Songs from Limestone Country

78-178160B

We came across an interesting bit of American industrial history in a recent 78rpm cataloging session in the Southern Folklife Collection: a circa 1948 record promoting the Indiana Limestone Company, featuring on its label a relatively complex illustration of the limestone mining process. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Indiana’s limestone industry, it includes two songs honoring the state’s favorite sedimentary rock : “Old Limestone Quarry” and “Girl from Oolitic.” (Oolitic is a town in Indiana known for its oolite, a kind of limestone).

We cannot find any information on this release, except that John H. McGee applied for copyright for the two songs in 1949.

We’ve included an excerpt from Side A here, which features an unknown vocalist and big band:

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The record is available at the SFC as call no. 78-17816.

78-17816A

Music Biographer Barry Mazor and Musician Dom Flemons at Wilson Library Feb. 6

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Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music

Friday, Feb. 6, 2015
Wilson Special Collections Library
Pleasants Family Assembly Room
5:30 p.m. Reception (program will begin at 6 p.m.)
6 p.m. Book Talk by Barry Mazor
7 p.m. Concert by Dom Flemons
Free and open to the public
Information: Liza Terll, Friends of the Library,
(919) 548-1203

 

Music scout, record producer, and industry visionary Ralph Peer helped shape and popularize American country and roots music from the 1920s through the ’40s. On Feb. 6, at 6 p.m., a new biography of Peer will be the topic of a talk by the author, Barry Mazor, at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library. A concert by musician Dom Flemons will follow at 7 p.m.

The Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) in Wilson Library is the program sponsor. Mazor and Flemons have both conducted extensive research in the Collection and are friends with one another, said SFC curator Steve Weiss.

Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music was released in November to critical acclaim. The New York Times called it “a beautifully written portrait of an utterly fascinating man. One is continually astonished at how a shipping clerk from Independence, Mo., at various junctions in his life, made decisions that transformed American music by bringing new artists and forms of music — from country, blues and bluegrass to early rock ‘n’ roll — to millions of citizens who had not yet encountered them.”

Peer’s accomplishments include sparking the blues craze by recording Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues;” discovering the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers; and helping transform popular music well through the postwar years.

In the stacks of the SFC, Mazor — a winner of the 2008 Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism — was able to draw on a unique recorded interview with Ralph Peer, as well as correspondence between Peer and musician Sara Carter of The Carter Family, found in the SFC’s Ed Kahn Collection. Those letters will be on display at the event.

Flemons_333Flemons, too, has deep ties to the SFC. In 2012, the Grammy-winning banjo player and former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops described in an interview how video recordings and interviews in the Collection have informed his work. “There is something that a visual artifact can do that is greater than a mere recording,” he said. “You get to see the player and performer in the flesh and see how they played the music.”

The Dom Flemons Papers, 2004-2009, are part of the Southern Folklife Collection, and consist of audio and video recordings, photographs, programs, and related materials that Flemons has donated. Approximately 200 photographs from the collection, including publicity stills of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, may be viewed online, via the UNC Library’s Carolina Digital Repository.

An Alphabet of Treasures: Special Collections from A to Z

78_11104_Ma Rainey_Dream Blues_John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records_20001_Southern Folklife Collection[if you like zooming in on record labels you should click on this photo]

Dream Blues,” 78 rpm disc, 1924
Gertrude “Ma” Rainey with The Pruitt Twins, Paramount Records

As Paramount’s best-selling artist of the early 1920s, vaudeville superstar and “The Mother of the Blues” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey was honored with her own “portrait label” disc, the first of its kind, marketed and sold as a special souvenir for her fans. Rainey is accompanied on these March 1924 recordings by the remarkable Pruitt Twins, Miles and Milas of Kansas City, on banjo and guitar. The disc above is call number 78-11104 from the John Edwards Memorial Collection (20001).

This item is one of many highlights pulled from across the collections in Wilson library currently featured in the exhibition An Alphabet of Treasures: Special Collections from A to Z, which can be seen in Wilson Special Collections Library until April 19, 2015.

Follow the Wilson Library tumblr for more highlights from the exhibit.

And remember to mark your calendars for our very special event with music biographer Barry Mazor and musician Dom Flemons coming up next week.

Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music
Friday, Feb. 6, 2015
Wilson Special Collections Library
Pleasants Family Assembly Room
5:30 p.m. Reception (program will begin at 6 p.m.)
6 p.m. Book Talk by Barry Mazor
7 p.m. Concert by Dom Flemons
Free and open to the public
Information: Liza Terll, Friends of the Library, (919) 548-1203

Music scout, record producer, and industry visionary Ralph Peer helped shape and popularize American country and roots music from the 1920s through the ’40s. On Feb. 6, at 6 p.m., a new biography of Peer will be the topic of a talk by the author, Barry Mazor, at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library. A concert by musician Dom Flemons will follow at 7 p.m. We’ll have more about the program on Field Trip South tomorrow.

 

Little Jimmy Dickens, 1920-2015

Little Jimmy Dickens, portrait, 20001_pf0566_0001, John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001), Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, UNC Chapel HillLittle Jimmy Dickens in one of his trademark suits, image from the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records (20001), one of many images of country, folk, and traditional musicians now available for research online. He started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens passed away in Nashville on January 2, 2015.

Nice boots, Tater, nice boots.

The “5” Royales inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

P20286_012_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel HillExcellent and exciting news this week that the “5” Royales are to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “early influences” category. Many have supported their nominations in the past, the “5” Royales were recipients of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1992, but we were glad to see the band from Winston-Salem, NC recognized internationally for their significant contributions to American music. As the repository for the J. Taylor Doggett Collection (20286), the Southern Folklife Collection holds a variety of materials documenting the “5” Royales career and music. P20286_002_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel HillThe “5” Royales series documents Doggett’s extensive research and collecting efforts relating to the careers of constituent members Lowman Pauling, Clarence Paul, Curtis Pauling, Obadiah Carter, Johnny Tanner, Eugene Tanner, Otto Jeffries, and William Samuels. There is also music of the Royal Sons, EL Pauling and the Royalton, and the Charlie “Little Jazz” Ferguson Orchestra. The “5” Royales were significant in providing a link between early R&B and early soul in their combination of doo wop, jump blues, and gospel styles influencing a number of R&B musicians, including Ray Charles, James Brown, and Ike and Tina Turner. Guitarist and songwriter, Lowman Pauling, who unfortunately died in 1973, remains one of the greatest unsung innovators in rock and roll. Over the past few years, a number of box sets chronicling the group’s career, as well as tribute albums by well known musicians like Steve Cropper and young North Carolina groups like Chapel Hill’s The Flesh Wounds have been released, exposing new audiences to the band’s unique sound.

The J. Taylor Doggett Collection includes a number of important recordings, photographs, and ephemera of the group, but a few items that I am constantly drawn to are a series of cassettes compiled by Doggett, SFC call numbers FS9139 through FS9146, that document the bands lesser heard tunes and side projects. Obscure but essential_FS9139_FS9146_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel HillBesides these remarkable tapes, we love the photographs of the “5” Royales at the Royal Peacock Club (see the sign pictured above and images below ). These images put the viewer almost onstage at what must have been a true rock and roll experience. Congratulations to the “5” Royales and many thanks to J. Taylor Doggett and so many others who dedicated themselves to preserving the legacy of one of North Carolina’s musical treasures. P20286_003_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel HillP20286_004_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel Hill P20286_005_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel Hill P20286_007_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel Hill P20286_009_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel Hill P20286_010_J_Taylor_Doggett_Colleciton_Southern Folklife Collection_UNC_Chapel Hill

 

It don’t matter who’s in Austin, Bob Wills is Still the King (or is it Clifton Chenier)?

20002_Archie_Green_Broken Spoke_Southern Folklife CollectionA couple of posters from gigs I would have liked to attend. I was lucky to grow up not 1/2 mile from the Broken Spoke, and despite the best efforts of “New Austin,” I am very glad to report that it’s still there, still honky-tonkin, and the Lone Star is still cold. Both of these posters come from the Archie Green Papers (20002), collected by Archie while a professor at the University of Texas in the 1970s. I feel like artist Michael Priest’s comment written on the bottom of the poster reflects the general sense of wonder those cosmic cowboys and post-hippy hipsters must have felt to be able to attend shows like this on a regular basis, singular moments in music history that transcended the commercial drive of the social scene.

“We seen it right here didn’t we?”

I wish we had, Michael. Long live the kings. 20002_Archie_Green_Antones_Southern Folklife Collection

 

A song of personal thanksgiving

FC890_Chancey_Johnny_John_002

With all of the mythology surrounding contemporary celebrations of Thanksgiving, I often turn to field recordings to guide me through the gauntlet of caricatures that can seem to overwhelm the holiday experience. I like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the Macy’s Parade too, but this time of year always feels surreal until I pull down my collection of Native American music recordings from the record shelf and listen as I begin to prepare dinner for my family and friends.

FC890_cover_005Looking through the stacks this morning in the Southern Folklife Collection, I found a Library of Congress collection from the Archive of Folk Song, Songs from the Iroquois Longhouse, SFC call number FC890. Compiled by William Fenton from recordings made for the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Six Nations Reserve in Canada and the Allegany reservation in New York in 1941, the record is a powerful document of music from the Eastern Woodlands of North America.

FC890_notes_004The notes are extensive and detail the singers, songs, and performance of the music in a variety of contexts. Among the Seneca performers documented is Chancey Johnny John, called hau’no’on, “Cold-voice,” of the Turtle clan of the Cayuga. According to Fenton, Chancey came from a line of singers and knew more than 1000 verses of song. To be able to hear Chancey Johnny John sing is a remarkable gift and we hope you readers and listeners enjoy this short piece as you join together in body, mind, or spirit with your families and friends this weekend. Click on the bar below to listen to Chancey Johnny John recorded in 1941. 

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The song of personal thanksgiving is an individual chant sung during the Midwinter festival, on the third day of the Green Corn Festival. According to Fenton, “every man should return thanks to the Creator that he has lived to see the ceremonies again and that so many people have once again returned to renew the faith of their ancestors.” A transcription of the chant follows. FC890_notes_personal_006FC890_recording_003

A look inside Goldband

20245_pf0544_0012_Wild Bill Pitre_Goldband Recording Corporation Collection_Southern Folklife CollectionA peek into Eddie Shuler’s Goldband complex–including recording studio, record store, and TV store–in Lake Charles, LA, from the now digitized Goldband photo albums. For more see the Goldband Recording Corportaion Collection (20245) finding aid. Above is Wild Bill Pitre of Wild Bill and the Blue Washboard Boys. Below, Eddie Shuler at the desk in his control room. And finally, Count Rockin’ Sidney below.

These images were preserved as part of the Southern Folklife Collection digitization project, From the Piedmont to the Swamplands: Preserving Southern Traditional Music, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

20245_pf0544_0011_Eddie Shuler__Goldband Recording Corporation Collection_Southern Folklife Collection 20245_pf0544_0009_Count Rockin' Sidney_Goldband Recording Corporation Collection_Southern Folklife Collection

In memory of George Hamilton IV

20410_folder35_SFC_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV with Mary Dabney Hamilton, Back cover of George Hamilton IV, souvenir book edited by Bob Powell, folder35, George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

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George Hamilton IV at Grandfather Mountain, 1973, P4985 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410)

We were saddened to hear that George Hamilton IV passed away on September 17, 2014. In memoriam of Mr. Hamilton, we pulled some items The George Hamilton IV Collection (20410) in the Southern Folklife Collection to highlight his remarkable career and contributions to the canon of Country music. A native son of North Carolina born and raised in Winston Salem, Hamilton started his singing career while a student at UNC Chapel Hill, recording for Orville Campbell’s Colonial Records. By the late 1950s, Hamilton had moved to Washington, D.C., and became a regular performer (with Patsy Cline, for a time) on Jimmy Dean’s “Town and Country Jamboree” show. He toured with Bobby Darin, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers, along with many other well-known pop stars, and made numerous national television appearances.

20410_p4939_SFC005_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV and Patsy Cline, P4939 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

p4866 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillHamilton became a teen pop sensation in 1956 with his recording of John D. Loudermilk’s tune “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” but Hamilton’s heart was in country music and in 1959 he moved to Nashville, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960. Listen to Hamilton’s performance of “A Rose and A Baby Ruth” from one of his first appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, introduced by the one and only Ernest Tubb. From open reel tape, FT12086 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (201410):

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Later that year, he began recording for RCA Records, having been signed by Chet Atkins. In 1963, John D. Loudermilk’s “Abilene” became a number-one hit for Hamilton on the country charts and reached the top 20 in pop.

20410_p4953_SFC001_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillChet Atkins, John D. Loudermilk, Bobby Moore, George Hamilton IV, P4953 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

He toured Canada and across Europe, developing a devoted fan base. He would eventually tour around the world, performing multiple times in Japan, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, and India. His performance at Moscow University in 1974 was the first for an American country music performer. Other “first” performances on this tour were in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Later that year, Billboard Magazine began to refer to Hamilton as the “International Ambassador of Country Music.”

George Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV in Bangalore, India, 1986. P5034 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Hamilton’s recording career highlights a mutual admiration for Canadian and European songwriters. In 1965, Hamilton was the first American singer to record a hit penned by Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot and in 1967, he also became the first to record “Urge for Going,” a song by another Canadian songwriter, Joni Mitchell. In 1969, his first record of all Canadian music was released and he hosted a variety show on the CBC for six years.

George Hamilton IV and others on the set of Up Country at the Elizabethan Barn, early 1970s, P4821 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV on the set of “Up Country at the Elizabethan Barn,” early 1970s, PHOTO BY DOMINIC MCKENZIE P4821 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410),                    Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

His long-standing involvement with the annual International Festival of Country Music, held at Wembley (UK) led to an association with the BBC where Hamilton hosted many programs–variety and documentary–that showcased country music.

George Hamilton IV, Rolf Harris, an unidentified woman, Frank Ifield, Olivia Newton-John, Slim Whitman, Miki & Griff, an unidentified man, and Mervyn Conn, at Wembley, 1974, b&w print, roughly 8x10, photo by Dominic McKenzie, P4920 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV, Rolf Harris, an unidentified woman, Frank Ifield, Olivia Newton-John, Slim Whitman, Miki & Griff, an unidentified man, and Mervyn Conn, at Wembley, 1974, b&w print, roughly 8×10, photo by Dominic McKenzie, P4920 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

In 1971, Hamilton left Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry for Charlotte, N.C., to join the broadcasts of Arthur Smith’s country music televison show. He continued to work overseas while also maintaining a busy touring schedule in the United States

20410_OP_4_SFC007 20410_OP_1_SFC008

                                                                    In the 1990s, he became involved with several musical theater and concert productions that featured the work of Patsy Cline, with Irish singer Sandy Kelly playing the title role. Hamilton has continued to record country, folk, and gospel albums, including two with his son, George Hamilton V . In 2006, he celebrated his 50th year as a recording artist, which included a special reception hosted in London by the United States Ambassador to Britain. Hamilton died on Wednesday at the age of 77. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recordings by Hamilton,Break My Mind,” arranged by his longtime collaborator and fellow North Carolinian John D. Loudermilk, from Hamilton’s 1967 LP, Folksy, call number FC 17005.

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0410_folder35_SFC_001_George Hamilton IV Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel HillGeorge Hamilton IV by Bud Powell, Folder 35 in the George Hamilton IV Collection (20410), Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill