An 80th Birthday Salute to John Fahey

Cover for the 1967 rerecording of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey, subtitled volume oneYesterday marked what would have been the 80th birthday of musician, folklorist and proponent of American Primitive Guitar, John Fahey. In honor of this occasion, we pulled a few Fahey-related highlights from our collection.

The 1967 rerecording of his debut set Blind Joe Death provides an excellent primer on the breadth and depth of his idiosyncratic playing style, nicknamed “American Primitive Guitar,” juxtaposing traditional country blues fingerpicking guitar techniques against melodies drawn from traditions ranging from gospel hymns and 20th century classical music to Indian ragas.

Record sleeve for The Yellow Princess by John Fahey

By the late 60s, Fahey had expanded the sonic palette of his recordings significantly: incorporating found sound and tape collage techniques and occasionally bringing in additional musicians to flesh out his solo guitar performances. The Yellow Princess exemplifies this experimentation by featuring contributions by Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes from the psychedelic band Spirit and ex-Byrds drummer Kevin Kelley alongside musique concrete pieces and Fahey’s own consistently excellent solo guitar.

Record sleeve for the Leo Koettke/Peter Lang/John Fahey split album

Box containing safety masters for side one of John Fahey's Old Fashioned LoveFahey was also known for founding the influential folk label Takoma Records, which was responsible for several high-profile releases by like-minded musicians such as Leo Koettke, Robbie Basho, Peter Lang and Joseph Byrd among others. The 1974 split LP Leo Koettke/Peter Lang/John Fahey shows all three guitarists in fine form, each performing a set that exemplifies the American Primitive Guitar style.Box containing a tape with rough and alternate mixes for John Fahey's Old Fashioned Love albumOur archival holdings also include a number of fascinating Fahey-related items. Of particular note in the Greenhill Family/FLi Artists/Folklore Productions Collection (20542) are tapes containing safety masters and rough mixes from Fahey’s 1975 LP Old Fashioned Love as well as promotional artwork meant to accompany the Shanachie records re-release of Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes.

Illustration excerpts from Admiral Kelvinator's Clockwork Factory by John Fahey

Handwritten orchestration charts for the song Old Fashioned Love by John FaheyIn addition, this collection holds a number of unique Fahey manuscript items: including a typescript copy of Fahey’s unpublished book Admiral Kelvinator’s Clockwork Factory. Especially exciting are handwritten lead sheets and orchestration charts for a number of his pieces, prepared as part of the copyright registration process for these compositions.

John Fahey passed away in 2001, leaving behind a vibrant and restlessly imaginative body of work that continues to inspire musicians to this day.

Hand written lead sheets for Funeral Song by John Fahey

 

Transcription Disc of the Week – US Air Force’s “Country Music Time”

The Eugene Earle Collection consists of commercial and non-commercial transcription discs documenting a wide array of radio programs and individual performers from 1939 through the early 1980s. A significant portion of the collection consists of Army V-Discs and Navy V-Discs from World War II. Other transcriptions include the Ralph Emery Show; the Lawrence Welk Show; and various government-sponsored radio shows, such as Country Roads, Navy Hoedown, Sounds of Solid Country, Here’s to Veterans, Country Music Time, Country Cookin’, and Country Express.

Here’s a cut from Program no. 311 of the US Air Force’s Country Music Time, featuring prodigious thumb-pickers Jackie Phelps and Odell Martin playing the Merle Travis standard “Cannonball Rag”

Cannonball Rag

Out of the stacks: a sampling from the SFC reference shelf

 

ML420W38_The_Golden_Years007_Southern_Folklife_Collection

Fun research in the Southern Folklife Collection today. Always great to have an opportunity to dig through the SFC reference books. If you’d like to join us for some research, please visit Wilson Library and jump right in with one of these texts, like The golden years : Kitty Wells (pictured above).

ML3481D53_A_Study_of_the_Ballads_of_a_Mexican_American_Hero005The Kennedy corridos : a study of the ballads of a Mexican American hero

ML3550_M43_Medicine_Fiddle009

Medicine fiddle : a humanities discussion guide, a film by Michael Loukinen

ML3524G53_Giant_Photos_Country_Music_Program_Book006

Giant photos Country Music program book

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Country Music Spectacular Souvenir Album

 

 

 

Out of the stacks: digging in the SFC reference books

Pop_Scrapbook_004_ ML400 .P67 1966_Southern_Folklife_CollectionFun research in the Southern Folklife Collection today. Always great to have an opportunity to dig through the SFC reference books. If you’d like to join us for some research, please visit Wilson Library and jump right in with one of these texts, like The “Pop” scrapbook : photos and stories of the top recording artists.

Country_Music_News_	ML3524 .C665 1969_Southern_Folklife_CollectionCountry music news, 1948-1969 ; Top records, 1944-1969

Moods_of_Elvis_003_ML420.P96 F27 2009_Southern_Folklife_CollectionMoods of Elvis / David Fair, Chad Fair, James Brohawn. Memphis_Blues_001_	ML3521 .B43 2006_Southern_Folklife_CollectionMemphis blues : birthplace of a music tradition William Bearden ; foreword by Knox Phillips

Heroes_of_Blues_Jazz_And_Country_002_ML394 .C35 2006 _Southern_Folklife_CollectionR. Crumb’s heroes of blues, jazz, & country