The Southern Folklife Collection and UNC University Libraries are excited to announce this forthcoming Author Talk featuring Kristina R. Gaddy, Thursday, November 16th from 7-8 EST. This is a hybrid event which will be hosted in Pleasants Family Assembly Room at Wilson Special Collections Library here on UNC’s campus.
This in-person event is free and open to the public, no RSVP required; if you would like to join us virtually, register at go.unc.edu/gaddy.
The SFC is also proud to hold the Guy and Candie Carawan Collection (#20008). In 1959, Guy Carawan succeeded Zilphia Horton as director of the music program at Highlander Folk School after Horton’s death in 1956, and both Guy and Candie were heavily involved in the School and Center. Here are a couple of posts about their collection.
We look forward to seeing you on the 18th for this presentation and discussion on this pivotal figure in the Civil Rights movement, and learning more about her organizing and educating at the Highlander Folk School. go.unc.edu/Ruehl
The Southern Folklife Collection and UNC University Libraries are thrilled to bring you this Author Talk featuring Deke Dickerson, this coming Wednesday, February 15, from 12-1 PM EST. This virtual presentation and discussion is free to attend, and you can register in advance at go.unc.edu/Dickerson. Dickerson will be presenting on his book Sixteen Tons: The Merle Travis Story.
Kahn himself shows up around Travis in the Archie Green Collection (#20002), mentioned in this interview transcript. There is a trove of Merle Travis related items in Green’s papers for the research of his book Only A Miner.
There are also some holdings in Green’s archive around the release of Travis’ Folk Songs album, the first record released on the new Capitol Americana label.
Green had many pieces on Travis’ signature song, and the source for the title of Dickerson’s book, “Sixteen Tons.”
Here is a piece Travis wrote for the United Mine Workers Journal about his composing of the song, reprinted in the Sing Out! journal.
The cover of the issue of United Mine Workers Journal where the article first appeared:
We look forward to having you join us Wednesday the 15th for this event with Deke Dickerson to learn more about the Merle Travis’ life and career, and hope you are inspired to explore our collections for even more Travis treasures. Registration at go.unc.edu/Dickerson.
Join us on Wednesday, October 19th at 7PM Eastern for this evening of conversation and music, featuring Valerie Turner of the Piedmont Blūz Acoustic Duo. This event will be virtual and is free of charge.
The SFC is the home of a number of collections that contain a wealth of resources about the Piedmont Blues, a genre which is distinguished by its guitar picking style that uses the thumb to lay down the bass line (or the melody if you are doing it reverse left-handed like Elizabeth Cotten) with the player’s forefinger syncopating a melody above.
You can see and hear an example here from the Piedmont Blūz site of “Spanish Flang Dang,” from an arrangement by Cotten:
Early in November, the Southern Folklife Collection wrapped up its two-part Folk Legacy Series celebrating great legacies in American vernacular music. The series was sponsored through generous support from the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation.
In “Boom Boom! The Music of John Lee Hooker,” Alvin Youngblood Hart and Bobby Rush both gave foot stomping performances to boogie along to, and then, in a lively discussion with Wayne Goins, reflected on the career and influence of Hooker.
Our first event of the fall — “Won’t You Come and Sing For Me? The Music of Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard” — featured a set from Tatiana Hargreaves and Alison DeGroot, followed by Dudley Connell and Sally Love Connell. The evening finished with a roundtable discussion led by Laurie Lewis, and involving Gerrard, Peter Siegel – producer of the first Hazel & Alice record — Hargreaves, DeGroot, and Connell.
The Southern Folklife Collection is proud to hold a number of collections that document the life and work of John Lee Hooker, including audio and video recordings, interviews, and photographs.
The Rosebud Agency Collection , founded by Mike Kappus in 1976, represented Hooker for the latter part of his career, and includes a range of items from correspondence, publicity and promotional materials, as well as audio and video recordings.
This event is the second in the Southern Folklife Collection’s two-part Folk Legacy Series celebrating great legacies in American vernacular music. The series is sponsored through generous support from the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation. The first event, Won’t You Come and Sing for Me? The Music of Hazel and Alice, was October 14, 2021, which you can rewatch here: Won’t You Come and Sing for Me? The Music of Hazel and Alice
We don’t know the photographer, but the picture was taken at the folk music club Ash Grove in Los Angeles in what was called “the classroom” — used for classes of the Ash Grove School of Traditional Folk Music during the day, and an extra hang out space for performers at night. From left are Joe Chambers (of the Chambers Brothers) with a harmonica, Dane’s long time musical collaborator Kenny Whitson on cornet, and Lightnin’ Hopkins on guitar.
The picture had been hanging on the wall of Aldin’s office at Ash Grove when the club burned down for the first time in 1969. With owner Ed Pearl’s permission, Aldin salvaged the picture from rubble and kept a framed version of it with Chambers cropped out. It wasn’t until the scan request that Aldin recalled the presence of Chambers in the foreground. Ed Pearl passed away in February of this year, and you can read more about his life and Ash Grove in his obituary in the Los Angeles Times: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2021-02-09/ed-pearl-dead-ash-grove
Barbara Dane first encountered the Chambers Brothers performing as a gospel group at Ash Grove on the same bill as her and Hopkins, and took them on the road, recording an album with them (Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers, released by Folkways) and performing at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Dane also recorded a session with Hopkins in 1964 for Arhoolie Records that was released in 1996 as Sometimes I Believe She Loves Me.
I was reflecting on this crazy year recently, and feeling grateful for our Elizabeth Cotten event earlier in November, a heartwarming hour amid all the noise of the previous few months that was fun to share and experience with all who tuned in.
In case you missed it, the full event is available to stream below from the UNC Libraries YouTube channel.
Cotten’s great-grandson John Evans, Jr. and his family, along with Yasmin Williams, bookended the event with performances that recalled the origins of Cotten’s music, along with how it continues to inspire contemporary musicians.
There was also a glimpse and mention of Dick Waterman in Gerrard’s slideshow, and the SFC holds the Dick Waterman Photography Collection (https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/20533/), a rich resource of photographs documenting the blues, country, and rock music scenes from the 1960s to the early 2000s.
The Elizabeth Cotten appearance on Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest TV show that opened the event can be found here a little more smoothly than the video capture over Zoom. The SFC has the original 2″ quad video of that show in the Pete Kuykendall Collection (https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/20546/).
This hour-long virtual program will feature guitarist Yasmin Williams, musician and scholar Alice Gerrard, and Cotten’s great-grandson John W. Evans Jr., who is pictured above as a young boy listening to Cotten.
Many live concert recordings are held in the McCabe’s Guitar Shop Collection (https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/20511/), which also includes a video interview, from around 1984, of Cotten and some of her family. The Grammy-award winning Elizabeth Cotten, Live! recording (pictured above), a sampler of live performances from Cotten in her 80s, includes selections from sets recorded at McCabe’s and preserved in the collection.
The Stefan Grossman Collection (https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/20578/), picked up in December 2019, also offers some classic Cotten material through his Vestapol label, a deep source of a variety of video recordings of jazz, blues, country, and folk artists.
Perhaps the richest source of Cotten material is held in the Mike Seeger Collection (https://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/20009/). It was while in employment as a housekeeper for the Seeger family that Cotten picked up a guitar again after a period of musical inactivity, and Mike Seeger’s reel-to-reel recordings of her playing propelled her to becoming a popular figure on the folk circuit, and a touring and performing career that lasted into her 90s.
And if you ever find yourself down our way in Elizabeth Cotten’s hometown, check out this recently installed mural by North Carolina artist Scott Nurkin, near the Chapel Hill/Carrboro border, as part of the Musician Murals Project.