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Review: My Old True Love by Sheila K. Adams

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Review: Christmas on the Mtn- Sheila Adams (16)


John Minear 02 Jun 04 - 12:28 PM
John Minear 02 Jun 04 - 12:48 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Jun 04 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,bbc at work 03 Jun 04 - 11:58 AM
John Minear 04 Jun 04 - 09:31 AM
Burke 04 Jun 04 - 09:39 AM
John Minear 04 Jun 04 - 04:28 PM
Burke 04 Jun 04 - 05:45 PM
karen k 04 Jun 04 - 07:21 PM
John Minear 06 Jun 04 - 09:05 AM
bbc 06 Jun 04 - 09:32 PM
John Minear 08 Jun 04 - 07:22 AM
dick greenhaus 13 Jul 04 - 04:50 PM
Sandy Paton 13 Jul 04 - 05:37 PM
bbc 13 Jul 04 - 05:45 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Jul 04 - 06:49 PM
Ferrara 14 Jul 04 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 15 Jul 04 - 04:10 AM
Flair 26 Aug 09 - 09:26 PM
bbc 26 Aug 09 - 09:41 PM
Joe Offer 27 Aug 09 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Hilary 21 Jan 11 - 06:37 PM
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Subject: Review: Sheila K. Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 12:28 PM

Last night, my wife and I drove over to Richmond to a book signing by Sheila Adams at the Fountain Bookstore. Sheila's first novel, MY OLD TRUE LOVE, has just been published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Sheila, along with her husband, Jim Taylor, was there to do some reading, and singing, from her new book.

For those of you who may not be acquainted with Sheila Adams, she is a "seventh generation" ballad singer from Madison County, North Carolina, who grew up in the small mountain community of Sodom Laurel. So, of course, her first novel is full of of ballads and fiddle music. I would go so far as to say that the story itself is like one of the "old love songs". Most appropriately, Sheila and her husband, Jim, have also released a companion CD to go along with her new book, called ALL THE OTHER FINE THINGS, from Granny Dell Records (1222). The CD contains most of the songs and instrumental music referred to in her novel. With the fine help of her husband, Jim, along with Josh Goforth, James Leva, John Doyle, Bruce Greene, Carl Jones, and the The Christian Harmony Singers, Sheila presents these songs as only she can do it. The CD includes the following pieces:

1.        Young Hunting/Elzig's Farewell
2.        Wagoner's Lad
3.        Drunken Hiccups
4.        A Soldier Traveling From the North
5.        Sacred Throne
6.        George Booker
7.        My Dearest Dear
8.        Pretty Peggy-o
9.        Idumea
10.        Little Margaret
11.        Pretty Saro
12.        8th of January/Cumberland Gap/8th Day of January
13.        Windham
14.        Camp a Little While in the Wilderness

Extensive liner notes on each song are included with the CD. This is very exciting music and probably the best work done so far by Sheila and Jim. Even if you never read the book, you should listen to this music. [To be continued, with more details, in another note to follow.]   T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 12:48 PM

[Continued from my previous note.]      Ah…the book, MY OLD TRUE LOVE, by Sheila Kay Adams! If you can imagine the story of COLD MOUNTAIN told entirely in the first person by Ada, from a woman's point of view, as though she were actually speaking directly to you from that time without the intervention of a hundred and fifty or sixty years in between, with Frank Proffitt's "Going Across the Mountain" playing in the background, you can begin to get a sense of MY OLD TRUE LOVE. But it is so much more than that, because the book doesn't feel like it is the product of "historical research", but that it comes right out of lived experience, and in fact, that is exactly the case.

Sheila tells the story of Arty Norton's life, as that is reflected in the lives and times of her people there in Sodom Laurel. Sheila said that Arty was a clear voice inside her head that pretty much dictated the whole story to her. But, anybody who has ever heard Sheila sing or tell stories will immediately recognize that voice as Sheila's own voice. I think that this is a story of Sheila herself, set back a hundred and fifty years into the time of the Civil War. That's another reason to have the CD along with the book, so you can get her voice clearly in your own head.

There is no artifice or pretension in this book. It comes across clean and above all, honest. It is a straightforward story about mountain people in an extremely difficult time in their history. And, one of the amazing things about this story is that the people who make it happen really lived and most of them were kinfolks of Sheila's in one way or another. The fictional part is from her imagined retelling of their relationships, or how their relationships played out. But it is uncanny how immediate that telling is and how it puts the reader right smack in the middle of that time and place.

This book, and its accompanying CD deserve to be compared with the COLD MOUNTAIN phenomenon. I have not seen the movie of "Cold Mountain", nor have I heard the CD. I have read the book. It was a powerful, very masculine, story. Sheila's book is at least as powerful, and a very feminine story. It is "feminine" in the sense of tough/tender mountain womanliness. I personally found that the story is much more immediate than that of Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN, and somehow, much more personal. Frazier's story feels historical and like it happened a long time ago. Sheila's story is the exact opposite of that.

Sheila's book is also bound to be compared with Sharyn McCrumb's GHOST RIDERS, published last year by Dutton. McCrumb's story is set in almost the same time and place as that of Sheila's. McCrumb tries to move back and forth from the past to the present, as she has in some of her other novels. For some reason, I found GHOST RIDERS to be her weakest attempt at doing this. Perhaps it is really not fair to compare these two books. While McCrumb is also tracing a historical story from her own family roots, she did not have the advantage of actually growing up in a place like Sodom Laurel and thriving on all of that music. Her book feels "historically researched" and artificially constructed and I think she has trouble holding the plot together, especially at the end. But there is bound to be a comparison made, since McCrumb's book SONGCATCHER, came out just after the movie by the same title came out and Sheila was the voice coach for that movie. The book and the movie had nothing to do with each other.

Another book that might be a part of this discussion is James Lee Burke's WHITE DOVES AT MORNING, published two years ago by Simon and Schuster. His story also traces some family roots and history during the Civil War and is set in Louisiana. It is a fine story, and again a very masculine story, as only James Lee Burke can write it. It rings true but in comparison to Sheila's book, lacks that sense of immediacy and also feels "historically researched". Along with Burke's book and that of Frazier, I would also mention one that I have not read yet, called IN THE FALL, by Jeffrey Lent, published in 2000 by the Atlantic Monthly Press.   I have just finished Lent's latest book, LOST NATION, published in 2002 by Grove Press, which reads like one of the old ballads, and is a very gritty, "real", historical novel (not set in the Civil War). If IN THE FALL is anything like his second book, then it is worth being a part of this comparison.

I hope that Sheila's book, MY OLD TRUE LOVE, and the CD that she and Jim Taylor have put together, ALL THE OTHER FINE THINGS, can take advantage of some of the interest generated by the "Cold Mountain" movie. She and Jim are doing a lot of book signings which include readings, ballads, and instrumental music, along with additional storytelling. Check her website Sheila's Website) for the schedule, as well as other information and if you have a chance, try to get to one of these events. Tonight, June 2, they are doing a concert in Richmond, VA, at the "ART 6" gallery, beginning at 8:00.

        I talked to Dick Greenhaus and he says that CAMSCO CAMSCO will carry Sheila's CD, ALL THE OTHER FINE THINGS, (along with her other CDs), the purchase of which will benefit Mudcat. Or, you can order her CD directly from her at: Sheila Kay Adams, P.O. Box 1401, Mars Hill, NC 28754.         -   Turtle Old Man


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 08:20 PM

so pleased shes decided to stick a Lonnie Donnegan one in


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: GUEST,bbc at work
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 11:58 AM

Thanks for this information. I have loved the music & writing I've gotten by Sheila Kay in the past! I will be sure to get both the book & the cd.

best,

bbc


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 04 Jun 04 - 09:31 AM

Renew


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: Burke
Date: 04 Jun 04 - 09:39 AM

Just curious. Do they sing the solfege on 5, 9, & 13? If so, do you hear do's & re's or just fa, sol, la?


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 04 Jun 04 - 04:28 PM

Sorry, Burke, someone with more knowledge of shapenote singing than me will have to take a listen and answer your question. All I know is that they are exciting pieces to listen to.   T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: Burke
Date: 04 Jun 04 - 05:45 PM

Do they start right out with words or what seems like nonsense syllables?

If it sounds like nonsense, do you hear any do's or re's at all?


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: karen k
Date: 04 Jun 04 - 07:21 PM

Burke, there are just words, no syllables. It's a nice cd although a bit short to my liking. The book is wonderful. If you are at Old Songs stop by the Folk-Legacy booth and say hello.

karen


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 06 Jun 04 - 09:05 AM

This is such good stuff I want to keep it before you for another day and encourage you to take a look at it. The book is a very personal story about the tragic and bloody divisions that the Civil (!) War brought to the mountain people of the Southern Appalachians. There were very few slave owners in the mountains and most of the mountain people figured that this conflict was none of their business. But they were not able to maintain their neutrality. The Southern "recruiters" came after them and drafted them into the Rebel cause whether they wanted to go or not. And some went on their own accord. It was especially fierce in Western North Carolina, and Madison County earned the nickname of "bloody Madison". Many of the men and boys "went across the moutain" and joined the boys in blue over in East Tennessee and literally ended up fighting their brothers and fathers and cousins. Neighbors fought neighbors and long after the War was over the blood feuds continued to rage. This was true on up into Kentucky and West Virginia where similar divisions had taken place.

    Sheila's story is the story of the folks from Sodom Laurel and how all of this affected them and the scars that it left. The music on Jim and Sheila's CD is music authentic to the era and the place. Jim has a number of other very fine CDs of Civil War music. Check their website for this. Some are strictly instrumental, featuring Jim's hammered (and handmade)dulcimer and Sheila's banjo. On some of them, Jim's fine voice is featured. Once again, his music is authentic in terms of being carefully researched. Contrary to what it sounded like in my earlier posting, I am not against "historical research"! I've done a lot of it myself. In any case, I hope you will enjoy both the story - Sheila has been a great storyteller long before she became a novelist - and the music. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: bbc
Date: 06 Jun 04 - 09:32 PM

I have just ordered both the book & cd. Thanks again,T.O.M., for the information!

bbc


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: John Minear
Date: 08 Jun 04 - 07:22 AM

Renew


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Jul 04 - 04:50 PM

I recently finished "My Old True Love"--and enjoyed it immensely. Just received the companion CD "All the Other Fine Things" (it is a companion to the book, but it stands alone on its own merits).
    Frankly, it knocked my socks off--and I've listened to enough CDs so that my socks are generally pretty firmly attached. If you have any interest in Appalachian traditional music, it's a must. Same power and intensity as early field recordings, with good voices and modern recording technology.

CAMSCO is proud to offer the CD at $14.98. And if enough people are interested, I can supply the book for a bargain price: no more than $18 unless I find enough intersted parties. In that case, the price would drop to $16. Let me know.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 13 Jul 04 - 05:37 PM

Put us down for both book and CD, Dick. Odd that we hadn't mentioned it before this.
    Sandy


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: bbc
Date: 13 Jul 04 - 05:45 PM

Sorry I already bought both, Dick. I agree that the cd is good. I'm saving the book to read on my trip to see my folks, but I certainly expect to enjoy it. I've enjoyed the other book & recordings I have from Sheila. I think she's great!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Jul 04 - 06:49 PM

I'm refreshing this beacause I think that both the CD and the book are important ones. Sheila is truly a "tradition bearer", and I think it behooves those who've encountered only the gussied-up pop recordings of the Revival to hear what the real thing sounds like.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: Ferrara
Date: 14 Jul 04 - 10:28 PM

Bill just showed me this thread and as I opened it he said, "I imagine this is going to be an expensive review to read." Suspect he's right. :-)

Sheila Kaye is a wonderful storyteller. Her ballads classes are as much story as song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Sheila Kay Adams' New Book & CD
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 04:10 AM

She has some superb musicians on the CD. Carl Jones was in the UK (with Beverley Smith) this year - great guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and vocal and very funny guy. James Leva was in Conwy Bluegrass festival in 2001 - a fine fiddler and banjo player who, when young, played with people like Tommy Jarrel. Bruce Greene is a superb fiddler who's deeply immersed in the old mountain styles, and is himself a major source of tunes. I'm going to have to shell out for this!
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: Review: My Old True Love by Sheila K. Adams
From: Flair
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:26 PM

review by Robert Rodriguez

Sheila K. Adams, My Old True Love, Algonquin books, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, first published in 2004, reissued in 2008., pp.--289.,Isbn--1-56512-407-3.

      Many adjectives can be used to describe this extraordinary book, My Old True Love : haunting , poetic, beautiful, heart-rending. But perhaps the one overall word that touches the many aspects and meanings of this narrative is musical. One of America's finest storytellers and singers of traditional ballads, Sheila K. Adams has also gained a deserved reputation for being a true word-smith. Through this rivetingly beautiful oral history, written in the form of the historical novel, traditional music (the storyteller's art) and actual history come vividly to life. A bearer and preserver of both ballad and storytelling tradition that has existed since the mid seventeen-hundreds, Ms. Adams is uniquely qualified to re-tell a narrative so rich and colorful in both words and music, while at the same time offering a down home approach as folksy as the North Carolina mountains where her ancestors settled.
   
      The novel covers a period of over twenty years from the mid 1840's until after the Civil War, and follows the very history of Ms. Adams' family in the area of Madison County in Western North Carolina, centering particularly in and around her home community of Sodom. In the words of narrator Arty Norton, a direct relative of Ms. Adams herself, we hear the extraordinary tale of Larkin Stanton (who, in the teller's own words, learned to sing before he ever learned to speak) and his cousin Hackley Stanton, the teller's own brother, and how their rivalry was central to both their lives. This rivalry extended to everything from singing, women, and everything else in between. Many voices speak in the narrative, including the singers of Sodom past and present, and their ballads and songs are liberally sprinkled throughout this book. The family's saga comes to full life and breadth, set against the backdrop of the momentous and often horrific events of the Civil War, which thrust into their lives with all its deadly and somber consequences. Many emotions and images roll across the pages: joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, the spirit of the ballad-maker's art and the ever present touch of life and death and all it can hold. But what comes across again and again is an authentic feeling of tradition and continuity as rich and deep as the very southern soil upon which this story occurred.

         This is truly living history that can never be found within the pages of any conventional textbook, and that only a storyteller with the talents of Ms. Adams is capable of bringing to life. Ms. Adams has given us a memorable verbal portrait that feeds the ear, the heart, the soul, and the very meaning of verbal magic and poetry, and we all are the better for it in the end. Music, story and history all come to life and the results are truly wondrous indeed. This musical narrative comes very highly recommended.


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Subject: RE: Review: My Old True Love by Sheila K. Adams
From: bbc
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:41 PM

Great review! I enjoyed this book, as I, also, enjoyed Sheila's book of stories from her childhood, "Come Go Home with Me." Both are available on Amazon. I met Sheila this summer & took classes in storytelling & ballad singing with her at the Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week. She is, currently, working on her third book, a novel about the wee ones (little people, fairies, etc.). She has 2 live recordings that include songs & stories; they're both great! She is a really delightful person!

best,

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Review: My Old True Love by Sheila K. Adams
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 01:48 AM

Hi, Robert -
I combined your thread with the existing thread on this book. I'll send you a link.

I bought this book just a couple of weeks ago, but it often takes me a year to get started reading the books I buy. Your review may move that up a bit.

Hope to see you at the Getaway or Camp New Harmony.

-Joe Offer-

Flair, are you posting the review on Robert's behalf? If not, where did you find the review? Please give Robert my best wishes.


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Subject: RE: Review: My Old True Love by Sheila K. Adams
From: GUEST,Hilary
Date: 21 Jan 11 - 06:37 PM

My Old True Love is one of my favorite books. Even the plot line seems to remind me of an old ballad, particularly the circumstances surrounding Hackley's death and the love triangle between Larkin, Hackley, and Mary.


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