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Country Blues => Super Electrical Recordings! => Topic started by: Johnm on October 14, 2011, 12:42:24 PM

Title: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on October 14, 2011, 12:42:24 PM
Hi all,
I've been listening and re-listening to this set in the past few months and have been so impressed with it, what a generous achievement it was for Harry Smith to put it together, the huge scope of his musical vision, the quality and variety of the performances selected for the Anthology, the order in which the tunes were sequenced, and the fine detail work, like the newspaper headline versions of the plots of the ballads.
  
For those of you who are not familiar with the set, it was first released by Folkways Records in the early '50s, I believe, and is now available from Smithsonian Folkways on CD, in three volumes, Ballads, Social Music, and Songs, each category of which includes two CDs.
  
The range of the music on the set is enormous, with Old-Time fiddle tunes and songs, Country Blues, Cajun songs and tunes, Religious numbers from the black and white traditions, Cowboy songs and others.  I thought it might be fun to have a thread devoted to the set where people can post anything relating to the set--favorite performances, questions about performers, queries about how different songs were played, really anything pertaining to the set and the music on it.

Just to get the ball rolling, I've played and listened to and recorded music for many years, and I think I have an idea of what an elusive and well-nigh impossible thing it is to get a "perfect take", but I believe Uncle Bunt Stevens' solo fiddle performance of "Sail Away Ladies" that opens the Social Music volume to be just such a pearl.  Everything about his playing of the tune--his phrasing, the rhythm of his bowing, his pitch, tone, and the way he makes his notes, his double stops--I just don't see how any of it could be improved.  Anybody have any other favorite moments or performances on the Anthology of American Folk Music or have stuff you'd like to talk about pertaining to it?
All best,
Johnm  
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: banjochris on October 14, 2011, 01:46:31 PM
I'll second you on that "Sail Away Ladies," John. Dan Gellert was waxing poetic about that side at a fiddle workshop he gave in SoCal just a few weeks ago. It's so simple in one way but then so deep at the same time.

A couple of old-time tracks I'm also very fond of on that set are "A Lazy Farm Boy" by Carter and Young, criminally under-recorded musicians (who did the first recording of "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms"); all of their recordings are gems, and I also love J.W. Day's "Wild Wagoner" for the bow skips in the first part and that change to D in the high part.

I checked out that album on LP from the library probably in about 1990 or so, and it was the first place I heard almost everybody on it, with a few exceptions like Uncle Dave and Patton. Very personally influential and I also love the liner notes.

Years ago Smithsonian Folkways used to have a contest on their website and you could win CDs by answering questions, and I remember I won an album by answering: "Who was the last surviving artist on the Anthology?" I'll see who can get it first, no CD, sorry.
Chris
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: CF on October 14, 2011, 02:26:34 PM
Here's a great blog that is attempting to discusses the Anthology song by song & artist by artist

http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/ (http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 03:01:54 PM
Years ago Smithsonian Folkways used to have a contest on their website and you could win CDs by answering questions, and I remember I won an album by answering: "Who was the last surviving artist on the Anthology?" I'll see who can get it first, no CD, sorry.
Chris

Yank/James
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 03:22:54 PM
When I bought the LPs back in the 60's a couple were translucent yellow which only added to the mystique. The Greil Marcus book is also a must for AAFM fans.

Here's the S-F page:

http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2426

and the Liner notes in PDF--62 MB, so it might take a while:

http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/smithsonian_folkways/SFW40090.pdf


There are also a couple of other AAFM inspired compilations (the first can be downloaded):

http://woodenmouth.blogspot.com/2010/02/va-other-anthology-of-american-folk.html

http://www.amazon.com/Anthology-American-Music-Edited-Harry/dp/B00004SUA0


http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Republic-Dylans-Basement-Tapes/dp/0805058427/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4




Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 03:31:41 PM
Here's another one. If you scroll down a bit, there's a photo of the Victoria Cafe where Frank Cloutier and his Orchestra of "Moonshiner's Dance" fame played:

http://www.celestialmonochord.org/

http://www.celestialmonochord.org/the_moonshiners_dance/


And a map of the geography of the AAFM:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=118238469777270646508.000453698be2be5705b8a&z=5
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 04:26:35 PM
From the NY Times archives:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/24/arts/a-folk-album-that-awakened-a-generation.html
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 04:35:13 PM
For those with JSTOR access:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/40243455

Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: pkeane on October 14, 2011, 07:11:34 PM
John -

I agree 100%.  Funny -- I just picked up the CD version a couple of weeks ago (found it used) and have been listening to it quite a bit.  I'd had it on cassette (taped from library copies) back in the 80s.  It's amazingly well-programmed.   And I think my ears are more ready for the old-time and cajun material than when I was younger (and more single-minded about country blues being the be-all-and-end-all).  That said, a few things had snuck through my defenses:  Mole in the Ground, Charles Giteau, and Down on Penny's Farm made a great & long-lasting impression on me.  I'd love to have had the experience of this being my first exposure to this music, but it was not.  I'd already listened to lots and lots of scratchy tunes from various reissues (Yazoo, etc.).  AAFM struck me as a sort of "Old Testament" -- not exactly "stuffy" but definitely not a mind-blowing as, say the Yazoo "Roots of Rock" reissue (funny how the mind of an 18 year old works).  Going back now I'm just blown away by the inventiveness and whimsy of the whole package -- a real work of art in and of itself.  With a bit broader familiarity and open-mindedness I am enjoying every cut.

Funny you mention the Uncle Bunt "Sail Away Ladies" -- much of my musical efforts these days go into backing up old-time fiddle (terrific Austin based fiddler Howard Rains has put together a small group) and I find that I hear and appreciate wonderful fiddle playing now so much more than in the past.  I was listening to AAFM in my car and pulled in the drive just as Sail Away Ladies started on the CD -- I sat in the driveway and listened to the whole thing, just stunned at the achievement of it (I'd surely heard it 100 times before and was never so struck). 

Thanks for starting this thread!
best-
Peter
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Mr.OMuck on October 14, 2011, 09:20:51 PM
I first got the anthology in 1971 as required listening for a course i was taking at SUNY Purchase entitled "Folklore". The professor was a certain John Cohen. Good luck all 'round. I must say that I love the booklet that came with the LPs as much as the music. It is a brilliant tour de force of graphic imagination much influenced I'm guessing by Ad Reinhardt's collage work of the period. One could interpret the music collection as a soundtrack for the book just as readily as the book existing for the elucidation of the music.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 14, 2011, 10:11:46 PM
I've been poking around the S-F site trying to find the "Supplemental Notes to the Selections" that were available in the past (my printouts are dated 2002). I have the URLs as I printed them out, but now they're all dead links. I'll keep trying. I did find the following, however:

http://www.folkways.si.edu/resources/pdf/SFW40108_notes.pdf
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Steve Pajik on October 14, 2011, 10:15:25 PM
I first heard the Anthology about two years ago. I'm not even sure what prompted me to check it out, because at the time I was definitely not a fan of old-time music. I just saw it at the library (where I work) and decided to take it out. My salient memory is hearing Mississippi John Hurt's "Frankie" for the very first time. It was the closest thing to an epiphany I'll probably ever experience! It literally blew my mind. This discovery led me to Patton, Furry, Skip, Wilkins, etc, etc - and now here I am two years later writing this post on Weenie Campbell.  :D Needless to say, my discovery of country blues also completely re-energized my interest in playing guitar.

So neat how a tune that was recorded 80+ years ago could have such a profound and life-changing effect. Thank you, Harry Smith!  :)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: jostber on October 15, 2011, 12:27:41 AM
There is also a volume 4 released by Revenant:

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fen%2F0%2F0d%2FAnthology_of_Folk_V4.jpg&hash=bd13dae79fc2e540155c28f2da35f3f0979d7dc4)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Smith%27s_Anthology_of_American_Folk_Music,_Vol._4




Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: jaycee on October 15, 2011, 07:14:47 AM
what an absolutely wonderful thread. the song that really resonates with me is, dock boggs sugar baby. docks, banjo playing is just absolutely superb.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on October 15, 2011, 07:16:14 AM
I've listened to the Anthology hundreds of times over the years, starting in about 1960. I appreciate the booklet art and the fact that the notes and categories don't distinguish between Anglo-American and African-American traditions (others have remarked on this).

The quality of the selections is superb, considering that very few people were seriously collecting these records, so they were scattered around in Salvation Army stores.

But most of all, I'm impressed by the order of presentation. I think that's the real art here. Although I can't verbalize why it works the way it does, I can't imagine them being as effective if they were in any other order. Vol. 4 doesn't have this characteristic (it wasn't organized by Smith), so you could put your player on shuffle and you would be no worse off. But if you try that with the first 3 volumes, you'll be missing a lot.

Lyle
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 15, 2011, 07:52:44 AM
It's been a long time, but one thing I remember is that it opened up a whole new world with respect to the breadth and depth of music that was out there. The Anthology in itself seemed almost overwhelming at the time, and then it dawned on me that it was just the tip of the iceberg. Forty years ago the amount of music available and accessible on the reissue labels was relatively limited compared to what has become available since then, so one could only guess. How times change.

The thing about anthologies is that they always bear the stamp of the compiler. As Lyle points out, the AAFM is one of those compilations on which nothing seems out of place. Add something or subtract something or change the sequence and the entire universe somehow becomes misaligned. Such is the way of all great works.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: orvillej on October 15, 2011, 10:55:23 AM
when I was 16-17 and still in high school, I used to go to the college library (Southern Illinois U) and listen to records as I was too short on funds to buy them all. They had little tables with built-in turntables and headphones. I received a lot of education there about blues, old-time music, bluegrass, etc., and that's where I first found the Anthology. This was 1968-69. The Dock Boggs stuff stuck in my head. I'd never heard anything like that!
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 15, 2011, 04:39:02 PM
For those with JSTOR access:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/40243455

I've been poking around the S-F site trying to find the "Supplemental Notes to the Selections" that were available in the past (my printouts are dated 2002). I have the URLs as I printed them out, but now they're all dead links.

I ran Cantwell's essay and my printouts of the AAFM "Supplementary Notes" through the scanner and saved them as PDF files. If anyone would like copies, send me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll send them to you as attachments.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: banjochris on October 15, 2011, 06:03:47 PM
Years ago Smithsonian Folkways used to have a contest on their website and you could win CDs by answering questions, and I remember I won an album by answering: "Who was the last surviving artist on the Anthology?" I'll see who can get it first, no CD, sorry.
Chris

Yank/James

Yup.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on October 17, 2011, 06:57:41 AM
Hi all,
One thing I've realized in the course of listening to the Anthology is that it is like a tutorial in the different approaches that can be taken in playing rhythm guitar, or "playing time".  The guitarists are all over the map in the techniques they use, to the extent that the basic "boom chang" accompaniment that has become the norm is hard to come by in the performances.  Present-day players could do well to study some of these approaches, the following of which seem to stand out to me this morning:
   * Alfred Steagall's work behind Kelly Harrell on "Charles Guiteau" and "My Name is John Johanna" is stellar, and on "John Johanna" especially, is such an inventive and original accompaniment that it colors the whole rendition.  On "Charles Guiteau", the band quiets down to give him a solo.
   * The rhythm guitarists for Floyd Ming's Pep Steppers on "Indian War Whoop" and for Blind Uncle Gaspard on "La Danseuse" treat the guitar almost like a tenor banjo, just whanging down on full chords with no "boom" at all, or differentiation between treble and bass.
   * Jim Baxter, backing his uncle Andrew (I think that's right) on "Georgia Stomp" is so sneaky with his syncopated bass runs out of F in standard tuning.  It's a treat to hear how the two of them played together.
   * For an unfigureoutable rendition, listen to Bill and Belle Reed's "The Old Lady and the Devil". The guitar starts out with a fairly standard thumb-popped bass "boom" and three "changs", for "boom-chang-chang-chang" or "one down and three up".  As the song goes along, the guitar abandons that regular accenting pattern and goes into a free-form shifting between boom-chang, boom-chang-chang, and boom-chang-chang-chang, throwing the accenting of the time all over the place so that it sounds like it's flipping over upon itself.  Add to this the fact that Bill completes the rendition and then goes back and re-sings earlier verses to the ballad more or less at random, and you wind up with a one-of-a-kind performance.  The recording engineer must have been signaling to Bill, "KEEP GOING!"

Anyhow, the treatment of rhythm guitar and the time-keeping function is one of the many things you can focus on and learn from as you listen to the Anthology of American Folk Music.
All best,
Johnm 
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on October 17, 2011, 07:45:22 AM
Good point about rhythm guitar, johnm. It's especially interesting, because someone once told me that Vol. 4 (I had a tape of it long before Revenant published it) was supposed to be about "Rhythm." Yet, the first 3 were about rhythm, too, a statement that is apropos but incomplete. The collection is n-dimensional where (to quote my old college math teacher), n is a large positive integer. I hear more every time I listen to it.

Lyle
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on October 18, 2011, 10:50:56 PM
There was a book of transcriptions done in 1973 by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim and published by Oak.

Here's the link to the OCLC page (you'll have to plug in your own zip code):

http://www.worldcat.org/title/anthology-of-american-folk-music/oclc/871646&referer=brief_results
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Pan on October 19, 2011, 02:31:32 AM
There was a book of transcriptions done in 1973 by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim and published by Oak.

Here's the link to the OCLC page (you'll have to plug in your own zip code):

http://www.worldcat.org/title/anthology-of-american-folk-music/oclc/871646&referer=brief_results

Thanks Stuart. And thanks to everybody on this thread, I'm waiting for the mailman to deliver the Anthology.

I noticed that the musical transcriptions Stuart mentioned sell starting from 200 dollars up on Amazon!  :o
So I was very happy to find that the book can apparently be viewed online for free:

http://towerofbabel.com/sections/music/troubadours/anthology/

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 18, 2011, 11:19:40 AM
Hi all,
One of the things that I noticed in the course of listening to the Anthology is how many songs and tunes, from a variety of traditions, employ pentatonic scales for their melodies.  If you think of a "parent" major pentatonic scale, it consists of the following notes:
    I    II  III  V   VI   I
   Do -Re-Mi-Sol-La-Do
A couple of things about the structure of the pentatonic scale:
   * If you look at the notes from the major scale that are not included in the pentatonic scale, IV (Fa) and VII (Ti, or Si in Europe), they are both "rub notes", that fall in places in the major scale where there is a semi-tone, or 1/2 step between adjacent notes.  By eliminating IV and VII from the pentatonic scale, those "rubs" are similarly eliminated.
   * While the notes of the scale are confined to Do-Re-Mi-Sol-La, the way that pentatonic melodies are harmonized may employ the notes of the major scale that have been eliminated from the pentatonic scale.  So it is that when you play a V chord, it includes the VII note of the scale as its third, even though that note is not in the scale upon which the melody is based.  Similarly, the harmonization of a major pentatonic melody may use a IV chord, even though the IV note is not in the scale. 
   * One of the most interesting things about pentatonic melodies is how they are harmonized, and what chords you put behind them.  The II note, Re, may be harmonized as the fifth of a V chord, the root of a II minor chord, the II of a I chord, or the VI of a IV chord.  All of these harmonizations of the II note can be found in this music.

Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford's version of "Willie Moore" on "Volume One, Ballads", is an example of a beautiful pentatonic melody that hangs a lot on melody notes that are not the root, third or fifth of the underlying chord, which in this instance is a I chord, since the duo play the song as a one-chorder.  The melody of the song and how it sits relative to the lyrics are as follows:
   I    I      II     II   III     V      V     III     III  II      I     III    II    II  III    V     V     II            I    II
   Willie|Moore was a   | king, his  | age, twenty-| one, he  |courted a   | damsel | fair    |     Oh her |
      III     II     I       I      VI VI      V    V     V   VI       I       III    II III II     I      V    VI      V 
   | eyes were as | bright as the| diamonds of the |  night, and | wavy    |black was her | Hair

The melody in the first line works its way up to V and back down to II.  The downbeat of the form coincides with the word "Moore" so the melody lands strongly on the II note.  In the second line of the melody, beginning with "bright", the melody descends down to V from I, emphasizing VI on the way down and the way back up, and after ascending to III, works its way back down to V for the end of the verse.  So the song has a range from V below Do to V above Do and never resolves back to Do.  It makes for a very distinctive sound, and the melody sure sticks in your head.

Another notable pentatonic melody from the Anthology is Floyd Ming and his Pep-Steppers' "Indian War Whoop", from "Volume II, Social Music".  Ming had a Mississippi string band, and they had a really wild sound.  The song has a very trancey feel and sound.  It's opening section, which is the most memorable part of the tune and a sort of refrain works as follows.   It is in 5, which makes it odd to begin with.  I wish I could do rhythmic notation, but I'll put a count above each measure.
      1  +  2  +-a  3 + 4  5     1 + 2  +--a 3  4   5
   | II  II  II III-II I  V VI----| II II II III-II I  V-----|

This is all harmonized with the I chord whanging away behind the melody, and like the melody to "Willie Moore", it very strongly emphasizes and lands on the II and VI notes.  If you don't have the Anthology and have never heard it, you might have seen it performed in the Coen Bros. movie, "Brother, Where Art Thou?", in which it is performed near the end when the mob has tarred and feathered the gubernatorial candidate and is marching down the town's main street with John Hartford and David Holt playing the tune.
If you want to hear how these tunes sound, you can just plug the scale degrees into the notes of a C scale and try them out.  There are plenty of other tunes and songs in the Anthology that employ a pentatonic scale (Henry Thomas' "Old Country Stomp" and "Fishing Blues" among them), but "Willie Moore" and "Indian War Whoop" seemed like especially interesting ones.

Here is Burnett & Rutherford's performance of "Willie Moore":

Burnett and Rutherford-Willie Moore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2wMe8s9mCc#)



















Here is "Indian War Whoop":

Floyd Ming & His Pep Steppers Indian War Whoop VICTOR21294 (1928) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sw16IQxTbk#)
All best,
Johnm     
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: misterjones on December 20, 2011, 07:42:22 AM
There is also a volume 4 released by Revenant:

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fen%2F0%2F0d%2FAnthology_of_Folk_V4.jpg&hash=bd13dae79fc2e540155c28f2da35f3f0979d7dc4)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Smith%27s_Anthology_of_American_Folk_Music,_Vol._4 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Smith%27s_Anthology_of_American_Folk_Music,_Vol._4)

There's also a set called "The Other Anthology of American Folk Music", which was inspired by the official Harry Smith collection.  It is surprisingly good and not too hard to find (for free) on the internet.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on December 20, 2011, 08:12:58 AM

There's also a set called "The Other Anthology of American Folk Music", which was inspired by the official Harry Smith collection.  It is surprisingly good and not too hard to find (for free) on the internet.

http://woodenmouth.blogspot.com/2010/02/va-other-anthology-of-american-folk.html (http://woodenmouth.blogspot.com/2010/02/va-other-anthology-of-american-folk.html)

And once again:

http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/ (http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/)

http://theanthologyofamericanfolkmusic.blogspot.com/ (http://theanthologyofamericanfolkmusic.blogspot.com/)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 20, 2011, 09:44:04 AM
Hi all,
Under normal circumstances, I avoid cults of personality, but in the instance of Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music, I feel as though any other anthology, even though utilizing the same kind of musical material, that did not have the benefit of his guiding aesthetic with regard to songs selected and even the sequencing, as Lyle mentioned earlier in the thread, is just not the same.  The kinds of deep connections with which the Harry Smith Anthology abounds just seem to be absent from other such anthologies, even excellent ones like the Old Hat releases.
I think it's great the people talk about the Anthology elsewhere on the Web.  Let's talk about it here.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: misterjones on December 20, 2011, 10:03:53 AM
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on December 20, 2011, 11:41:38 AM
Hi John:

I agree with you 100%. It's as if the AAFM is an extension of part of Harry's worldview and vision manifested in his selection and sequencing of the music. Someone wrote somewhere that he planned to do content analysis at some point, but never finished it--or perhaps never got around to it. There are many facets to explore in the collection and the process and context in which it came into being.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 21, 2011, 12:31:45 PM
Hi all,
Bascom Lamar Lunsford's version of "Dry Bones" is on "Volume II--Social Music".  Lunsford was an attorney, from Asheville, North Carolina, I believe.  He accompanied himself on the banjo out of G tuning.  He had kind of jumpy, lively time.  The verse to the song is almost chanted--it hangs around the I note a lot with lines starting on the VI below and the III above.  The melody to the refrain is exceptionally pretty, and is once again in the pentatonic scale, like so:
   I    II         III    V    V    V      III    II   I     I     VI   V   VI I    II    III
   I |saw,       I  | saw the light from Heaven, a- | shinin' all around, I   |
         V    V     V     III    II    I     I     VI   V      VI    I         I
     | saw the light come shining, I | saw that light come down

In addition to working so well on banjo, this tune could work really nice in Spanish or open Bflat with a thumb lead, a la Maybelle Carter.

   Old Enoch, he lived to be three hundred and sixty-five
   When the Lord came and took him back to Heaven alive

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, a-shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw that light come down

   Oh when Paul prayed in prison, them prison walls fell down
   The prison-keeper shouted, "Redeeming love I've found."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   When Moses saw that-a burning bush, he walked it around and around
   And the Lord said to Moses, "You's treadin' Holy ground."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   Dry bones in that valley got up and took a little walk
   The deaf could hear and the dumb could talk

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   Adam and Eve in the garden, under that sycamore tree
   Eve said to Adam, "Uh, Satan never tempted me."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, a-shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

Here is Lunsford's performance of "Dry Bones":

Bascom Lamar Lunsford-Dry Bones (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLAavP5DPeU#)

All best,
Johnm

   





 
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on December 21, 2011, 01:10:00 PM
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)

There's a lot of misinformation about this in the various Dylan biographies, but the truth is that Dylan stole the records from Jon Pankake (I hope he doesn't get mad at me for revealing this, because he enjoys all the misinformation). This was before Dylan went to New York to see Woody and record his first album. Jon lived in a rooming house and came home to find some records missing. He deduced who the culprit was from which records were missing. Jon is a fan of film noir, and he had a broken table leg he'd found somewhere. He got a cigar and the leg and went over to Dylan's place. He puffed on the cigar and threatened Dylan with the table leg. Dylan had already lent out the records, but promised to return them the next day, which he did. So he probably has the Anthology, but not the copy he stole.

Later, Dylan told Tony Glover that Jon had been unfair. "I needed those records more than he did," he said.

Lyle
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on December 21, 2011, 05:44:26 PM
...Bascom Lamar Lunsford's version of "Dry Bones" is on "Volume II--Social Music".  Lunsford was an attorney, from Asheville, North Carolina, I believe...

There's a book on Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Here's the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Minstrel-Appalachians-Story-Bascom-Lunsford/dp/0813190274 (http://www.amazon.com/Minstrel-Appalachians-Story-Bascom-Lunsford/dp/0813190274)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: misterjones on December 22, 2011, 11:51:01 AM
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)

There's a lot of misinformation about this in the various Dylan biographies, but the truth is that Dylan stole the records from Jon Pankake (I hope he doesn't get mad at me for revealing this, because he enjoys all the misinformation). This was before Dylan went to New York to see Woody and record his first album. Jon lived in a rooming house and came home to find some records missing. He deduced who the culprit was from which records were missing. Jon is a fan of film noir, and he had a broken table leg he'd found somewhere. He got a cigar and the leg and went over to Dylan's place. He puffed on the cigar and threatened Dylan with the table leg. Dylan had already lent out the records, but promised to return them the next day, which he did. So he probably has the Anthology, but not the copy he stole.

Later, Dylan told Tony Glover that Jon had been unfair. "I needed those records more than he did," he said.

Lyle

Next you'll be saying he wasn't booed at Newport . . . which. actually, he wasn't.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 22, 2011, 12:39:51 PM
Hi all,
The Carter Family's rendition of "Engine 143" can be found on "Volume I--Ballads".  They do the song in a brisk waltz time, which is strongly felt in one, with the downbeat of each measure struck very soundly.  Maybelle plays the song out of C position in standard tuning, but she is sounding in A, to suit Sara's vocal range, so she is tuned a full minor third low of standard tuning.  Maybelle employed this means of adjusting her tuning to match up a favored playing position to the best vocal key for Sara to sing in as a matter of course.  Sara plays time strong on the autoharp on the number.

The song's phrasing illustrates so beautifully the little accommodations that the group made to bring out the best in the singing.  At various places in the singing, usually on held notes at the end of the first or third lines of the verses, Maybelle and Sara will insert an extra measure, or dwell, to accommodate the held note Sara is singing.  The way they do this is so seamless and natural-sounding that you might never notice it unless you were playing along with the recording.  Similarly, for the two verses that begin "The doctor", Sara and Maybelle insert an extra measure at the end of the last line of the previous verse to accommodate the vocal pick-up, "The".  The way I'm presenting the lyric transcription shows where the downbeat of each measure falls, and any line that has five beats has a dwell in it.  It ends up a little funny-looking, especially with the lines that include quotes, but it shows the way the vocal is accented.

   SOLO
      1       2           3      4     5
  A-Long came the F. F. V.-------, the
    1           2        3  4
   Swiftest on the line
    1            2         3         4        5
   Running o'er the C & O Road-------, just
    1          2               3   4
   Twenty minutes behind
    1           2    3        4
   Running into Seville,  head-
    1            2         3   4
   Quarters on the line,  re-
    1          2              3       4
   Ceiving their strict orders,  from a
    1          2       3     4
   Station just behind

    1             2          3           4      5     
   Georgie's mother came to him------with a
    1         2         3      4
   Bucket on her arm
    1                 2        3    4
   Saying, "My darling son,   be
    1          2           3    4
   Careful how you run.   For
   1          2            3          4       5
   Many a man has lost his life--------, in
   1             2             3     4
   Trying to make lost time.  And
   1           2            3         4        5
   If you'll run your engine right-------, you'll
   1              2         3      4
   Get there just on time."

   1          2            3       4
   Up the road she darted,  a-
    1              2              3         4
   Gainst the rocks she crushed
   1          2             3        4           5
   Upside down the engine turned------, and
   1             2             3         4
   Georgie's breast did smash.   His
    1               2              3         4       5
   Head was against the firebox door--------, the
   1                2       3      4
   Flames are rolling high.  "I'm
   1                2          3      4       5
   Glad I was born an engineer---------to
   1               2        3      4     5
   Die on the C & O Road.          The

   1         2         3          4
   Doctor said to Georgie, "My
   1          2          3   4
   Darling boy, be still.  Your
   1            2         3      4
   Life may yet be saved,  if it
   1            2         3     4
   Is God's blessed will."  "Oh
   1             2                   3          4      5
   No", said George, "that will not do-------, I
   1           2        3    4
   Want to die so free.  I
   1            2              3            4       5
   Want to die for the engine I love--------, one
   1                  2       3        4   5
   Hunderd and forty-three."       The

   1         2         3          4
   Doctor said to Georgie, "Your
   1           2        3        4
   Life can not be saved.
    1                2      3         4
   Murdered upon a railroad,  and
   1             2             3       4
   Laid in a lonesome grave."  His
    1            2          3           4         5
   Face was covered up with blood-------, his
   1             2             3   4
   Eyes you could not see.   And the
   1            2                3          4       5
   Very last words poor Georgie said------ was
     1               2         3         4
   "Nearer my God to Thee."

   OUTRO

Here is the Carter Family's performance:

The Carter Family-Engine 143 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy4a2XB_dAU#)

All best,
Johnm
   
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Mr.OMuck on December 22, 2011, 02:08:43 PM
I'm pushin' for John to write a book. I mean we here at weenie get treated to his formidable musical analysis and wisdom all the time, but frankly the printed page and not the computer screen is where I want to be reading work this dense and idea laden. I invite you all to join with me in pressuring John to get his collected musings out in PRINT! Here's to the John Miller Codex of Blues and associated musical forms!
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: banjochris on December 23, 2011, 09:24:15 AM
Awesome, John. That analysis needs to be used as an example whenever people ask "What's the difference between old-time and bluegrass?"
Chris
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 23, 2011, 11:45:25 AM
Thanks very much for the good words, Phil and Chris.  I do really enjoy trying to figure out in a structural sense what it is that makes the music we respond to so special and distinctive.  It all translates into what we hear and how we respond to it.  I should try to organize some of the writing into a book.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 23, 2011, 12:34:10 PM
Hi all,
Andrew and Jim Baxter's "Georgia Stomp" is on "Volume 2--Social Music".  The duo consisted of a black fiddler, Andrew and his nephew, Jim, who accompanied him on guitar.  They played so beautifully together, and this tune is no exception.  It kind of sneaks up on you--I remember listening to the set as a kid and realizing at a certain point that I was crazy about this tune and rejoiced every time it came on.  It's in F, and has a kind of drawling quality that draws you in.  I suppose it is possible to back a fiddler more musically than Jim Baxter did, but I've never heard it done.  F turns out to be a great key for both instruments on "Georgia Stomp".  The fiddle can slide to unisons with the open A and E strings from the next lower string, and as Luke Jordan, Leadbelly and other country blues guitarists demonstrated in their playing, F position is probably the very best for playing interesting bass runs.  Jim Baxter certainly doesn't let the listener down in this regard; he has an apparently inexhaustible supply of syncopated bass runs that he draws upon during the course of the rendition.
A little way into the performance, one of the duo starts doing some dance calls.  I've got them all but one, I think.  I'd appreciate any help with the bent bracketed passage.  It matches the phonetics of what's being said just about perfectly, but I'm not experienced enough in playing dances to know if it would make sense in the jargon of dance-calling.  The caller uses "you" and "your" in the collective sense sometimes.

   Now, this is the old Georgia Stomp
   Now, honor your object
   Also your partner
   Now, hands up eight and circle
   Now break a-loose and walk back
   Now take your time
   Swing your corners
   Now swing your partner
   Join your partners' right hands
   Now, rights and lefts, all the way through
   Turn your corners now

Edited 12/23 to pick up correction from uncle bud

All best,
Johnm
   
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: uncle bud on December 23, 2011, 12:51:25 PM
Hi John - is it possibly "eight and CIRCLE"? As in do a figure eight then circle? Not that I know a damn thing about dance calls myself.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 23, 2011, 01:00:17 PM
Good on you, uncle bud!  That is definitely what he is saying, and I'll make the change.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 23, 2011, 03:29:10 PM
Hi all,
For the benefit of those of you who don't have the Anthology, I've gone back and added YouTube videos of the original performances under discussion where I could find them.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Slack on December 23, 2011, 03:38:55 PM
Yes, it is really great to have the youtube videos to play and follow along with - because you are right, I would have completely missed the "dwell"  - in fact I've not heard that term used like that.  Very cool Johnm.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 24, 2011, 10:58:32 AM
John D.,
I first heard that term, "dwell", used in an interview with George Shuffler, a very fine Bluegrass guitarist and bass player and Gospel singer, who said that the thing that he found especially tricky when he took on the lead guitar role with the Stanley Brothers was getting used to their "dwells".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 24, 2011, 11:19:45 AM
Hi all,
Richard "Rabbit" Brown's version of "James Alley Blues" appears on "Volume III--Songs".  Brown was a street musician in New Orleans, and his recorded repertoire was wildly eclectic, including in addition to "James Alley Blues", "The Sinking of the Titanic", "Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice" and an Old-Time ballad operating in the realm of reportage, "The Mystery of the Dunbar Child".
Brown played "James Alley Blues" out of D position in standard tuning, and it represents an instrumental approach, with its flamenco-y strumming and thumb-popped bass notes, that is very rarely encountered; the only tune in the genre that I've heard that has a similar sound is Papa Charlie Jackson's "Take Me Back Blues, No. 2".  Brown sounds like he may have been an older man when he recorded, and the first line of the opening verse sounds particularly true, listening to his rendition today and thinking how different the world he grew up in was from that which we currently inhabit.  I've never been able to understand the front end of the tagline to his fifth verse, and would appreciate help with it.  I'm including a video of his recorded performance to the end of this post.  The late Jerry Ricks did a really nice version of this song in open C tuning.

   Oh, times ain't now nothing like they used to be
   Oh, times ain't now nothing like they used to be
   And I'm tellin' you all the truth, oh, take it for me

   I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these
   I done seen better days, but I'm puttin' up with these
   I'd-a have a much better time, but these girls now is so hard to please

   'Cause I was born in the country, think I'm easy to rule
   'Cause I was born in the country, she thinks I'm easy to rule
   She try to hitch me to her wagon, she want to drive me like a mule

   You know I bought the groceries and I paid the rent
   Yeah, I buys the groceries and I pays the rent
   She try to make me wash her clothes, but I got good common sense

   I said, if you don't want me, why don't you tell me so?
   You know it, if you don't want me, why don't you tell me so?
   Because it ain't like a man that ain't got nowhere, go

   If you give me sugar for sugar, let you get salt for salt
   I'll give you sugar for sugar, let you get salt for salt
   And if you can't get 'long with me, it's your own fault

   Now, you want me to love you, and you treat me mean
   Now do you want me to love you?  You keep on treatin' me mean
   You my daily thought and my nightly dream

   Sometimes I think that you too sweet to die
   Sometimes I think that you too sweet to die
   And another time I think you ought to be buried alive

Edited 12/24 to pick up correction from Stuart

Richard "Rabbit" Brown - James Alley Blues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3JEVhOAyMo#)


All best,
Johnm
   
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Stuart on December 24, 2011, 01:42:03 PM
Hi John:

I've always heard the line as:

Because it ain't like I'm a man that ain't got nowhere to go,

The beginning of the line is sung fast and the words are contracted, but I'm pretty sure that's what he's singing.

BTW: David Johansen also does a cover of "James Alley Blues"
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 24, 2011, 01:53:17 PM
Thanks very much for that help, Stuart.  I really appreciate it.  I've not understood that line for many years.  I'll make the change.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: alyoung on December 26, 2011, 01:43:09 AM
John D.,
I first heard that term, "dwell", used in an interview with George Shuffler, a very fine Bluegrass guitarist and bass player and Gospel singer, who said that the thing that he found especially tricky when he took on the lead guitar role with the Stanley Brothers was getting used to their "dwells".
All best,
Johnm


Maybe I missed something ... but what is a "dwell"??? (And on which YouTube vid did Mr Slack hear it??)
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 26, 2011, 12:53:19 PM
Hi Al,
If you go to this post, http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=8011.msg66938#msg66938 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=8011.msg66938#msg66938) , you'll find the answer to your question and the appropriate video.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: alyoung on December 27, 2011, 03:30:25 AM
Hi Al,
If you go to this post, http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=8011.msg66938#msg66938 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=8011.msg66938#msg66938) , you'll find the answer to your question and the appropriate video.
All best,
Johnm

Oh, THAT'S a dwell... Hell, I've been playing in that meter most of my life -- and getting my ass kicked by bass players drummers and other four-beat pedants

Al Y
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on January 03, 2012, 12:37:36 PM
Hi all,
Henry Thomas's "Old Country Stomp" is on "Volume II--Social Music", preceded in the program by Floyd Ming and His Pep-Steppers' "Indian War Whoop" and followed by Jim Jackson's "Old Dog Blues".  Henry Thomas accompanied himself out of D position in standard tuning, capoed up to sound in A, and plays his quills off of a rack.  The song begins somewhat tentatively, and then around the 1'10'' mark, Thomas hits his melodic stride and seems to find what he's been looking for, and from that point onward, the quills melody just soars.  Henry Thomas's lyrics start out as dance calls, or so it seems, and become progressively more mysterious.  I'd appreciate some help, corroboration/correction with the bent bracketed "Baltimore".  I'm not at all sure that I have it right.

   Get your partners, promenade, promenade four around, now

   Poor boy, you started wrong, get your partners, promenade

   I'm goin' away, I'm goin' away
   I'm goin' away, I'm goin' away
   I'm goin' back to Baltimore

   Fare you well, fare you well
   Fare you well, fare you well

   Mistreated, mistreated some
   Mistreated me with knife and fork

   Good-bye, boys, fare you well
   Good-bye, boys, fare you well

   I'm goin' back to Baltimore
   I'm goin' back to Baltimore

   That's all right, Baltimore
   That's all right, Baltimore

   Now come, boys, and go with me
   Now come, boys, and go with me

All best,
Johnm


   
   
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: banjochris on January 03, 2012, 01:10:28 PM
John, there was a dance called "The Baltimore," which might make that at least a little less mysterious.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on January 03, 2012, 01:24:04 PM
Thanks for that information, Chris, it was news to me.  So much to learn.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on February 11, 2012, 10:16:21 PM
Hi all,
For many listeners, especially between 1950 and 1963, the Anthology of American Folk Music provided the first introduction to the music of Mississippi John Hurt.  Indeed, the two cuts of John Hurt included there, "Frankie" and "Spike Driver Blues", were the only readily available versions of his music to anyone who was not a collector or the friend of a collector of the old 78s.  It's difficult from our current vantage point, with virtually every early Country Blues recording that has been found re-issued and available, to remember how rare this music once was.  I'm just young enough that the first time I heard John Hurt was in person, at the 1963 Philadelphia Folk Festival, but for fans of those recordings on the Anthology, his rediscovery must have been all the more exciting and unbelievable.
Here are the lyrics to those songs.  John Hurt played "Frankie" capoed up in Spanish tuning, and played "Spike Driver Blues" out of G position in standard tuning.  "Spike Driver Blues" is a formal one-off, by the way, a 10-bar blues, something you don't run into that often.  The narrative of "Frankie" is out of sequence in a funny way--it concludes with the bartender telling the story that got Albert killed.

   "Frankie"

   Frankie was a good girl, everybody knows
   She paid one hundred dollars, for Albert, one suit of clothes
   He's her man and he done her wrong

   Frankie went down to the corner saloon, didn't go to be gone long
   She peeped through the keyhole in the door, spied Albert in Alice's arms
   "He's my man, and he done me wrong."

   Frankie called Albert.  Albert says, "I Don't hear."
   "If you don't come to the woman you love, gonna haul you out of here,
   You's my man, and you done me wrong."

   Frankie shot old Albert, and she shot him three or four times
   Says, "Throw back, out the smoke of my gun, let me see, is Albert dyin'?
   He's my man, and he done me wrong."

   Frankie and the judge walked down the stand, they walked out side to side
   The judge says to Frankie, "You're gonna be justified,
   For killin' a man, and he done you wrong."

   Dark was the night, cold was on the ground
   The last word I heard Frankie say, "I done laid old Albert down,
   He's my man, and he done me wrong."

   "I ain't gon' tell no story, and I ain't gon' tell no lie.
   Well, Albert passed 'bout an hour ago with a girl they call Alice Prye.
   He's your man, and he done you wrong."

   "Spike Driver Blues"

   Take this hammer and carry it to my captain
   Tell him I'm gone
   Tell him I'm gone
   Tell him I'm gone

   Take this hammer and carry it to my captain
   Tell him I'm gone
   Just tell him I'm gone
   I'm sure he's gone

   This is the hammer that killed John Henry
   But it won't kill me
   But it won't kill me
   But it won't kill me

   This is the hammer that killed John Henry
   But it won't kill me
   But it won't kill me
   Ain't gon' kill me

   It's a long ways from East Colorado
   Honey, to my home
   Honey, to my home
   Honey, to my home

   It's a long ways to East Colorado
   Honey, to my home
   Honey, to my home
   That's where I'm goin'

   John Henry, he left his hammer
   Layin' 'side the road
   Layin' 'side the road
   Layin' 'side the road

   John Henry, he left his hammer
   All in red
   All over in red
   That's why I'm gone

   John Henry 's a steel-drivin' boy
   But he went down
   But he went down
   But he went down

   John Henry was a steel-drivin' boy
   But he went down
   But he went down
   That's why I'm gone

All best,
Johnm
   





   
   
   
   
 
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: lindy on May 28, 2012, 09:16:23 PM
I had a real treat today. Last year about this time I posted something about the big 4-day party called Northwest Folklife Festival that?s held every Memorial Day weekend in Seattle, everything from Morris dancing to Hindu kirtan singing to 15-piece Balkan brass bands to the Jelly Rollers playing North Mississippi blues.

The treat was a three-hour tribute to Harry Smith?s anthology, appropriate for many reasons, one being that he would have been 89 tomorrow, another that he was born in Bellingham, WA (though someone claimed that Portland, OR is his birthplace), another that Smith was one of the major inspirations for the small group of folkies who started the festival in 1972.

They dedicated one hour each to the three volumes, with a few songs from volume 4 thrown in. The organizers went to the trouble of recruiting performers to play one song each (with 2-3 exceptions). Purists would not have been pleased, there were a several updated and rearranged renditions, performers in their 20s injecting songs with the styles they grew up with, most of them worked just fine, the spirit was intact. One woman used an electronic looper with her fiddle, her song was preceded by a quote from Harry arguing that the world didn?t need radio stations, record players, or any other kind of technology getting in the way of music being made and shared on a person-to-person basis. One trio did Robert Johnson?s ?Last Fair Deal Gone Down? old-timey style.

There was a good crowd at the stage, lots of people who were obviously familiar with the anthology. The master of ceremonies brought along a portable 78 rpm record player and spun a couple of the original discs.

Harry?s memory lives on!
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on May 29, 2012, 09:17:03 AM
That sounds like it was a lot of fun, Lindy.  Thanks for reporting on it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: lindy on May 29, 2012, 09:50:04 AM
Hi John:

The Canotes did a couple of tunes, including the instrumental with the minimalist square dance calls. Jere was playing this six-string banjo:

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.canote.com%2Fsource%2Fbanjo6.jpg&hash=b167608f42c299a399c05803eb74a6122a1aad74)(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.canote.com%2Fsource%2Fbanjo7.jpg&hash=59582ea2b599968f4bf246ab1d8caaae0f2e9683)

L
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on May 29, 2012, 12:04:23 PM
That's a beauty, Lindy.  As you know, Jere made my fretless banjo-guitar, too, and he's a wonderful maker.  Anyone interested in a custom banjo-guitar or banjo-uke should contact him.  He's made the best I've seen, and they're very reasonably priced.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on December 26, 2012, 12:45:58 PM
Hi all,
Coley Jones recorded "Drunkard's Special" in Dallas on December 6, 1929, and Harry Smith selected the song for inclusion on Volume One, Ballads.  Coley accompanied himself out of G position in standard tuning for the song, which is evidently an Americanized version of a very old English song sometimes called "Three Nights Drunk" or "Our Goodman".  The focus of the song is drunken cuckoldry, as recounted by the drunken cuckold.  Coley Jones comes across as immensely likable in the rendition, and speaks the words "Come here, honey" every time he comes to them, each time with a droller inflection as the song goes along.

First night when I went home, drunk as I could be
There's another mule in the stable, where my mule oughta be

"Come here, honey.  Explain yourself to me.
How come another mule in the stable, where my mule oughta be?"

"Oh crazy, oh silly, can't you plainly see?
That's nothing but a milk cow, where your mule oughta be."

I've traveled this world over, million times or more
Saddle on a milk cow's back I've never seen before

Second night when I got home, drunk as I could be
There's another coat on the coat rack, where my coat oughta be

"Come here, honey.  Explain this thing to me.
How come another coat on the coat rack, where my coat oughta be?"

"Oh crazy, silly, can't you plainly see?
Nothing but a bed quilt where your coat oughta be."

I've traveled this world over, million times or more
Pockets in a bed quilt, I've never seen before

The third night when I went home, drunk as I could be
There's another head on the pillow, where my head oughta be

"Come here, honey, come here.  Explain this thing to me.
How come another head on the pillow, where my head oughta be?"

"Oh crazy, oh silly, can't you plainly see?
That's nothing but a cabbage head that your Grandma sent to me."

I've traveled this world over, million times or more
Hair on a cabbage head, I've never seen before

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on March 21, 2013, 06:08:32 PM
Hi all,
There are a couple of performances or places in performances included in the Anthology of American Folk Music that make me think that Harry Smith may have had a soft spot for renditions in which singers became totally unmoored from their sense of pitch.  One such place occurs in Volume II, in Rev. Moses Mason's performance of "John The Baptist".  (This, I believe is the same singer who recorded "Molly Man" as "Red Hot Old Mose".)  At any event, at just about 1:00 or 1:01 into his rendition, after a long stretch of text-heavy chanting, Moses Mason goes into a wordless "Hey-eee, hey-eee" that lasts about ten seconds, and which sounds from a pitch point of view, as though it is inhabiting some sort of alternate universe, or at least, not the same universe as the rest of the song.
A more extreme example is Didier Herbert's rendition of "I Woke Up One Morning In May" on Volume III.  Herbert backs himself on guitar out of G position in standard tuning, free-handing the melody in the bass under his singing, and never really playing full chords.  Herbert's vocal is so sharp as to induce a toothache, and he never brings it into agreement with the guitar.  The song is an exceptionally long 3:01.

I think Harry Smith must have enjoyed these pitchy moments for their own sake, or perhaps for their strangeness.  I'm glad he chose to include them in the set, because they contribute to the singularity of experience you get in listening to the Anthology.  Apropos of this guesswork on my part, I was wondering if anyone knew of any published interviews with Harry Smith in which he discussed his selection process for the songs on the Anthology.  It would be nice to get some insights from the man himself.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on January 07, 2014, 05:51:54 PM
Hi all,
Kelly Harrell recorded "My Name Is John Johannah" at a session in Camden, New Jersey on March 23, 1927, backed by Posey Rorer on fiddle, R.D. Hundley on banjo and Alfred Steagall on guitar.  Harrell really delivers on the vocal and Alfred Steagall does yeoman's duty on rhythm guitar, playing one of the coolest licks ever near the end of each sung line, going in E from the second fret of his fourth string down to the second fret of his fifth string, down one fret to the first fret of the fifth string, back to the second fret of the fifth string and back to the second fret of the fourth string where he started.  The notes are E-B-Bb-B-E, and that Bb note gives the lick an almost Middle Eastern sound.
I don't know who came up with the lyrics on this song, but they are choice.  I'd very much appreciate help with the bent bracketed section in the last verse--I can't quite catch it for sure.  There are so many wonderful performances on the Anthology of American Folk Music, and this one rates right up there with any of them.  It also has the distinction of devoting a solo to a banjo and whistling duet!  Kelly Harrell pronounced Johannah "Johanner".

My name is John Johanner, I came from Buffalo town
For nine long years I've travelled this wide, wide world around
Through ups and downs and miseries and some good days I saw
But I never knew what misery was 'til I went to Arkansas

I went up to the station, the operator to spy
Told him my situation and where I wanted to ride
Says, "Hand me down five dollars, lad, a ticket you shall draw,
That'll land you safely a railway in the state of Arkansas."

I rode up to the station, but chanced to meet a friend
Alan Catcher was his name, although they called him Cain
His hair hung down in rat-tails, below his underjaw
He said he run the best hotel in the state of Arkansas

I followed my companion to his respected place
Saw pity and starvation was pictured on his face
His bread was old corn dodgers, his beef I could not chaw
He charged me fifty cents a day in the state of Arkansas

SOLO

I got up that next morning to catch that early train
He said, "Don't be in a hurry, lad, I have some land to drain.
You'll get your fifty cents a day and all that you can chaw.
You'll find yourself a different lad when you leave old Arkansas."

I worked six weeks for the son-of-a-gun, Alan Catcher was his name
He stood seven feet two inches, as tall as any crane
I got so thin on sassafras tea I could hide behind a straw
You'll bet I was a different lad when I left old Arkansas

Farewell you old swamp rabbits, also you dodger pills
Likewise, you walking skeletons, you old fast-back eels
If you ever see my face again, I'll hand you down my paw
I'll be looking through a telescope from home to Arkansas

Edited 1/13 to pick up correction from frailer24

All best,
Johnm

Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: jostber on January 08, 2014, 06:07:09 AM
Mississippi Records will reissue this set in the original vinyl format and packaging next month.

Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: LucyStag on January 10, 2014, 02:09:50 PM
Mississippi Records will reissue this set in the original vinyl format and packaging next month.

Oh man, I had better not fix my record player or I might find myself accidentally buying that.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: frailer24 on January 13, 2014, 02:10:06 PM
For the questioned phrase, I've always heard "swamp rabbits".
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Johnm on January 13, 2014, 03:15:27 PM
Good on you, Larry, that is spot on!  Not only is it "swamp rabbits", he actually enunciates it very cleanly.  I don't know what my problem was, probably lack of imagination.  Thanks so much, and I will make the change.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: frailer24 on January 13, 2014, 04:03:54 PM
Anytime, John.
Title: Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
Post by: Gilgamesh on May 05, 2014, 08:00:39 PM
Mississippi Records will reissue this set in the original vinyl format and packaging next month.

Did this ever come out?
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