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.
We love all of our sound recordings at the Southern Folklife Collection, and of course we especially love our 12″ LPs. Library staff are always working to make more of our records discoverable in the UNC Libraries online catalog, but first we need to sort through new accessions and do some inspection and quality control to get them ready for our Wilson Special Collections Library Technical Services team.
Through this process, we began to notice several “first records.” These albums, the first full-length releases by independent record labels, were fascinating and downright good listens in their own right. Collectively, however, they offer a valuable point of entry into the overwhelming catalogs of the many labels in the archive. The SFC holds a growing collection of tens of thousands LPs, spread across far too many labels to list here. Some of these labels are familiar, from early giants like Columbia and Victor, to folk music mainstays like Folkways. Still others are virtually unknown, like the often short-lived local, one-artist, or one-album ventures that appeared from time to time. For the most part, the labels presented here exist in a middle ground between these two extremes, releasing what could be broadly defined as vernacular music from a variety of traditions (folk music, blues, cajun music, zydeco, bluegrass, country, conjunto, etc.).
From off-shoots of non-profits to international operations, these labels and their founders were united by a common goal: to share the music they felt passionately about with as many people as possible. In some cases, recording the specific musicians on these first albums was the primary motivation for a label’s founding. Many of these labels are still releasing music, while others folded after only a few releases. Still others formed sub-labels, or were bought by or merged with like-minded collaborators, forming a sort of tangled family tree. The aim of this series is to provide a starting point for research, adding context to these recordings, the artists, the music, and the labels that formed with their release. Most of all, we hope you enjoy the music.
The first installment of “First Impressions”: Arhoolie publishes tomorrow, Thursday, November 15. We’ll put up a new post in the series every couple of weeks. Follow along here.
If y’all might find yourself in Cambridge in a week, please come to Club Passim on Tuesday, February 13 and join the Southern Folklife Collection and YepRoc Records to celebrate the release of Doc Watson, Live at Club 47 on the 55th Anniversary of the recording. Featuring IBMA Guitarist of the Year MOLLY TUTTLE in concert, this is going to be a truly special evening of music.
A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. She began performing on stage when she was 11, and recorded her first album, The Old Apple Tree, at age 13. Since then, she’s appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest, and, this fall, received a Momentum Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in the instrumentalist category. Her lovely voice, impeccable guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make her a star on the rise. She has already received more than two million YouTube views and is currently gearing up to release her first solo EP. Yep Roc Records and the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries are excited to continue our collaboration to release music from the Archives. Doc Watson,Live at Club 47 is set for a February 9 release on CD and digital, nearly 55 years to the date of the original recording. The LP release will follow April 27. The album is now available for pre-order.
Recorded live February 10, 1963 at Club 47 in Cambridge, MA, today known as Club Passim, this never-before-heard album features four previously unreleased songs from Doc’s early repertoire, in addition to performances of Doc’s favorite songs of the Carter Family, Frank Hutchison, Charlie Poole, and Merle Travis. Doc is accompanied by John Herald and Ralph Rinzler of The Greenbrier Boys on five of the album’s tracks.
We are very excited for next week’s Czech Bluegrass Residency – Banjo Romantika at UNC and Chapel Hill, February 8-10, 2018. See the complete schedule of events, including performances, film screening, and banjo workshop below.
Czech bluegrass might seem like a contradiction, but work by musician and ethnomusicologist Dr. Lee Bidgood and banjo virtuoso Richard Ciferský shows how this music that emerged from post-WWII America has come to flourish in the heart of Europe. Bidgood and Ciferský are bringing their research and music to UNC Chapel Hill for a special three-day residency.
The residency will feature a screening of Banjo Romantika, a feature length documentary film that Bidgood co-produced with filmmaker Shara Lange,at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC’s campus. Dr. Bidgood (East Tennessee State University) will discuss the film briefly at the screening.
Based on Bidgood’s fieldwork in the Czech Republic, the documentary explores the Czech musicians’ lives, connections to bluegrass, and understanding of their culture as they blend and reimagine a style imported from beyond the Iron Curtain in the 1950s and cultivate it as their own. Music in the film includes live concert and festival recordings, field recordings of jams and interviews, studio recordings. The film incorporates additional footage with Slovak banjo standout Richard Ciferský and faculty from the East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program including Dan Boner, Ed Snodderly, and contemporary mandolin master Adam Steffey.
A Chapel Hill native, Bidgood graduated from Chapel Hill High School then received a degree in viola performance at UNC Chapel Hill. While a student, he played mandolin with Steep Canyon Rangers during their early years. Bidgood traveled to the Czech Republic on a student Fulbright grant, and completed a PhD from the University of Virginia with a dissertation based on his fieldwork in the Czech Republic. Bidgood’s book, Czech Bluegrass: Notes from the Heart of Europe, was published in 2017 by University of Illinois Press. He also reaches audiences through his radio show on global country music, “Over the Waves,” that is broadcast on Bristol, VA station WBCM.
Richard Ciferský, born in Pezinok, Slovakia, brings a lifetime of musical experience that seems far greater than his age. He first encountered bluegrass through a scout troop. His first instrument was a guitar, but he soon switched to banjo and started playing in bands. Richard co-founded the Slovak Bluegrass Association (SkBMA) in 1999 and served as its president from 2000 to 2005. He has toured in Europe and the US and recorded with artists including The Chapmans, Dale Ann Bradley, and Becky Buller. Fluent in both traditional and progressive styles, his technique is dazzling, and his soulful expression runs deep.
In addition to events on campus, Bidgood and Ciferský will visit the Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina on Saturday morning to meet with adults and children who are renewing their language skills, or are working to make new connections through this language and its related cultures.
The Czech Bluegrass Residency with Dr. Bidgood and Mr. Ciferský is organized as part of UNC’s Bluegrass Initiative to integrate the study and performance of this music into the curriculum and artistic life of UNC. This residency will be a terrific opportunity to hear about their work and their music, and experience their playing live. Bidgood recognizes that a global awareness was one of the things he drew from his own undergraduate education at UNC, and he is eager to provide a new sense of the global dimensions of bluegrass to current students: “Gaining a global perspective is an important part of the college education experience, and considering Czech Bluegrass provides us with new insights on the processes, the problems and promise, of globalization.” It is also a chance to experience some fascinating music!
UNC Events – Banjo Romantika Residency
Thursday, February 8, 2018
12:30 p.m. Masterclass and Lecture with MUSC 144 Students, hosted by Dr. Jocelyn Neal, UNC Chapel Hill Hanes Auditorium
Friday, February 9, 2018
7:00 p.m. Banjo Romantika Band with Richard Cifersky perform at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, 431 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill Free and open to the public.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
10:00 a.m. Visit to the Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina (contact: Marta McCabe: email@example.com)
2:00 p.m. Banjo Workshop with Richard Ciferský, UNC Chapel Hill, Person Recital Hall. Free and open to all banjo or bluegrass players.
4:00 p.m. Banjo Romantika, a film screening and Q&A with Dr. Bidgood, UNC Chapel Hill, Nelson Mandela Auditorium. Free and open to the public.
Sponsors: UNC Bluegrass Initiative Southern Folklife Collection Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina
Yep Roc Records and UNC Libraries’ Southern Folklife Collection Release Never-Before-Heard Live Album Recorded At Club 47 (Club Passim) February 10, 1963 Pre-order Doc Watson, Live At Club 47HERE! Yep Roc Records and the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries announce the release of Doc Watson,Live at Club 47, set for a February 9 release on CD and digital, nearly 55 years to the date of the original recording. The LP release will follow April 27. The album is now available for pre-order.
Recorded live February 10, 1963 at Club 47 in Cambridge, MA, today known as Club Passim, this never-before-heard album features four previously unreleased songs from Doc’s early repertoire, in addition to performances of Doc’s favorite songs of the Carter Family, Frank Hutchison, Charlie Poole, and Merle Travis. Doc is accompanied by John Herald and Ralph Rinzler of The Greenbrier Boys on five of the album’s tracks. Here is the schedule from Club 47 as printed in The Broadside of Boston, volume 1, no. 24, Feb. 8, 1963 from the Southern Folklife Collection Serials (30017)
In celebration of the release, Club Passim, the UNC Libraries’ Southern Folklife Collection and Yep Roc Records present an evening with songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and IBMA guitarist of the year Molly Tuttle February 13. Tickets are on sale and available here.
“This recording documents a pivotal moment in virtuoso Doc Watson’s early solo career,” notes Steven Weiss, director of the Southern Folklife Collection. “This is Doc, paying his dues and playing his heart out, performing two sets of classic, old-time country songs he learned as a child from his family and from old 78 RPM records.”
Following the success of the Club 47 show, Doc was booked at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and released his debut solo album on Vanguard Records in 1964. He went on to become America’s premier folk guitarist earning seven Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and in 1997 was presented with the National Medal of Arts at the White House by then-President Bill Clinton, who introduced him saying, “There may not be a serious, committed baby boomer alive who didn’t spend at least some of his or her youth trying to learn to pick guitar like Doc Watson.” Doc Watson, Live at Club 47 Track listing:
Wabash Cannonball – A.P. Carter
The House Carpenter — Traditional
I Wish I Was Single Again** – Traditional
Little Darling Pal of Mine – A.P. Carter
Train That Carried My Girl from Town – Doc Watson
The Worried Blues –Traditional
Old Dan Tucker** – Traditional
Sweet Heaven When I Die – Claude Grant
The Talking Blues – Chris Bouchillon
Little Margaret** — Traditional
Sitting on Top of the World – Lonnie Carter and Walter Jacobs
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down – Doc Watson
Blue Smoke – Merle Travis
Deep River Blues – Doc Watson
Way Down Town (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
Somebody Touched Me (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
Billy in the Low Ground (w/ John Herald) – Traditional
Boil Them Cabbage Down – Traditional
Everyday Dirt – David McCarn
I Am a Pilgrim – Merle Travis
No Telephone in Heaven – A.P. Carter
Hop High Ladies the Cake’s All Dough** –Traditional
Little Sadie – Doc Watson
Black Mountain Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
Blackberry Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
Days of My Childhood Plays – Alfred G. Karnes
John Herald (guitar and harmony vocals). Tracks 15, 16 (second guitar) 17, 24, 25.
Ralph Rinzler (mandolin and harmony vocals). Tracks 15, 16.
**previously unreleased tracks.
Pre-order Doc Watson, Live At Club 47HERE!
Getting super excited for the Masters of Cajun Accordion event coming up this weekend at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Tickets are available now. Jo-El Sonnier and Steve Riley are two of the finest button box players around. Be sure to come early to hear Professor Barry Jean-Ancelet present You can also pickup the Southern Folklife Collection’s newest release, a remastered reissue of Goldband records classic Swampland Jewels. More information below. Follow the SFC on Facebook and Instagram to get ready for the show and hear some deep cuts from Jo-El’s discography over the next couple days. We’ll see you on Sunday!
Concert is ticketed: $17.50 Public, $26.50 CD Bundle, $30.50 LP Bundle.
(CD/LP bundles include a copy of the record Swampland Jewels.) Tickets available at artscenterlive.org or (919) 929-2787
Reception and lecture are free and open to the public.
5:30 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Lecture: Professor Barry Jean Ancelet, University of Louisiana, Lafayette
7:30 p.m. Concert: Jo-El Sonnier with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys