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Info on Dorsey Dixon / Dixon Brothers

DigiTrad:
BABIES IN THE MILL
CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?
INTOXICATED RAT
THE WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY
WEAVE ROOM BLUES
WEAVER'S LIFE


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Pinball Machine (Lonnie Irving) (22)
Lyr Add: Babies in the Mill (Dorsey Dixon) (2)
(origins) Origins: Weave Room Blues (Dorsey Dixon) (6)
Lyr Req: Cleveland School Fire (6)


SINSULL 15 Mar 01 - 01:52 PM
Hollowfox 15 Mar 01 - 02:46 PM
Stewie 15 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM
SINSULL 15 Mar 01 - 05:06 PM
Peter T. 18 Mar 03 - 06:56 PM
SINSULL 18 Mar 03 - 07:56 PM
masato sakurai 18 Mar 03 - 08:01 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 03 - 12:29 AM
GUEST,Dale 19 Mar 03 - 01:06 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 19 Mar 03 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Peter T. 19 Mar 03 - 05:19 PM
Rick Fielding 19 Mar 03 - 05:43 PM
SINSULL 19 Mar 03 - 05:43 PM
GUEST 19 Mar 03 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Dale 19 Mar 03 - 06:31 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 19 Mar 03 - 06:38 PM
SINSULL 20 Mar 03 - 06:42 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 31 Jan 04 - 05:20 PM
SINSULL 31 Jan 04 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,Big Jim from Jackson 01 Feb 04 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Michael Dixon 05 Feb 04 - 12:36 PM
SINSULL 06 Sep 04 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,Leesa Axley 01 Dec 10 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,Tracy Schwarz and Ginny Hawker 01 Dec 10 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,Billy Knight 16 Jan 11 - 12:54 AM
GUEST 17 Feb 12 - 07:47 PM
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Subject: Dorsey Dixon and Songs of the Industrial
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Mar 01 - 01:52 PM

Last night I was rummaging through some old LPs and came across "Babies in the Mill" by Dorsey Dixon. Great stuff including "Factory Girl" which someone asked about recently. Today I found a website for his lyrics et al.
Click here
The LP is a strange collection of "at home" recordings by Dorsey, his sister,and brother (Howard?)Funny when they forget the lyrics and have to start over. So i am sharing...


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Subject: RE: Dorsey Dixon and Songs of the Industrial
From: Hollowfox
Date: 15 Mar 01 - 02:46 PM

Neat, thanks!


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Subject: RE: Dorsey Dixon and Songs of the Industrial
From: Stewie
Date: 15 Mar 01 - 05:03 PM

Dorsy Dixon's 'Babies in the Mill' has been reissued on CD: Dorsey Dixon 'Babies in the Mill' HMG 2502. The complete recorded works (1936-38) of the Dixon Brothers (Howard and Dorsey) are available on 4 CDs on the Document label: DOCD-8046 to DOCD-8049 inclusive.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Dorsey Dixon and Songs of the Industrial
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Mar 01 - 05:06 PM

Bet Dick Greenhaus can get them for us.


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Subject: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: Peter T.
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 06:56 PM

Just stumbled across his album "Babes at the Mill". We have had one or two short threads on this guy, and there is a web site or two with lyrics, but does anyone have any knowledge of him, met him, heard him play? yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 07:56 PM

One of my absolute favorites. i have a few CD's with Dorsey and family performing. Dick can give you a list of what is available.

So has anyone met him or seen him perform live?


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 08:01 PM

Four volumes of the Dixon Brothers' early recordings have been released by Document. The first is THIS.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 12:29 AM

Peter, I just happened to have the Dorsey Dixon Babies in the Mill CD on my desk. I pulled it out today to listen to "Burglar Man," which is being discussed in another thread. I think I'll ask Mr. Scanner to post the information from the CD booklet.
-Joe Offer-

The association of American folksong with southern rural life is so appealing that when hearing native song one visualizes cabins in cotton patches or cabins framed by mountain pines. Yet, since the Civil War, many cabin-like dwellings were hammered together in drab southern mill and factory towns.
Dorsey Murdock Dixon was born in such an industrial village. All his life he worked in textiles, and he still lives a stone's throw from his former work site, the Aleo Mill, East Rockingham, North Carolina.
Dorsey Dixon does not conceive his role as a champion or chronicler of his fellow textile workers. His self-perception is that of an evangelical Christian teaching gospel with song, a country-sacred song composer, and even a popular entertainer. Yet this portrait fits thousands of individuals, amateur and professional, who have created, carried, and cared for folksong.
Dorsey is distinguished from his peers precisely because he adds to the normal characterization of the hillbilly musician a deep knowledge and feeling for industrial life. Except for a few dollars earned on the radio and in phonograph recording studios, his fortune has been that of a "millhand," and he has been gifted enough to weave the tone of his own experience into a handful of industrial songs presented here on his first LP. This record includes work, sacred and secular songs and ballads sung by Dorsey as well as by his sister Nancy and late brother Howard. They, too, were Aleo workers. Nancy retired from spinning in 1954, and Howard, a skilled cloth-room machine fixer, was stricken at work on March 24, 1961.
Southern textile workers came to their industry primarily from two areas: tenant farms in the Piedmont and lowlands or mountain subsistence farms. The Dixons stemmed from Carolina's coastal section; their date of transition from agrarian to factory life is unknown. Dorsey's father was a mechanic in wood and iron. At Dorsey's birth (October 54, 1897), his father worked for the Darlington (South Carolina) Cotton Manufacturing Company as a steam engine operator.
Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. William McQuiller Dixon; three made a significant folksong contribution. Dorsey's older sister Nancy Alena (born October 23, 1892) began work at the age of eight as a child spinner in the Darlington mill for eight cents a day. Dorsey followed her to work at 12; at 13 he was on his own in the mill's machine shop making bobbin bands. He got away from the factory for some four years during World War I by working as a railway signalman (block-house leverman flagging trains(on the Atlantic Coast Line in Darlington. By concealing his age, Howard Briten (born June 19, 1903) was able to join his older brother in the ACL tower for a few years, but when Dorsey gravitated back to the mills, Howard followed. From 1919 until his eyes "gave out" in 1951, Dorsey worked regularly in cotton mills at Darlington, Lancaster, and Creenville, S. C., at "home" in East Rockingham, N.C.; and during 1947 in a New Jersey rayon plant. Even after leaving the mills (1951), he continued industrial work in a Baltimore munitions plant box factory.
Dorsey married Beatrice Lucele Moody, a South Carolina textile girl, in 1927; four boys were born to them. When the boys grew up and left home, he and his wife separated (1953). Now alone in the world and unable to work, Dorsey sustains himself by music and faith. Fortunately his creative talent is abundant and he feels blessed that at least one of his compositions, "Wreck on the Highway," (initially popularized by Roy Acuff) has become both a country song classic and folksong during his lifetime.
Although Dixon and his songlore deserve extended study, one can only comment briefly here on his career. His musical skill was apparent in his fifth year when he began to sing his mother's hymns and sentimental ballads. At 14 he taught himself the guitar. A local music teacher gave him violin lessons and Dorsey played in Darlington's Sunday schools. Some years later, after Howard had picked up the guitar, the brothers performed fiddle-guitar duets in the Rockingham movie theater. Dixon's turn to song composition did not come until his third decade. In May, 1923 a South Carolina schoolhouse (near Camden) burned, killing 76 children. The tragedy's impact on Dorsey was great but delayed; during 1929 he wrote a poem, "The Cleveland Schoolhouse Fire," which his mother and Howard
started to sing to the tune of "Life's Railway to Heaven." Aware of his skill as a songwriter, he began an activity that continues until today.
Along with composition, Dorsey gradually developed a highly personal guitar style, using a pick on each finger and the thumb of his right hand. Until 1935 he had always "frammed" (banged), but now he was inspired by Jimmie Tarlton, a fantastically gifted guitarist-singer temporarily employed in East Rockingham's Little Hanna Pickett Mill. (Tarlton was one of many textile workers who moved from the mills to music, having recorded "Birmingham Jail" and "Columbus Stockade Blues" for Columbia before meeting the Dixons.) Howard shared his brother's musicality and now left the straight guitar in favor of Hawaiian (steel) guitar style; his model also was Jimmie Tarlton. Dorsey and Howard formed a team in 1932 to entertain at church and in the village; they also performed during an early trade union drive in the Richmond County, N. C., mills. The Dixon Brothers first played "for gain" in 1934 on Charlotte's radio station, WBT, as participants on J. W. Fincher's Crazy Water Crystals Saturday Night Jamboree. In Charlotte they met and exchanged material with many fine Tar Heel radio and recording artists; Fisher Hendley, Snuffy Jenkins, Homer Sherill, Dick Hartman, J. E. and Wade Mainer, the Tennessee Ramblers, the Briarhoppers, the Three Tobacco Tags, the Blue Sky Boys.
The Dixon Brothers made their own phonograph recording debut February 12, 1936, in Charlotte for Victor's A & R man, Eli Oberstein. Periodically they returned for five more sessions and ended their recording career on a final Rock Hill, S. C., trip, September 25, 1938, having placed more than 60 numbers on wax.
For a few selections Dorsey was joined by his wife Beatrice and on others Howard was joined by his fellow mill-musicians Frank Gerald and Mutt Evans. All Dixon Brothers discs were originally released on two labels: Bluebird or Montgomery Ward. One song alone, "Intoxicated Rat," was reissued by Victor in 1941 on its Smoky Mountain Ballads album. Between 1936-1938 Oberstein assigned copyrights of Dorsey's material to various publishers; in some cases other performers shared claims to his work. Dorsey and Howard were paid normally (nominally) for their radio and recording work. Such fees were not enough to free them from the mills in the 1930's. Howard, at the age of 17, had married a mill girl and together they raised a family of eight children. Dorsey's third boy was born during the recording years. Like many fellow composers whose culture was poverty, Dorsey knew that his songs had monetary value, but he could never quite make the connections in the music industry to protect his prolific talent.
My personal interest in the Dixon Brothers stemmed from acquiring "Weaver's Life" and "Weave Room Blues" on 78 rpm records after World War II. I was unable to meet Howard before his death, but I did meet Dorsey at home in the summer of '961 while on a field trip with Ed Kahn of UCLA. A year later (August 6-8, 1962) Gene Earle and I visited East Rockingham and taped the material on this disc. For the session Dorsey accompanied himself on a Gibson Jumbo 45 guitar. Fortunately, we were also able to meet his sister Nancy, nearly 70 years old, and to collect two nineteenth century textile folksongs from her. To contrast Dorsey's 1962 material with Dixon Brothers style of the 1930's, RCA Victor has permitted Testament Records to reissue three original Bluebird records on this LP.
During 1963 Dorsey Dixon participated in the Newport Festival and three of his concert performances are now available on Old Time Music at Newport (Vanguard VRS 9147). Subsequently he journeyed to Washington, D. C., for a short engagement in several clubs as well as a recording session for Piedmont Records and the Library of Congress. Here, on November 1, 1963, he deposited 22 pieces in the Archive of Folksong; two months later he taped 16 more as a gift to the Archive.
Students of American labor have compiled extensive studies of the southern textile industry and its "lintheads" and "millhands" (Dictionaries are not needed to gloss these demeaning terms.) Beyond social science research, many novelists and poets have been attracted to the red brick mills of the old South ensconced behind their barbed wire fences and para-military guard posts. Sherwood Anderson, particularly, felt the warmth and cold and saw the light and shadow of mill life. From within their hearts, and while still stationed at their looms and shuttles, Dorsey, Howard, and Nancy Dixon added a dimension of folk music to American industrial history and literature.

Recorded & Produced by Gene Earle & Archie Green
Edited by Gene Earle & John Schmidt
Mastered by Bob Stone Mastering
Original Cover Design by A. Doyle Moore
Liner notes by Archie Green
Reissue Design by Brian Walls
Cover photo by Lewis W Hine, taken in a South Carolina cotton mill 1908. Used by courtesy, National Child Labor Committee, New York.

Songs on the CD:
  1. Babies in the Mill
  2. Weave Room Blues
  3. I Saw the Wood
  4. Across the Shining River
  5. Hard Times in Here (Solo by Nancy)
  6. Hard Times in Here
  7. Christmas Cake
  8. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  9. Be at Home Soon Tonight
  10. Pin Ball Machine
  11. Wreck of the Old 97
  12. Factory Girl (solo by Nancy)
  13. Factory Girl
  14. Weaver's Life
  15. Burglar Man
  16. Wreck on the Highway
  17. Somebody Touched Me
  18. Our Johnny
  19. Girl I left in Danville

All tracks written by Dorsey Dixon and published by Testament Music. (Can that be true?? -JRO-) The copyright on the CD is 1997 (by HMG/Hightone Records), but I can't figure out the date of the original recording - 1960's, apparently. I guess Dorsey Dixon must be dead by now.
-Joe Offer-
I question the claim that all thse songs were written by Dorsey Dixon. The CD's version of "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" is very similar to the version posted by George Seto here (click) attributed to Fanny Crosby. And how about "Wreck of the Old 97"?
The singing is extraordinary, but I think many of the songs predate Dorsey Dixon.
-JRO-


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 01:06 AM

Howard Dixon 1903 - 1961, Dorsey Dixon 1897 -1968. Their first recordings were in 1936 as noted above. Four CDS of their music are available, you can find them all by following masato's link. Available from Camsco. (That's where I got mine) The one mentioned by Joe is quite a bit later, 1962~~ good though.

Down with the Old Canoe Go here for a real audio of their 1938 recording. Added bonus ~~ lyrics AND links to a ton of stuff about the Titanic ~~ The Old Canoe.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 01:52 PM

I met and spent some time with Dorsey at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. In size he was fairly short, slender, and his nature very outgoing and friendly, a bit shy but loved to talk once he got started. Smiled a lot, and we jammed a bit together- he liked my harmony when we sang his Crash On The Highway. I didn't meet any others of his family. He was very pleased to be at the festival, listening to the music and playing for folks on and off stage.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Peter T.
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 05:19 PM

Thank you all for the information (and kytrad for the recollection). Do we really know which of these songs were his? Is the tune for Crash/Wreck on the Highway his, or merely the words. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 05:43 PM

I'd strongly suggest that you click into Darby and Tarlton (Tom and Jimmy) now that you've gotten into the Dixon Brothers Peter. There's a surreal quality in some of the Brother acts that others just don't have. I love the Carter Family, and the Delmore Brothers, but boy, when you hear The Allen Brothers (not the modern ones...sons of Red) or the Carlisles.....weird, and Wonderful!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 05:43 PM

Cleveland Schoolhouse Fire - didn't know it was his. Thanks.

kytrad - I envy you that meeting. Dorsey Dixon and the Blue Sky Boys are on the top of my "I wish I had Met" list. Orson Welles is third. Please don't tell me that you sang with him too!


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 06:29 PM

Darby and Tarlton ~~ oh yeah, Rick strikes again! There is a 3CD set from Bear Family that is absolutely first rate. Unfortunately, Tom Darby and Jimmie Tarleton didn't really care much for each other, or there would be more available.   I don't think the animosity really came out in the music though, and I recommend it all, Down In Florida On A Hog, Birmingham Town, Mexican Rag, Rainbow Division, Lonesome Frisco Line, and By The Old Oaken Bucket, Louise ~~ all good and just a start. I could name the good'uns until I named them all.

Now the Allen Brothers, well there is more there, and I really do LIKE their good material, but some of the talking blues they did get pretty repetitious by the time you get through four CDs worth, on Document by the way. Recommended by me, but not to the extent that I like Darby and Tarlton.

Carlisles ~~ their stuff together was better (opinion again) than what they did separately. Hard to find. The Monroe Brothers (heretical statement here) ~~ also better.   Two CDs worth of their output together is available on Rounder, and the rest are in the works.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 06:31 PM

Guess anybody that cares would know that was me.


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 06:38 PM

SINSULL- No, I never met Orson Welles...he was a LITTLE before my time! Not much, but a little. And I did go to an Elsa Maxwell party once...


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: SINSULL
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 06:42 PM

You don't remember "I will sell no wine before it's time"? God I am old!
Refresh


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Subject: The Dixon Brothers
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 05:20 PM

For those few people who had their first kiss listening to Down With The Old Canoe by the Dixon brothers, there's exciting news. There's a Dixon Brothers CD out, it's cheap and you can get it through www.collectorschoicemusic.com. The Dixon Brothers were a two guitar duet, with Howard playing slide guitar. They're considered descendents of Darby & Tarlton.

Who could resist an album that also has that smash hit "Sales Tax On The Women.?"

Jerry


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Subject: RE: The Dixon Brothers
From: SINSULL
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 06:30 PM

Dorsey Dixon"s "Babies in the Mill" is one of my favoritwe CDs. Thanks, Jerry. I will look this one up.
SINS


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Subject: RE: The Dixon Brothers
From: GUEST,Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 11:00 AM

Thanks, Jerry. The old-timers don't get enough air play. I'll see if I can get a copy.    Jim


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Michael Dixon
Date: 05 Feb 04 - 12:36 PM

If anyone is wondering about Dorsey or Howard Dixon. I'm Howards great grandson. Yes both are dead. And Yes, to the question about the lyrics of his songs. He wrote everyone, in fact Roy Acuff and other such "artist" stole Dorsey's songs with out credit given. Roy Acuff stole "wreck on the highway" and "grey speckled bird". And If you need proof, come see us in Hamlet, NC. Howard's sons and daughter live here. And if you would like anymore info about Dorsey or Howard e-mail me at simplesol2003@yahoo.com   Have a great day!


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: SINSULL
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 04:45 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Leesa Axley
Date: 01 Dec 10 - 04:29 PM

This is a very interesting thread, and I am so thrilled to see interest in my grandfather's work. Dorsey Dixon was my grandfather, and he was an incredible artist and songwriter. My dad is his youngest son, Roger. It is true that many of his songs were stolen from him by Roy Acuff, among others, including Wreck on the Highway and Great Speckled Bird, and by the time litigation was resolved, the initial interest and money from the hit songs was gone. It is sad that many early folk and country artists have been forgotten, so I am so glad to see this interest in my grandfather's wonderful work :)

Thanks for this thread!


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Tracy Schwarz and Ginny Hawker
Date: 01 Dec 10 - 09:30 PM

I want to add a strong memory of Dorsey Dixon also. I too met him at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He was very friendly and talkative. I made sure to tell him how much I liked his song called "She Tickles Me" that I had recently started performing with the New Lost City Ramblers. His response: "Oh yes, that song is always well liked by children from 6 to 60!" I still perform it these many years later, always making clear that Dorsey was the author and first to record it. I can also add that children beyond 60 love it too. Not too long ago I entertained a small audience of retired Catholic nuns and included "Tickles Me" with some fear that they might be put off by the subject matter before the punch line cleared the air but I soon saw they were enjoying it more that I would ever expect.

Thank you, Dorsey Dixon - well done!


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST,Billy Knight
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 12:54 AM

I am the great grandson of Dorsey Dixon. I can remember growing up and my grandfather and uncles sitting around the house singing his songs. I have even sang them to my children. I look back and read about his lode at look my grandfathers life in the mills of rockingham NC and can't fathom what it must have been like. I would get to know my family on this side so please email me at Billy.knight@comcast.net or call me At 253-973-4473


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Subject: RE: Info on Dorsey Dixon?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 07:47 PM


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