78 of the week: Jesse Rodgers with Kama’s Moana Hawaiians

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Two excellent sides for you by the great Jesse Rodgers (first cousin to Jimmie), from Southern Folklife Collection disc call no. 78-828. A successful musician who appeared on the “border-blaster” radio stations XERA and XERN in the late 20s and early 30s, Rodgers career took off in an unexpected direction after Jimmie’s untimely death in 1933. Always looking to repeat past successes, RCA-Bluebird picked up Jesse in hopes he would continue where Jimmie left off, even setting Jesse up to record with the great steel guitarist Charles Kama and his Moana Hawaiians who had recorded previous sides with Jimmie. These two tracks were recorded 28 Feburary 1936 at the Texas Hotel in San Antonio. Kama’s guitar work is superb and his musical arrangement wonderfully compliments the tune. Listen to the solo in the second clip below and note Kama’s masterful accompaniment to Rodger’s blue yodeling. Fantastic. 

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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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Zygote, 1970

Zygote_v1_n7_1970_Southern Folklife CollectionIt was a pleasure to dig into the Southern Folklife Collection‘s two issues of Zygote, an excellent alternative rag out of New York in the early 1970s. I also enjoyed imagining which member of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation originally collected the magazine for the periodical collection. These two issues feature some quality investigative journalism and radical political commentary mixed with record and film reviews, music features, pop-culture criticism, and a psychedelic visual style. The Southern Folklife Collection has but two issues from 1970, this one vol. 1, no. 7, from October 30, and vol. 1, no. 8 from November. If you subscribed for two years you could have picked up the latest Mother Earth LP and the soundtrack to The Strawberry Statement. Plus, Tina Turner and Wayne Cochran (scroll down to the bottom).

Right on.

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RIP Robert Calvin “Bobby Blue” Bland

78_7247_2_Southern Folklife CollectionIt always saddens me that it takes the death of an artist to remind me to look for their work in the Southern Folklife Collection holdings, but then I find something like this excellent 78 from Bobby Blue Bland, call number 78-7247, and the bad feelings fade away. Bland passed on June 23, 2013 at his home outside Memphis, TN, but left behind a remarkable discography of some of the best R&B ever recorded. “Army Blues” features a beautifully woozy and cracked arrangement of “Taps” and Bland’s raw vocals offer a moving critique of the dismay that he and many others felt about the draft in 1952.

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“No Blow, No Show” picks things up and the tape echo sound awesome to our ears. Take a listen and have a great weekend. 

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Visualizing American Roots Music: THE BYRDS

P303

The Byrds, 1968

(Kevin Kelly, Gram Parsons, Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman)

P303. 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: BUCK OWENS AND THE BUCKAROOS

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Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, 1966

(Buck Owens, Don Rich, Willie Cantu, Tom Brumley, Doyle Holly)

P1157. 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: THE KITTY WELLS/JOHNNIE WRIGHT FAMILY SHOW

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The Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show

(Bobby Wright, Kitty Wells, Johnnie Wright, Jack Anglin and band)

P2091. 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: MADDOX BROTHERS AND ROSE

P914

Maddox Brothers and Rose

(Cal, Henry, Rose, Don, and Fred Maddox)

P914. 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: COUSIN MINNIE PEARL

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Cousin Minnie Pearl, The Gal from Grinder’s Switch, WSM Grand Ole Opry

(Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon)

P1217. 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.

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!