January 20, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 165 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, January 20th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

A few weeks ago we undertook to present a feature on field recordings collected by George Mitchell. Mitchell was 17 when he began to seek out bluesmen in Memphis on Christmas break 1961. The following year he began making recordings. The figures he pursued at first were artists who had made recordings in the twenties and thirties. At some point in the sixties Mitchell formed the idea of pursuing performers who hadn’t made records before. There were precedents but not many people were doing it and Mitchell seems to have approached the task with an open mind. No one else recorded female blues guitar players in the sixties.  Much of his search for music was done on his own and apart from his paid employment but in later years he held positions with folklore institutions that tied in well with the work of finding traditional singers and players. As well as recording local performers he arranged appearances for those who were interested in playing for audiences. Most of his activity was in Mississippi and Georgia.

It seems as though George Mitchell was not engaged in debate about the significance of the music he found. He found living music but music that was living in small communities. It was traditional music, distant from the popular music of the day. Some of the practitioners had given it up but they consented to play for him. Some practiced to be ready to record. A few performers he found became known to national and international blues audiences. R.L. Burnside was one. Precious Bryant was another.

We’re playing a small selection of the recordings Mitchell made. The recordings show the creativity of local blues players but also the backward gaze of most of these traditional performers.

On the Show:

Professor Longhair – Corey Lueck & the Smiokewagon Blues Band – Downchild Blues Band – Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson – Teddy Williams – Precious Bryant – Cecil Barfield – Robert “Nighthawk” Johnson – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – Big Jay McNeely –  and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until February 18th

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (January 27h)

Not yet determined.


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