Friday, August 07, 2015

Oldtime Country Music at archive.org

The Internet Archive may not be the first place you look for old-time country sounds, but some old-time radio and 78 rpm record collectors have digitized an amazing amount of 20th century American  culture.

I'll come back and edit this, but wanted to put a few links out where new old-time music friends can find them today.

Sorry if there are spelling errors, and if you have to cut and paste the links into a browser. The first draft of this was done with my left thumb on a smartphone during a singing class at Augusta Heritage Center. (https://augustaheritagecenter.org)

Most of these are radio. Some are 1950s TV. The Delmore brothers sell their gospel song book, the Willis Brothers  swing "Hillbilly Heaven." All Star Western Theatre combines accordion and guitar western harmonizing with short dramatic productions with cowboy movie stars of the forties. Pat Daniels Hillbilly Boys sold Hillbilly flour with Texas Swing, while Hank Williams sold Mother's Best flour with his country blues. Plenty here to explore.

https://archive.org/details/otr_countrymusictime

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Delmore_Brothers_Singles

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Certified_Delmore_Brothers

https://archive.org/details/GrandOldOpry-28april1956

https://archive.org/details/HankPennyHisRadioCowboys-01-10

https://archive.org/details/charlottecountry00holt Booklet PDF

https://archive.org/details/RanchParty1957

https://archive.org/details/0029OldTimeRadioReunion

https://archive.org/details/otr_countrymusictime

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Mothers_Best_Flour_Singles

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_The_Hillbilly_Boys_Singles (Pat O'Daniel & the...), 74 episodes

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_All_Star_Western_Theatre_Singles

https://archive.org/details/otr_geneautry

https://archive.org/details/RoyRogers01-10

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Some songs from Augusta

After singing along with these songs in his workshop at Augusta Heritage Festival,  and I compulsively went off looking for alternative versions, additional lyrics,  and YouTube videos.

Deadheads and suckers
https://youtu.be/N1byRXjV2LU

Tempy Roll Down Your Bangs
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=18014

Railroad Bill (with brakemans vest, nancy hanks verse)
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/09/riley-puckett-railroad-bill-information.html

Trouble in Mind
https://youtu.be/8a54Nz6aYYY

My home is across the blue ridge mountains
https://youtu.be/Z7i1CQv74aE

Walking in my sleep
https://youtu.be/LoRFJd47rtU

Poor Ellen Smith
murder case, Winston Salem c.1897

http://www.murderbygaslight.com/2010/07/poor-ellen-smith.html

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/us/02land.html?pagewanted=all&referrer=

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's a tiple



I finally made a short video of my other ukulele-family instrument, a 10-string "tiple." I'd like to think it was by popular request... usually phrased as "What the hell is that thing?"

The Martin guitar company made tiples for 30 years or more, but I see no immediate threat of a revival in tiple playing... although something inspired the Ohana ukulele company to produce this version. In Colombia there is a larger instrument by the same name, with some marvelous players. YouTube will find you examples of both.

While the bookmarking service "Delicious" was in operation, I saved almost 50 bookmarks to Web pages about the instrument (including parts of the blog http://martintiple.blogspot.com/) and YouTube videos of tiple players (including the Spirits of Rhythm, the Cats & the Fiddle, Ed Askew, and more) here:
del.icio.us/bstepno/tiple

The tuning is similar to a uke (or a guitar capoed at the fifth fret), but in four courses --
Gg-cCc-eEe-aa -- with the big letters indicating strings tuned an octave lower than the ones they are paired or tripled up with.

The second tune I play is one of my favorites, "I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate," using a chord progression folks of a certain age will recognize as being pretty similar to Country Joe MacDonald's "Feel like I'm fixin' to die rag."

So far the high point of my tiple career is introducing Nellie McKay to the instrument in a southwest Virginia theater lobby after a Mountain Stage concert recording session. (Be still my heart.)

September 2017 update: That "del.icio.us/bstepno/tiple" site at which I kept my bookmarks for many years still works, but has been archived and can no longer accept new links. So I've added a few links to a Southern Virginia band with a rhythm tiple in a separate post here:


Here's another knowledgeable post about tiples, with some interesting discussion:

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2013/02/08/ever-heard-of-a-martin-tiple

And a reissue of recordings by "Big Boy" Teddy Edwards, Chicago blues singer who recorded some solo tiple-accompanied vocals in the 1930s:
https://thedocumentrecordsstore.com/product/DOCD-5440/

Here's a sample of Edwards' style on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LL5_NE0cKec

Finally, here is the only classical piece of music I've heard orchestrated for an ensemble that includes a tiple: GymnopĂ©die No. 1 - Eric Satie, arranged and performed by Russick Smith for cello, double bass, mandolin, tiple, resonator guitar, and banjo: https://youtu.be/3rRU6Zs4kIw



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Speaking the old-time language

Heather Rousseau, a new photo journalist at the Roanoke Times, dove right into local culture with a photo and video story from the
Sunday afternoon old-time jam at the Floyd Country Store
It was the first Sunday that I'd made it to the jam in weeks of bad weather and/or bad timing. 
Surprises: Session leader Mac Traynham playing rhythm guitar instead of his usual fiddle or banjo, and my arriving in time to catch a seat between Mac and Radford neighbors Linda Frank & Chip Arnold.
I will send the photographer a note asking permission to "reprint" her close-up of the guy in the NPR cap playing a not-so-traditional banjo ukulele... But since it is property of the Roanoke Times, you might as well just go there and enjoy the whole presentation... if you haven't already been there via the flurry of posts on Facebook. 
(note: this is my first attempt to use an Android phone app to post to blogger. I may have to come back and fix the link, edit embarrassing autocorrect errors, or something.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In search of the mountain ukulele

The announcement of a new Blacksburg and New River Valley ukulele get together reminds me to tell ukulele playing friends that they will not necessarily be met with scorn and derision if they show up at other jam sessions in the area, as long as they learn some traditional old time string band tunes. 

In fact, ukes have been infiltrating old time  music since John Hopkins' strumming his triplets  on a banjo ukulele loud and clear in the original "Hill Billies," 1926:



Blue Ridge Mountain Blues - The Hill Billies 1926!

Background from...

"Al Hopkins ... was the leader of his own band called the Hill Billies (also known as the Buckle Busters). The band members consisted of Al Hopkins (piano), John Hopkins (ukulele), Joe Hopkins (guitar), John Rector (banjo), and Tony Alderman (fiddle).

"The Hill Billies had been discovered by Ralph Peer a year earlier and had made some records for Okeh (a forerunner of Columbia). When Ralph Peer asked Al Hopkins the name of his band, Al responded “We ain’t nothing but a bunch of hillbillies from North Carolina and Virginia. You can just call us anything.” Mr. Peer appropriately named them the “Hill Billies”.


Tune History: 
http://jopiepopie.blogspot.com/2013/06/blue-ridge-mountain-blues-1924.html

More tunes, working links to be added...

"Oh Miss Lisa, Poor Gal..."

 https://youtu.be/_sn5QMz4YKQ

"Sally Ann"

https://youtu.be/pfIl1YmfqNI

"Texas Gals"

https://youtu.be/skh3KfHLjm4

"Going Down The Road Feeling Bad"

https://youtu.be/ulOI3wGvmng

I first heard the banjo ukulele played with a  fiddle and 5-string banjo in the late 1970s or early 1980s by a more contemporary band, the Horse Flies from Ithaca, N.Y. 
Alternating between guitar and banjo uke, depending on the tune, Jeff Claus provided a rock-solid rhythm for the band. I have seen an interview with him somewhere referring to the instrument as "a drum on a stick."

Another contemporary player, John Kelley, headed his web essay and instructional page about the instrument, "Banjo Uke -- the Tommy Gun of old time music!"

http://bassbox.org/banjouke/index.php

However, not all old time Fiddlers will appreciate having a Tommy Gun in their local jam session. It is best to ask, or be very sensitive to icy stares!