SFC Spotlight: Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger

Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger, call no. FC-4503, definitely ranks high on at our list of all time greatest album covers.  Diddley looks fast and dangerous, and the music fits the bill.  Did you know Bo Diddley is a gunslinger? Just listen to the title track and there will be no doubt.

“Gunslinger” from FC-4503, Bo Diddley is a GunslingerFC_4503_Bo Diddley_Gunslinger

For more Bo Diddley, we thought readers might enjoy a brief interview conducted by Eddie Weiss, a lifelong East coast radio announcer, perhaps best known for his programming of Beach music under the DJ handle “Charlie Brown.”  Throughout the 1950s, Weiss and fellow DJ Ronny King interviewed recording stars for their Tidewater, Virginia radio programs “WAVY’s Your Show,” and “Tidewater Teen Time” any chance they could get-from Bobby Darin, Clyde McPhatter, and Ahmad Jamal, to Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins and Frankie Lymon.  Luckily, one afternoon Bo Diddley stopped by and explained the spiritual roots of his music. Not sanctified necessarily, but spiritual.  We hear you Bo.  

Bo Diddley interview by Eddie Weiss from FT_1305117 Bo Diddley interview_FT13051

SFC Spotlight: Kenny Baker

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World renowned fiddler Kenneth Clayton Baker of Jenkins, Kentucky passed away on July 8, 2011.  Master of the “long bow” style of bluegrass fiddling, Baker joined up with Bill Monroe in 1957, becoming the longest lasting member of The Bluegrass Boys when he left the group in 1984.  Best known as a bluegrass fiddler, Baker’s reputation as a musician reached far beyond bluegrass into swing, country, and beyond, earning him a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993. Baker’s influence on American music is immeasurable.
We are fortunate to hold a wide array of Baker’s recordings a the Southern Folklife Collection spanning his entire career, including his fantastic solo LPs of fiddle tunes recorded for the County label in the 1970s, like Dry and Dusty, call no. FC_4221, pictured above.  The Becky Johnson Collection (#20405) includes some wonderfully candid performance photos of Baker and countless other bluegrass heroes, and the always astounding collection of materials assembled by the late Mike Seeger includes priceless recordings of performances by Baker and his fellow Bluegrass Boys.
While scanning through Seeger’s recordings, we came across a bluegrass fiddling workshop hosted by Seeger at Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom festival, 21 June 1969, call no. FT_12857.  In the two clips below, Baker first expresses his love for the fiddling of legendary jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, and in the second, we are treated to Baker’s rendition of the classic fiddle tune “Fisher’s Hornpipe.”  May he rest in peace.

Kenny Baker, workshop at Bean Blossom, 21 June 1969FT_12857_Kenny Baker_Stéphane Grappelli
Kenny Baker, “Fisher’s Hornpipe,” live at Bean Blossom, 21 June 1969FT_12857_Kenny Baker_Hornpipe

 

Photo and Folio of the Week: Eddy Arnold on stage, in person, and on screen

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This photograph is fascinating as a document of concert goers in the late 1940s, however the band trailer for Eddy Arnold parked out front is what constantly piques my imagination. With the white wall tires and custom paint job, featuring a portrait of Arnold himself as well as the titles of his countless hit songs, I know I’d bee excited to see this barreling down the freeway with Arnold behind the wheel.
We are not sure in which city this photo was taken as there were countless Capitol Theatre’s across the United States, however, we do know Thunderhoof–starring Mary Stuart, Preston Williams, William Bishop, and of course, Thunderhoof as himself–appeared in theaters in 1948 when Eddy Arnold was at the peak of his 1st stage of Country music stardom.
Arnold recorded over 60 top ten hits for RCA throughout the 1940s, under a contract managed by the infamous Colonel Tom Parker.  In 1948 he had five songs in the top 10 simultaneously and Arnold held the number 1 spot for 40 weeks of that year.  Not sure how much merchandise artists sold on tour back then, but maybe had a few of these song folios, call no. FL-199 from the ever popular Southern Folklife Collection Song Folios, circa 1882-1983 (#30006) , on hand for fans.

Eddy Arnold’s Favorite Songs. Hill and Range Songs, Inc. New York, N.Y. 1948. 44 p. of music and illustrations.#30006, Series: “Song Folios, circa 1882-1983.” FL-199

“Just a Little Lovin'”
“Anytime”
“Bouquet of Roses”
“Molly Darling”
“Chained to a Memory”
“Detour”
“Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin”
“No Children Allowed”
“Dangerous Ground”
“Rose of the Alamo”
“At Least a Million Tears”
“Can’t Win, Can’t Place, Can’t Show”
“False Alarm”
“Who at My Door Is Standing?”
“He Knows”