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Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available

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Rick Fielding 27 Aug 01 - 12:15 AM
katlaughing 27 Aug 01 - 11:40 AM
Tedham Porterhouse 27 Aug 01 - 12:19 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Aug 01 - 12:36 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 27 Aug 01 - 12:52 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Aug 01 - 09:49 PM
catspaw49 27 Aug 01 - 10:13 PM
katlaughing 27 Aug 01 - 11:08 PM
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Subject: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 12:15 AM

Hi. Moe Asch recorded Woody Guthrie during performances of "Folksay" in New York in 1954. Does anyone know if these recordings were ever released? I know they are supposed to be pretty awful because of the progress of Woody's Huntington's Chorea, but I would really like to hear them.

He apparently made some further recordings on his own that year (on a wire recorder)with Sonny Terry. Any chance that these are available?

Pretty obscure info, I guess. I was going to ask Joe Hickerson, but thought there may be someone here who's got the poop.

Thanks

Rick


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 11:40 AM

Rick,

According to THIS SITE Smithsonian Folkways has a Vol. 1 of the Asch recordings available at least. It's mentioned about halfway down the page.

luvyakat


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 12:19 PM

Rick,

In 1995, Collectable Records released two CDs that contain the six original volumes of "American Folksay" as well as "Chain Gang Songs" as part of their "The Stinson Collector Series."

Stinson was a label started by Moe Asch's former partner. Much of the material on Stinson was the same recordings that was also released on Folkways.

The "Folksay" recordings include Woody, Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, Frank Warner, Pete Seeger, Roger Sprung, Tom Glazer and several others.

The CDs are:

American Folksay: Ballads & Dances Vol. 1-4 (Collectables COL-CD-5600)

American Folksay: Ballads & Dances Vol. 5-6/Chain Gang Vol. 1-2 (Collectables COL-CD-5601).

Kat,

There are four Woody Guthrie CDs in the Asch recordings series. They are:

This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1 (Smithsonian Folkways SF-CD-40100)

Muleskinner Blues: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2 (Smithsonian Folkways SF-CD-40101)

Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings, Vol. 3 (Smithsonian Folkways SF-CD-40102)

Buffalo Skinners: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 4 (Smithsonian Folkways SFW-CD-40103.


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 12:36 PM

Hi. thanks folks.

"Folksay" was the small experimental brainchild of Will Geer. They put on plays and had "evenings" at various greenwich village basements and lofts during 1954. I probably have most of the commercially available Guthrie recordings and certainly have researched every nook and cranny of his life that I could.

Does anyone know if the "Folksay" that tedham mentioned contains the specific 1954 recordings (with Jack Elliot).

I doubt that the "other" recordings I mentioned (also in 1954, and with Sonny Terry) are available, but who knows?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 12:52 PM

Rick,

Jack Elliott is not part of the American Folksay recordings I listed.

There is a version of "Railroad Bill" by Woody, Jack and Sonny Terry that Moe Asch recorded in 1953 on the soundtrack CD to "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack." According to the liner notes, it is the "only known studio session" of Woody and Jack together.


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 09:49 PM

Rick,

Folksay was also the name of some experimental dances that Woody & the Almanacs performed with Sophie Maslow, a dancer with Martha Graham (Woody's wife Marjorie was also a Graham dancer.)

The recordings that Asch released did not contain that final 1954 session. The story I heard was that Woody was sick, Elliot and Sonny Terry had been drinking, and Asch just turned the recording machine off. As Tedham mentioned, one of the cuts recently appeared on the soundtrack CD for Ballad of Rambling Jack.

It is more of a curiosity piece. As a student I would love to hear more of those recordings, but it would be difficult for someone to release them as Woody's Last Sessions commercially. (As a radio host, I would think twice before playing it on the air. I did play the Elliot cut when the CD was released, but it isn't something that I would play again.) It would be tricky to market something like that - to a lot of us it would seem almost a morbid commercial attempt to capitalize on Woody's name.

Last year I saw the Woody Guthrie exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The night before it opened there was a special celebration with Arlo, Nora, Pete Seeger and other friends. Years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing the late Marjorie Guthrie. I remember asking her if there were any films of Woody and she distinctly said that there were only a few minutes of film. Well it turns out that Marjorie had kept LOTS of home movies, but they were of Woody during his final years. She apparently felt that they were private films and emotionally she couldn't share them - they showed a Woody Guthrie that most of us never saw. At the celebration Nora decided to show some of the films. She talked about how her mother wanted to keep them private, but she felt that people should see how a family dealt with a Huntington's patient. The films showed Woody sitting on a lawn, his body shaking with tremors as he attempted to play a guitar. He looked so frail and helpless, but the films clearly showed his family enjoying being in his company. The films were silent home movies, and the room was very quiet while they played. After they ended you could see and hear people visibly shaken by what they had watched. Arlo stepped up and said something to the effect that while it may have been tough for people like us to watch, we should all remember that what he saw was a family spending time with someone they loved. This was a Sunday afternoon with their Dad, and they were all having a good time - and that includes Woody.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 10:13 PM

Damn Ron but I envy you that experience. Thanks a lot for sharing the story, I personally really appreciate it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Woody's Last Sessons. Are they available
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Aug 01 - 11:08 PM

Thank you, Ron, very much.


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