Photo of the week: Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller

P673_JesseFuller_John Edwards Memorial Foundation Colleciton, SFC, UNC Chapel HillPromotional photo of the great Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller from Manny Greenhill’s legendary Folklore Productions. Best known for his song “San Francisco Bay Blues,” Fuller was a renaissance man: appearing in silent films like The Thief of Baghdad, hoboeing cross-country, working in the California shipyards, and playing music. Fuller built his own bass accompaniment, the “fotdella,” and played harmonica and washboard along with his 12-string guitar to make himself a one-man jug band. Fuller died in 1976 in Oakland, California. The image is call no. p673 in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Collection.

“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

Photo of the Week: Bascom Lamar Lunsford

It is hard to pick a favorite from the remarkable portraits of Bascom Lamar Lunsford from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (#20001), but I always come back to this one, call no. P1651.  See this photo and many others in our upcoming exhibit, The Banjo: Southern Roots, American Branches.

Please join us first for the banjo symposium Saturday, August 25 from 10am to 4pm in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-CH, followed by a free concert in UNC’s Memorial Hall including master pickers Tony Trischka,Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Riley Baugus with Kirk Sutphin. This is a free but ticketed event. Tickets are now available at the Memorial Hall Box Office, 919.843.3333.

More photos of the week: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs with the Foggy Mountain Boys

Life as a country musician has never been easy and Earl Scruggs spent grueling years on the road in the late 1940s pioneering the bluegrass sound with fellow road warriors Bill Monroe, Chubby Wise, Howard Watts, and Lester Flatt. After Flatt and Scruggs left the Blue Grass Boys in 1948, the popularity of Bluegrass music began to grow and through the resourceful management of Louise Certain, soon to be Louise Scruggs, the band secured the sponsorship of Martha White Flour and what was hopefully a more comfortable means of transportation. Still between radio performances, recording sessions, and live shows, the band often performed multiple times per day. The image below features The Foggy Mountain Boys on an unknown stage in the 1950s.

 

 

Photo of the Week: Merle Haggard and the Texas Playboys

P2998, from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Collection (#20001), is but one of a series of photographs documenting the recording sessions for Bob Wills’s final album, For the Last Time. Sessions, produced by the legendary guitarist Tommy Allsup (another former Cricket like Bobby Durham), took place just outside of Dallas on December 3 and 4, 1973.

Haggard drove all night from Chicago to participate on the final day after begging permission from Wills to attend. Sadly, Wills was unable to complete the session after suffering a severe stroke on the night of December 3 and slipping into a coma the following day never to retain consciousness. Haggard and the band, the first reunion of the Texas Playboys since Wills disbanded the group in the 1960s, pressed on with noted successor of the Bob Wills sound Hoyle Nix stepping up into the boots of his hero to lead the group.

We are not positive, but we believe the photo above includes Haggard, fiddlers Keith Coleman and Johnny Gimble, steel guitarist Leon McCauliffe, and the back of guitarist Eldon Shamblin’s head.

 

Photo of the Week: Bobby Durham

Bobby Durham was not just a smart dressed man. A prominent vocalist with the Bakersfield sound, Durham got his start in country music performing on California country music variety shows like Town Hall Party and Hometown Jamboree.  After stints with Cousin Ebb Pillings’s Ozark Squirrel Shooters and Jolly Judy and her Go-Go Daddies, Durham signed with Capitol Records in the early 1960s.  He scored a major hit with the Merle Haggard penned classic “My Past is Present,” earning Durham a 1965 Academy of Country Music Awards nomination for “Most Promising Male Vocalist.” Durham later joined The Crickets, performing some excellent progressive country with the group in the early 1970s.

Durham returned to Bakersfield in the 1980s, recording solo albums for Hightone Records like the popular Do You Still Drink Margeritas and Where I Grew Up.  Durham continues to perform with his Durham Band at Buck Owens’s Crystal Palace.

The photo above, call no. P599, is part of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Collection (#20001).

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFC Spotlight: Back to school with Jimmy Boyd and the School for Workers

78-5076. Jimmy Boyd, “(I’ve got those “wake up, seven-thirty – wash your ears they’re dirty – eat your eggs & oatmeal – rush to school”) blues”

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School is back in session here at UNC, and we are more happy about that than the incomparable Jimmy Boyd (probably best known as the amazing voice of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”). Boyd recorded this tune in 1953, one of a number of popular country and novelty tunes he recorded for Columbia throughout the 1950s, including duets with Rosemary Clooney and Frankie Laine. While some of the novelty tunes have not aged terribly well, this track is country pop candy with the Norman Luboff Choir and pedal steel likely performed by the equally incomparable Speedy West.

Steel solo, 78-5076. Jimmy Boyd, “(I’ve got those “wake up, seven-thirty – wash your ears they’re dirty – eat your eggs & oatmeal – rush to school”) blues”

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We have an exciting fall of projects and programs ahead.  “From the Cradle to the Cave,” our exhibit of North Carolina poster art from the SFC collections opened last week in Davis Library and will hang until next may. It was an excellent event with all five artists present and sweet sounds courtesy of The Kingsbury Manx.

Tickets are on sale for our concert tribute to Howlin’ Wolf. Scheduled for September 19 in the Great Hall of the UNC Student Union, the concert will feature Alvin Youngblood Hart, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, Jody Williams, and Henry Gray.  Prior to the concert, a free public symposium will take place in Wilson Library. At 5:30 p.m., blues scholar Peter Guralnick will discuss Howlin’ Wolf’s life and music. Guralnick is currently writing a book about Sam Phillips, the Sun Records founder who discovered not only Howlin’ Wolf, but also Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash.

Guralnick will then be joined for a Q&A conversation with Phillips’s son Knox Phillips, who learned the music business from his father before embarking on his own career as an engineer, producer, and studio owner. The concert is the first in a series of blues tributes hosted by the Southern Folklife Collection in 2011 and 2012.

In honor of the first Monday of the school year, we wanted to share some items to inspire the coming work ahead.  What better inspiration than Labor Songs for All Occasions, produced by The School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin in 1940.  Part of the SFC Song Folios Collection #30006, circa 1882-1983call no. FL-409. 

There are songs for all occasions, “March of the Toilers,” for walking to classes, “Soup Song” for trips to Lenoir, “Put on Your Smart Now Bonnet” for homework and test preparation, and “We’ll Not Be Fools” as and “The Cudgel Song” for mid-term exams and finals.  Choose your favorite from the the contents below.


 

 

Photo and Folio of the Week: Eddy Arnold on stage, in person, and on screen

**click image to enlarge**

This photograph is fascinating as a document of concert goers in the late 1940s, however the band trailer for Eddy Arnold parked out front is what constantly piques my imagination. With the white wall tires and custom paint job, featuring a portrait of Arnold himself as well as the titles of his countless hit songs, I know I’d bee excited to see this barreling down the freeway with Arnold behind the wheel.

We are not sure in which city this photo was taken as there were countless Capitol Theatre’s across the United States, however, we do know Thunderhoof–starring Mary Stuart, Preston Williams, William Bishop, and of course, Thunderhoof as himself–appeared in theaters in 1948 when Eddy Arnold was at the peak of his 1st stage of Country music stardom.

Arnold recorded over 60 top ten hits for RCA throughout the 1940s, under a contract managed by the infamous Colonel Tom Parker.  In 1948 he had five songs in the top 10 simultaneously and Arnold held the number 1 spot for 40 weeks of that year.  Not sure how much merchandise artists sold on tour back then, but maybe had a few of these song folios, call no. FL-199 from the ever popular Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, circa 1882-1983 (#30006) , on hand for fans.

Eddy Arnold’s Favorite Songs. Hill and Range Songs, Inc. New York, N.Y. 1948. 44 p. of music and illustrations.#30006, Series: “Song Folios, circa 1882-1983.” FL-199

“Just a Little Lovin’”
“Anytime”
“Bouquet of Roses”
“Molly Darling”
“Chained to a Memory”
“Detour”
“Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin”
“No Children Allowed”
“Dangerous Ground”
“Rose of the Alamo”
“At Least a Million Tears”
“Can’t Win, Can’t Place, Can’t Show”
“False Alarm”
“Who at My Door Is Standing?”
“He Knows”

 

Photo of the week: Porter Wagoner songbook


A young Porter Wagoner, standing in the in the spotlight wearing one of his many stylish “Nudie Suits,” gazes up at himself on the cover of this songbook from his first year on the Grand Ole Opry. Featuring “the songs he loves best,” including the excellent, “Let’s Squiggle,” this 1957 songbook, call no. FL-503,  is part of collection #30006: Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, circa 1882-1983.

Porter Wagoner: Country Music Favorites
Hill and Range Songs, Inc. New York, N.Y. 1957.

41 p. of music and illustrations.

“Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (Tomorrow You’ll Cry)”
“Itchin’ for My Baby”
“Let’s Squiggle”
“I Should Be with You”
“I’m Day Dreamin’ Tonight”
“Tricks of the Trade”
“Love at First Sight”
“Blue Guitar”
“Uncle Pen”
“I Can’t Live with You (I Can’t Live without You)”
“Company’s Comin’”
“I’m Counting on You”
“Be Glad That You Ain’t Me”
“My Everything (You’re My Everything)”
“Trade Mark”