sweartotellthetruth

January 6, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 163 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, January 6th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Not so long ago we read a book by Amanda Petrusich called Do Not Sell at Any Price, about the culture of 78 collecting and small and weird world of serious collectors. That book shed light on the history of 78 collectors, especially collectors of race and country 78s,  but probably didn’t go far enough back in time, since collecting appears to have begun almost with the appearance of the first commercial records.

There was another story embedded in Petrusich’s narrative and that was the story of reissues of vintage race and country music beginning with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) and that part of the book caused us to reflect again on the nature of vintage music reissues in the 21st century, after Europe’s Document Records had pretty well completed the reissue of blues and gospel records from the pre-World War 2 era and Old Time country has been systematically reissued by different labels. Once everything has been made available compilers or producers of reissues have to find new criteria for selection and presentation.

There are still less thoroughly exposed and researched areas of vintage music to discover and repackage–78s from Africa, South East Asia and Central Europe have been the subject of recent reissue projects, as well as ethnic musics of the U.S, but we still see new compilations of blues, gospel and Old Time country, such as a recent set repackaging field recordings from Parchman Farm Penitentiary, with an accompanying hard bound book. Some collections have been organized thematically, such as People Take Warning from Tompkins Square, presenting songs of disaster or Baby, How Can it Be: Songs of Love Lust and Contempt from Dust to Digital. With everything more or less available, these collections seek to provide music with context. Sometimes they are said to be “curated” rather than simply edited, compiled or produced.

On this week’s program, we take a look at the first Dust to Digital release–the collection of old time spiritual and gospel music, called Goodbye Babylon, issued in 2003. This segment of pre- and post-war traditional music was a perfect slice of Americana for a reissue project of 6 CDs and this set is satisfactory in almost every way, with a generous booklet that contextualizes the music very well without being over-ambitious.

On the Show:

Willie Lofton – Dave Van Ronk – Midnighters – Dinwiddie Colored Quartet – A.A. Gray and Seven Foot Dilly – Elder Curry – Alfred G. Karnes – Maddox Brothers & Rose – Jimmy Hughes – Frazey Ford – 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 4th

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 13th)

We have some different material lined up for broadcast. Next week will likely be a magazine-survey kind of show. We haven’t planned in detail.

cmc

September 6, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 144 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, August 26th (1:00-2:30 pm)

This week, a program devoted entirely to blues and quartet gospel from Alabama in the 1920s and 1930s. Generalizations about blues from Alabama are difficult. There is simply a dearth of information even about relatively well-known figures like Ed Bell (aka Barefoot Bill). Birmingham was a location visited by record companies as early as 1927 and as late as 1937 but without really reflecting the local blues scene in any depth and there isn’t much hard information about some recording artists believed to be from Alabama. Blues historians and album compilers tend to group recordings and performers regionally. Alabama was the state where a lot of a pre-blues music could be found in the 1930s and still in the 1940s and 1950s when researchers like Harold Courlander and Frederick Ramsay were active recording traditional performers. Indications are that there was a healthy blues scene in Birmingham, including boogie piano, but it isn’t well-represented in commercial records.

We can be more certain about gospel quartet. Birmingham and Bessemer, both in Jefferson County, were the home of a distinct quartet culture, especially in the 1920s and thirties. Mobile on the Gulf Coast also had a gospel scene. We offer a selection of quartet gospel mostly recorded between 1928 and 1932. Two of the quartets in this set recorded in the post-World War 2  era and our set does not include the Heavenly Gospel Singers, whose records were all made between 1935 and 1941.

The years 1930 to 1932 witnessed a shaking out of the record industry and most blues and gospel performers–like most country artists who recorded in the twenties—would not record again when the labels began to build back their catalogues. The first five quartets in our survey did not record after 1931.  The Famous Blue Jay Singers first recorded in 1932 but not again until 1947.

On the Show:

Tampa Red – Daddy Stovepipe – Bogus Ben Covington – Jaybird Coleman – Walter Roland – Mobile Strugglers – Mount Zion Baptist Quartet – Bessemer Sunset Four – Slim Duckett & Pig Norwood – Famous Blue Jay Singers of Birmingham – Jimmy Hughes

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until September 30th.

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 (September 2nd)

Next week is Welcome Week at McMaster University. We will present a live show from the Atrium of the McMaster Student Centre. Blues, R&B, Gospel and Soul will all be represented in the mix.

cmc

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