Steel Guitar Serials in the Southern Folklife Collection

*Special guest post by Laura McPherson, UNC-SILS graduate student and SFC assistant*

As we wait with baited breath for the Southern Folklife Collection’s Steel Guitar Symposium and Concert [symposium is free to the public, tickets to the concert are available to purchase] to begin on Saturday, March 23, we’ve scoured our serials holdings to bring y’all some interesting items on the steel guitar, its history, and the musicians who love it.

Fretts_1963_vol5_steelguitarcover

Jerry Byrd and his steel guitar grace this cover of this 1963 issue of Fretts. The Southern Folklife Collection holds a number of Byrd’s recordings, including Admirable Byrd: The Steel Guitar Music of Jerry Byrd.

Fretts_1963_vol5_steelguitarjerrybyrd

 

Inside the magazine, an article penned by Byrd sets himself as the defendant in a courtroom drama where the prosecutor represents his fans, whose questions run the gamut from “amusing” to “accusing, and abusing.” Later in the article, Byrd claims that the steel guitar is the most controversial instrument and reacts to attempts to standardize the instrument, relegate its use to the genre of country music, and elevate technique above the musicians’s emotional expression.

 

The SFC also holds Volumes 1-3 of Steel Guitar World Magazine, whose tagline, “Just for the love of steel’en” (or steelin’, depending on the issue), can be seen below on this creative cover from the November 1992 issue.

SteelGuitarWorld_Nov1992_cover

 

SteelGuitarWorld_Nov1992_backcover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So whether you call it the pedal steel, slide steel, lap steel, dobro, or just plain steel guitar, swing by the Southern Folklife Collection to check out some of these marvelous magazines and join us on Saturday, March 23, at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro for the final event in the Southern Folklife Collection’s Instrument Series!

 

All rise for the piping of the haggis: Burns Night at the SFC

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It’s Burns Day, and I hope you have been practicing your “Address tae the Haggis.” Folklorist, teacher, author, and friend of the Southern Folklife Collection, Burgin Mathews, hosts a Burns Supper that I will someday be lucky enough to attend, however this year I’ll have to offer the Immortal Memory address to myself in a quiet kitchen. Thankfully I found a wealth of supporting materials in the SFC to assist in my Burns Night activities. The LP pictured above, call no. FC18057, offers a great start with Frederick Worlock reading some of Robert Burns best, including “To a Louse (on seeing one on a lady’s bonnet at church).” Listen to the clip above.

Thanks to inspiration from the SFC’s recent Fiddle Concert and Symposium, I pulled out a record, call no. FC1508, produced by Mark Wilson that features some of his excellent recordings of Cape Breton musician Joseph CormierScottish Violin Music from Cape Breton Island, kicks off with a perfect set of reels for Burns Night, “Haggis; Glennville’s Dirk; Bird’s Nest.” Listen to “Haggis” here:

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Your guests will likely need some source material for their Burns recitations after dinner, so you may want to reference The Merry Muses of Caledoniacall no. PR4322.M42 1965, and possibly copy the glossary for those less familiar with the particulars of Scottish vocabulary.  (click images to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

Finally, no Burns Supper is complete without a rousing rendition of Robert Burns most famous and most misunderstood poems, “Auld Lang Syne.” I never imagined that I would someday offer the following advice, but take a cue from Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians and pour your heart and soul into the song (it may help if you have a cup of “uisge beatha,” aka the “water of life, aka Scotch whisky, in advance). Sing along won’t you? 

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For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Bobby Rush Raw and in Person

Bobby Rush visited the Southern Folklife Collection yesterday and gave a fantastic solo performance to a few lucky listeners (I see you, “Clarksdale”) who braved the storm to attend the first concert in the 2012 Southern Journey Fall Concert Series.

It was a rare opportunity to see and hear Bobby Rush performing acoustic and sharing stories of his long and remarkable career as a bluesman, as a runner for Elmore James, getting guitar lessons from Howlin’ Wolf, riffing on Tony Jo White, and even a story of how he got his name, Bobby Rush.

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We also picked up a copy of one of his recent albums (Bobby Rush has released over 250 albums in over 50 years of recording music).  Entitled Raw, Bobby Rush strips down the songs to their fundamentals, using only his guitar, harmonica, voice, and feet percussion. This is a different side of Bobby Rush, but we like it just as much as the master showman of southern R&B that we are used to (although we did kind of miss the costume changes and backup dancers).

Hear for yourself; listen to some more clips of Bobby Rush’s performance below and remember Tommy Edwards will be here playing North Carolina bluegrass in our second installment of the Southern Journey Concert Series on October 2. See you at Wilson Library at 11 AM, October 2!

 

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Southern Folklife Collection Banjo Symposium: Schedule, Saturday August 25

The inaugural event in the Southern Folklife Collection Instrument Series, The Banjo: Southern Roots American Branches is coming up in just three days. Many people have asked for a schedule of the daytime symposium in Wilson Library.  Please see below.  Tickets are still available for the free concert, Saturday August 25 in Memorial Hall on UNC’s campus, featuring master pickers Tony TrischkaDom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Riley Baugus with Kirk Sutphin. This is a free but ticketed event. Contact the Memorial Hall Box Office, 919.843.3333 for information.

Banjo Symposium – Pleasants Family Assembly Room, 2nd Floor, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

9:30am:  Reception

10:00am:  Phillip Gura, UNC Professor of American Studies; Author of America’s Instrument: The Banjo in the 19th Century

10:45am:  Coffee break

11:00am:  Bob Carlin, Musician and Author of The Birth of the Banjo & Jim Mills, musician (Ricky Scaggs, Vince Gill) Six time winner of IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Award.

11:30am:  Robert Cantwell, UNC Professor of American Studies; Author of Bluegrass Breakdown

12:15pm – 2:00pm:  lunch

2:00pm:  Stephen Wade, Musician and Author of The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience

2:45 – Coffee break

3:00pm:  Panel discussion–Laurent Dubois, Duke Professor of Romance Studies and History; Cecelia Conway, Appalachian State University Professor of English; Author of African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia; Dom Flemons, musician (Carolina Chocolate Drops)

4:00pm – End

7:30pm: Concert in UNC Memorial Hall

 

 

A Tribute Concert to Rev. Gary Davis: November 17, 2011

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen will headline a Nov. 17 tribute concert and symposium in honor of blues legend Reverend Gary Davis. Schedule and information follows at the end of this post.

The Southern Folklife Collection and the Friends of the Library will sponsor the evening devoted to the master of finger-style guitar who influenced musicians such as Blind Boy Fuller, Taj Mahal, and Bob Dylan.

The 7:30pm concert will feature musicians who studied with Davis or were directly inspired by him, including Hot Tuna and former Jefferson Airplane member Jorma KaukonenStefan Grossman, and Ernie Hawkins. Tickets to the concert can be purchased from the Carolina Union Box Office.

Prior to the concert, a free public symposium will take place in Wilson Library. At 5:30 p.m., blues scholar Elijah Wald will give a keynote lecture on Davis’s life and music. A panel discussion at 6:30 will include Kaukonen, Grossman, and Hawkins.

Wald, a musician and writer, has written for The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, and his books include How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music (Oxford University Press, 2009), The Blues: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010), and Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (Amistad, 2004). In 2001, he won a Grammy award for his liner notes for The Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection: The Journey of Chris Strachwitz 1960-2000.

The concert is the second event in the Southern Folklife Collection’s Blues Legacy Series. A third event is planned for Feb. 2012 for Eddie James “Son” House.

Davis was born in 1896 in Laurens, S.C., and lost his vision before adulthood. He moved to Durham, N.C., in the 1920s, and worked with a number of musicians in the Piedmont blues scene. In 1933, he became an ordained minister of the Washington, N.C., Free Baptist Connection Church. His best-known songs include “Baby, Can I follow You Down,” “Candy Man,” and “Samson and Delilah.”

The Southern Folklife Collection is fortunate to hold a variety of recordings and materials related to Rev. Gary Davis, including FT-4600 from the Bob Carlin Collection (#20050).  This open reel audio tape features a young Carlin interviewing one mentor (and former camp counselor) Roy Book Binder, a friend, student, and chauffeur of Gary Davis. The interview includes live concert recordings of Davis and Book Binder offering contextual information and sharing his personal experiences with Davis.

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 FT_4600_Roy Book Binder interviewed by Bob Carlin, WBRC New Milford, Connecticut, Summer 1969 

SymposiumWilson Special Collections Library, (Free and open to the public)
5 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m. Keynote with Elijah Wald
6:30 p.m. Panel Discussion with Jorma Kaukonen, Stefan Grossman, and Ernie HawkinsConcertStudent Union, Great Hall, with Jorma Kaukonen, Stefan Grossman, and Ernie Hawkins
7:30 p.m.
Purchase concert tickets from Carolina Union Box Office, ($5 for students; $12.50 for others)Information: Liza TerllFriends of the Library, (919) 548-1203

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Tommy Edwards Performing Tuesday, Oct. 5

Please join us on Tuesday, Oct 5, from Noon to 1:00 PM in the Wilson Library’s Pleasants Family Assembly Room for free, live bluegrass music with Tommy Edwards and Friends.

This event is co-sponsored by UNC’s Departments of History and American Studies,Folklore, and Music, the Southern Folklife Collection, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, and Center for the Study of the American South.

Wade Mainer Event On Tuesday

Please join us on Tuesday, September 21, for Banjo On The Mountain: A Tribute To Wade Mainer. The event, to be held in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room in UNC’s Wilson Library, will begin with a catered reception at 5:00 PM. At 5:45, writer Dick Spottswood will be reading from his book Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer’s First Hundred Years.

At 6:30 the tribute concert kicks off, featuring performances by Joe Newberry, The Happy Valley Pals (Gail Gillespie, Margaret Martin, Dwight Rogers and Wayne Martin), Andy Cahan, Joseph DeCosimo, and other area musicians. As always, the event is free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by the Old-Time Herald, the North Carolina Folklife Institute, Pinecone, and the Southern Folklife Collection.

“Carolina Soul” Lecture September 10

On Friday, September 10, the Southern Folklife Collection will be hosting a lecture by DJ and collector Jason Perlmutter, founder of the website CarolinaSoul.org.

A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate (and former WXYC station manager) Perlmutter has been collecting soul recordings from the Carolinas since 2002, and compiled the 2008 Jazzman Records/Now-Again release Carolina Funk: First in Funk, 1968-1977.

Please join us in the Wilson Library Pleasants Family Assembly room (directions here) on September 10 for a reception at 5:00, to be followed by the lecture at 5:45.  The event is free and open to the public (click to enlarge the flyer above for more details).

Jimmie Rodgers Exhibit Opening April 13

jimmierodgersPlease join us Tuesday evening, April 13th, for the opening of the new Southern Folklife Collection exhibit Jimmie Rodgers: The Father Of Country Music, celebrating the music and legacy of Jimmie Rodgers, one of the most popular and influential musicians of the 20th century.

The event starts with a reception at 5:00 PM, followed by a 5:45 talk by Jocelyn R. Neal, author of The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers: A Legacy In Country Music. Dr. Neal will be delivering a talk based on her research, “The Secrets of  the Songs: Jimmie Rodgers and His Legacy.”

Following the talk, old-time musician Matt Kinman will be performing songs originally popularized by Rodgers and his contemporaries.

The opening event will be held on the 4th floor of Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is free and open to the public.  Hope to see you there!

Dr. Demento On The Old-time Record Review

demento

On Friday, February 26th, the Southern Folklife Collection will be hosting legendary broadcaster Barry Hansen, aka “Dr. Demento”, longtime host of the nationally syndicated Dr. Demento Show. He will be presenting a lecture and spinning records on the subject of “Humor in the 20th Century: Country and Blues”.  The program begins at 5:45 in Wilson Library’s Pleasants Family Assembly Room, to  be preceded by a reception at 5:00, and is free and open to the public.

Mr. Hansen should have much to say on the subject of humor in country and blues music, as before he adopted his Dr. Demento persona to become radio’s greatest spinner of humorous songs he was a young musicology student at UCLA, the original home of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation. In the mid-sixties he began his radio career as the host of the “Old-time Record Review”, a scholarly program devoted to the folk, blues, and country music collected by the JEMF. When the JEMF Collection moved to UNC to become the basis of the Southern Folklife Collection , so too did open-reel tapes of 39 episodes of “Old-time Record Review”.

Listen below to a clip of novice DJ Barry Hansen introducing Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business”, from a 1965 episode of “Old-time Record Review” (SFC# FT-1616):

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