CD Field Recordings, Vol. 1: Virginia (1936-1941) (714298557527) (CD 868326),
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Field Recordings, Vol. 1: Virginia (1936-1941) (714298557527)

  • 1. 'Twas on a Monday - John Williams
    2. Oh Lawd, Don't 'Low Me to Beat 'Em - Willie Williams
    3. New Burying Ground, The - Willie Williams
    4. Bitin' Spider - Willie Williams
    5. Can't You Line 'Em - J. Wilson
    6. Laying Rail Chant, Pts. 1 & 2 - J. Wilson
    7. Have Children of My Own - J. Wilson
    8. Po' Boy - J. Wilson
    9. Frankie and Johnny - J. Wilson
    10. Po' Farmer (Poor Farmers) - Lemuel Jones
    11. Shake It, Mama - Lemuel Jones
    12. John Henry - Jimmy Owens
    13. Freight Train Blues - James Diggs
    14. Keep Away from the Bloodstained Banners - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    15. Tennessee Dog - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    16. Run Down, Eli - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    17. We Are Almost Down to the Shore - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    18. Jaybird - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee (Take 1)
    19. Jaybird - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee (take 2)
    20. Corn-Shucking Time - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    21. Daddy, Where You Been So Long? - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    22. I Used to Work on the Tractor - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    23. Thought I Heard My Banjo Say - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    24. House Done Built Without Hands - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    25. Dis Ol' Hammer - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    26. Shine Like a Star in the Morning - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    27. Do, Lord, Remember Me - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    28. Poontang Little, Poontang Small - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    29. Oh the Lamb of God Done Sanctified Me - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    30. I'll Go On - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    31. Rise, Run Along, Mourner (The Man Was Burning) - Jimmie Strothers/Joe Lee
    32. Oh Jesus, Let Me Ride
    33. I'm Strivin'
    34. Blues - Big Boy
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 5575

  • Credits
    ProducerJohnny Parth

    Personnel: Joe Lee, Big Boy (vocals, guitar); Jimmie Strothers (vocals, banjo); Willie Williams, James Wilson, John Williams , John Williams , Lemuel Jones, Willie Williams (vocals).
    Audio Remasterer: Gerhard Wessely.
    Liner Note Author: Tony Russell.
    Recording information: Emmons Baptist Church, Goochlan (05/30/1936-??/??/1941); Hampton Institute, VA (05/30/1936-??/??/1941); State Farm, Lynn, VA (05/30/1936-??/??/1941); State Penitentiary, Richmond, V (05/30/1936-??/??/1941).
    The field recordings on this disc from Document Records are drawn predominately from two trips to Virginia by John Lomax and Harold Spivake in 1936 under the auspices of the Library of Congress. The two folklorists visited the Virginia State Farm at Lynn, on the James River, and the State Penitentiary in Richmond, collecting spirituals, work songs, blues songs, and other folk materials from the prison population. While these recordings will undoubtedly be of most interest to historians, collectors, and scholars, the uncommon intimacy on display here is affecting, and some of these tracks are wonderful little gems, including Lemuel Jones' unaccompanied Depression-era protest song, "Po' Farmer (Poor Farmers)," and two call-and-response work songs led by the singing of James Wilson called "Can't You Line 'Em" and "Laying Rail Chant, Pts. 1 & 2." The real discovery here, though, is the complete recorded work of the blind banjoist and singer Jimmie Strothers, who turns in (often with the accompaniment of fellow inmate Joe Lee) a set of banjo pieces, rhythmic folk songs, and unabashed spirituals (and at least one strikingly bawdy tune) that are truly unique in their range and passion. Casual listeners should take note that these are archival recordings, full of the incidental cracks, pops, and omnipresent hiss that was inherent to the recording medium of the day. ~ Steve Leggett

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