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Author Topic: Clarence Edwards  (Read 2512 times)

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Offline jpeters609

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Clarence Edwards
« on: September 18, 2008, 11:42:04 AM »
Down in Zachary, Louisiana, in 1959 and 1960, Harry Oster recorded 22 songs with Clarence Edwards on vocal and guitar, accompanied by his brother Cornelius on second guitar and Butch Cage on fiddle. (This was around the same time Harry Oster recorded Smoky Babe, Willie B. Thomas & Butch Cage, Robert Pete Williams, etc.)

Of these 22 (or so) Clarence Edwards tunes, a few were released on Arhoolie's "Country Negro Jam Session" (and were the highlights of that fine set, in my opinion), and another handful appeared on Storyville and Flyright albums. More than half, however, were never issued in any form, as far as I can tell. This seems like a lost treasure trove, based on the exemplary Delta-sounding numbers you can hear Edwards performing on the "Jam Session" collection.

Does anyone know the whereabouts of the Clarence Edwards tunes recorded by Harry Oster? (My first thought was Arhoolie Records, based on their numerous Oster-related releases, such as Robert Pete Williams, Willie B. Thomas, Butch Cage, etc. But when I asked them via email if they knew anything about the Clarence Edwards recordings, I was told that they did not ? and that in fact they have no connection with the Harry Oster back catalog. Frankly, this surprised me.)

Admittedly, my interest in these Clarence Edwards recordings may be rather esoteric. But the few songs that ARE available are very fine, and it seems a shame that the rest are sequestered away somewhere. I'm sure they must exist. Does anyone have any knowledge of the whereabouts or status of the Harry Oster recorded archives?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2008, 11:46:59 AM by jpeters609 »
Jeff

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2008, 12:05:40 PM »
FWIW Edwards emerged back on the recording scene in 1972 and about two decades later recorded a CD entitled "Swamp's The Word" which received good press, got him touring and recording a further half dozen CDs. The final one was in 1993 on The Last Call label, and sadly it was, he died that year.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2008, 04:10:17 AM »
Does anyone have any knowledge of the whereabouts or status of the Harry Oster recorded archives?
Chris Strachwitz in 1970 wrote a lengthy feature in his Arhoolie Occasional how he had acquired from Oster all his recordings and the first release would be a reissue of Angola Prisoners Blues and other out-of-print albums as well as many new to record. This weekend I'll see if I can find the issue. Meantime have a look at the Oster links at the end of the page on following site:

http://www.wirz.de/music/osterfrm.htm
« Last Edit: September 19, 2008, 05:38:10 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2008, 09:36:50 AM »
Couldn't find what I was looking for but here's the Arhoolie press notice for anybody interested in such arcane matter. I had to type rather than scan, it's not only very yellowed but crumbling with age too.

PRESS RELEASE

Arhoolie buys Folklyric label

On May 1, 1970 Arhoolie Records purchased the entire Folklyric catalog from Dr. Harry Oster, who started the label in the late 1950s. Many of the recordings were made at Angola State Penitentiary and include superb performances by Robert Pete Williams (Arhoolie 2011 & 9015). The catalog also includes a historic collection of Cajun music (Arhoolie 5009), Snooks Eaglin (Arhoolie 9014), Billie & De De Pierce, Jesse Fullerv Butch Cage, Willie Thomas, Rev. Pearly Brown, Peggy Seeger, Snuffy Jenkins, the Louisiana Honeydrippers, Ewan Maccoll, A.L. Lloyd, John Burgess, and other scholarly collections of authentic folk music. Arhoolie plans to re-release most of the catalog over the next several years and the first releases are already listed in our current catalog.

(The release also depicts a very poor reproduction of a photo taken by Wilfrid d'Aquin of Robert Pete Williams with Oster, the caption of which says "Singer Williams & Folklorist Oster recording musical patois". I'm sure I've seen the photo reproduced elsewhere in much better quality.)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2008, 09:55:14 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2008, 02:24:38 PM »
Thanks, Bunker Hill, for sharing that information (no matter how arcane!). Arhoolie's long-ago acquisition of the Folklyric label was a lucky thing for us listeners, as many of those recordings made by Harry Oster for his Folklyric imprint have now been made available to us by Arhoolie.

But it still begs the question: what has become of the other Clarence Edwards recordings made by Oster? When asked by me, Arhoolie said they did not have them. Perhaps Oster did not include all of his recordings in the Folklyric catalog purchased by Arhoolie (as many of the songs he recorded by the same artists at the same sessions were released by Storyville in the 60's and Flyright in the 70's, but never by his Folklyric label. Likewise, none of these Oster recordings released by Storyville or Flyright have been reissued by Arhoolie. Originally, I thought Arhoolie must have possession of the other Clarence Edwards tunes, etc., as they have, in the past couple years, issued a large number of previously unreleased Butch Cage/Willie Thomas recordings made at the same time. If they had those songs, I figured, they must also have Edwards'. Apparently not.)

This is indeed an esoteric line of inquiry with, perhaps, very limited interest. But it's intriguing that even well-documented postwar recordings made in 1960 can be as elusive as some of the prewar items we covet.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2008, 02:26:46 PM by jpeters609 »
Jeff

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2008, 08:52:44 PM »
This is indeed an esoteric line of inquiry with, perhaps, very limited interest.

Limited Interested R Us. The whole genre is esoteric nowadays...  :P Alas, I myself have no answer for you.


Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2008, 03:47:39 AM »
(My first thought was Arhoolie Records, based on their numerous Oster-related releases, such as Robert Pete Williams, Willie B. Thomas, Butch Cage, etc. But when I asked them via email if they knew anything about the Clarence Edwards recordings, I was told that they did not ? and that in fact they have no connection with the Harry Oster back catalog. Frankly, this surprised me.)
Surprises me too, because on the Negro Country Jam (CD 372), referred to elsewhere, Edward's "Thousand Miles From Nowhere" had never been issued prior to that, so where did they get it?[/quote]

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2008, 08:28:39 PM »
Is Dr.Oster still among the living? How about his heirs?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2008, 08:54:29 AM »
Is Dr.Oster still among the living? How about his heirs?
I thought I'd shut up for a while and leave this for someone else to answer. As there seems to be no takers :)

Born April 17 1923, died January 19 2001 and survived by his wife and son, Aaron.

Lots of obituaries even one in a British daily newspaper written by Tony Russell.

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2008, 11:06:26 AM »
I recently emailed Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records regarding the existence of additional Clarence Edwards recordings made by Harry Oster. He very kindly responded, and I have pasted his message below. As surmised, more recordings do in fact exist, but it seems unlikely we will hear them. Here's what Chris says:

"I just looked into the book which contains all the details about the Harry Oster tapes which we have digitized and yes, there are a number of songs by Edwards ? but the comments on them are not encouraging: most say: 'ok ? but poor fiddle' ? some say: 'so-so and poor fiddle' ? apparently Butch was not in good form on these! So I don?t think any should be issued ? but they do exist ? best for now ? Chris Strachwitz."

-Jeff




Jeff

Offline daddystovepipe

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Re: Clarence Edwards
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2008, 11:28:17 AM »
Jeff,

Clarence Edwards made some great solo recordings on the following cd
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swamp-Blues-Various-Artists/dp/B00000870V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1227209363&sr=1-1

It's a reissue of a legendary double lp called 'Swamp Blues', half of it is electric, the other half acoustic.

Best,
Carl

 


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