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Preserving Country Blues through Education, Performance and Technology
October 04, 2012, 01:18:36 PM by Baron 1888 | Views: 14145 | Comments: 10

The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Yazoo Records To Release Follow Up To Critically-Acclaimed Collection Of Early Country And Blues Recordings.

Available October 16.

LISTEN to 8 tracks

46-Track Collection Culled From The 1920s Contains Rare Tracks From Charley Patton, Bukka White, Ishman Bracey, Dave Macon, Eck Robertson and Charlie Poole

54-Page Booklet Chronicles The History of Collecting Old 78 Records From The 1920s Through The 1960s

New York, NY: On October 16, 2012, Yazoo Records (a division of Shanachie Entertainment), will release the ultimate collection of early country and blues recordings, with the illustrious 2-CD set, The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.

This Dead Sea Scroll of record collecting will delight both the connoisseur and neophyte who are sure to relish this goldmine of rare and lost treasures presented in one remarkable undertaking. The highly anticipated, rare and impeccably packaged collection is a follow up to Yazoo's lauded 2006 recording, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, which was likened to the 'holy grail' for record collectors by everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR.

Set in a beautifully packaged oversized DVD digipack and adorned by a wildly eye-catching caricature cover (pictured below) by award-winning illustrator Drew Friedman, The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of highlights 46 tracks culled from the 1920s. The music captured in the set features astounding performances from iconic Delta bluesmen like Charley Patton, Bukka White and Ishman Bracey, cajun fiddler Dennis McGee, country fiddler Eck Robertson, 'The Dixie Dewdrop' banjo player Dave Macon, North Carolinian banjo legend Charlie Poole and numerous others. Audiophiles will take notice of the stellar sound quality presented in the tracks as many re-mastered selections have an incredibly modern sound to them.

The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of includes an extensive 54-page booklet with rare photographs and notes that chronicle the history of collecting old 78 records from beginning in the 1920s through the 1960s. The Dead Sea Scrolls of record collecting detailed in these pages mark the first time that this early history has been annotated so thoroughly with first time revelations from pioneer collectors themselves.

The release of The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of is a major event for record collectors, enthusiasts and fans interested in the roots of blues and country music.

The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Various Artists

1. Alex Hood & His Railroad Boys - L And N Rag
2. Hambone Willie Newbern - Roll And Tumble Blues
3. Appalachia Vagabond (Hayes Shepherd) - Hard For To Love
4. Washington (Bukka) White - The Panama Limited
5. Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers - John Henry Blues
6. Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Words Blues
7. Carter Brothers & Son - Old Jaw Bone
8. B. F. Shelton - Oh Molly Dear
9. Charley Patton - High Water Everywhere Part 1
10. Ernest Stoneman & Kahle Brewer - Lonesome Road Blues
11. Ishman Bracey - Woman Woman Blues
12. Fiddlin Powers & Family - Old Molly Hair
13. Ashley's Melody Men - Bath House Blues
14. Dennis McGee & Sady Courville - Mon Chere Bebe Creole
15. Willie Walker - Dupree Blues
16. Packie Dolan & His Boys - Irish Girl / Blue Breeches
17. Cartwright Brothers - Texas Ranger
18. L.O. Birkhead & A. E. Ward - Robinson County
19. Robert Wilkins - That's No Way To Get Along
20. Lewis Brothers - Bull At The Wagon
21. Karola Stocha & S. Bachleda - Koscieliska
22. Fruit Jar Guzzlers - Stack-O-Lee
23. Uncle Dave Macon & His Fruit Jar Drinkers - Sail Away Ladies

1. Mississippi Possum Hunters - The Last Shot Got Him
2. George Edgin's Corn Dodgers - My Ozark Mountain Home
3. Henry Thomas - Charmin Betsey
4. Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers - Milwaukee Blues
5. Eck Robertson & Family - Texas Wagoner
6. Joe Evans & Arthur McClain - Two White Horses
7. Leo Soileau & Mayeus LaFleur - Basile Waltz
8. Lottie Kimbrough - Rolling Log Blues
9. Luke Hignight - Fort Smith Breakdown
10. Carver Boys - Tim Brook
11. Blind Willie Johnson - Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed
12. Furry Lewis - Billy Lyons And Stack O'Lee
13. J. P. Nester & Norman Edmonds - Train On The Island
14. Tommy Johnson - Lonesome Home Blues
15. Orkiestra Majkuta - Wściekla Polka
16. Lulu Jackson - Little Rosewood Casket
17. E. Mullaney & P. Stack - Maid In A Cherry Tree
18. Elder Golden P. Harris - I'll Lead A Christian Life
19. Fiddling Sam Long - Seneca Square Dance
20. Blind Blake - Sun To Sun Blues
21. Blue Ridge Mountain Singers - The Letter That Never Came
22. Charley Patton - Some These Days I'll Be Gone
23. Allison's Sacred Harp Singers - I'm A Long Time Traveling Away From Home

February 16, 2012, 11:37:42 AM by lindy | Views: 17034 | Comments: 25

2012 Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival

If you look at the right side of the Weenie home page, you?ll see a box showing how many days are left until the next Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop and Festival, taking place this year from July 29 to August 5.
And if you click on the ?About Weenie? link on the left side of this page, you?ll find out that Weenie Campbell was born?fully formed and already in a late stage of life?to a group of midwives attending the 1997 workshop.

The core Weenies who created this wonderful forum spend a lot of time thinking and talking about PTABW, and in our rarely humble opinions, we think that the 2012 faculty lineup is one of the best ever.

Click here and see why. The list includes Robert Belfour and his fellow Mississippian Terry Bean, teaching Hill Country and Delta styles. And Ari Eisinger?the man for learning the music of the "four Blinds": Blake, Davis, Fuller, and Lemon Jefferson. Three great slide teachers: Steve James, Orville Johnson, and Rev. Robert Jones. Reverend Jones has a way of channeling the musicians whose songs he teaches?wait ?til you hear him sing like Son House. Then there?s our own John Miller, in demand as a teacher on two continents. Every summer he pulls a country blues obscurity or two out of his bag of tricks, which opens the door to making further discoveries on my own.

I?m completely hooked on the PTABW experience?I?ve only missed one in seventeen years. In May of 1996 I got the radical idea that I didn?t have to listen to other people make music, I could do it myself. I bought a Takamine dreadnaught, and six weeks later, armed with only three chords (but three really good ones) I asked a fellow named John Jackson, ?John, you got a minute to show me how to play ?Boat?s Up the River???

John taught me the way he knew how: play a phrase over and over and over until I got it. We spent a half-hour together, and I was sweatin? beads, thinking that this great musician must be getting tired of showing a rank newbie how to move around the fretboard. But the bigger part of the lesson was this: John never gave the impression that he was anything less but perfectly happy to be right where he was. Later that same week I heard another workshop student ask him, ?Hey John, you got a minute to show me how to play ?Boat?s Up the River??? And in that Rapahannock accent that could stretch out the word ?sure? into three syllables, he said, ?Why sure, I?d be happy to,? and he meant it.

That?s the kind of story you can tell your friends back home if you attend PTABW. Sure, you pick up a few songs, learn a new chord or two, maybe work on a second instrument. But you also get to share a bench with John Dee Holeman. You get to listen to stories about North Mississippi from Robert Belfour, or jam with Robert Lowery. You get to meet Rev. John Wilkins, the son of Robert Wilkins, or hear Erwin Helfer talk about tracking down forgotten pianists in St. Louis and New Orleans back when there were still a lot of forgotten blues musicians around to be rediscovered.

Those are examples of recent experiences I?ve had at Port Townsend. But the stories I really treasure are those I?ve collected over the years from teachers who are no longer with us. Like the time Honeyboy Edwards showed me how to shave a pair of dice, and how to cause a distraction in order to switch the loaded dice for the regular. You never know when a skill like that might come in handy.

Or the time Howard Armstrong held court in the old cafeteria, telling the story about how he charmed his way out of what could have been a bad situation for a black string band in an Italian neighborhood in Detroit in the 1930s by playing his mandolin and speaking what was good enough to pass for Italian under the circumstances.

Or the year that Othar Turner and his family performed on the big stage at McCurdy Pavilion. A lifelong farmer, he had the biggest, strongest hands I?ve ever seen. I got to chat with him for a while that Saturday morning while he stood in a parking lot in his coveralls, one hand in his pocket, the other rubbing his chin in wonder while watching someone use a piece of technology he?d never seen in his 92 years: an espresso machine.

Then there was the time Grant Dermody, Robert Lowery, and the one-armed harmonica player Neal Pattman started jamming on the porch of The Schoolhouse. They played a simple little call-and-response riff, with Neal singing couplets like ?Georgia water taste like cherry wine/Make you higher than a Georgia pine.? Ten minutes went by, Grant had to teach a class, so he hopped over the railing and made his escape. Another five minutes passed, then Robert Lowery stood, threw down his hand as if to say ?I give up,? and he left. Neal just kept playing, head tilted back, big grin on his face, blowin? and singing and blowin? with a half-dozen of us watching. Never have I seen someone as happy as Neal Pattman that day, just playing his blues in the sun, really for no one in particular but himself.

So many good memories: Precious Bryant singing ?If You Don?t Love Me, Can You Fool Me Real Good?? Larry Johnson telling the teenaged David Jacobs-Strain, ?I?m a leftover from the 60s, just like someday you?ll be a leftover from the 90s? (you may have seen that on the Weenie quote generator). Drink Small talking about his Ph.D. in Womanology. Jerry Ricks talking about all of the country blues giants he met while doing the booking for a Philadelphia coffee house in the 1960s. Alvin Youngblood Hart describing his right-hand technique in highly technical terms: ?Then you just kinda flop your hand around.?

In other words, the music is just one part of the Port Townsend experience, making friends and being part of an ongoing community is another. As this year?s lineup attests, there are many generous people and talented musicians interested in keeping this community strong.

So come to the party, y?all! Go offline for a week while you make music and new blues buddies. Spend some time jamming at Weenie Central. Eat and learn and play and dance and stay up way later than you?re used to. Then get up the next morning and do it all over again, for a full week. And when you get home, start making plans for PTABW 2013.
uncle bud
January 24, 2012, 09:02:47 AM by uncle bud
Views: 7208 | Comments: 15

Gone to the Country
The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival

I just finished reading Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers & the Folk Music Revival by Ray Allen (University of Illinois Press). A thoroughly enjoyable read that for me was a fascinating look at the Ramblers and their music from the late '50s through to the 1970s and a little beyond. Since I was not following their musical careers at the time, much of the information in the book was new to me, and the coverage of the growth of the traditional and old-time music scene covered in the book, from the early New York days to the later West Coast scene, filled in a lot of historical background that I was only vaguely aware of. Along the way the book also covers the growth of the Newport Folk Festival as well as the Friends of Old-Time Music concerts, TV shows like Rainbow Quest and Hootenanny, and the pop side of the folk revival in the music of the Kingston Trio and the like - the enemy as far as NLCR were concerned.

The book includes quite a bit of discussion not only of the history but the Ramblers' particular approach to traditional and old-time music, as well as the question of whether they should even be playing it, despite the fact that they were at the centre of rebuilding its popularity during this period. Not just a philosophical question either, for it meant they could not get certain gigs if, for instance, a festival was dependent on a certain grant promoting traditional arts, as they were considered northern city slickers, revivalists, not traditional players by birth, while at the same time they were helping to promote not just the music but many southern players outside their home territory. It's also sobering to note that despite their prominence at the time (and now looking back from 2012 when their historical significance is well established), record sales were always sluggish and limited and income from performing was generally modest to poor - despite being some of the most successful musicians playing this kind of music outside of the south, really at the forefront. 

The very deliberate eclecticism and multi-instrumentalism of NLCR is also inspiring to read about from a musician's point of view. It allowed them the freedom to approach many styles within the broad tradition of southern music and experiment within those traditions, with each member bringing their own interests and discoveries into the NCLR musical realm. They could be very broad-minded musically with this approach, while at the same time staying very grounded in the musical vocabulary of the genres they chose to play.

Sources for the book include numerous interviews with all of the Ramblers and the book integrates their individual perspectives on their approach to music, the personal tensions their music careers and careers outside music created, and the difficulties of being full-time performing musicians.

November 17, 2011, 06:41:46 PM by Slack
Views: 4443 | Comments: 4

Mama's Angel Child - The Little Brothers       
Written by Bruce Nemerov      

Mama's Angel Child - The Little Brothers
Penny Records

I've been listening, off and on, to Mama's Angel Child by the Little Brothers for two or three weeks now and each time I find something new ? something I hadn't heard before ? in the music. This is a very good thing. Depth and subtlety are qualities all too uncommon today when so many "acoustic" bands hit you over the head with wild-eyed energy but little else. I'll resist naming names, but you know who they are.

But back to Frankie and Kim Basile and the 3rd Brother, mandolinist Mike Hoffmann ? or is he the second brother, Kim being of the female persuasion? (They really need to straighten this out for the perplexed among us.) Anyway, the three have done a very difficult and pleasing thing with this CD: Using voices (Frankie and Kim) and string instruments (all three), the LBs have recorded a variety of American foundational (I hate the term "roots," don't you?) music in a surprisingly creative manner.

Let me give an example. The first track, "Loose Like That" (one of the numerous offspring of Tampa Red and Georgia Tom's single-entendre hit of a similar name) sounds here like the Skillet-Lickers-play-Dixieland. The mandolin plays the melodic cornet part while Kim's fiddle is the New Orleans clarinet. The Hokum/Jug Band style these Tampa-Georgia tunes usually get, and deserve, would usually be a ho-hum way to start a record. If you're going to include a song like this, you'd best have something fresh in the arrangement. And a good strong singer. The LBs have both.

And speaking of voices, Kim is very affecting singer. In contrast to her husband, she tends to hold back with a world-weariness reminiscent of some Mississippi women. Those falling notes at the end of the lines are subtle and captivating. Listen to her sing "New Bumblebee" blues. And again the LBs, rather than copying a classic, rearrange the tune by using a low-tuned guitar, 12 string I think, and what sounds like a cross-tuned fiddle. Memphis Minnie meets W.M. Stepp. Very effective.

I could go through the CD track-by-track with more examples of this sort of thing, but that would just spoil the discoveries you'll make on your own. Let me just say that the title song, a beautifully melodic waltz as sung by Frankie has a most interesting instrumental arrangement with the fiddle and mandolin giving the song an Eastern European village orchestra flavor; and Kim's readings of "What Fault You Find of Me" and "Wayward Girl" are sublime ? both accompanied by Frankie's sympathetic instrumental backing on old-time banjo (deep-toned with that loose-head, low-tuned sound) and guitar respectively. The musical interaction of this couple is so agreeable on the wordless refrain of this last song (as it is throughout the whole CD) that one is led to suspect they just might have a good marriage.

I haven't said much about the 3rd Brother (or is it 2nd, etc.). Mike lurks in the background a lot. Though he's not on all the tracks, when present his contribution is a subtle force of texture ? a tremolo here, a rhythmic punch there, and especially the rollicking orchestral duets with the fiddle. He does get a few solos; the one in the Roll & Tumble child "The Girl I Love Got Long Curly Hair" is particularly nice. He seems content to be the guy who quietly adds the little touches that mean so much. Except when he plays his banjo-mandolin; then he loudly adds those touches.

Though one of the Little Brothers' signatures is rearranging and recomposing traditional material ? something Mike Seeger did so very well; who can forget Mike singing Roll & Tumble and accompanying himself on fretless gourd-banjo and rack-harmonica? ? there are several direct musical tributes scattered over the CD's sixteen tracks including "Crow Jane," Bad Luck Blues" and "Mother's Prayer." The last deserves special mention since it is both a tribute and a personal artistic creation. Frankie sings and plays a solo version of A.C. and Mamie Forehand's "Mother's Prayer" that is emotionally profound. Frankie's voice is sweeter and quieter. And the accompaniment (sounds like a fingerpicked mandola to me) echoes the zither-like patent instruments of an earlier time. Washington Phillips would love this. So do I.

One final topic. This CD shows the good side of the DIY democratization of music. It sounds like real people in a real space who can really play their instruments and sing their songs. The recording quality and mix is mostly very good (I could have stood a little more of Kim's voice front-and-center on "What Fault," Frankie) and I suspect there's an overdub or two (second fiddle part now and then? banjo in the background?).

But when songs, franchise-like, can be built one note at a time, it's worth keeping in mind that these folks are for real and being real isn't always easy.

Good work Brothers.

bruce nemerov
murfreesboro, TN
May 2011


1. Loose Like That
2. New Bumble Bee
3. Crow Jane
4. Mama's Angel Child
5. What Fault You Find of Me
6. Farewell Daddy
7. Cabo Verdranos Pe?a Nove
8. Bad Luck Blues
9. The Girl I Love Got Long Curly Hair
10. Wayward Girl
11. Leake County Blues
12. Cold Penitentiary Blues
13. Viola Lee Blues
14. Grind So Fine
15. Black Mattie
16. Mother's Prayer
November 17, 2011, 06:40:52 PM by Slack
Views: 3009 | Comments: 0

Lay Down My Burden - Grant Dermody
Written by Simon Field
Lay Down My Burden - Grant Dermody

Cards on the table. This is only the second harmonica album I have ever bought. That said, calling it a Harmonica album doesn't do it justice or properly describe it. This is a country blues album, with a huge cast of fantastic musicians, in which the focal point happens to be a fine harp player and singer. There's barely a shuffle in sight, and you certainly won't find any 72 bar harp solos.

Crucially (and perhaps unusually) Grant Dermody's harp never dominates the songs here; it serves them tastefully. Perfectly even. Its all about the songs.

Back to the huge cast- the CD kicks off with Eric Bibb on guitar, delivering a subtle finger picked rendition of Gary Davis' I'll Be Alright to accompany Grant's gentle vocal and laid back harp.

Amazing Grace is a standard (and perhaps a clich?) but hits the right spot. Full of atmosphere but somehow unsentimental, the track features Orville Johnson's unique dobro sound, partnered with lap steel and held together by John Miller's acoustic guitar. The smooth beginnings grow into an unexpected crescendo and a good deal of life is breathed into what is a very familiar old hymn.

John Cephas' last recording, a rendition of Hard Time Killing Floor, sees Grant take a back seat to Cephas' vocals and guitar, but as ever the harp is perfectly measured and exactly compliments the song.

Waterbound deserves a special mention. Sparse banjo and a beautiful haunting melody, delivered by Grant with passion and intensity. I'm not familiar with the song, but its one of those tunes that sounds like I've probably known it forever, without happening to realise it.

What I quickly realised on listening to this music, is just how much I enjoy Grant's vocals. He readily switches from soft to booming, but the latter is never ill judged or overdone. The tone is pure and absolutely natural. There are no affectations here, no attempts to try to sound like an old black bluesman. Just Grant Dermody singing loud and clear, from somewhere deep down in the gut.

First Light is another early favourite for me. A Dermody original with an agreeable thumping groove (driven by acoustic bass) and infectious rhythmic mandolin from Orville Johnson.

Notable further contributors to the generous 16 tracks include Frank Fotusky, Louisiana Red, Rich Del Grosso and Del Rey, among many others.

I can do no better in summing up the essence of this CD, than to borrow Grant's quote from the sleeve:

?Eileen said to me once that our life is a poem and a prayer and a love song. Not too surprisingly, so is this recording.?

Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended.

Track Listing:

1. I'll Be Alright
2. It's My Soul   
3. Amazing Grace
4. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
5. Rain Crow Bill
6. So Sweet   
7. Lay Down My Burden
8. Waterbound
9. Twelve Gates To The City
10. Evening Train
11. You Don't Have To Go
12. First Light
13. David's Cow   
14. Where Is My Friends   
15. Hard Times Come Again No More
16. Vajra Guru Mantra
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 6

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