Lessons from the Ghosts of Saint Simons

BF1472.U6 G48 1970z_Ghost Stories and Superstitions of Old Saint Simons_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel HillBF1472.U6 G48 1970z_Ghost Stories and Superstitions of Old Saint Simons_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel HillWe were lucky to find this short manuscript of stories and superstitions collected by Burnette Vanstory from the sea island of Saint Simons off the coast of Georgia just in time for Halloween (call no. BF1472.U6 G48 1970z). Vanstory lived on Saint Simons for over 40 years, publishing one of of the first histories of the Georgia coast, Georgia’s Land of the Golden Isles. Along with the delightful illustrations featured here, Ghost Stories and Superstitions of Old Saint Simons, features six short stories, including “The Ghosts of Ebo Landing” in which hundreds of enslaved Africans from the Ibo tribe from southeastern Nigeria drowned themselves in Dunbar Creek while singing and chanting in solidarity rather than become slaves.

“The Ghost with the Long Arms” warns travelers from looking too long into the twisted branches of a the liveoak trees, mistaking a haunting apparition for the Spanish moss waving in the wind with terrifying results and the legend of Mary de Wanda (or “Mary the Wanderer”) who roams the banks of the Frederica River searching for her love lost in the hurricane of 1824

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The final four pages, “Superstitions of Old St. Simons,” include the most important information, and if you pay attention, information that may well just save your life. You will have to visit the library to examine all of the techniques and methods of protection from supernatural forces and evil curses. Note well what a “smutty-nosed cat” can do for you and remember “A sassafras root carried in the pocket guarded against illness.”BF1472.U6 G48 1970z_Ghost Stories and Superstitions of Old Saint Simons_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel Hill

78s of the Week: Red Barn / White Church

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While pulling materials for a class instruction session, we came across these two strikingingly similar labels on 78s. Interested to know more, we did some research and found both labels were founded in the late 1940s in Chicago by former hillbilly comic Delbert “Deb” Dyer (for more details, see the always informative Hillbilly Researcher). He soon moved White Church offices from Chicago to Kansas in 1947 and eventually moved Red Barn there as well.

Odis “Pops” Echols was an original member of the original Stamps Quartet (aka Stamps Melody Boys), one of many white-gospel quartets supported by the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company based in Dallas, Texas. His career took him across the country many times, from Chatanooga to Lubbock, Little Rock, Louisville, Los Angeles, and eventually Clovis, New Mexico. He formed many different iterations of the “Melody Boys,” including the one featured on the Red Barn record above which performed a mix of western music and gospel tunes.

The Blackwood Brothers remain a hugely popular gospel singing group. The original quartet was founded in Choctaw, Mississippi in 1934 by brothers Doyle Blackwood, James Blackwood, Roy Blackwood and his son, R. W. Blackwood. Like the Melody Boys, the Blackwood Brothers were affiliated with Stamps-Baxter and were featured on the radio out of Shenendoah, Iowa in the 1940s when they began recording for Dyer’s White Church label. With their post-WWII careers taking off, the Blackwoods left White Church and founded their own Blackwood Brothers label in 1948.

Dyer left White Church in 1949, but remained active with Red Barn until at least 1952. For a sample of the Red Barn / White Church sound, listen to Odis Echols and his Melody Boys from 78_11457 and the Blackwood Brothers from 78_14323 below.

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This Week on Hell or High Water…

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Special post from “Hell or High Water” coordinator and SFC student Employee, Katherine Hjerpe

Greetings Southern Folklife followers and enthusiasts!

For those of you who don’t already know, every Sunday at 1PM on WXYC-Chapel Hill 89.3FM, “Hell or High Water” features music from the stacks of the Southern Folklife Collection archives in The Wilson Library.

This past weekend, I took a trip home to Connnecticut, home of Grateful Dead-themed music festival Gathering of the Vibes, and the old Dead records of my dad’s I picked up from  my grandmother’s house. Inspired, I looked into the SFC archives to prepare for this week’s broadcast.    

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The SFC holds a number of unique Dead recordings (including The Golden Road pictured above and CD-9047 in our collection), as well as one of our favorite short-lived side projects of Jerry Garcia called Old & In The Way. Recorded in 1973, their self-titled album, call number FC-4257, was released on Durham’s own Sugar Hill Records in 1975  

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The 5-piece group includes Garcia on vocals and banjo, mandolinist David Grisman, Peter Rowan on guitar and vocals, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and John Kahn on bass. Aside from Kahn, who is still featured as a musician on several albums, the Southern Folklife Collection also has a number of other recordings spanning the careers of members of Old and In the Way.

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img009Showcasing the members country-bluegrass roots, the music of Old and in the Way is steeped in string band tradition, with just a little rock n roll, of course. Besides the self-titled debut, the supergroup released a good deal of live material — That High Lonesome Sound and Breakdown. All recordings are from 1973. Tune in to WXYC this Wednesday to hear songs from both volumes.

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As a group, they perform traditional bluegrass songs, more popular covers including “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones, and plenty of originals. We hope you’ll tune in this Sunday to hear this aspect of our collection first-hand on WXYC! Start off your afternoon feelin’ fine with Hell or High Water.

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Fall Break: Autumn in New York

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Glad to feature the first post from FROM SFC STUDENT EMPLOYEE AND “HELL OR HIGH WATER” COORDINATOR, KATHERINE HJERPE

As the weary students here at UNC-Chapel Hill celebrate and travel for the long weekend otherwise known as Fall Break, the Southern Folklife Collection remains open and active, inside Wilson Library at the base of the quad. To celebrate this mid-semester moment of repose, we dug through the stacks for some seasonal accompaniment, a few of the many versions of the 1934 Duke Vernon song, “Autumn in New York,” a popular destination for UNC students this weekend but a $35 Chinatown bus ride away.

Originally composed for the musical “Thumbs Up!” back in the 1930’s, the song is a jazz standard appearing on countless records and namesaking others, such as the 1956 Verve release by Greensboro’s own jazz guitarist Tal Farlow (FC-24443 in the UNC Library Catalog). Included below is an excerpt of the recording.

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Farlow’s guitar rendition may be one of the most popular, but one of our favoirites is probably this1976 by saxophonist Dexter Gordon, FC-19092 in our catalog.

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Philadelphia jazz pianist Kenny Barron’s 1985 version is equally nostalgic, FC-24615.

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Enjoy the Autumn weekend wherever you may be.

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Have you heard the “Rain Song”?

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Fellow inhabitants of the Southeast United States will be listening to the rain for a few more days now, and with the potential flooding, danger and damage that are likely to follow, the pitter patter of raindrops is not the most welcome of sounds. On this soggy day, we picked out one of the earliest recorded rain songs we could find issued on 78 rpm. Issued in 1911 by Victor Recording Co. and performed by soprano Elizabeh Wheeler, this “Rain Song” was part of the curriculum for first, second, and third grades, as outlined in the Modern Primer published by Silver, Burdett, & Co. in the early 20th century. Mrs. Wheeler’s affection for rain as expressed in the song are likely not widely shared by North and South Carolinians at this time, but perhaps it may serve as a brief respite from the deluge.

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Elizabeth Wheeler was a vocal instructor and recording artist who appears on over 180 sides recorded for Victor as a solo artist, in a duet with her husband Wlliam Wheeler, and with the Victor Light Opera Company. This particular 78 rpm disc, call number 78-16182 , stood out because it also features a locked groove between the “A Dew Drop” and “Rain Song” on the A-side. If you would like to hear more rain songs, feel free to make a request. See the UNC Library Catalog here for a list.

An evening with Joe Boyd at the Southern Folklife Collection

joe_portraitThe Southern Folklife Collection is honored to host producer, writer, and filmmaker Joe Boyd at The Wilson Special Collections Library on Thursday, September 24 at 5:30 PM. The producer of albums by Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and Pink Floyd will discuss and screen his work in music documentaries.

We will be screening the acclaimed documentary Bayou Maharajah exploring the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker. For more information about the film visit:
http://www.bayoumaharajah.com/

Please join us.
5:30pm
September 24, 2015
Wilson Library, Pleasants Family Assembly Room
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Time for the National Folk Festival

30007_folder115_National Folk Festival_48th_002The National Folk Festival kicked off in Greensboro, North Caronlina today, the first of it’s three year stay in North Carolina. See their website for a complete schedule of events. Many once-in-a-lifetime performances in North Carolina for the first, and likely, only time.

To celebrate our colleagues at the NCTA and all those who made this year’s excellent event possible, we dug into the Southern Folklife Collection Festival Files (30007) for some documentation of past events. We especially like the postcard to Arthur Palmer Hudson inviting his participation at The Sixth Annual National Folk Festival at Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C.

We hope to see you in downtown Greensboro or here at Southern Folklife Collection real soon. 30007_folder115_National Folk Festival_24th_00130007_folder115_National Folk Festival_6th_003

Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics at Wilson Library Aug. 25

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We are excited for our first program of the 2015-2016 school year.

The South’s traditional folk dances will be the topic of a free public program on August 25 at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

Author Phil Jamison will discuss his new book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance, at 5:30 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room. Jamison will also demonstrate dance steps, with fiddle accompaniment by the excellent Joseph Decosimo. For details on the Phil Jamison Collection (20389) in the Southern Folklife Collection, see the finding aid.

Jamison is a nationally known dance caller, musician, and flatfoot dancer. His dancing was featured in the film Songcatcher, for which he also served as a dance consultant. Jamison teaches mathematics and Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.

In Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, Jamison asserts that square dances, step dances, reels, and other dance forms of Southern Appalachia did not descend directly from the dances of early British settlers, but adopted and incorporated elements of other traditions.

Jamison’s talk is sponsored by the Southern Folklife Collection in Wilson Library, which is home to the Phil Jamison Collection, including numerous recordings he has made of traditional music and dance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
Pleasants Family Assembly Room
Wilson Special Collections Library
Free and open to the public.
Information: Liza Terll, Friends of the Library, (919) 548-1203

Food for All: Student Action with Farmworkers Collection

Rolando Rivera, poet, Booneville, N.C., 2001. Photo by Scott Pryor. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317), Southern Folklife Collection.Rolando Rivera, poet, Booneville, N.C., 2001.

Photo by Scott Pryor. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317)

Summer is in full swing in North Carolina–blazing hot and consistently moist–and the food coming from our local farms reminds us daily why we love to live in the NC Piedmont. As I considered the deliciousness of a fresh-picked-still-warm-from-the-sun-deep-red tomato from Eco Farm last Saturday, I was also reading about the UNC’s 2015-2017 academic theme, “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives.”  Eating my tomato sandwich and considering its path from seed to my mouth, my mind drifted to the Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317) in the Southern Folklife Collection.

Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1992 with the mission: “to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change.”

SAF accomplishes this mission in part through the sponsorship of Into the Fields, a ten-week summer internship program for students at North and South Carolina universities, targeted especially to those from families of farmworkers. All interns come with at least a working knowledge of Spanish. They then go on to work full-time in migrant health centers, legal services, education programs, policy agencies, and labor organizing groups in the Carolinas. As a means of reflecting upon their summer’s experience, interns complete documentary projects, collecting oral histories and recording the folklife, art, music, celebrations, and events of farm working communities.Cristina Hernandez and her father, Gonzalo Vitela, at Hernandez’s quinciniera celebration, Smithfield, N.C., June 30, 2001. Photos by Erin Barker. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317), Southern Folklife Collection.

Cristina Hernandez and her father, Gonzalo Vitela, at Hernandez’s quinciniera celebration, Smithfield, N.C., June 30, 2001. Photos by Erin Barker. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317), Southern Folklife Collection.

Cristina Hernandez and her father, Gonzalo Vitela, at Hernandez’s quinciniera celebration, Smithfield, N.C., June 30, 2001.

Photos by Erin Barker. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317)

Some of the images and oral histories conducted by the students are published in yearly collections like Tierra Aculturada (Cultured Ground): A Compilation of Folklife Documentaries by Student Action with Farmworkers Interns, 2001, but a majority of the images and interviews are accessioned into the archival collections. The Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317) is available and open for research. As the campus community delves deeper into the “Food For All” theme in the coming academic year, the lives and stories of farmers and farmworkers in The Wilson Library and the work of organizations like SAF will be central to the conversation. If you would like to see more from the Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317), visit the Southern Folklife Collection at The Wilson Library and for more, visit the Student Action with Farmworkers Records at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University.

Finally, I hope you can find some time in the near future to find a friend (or make a new one), a tomato, sliced bread, and some Duke’s mayo and have yourself a picnic. Remember, tomato season comes but once a year.

Ramiro Sarabia, Jr., member of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, holding “¡Hasta La Victoria!” sign at the Mount Olive Pickle Protest, July 1999. Photo by Lori Fernald Khamala and Mendi Drayton. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317), Southern Folklife Collection.

Ramiro Sarabia, Jr., member of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, holding “¡Hasta La Victoria!” sign at the Mount Olive Pickle Protest, July 1999.

Photo by Lori Fernald Khamala and Mendi Drayton. Student Action with Farmworkers Collection (20317),

 

 

McCabes Guitar Shop Collection comes to UNC

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It’s a treat to go on an accession trip through the eyes and lens of Southern Folklife Collection curator, Steve Weiss. Just last month, Steve traveled to California to prepare the over 2000 audio cassettes and open reel tapes documenting performances from 1969 onward by the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, John Fahey, John Hammond, Bill Monroe, Odetta, Jean Ritchie, Dave Van Ronk, Mike Seeger, Ralph Stanley, Merle Travis, Kate Wolf, Townes Van Zandt, and North Carolina’s own Elizabeth Cotten and Doc and Merle Watson. They all took place at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California.

More than 1,600 musical acts have played at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California, over the last 45 years. The list on the store’s website even comes with a warning: “We lost track of a few names.”

Now Bob Riskin, the concert venue’s owner, has donated thousands of hours of recordings from those concerts to the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) in the Wilson Special Collections Library. The SFC will preserve the recordings by creating and archiving digital copies of them.

The McCabe’s store, which first opened its doors in 1958 and specializes in selling folk and acoustic instruments, offers instrument rentals and repairs as well as books, lessons, and help for musicians and music aficionados alike.

We look forward to researchers, scholars, musicians, and fans to be able to access these historic recordings starting in September of 2016. For now, though, take a trip to McCabe’s through these photographs made by Steve Weiss on his recent trip.

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