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Nobody in the world can do that because there is only one Tampa Red and when he's dead, that's all brother - Big Bill Broonzy, on a Chicago hoaxer

Author Topic: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas  (Read 1006 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Hi all,
I was wondering if anyone owned or had access to the notes of the Document CD, "Field Recordings Vol. 6 Texas 1933--1958".  I am interested to know with regard to the song "My Pore Mother Keeps On Praying For Me", which of the listed musicians, Wallace Chains and Sylvester Jones, played guitar, and which musician sang.  I'd also be interested to know when and where the song was recorded, and by whom.  Thanks very much for any help in supplying this information.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 09:28:47 AM »
Hi John:

Here's a link to the LoC card:

https://www.loc.gov/item/afc9999005.8458/

It doesn't give any information with regards to your first question, but does answer your second.

Also: https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=10188.msg87928#msg87928


Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2019, 09:44:44 AM »
Thanks very much for the link to the Library of Congress card, Stuart.  I had assumed the song was recorded by John Lomax, but it's nice to have the more exact information on the location of the recording and approximate date and the fact that Ruby Lomax assisted with the recording, too.  I'm beginning to think that despite the listing of the two musicians for the track, the performance was actually a solo performance by Wallace Chains.  We'll see if any further information is found that corroborates or disproves that. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 02:50:50 PM »
John: Take a look at the info under the clip on the YouTube page (Click "Show More"). It gives some additional information that may be useful in searching for info about the performers:



For example: https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/38

And: https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000070/

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2019, 03:42:26 PM »
I don't know if this adds to what you already have but Dixon Godrich & Rye has the following.

Recording date 23 April 1939 at Camp No. 4, Ramsey State Farm, Otey Tx

Prob.Wallace Chains, v; acc. prob. Sylvester Jones, g.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2019, 03:54:52 PM »
I looked up Sylvester Jones in the index to accompanists in case it could shed any light. There is no entry for Sylvester Jones which surprised me since he's credited as "acc. prob. ..." on the song. Might be the "probably" status meant he didn't make the cut.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2019, 06:05:09 PM »
Thanks for the help, Stuart and Rivers.  By continuing to scroll down the page that the performance of "Ella Speed" was on (which was shown to be sung and played by Wallace Chains), I was able to follow a link to a similar page and performance of "My Pore Mother Keeps On Praying For Me".  On that page, it appeared that the guitar on "My Pore Mother, etc." is Wallace Chains, but the vocal is by Sylvester Jones, which could help explain why the vocal and guitar are slightly out of sync at the very beginning of the performance.  The beginning is odd in a way that it would not likely be if the same person was doing both the guitar playing and the singing.  I'm satisfied that the mystery is figured out now.  Thanks, guys.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2019, 06:37:41 PM »
Exceptional piece, by the way! Whomever is playing guitar is a cut above the pack, and the singer likewise.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 06:41:17 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 06:44:57 PM »
Yup, I agree.  The guitarist is spectacular, new ideas from beginning to end.  I featured this one early on in Miller's Breakdown.  The guitarist had obviously heard or seen Ramblin' Thomas (or vice versa), but he plays a bunch of stuff that Thomas never played--wow!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2019, 06:49:40 PM »
Thanks for bringing that one into the light John, lots to learn there.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2019, 07:49:21 PM »
Here's another:



https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000069/

https://www.loc.gov/item/afc9999005.8455/

When I get a chance I'm going to look at the sleeve notes, etc. to see if it leads to anything else that's out there.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 07:51:21 PM by Stuart »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2019, 11:10:30 PM »
I had that one in Miller's Breakdown, too, Stuart.  Wallace Chains was the first musician to appear twice in that thread, and I didn't know anything about him except that he was from Texas and was a great player.  I've discovered so many great musicians and performances in the course of trying to find tunes for that thread.  There's one in that thread fairly early on called simply "Blues" by Big Boy, who was recorded in a prison in Virginia I think, that is really fantastic, in a class with Smith Casey.  I believe that there were a number of players in prison in the '30s through the '50s perhaps, who were as strong a group of players as the people making commercial recordings in the same period. 

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2019, 08:15:59 AM »
Hi John: I'm sure that I saw "Smokey Mountain Blues" the first time around, but just forgot about it and missed it yesterday. I definitely agree with you about the great treasure trove of unrecorded music that has been lost to history. --And the great treasure trove that is only preserved in a few cuts here and there as field recordings.

This afternoon when I have more time I'm going to take a closer look at the handwritten and typed sleeve notes to Wallace Chains' recordings at the LoC site and listen to the recordings just see if there's anything that might add to the information we have re: Wallace Chains and Sylvester Jones. Nothing may come of it, but at least I will have tried to think about it in a clear and cogent manner, instead of  merely posting fragments and links.

And of course after we've done our due diligence, you can edit, consolidate and reorganize what has been posted, perhaps changing the title of the thread. --Not need for duplicate links and other forms of redundancy.

Until then,

Stuart


P.S. BTW: The "Voices In Time" YouTube channel is great. For those of you who have only listened to selective songs via links posted here, here's a link to the top menu:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClpH81HFHrKxtY0V7Tds53g/feed
« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 08:27:52 AM by Stuart »

Offline jharris

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2019, 02:10:04 PM »
Thanks very much for providing access to those notes, Jeff.  It appears I had it the wrong way around, with Jones being the guitarist and Chains the singer.  It still sounds rather uncertain, though.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2019, 05:41:30 PM »
Thank you for posting the scan of the notes, Jeff. It is helpful.

John:

After looking over the writing on the sleeves, I have more questions than answers, which isn't difficult, since I have no answers. Here are links to the sleeves:

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000722

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000723

n.b. The handwritten title of the song, "My Pore Mother Keeps A-prayin' for Me," is "My Old Mother Keeps On Prayin,'" on the sleeve. However "poor" is what is sung. I could find no indication that "pore" was an accepted variant spelling of "poor," so why was it spelled that way in the title?


The Lomaxs' had field notes that have been transcribed:

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000855/

https://www.loc.gov/resource/afc1939001.afc1939001_fn0001/?st=gallery

https://cdn.loc.gov/service/afc/afc1939001/afc1939001_fn0001/afc1939001_fn0001.pdf

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/southern-mosaic/history.html

I'd be interested to know if the original handwritten notes are extant. They might contain additional information that the Lomaxs did not include in the typed version.

And there are other songs with Wallace Chains and Sylvester Jones:

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000065/

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000067/

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000071/

https://www.loc.gov/item/lomaxbib000072/


Edit the above as you see fit.

Stuart

Offline Johnm

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2019, 06:52:33 PM »
Thanks for doing all of that legwork, Stuart.  I'm going to let it all stand so that interested parties can pursue the different leads and information.  I'm not a big fan of "pore" either--the only thing that I can think of that would justify its use would be if one of the artists involved wrote the title down that way.  I hope your searching was not too time-consuming.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2019, 08:49:36 AM »
Hi John:

Like you, I also think there's still some uncertainty re: who played and who sang on the three songs. I looked at Lomax's notes for April 23 and there doesn't seem to be anything that is conclusive. Maybe we should let it be, "prob. Sylvester Jones guitar," for the time being and let it go at that for now. "Subject to revision," in case additional info surfaces in the future.

Some additional biographical information about Chains and Jones might answer a few questions I have. What were they in for? If and when they were released, what were their lives like? What did they do musically?

As you often remark, the important thing is that their music survives. The guitarist certainly was exceptional. It's a shame we don't have more.

When time permits, I'm going to go through the Lomaxs' field notes an try to match them up with recordings at the LoC. I'm sure there are a few pleasant surprises in there.

My Best,

Stuart

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2019, 04:14:14 PM »
I'm not a big fan of "pore" either--the only thing that I can think of that would justify its use would be if one of the artists involved wrote the title down that way.

Somebody couldn't spell somewhere in the chain. Nothing has changed, just take a look at the internet today. I clutch my head in anguish on a daily basis. Trump's twitter feed, for example, though someone is obviously editing it lately, fewer howlers.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2019, 05:36:21 PM »
My guess is that it was a simple mistake that went or was deliberately left uncorrected. Poor, pore and pour are homophones in modern American English (stating the obvious). Spelling errors are part of cultural history, so maybe the decision was made to retain the erroneous spelling in order to be faithful to the original. Beats the hell out of me.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Personnel query re: Document Field Recordings, Vol. 6, Texas
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2019, 04:30:55 PM »
Just another "we'll probably never know" moment in the history of country blues. I would have preferred the LoC had corrected it immediately, personally, for several reasons. Maybe the LoC couldn't spell either! :P
« Last Edit: July 18, 2019, 04:36:49 PM by Rivers »

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