Field recordings and Folklife

cover of Jayme Stone's Lomax Project CD. A banjo, open reel tapes, photographs, and a folder of notes are viewed from above.

Our friends at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro are hosting banjo musician Jayme Stone and his Folklife Project on Friday, April 27. Continuing the practice from 2014’s Lomax Project, CD-15287 in the Southern Folklife Collection, Stone and his collaborators continue to look to recordings made by folklorists and field recorders for songs to reimagine. While Alan Lomax made recordings across the globe, opening up the source material allows for Stone to explore the work of other folklorists and song collectors, presenting that work to new listeners.

cover of 2018 LP by Anna & Elizabeth, "The Invisible Comes to Us". Photo of the two artists leaning on each other with square designs superimposed.The Smithsonian Folkways recording artists Anna & Elizabeth have also looked to archival recordings for source material, and during a recent performance at Chapel Hill’s Nightlight, the duo performed along with a field recording of Margaret Shipman singing “Jeanno and Jeanette”  recorded by Helen Hartness Flanders, a folklorist from Vermont whose collection is at Middlebury College Davis Family Library. The Flanders collection is digitized and you can hear her recordings of Margaret Shipman streaming online via the Internet Archive

The Southern Folklife Collection is the repository for thousands of field recordings and many of these stream online thanks to the Audiovisual Preservation and Access Team and grant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I hope these recordings can inspire artists to create new and reassembled works as well. Remember that Wilson Library does offer fellowships!

There are well over 20,000 streaming audio recordings streaming online through the Southern Folklife Collection finding aids. Field recordings are made in the field, taking the listener to a specific time and place. With that in mind I selected a few recordings made in North Carolina. Be sure you click through to the streaming file to listen.

  • For some old time inspiration, the Paul Brown Collection (20382) includes many recordings made at the home of fiddler Benton Flippen. Audio cassette FS-6582 was recorded 22 October 1980 along with Paul Brown and Paul Sutphin.
  • For some blues, the Joan Fenton Collection (20382) includes open reel tape recordings she made of Howard Cotten, bluesman and storyteller from Goldston, NC. Audiotape FT-0891 was made 6 August 1976 and includes Mr. Cotten performing the Piedmont blues classic “Step it Up and Go” as well as sharing memories about Blind Boy Fuller.
  • Field recordings in the Artus Moser Papers (20005) were made on instantaneous discs. Listening through some of those recordings recently, I fixed on disc FD-0705. Songs on the recording, including a driving and lightly swinging version of “John Henry.” are performed by an unidentified female singer, recorded to instantaneous disc by Artus Moser in the 1930s.

If you are interested in other field recordings in the Southern Folklife Collection and Wilson Library, contact us anytime! And remember you can hear Jayme Stone’s Folklife interpret field recordings at The ArtsCenter this Friday.

NC Heritage Award Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Thursday April 12

flier for NC Heritage Award winners Wikipedia Editathon at Wilson Library, April 9, 2018, 5-9PM

Join us in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on April 12, 2018.  At this fun, collaborative event, we’ll create and improve Wikipedia articles about winners of the North Carolina Heritage Award. The edit-a-thon is offered in conjunction with this year’s awards ceremony, which will be presented in May by PineCone and the North Carolina Arts Council.
Many thanks to the North Carolina Collection, Southern Folklife Collection, PineCone, North Carolina Arts Council, and North Carolina Folklore Society for their contributions to this event!
Wikipedia banjo.jpgAll are invited, with no subject expertise or Wikipedia editing experience needed. A brief workshop on the basics of Wikipedia editing will be offered at the start of the edit-a-thon. We will have library resources and a list of suggested topics on hand.

WHEN: Thursday, April 12, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Come when you can, stay as long as you would like.

  • Please arrive at 5:00 pm if you’d like to attend the Wikipedia basics workshop.

WHERE: Wilson Library, Room 504, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

WHO: Anyone!

  • Experienced or new Wikipedians (We’ll provide assistance with Wikipedia formatting and syntax.).
  • Amateur historians or research pros (We’ll have library materials on hand to help with research).
  • UNC faculty, staff, and students.

WHAT TO BRING: A laptop. We’ll help you access the University’s wireless network.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ARRIVE:

  • Enter Wilson Library through the main entrance.
  • There are several parking options within a few blocks of Wilson Library, including the Rams Head Parking Deck (330 Ridge Road), Cobb Deck (on Paul Green Drive) and metered parking along South Road and Country Club Road. Please see the Department of Public Safety’s Map of Visitor and Metered Parking for a complete list of visitor parking on UNC’s campus.
  • For information about disability parking, see the Wilson Library website.

WILL THERE BE FOOD? Yes! We’ll have pizza, a few salad options, and soft drinks for participants.

WILL THERE BE FREE STUFF? Yes! We’ll have North Carolina-themed posters. We’ll also have a button-maker on hand for making your own buttons.

WILL THERE BE PRIZES? Yes again! During the event we’ll raffle off prizes related to our theme of traditional North Carolina artists.

 

 

Remembering Cecil Taylor

record sleeves for Looking Ahead, 1958, Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor EMBRACED, 1977, and For Olim, 1988. Cecil Taylor_SFC_call nos_FC20462_FC22772_FC23892_Pulled a few favorites by the great Cecil Taylor today in honor of the artist’s passing. Taylor was incredibly prolific, but for the briefest of surveys of his music the three albums pictured above might be a place to start.

The Cecil Taylor Quartet, looking ahead! (Contemporary Records, 1958), was recorded in the Nola Penthouse Studios in New York City, June 9, 1958 and features Earl Griffith on the vibra-harp, Buell Neidlinger on bass, and Dennis Charles on drums. Working as the leader of a quartet, Taylor stretches the tonal, melodic, and rhythmic structure of the pieces and his collaborators. The second album, Embraced (Pablo, 1977), recorded live in New York City is a collaboration between Taylor and one of his influences and another pioneer of the avant-garde, Mary Lou Williams. The two artists take the listener through the history of jazz, from spirituals and ragtime through boogie, bop, blues, and beyond into the future. Finally, For Olim (Soul Note, 1987), a solo album recorded April 9, 1986 at “Workshop Freie Music 1986” in Berlin, a collection of works that demonstrate the full range of Taylor’s compositional and performance skills, challenging and thrilling listening.

You can hear clips on our instagram, @sfolklife. You may also want to tune into the 24 hour memorial broadcast on WKCR that will extend through Sunday, April 8 at 8PM.

Cats of the SFC

One of my favorite parts about digitizing photographers’ collections or searching through stacks of photos to find something specific is finding the rare photo that seems out of context but says a lot about the person who captured it. Oftentimes I see photo after photo of performers and performances and famous artists, but sometimes a photo of a pet or a flower or a road sign finds its way into the mix. It’s a fun reminder that the photographers, while focusing on their work, still let a little bit of their personality shine through in ways other than their shooting style. In the Ronald D. Cohen Collection, I noticed a bunch of photos of cats sprinkled throughout images of the folk revival movement in and around New York City in the 60’s, and I thought it was only fair to give them a spotlight since the photographers clearly thought they were worth the film. The cat photos, of which the ones you see here are but a few, are mostly captured by Aaron Rennert, with some additional shots from Ray Sullivan. They were documenting the folk scene in Greenwich Village for Caravan magazine, and I think these cats exemplify the spirit they were trying to capture. Continue reading

Clifton Chenier, King of Zydeco

Here’s a photo I came across while musing through the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records Collection: Clifton Chenier with his accordion. Clifton was a prominent zydeco artist from Opelousas, Louisiana, known as the “King of Zydeco,” and sometimes billed as “King of the South.” He was born in 1925 and lived to be 62 years old. He began his recording career in 1954 when he signed with Elko Records, and went on to sign with Chess Records and Arhoolie, for which the above is a publicity photo. Clifton won a Grammy in 1983 for his album, I’m Here, and was the second Louisiana Creole to do so, following Queen Ida. He was well-known for his accordion playing and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame posthumously in 1989, and The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2011. Check out some video of him performing!

Barbara & The Believers – What Can Happen to Me Now

Here’s a rarity from the SFC stacks- the only commercial recording from the family band Barbara & the Believers, featuring siblings Barbara, Tommy, and notably Joe South, who would win a song of the year Grammy only a few years later for the 1970 hit “Games People Play”. Barbara South’s solo career would never take off, but she would continue to provide background vocals for artists from country great Roy Orbison to the niche R&B/gospel singer Lorraine Johnson. “What Can Happen to Me Now” is a catchy soul/pop tune with an upbeat rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” on the flipside, listen to it below.

45_1045_B_what_can_happen CLIP

Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 Out February 9, 2018

Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 (YepRoc, Southern Folklife Collection, 2018)Doc Watson, Live At Club 47 Out February 9, 2018

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 47 HERE!

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)Schedule for Club 47, Boston, from p.6, The Broadside, vol. 1, no. 24, February 8, 1963

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.”

Friends of Old Time Music flier, Doc Watson, 20001_pf1912_01_0001_Mike Seeger Collection (20009) Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Friends of Old Time Music flier, 20001_pf1912_01_0001 in the Mike Seeger Collection (20009) Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

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:

  1. Wabash Cannonball – A.P. Carter
  2. The House Carpenter — Traditional
  3.  I Wish I Was Single Again** – Traditional
  4. Little Darling Pal of Mine – A.P. Carter
  5. Train That Carried My Girl from Town – Doc Watson
  6. The Worried Blues –Traditional
  7. Old Dan Tucker** – Traditional
  8. Sweet Heaven When I Die – Claude Grant
  9. The Talking Blues – Chris Bouchillon
  10. Little Margaret**  — Traditional
  11. Sitting on Top of the World – Lonnie Carter and Walter Jacobs
  12. Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down – Doc Watson
  13. Blue Smoke – Merle Travis
  14. Deep River Blues – Doc Watson
  15. Way Down Town (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
  16. Somebody Touched Me (w/ Ralph Rinzler and John Herald) – Doc Watson
  17. Billy in the Low Ground (w/ John Herald) – Traditional
  18. Boil Them Cabbage Down – Traditional
  19. Everyday Dirt – David McCarn
  20. I Am a Pilgrim – Merle Travis
  21. No Telephone in Heaven – A.P. Carter
  22. Hop High Ladies the Cake’s All Dough** –Traditional
  23. Little Sadie – Doc Watson
  24. Black Mountain Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
  25. Blackberry Rag (w/ John Herald) – Doc Watson
  26. 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 47 HERE!

Roots of Fiddle Symposium

Red Clay Ramblers (Chapel Hill Stars Calendar)

Red Clay Ramblers from the Chapel Hill Stars Calendar (Dave Robert Papers, 20504)

A Roots of Fiddle Symposium starts tonight at Nightlight featuring a number of friends of the Southern Folklife Collection. The symposium features three nights (over 4 days) of old time fiddle music at the Nightlight organized by folklorist Cece Conway. We’re excited to be able to enjoy and learn from so many excellent musicians in 3 stacked shows. The final night features CRAVER HICKS WATSON & NEWBERRY who are 3 former RED CLAY RAMBLERS (piano player Mike Craver, fiddler Bill Hicks, Jim Watson on mandolin) and award winning songwriter Joe Newberry on banjo. We pulled some items from the Dave Robert Papers (20504) in honor of this rare event. Dave Robert was the owner of the Cats Cradle when it existed at 405 1/2 West Rosemary, the current location of Nightlight. As the Ramblers were something of a house band at that venue, the symposium is an opportunity for a welcome homecoming celebration.

Above is the Red Clay Ramblers page from a unique calendar of “Chapel Hill Stars” (Red Clay Ramblers were February, in case you are curious).  We also found this monthly calendar from the Cradle, which shows the Ramblers playing at the venue virtually the same days almost 40 years ago. (Also check out that four night run of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee! WOW!).  Details on the Roots of Fiddle Symposium are below.

September Cat's Cradle PosterThursday, September 21
7:30-8:45 round robin featuring: JON NEWLIN, PETER WHITE, JOSEPH DECOSIMO, BOB HERRING, CARY MOSKOVITZ, ANDREW SMALL, and ASHLEE WATKINS

8:45-10:30 ANDREW SMALL and ASHLEE WATKINS with BOB HERRING – Presenting a range of traditional dance music from North Carolina and Virginia, mountain ballads, and early country songs, the New Macedon Rangers offer a fresh and compelling take on classic repertoire. The duo, comprised of Ashlee Watkins and Andrew Small, taps into the essence of traditional mountain music while also moving the tradition forward with original songs and instrumentals. Performances feature stirring vocal harmonies accompanied by driving fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitars.

Friday, September 22
7:30-9:30 – round robin featuring JOSEPH DECOSIMO, PETER WHITE, BOB HERRING, CARY MOSKOVITZ, JAKE BLOUNT, and TATIANA HARGREAVES.

9:30-10:30 fiddle and banjo duo TATIANA HARGREAVES & JAKE BLOUNT. Their “Reparations” CD presents tunes from Black and Native American communities as stripped-down duets for banjo, fiddle, and voice. In 2016, Jake became the first African American to win in the traditional band category at Clifftop, WV and in 2009, Tatiana was the second woman to win the Clifftop Fiddle contest.

Sunday, September 24
We’ll start with a round robin of fiddlers:
7:00-7:20 – PETER WHITE – “Native American Roots & Spanish Influences on Fiddle.” Peter teaches fiddle making at the University of New Mexico. In 1989 in Albuquerque, Peter’s fiddle shop had a shrine to NEA Heritage Fiddler Tommy Jarrell. He has a fascinating theory that New Mexico Native Americans, taught by Jesuits, may have been the first makers and players of the fiddle in this country.

7:20-7:30 – JON NEWLIN

7:30-8:10 – fiddle and banjo duo TATIANA HARGREAVES & JAKE BLOUNT. Their “Reparations” CD presents tunes from Black and Native American communities as stripped-down duets for banjo, fiddle, and voice. In 2016, Jake became the first African American to win in the traditional band category at Clifftop, WV and in 2009, Tatiana was the second woman to win the Clifftop Fiddle contest.
plus: CARY MOSKOVITZ and FIDDLIN’ AL McCANLESS !!!

8:30-10:00 – CRAVER HICKS WATSON & NEWBERRY featuring 3 original members of the RED CLAY RAMBLERS (piano player Mike Craver, fiddler Bill Hicks, Jim Watson on mandolin) and award winning songwriter Joe Newberry on banjo!!! Do not miss!!!

Record of the Week – Hopscotch Edition: Charles Rouse’s “Two is One”

Before I head off to see Run the Jewels and Kaytranada this evening at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival, we at the SFC thought we’d mark the occasion by sharing an aptly-titled tune from another funk disciple – Charles Rouse’s “Hopscotch” from his 1974 album Two is One (FC-24141). “Hopscotch” has its own link to hip-hop history in its brief appearance in the Beastie Boys’ “B-Boys Makin With the Freak Freak” from their 1994 classic Ill Communication. 

Check it out here –

FC_24141_Southern Folklife Collection_Charles Rouse_Two is One_Hopscotch