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One night an obscure Mississippi country boy showed up... and he impressed Mr. Wright with his politeness and showmanship. "He always had a motion, you know" - Early Wright, WROX Clarkdale DJ on Elvis

Author Topic: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers  (Read 1108 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« on: October 27, 2014, 08:05:47 PM »
From the Lomax archive. Looking forward to hearing this one:

"Get In Union" is released today via the Tompkins Square label: http://www.tompkinssquare.com

* Produced by Grammy-nominated curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, Nathan Salsburg
* 2 CDs, 51 tracks, 26 previously unreleased, including collaborations with Rev. Gary Davis, Sweet Papa Stovepipe, Mable Hillery, and Janie Hunter
* Remastered from Lomax's original tapes

"Bessie Jones was one of the most popular performers on the 1960s and '70s folk circuit, appearing usually at the helm of the Georgia Sea Island Singers at colleges, festivals, the Poor People's March on Washington, and Jimmy Carter's inauguration. "Get In Union" is a collection of her classic recordings with the Singers, combined with many previously unavailable solo and small-group performances captured by Alan Lomax between 1959 and 1966.

"Alan Lomax first visited the Georgia Sea Island of St. Simons in June of 1935 with folklorist Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and author Zora Neale Hurston. There they met the remarkable Spiritual Singers Society of Coastal Georgia, as the group was then called, and recorded several hours of their songs and dances for the Library of Congress. Returning 25 years later, Lomax found that the Singers were still active, and had been enriched by the addition of Bessie Jones, a South Georgia native with a massive collection of songs going back to the slavery era. Over the next several years, Lomax and Jones worked together to present, promote, and teach Southern black folk song across the country, from nightclubs to elementary schools. "Get In Union" features freshly remastered audio from 24-bit digital transfers of Lomax's original tapes and notes by the Alan Lomax Archive's Nathan Salsburg and Anna Lomax Wood, who accompanied her father on his 1960 recordings of Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers."

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2014, 08:09:03 AM »
Another acquisition over the holidays. Not surprisingly, this is a wonderful collection, made up of previously available recordings of Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, as well as a slew of unreleased group material and some great solo Bessie material.

The one track with McKinley Peebles (aka Sweet Papa Stovepipe) is incidental compared to the power of much of this collection, and the track with Rev. Gary Davis even moreso (he is not prominent on the track, an exuberant "Before This Time Another Year", though is audibly carried away by the spirit of the performance). Much more impressive are the two tracks with Hobart Smith, That Suits Me and Beulah Land.

A lot to take in here, so many great vocal performances, with most of the musical accompaniment made by simple rhythmic beating and hand clapping. Bessie is described as "singer and song-bearer of monumental proportions". Ain't that the truth. Gotta love one of the other leaders of the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Big John Davis, here as well. You want singing lessons? Here's yer singing lessons.

My only complaint is that the rich variety of material in these songs just cries out for lyric transcriptions of the kind found in other Lomax releases like the earlier Deep River of Song or Southern Journey series.

CD 1

Sheep Sheep Don't You Know the Road
You Better Mind
Plumb the Line
O Day (Yonder Come Day)
Moses Don't Get Lost
Blow Gabriel
Got to Lie Down (How Shall I Rise)
Sometimes
Shoo Turkey
Adam in the Garden
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Little David, Play On Your Harp
You Got to Reap Just What You Sow / Just a Little Talk With Jesus
O Mary Don't You Weep
Throw Me Overboard
Going to Chattanooga
See Aunt Dinah
John Henry
Sink 'Em Low
Diamond Joe
Live Humble
Get in Union
Elephant Fair
Uncle Ned
That Suits Me

CD 2

No Hiding Place Down Here
O Death
Dead and Gone
Prayer
Sign of the Judgement
This Train is a Clean Train
Turkle Dove
Beulah Land
Let Me Fly
Walk Daniel
I'm Gonna Lay Down My Life for My Lord
Way Down Yonder in the Brickyard
Bob Young's Song and Whoop
Read 'Em, John
Before This Time Another Year
Once There Was No Sun
There Was an Old Lady From Brewster
Little Johnny Brown
Prodigal Son
Take Me to the Water
Drinking That Wine
Once There Was No Sun (II)
One Morning Soon
Buzzard Lope
One of These Days (I)
One of These Days (II)



« Last Edit: December 31, 2014, 08:49:32 AM by uncle bud »

Offline jharris

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Re: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2014, 10:44:34 AM »
I just got this for the holidays as well. This is a fantastic collection. Tompkins Square has been putting out some great releases, particularly the gospel collections. I wish there were more recordings that featured Mable Hillery who was definitely under recorded (she's on one track). I've been looking in vain for a copy of her only, long-out-of-print album, "It's So Hard To Be A Nigger" on Xtra. 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2015, 07:05:03 AM »
I've been looking in vain for a copy of her only, long-out-of-print album, "It's So Hard To Be A Nigger" on Xtra. 
For that to happen it would require reissue. I would think that in this age of "political correctness" they'd have to not only "bleep" each time the word was used but also re-title the sleeve (front & back) and record label. I'm sure I read somewhere that Nat Joseph, owner of Transatlantic, withdrew the LP.

I met Joseph a few times in the mid 60s when"blagging" LPs to review. In 2005 one obituary stated Joseph's commercial instincts may have been random - he followed his heart rather than his head - but he only ever wanted to release records of character and distinction, and, with paternal benevolence and an open-door philosophy, encouraged his staff to follow his example.

The LP under discussion certainly came into that category.

I think I OCR'd the Hedy West's sleeve notes for Weenie.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2015, 09:48:33 AM »
Indeed, and very interesting notes they were. http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=3411.0

Offline jharris

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Re: Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2015, 03:02:34 PM »
Thanks very much, I had not seen this before. That's for scanning this Bunker and thanks to Uncle Bud for the link.

 


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