Cats of the SFC

One of my favorite parts about digitizing photographers’ collections or searching through stacks of photos to find something specific is finding the rare photo that seems out of context but says a lot about the person who captured it. Oftentimes I see photo after photo of performers and performances and famous artists, but sometimes a photo of a pet or a flower or a road sign finds its way into the mix. It’s a fun reminder that the photographers, while focusing on their work, still let a little bit of their personality shine through in ways other than their shooting style. In the Ronald D. Cohen Collection, I noticed a bunch of photos of cats sprinkled throughout images of the folk revival movement in and around New York City in the 60’s, and I thought it was only fair to give them a spotlight since the photographers clearly thought they were worth the film. The cat photos, of which the ones you see here are but a few, are mostly captured by Aaron Rennert, with some additional shots from Ray Sullivan. They were documenting the folk scene in Greenwich Village for Caravan magazine, and I think these cats exemplify the spirit they were trying to capture. Continue reading

Clifton Chenier, King of Zydeco

Here’s a photo I came across while musing through the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records Collection: Clifton Chenier with his accordion. Clifton was a prominent zydeco artist from Opelousas, Louisiana, known as the “King of Zydeco,” and sometimes billed as “King of the South.” He was born in 1925 and lived to be 62 years old. He began his recording career in 1954 when he signed with Elko Records, and went on to sign with Chess Records and Arhoolie, for which the above is a publicity photo. Clifton won a Grammy in 1983 for his album, I’m Here, and was the second Louisiana Creole to do so, following Queen Ida. He was well-known for his accordion playing and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame posthumously in 1989, and The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2011. Check out some video of him performing!

Southern Folklife Collection & Yep Roc present Molly Tuttle: A Celebration of Doc Watson at Club Passim

Molly Tuttle, photo by Kaitlyn Raitz_Doc Watson_SFC_YepRoc

If y’all might find yourself in Cambridge in a week, please come to Club Passim on Tuesday, February 13 and join the Southern Folklife Collection and YepRoc Records to celebrate the release of Doc Watson, Live at Club 47 on the 55th Anniversary of the recording. Featuring IBMA Guitarist of the Year MOLLY TUTTLE in concert, this is going to be a truly special evening of music.

A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. She began performing on stage when she was 11, and recorded her first album, The Old Apple Tree, at age 13. Since then, she’s appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest, and, this fall, received a Momentum Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in the instrumentalist category. Her lovely voice, impeccable guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make her a star on the rise. She has already received more than two million YouTube views and is currently gearing up to release her first solo EP.

Yep Roc Records and the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries are excited to continue our collaboration to release music from the Archives. Doc Watson, Live at Club 47 is set for a February 9 release on CD and digital, nearly 55 years to the date of the original recording. The LP release will follow April 27. The album is now available for pre-order.

Recorded live February 10, 1963 at Club 47 in Cambridge, MA, today known as Club Passim, this never-before-heard album features four previously unreleased songs from Doc’s early repertoire, in addition to performances of Doc’s favorite songs of the Carter Family, Frank Hutchison, Charlie Poole, and Merle Travis. Doc is accompanied by John Herald and Ralph Rinzler of The Greenbrier Boys on five of the album’s tracks.

photo by Kaitlyn Raitz

Czech Bluegrass Residency – Banjo Romantika at UNC, February 8-10, 2018

We are very excited for next week’s Czech Bluegrass Residency – Banjo Romantika at UNC and Chapel Hill, February 8-10, 2018. See the complete schedule of events, including performances, film screening, and banjo workshop below.

Czech bluegrass might seem like a contradiction, but work by musician and ethnomusicologist Dr. Lee Bidgood and banjo virtuoso Richard Ciferský shows how this music that emerged from post-WWII America has come to flourish in the heart of Europe. Bidgood and Ciferský are bringing their research and music to UNC Chapel Hill for a special three-day residency.

The residency will feature a screening of Banjo Romantika, a feature length documentary film that Bidgood co-produced with filmmaker Shara Lange,at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC’s campus. Dr. Bidgood (East Tennessee State University) will discuss the film briefly at the screening.

Based on Bidgood’s fieldwork in the Czech Republic, the documentary explores the Czech musicians’ lives, connections to bluegrass, and understanding of their culture as they blend and reimagine a style imported from beyond the Iron Curtain in the 1950s and cultivate it as their own. Music in the film includes live concert and festival recordings, field recordings of jams and interviews, studio recordings. The film incorporates additional footage with Slovak banjo standout Richard Ciferský and faculty from the East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program including Dan Boner, Ed Snodderly, and contemporary mandolin master Adam Steffey.

A Chapel Hill native, Bidgood graduated from Chapel Hill High School then received a degree in viola performance at UNC Chapel Hill. While a student, he played mandolin with Steep Canyon Rangers during their early years. Bidgood traveled to the Czech Republic on a student Fulbright grant, and completed a PhD from the University of Virginia with a dissertation based on his fieldwork in the Czech Republic. Bidgood’s book, Czech Bluegrass: Notes from the Heart of Europe, was published in 2017 by University of Illinois Press. He also reaches audiences through his radio show on global country music, “Over the Waves,” that is broadcast on Bristol, VA station WBCM.

Richard Ciferský, born in Pezinok, Slovakia, brings a lifetime of musical experience that seems far greater than his age. He first encountered bluegrass through a scout troop. His first instrument was a guitar, but he soon switched to banjo and started playing in bands. Richard co-founded the Slovak Bluegrass Association (SkBMA) in 1999 and served as its president from 2000 to 2005. He has toured in Europe and the US and recorded with artists including The Chapmans, Dale Ann Bradley, and Becky Buller. Fluent in both traditional and progressive styles, his technique is dazzling, and his soulful expression runs deep.

In addition to events on campus, Bidgood and Ciferský will visit the Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina on Saturday morning to meet with adults and children who are renewing their language skills, or are working to make new connections through this language and its related cultures.

The Czech Bluegrass Residency with Dr. Bidgood and Mr. Ciferský is organized as part of UNC’s Bluegrass Initiative to integrate the study and performance of this music into the curriculum and artistic life of UNC. This residency will be a terrific opportunity to hear about their work and their music, and experience their playing live. Bidgood recognizes that a global awareness was one of the things he drew from his own undergraduate education at UNC, and he is eager to provide a new sense of the global dimensions of bluegrass to current students: “Gaining a global perspective is an important part of the college education experience, and considering Czech Bluegrass provides us with new insights on the processes, the problems and promise, of globalization.” It is also a chance to experience some fascinating music!

UNC Events – Banjo Romantika Residency

Thursday, February 8, 2018

12:30 p.m. Masterclass and Lecture with MUSC 144 Students, hosted by Dr. Jocelyn Neal, UNC Chapel Hill Hanes Auditorium

Friday, February 9, 2018

7:00 p.m. Banjo Romantika Band with Richard Cifersky perform at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, 431 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill Free and open to the public.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

10:00 a.m. Visit to the Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina (contact: Marta McCabe: mccabe.marta@gmail.com)

2:00 p.m. Banjo Workshop with Richard Ciferský, UNC Chapel Hill, Person Recital Hall. Free and open to all banjo or bluegrass players.

4:00 p.m. Banjo Romantika, a film screening and Q&A with Dr. Bidgood, UNC Chapel Hill, Nelson Mandela Auditorium. Free and open to the public.

Sponsors:
UNC Bluegrass Initiative
Southern Folklife Collection
Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina

Barbara & The Believers – What Can Happen to Me Now

Here’s a rarity from the SFC stacks- the only commercial recording from the family band Barbara & the Believers, featuring siblings Barbara, Tommy, and notably Joe South, who would win a song of the year Grammy only a few years later for the 1970 hit “Games People Play”. Barbara South’s solo career would never take off, but she would continue to provide background vocals for artists from country great Roy Orbison to the niche R&B/gospel singer Lorraine Johnson. “What Can Happen to Me Now” is a catchy soul/pop tune with an upbeat rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” on the flipside, listen to it below.

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.

Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 Out February 9, 2018

Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 (YepRoc, Southern Folklife Collection, 2018)Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 Out February 9, 2018

Yep Roc Records and UNC Libraries’ Southern Folklife Collection Release Never-Before-Heard Live Album Recorded At Club 47 (Club Passim) February 10, 1963

Pre-order Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 HERE!

Yep Roc Records and the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries announce the release of Doc Watson, Live at Club 47, set for a February 9 release on CD and digital, nearly 55 years to the date of the original recording. The LP release will follow April 27. The album is now available for pre-order.

Recorded live February 10, 1963 at Club 47 in Cambridge, MA, today known as Club Passim, this never-before-heard album features four previously unreleased songs from Doc’s early repertoire, in addition to performances of Doc’s favorite songs of the Carter Family, Frank Hutchison, Charlie Poole, and Merle Travis. Doc is accompanied by John Herald and Ralph Rinzler of The Greenbrier Boys on five of the album’s tracks. Here is the schedule from Club 47 as printed in The Broadside of Boston, volume 1, no. 24, Feb. 8, 1963 from the Southern Folklife Collection Serials (30017)Schedule for Club 47, Boston, from p.6, The Broadside, vol. 1, no. 24, February 8, 1963

In celebration of the release, Club Passim, the UNC Libraries’ Southern Folklife Collection and Yep Roc Records present an evening with songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and IBMA guitarist of the year Molly Tuttle February 13. Tickets are on sale and available here.

“This recording documents a pivotal moment in virtuoso Doc Watson’s early solo career,” notes Steven Weiss, director of the Southern Folklife Collection. “This is Doc, paying his dues and playing his heart out, performing two sets of classic, old-time country songs he learned as a child from his family and from old 78 RPM records.”

Friends of Old Time Music flier, Doc Watson, 20001_pf1912_01_0001_Mike Seeger Collection (20009) Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Friends of Old Time Music flier, 20001_pf1912_01_0001 in the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Following the success of the Club 47 show, Doc was booked at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and released his debut solo album on Vanguard Records in 1964. He went on to become America’s premier folk guitarist earning seven Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and in 1997 was presented with the National Medal of Arts at the White House by then-President Bill Clinton, who introduced him saying, “There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn’t spend at least some of his or her youth trying to learn to pick guitar like Doc Watson.”

Doc Watson, Live at Club 47 Track listing:

  1. Wabash Cannonball – A.P. Carter
  2. The House Carpenter — Traditional
  3.  I Wish I Was Single Again** – Traditional
  4. Little Darling Pal of Mine – A.P. Carter
  5. Train That Carried My Girl from Town – Doc Watson
  6. The Worried Blues –Traditional
  7. Old Dan Tucker** – Traditional
  8. Sweet Heaven When I Die – Claude Grant
  9. The Talking Blues – Chris Bouchillon
  10. Little Margaret**  — Traditional
  11. Sitting on Top of the World – Lonnie Carter and Walter Jacobs
  12. Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down – Doc Watson
  13. Blue Smoke – Merle Travis
  14. Deep River Blues – Doc Watson
  15. Way Down Town (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
  16. Somebody Touched Me (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
  17. Billy in the Low Ground (w/ John Herald) – Traditional
  18. Boil Them Cabbage Down – Traditional
  19. Everyday Dirt – David McCarn
  20. I Am a Pilgrim – Merle Travis
  21. No Telephone in Heaven – A.P. Carter
  22. Hop High Ladies the Cake’s All Dough** –Traditional
  23. Little Sadie – Doc Watson
  24. Black Mountain Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
  25. Blackberry Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
  26. Days of My Childhood Plays – Alfred G. Karnes

John Herald (guitar and harmony vocals). Tracks 15, 16 (second guitar) 17, 24, 25.

Ralph Rinzler (mandolin and harmony vocals). Tracks 15, 16.

**previously unreleased tracks.

Pre-order Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 HERE!

Katie Phar: Songbird of the Wobblies

Phar’s Autograph | Green 385

During my work cataloging the many editions of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook in the Archie Green Collection, one particular autograph stood out and intrigued me time and time again. The Green Collection holds 13 different items—all songbooks of some sort—with the autograph of Katie Phar. Little is known about her and not much has been written on her or her role in the IWW. Phar joined the Industrial Workers of the World around the age of 11. She was often referred to as the “IWW songbird” or the “Songbird of the Wobblies.” A young Katie Phar wrote to IWW martyr Joe Hill during his imprisonment about their shared love of music and its importance to the labor movement. A handful of images of Katie Phar have been digitized by the University of Washington Libraries, but the details on Katie Phar and her life remain relatively few.

Fifth edition of Little Red Songbook with Katie Phar’s autograph | Green 432d c.2

In the twenty-eighth edition of the Little Red Songbook, published in July of 1945, I found a page devoted to Katie Phar. With a short tribute and an image in memory of Katie Phar, published just after her death in 1943, the Little Red Songbook paid its respects to one of its most ardent supporters of its music. Using this information and with a little help from census records and city directories, I was able to create an authority record for the voice that inspired so many members of the IWW “with her songs, her high courage” (Songs of the workers, 1945, page 4). City directories for Seattle in the early 1900s revealed Katie’s steady employment as a cashier for a theater, before she later devoted herself to the entertainment industry, presumably referring to her many hours spent singing for Wobblies and adding to the morale of the labor movement.

Tribute to Katie Phar in the twenty-eighth edition of the Little Red Songbook, issued July, 1945 | Green 451

While these autographs may mark the songbooks as her own, or they may simply be autographs for those who heard her sing and lead the singing at many an IWW meeting, Wilson Library also holds some fascinating traces of Katie Phar in its archival holdings. In the Archie Green Papers of the Southern Folklife Collection, there are three song scrapbooks related to Katie Phar. Two of the scrapbooks were compiled by Katie Phar herself, and the third was compiled by Herbert (Herb) Tulin, a prolific songwriter and member of the IWW.

An example of a labor song written down by Katie Phar in her 1926 notebook. The tune designation was added in blue ink by IWW song scholar John Neuhaus | Archie Green Papers, 1944-2009, Folder 6583

Pages from an undated song scrapbook that belonged to Katie Phar. | Folder 6584

It is in Tulin’s scrapbook that the importance of Katie Phar to the labor movement can be seen. Herb Tulin compiled a scrapbook of clippings and mimeographs of his songs for Katie Phar as a Christmas present in 1928.

Herbert Tulin’s presentation inscription to Katie Phar. The scrapbook is filled with songs written by Tulin. | Folder 6585

He writes:

To Katie Phar,

As you turn the pages o’er to sing
May your spirits soar the higher
To let your heart be light and on the wing
Remembering those you helped inspire.

Songs written by Herbert Tulin about Katie Phar | Folder 6585

The two final pages of the scrapbook are filled with the songs that Tulin wrote for Katie and reveal much about her and her role in the labor movement. These songs describe Katie Phar as a “bright star,” “an inspiration,” “a Rebel-girl,” and one who “lift[s] your thots to nobler things.” Tulin writes in one song: “Her voice brings joy to all who hear her sing.” Katie Phar’s voice and song-leading was an inspiration to many in the IWW and the greater labor movement, as they aspired to be more like her and “make the world more fair,” with these scrapbooks revealing more about her life and her role in the Industrial Workers of the World.

Masters of Cajun Accordion, Sunday Oct. 1

Getting super excited for the Masters of Cajun Accordion event coming up this weekend at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Tickets are available now. Jo-El Sonnier and Steve Riley are two of the finest button box players around. Be sure to come early to hear Professor Barry Jean-Ancelet present You can also pickup the Southern Folklife Collection’s newest release, a remastered reissue of Goldband records classic Swampland Jewels.  More information below. Follow the SFC on Facebook and Instagram to get ready for the show and hear some deep cuts from Jo-El’s discography over the next couple days. We’ll see you on Sunday!

Concert is ticketed: $17.50 Public, $26.50 CD Bundle, $30.50 LP Bundle.
(CD/LP bundles include a copy of the record 
Swampland Jewels.)
Tickets available at artscenterlive.org or (919) 929-2787

 

 

Reception and lecture are free and open to the public.
5:30 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Lecture: Professor Barry Jean Ancelet, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
7:30 p.m. Concert: Jo-El Sonnier with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys

 

SFC Hits 20,000 Streaming Recordings!

 

One of our first batches being prepped for shipment in February 2016

With the more recent addition of video content and the increase in production in our audio studios since starting our Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant in August 2015, there’s a lot to explore online. Since it might be overwhelming to know where to start, I thought I’d share my top 5 countdown of memorable moments from watching and listening over the last couple of months.

5. The time Dr. William R. Ferris panned across the Mississippi and framed the New Orleans skyline, from the vantage point of what is now the Crescent City Park in the Bywater (one of my favorite places in N.O!), while documenting his trip on the Delta Queen in 1987 (VT-20367/24).
Starts around the 33 minute mark
Inline image 2
Delta Queen, 17-24 April 1987: tape 1 of 4
Dr. William R. Ferris Collection, 20367
Video8

4. Finding this disc in the stacks during a conservation survey and spending many weeks curious about its contents before finally having it digitized. I’d be very curious if anyone knows the whereabouts of this band. (FD-20245/836)
Chicken Way’s “Classy Lady ”
Goldband Recording Corporation Collection, 20245
Instantaneous disc

3. When James “Son” Thomas performed with George Thorogood and Ron Smith, and the video switcher employed some creative video effects (VT-20466/3)
Inline image 1
James “”Son Ford”” Thomas with George Thorogood and Ron Smith, 1978
Robert D. Bethke Collection, 20466
U-Matic

2. This SFC department favorite featuring Hazel Dickens, Alice Gerrard, Mike Seeger, Tracey Schwartz and a beautiful sunny backdrop (VT-20006/2). Bonus music videos by unidentified bands at the end!

Woman Alive: Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard with Mike Seeger and Tracey Schwartz, November 1975
Alice Gerrard Collection, 20006
VHS dub from unknown format

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST….

1. When this nightmarish Barney joined a Mt. Airy dance contest (VT-20009/272).
The beloved dinosaur from our imagination appears around 5:20 minute markInline image 4
Mt Airy Fiddlers convention, dance contest Rufus Kasey, Molln part 2, 1997
Mike Seeger Collection, 20009
Video8

Happy Field Tripping!

Between Midnight and Day: The Photography of Dick Waterman

Between Midnight and Day: The Photography of Dick Waterman, flier featuring Buddy Guy5:30 p.m. Reception and exhibit opening
4th Floor Reading Room

6:00 p.m. Film screening of Two Trains Runnin’
Pleasants Family Assembly Room

7:20 p.m. Q&A with Dick Waterman, moderated by author Peter Guralnick
Pleasants Family Assembly Room

The exhibit Between Midnight and Day: The Photography of Dick Waterman, is set to open September 26 in Wilson Library, featuring Waterman’s iconic photographs of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, Janis Joplin, and the Rolling Stones.

Dick Waterman played a key role in the folk revival of the 1960s, helping to revive the career of Son House and managing many prominent blues artists including Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and Bonnie Raitt.

Join us for the exhibit opening which will also feature a screening of the Sam Pollard documentary Two Trains Runnin’, a film centered on an astonishing historical coincidence: on June 21, 1964, two lost giants of the Delta blues were located and three civil rights activists disappeared. A Q&A with Waterman will follow.