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Folklore: Black Stringband Revival

Janie 04 Nov 05 - 08:45 AM
Janie 04 Nov 05 - 08:50 AM
GLoux 04 Nov 05 - 10:37 AM
Dani 05 Nov 05 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Fullerton 05 Nov 05 - 02:42 AM
GUEST 05 Nov 05 - 07:26 AM
greg stephens 05 Nov 05 - 07:34 AM
BanjoRay 05 Nov 05 - 08:22 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 05 Nov 05 - 08:45 AM
Mark Ross 05 Nov 05 - 11:50 AM
Desert Dancer 05 Nov 05 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Dale 05 Nov 05 - 01:07 PM
Maryrrf 05 Nov 05 - 02:41 PM
Janie 05 Nov 05 - 10:16 PM
Dani 06 Nov 05 - 07:50 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Nov 05 - 08:59 AM
wysiwyg 06 Nov 05 - 09:46 AM
Severn 06 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM
Severn 06 Nov 05 - 10:39 AM
greg stephens 06 Nov 05 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 06 Nov 05 - 11:25 AM
Severn 06 Nov 05 - 06:46 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Nov 05 - 09:37 PM
wysiwyg 06 Nov 05 - 10:08 PM
Azizi 23 Nov 05 - 12:13 AM
Bill D 23 Nov 05 - 09:58 AM
Bill D 23 Nov 05 - 10:03 AM
Cluin 23 Nov 05 - 10:13 AM
GUEST 23 Nov 05 - 12:09 PM
Desert Dancer 12 Apr 06 - 02:30 AM
Stewie 12 Apr 06 - 02:45 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Janie
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 08:45 AM

Exciting and interesting news from the North Carolina Piedmont about young black musicians and old time stringband music. A new generation restrings an old music.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Janie
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 08:50 AM

Also check out the link to the banjo article at the bottom of the above linked article--"From Africa to Appalachia." It lists some good resources.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GLoux
Date: 04 Nov 05 - 10:37 AM

Janie,

That is a great article. Joe Thompson is such a treasure and it is wonderful that some youngins (black AND white) are figuring that out while he's still with us.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Dani
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 12:03 AM

Thanks, Janie.

Elena (my daughter the cool-kid) picked up the Independent tonight and said, "Look! There's Joe Thompson!" Guess we'll make a folkie of her yet. The Getaway might've done her in....

Dani


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GUEST,Fullerton
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 02:42 AM

Fascinating article with VERY good photos.

Thanks Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 07:26 AM

There are some amazing releases of string band music out.

In particular the new double CD on Old Hat of medicine show recordings is stunnning covering the late 1890s to 1936.

It's called 'A Cure For What Ails Thee' and I recommend it highly.

I got mine from http://www.forcedexposure.com but in the UK I think it's available too.

all the best.

cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 07:34 AM

One of my all-time favourite records is Dallas Rag by the Dallas String Band, with fantastic driving mandoline. I have always fondly believed this was a black outfit, though I admit I'm not sure, and don't recall where that information came from.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: BanjoRay
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 08:22 AM

Greg - the track is on a Document CD called Black Country Complete Recorded Works 1927-1935, so it's a fair bet they're black - they do sound it.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 08:45 AM

Great news:

The Dallas String Band is a great favorite of mine, too.

"I used to call her baby, now she's a Mother to me."

Thanks for the lead on the minstrel show stuff, too. I will definitely pick it up...

It's wonderful that there are young black musicians reviving the music before the older generation is gone. To some extent, I see the same thing has happened in the old black gospel quartet tradition. When my quartet sings at celebrations, there are as many as eighteen or twenty groups singing and we are the only ones who are doing the old style of black gospel. Invariably, the most elderly members of the audience come up and say, "I haven't heard that kind of music since I was a child growing up in the south." Most black church music now is mass choir oriented and is called Praise and Worship music. We are an abberation in the black churches. And that's the way we like it.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Mark Ross
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 11:50 AM

Don't forget Martin, Bogan & Armstrong in this tradition.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 12:25 PM

Very cool.

I was looking up the medicine show set that Mark mentioned above, and above it in the listing was this:

Artist: Various
Title:         Violin, Sing The Blues For Me: African-American Fiddlers...
Label:         OLD HAT
Format: CD
Price:         $15.50
Catalog #: OLD 1002 CD
...1926-1949. "The violin played a significant role in the early history of recorded blues, with its crying vibratos and sliding notes creating a dramatic and soulful sound. Violin, Sing The Blues For Me offers 24 tracks of this rare music, played by many of the greatest black fiddlers who recorded before mid-century. From the sophisticated style of Lonnie Johnson to the raw Delta blues of Henry Sims to the rollicking tunes of the Memphis Jug Band, these musicians demonstrate the depth and diversity of African-American fiddle music. Included are two early instrumentals by the multi-talented Howard Armstrong, also known as 'Louie Bluie,' whose career in music spanned seven decades. This unique collection presents 73 minutes of vintage fiddle music, carefully remastered from the original 78rpm records. In addition to blues, the album contains country dances, rags and stomps, folk songs and medicine show music. The CD comes with a 32-page, full-color booklet with detailed history, complete discography, and a host of rare photographs and illustrations."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 01:07 PM

One of the key names to explore: Rhiannon Giddens, 28 year old opera singer/fiddler/banjo player/dance caller/etc./etc. from the Piedmont.

The more you read and listen, you'll realize that she is at or near the center of what is going on in Black Stringband Music today.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Maryrrf
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 02:41 PM

I saw this band at the National Folk Festival. They are wonderful and extremely knowledgeable and interesting. They not only did a show, but participated on a panel about the banjo and its history. Rhiannon Giddens is a very, very talented and charismatic young lady! We've booked her, along with Don Flemmons, for our next Folk in the Grove concert in Richmond Virginia. As a matter of fact, I think I'll start a separate thread on this.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Janie
Date: 05 Nov 05 - 10:16 PM

Jerry--one of these days I'm going to get to hear your band.

Joe Thompson had a serious stroke a few years ago, and for awhile it was not clear at all that he was going to be able to play the fiddle again. With hard work, he made it back. What a blessing to see these young black musicians play8ing with him now. I hope it truly is a revival.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Dani
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 07:50 AM

Well, sure, Jerry, but you don't want that tradition to die OUT with you all, do you?

I'm thrilled for Joe that in his lifetime he's seeing younger folks playing this music, learning at his knee, and passing on the tradition in their own style as well as his. That's what he's really wanted.

It was touch and go there, for awhile, and this is a true blessing.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 08:59 AM

No, Dani: We sure don't want the tradition to die out with us. We get a particular kick when we see kids dancing to our music, or singing along on the responses, moving in rhythm with us. We'd love to add a young tenor to our group now that Derrick has left. (I'm the baby of the group now, at 70... Joe is 81 and Frankie 80.)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 09:46 AM

Jerry, how are you getting the stringband sound? Arne't you still a vocal quartet with guitar?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Severn
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM

Old Hat also has "Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow!"-Vintage fiddle music 1927-1935 Blues Jazz Stomps Shuffle and Rags (Old Hat CD 1003)

Yazoo has "Ruckus Juice & Chittlins" Vols. 1 & 2 concentrating on jug bands. Vol 1 is Yazoo 2032.

And as far as the old string bands performing old time country jig and reel-type dance tunes, try "Altamont: Black Stringband Music From The Library Of Congress" Rounder CD 0238 spotlighting Nathan Frazier-banjo and vocal and Frank Patterson-fiddle and another group, Murph Gribble-banjo, John Lusk-fiddle, and Albert York-guitar. Each of these Tennessee bands plays 7 songs.

For an example of an older country style check out the two blues tunes done with fiddle and guitar by Willie Thomas & Butch Cage on the LP "The Folk Music Of The Newport Folk Festival 1959-1960" Folkways FA2431 (Everything on Folkways remains in print and can be special ordered on casette or CD from them).

And as a last sidelight, for anyone interested in what a medicine show sounded like in its near-entirety (some sales pitch editing done), try "The Last Medicine Show" a double LP set of a 1972 show in North Carolina at possibly its last 2 performances (Flyright LP 507-508, CD availability unknown), run by a Potowatomimi Indian, Chief Thundercloud, and with entertainment by the singer-harmonica player Peg Leg Sam. Not string band music, but since Guest (whose identity can only be "guest at") brought up the subject, I thought I'd throw this in.

Hope some of this helps.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Severn
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 10:39 AM

That's Potawatomi.
That's what I get for trying to sneak a spelling correction in on a slow "Cat" after I'd already pushed the submit button-It only made it worse, as after a minute or two, while in mid-correction, it finally decided to post. A lesson learned.

Don't try this at home, folks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 11:06 AM

Reg Hall (of English Country Music fame) recorded the Louis James Stringband a while ago, a very interesting old New orleans fiddler. Conventional old pop/jazz standards, with one very interesting quadrille. No idea if this is available on CD, I have a cassette copy of the LP.
    Jo Scurfield, of the Old Rope String Band, was engaged in a fiddle project in the West Indies till his tragic untimely death earlier this year. He recorded some old timers on the island of Carriacou, and was instrumental(ha ha ) in procuring unwanted fiddles and shipped them out there, in the hope of getting the youngsters to contunue their granparents music. I dont think any of his recordings from there have been issed, but I believe they are safe with his brother Harry Scurfield, another musicilogically inclined concertina player. What a very interesting thread this is, I had no idea of the existence of a lot of the recordings mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 11:25 AM

...and old friend, Andy Cohen, has done a large amount of work, both by his own performances, and by supporting and providing transportation to gigs for many of the survivors still playing this music over the last 40 years. And his efforts have resulted in new fans, careers and income sources for folks like Gary Davis and Jim Brewer.

Of course, Sam Charters and others have done these things too. And they ought to be recognized as well.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Severn
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 06:46 PM

Taylor's Kentucky Boys, with black fiddler Jim Booker, was the only interracial band of its type to record in the 20's and 30's. (Booker's brother John also played guitar on one selection). Their recordings are included in the 7 CD box set "Kentucky Mountain Music" (Yazoo 2200)of classic recordings of the 1920's and 1930''s from both commercial and field recordings.

The LP "Folk Visions & Voices-Traditional Music and Song in Northern Georgia Vol.2" (Ethnic Folkways Records FE 34162-available through Folkways), one of the companion recordings to Art Rosenbaum's book of the same name (1983 U. of Ga. Press) contains two songs each from black banjo player/singer J.C. "Jake" Staggers and black fiddler/guitarist/singer Joe Rakestraw.

An old black banjo player/singer named Abner Jay, who used to make the festival rounds, used to draw a lot of flack because he'd play old minstrel songs and tunes he'd learned in his youth and dared be proud of that heritage. His Folk star rose and fell pretty fast in those Civil Rights Movement days of the late 1960's that also coincided with the rise of the Beatles, as he got labeled a "Tom", but I heard him again years later on one of the Folk Masters At Wolf Trap syndicated radio broadcasts that Nick Spitzer produced. I don't know his recording history.

Hammie Nixon who played and toured with Sleepy John Estes and Mandolinist Yank Rachell off and on for years has a jug band-oriented
CD out called "Tappin' That Thing" (High Water/HMG6509). Rachell guested on a number of songs on each of the John Sebastian "J-Band" projects and any of the recordings of the three of them together tie into the blues and jugband sides of the string band tradition through Rachell's mandolin playing. The three are together on some of the Newport Folk Festival Blues recordings under Estes' name.

In 1963, banjoist/singer Gus Cannon of "Walk Right In" fame recorded a 500-copy-only pressing LP on the famed Memphis soul label Stax accompanied by banjo jug and washboard. "Walk Right In" (Stax702--now SCD 8603-2) has been reissued on CD and contains not only jug material but old songs like "Raise a Ruckus Tonight" "Ain't Gonna Rain No More" and "Crawdad Hole" Cannon in his later years also shares a CD on Adelphi with Furry Lewis and Bukka White.

Snooks Eaglin, a well known electric guitar session man and singer on the New Orleans R&B scene, recorded "Country Boy In New Orleans" on Arhoolie (C-348) when he was working acousticaly as a street singer with the occaisional washboard accompaniment and doing a grab bag street busker's repitoire including things like "Possum Up A 'Simmon Tree", "Bottle Up and Go" and the like that tie back to the eclectic black string band human jukebox traditions, rural and urban, where a man on a street corner or at a country dance had to handle any kind of request in order to increase his take, drinks and tips at the end of the day or night. (Hell, the aforementioned Howard Armstrong talked about how, as a kid, he and his friends learned Italian songs to play to the locals for money).

Hope these help.

Severn
Librarian Incongruous
The Library Of Digress


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 09:37 PM

Susan:

I didn't say that the Gospel Messengers were a band. We are a gospel quartet. The comparison is that black gospel quartet music is not widely performed anymore, because of the widespread popularity of Praise and Wortship songs, mass choirs and larger groups with drums, keyboards, electric bass and at least one "lead" guitar.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Nov 05 - 10:08 PM

Thanks, Jerry, I misunderstood. Of course, as you know, in our church we do a lot of that material.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 12:13 AM

Janie, I'm sorry that I just am reading this thread.

Unfortunately the link to the article about Joe Thompson appears to have been changed. That link now leads to an article about basketball.

Did you or anyone else make a copy of the article or know where it could be found?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 09:58 AM

Azizi...they have archives, but it took a little searching to figger out where they put it....

I think this does it


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 10:03 AM

and don't forget groups like "The Mississippi Sheiks" with Sam Chatmon, and "Bogen, Martin and Armstrong"...amazing Fiddle/Mandolin stuff!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Cluin
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 10:13 AM

Black Stringband Music recording.

Another article.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 05 - 12:09 PM

Quote from the article, thanks Bill for finding it again

Giddens has her own experience with the race issue. "When I started getting into it, I really liked old-time music, but I was like 'That's white stuff,' you know, so I kind of felt weird about it," Giddens recalls. But the more she learned about the music and the more time she got to spend with Joe Thompson, who turned out to be from the same hometown as her mom's side of the family, the more right it felt. "I went from starting out thinking that this is not really my music to finding a traditional practitioner of it."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 12 Apr 06 - 02:30 AM

More links:

http://www.blackbanjo.com/ - The Association of Black Traditional String Players, Inc.

Sankofa Strings - Rhiannon Giddens & co. There's a beautiful image of a slave frolic with banjo player on the home page (the page you get to when you click "Enter").

The Carolina Chocolate Drops - another configuration of the Sankofa folks.

Listen to the Sankofa Strings in this program.

There's a sample of the Carolina Chocolate Drops here.

Dang -- TFTM (which I used to be heavy into organizing) missed out on a tour of theirs last summer in Arizona. One of them's a Phoenix native, though, so maybe we'll get another chance.

Of course, those sites have links... Azizi, if you check in again, here's someone in your neighborhood, I believe: Joan Dickerson. She plays classic style, rather than stringband/old-time dance music.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Black Stringband Revival
From: Stewie
Date: 12 Apr 06 - 02:45 AM

It is perhaps worth mentioning in this context that Arhoolie has recently released a CD of Butch Cage and Willie Thomas - 15 tracks, 14 of which have not been released previously. Recorded in the 1960s by Harry Oster, the full title is: Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas 'Old time Black Southern String Band Music' Arhoolie CD 9045. Weird and wonderful stuff!

--Stewie.


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