SFC Photo of the Week: Mike Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten

Another image from the Mike from the Mike Seeger Collection, this time playing guitar with his dear friend, Chapel Hill’s beloved Libba Cotten, in 1978 or 1979.

Join us tonight, March 23, 2012, in Wilson Library on UNC’s campus for a discussion and concert in celebration of the life and work of musician, documentarian, and scholar Mike Seeger.

SFC Photo of the Week: Mike Seeger

We wanted to share a few photos from the Mike Seeger Collection in advance of the tribute concert and lecture on Friday, March 23. The image above, featuring Seeger recording William Bragg along with a group of interested students, was captured in Widen, West Virginia by Alice Gerrard in 1967.

Gerrard will perform at the tribute concert along with Ginny Hawker and Mike Seeger’s former band mates from the New Lost City Ramblers, John Cohen and Tracy Schwarz.

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Every Sincere Wish” from Hank Snow, Ralph McGee and the SFC

“Every Sincere Wish,” a rather open ended valediction, is what Hank Snow wanted for the recipient of this autographed photo, call no. P1600 from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Collection (#20001). Perhaps he hoped that all their wishes might be granted, that all their dreams might come true? We like to think that Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow was offering to grant the wishes himself, but with the caveat that they must be “sincere,” and pity the fool who tried to get one over on the “Singing Ranger.” Despite the lack of specificity, we agree with the sentiment and we extend it on to you via this great Canadian-American country music star from his Rainbow Ranch in Tennessee.

It’s been a busy fall at the SFC and we want to offer our thanks to all the participants–musicians, speakers, audience members, students, and staff–who contributed to the great success of the Southern Folklife Collection tribute concert and symposium in honor of blues legend Reverend Gary Davis. Stay tuned for upcoming information on our third concert in the SFC blues tribute series, this one dedicated to the legendary Son House.

Since many will be celebrating this coming holiday with a roasted bird, we thought it only appropriate to offer a version of “Turkey in the Straw” for your listening pleasure. This recording by the great King, NC fiddler Ralph McGee comes from open reel tape FT-12000, Tape 3 recorded at the 8th Annual Blue Grass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention, Veteran’s Park, Mount Airy, NC, 2 June 1979. Part of the Ralph Epperson Collection (#20401), this recording features fiddler McGee bowing with a toothpick. Maybe some of you fiddlers out there want to give it a shot this weekend after a good meal. Let us know how it works out.

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 Call no. FT-12000, “Turkey in the Straw” by Ralph McGee at the 8th Annual Mount Airy Blue Grass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention, 2 June 1979

 


 

SFC Spotlight: Vogue Records

Another item from our upcoming exhibit.  This Vogue picture disc, catalog number R764 (according to this excellent discography), features Shep Fields and his Orchestra (also known as Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra) performing Sunny Skylar and Patrick Lewis’s hit song “Whatta ya Gonna Do!” and everybody’s favorite “I Guess I’ll Get the Papers (and go home).”  The image is attributed only to the mysterious “Sprink,” an illustrator who painted many of the Vogue discs and we now know was the artist Walter F. Sprink.

Vogue picture discs were made from May 1946 until April 1947 by Sav-Way Industries, Inc. of Detroit, Michigan.  According to the history compiled by the now defunct Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, Sav-Way CEO Tom Saffady and his engineers developed a new and complicated manufacturing process to ensure 78 rpm discs that were not only aesthetically beautiful but also hi-fidelity audio.  Most of the Vogue records feature post-war big band jazz orchestras, but a few include blues and even some country from those famed Sweethearts of Country Music, North Carolina’s own Lulu Belle and Scotty (nee Myrtle Eleanor Cooper and Scotty Greene Wiseman), and Patsy Montana.

The exhibit opens this Thursday, October 20th, as part of a celebration of the UNC Music Library 75th Anniversary.

The exhibit Curating Sound: 75 Years of Music Collections at UNC will open with a keynote address at 5:45 p.m. by Dr. Tim Carter, the David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at UNC, titled “Adventures of an Archive Rat, or How Kurt Weill Came to Chapel Hill in May 1936.”

At 6:30 p.m. will be a concert titled “From Early to Old-Time: A Concert of Music from the Collections.” UNC students, music library staff members, and community musicians will perform music in four genres: Irish traditional, Baroque, early rockabilly, and old-time.

Curating Sound features original publications and artifacts from the Music Library and the Wilson Special Collections Library and will be on view through Jan. 31, 2012.

We hope to see you on Thursday, October 20.

 

 

SFC Spotlight: Curating Sound and Seven Inch Records

On Thursday October 20, 2011, the UNC Music Library will celebrate its seventy-fifth anniversary with the opening of an exhibition in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Room on the third floor of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library.  The exhibition, entitled “Curating Sound: 75 Years of Music Collections at UNC” will feature materials from the Music Library, the Southern Folklife Collection, and the Southern Historical Collection of the University Library.  On display will be items as diverse as Palestrina prints, libretti from the Florentine Camerata, Lully manuscripts, historic sound recordings, rare concert posters, and even Andy Griffith’s guitar.

The exhibition will open with a reception at 5 pm, a keynote address by Prof. Tim Carter, the David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music, and a short concert featuring works from the collection, including ensembles performing English baroque, Old-time stringband, early rockabilly, and Irish traditional music.

While looking for items to contribute from the Southern Folklife Collection, these two 7-inch 45 rpm records (above and below) caught our eye and seemed worthy of further exploration. Above is the cover to Chants au pied de l’Annapurna [Chants at the foot of Annapurna], field recordings from central Nepal by Rene de Milleville–a french writer who lived in Nepal, specializing in the study of rhododendrons and orchids of the region. The following is a sample of the track “Sitarané” from side A.

“Sitarané” performed by musicians from central Nepal 

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From closer to home in the John D. Loudermilk Collection (#20148), we found a 45 rpm record from Chapel Hill’s own Colonial Records, owned and operated by Orville B. Campbell. Johnny Dee, the first recording moniker of country great John D. Loudermilk, was a student at Campbell College when he recorded “A-plus In Love.” featuring Joe Tanner on the guitar. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives blog, A View To Hugh, has an excellent article on Loudermilk, and for a few more tracks see this Field Trip South post from two years ago. More information and updates on the exhibit to come, but for now, enjoy a little Johnny Dee.

“A-Plus In Love” by Johnny Dee 

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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.


 

 

SFC Spotlight: Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger

Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger, call no. FC-4503, definitely ranks high on at our list of all time greatest album covers.  Diddley looks fast and dangerous, and the music fits the bill.  Did you know Bo Diddley is a gunslinger? Just listen to the title track and there will be no doubt.

“Gunslinger” from FC-4503, Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger

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For more Bo Diddley, we thought readers might enjoy a brief interview conducted by Eddie Weiss, a lifelong East coast radio announcer, perhaps best known for his programming of Beach music under the DJ handle “Charlie Brown.”  Throughout the 1950s, Weiss and fellow DJ Ronny King interviewed recording stars for their Tidewater, Virginia radio programs “WAVY’s Your Show,” and “Tidewater Teen Time” any chance they could get--from Bobby Darin, Clyde McPhatter, and Ahmad Jamal, to Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins and Frankie Lymon.  Luckily, one afternoon Bo Diddley stopped by and explained the spiritual roots of his music. Not sanctified necessarily, but spiritual.  We hear you Bo.  

Bo Diddley interview by Eddie Weiss from FT_13051

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SFC Spotlight: Kenny Baker

**click photo to enlarge**

World renowned fiddler Kenneth Clayton Baker of Jenkins, Kentucky passed away on July 8, 2011.  Master of the “long bow” style of bluegrass fiddling, Baker joined up with Bill Monroe in 1957, becoming the longest lasting member of The Bluegrass Boys when he left the group in 1984.  Best known as a bluegrass fiddler, Baker’s reputation as a musician reached far beyond bluegrass into swing, country, and beyond, earning him a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993. Baker’s influence on American music is immeasurable.

We are fortunate to hold a wide array of Baker’s recordings a the Southern Folklife Collection spanning his entire career, including his fantastic solo LPs of fiddle tunes recorded for the County label in the 1970s, like Dry and Dusty, call no. FC_4221, pictured above.  The Becky Johnson Collection (#20405) includes some wonderfully candid performance photos of Baker and countless other bluegrass heroes, and the always astounding collection of materials assembled by the late Mike Seeger includes priceless recordings of performances by Baker and his fellow Bluegrass Boys.

While scanning through Seeger’s recordings, we came across a bluegrass fiddling workshop hosted by Seeger at Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom festival, 21 June 1969, call no. FT_12857.  In the two clips below, Baker first expresses his love for the fiddling of legendary jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, and in the second, we are treated to Baker’s rendition of the classic fiddle tune “Fisher’s Hornpipe.”  May he rest in peace.

Kenny Baker, workshop at Bean Blossom, 21 June 1969

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Kenny Baker, “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” live at Bean Blossom, 21 June 1969

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