excerpt from “No One to Love Me” here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In addition to their releases on Blue Ridge, the Church Brothers & their Blue Ridge Ramblers eventually did go on to sign a contract with Rich-R-Tone, recording several tracks for that label. In 1952, the group disbanded—though the members continued to play on their own at various dance events in the Wilkesboro area.

The Church Brothers’ output on Blue Ridge Records and was later released on LP compilations by Gerd Hadeler Productions and Rounder Records. These LPs are also available at the SFC, as FC-4743 and FC-2046, pictured below.

Church Brothers compilation released on GHP Records

Church Brothers compilation released on GHP Records, call no. FC-4743

Church Brothers compilation on Rounder Records

Church Brothers compilation on Rounder Records, call no. FC-2046

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An article and video feature on former Rambler Ward Eller’s experiences with the band appeared in the March 2014 issue of Mountain Music Magazine.

NC Folklife Festival, 1974

FT3419_002Lovers of North Carolina folklore have a lot to celebrate this year. The Southern Folklife Collection celebrates our 25th Anniversary this year with numerous events August 21 through August 23. See our event website, SFC25, and follow Field Trip South for more information as we lead up to the event. Tickets are on sale now for Memorial Hall concerts featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, Tift Merritt and Merle Haggard. See more information from Carolina Performing Arts.

FT3419_001In other celebratory news, Our good friends at the North Carolina Folklife Institute are kicking off their 40th anniversary commemoration this weekend at the Festival For the Eno. The NCFI has been sharing fantastic photo documentation of the 1974, 1975, and 1976 festivals on their website and Facebook page, highly recommended viewing. They also encouraged us to look back into the SFC for sound recordings of the events, which we located and are in the process of digitizing. Performances from the 1974 festival, organized on the campus of Duke University by George Holt, are documented on open reel tapes FT3418 through FT3421. Performers included Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham, Elizabeth Cotton, The Golden Echoes, Willie Trice, Ernest East, The Blue Sky Boys, The Bluegrass Experience, and many more. We are excited to share some clips of these performances from FT3419 (pictured above) with you and encourage you to visit the NC Folklife Institute table at the Festival for the Eno this coming weekend. Happy Fourth of July!

Introduction from George Holt

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Golden Echoes

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Willie Trice

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Blue Sky Boys

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Bluegrass Experience

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

 

Cataloger’s Corner: Barns

Our Photos of the Week this time feature 2 examples of tobacco barns taken from the CD-ROM companion to John Michael Vlach’s 2003 book Barns (Norton/Library of Congress). The book and accompanying disc feature black & white photos of barns across the U.S., taken by a variety of photographers, and currently housed the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Air-cured tobacco barn, Lexington, KY. Marion Wolcott, 1940. (From Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

Air-cured tobacco barn, Lexington, KY. Marion Wolcott, 1940. (From Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division)

The photo above shows an air-cured tobacco barn in Lexington, KY and was taken in 1940 by Marion Wolcott. The one below shows a flue-cured tobacco barn (with advertising for Lucky Strike) near Gordonton in Person County, NC. It was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1939.

Flue-cured tobacco barn, Person County, NC. Dorothea Lange, 1939. From the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Flue-cured tobacco barn, Person County, NC. Dorothea Lange, 1939. From the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

The Barns CD-ROM is now available at the Southern Folklife Collection as call # CD-11794.

I want to dance in Lafayette

We love hearing from our students about their work in the Southern Folklife Collection as they explore our holdings and find artifacts of expressive cultures they are often experiencing for the very first time. In this post we hear again from SFC student Zach Gossett. Enjoy.

78_3435_005Pulling this Columbia disc out of stacks and putting it on the turntable definitely was my first experience with the excitement, the intrigue, and the joy that no doubt inspires record enthusiasts and collectors; this was a piece of history in my hands, the first commercial Cajun recording. While researching another Cajun artist, fiddle player Rufus Thibodeaux, I briefly searched “Allons à Lafayette” from his record Cajun Fiddle (FC1111). Not only did I discover who originally recorded the tune, but also that we had a copy of that recording on 78 rpm disc.

Accordion player Joe Falcon and guitarist (and future wife) Cleoma Breaux recorded “Lafayette (Allon a Luafette)” on April 17, 1928. The many Cajun song-titles bearing “Waltz (Valse)”, “Dance”, or “Two-Step”, emphasize danceability of Cajun music as integral to the style. “Allon a Luafette”, as it appears written undoubtedly in a French dialect, is a (Cajun?) two-step. I’ve never danced it, but I feel an unwavering rhythmic drive. I enjoy it, so much.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

We have the 78, call number 78-3435 here at the Southern Folklife Collection. There is a lovely waltz on the other side.

 

78 of the week: Ida Cox and Lovie Austin on Paramount

78_11107_Kentucky_Man_Blues_Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillSorry to be so quiet around here lately. Summer in Chapel Hill may be quiet, but activity at Wilson Library intensifies as the temperature goes up. We’ve got exciting news about the SFC 25 year anniversary coming up so stay tuned to Field Trip South over the next few days. You’re going to love it.

78_11107_Death_Letter_Blues_Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillBut for this afternoon, to ease back into blogging this week I thought we could start slow with call no. 78-11107 by the remarkable Ida Cox accompanied by the one and only Lovie Austin. “Death Letter Blues” and “Kentucky Man Blues” are but two of 78 sides Cox recorded for Paramount between 1923 and 1929. Enjoy these segments, presented with no noise reduction or post-processing. Love the sound.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

 

 

¡Muy Caliente!

I am pleased to introduce the first post by another of the Southern Folklife Collection’s great student employees, Zachary Gossett. Always nice to see/hear what fresh ears can pull out of the stacks.

FC423014Overall, May has been strangely clement, but it’s a fair bet to expect hotter weather soon. Here’s a little salsa to heat things up too! This track, “Yo Quisiera Ser” by Hector Rivera y su Conjunto, features a typical salsa ensemble with Hector Rivera himself on piano.

Although the stacks are home to a large variety of musics associated with the American South, the first ≈7000 records alone are peppered with some wonderful cuts of Latin and Caribbean music, including this compilation of the Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Afro-Cuban music from New York. The label New World Records is “dedicated to the documentation of American music that is largely ignored by the commercial recording companies”, in a similar vein as the diverse collections of folk song procured by Alan Lomax. It’s quite spectacular what one might find while perusing the records.

Enjoy this excerpt from EP, call number FC423: Caliente = Hot: Puerto Rican and Cuban Musical Expression in New York , New World Records.

Listen for the piano montuno, a repeating rhythmic/melodic pattern essential to many styles of Latin music, the coro—or chorus (with call-and-response), and the groove of the percussion.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also, I can’t help but include a bit of Rivera’s piano solo.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

To hear more, visit the Southern Folklife Collection in Wilson Library.

 

Southern Folklife Collection welcomes the 48th annual ARSC Conference, May 14-17, 2014

ARSC 2014_Southern Folklife CollectionThe Southern Folklife Collection is honored to act as local host of the 48th annual conference for the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), May 14-17 in Chapel Hill. For conference information, registration, schedules, and program abstracts, visit the ARSC site.

Highlights for conference participants include a tour of the Southern Folklife Collection, work-shops on Managing Digital Audio Collections and Audiotape Playback, panel sessions on producing reissues through the years and donating collections to archives, plus a wide variety of presentations on topics ranging from recording artists and labels to technology and restoration. A schedule of presentations and detailed abstracts are now available through the ARSC conference website. Looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

http://www.arsc-audio.org/conference/

 

Cataloger’s Corner: Moondog!

During a recent cataloging session, we stumbled across this 1953 EP by composer/performer/inventor/poet/philosopher Moondog (born Louis Thomas Hardin, b.1916-d.1999), hidden in between recordings by Dizzy Dean & his Country Cousins and the Circuit Rider Quartet.

Moondog, Improvisations at a Jazz Concert, Brunswick, 1953

Moondog grew up in the Midwest and became blind at age 16 after playing with a dynamite cap. In the 1940s, he moved to New York City, renamed himself after an ex-pet (a dog who liked to wail at the moon), and stationed himself on a Times Square traffic median where he played his own compositions on instruments that he’d designed and built. Some time during the 1950s, increasing crowds at his performances drove him to relocate to a quieter spot near the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue—and to switch from playing music to standing still for eight hours a day, sometimes reading and selling his poetry. He typically carried a spear, wore a Viking helmet, long beard, and a robe he made from pieces of army blankets. (In 1965, the New York Times reported that he’d changed to a green velvet outfit in order to avoid the “G.I. connotations” of the army blankets).

In the meantime, Moondog also recorded a number of albums for Decca, Prestige, and Columbia and gained recognition as a serious avant-garde composer. Improvisations at a Jazz Concert is the only Moondog record on the Brunswick label. It features two of his self-made, self-designed instruments—the oo (a sort of miniature dulcimer) and the trimba (two small triangular drums with a cymbal attached), as well as his characteristically elastic approach to tempo and meter that he sometimes referred to as “snake time.” Billboard magazine called the EP “one of the unusual recordings of the year” when it came out in 1953, the reviewer suggesting that “those who react to rhythm should be intrigued.”

We’ve included here an excerpt from Side 1, entitled “Improvisation in 7/4.” The EP is available at the SFC, call no. 78-16420.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Moondog, Improvisation in 7/4

A Moondog documentary is soon to be released, the trailer for which is available here: http://thevikingof6thavenue.com/

 

 

Record of the Week: Alura Mack, “Beef Blood Blues”

Really nice to pull this out of the stacks, Female Country Blues Singers (1929-1931), SFC call number FC9785. Alura Mack, whose entire recorded output sadly makes up only 13 songs, was a legendarily bawdy blues pianist. “Beef Blood Blues” is perhaps the most macabre of all of her cuts, a sharp change in mood from uproariously immoral ditties such as “Loose Like That,” “Everybody’s Man is Mine,” and “I’m Busy, You Can’t Come In.” Check out the track below–a fittingly grim one for the worst day of the week.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

SCAN013