78 rpm disc of the week: Red Kirk “The Voice of the Country”

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Great pair of pure country tearjerkers from Southern Folklife Collection 78 rpm disc call no. 78-9938. I discovered these numbers thanks to a recent request and gladly spent some time in the studio while the great Red Kirk, known as “The Voice of the Country,” and the phenomenal steel guitar of Jerry Byrd played offered the soundtrack to my morning blues. Recorded in Cincinnati with Jerry Byrd’s String Dusters–Louis Innis on rhythm, Zeke Turner on lead guitar, Red Turner on bass, and Tommy Jackson on fiddle–all great session players that also performed the Midwestern Hayride on WLW. Side two, “It’s Raining in my Heart” is even better.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!