SFC Spooky Spotlight: A “Mummie’s Curse” uncovered in the Goldband Recording Corporation Collection

OP20459_16_Jason Lonon Collection, Death-Ray Design!.  Continental Club PosterWith the Wilson Library live action Clue Game happening tonight and All Hallow’s Eve tomorrow, it’s no surprise that strange phenomena have been occuring in the Southern Folklife Collection studios. Just this morning, preservation audio engineer Brian Paulson digitized the Goldband Records master tape of Satan and the Deciples, call no. FT6891 in the Goldband Recording Corporation Collection (20245), as part of our current digitization project, From the Piedmont to the Swamplands: Preserving Southern Traditional Music.

FT6981_ Satan and Deciples_Mummie's Curse_Goldband Recording Corporation Collection (20245)_Southern Folklife Collection, Brian arrived to work this morning, having left the Rivers Studio in proper order when he left last night, to find this open reel tape spooled on the Otari ready for playback. No one knows how the tape got from the stacks to the studio or what could have loaded the tape onto the machine. Not one to question the will and ways of the supernatural, of course Brian played the tape, reavealing the following horrifying song, “Mummie’s Curse.”

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Not much is known about Satan and the Deciples (aka Satan and Satin’s Roses, aka Satin and the Deciples). The theory we agreed upon in the Rivers Studio accepts that the band rose out of the swamps around Lake Charles, called from eternal slumber to terrorize the honky-tonks of East Texas like so many of the undead. Other more likely theories suggest the band was a novelty project made up of a crew of local bar band musicians that liked scary movies. Considering the Deciples featured one Baldemar Huerta (aka Freddy Fender who co-wrote both tracks on this tape) on lead guitar, the latter theory is more plausible. We may never know the truth, but we were inspired to pull out Jason Lonon’s poster for a “Halloween Ho-down” (featured above) to share with you fine readers, call no. OP-20451/16 from the Jason Lonon Poster Collection (20451).

Happy Halloween.

78s of the week: Clayton McMichen and Gid Tanner together again on Field Trip South

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Nice pair of discs for a Fall day, or any day really. A couple of pristine copies, 78-3448, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, and 78-12590, McMichen and his Georgia Wildcats. Yum, yum. 

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“Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation”: 7th World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Southern Folklife Collection audio preservation engineer, John Loy, in the John M. Rivers, Jr. Studio. Photo by Dan SearsUNESCO, in cooperation with the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) and other partners, has adopted 27 October as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage to better focus global attention on the significance of AV documents and to draw attention to the need to safeguard them. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation.”ICA_WorldDay for Audiovisual Heritage

RIVERSGRID3The Southern Folklife Collection works toward this goal daily in our efforts to preserve the hundreds of thousands of sound recordings, film and video housed in Wilson Library. Through grant-funded digitization projects and through research driven requests, the Southern Folklife Collection has digitized and made available tens of thousands of recordings documenting the vast riches of traditional expressive culture from the American South and around the world. The John M. Rivers, Jr. Studio (pictured above, right, and below) and the Ben Jones Audio and Video Studios constantly echo with the sounds, songs, and stories collected from centuries past through the 21st.
From the UNESCO statement:

Audiovisual documents, such as films, radio and television programmes, are our common heritage and contain the primary records of the 20th and 21st centuries. They help to maintain the cultural identity of a people; but countless documentary treasures have disappeared since the invention of image and sound technologies that permit the peoples of the world to better share their experiences, creativity and knowledge.

All of the world’s audiovisual heritage is endangered. Nowhere can it be said to be preserved, but through initiatives such as theWorld Day for Audiovisual Heritage and the Memory of the World Programme, the precious work of preservation professionals is given impetus to manage a range of technical, political, social, financial and other factors that threaten the safeguarding of our heritage.

It was in this context, that the General Conference in 2005 approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken and to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity. (UNESCO)

In honor of the 7th World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, we wanted to highlight some of the recordings recently digitized as part of one of our current projects, From the Piedmont to the Swamplands: Preserving Southern Traditional Music, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The multi-year effort will preserve and make accessible online up to 3,019 hours of sound recordings and 4,500 related photographs dating from the 1920s to 1980s, drawn from the Southern Folklife Collection holdings in the William R. Ferris Collection (20367), Mike Seeger Collection (20009), John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001), and the Goldband Recording Corporation Collection (20245).

20009_Mike Seeger Collection_pf00017_Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillRegular readers of Field Trip South will not be surprised to see the Mike Seeger Collection featured here. Many of Seeger’s photographs are currently digitized and available for viewing online: iconic images of America’s musical treasures like Ralph and Carter Stanley, the Carter Sisters, Lesley Riddle, Dock Boggs, and of course, the beloved NC Piedmont picker and singer, Elizabeth Cotten.

The Southern Folklife Collection has preserved hundreds of hours of Seeger’s field recordings and his own master tapes. Every tape is a treat, but occasionally we come upon an especially outstanding track like this version of “Well May the World Go” featuring Mike performing with his brother, the legendary folksinger Pete, on 29 January 1973. They tore through three versions of the tune that day. Have a listen to the third take of that piece here, from FT14925 in the Mike Seeger Collection:

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Another recent standout track comes from The New Tranquility String Band (FT14198.) This outtake of  ”Boatman” was recorded during sessions for the Berkley Farms: Oldtime and Country Style Music of Berkley LP originally released for Smithsonian Folkways in 1972. This version version has the jaw harp higher in the mix, giving it a striking old-time feel that we like. 

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FT9918_Fanny_Bell_Chapman_Children's concert. Reel 28 of 42. FCT 28-72-7_William R. Ferris Collection_UNC_Chapel HillThe Piedmont to the Swamplands grant also allowed us to digitize the majority of audio recordings collected by folklorist and UNC professor William R. Ferris. With thousands of audio recordings, photographs, and feet of film, the William R. Ferris Collection is an invaluable resource documenting the people and culture of the American South, an archival treasure trove reflecting the ineffable “sense of place” that makes the South such a compelling–and haunting–place. Many of Ferris’s photographs are available online. This performance by a young child, Don Singleton recorded on FT 9918, made our jaws drop.

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This next tape was recorded during the process of filming a documentary film about the remarkable Fannie Bell Chapman. The complete film can be viewed in full on Folkstreams.net., Fannie Bell Chapman: Gospel Singer. The following version of “Now Sister Go Where I Send Thee” is from FT9974, the first of six tapes recording Chapman’s music recorded in August 1975. 

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FT11151_Wash Herron on harmonica and "Big Jack" Johnson on guitar__William R. Ferris Collection_UNC_Chapel HillFerris documented the secular as well as the sacred and his recordings of Mississippi blues artists are equally vital documents. The following track is from one of the first recordings of the bluesman “Big Jack” Johnson.  From FT11151, this is Johnson performing on guitar with harmonica player Wash Herron. 

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These clips offer but a glimpse into the Southern Folklife Collection’s preservation efforts. The public is encouraged to explore our finding aids for detailed inventories and description of archival collections and the UNC Libraries online catalog for materials of interest and request that they be preserved and made available for research. Feel free to contact the SFC with any comments or questions at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu. We also hope you will enjoy some music this Sunday, October 27, World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, and think about institutions like the Southern Folklife Collection, the Library of Congress, and countless other archives and institutions that are working to preserve our aural and visual history. Southern Folklife Collection John M. Rivers, Jr. Studio. Photo by Dan Sears

Domo Arigato Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard

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Two tapes from the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) preserved as part of the Southern Folklife Collection’s ongoing project “From Piedmont to Swamplands,” supported by the National Endowment of the Humanities, recently caught the attention of audio engineer John Loy. The first, call number FT14237, features an interview/performance by Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard on November 21, 1970 at the Kinro Kaikan in Kyoto Japan. It contains 90 minute concert and interview with commentary in Japanese. The program intended provide Japanese listeners with an introductory survey of American old time and vernacular music styles. A wonderful document of cultural exchange.

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Another recent find is a tape master sent to Mike in 1969 by the ‘Styx River Ferry ‘ a prominent “Hippy Country” group in the San Francisco/Berkeley area. This band features a who’s who of Bay area bluegrass fixtures rounded up by Bob and Ingrid Fowler. For this recording, call number FT14220, the group enlisted the help of legends of the day with guest performances by “Uncle Josh” Graves and “Cousin Jake” Tullock of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Of particular interest to us is the contextual information on the label, not only including song titles and band members, but also the recording studio, production personnel and a short list of bay area local venues at which the group was performing at the time. Catching Styx River Ferry at the Drinking Gourd would have been quite a time. Listen:

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Recent additions to SFC books

THE WILSON SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY TECHNICAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN CATALOGING A NUMBER OF NEW ADDITIONS TO THE SOUTHERN FOLKLIFE COLLECTION MONOGRAPHS. WE PULLED A FEW OF OUR RECENT FAVORITES TO SHARE WITH YOU GOOD READERS. COME ON BY FOR A VISIT AND GET A CLOSER LOOK.

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South from Hell-fer-Sartin: Kentucky Mountain Folk Tales by Leonard W. Roberts. SFC Call no. GR110.K4 R6 1964

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music 007

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music by Fred Dellar and Roy ThompsonSFC Call no. ML102.C7 D4 1986

A Texas-Mexican Cancionero, by Americo Paredes. SFC call no. M1668.4.T49

A Texas-Mexican Cancionero, by Americo Paredes. SFC call no. M1668.4 .T49

Your Cheatin' Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams by Chet Flippo, SFC call no. ML420 .W55 F6 1985

Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams by Chet Flippo. SFC call no. ML420 .W55 F6 1985

American Folklore Films & Videotapes: An Index. Published by the Center for Southern Folklore, Memphis Tennessee.  SFC Call no. Z5984.U6 A44 1976

American Folklore Films & Videotapes: An Index. Published by the Center for Southern Folklore, Memphis Tennessee. SFC Call no. Z5984.U6 A44 1976

Das Songbuch by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. SFC Call no. ML3545 .K29 1967

Das Songbuch by Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser. SFC Call no. ML3545 .K29 1967

Don't Look Back by D.A. Pennebaker. SFC Call no. ML420.D98 P4

Don’t Look Back by D.A. Pennebaker. SFC Call no. ML420.D98 P4

Our Appalachia : an oral history edited by Laurel Shackelford and Bill Weinberg. SFC Call no. F217.A65 O97 1977

Our Appalachia: an oral history edited by Laurel Shackelford and Bill Weinberg. SFC Call no. F217.A65 O97 1977

 

78 of the week: Jesse Rodgers with Kama’s Moana Hawaiians

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Two excellent sides for you by the great Jesse Rodgers (first cousin to Jimmie), from Southern Folklife Collection disc call no. 78-828. A successful musician who appeared on the “border-blaster” radio stations XERA and XERN in the late 20s and early 30s, Rodgers career took off in an unexpected direction after Jimmie’s untimely death in 1933. Always looking to repeat past successes, RCA-Bluebird picked up Jesse in hopes he would continue where Jimmie left off, even setting Jesse up to record with the great steel guitarist Charles Kama and his Moana Hawaiians who had recorded previous sides with Jimmie. These two tracks were recorded 28 Feburary 1936 at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio. Kama’s guitar work is superb and his musical arrangement wonderfully compliments the tune. Listen to the solo in the second clip below and note Kama’s masterful accompaniment to Rodger’s blue yodeling. Fantastic. 

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Photo of the week: The Shanty Boys

I20239_pf0018a: Roger Sprung, Mike Cohen, and Lionel Kilberg, from their monthly CBS broadcast. Photo by Ray Sullivan of Photo-Sound Associates. From the Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.

The Shanty Boys (Roger Sprung, Mike Cohen, and Lionel Kilberg), from their monthly CBS broadcast. Photo by Ray Sullivan of Photo-Sound Associates. From the Ron Cohen Collection (20239). Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.

In the early 1950s, Roger Sprung spent time in Asheville, NC, meeting and learning from banjo greats Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Samantha Bumgarner. He returned to New York and is often credited with introducing bluegrass banjo style to the northern folk revival through his playing in Washington Square park. For more information on Sprung and the Shanty Boys, see Ron Cohen’s excellent book on the folk revival, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970 (Culture, Politics, and Cold War), (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002).

78 rpm disc of the week: The Willie Webb Singers

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Another choice platter for you readers and listeners today. Really excited to put on this disc in the studio yesterday, call no. 78-7964. Side A is great (see below) but side B, “He’s the One,” featuring soloist Ozella Weber, is fantastic. The Willie Webb Singers were a post-war mixed gospel group out of Chicago, much like the Roberta Martin Singers with whom Willie Webb got his start (see Horace Clarence Boyer’s The Golden Age of Gospel for more information). Please do enjoy.

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78 rpm disc of the week: Red Kirk “The Voice of the Country”

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Great pair of pure country tearjerkers from Southern Folklife Collection 78 rpm disc call no. 78-9938. I discovered these numbers thanks to a recent request and gladly spent some time in the studio while the great Red Kirk, known as “The Voice of the Country,” and the phenomenal steel guitar of Jerry Byrd played offered the soundtrack to my morning blues. Recorded in Cincinnati with Jerry Byrd’s String Dusters–Louis Innis on rhythm, Zeke Turner on lead guitar, Red Turner on bass, and Tommy Jackson on fiddle–all great session players that also performed the Midwestern Hayride on WLW. Side two, “It’s Raining in my Heart” is even better.

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Zygote, 1970

Zygote_v1_n7_1970_Southern Folklife CollectionIt was a pleasure to dig into the Southern Folklife Collection‘s two issues of Zygote, an excellent alternative rag out of New York in the early 1970s. I also enjoyed imagining which member of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation originally collected the magazine for the periodical collection. These two issues feature some quality investigative journalism and radical political commentary mixed with record and film reviews, music features, pop-culture criticism, and a psychedelic visual style. The Southern Folklife Collection has but two issues from 1970, this one vol. 1, no. 7, from October 30, and vol. 1, no. 8 from November. If you subscribed for two years you could have picked up the latest Mother Earth LP and the soundtrack to The Strawberry Statement. Plus, Tina Turner and Wayne Cochran (scroll down to the bottom).

Right on.

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