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!

 

Turkey time at the Southern Folklife Collection

We recognize that some of you might prefer an entrée other than the noble bird when feasting on Thursday. Perhaps, like Curly Ray Cline, you’d rather serve the noble pig and we would not begrudge your decision, just as we would support our vegan folk compatriots with extra helpings of dairy-free pumpkin pie and whip up a casserole for the National Day of Mourning.

I wonder about Curly Ray’s pork preference because he is a personal friend of Dr. Ralph Stanley, and everyone knows, Dr. Stanley can call up some turkeys whenever he pleases. You can learn from the Doctor himself, documented on the record above, call no. FC8559 in the Southern Folklife Collection. Listen:

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Truth is, we at the SFC duly honor the bird (there are at least 148 different versions of “Turkey in the Straw” in the Collection), but perhaps not as much as the legendary steel guitarist, Red Rhodes**, whose “Great American Thunder Turkey” from his 1979 release on Ashire Records Steel Guitar, call no. FC14363, has become the soundtrack to our archival lives.

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**SFC Steel Guitar Symposium and Concert coming up March 25, but before that the Fiddle Symposium and Concert is right around the corner on January 11 and 12. see Link for more details.