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Boys you know now if I were you, you know I'd quit gamblin, do like I do... let it go... follow up on me... gamblin, it will ruin you, now good boys, let's all be the same way, like I am - Peetie Wheatstraw Numbers Blues

Author Topic: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music  (Read 9512 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #45 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

Offline alyoung

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #46 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??)

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #47 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 , you'll find the answer to your question and the appropriate video.
All best,
Johnm

Offline alyoung

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #48 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 , 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

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #49 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


   
   
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 05:28:53 PM by Johnm »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #50 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.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #51 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

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #52 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
   





   
   
   
   
 
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 06:56:20 AM by Johnm »

Offline lindy

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #53 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!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #54 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

Offline lindy

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #55 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:



L
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:06:04 AM by lindy »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #56 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

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #57 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
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 12:54:14 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #58 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

Offline Johnm

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Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #59 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

« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 03:17:08 PM by Johnm »

 


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