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!

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: BINKLEY BROTHERS’ DIXIE CLODHOPPERS

P218

Binkley Brothers’ Dixie Clodhoppers, 1928, Bijou Theatre, Nashville, TN

(Tom Andrews, Gale Binkley, Jack Jackson, and Amos Binkley)

P218. John Edwards Memorial Collection (#20001)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: LYNN DAVIS AND HIS FORTY-NINERS

P1236

Lynn Davis and His Forty-Niners, 1942, Birmingham, AL

(Zeke Phillips, Jimmie Barker, Clint Blackley, Molly O’Day, Lynn Davis, Cap Johnson)

P1236. John Edwards Memorial Collection (#20001)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: GENE AUTRY

Gene Autry

P154. John Edwards Memorial Collection (#20001)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: PATSY MONTANA

P984

Patsy Montana, 1931

P984. John Edwards Memorial Collection (#20001)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: JOHNNY CASH

Cash_2003_dcoston12edited

Johnny Cash, last performance, July 5, 2003, Carter Family Fold, Hiltons, VA

Photo by Daniel Coston

Daniel Coston Collection (#20399)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Visualizing American Roots Music: ALAN LOMAX WITH FRIENDS

20367_MBFP_5-79-9_879_0002

Alan Lomax with friends, 1979, Mississippi Delta Blues Festival, Greenville, MS

Photo by William Ferris

MBFP_5-79-9_879_0002. William R. Ferris Collection (#20367)

The photo above appears as part of Visualizing American Roots Music, an exhibit presented by the Southern Folklife Collection of twenty rare and unique photographs of iconic musicians. On view in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Special Collections Library through Dec. 31, 2013.

 

Big Slim loves you (we do too)

FL247_Cover_Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios (#30006)If you sing along, Big Slim the Lone Cowboy won’t be so lonely. The Southern Folklife Collection happily welcomes you to learn the Secret’s of our heart. Another classic from the Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, 1882-1893 (#30006), FL-247. See the remaining contents below. Special thanks to a new Southern Folklife Collection friend in Australia for leading us to this great collection of songs through a research request from almost 10,000 miles away.
FL247_Heart_Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios (#30006)


Folio of Favorite Radio Songs of Big Slim, The Lone Cowboy. American Music Pub. Co. New York, N.Y. 1946. 27 p. of music.
“After Yesterday”
“Heart Weary and Blue”
“Lone Star Trail”
“Moonlight on the Cabin”
“Never Say Goodbye”
“Only a Rose (From My Mother’s Grave)”
“Patanio, the Pride of the Plain”
“Secrets of My Heart”
“Sunny Side of the Mountain”
“There’ll Never Be a Sweeter Girl Than You”
“There’s Another Mother Angel Up in Heaven”
“You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine”
“Cowboy Jack”
“Don’t Cry Little Girl of Mine”
“Green Grows the Laurel”
“Hazel That Old Gal of Mine”
“Kickin’ My Love Around”
“Oh, Oh, Uhm Uhm”
“Ridin’ Along Singin’ a Song”
“The Letter Edged in Black”
“There’s a Little Winding Road”
“Two Sparkling Blue Eyes”
“When the Shadows Fell on the Prairie”
“Whoa Mule Whoa”
“Yellow Rose of Texas”

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.

SFC Spotlight: Mother Maybelle talks autoharp at Earl Scrugg’s House in 1962

Once again a researcher pointed the way to a fascinating item in the Southern Folklife Collection. While most of our attention has been on the fiddle as of late, I happily shifted focus to the autoharp (which we recently learned is also known as the “Idiot Zither”) when I digitized a tape recorded interview of Maybelle Carter, FT11829 from the Betty Blackley Collection (#20282).  Conducted September 9 and 10, 1962 by autoharp expert A. Doyle Moore and Archie Green at the home of Earl and Louise Scruggs Madison, TN, the interview offers an in-depth history of the Carter Family’s use of the autoharp and Mother Maybelle’s performance style on the instrument. In the following three clips, she describes her first encounters with the autoharp:

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The conversation continues, reflecting on her career, and eventually to her performance style. After locating the appropriate pick and finding an instrument with the correct tuning, she demonstrates with examples played on one of the multiple autoharps apparently always on hand in Earl and Louise Scruggs’s living room at any given time.  The first two clips lead up to the third, which is a wonderfully wobbly and vibrating version of “Gathering Flowers from the Hillside.” She goes on to demonstrate many other songs on side 2 of the tape. Definitely a treat on this gloomy Thursday afternoon. 

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