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Thread: American Folk Music

  1. #1
    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default American Folk Music

    Old time, blues, country, gospel, bluegrass, and all that kind of distinctly rustic American music.

    This is an area I haven't look too far into. The only CDs I own of it are a couple Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee albums. I'm familiar with most of the key blues guys like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Skip James, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and all the blind- guys etc. I do like these but haven't picked up any albums of theirs yet. Leadbelly and Mississippi Fred McDowell are on my wanted list as well.

    I'm less familiar with the Appalachian and southern country music of that time. Apart from some banjo pickers like Dock Boggs and Uncle Dave Macon, and big names like Jimmie Rodgers or the Carter Family, I don't know much. I can't get into this as much as blues, even though I quite like the yodelling stuff.

    Those field recording made by Lomax and others are real gems though. I like the idea of someone going round the wilderness of the US with a great big phonograph recording local musicians.

    The folk revival stuff I don't like as much because it seems full of too much nostalgia for the past and comes across a bit trite. Although, some Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan tunes are excepted from this damning criticism.

    However, I love the American Primitivism movement with John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Sandy Bull being amongst my favourite guitarists.

    Who are your favourite early American folk musicians?

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    Right off the top of my head I love Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and Woody Guthrie...I play in a duo called The Oklahoma Boys and we play all kinds of old timey standards, originals and even leading up to the more modern day Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

    Another group whose songs we perform quite a bit is Old & In The Way...it was a very shortlived group that formed in 1973 and was comprised of John Kahn, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan and Vassar Clements...Vassar is a true bluegrass fiddle legend and I was fortunate enough to have a jam with him about two years before his passing...his technique and style can measure up to just about any of the very best classical violinists and I highly recommend exploring this group and any of his works. You can hear a bit of the jam he and I had here at www.myspace.com/kv466 it's the song titled Catfish John...weak recording but i'm glad i got it!

    For some reason (!!) there is some loud song that keeps playing over the whole page and I can't find how to take it off...if you can't either, open the player in another window and close the main one and you'll be able to hear fine
    Last edited by kv466; May-21-2011 at 19:17.

  3. #3
    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    The folk revival stuff I don't like as much because it seems full of too much nostalgia for the past and comes across a bit trite. Although, some Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan tunes are excepted from this damning criticism.
    anyway in the sixties there was the discover of the amazing Robert Pete Williams, probably my favorite blues musician and still one of the most underrated. Incredibly original guitarist (he inspired musicians like Captain Beefheart, and Fahey considered him the weirdest person he had ever known), incredible improviser and a great singer too.
    To me he's the blues counterpart of musicians like Ornette Coleman, Sun ra or Albert Ayler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH41odNr-Aw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AdhY7XQn9Q

    I do like also the incredible voices of Dock Boggs that you have mentioned (though is earlier recordings are probably much better than his stuff of the sixties) and Cecil Barfield
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB-W3pygCsg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqP_t2d_W00

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Old Folk: Baez and Hester.

    Bluegrass is a relatively modern adaptation of Appalachian music, with a lot of new songs sort of emulating the old modes. Finger-picked banjo is not 'old style'; frailing was the old style. The Dobro isn't an old style instrument either.

    Don't get me wrong; bluegrass - before 'newgrass' - has been a lifelong love.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member regressivetransphobe's Avatar
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    Robert Johnson still sounds surprisingly modern, both in his vocal and guitar approach.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpGG_blunRo
    "Rock came from blues" is just something you hear and treat as academic trivia until you really hear it and understand it.

    I also like Charley Patton, although I wish I could understand what the hell he was saying.
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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norman bates View Post
    anyway in the sixties there was the discover of the amazing Robert Pete Williams, probably my favorite blues musician and still one of the most underrated. Incredibly original guitarist (he inspired musicians like Captain Beefheart, and Fahey considered him the weirdest person he had ever known), incredible improviser and a great singer too.
    To me he's the blues counterpart of musicians like Ornette Coleman, Sun ra or Albert Ayler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH41odNr-Aw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AdhY7XQn9Q
    First hearing for me of Robert Pete Williams. I like it. He sounds a like a lot of the Delta blues guys but not any specific one of them, plus some great singing and playing. Kind of an amalgamation of blues history but not cliched at all.

    I agree about Dock Boggs voice being better when he was younger, but as a counterpoint to that, the recording quality of his 60's albums are much better.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcamacho
    Another group whose songs we perform quite a bit is Old & In The Way...it was a very shortlived group that formed in 1973 and was comprised of John Kahn, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan and Vassar Clements...Vassar is a true bluegrass fiddle legend and I was fortunate enough to have a jam with him about two years before his passing...his technique and style can measure up to just about any of the very best classical violinists and I highly recommend exploring this group and any of his works. You can hear a bit of the jam he and I had here at www.myspace.com/kv466 it's the song titled Catfish John...weak recording but i'm glad i got it!
    That's some nice fiddlin'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72
    Old Folk: Baez and Hester.

    Bluegrass is a relatively modern adaptation of Appalachian music, with a lot of new songs sort of emulating the old modes. Finger-picked banjo is not 'old style'; frailing was the old style. The Dobro isn't an old style instrument either.
    This post confuses me. Baez and Hester are old yet the Dobro guitar and Bluegrass aren't? Resonators were part of guys like Son House's and Bukka White's trademark sound. Are these not old either.

    Good stuff so far. We've had banjo, guitar and fiddle, but what about some old style country harmonica, mandolin or mountain dulcimer.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    The Carter Family, one of the first country music recording groups consisted Alvin Pleasant (A.P.) Carter (Vocal), his wife Sara Carter (Vocal, Autoharp and Guitar) and his sister-in-law Maybelle Carter (Vocal and Guitar) who, her daughter June married to Johnny Cash.
    In the first half of the 20th Century They were the most popular and maybe the most influential country group and they recorded hundreds of secular and sacred songs.

    These are some of their lovliest singles :

    Keep on the Sunny Side
    Single Girl, Married Girl
    Wildwood Flower
    Worried Man Blues
    Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?
    Are You Lonesome Tonight ?
    Little Darling Pal Of Mine
    Wandering Boy
    Cannon Ball Blues
    River of Jordan
    Glory to the Lamb
    I'm working on a building
    Room in heaven for me

    2 box sets of their most favorite recordings have been remastered and realeased in 2003 and 2007.

    1927-1934 Recordings :



    1934-1941 Recordings :

    Last edited by Il_Penseroso; May-23-2011 at 09:40.

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    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Patsy Cline, one of the most favorite country singers in late 50s and early 60s.

    Some of her hit recordings :

    Blue moon of Kentucky
    Walkin' After Midnight
    Leavin' on Your Mind
    You're Stronger Than Me
    She's got you
    Strange
    Back in baby's arms

    A box set, a collwction of her recordings is recommended (4CD set) :



    Another album consists 12 of her greatest hits is also a good one:


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