Monday, April 02, 2007

Fiddle Favorites: Times are a' changin'

Before the radio, music was a locally produced staple of life. Nearly every area held Saturday night barn dances and church picnics on Sunday afternoon. Music was provided by anyone with an instrument. A rural town was fortunate if there was a fiddler in the area, and luckily there seemed to be plenty around.

I’ve discussed the importance of the traveling musician to American music many times in the past. These troubadours, minstrels, and medicine shows were the spoon in the pot of American music stew. They blended ingredients from all over the old world and the result was something familiar, yet a little spicier.

Here are a few regional tunes from Kentucky, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, and Arkansas. Each still has its local roots, but each of these regional styles was already well evolved with various components of outside influences. In fact, by the time the record companies discovered rural music it had already been changed forever. The popularity of Race, Old Time, and Hillbilly records actually helped preserve some of this music as it caused something of a revival of the older styles.

Dr. Lloyd - The Girl I Left Behind Me.mp3

Carter Brothers & Son - Cotton Eyed Joe.mp3

Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers - Hell Broke Loose in Georgia.mp3

Smokey Valley Boys - Benton's Dream.mp3

Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers - Blackberry Blossom.mp3


Blogger Greg said...

You just keep rolling out goodies, Ed! What can you tell me about the Carter Bros & Son? (Or point me to a web link.) As you know, the Cotton-eyed Joe is very popular in Texas, but this version is naturally quite different from the Western Swing versions I'm more familiar with. Great post as always!

April 03, 2007 9:04 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hi Greg,
The Carter Brothers & Son were a white Mississippi string band of the late 1920s-early1930s. Unfortunately, the record companies that were roaming Mississippi at that time were occupied searching for and recording mostly black musicians, so what little that was recorded was not very well documented. The cut that I posted was from Mississippi String Bands, Vol. 1, a 1998 release available from County Sales (I need to remember to list the sources for all of this great music). The Carter Brothers & Son were also featured on an LP entitled Going Down the Valley: Vocal and Instrumental Styles in Folk Music from the South, long out of print, but available at many university and state libraries.

Bobby Cater is a fiddler from Mississippi and a descendant of the Carter Brothers & Son. Bobby Carter is taking part in the NE Mississippi Music Documentation Project, a great project to preserve the musical heritage of Northeast Mississippi. Their website about him is here.

Thanks for reminding me to post links to places to buy the music that I post, I have gotten slack with that lately.

April 03, 2007 7:30 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for the info, Ed! I did find both vols. of the Mississippi Fiddlers collection on amazon.

April 04, 2007 8:44 AM  

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