Hazel Dickens (1935-2011)

I sadly learned that one of the greatest american singer passed on today… May she rest in peace…

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Brad Leftwich (with Dan Gellert, Linda Higginbotham…)

Here are two out-of-print records featuring old-time fiddler Brad Leftwich, one with fiddle and banjo player Dan Gellert and the other with his wife and musical partner Linda Higginbotham. Brad is well-known as a musician and teacher of appalachian fiddle and banjo music. He learned directly from old-time fiddlers giants like Tommy Jarrell and has spread his love and skills for the idiom ever since, both as a solo artist and with fellow musicians like Tom Sauber and Alice Gerrard (Tom, Brad & Alice).

The first record, called “A Moment in Time”, was issued in 1993 in the tape format by Marimac and was never reissued. And it’s a shame because it’s one of the best old-time fiddle record I ever heard. The playing here is astonishing, especially on the many fiddle duets, an art in itslef, and the rest is all fiddle and banjo music of the highest order. Brad and Dan’s styles are very complementary and blend perfectly together. I would come back to Dan Gellert’s music in a future post as he’s one of my favorite contemporary old-time musician…
The other record was issued in 1984 on County Records and features Leftwich with his wife and musical partner Linda Higginbotham (and Mark Richie and Bob Herring on guitars). It’s a great mix of fiddle tunes and songs (with three originals by Linda) and sounds as fresh and charming today as it sure was more than 25 years ago…
Dan Gellert & Brad Leftwich “A Moment in Time” (Marimac tape 1993)
1.Johnson Boys
2.Indian Nation
3.Fiddler’s Dram
4.John Brown’s Dream
5.Leather Breeches
7.Nancy Rowland
8.Hell on the Nine Mile
9.Paddy on the Handcar
10.Kansas City Rag
11.Molly Put the Kettle on
12.Danced all night with a bottle in my hand
13.Sandy Boys
14.Old Joe Clark
15.Prairie Dog
16.Ryland Spencer
17.Crystal Stream Waltz
18.Echoes of the Ozarks
(Click on the media player to hear the record)
pdf of the liner notes, giving the tunings and the sources of the tunes
Leftwich & Higginbotham “No One To Bring Home Tonight” (County Lp, 1984)
1.No one to bring home tonight
2.Breaking Up Christmas
3.Dry and Dusty/Bonaparte’s Retreat
4.Deep Elm Blues
5.Back to Scholl Blues
6.Tom and Jerry
7.Jack of Diamonds/The Lost Child
8.Ozark Mountain Home
9.I want more out of life than a broken heart
10.Rio Grande
11.Poor Girl’s Story
12.John Lover’s Gone
(Click on the media player to hear the record)
Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm  Comments (12)  

>Kentucky String Band Music Update

>I have corrected the tags on the tracks for the lps “Wish I Had My Time Again” and “Way Down South in Dixie” and also everything should be in correct order now….

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm  Comments (3)  

>Old-Time Fiddle Band Music From Kentucky


This three lps were issued in 1980 by Morning Star Records, a short-lived record company owned by Richard Nevins, who would continue Nick Perls’ work with Yazoo Records a few years after. It’s a superb compilation of 78rpm records of Kentucky string bands made in the 1920’s and 1930’s for Gennett. Like Nevins said: “As the Mississippi Delta is to Blues, Kentucky is to fiddle music, banjo playing, and classic old ballads and songs”. The emphasis here is on string band music, with a few songs included as well. The Gennett 78 records are famous for their bad quality pressing and it shows here with lots of surface noise and scratchs. But the music is excellent all the way through, especially the fiddle playing on the dance numbers, with great fiddlers like Doc Roberts, Leonard Rutherford, Andy Palmer or Jim Booker. Booker was the only black fiddler who recorded with a hillbilly string band (Taylor’s Kentucky Band) back then but many of this white Kentucky musicians talked about black fiddlers who were sharing the same repertoire of old-time tunes in the region.

The liner notes were written by Guthrie Meade, who made a lot of detective work to find out about all this musicians. Remember that during the 78rpm records aera only the name of the band or singer was written on the disc and it took a lot of leg work and talking with old musicians to bring some informations about this rare recordings.
A few years ago, Yazoo Records released other great compilations of Kentucky old-time music. First there were two cds called “The Music of Kentucky” which included the two most important Kentucky old-time fiddlers ever recored , William Step and Luther Strong, along with recording by banjoists B.F Shelton, Hayes Sheperd, John Hammond and other great artists. Then, there was a box set of 7 cds called “Kentucky Mountain Music” which contained most of the recordings on the 3 lps (I counted only 9 tracks on the lps that aren’t included on the boxset) plus many other by the same string bands, many Buell Kazee tracks and a lot of great field recordings of fiddlers, banjo players and ballad singers. All this is of course is highly recommended…
Download here the booklet of liner notes in pdf format

“Wink The Other Eye”

1.Gate to go through Jimmie Johnson’s String Band
2.Wink the other eye Hack’s String Band
3.Soldier’s joy Taylor’s Kentucky Boys
4.Richmond Blues Rutherford & Foster
5.Soap in the washpan Jimmie Johnson’s String Band
6.Monroe County Quickstep Rutherford & Foster
7.Grey Eagle Taylor’s Kentucky Boys
8.Cumberland Gap Rutherford, Burnett & Moore
9.B-Flat Rag Madisonville String Band
10.Old blind dog Jimmie Johnson’s String Band
11.Let her go i’ll meet her Rutherford & Foster
12.Washington Quadrille Jimmie Johnson’s String Band
13.Pretty little girl Hack’s String Band
14.Forked Deer Taylor’s Kentucky Boys

“Wish I Had My Time Again
1.Fire in the mountain Ted Gossett’s String Band
2.The Fate of Ellen Smith Green Baily
3.Brick Yard Joe Doc Roberts
4.Going across the sea H.L Bandy
5.Fox Chase Ted Gossett’s String Band
6.Black Snake Moan Cobb & Underwood
7.Wish I had my time again Hatton Brothers
8.Eight of January Ted Gossett’s String Band
9.Knoxville Rag Taylor, Burnett & Moore
10.If I die a railroad man Green Baily
11.Old Buzzard Doc Roberts
12.Sail away ladies H.L Bandy
13.Bow legged Irishman Ted Gossett’s String Band
14.Wild hog in the woods Lonesome Luke and His Farm Hands

“Way Down South In Dixie”
1.Cuttin’ at the point Charlie Wilson & His Hayloft Boys
2.New Money Doc Roberts
3.Old Voile Blue Ridge Mountaineers
4.Lost Love Asa Martin
5.That’s my rabbit… Walter Family
6.Way Down South in Dixie Doc Roberts
7.Five Up H.L Bandy
8.Shaker Ben Walter Family
9.Glide Waltz Green’s String Band
10.Old Flannagan Blue Ridge Mountaineers
11.Monkey Show H.L Bandy
12.StovePipe Blues Kentucky String Ticklers
13.And the cat came back Doc Roberts
14.We’ll understand it

better… Kentucky Mountain Choristers

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (23)  

>The Hammons Family

This lp, subtitled “A study of a West Virginia’s family tradition”, is an attempt to describe with sounds, words and photographs, the life and folklore of a rural appalachian family, whose ancestors came from Britain and were early pioneers and settlers in Kentucky and the Allegheny mountains. Music was an important part of the family life and the album includes many banjo and fiddle tunes along with ballads and stories. The recordings and research were done by Alan Jabbour, Carl Fleischhauer and Dwight Diller in the beggining of the 1970’s for the Library of Congress in Washington.

-I uploaded the cd version of the lp (thanks to Tobias Enevoldsen for providing me this) which has combined the original tracks with another lp from The Hammons Family called “Shaking down the Acorns”, released on Rounder.
-This recordings came with a huge booklet of more than 30 pages, that tells the history and background of The Hammons family along with notes on the recordings and photographs.
Click here to download the booklet in pdf format
Part 1: The Hammons Family
  1. Old Sledge
  2. Camp Chase
  3. Three Forks of Cheat
  4. The Yankee and Marcum
  5. Sugar Grove Blues
  6. Turkey in the Straw
  7. The Route
  8. Fine Times at Our House
  9. Jimmy Johnson
  10. Parsons Rock
  11. In Scotland Town
  12. Little Omie
  13. Young Henerly
  14. Muddy Roads
  15. Bringing Back the Sheep
  16. The Sandy Boys
  17. Wilson’s Clog
  18. Sugar Babe (version 1)
  19. We’re Marching Around the Levees
  20. Riddles
  21. Mercian Tittery-ary-a
  22. Jay Legg
  23. When This World Comes to an End
Click here to download the tracks from “The Hammons family” lp
Part 2: Shaking down the Acorns
  1. Shaking Down the Acorns / Hink Cogar’s Deer Ride
  2. Cranberry Rock
  3. The Panther in the Sky
  4. Sugar Babe (version 2)
  5. The Lonesome Pines
  6. Johnny Booger
  7. Walking in the Parlor
  8. Singing Birds
  9. Old Man, Can I Have Your Daughter
  10. The Haunted Wagon
  11. Rocky Mountain Goat
  12. Who’s Been Here Since I’ve Been Gone
  13. Lost Indian
  14. Hard Times in the Charleston Jail
  15. Ireland’s Green Shore
  16. The Big Scioty
  17. Greasy Coat
Click here to download the tracks from the “Shaking down the Acorns” lp
-Click here to download the “Shaking down the Acorns” booklet
Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 9:21 am  Comments (11)  

>The Old Virginia Fiddlers-Rare recordings 1948-49


Here’s an out-of-print lp from County Records issued in 1977. The old Virginia Fiddlers were John Watts “Babe” Spangler and his cousin Dudley Spangler from Meadows of Dan, Virginia. The two learned their fiddling style from John Watts’ father, Wallace Spangler, a reputed old-time fiddler from the region. The numbers on these lp were private recordings made by the artists to preserve their music except two tracks (Midnight Serenade and Patrick County Blues) that were issued on a 78rpm records. The sound is a bit scratchy but this is great fiddle music. Enjoy!

Be sure to read the booklet for more informations on the players and the tunes (Click here for the PDF file)
Click here to download
Published in: on November 28, 2010 at 4:53 pm  Comments (8)  

>The Irish Pipes of Finbar Furey


Here are two lps from the Nonesuch Explorer series featuring the Irish Pipe (and whistle) playing of a then, very young Finbar Furey (i believe he was only 23 when he recorded this) with his brother Eddie who adds some guitar and bodhran here and there. While i’m not a big fan of the more folky stuff he recorded after, i do love his bagpipe playing here, and i believe this were the first pipe lps i bought some years ago so it’s good to return to them again…
1.Rakish Paddy
2.The Hag with the money
3.Castle Terrace
4.Madame Bonaparte
5.The Young Girl Milking her Cow
6.Fin’s Favourite
7.Peter Byrne’s Fancy
8.O’Rourke’s Reel
9. Roy’s Hands
10.Planxty Davy
11.The Bonny Bunch of Roses
12.Eddy’s Fancy
13.The Silver Spear
14.The Spanish Cloak
15.Sliabh na mBan
16.Graham’s Flat
17.Piper’s in the Meadow Straying
18.Rocking The Baby
19.Colonel Fraser
20.Pigeon on the gate
21.Eamonn an Chnuic
22.Tattered Jack Welch
23.The Fox Chase
Download here

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm  Comments (6)  

>Melodic Clawhammer Banjo Tab Book


Update: Download here the tab book for the lp
(thanks to Steven from The Banjo Hangout)
Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 9:23 am  Comments (3)  

>Melodic Clawhammer Banjo


Here’s a mid-seventies out-of-print lp issued by Kicking Mule devoted to a then, new genre of clawhammer banjo, the melodic style. Since the folk revival of the 50’s/60’s there were two major schools of clawhammer banjo in the US. One, initiated by Pete Seeger, was mostly an adaptation of the older techniques of down-picking suited to accompany all kind of folk songs and the other was the traditional way of accompany the fiddler for Southern instrumental dance tunes. In the 1970’s in New-York, a few players worked out a solo style of clawhammer where the banjo would play the complete melody of a tune whitout loosing the rhyhtmic drive of the instrument. Their repertoire would include a lot of Irish fiddle tunes, Reels, Hornpipes and Jigs along with the usual old-time Southern tunes. In this lp, the first devoted to the new style, we have the masters and creators of melodic clawhammer banjo reunited: Ken Perlman, Bob Carlin, Henry Sapoznik, Andy Cahan and one track by Dana Loomis. Ken Perlman is whithout a doubt the most important melodic clawhammer player here, not only for his amazing playing but also as a great teacher of the style. His instruction books and videos helped many players to extend the possibilities of clawhammer banjo playing. Bob Carlin is also a great player and teacher, but more oriented toward the traditional appalachian styles than Perlman. Henry Sapoznik was a major melodic clawhammer player in those days but he also studied classical banjo and initiated the Klezmer revival in New-York as well. Andy Cahan, like Carlin, is a folklorist and great player of the old-time Southern styles.

The tune selection on this lp is diverse and representative of the melodic style with an emphasis on Northern and Irish melodies. The guitar and piano back-up on many tracks is delicate and let the banjo be the lead instrument here.
Track list:
1.Greenfields of America Andy Cahan
2.Trip to Sligo Ken Perlman
3.French Canadian Medley: St Anne’s Reel/Gaspe Reel Henry Sapoznik
4.Picking up tea leaves Andy Cahan
5.Bonaparte crossing the Rocky mountains Bob Carlin
6.Green Willis Bob Carlin & Henry Sapoznik
7.Sligo Maid Ken Perlman
8.Flying Cloud Cotillion Bob Carlin
9.Snowflake Reel Andy Cahan
10.Speed the plough Henry Sapoznik
11.Battle of Aughrim Andy Cahan
12.Ships in the cloud/Folding down the sheets Bob Carlin
13.Off to California Henry Sapoznik
14.Coleraine Andy Cahan
15.Fiddle Head Reel/Dubuque Bob Carlin
16.Flowers of Edinburgh Ken Perlman
17.Irish Spring Dana Loomis
18.Staten Island Hornpipe Henry Sapoznik
19.Chief O’Neil’s favorite Andy Cahan
Download here (Lp in MP3 tracks)

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm  Comments (13)  

>Norman S. Edmonds-"Train on the island"

Here’s an out-of-print lp issued by Davis Unlimited of Old-Time fiddler Norman S. Edmonds. People who love Harry Smith ‘s Anthology of American Folk Music (see my blog “The Old Weird America) may know and love already Edmonds’s fiddling from the track “Train on the island”, a great fiddle and banjo driving piece of music. Born in 1889 in Virginia, Edmonds recorded only a ccouple of tracks in the 1920’s with banjo player J.P Nestor, but appeared in many fiddler’s conventions in Virginia and North Carolina, often with his band called The Old-timers. He was a genuine old-time fiddler, playing in the archaic style of the mountains and with driving rhythm, the old traditional dance tunes.

-You can hear other performances from Edmonds on a cd released by the Field Recorder’ Collective label.
-Go to the Old-time fiddlers Hall of fame page to read a more extensive biography of Edmonds.
Track list:
01-Walking in the parlor
02-Black-eyed Susie
03-Train on the island
04-Breaking up Christmas
05-Lucy Neil
06-Hawks and Eagles
07-Cricket on the earth
08-Ships in the clouds
09-Angeline the Baker
10-Pretty little girl
11-Old Cotton-eyed Joe
12-Chinquapin Hunting
Download here (I didn’t took pictures of the lp cover this time because the lp folder I have is totally black, whitout any informations, except for the tracks’s name)
Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm  Comments (16)