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While in the Mississippi State Archives tracking down Abbott Ferriss’s beautiful photographic portraits of musicians from 1939, author Harry Bolick discovered, to his amazement, a treasure trove of earlier fiddle tunes in manuscript form. Since then he has worked to understand how this collection came to exist and be set aside. With Stephen T. Austin, Bolick has transcribed the subsequent 1939 audio recordings. Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s presents the history of the collecting work, with over three hundred of the tunes and songs and a beautiful selection of period photographs. In the summer of 1936, over one hundred fiddle tunes, many of them unique, along with thousands of songs, were collected and notated throughout a large part of Mississippi. Roughly 130 novice field workers captured beautiful tunes and tantalizing fragments. As a body of work, it is an unparalleled and fascinating snapshot of vernacular music as heard in Mississippi in the early part of the recorded era. However, this music was unpublished and forgotten. In 1939, building on the contacts made three years earlier, Herbert Halpert led one of the last and best executed of the WPA folklore projects which recorded audio performances in Mississippi. Some, but not all, of those distinctive fiddle tune recordings have been published. Additionally through cassette tape copies passed hand to hand, some of these distinctive tunes have regained currency and popularity among contemporary fiddlers. In Mississippi Fiddle Tunes and Songs from the 1930s, this great music is at last widely available. Selected tunes in this book are available from Document Records. Get Harry Bolick’s CD with 22 tunes from the book, more information, a video, and free downloads of the sound files at www.mississippifiddle.com.
The Music of Multicultural America explores the intersection of performance, identity, and community in a wide range of musical expressions. Fifteen essays explore traditions that range from the Klezmer revival in New York, to Arab music in Detroit, to West Indian steelbands in Brooklyn, to Kathak music and dance in California, to Irish music in Boston, to powwows in the midwestern plains, to Hispanic and native musics of the Southwest borderlands. Many chapters demonstrate the processes involved in supporting, promoting, and reviving community music. Others highlight the ways in which such American institutions as city festivals or state and national folklife agencies come into play. Thirteen themes and processes outlined in the introduction unify the collection’s fifteen case studies and suggest organizing frameworks for student projects. Due to the diversity of music profiled in the book—Mexican mariachi, African American gospel, Asian West Coast jazz, women’s punk, French-American Cajun, and Anglo-American sacred harp—and to the methodology of fieldwork, ethnography, and academic activism described by the authors, the book is perfect for courses in ethnomusicology, world music, anthropology, folklore, and American studies. Audio and visual materials that support each chapter are freely available on the ATMuse website, supported by the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University.
Country music's debt to African American music has long been recognized. Black musicians have helped to shape the styles of many of the most important performers in the country canon. The partnership between Lesley Riddle and A. P. Carter produced much of the Carter Family's repertoire; the street musician Tee Tot Payne taught a young Hank Williams Sr.; the guitar playing of Arnold Schultz influenced western Kentuckians, including Bill Monroe and Ike Everly. Yet attention to how these and other African Americans enriched the music played by whites has obscured the achievements of black country-music performers and the enjoyment of black listeners. The contributors to Hidden in the Mix examine how country music became "white," how that fictive racialization has been maintained, and how African American artists and fans have used country music to elaborate their own identities. They investigate topics as diverse as the role of race in shaping old-time record catalogues, the transracial West of the hick-hopper Cowboy Troy, and the place of U.S. country music in postcolonial debates about race and resistance. Revealing how music mediates both the ideology and the lived experience of race, Hidden in the Mix challenges the status of country music as "the white man’s blues." Contributors. Michael Awkward, Erika Brady, Barbara Ching, Adam Gussow, Patrick Huber, Charles Hughes, Jeffrey A. Keith, Kip Lornell, Diane Pecknold, David Sanjek, Tony Thomas, Jerry Wever
Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature examines the diverse ways in which African American "hot" music influenced American culture - particularly literature - in early twentieth-century America. Steven C. Tracy provides a history of the fusion of African and European elements that formed African American "hot" music, and considers how terms like ragtime, jazz, and blues developed their own particular meanings for American music and society. He draws from the fields of literature, literary criticism, cultural anthropology, American studies, and folklore to demonstrate how blues as a musical and poetic form has been a critical influence on American literature. -- from dust jacket.
In 1946, Harry Choates, a Cajun fiddle virtuoso, changed the course of American musical history when his recording of the so-called Cajun national anthem "Jole Blon" reached number four on the national Billboard charts. Cajun music became part of the American consciousness for the first time thanks to the unprecedented success of this issue, as the French tune crossed cultural, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Country music stars Moon Mullican, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills, and Hank Snow rushed into the studio to record their own interpretations of the waltz-followed years later by Waylon Jennings and Bruce Springsteen. The cross-cultural musical legacy of this plaintive waltz also paved the way for Hank Williams Sr.'s Cajun-influenced hit "Jamabalaya." Choates' "Jole Blon" represents the culmination of a centuries-old dialogue between the Cajun community and the rest of America. Joining into this dialogue is the most thoroughly researched and broadly conceived history of Cajun music yet published, Cajun Breakdown. Furthermore, the book examines the social and cultural roots of Cajun music's development through 1950 by raising broad questions about the ethnic experience in America and nature of indigenous American music. Since its inception, the Cajun community constantly refashioned influences from the American musical landscape despite the pressures of marginalization, denigration, and poverty. European and North American French songs, minstrel tunes, blues, jazz, hillbilly, Tin Pan Alley melodies, and western swing all became part of the Cajun musical equation. The idiom's synthetic nature suggests an extensive and intensive dialogue with popular culture, extinguishing the myth that Cajuns were an isolated folk group astray in the American South. Ryan Andr? Brasseaux's work constitutes a bold and innovative exploration of a forgotten chapter in America's musical odyssey.
The coal fields of West Virginia would seem an unlikely market for big band jazz during the Great Depression. That a prosperous African American audience dominated by those involved with the coal industry was there for jazz tours would seem equally improbable. Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942 shows that, contrary to expectations, black Mountaineers flocked to dances by the hundreds, in many instances traveling considerable distances to hear bands led by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, and Chick Webb, among numerous others. Indeed, as one musician who toured the state would recall, “All the bands were goin’ to West Virginia.” The comparative prosperity of the coal miners, thanks to New Deal industrial policies, was what attracted the bands to the state. This study discusses that prosperity as well as the larger political environment that provided black Mountaineers with a degree of autonomy not experienced further south. Author Christopher Wilkinson demonstrates the importance of radio and the black press both in introducing this music and in keeping black West Virginians up to date with its latest developments. The book explores connections between local entrepreneurs who staged the dances and the national management of the bands that played those engagements. In analyzing black audiences’ aesthetic preferences, the author reveals that many black West Virginians preferred dancing to a variety of music, not just jazz. Finally, the book shows bands now associated almost exclusively with jazz were more than willing to satisfy those audience preferences with arrangements in other styles of dance music.

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