Thank you, Starman

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I woke up this morning to learn that David Bowie had left the planet Earth. Like so many, I was unprepared for this news.  As the day progresses, the impact of the world’s loss cuts deeper with every youtube link shared by his seemingly endless legions of fans and the very poignant memorials shared by his closest friends. I think I need a day or two before I can handle Blackstar again, but what do you do when you can’t handle listening to your David Bowie catalog but you want to pay tribute to one of the most important artists of our time? Track down the recordings the man himself venerated.

In November 2003 Bowie selected 25 favorites from his collection in a Vanity Fair article called “Confessions of a Vinyl Junkie.” The list includes Toots and the Maytals’ Funky Kingston, Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury, and the Fugs’ 1966 self-titled record.

The Fugs, anchored by poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, recorded irreverent songs like “Group Grope” and “Kill for Peace,” with little regard for production values or flawless takes.

Bowie’s description:

“The sleeve notes were written by Allen Ginsberg and contain these prescient lines: ‘Who’s on the other side? People who think we are bad. Other side? No, let’s not make it a war, we’ll all be destroyed, we’ll go on suffering till we die if we take the War Door.’ I found on the Internet the text for a newsprint ad for the Fugs, who, coupled with the Velvet Underground, played the April Fools Dance and Models Ball at the Village Gate in 1966. The F.B.I. had them on their books as ‘the Fags.’ This was surely one of the most lyrically explosive underground bands ever. Not the greatest musicians in the world, but how ‘punk’ was all that? Tuli Kupferberg, Fugs co-writer and performer, in collaboration with Ed Sanders, has just finished the new Fugs album as I write. Tuli is 80 years old.”

That list was written twelve years ago and Kupferberg, too, has since shuffled off this mortal coil – but not before creating art in various media through several decades. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised Bowie, who released an album two days before his death, counted Tuli among his heroes. And so now we’ll listen to The Fugs, and imagine David Bowie listening to The Fugs, and imagine Tuli listening to David Bowie. And it won’t be forgotten. May the fantastic voyage continue.

 

Holiday in the Stacks: It’s a postcard! It’s a 78! It’s both!

20002_Archie Green Papers_FD_1289_RosemaryClooney_flexi_Southern Folklife Collection_001Southern Folklife Collection audio engineer, John Loy, found this amazing postcard/78 rpm disc in the Archie Green Papers (20002) just last month. Serendipity! Notice the grooves and the center hole in the middle of the windshield. We were amazed by the sound quality and the excellent condition considering folklorist Pete Tamony, Archie’s mentor, received this in the mail 60 years ago. Listen to this special message from Ford Motors as sung by the great Rosemary Clooney backed by the Mitch Miller Orchestra. May you all be well this holiday season, whether you take Rosemary Clooney’s advice or not. We wish you enjoyment and year-round satisfaction no matter what. One more post from the 2015 “Holiday in the Stacks” tomorrow so be sure to check back in with Field Trip South. 

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Holiday in the Stacks: Dale Evans and Clancey

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The “Holiday in the Stacks” continues with two more holiday 78 rpm discs. First Dale Evans and the Roy Rogers Riders and Orchestra with a reindeer tune that plays off almost every Christmas trope they could fit in under two minutes. 

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On a totally different track, a holiday vignette from “Clancey’s”. Originally recorded and released on cylinder in 1908, “Christmas Morning at Clancey’s” chronicles the morning festivities of an Irish family in turn of the century New York. 

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Check in tomorrow for a special message from Rosemary Clooney and Ford motors.

 

Holiday in the Stacks: Sonny Boy Wlliamson and Clarence Williams

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As mentioned in our first post from the 2015 “Holiday in the Stacks,” we are excited to share some of the Southern Folklife Collection’s holiday themed 78rpm discs. First up, maybe two of the best.

First, blues giant Sonny Boy Williamson (nee Alex Ford) with “Sonny Boy’s Christmas Blues” from 78-12536. Released on Mississippi’s Trumpet Records in 1951, it’s a tough number about a bummer christmas of drunken remorse (but with some great tape echo effects on Williamson’s voice). For more on Trumpet Records, see this excellent post from musicologist, archivist, and former SFC cataloger Jessica Wood. Listen to the track here:

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Next up a more upbeat celebration of the holiday, although also heavy on the booze, from a Vocalion disc released in 1934, the great jazz composer, bandleader, and music publisher, Clarence Williams and his orchestra, featuring Chick Bullock on the vocals. Listen to 78-13931 here. 

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Coming up, Dale Evans sings about 8 tiny reindeer, Rosemary Clooney and Ford wish you a Merry Christmas, and Oscar and Lonzo twist up some holiday classics.

Holiday in the stacks: cards from the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific

20002_ArchieGreenPapers_F3823_Holiday Cards_Sailors Union of the Pacific_Southern Folklife Collection_01Running toward the finish line of 2015, it’s been a great year at the Southern Folklife Collection. We pulled a bunch of items to share with you all over the next two weeks for our annual “Holiday in the Stacks” feature. Can’t wait for you to hear some of the 78 rpm discs we pulled so be sure to come back to Field Trip South to hear some special tunes. 20002_F3823_Sailors Union of the Pacific_xmas_Archie Green Papers_Southern Folklife Collection_005

But first, a tribute to the workers of the world. Archie Green worked with countless unions and labor organizers over the years, but I beleive as he was a Journeyman Shipwright and a sailor in the Navy, that the sea always held a special place in his heart. So in honor of Archie and all those who help to move the material goods that make the world go round, we pulled these holiday cards from the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific from Folder 3823 in the Archie Green Papers (20002)20002_ArchieGreenPapers_F3823_Holiday Cards_Sailors Union of the Pacific_Southern Folklife Collection_02

Dylan Goes Electric! with Elijah Wald at the Southern Folklife Collection

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The Southern Folklife Collection is thrilled to welcome back Elijah Wald to discuss his new book, Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties (Dey Street/Harper Collins, 2015).

In Dylan Goes Electric! Elijah Wald explores the cultural, political, and historical context of Bob Dylan‘s 1965 performance at the Newport Folk Festival. He delves deep into the folk revival and its intersections with the civil rights movement, the rise of rock, and the tensions between traditional and groundbreaking music to provide new insights into Dylan’s artistic evolution, his special affinity to blues, his complex relationship to the folk establishment and his sometime mentor Pete Seeger, and the ways he reshaped popular music forever.

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Join us on Monday, November 16 for a book talk by Wald and view related materials from the Southern Folklife Collection, including the 1965 Newport program featured here (top and bottom) from the Southern Folklife Collection Festival Files (30007), folder 518, and the brochure and schedule from the Guy and Candie Carawan Collection (20008), folder 172 (above). The Carawans were traveling with the Moving Star Hall Singers from Johns Island, South Carolina (notice the notation on the program by Guy Carawan to make note of the Moving Star Hall Singers performance times). Even after looking at this schedule countless times, we still can’t believe that a single event could feature such a remarkable schedule of performers: Cousin Emmy, Roscoe Holcomb, Gary Davis, Lightning Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Fannie Lou Hamer, Eck Robertson, Memphis Slim, Mississippi John Hurt, Dylan, Donovan, Pat Sky, Kweskin Jug Band, Bill Monroe, Ed Young (!), Sam and Kirk McGee with Arthur Smith (!!!), and so many more.20008_0172_Newport1965_schedule__001_Guy and Candie Carawan Collection_20008_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel Hil

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We’ve got much more to share with you so check back on Field Trip South and mark your calendar for November 16 at 5:30PM in The Wilson Library. Event is free and open to the public. 30007_0518_Newport1965_program_bios__Southern Folklife Collection Festival Files_30007_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel Hill

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We ain’t afraid of no…Happy Halloween from the Southern Folklife Collection

78_8747_Jole Blons Ghost_78_3979_Tennessee Hill_Billy Ghost_78_0949_Look Out for the Ghost, Red_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel HillGhosts, haints, spirits, phantoms, specters, apparitions, poltergeists, phantasms, banshees, you name it, we are ready for you at the Soutehrn Folklife Collection. For your Halloween listening pleasure, we pulled out some of our favorite ghost tunes from our 78 rpm disc collection.78_10655_BlueGhostBlues_78_10638_Lonesome Ghost Blues_Southern Folklife Collection_The Wilson Library_UNC Chapel Hill

First up, Wayne Raney with “Jolie Blon’s Ghost” from 78-8747, the Tune Wranglers with “Look out for the Ghost, Red” from 78-0949, and the great Red Foley with the Anita Kerr Singers doing “Tennessee Hill-billy Ghost” from 78-3979. But that’s not all, it wouldn’t be Halloween if we didn’t haunt your dreams with Lonnie Johnson’s “Blue Ghost Blues” and “Lonesome Ghost Blues” from 78-10655 and 78-10638.

Wayne Raney:

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The Tune Wranglers 

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Red Foley and the Anita Kerr Singers:

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Lonnie Johnson “Blue Ghost Blues”

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“Lonesome Ghost Blues”

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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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