Art Of Field Recording, Vol. 2

Performers Various Artists

Dust-To-Digital | December 9, 2008 | Compact Disc

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Like the first volume of Art of Field Recording, this second installment is a four-CD box set of considerable size and scope of field recordings by Art Rosenbaum. The 107 tracks, recorded between 1956 and 2008 (the very year this set was issued), cover an enormous range of American traditional music. Cajun, Appalachian folk, country blues, gospel, Sacred Harp singing, sacred steel guitar, and a cappella vocals are among the styles documented. It might not quite get to everything, but it certainly captures plenty of approaches that had little to no exposure in the conventional commercial music business over this half century, yet were preserved and performed outside of the media spotlight. Like its predecessor, it's also divided into four separate thematic discs, though these are slightly different this time around. The first and second CDs are (as they were in Vol. 1) devoted to a "survey" disc encompassing a bunch of styles and a disc of religious material; the third and fourth go into different directions by presenting a CD of "accompanied songs and ballads," and another wholly of "unaccompanied songs and ballads," or songs performed a cappella. A few performers here and there will be known to folk fans (Cajun musicians the Balfa Brothers and Nathan Abshire, bluesman Scrapper Blackwell, Alice Gerrard, Buell Kazee), but mostly these are musicians without commercial profiles who make music because they want to, happening to get these performances taped by Rosenbaum.
Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2 is of a similar level of quality as Vol. 1 -- which, it should be noted, might not be to everyone's taste, even folk and traditional music fans. These are field recordings spanning several decades, so the fidelity, while always listenable, isn't always sparkling. The performances are often on the spontaneous and even roughly stark side, and while that's justly hailed as part of their emotional impact, it doesn't always make for captivating listening, especially in such a lengthy dose. And while it seems a little spoilsport to make this kind of complaint about traditional music, some of the songs are pretty shopworn -- "John Hardy" might be a very significant folk song on its own merits, but do listeners really need to hear yet another version, and hardly one of the most distinguished ones? The set's greatest value is a folkloric one that lies in its sheer diversity, with an unselfconsciousness and ease that have become rarer commodities in music, not to say life in general, in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Plus, there are occasional performances (even if these tend to be the more polished ones) that would stand as enjoyable pieces outside of the context of this box set, like the Chancey Brothers' guitar-banjo duet "Mulberry Gap/Cumberland Gap"; Golden River Grass' energetic bluegrass-gospel hybrid (with harmonica) "Over in the Glory Land"; and the Myers Family & Friends' quite movingly sung and played selections, which are a nicely swinging blend of Appalachian folk with a bluegrass tinge. And, though an entire disc of a cappella singing might be too much for some listeners, it's more diverse and listenable than many would expect, with a few surprisingly rambunctious items; noted singer/songwriter Greg Brown even makes a surprise appearance on it, dueting with his grandmother on a 1978 recording of "Two Little Boys." The packaging is superb (and the element of this release that will get it far more attention than most such folkloric compilations), the large-sized 96-page booklet including both detailed background information and more than 100 photos and illustrations. ~ Richie Unterberger

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: December 9, 2008

Style: Folk

Number of Discs: 4

Studio/Mixed/Live: Studio

Label Name: Dust-To-Digital

UPC: 880226001223

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Art Of Field Recording, Vol. 2

Art Of Field Recording, Vol. 2

Performers Various Artists

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: December 9, 2008

Style: Folk

Number of Discs: 4

Studio/Mixed/Live: Studio

Label Name: Dust-To-Digital

UPC: 880226001223


Title Track Time
0.DISC 1: --
1.La Grondeuse (The Scolding Woman) - Fidel Martin --
2.Blues - Eddie Bowles --
3.12th Street Rag - Frosty Lamb/Buzz Fountain --
4.Danish Galop - Dwight Lamb --
5.Broke Down Engine - Tony Bryant --
6.J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte - Nathan Abshire/The Balfa Brothers --
7.Colinda - Nathan Abshire/The Balfa Brothers --
8.Garfield - Jake Staggers --
9.Devil Song, The (Child 275) - Bobby McMillon --
10.Unnamed Tune - John W. Summers --
11.Going Across The Prairie - Kirk Brandenberger/Art Rosenbaum --
12.Muddy Roads Of Georgia - Uncle John Patterson --
13.Georgie Blues - Cecil Barfield --
14.Billy Staffer (The State Of Arkansas) (Laws Hi) - Mary Lomax --
15.Cindy In The Summertime - Eller Brothers --
16.General Lee's Surrender - Howard Cunningham/Ross Brown --
17.Shortnin' Bread - Neal Patman/Neal Pattman --
18.Free Little Bird - Oscar "Shorty" Shehan/Juanita --
19.Soldier And The Lady, The (Laws P14) - Oscar "Shorty" Shehan/Juanita --
20.Big Road Blues - Shirley Griffith --
21.Harlan County Farewell Tune (Rambling Hobo) - Pete Steele --
22.Marmaduke's Hornpipe - Earl Murphy/Eal Murphy/Andy Carlson --
23.Jonah - Bert Hare --
24.Turkey In The Straw - Smokey McKinnis/Bob Black --
25.Paddy On The Turnpike - Clester Hounchell --
26.Play Party Songs: In This Ring/I'd Rather Be A Farmer's Boy - Anna Sandage Underhill --
27.Mulberry Gap/Cumberland Gap - Chancey Brothers --
28.Fred Roger's Reel - Louis Riendeau/Henry Riendeau/Louie & Henry Riendeau --
29.Goin' Where The Monon Crosses The Yellow Dog - Scrapper Blackwell --
0.DISC 2: RELIGIOUS: --
1.Welcome Home - Brown's Chapel Choir --
2.River Of Jordan, The - Myers Family & Friends --
3.Brother, You Ought T've Been There - Rev. Nathaniel Mitchell/Brady "Doc" Barnes/Fleeta/Lucy & Brady --
4.New Prospect - Georgia Sacred Harp Convention --
5.No Man Can Love Me Like Jesus - Bert Hare --
6.He's Calling Me - Ebenezer East Church --
7.Out Of My Bondage - Smokey Joe Miller/Gordon Tanner --
8.Mother, Tell Me Of The Angels - Tickanetley Primitive Baptist Church --
9.No Room At The Hotel - Otha Cooper --
10.Let's Have A Family Prayer - The Traveling Innerlights --
11.Over In The Glory Land - Golden River Grass/The Traveling Innerlights --
12.Charge To Keep I Have, A - Rev. Willie Mae Eberhart/Eddie Ruth Pringle/Sister Fleeta Mitchell --
13.How Long The Train Been Gone? - Jake Staggers --
14.Lord, Remember Me - Pilgrim's Rest Primitive Baptist Church --
15.Eve And Adam (Pickin' Up Leaves) - McIntosh County Shouters --
16.There's A Man Going Around Taking Names - Otha Cooper/Imogene Riggens --
17.Savior, Don't You Pass Me By - Brady "Doc" Barnes/Lucy & Brady "Doc" Barnes/Lucy --
18.Oh That Terrible Day - Laethe Eller/Berthie Rogers --
19.I Know I Got Relgion - Cora Thompson --
20.Dry Bones - Silver Light Gospel Singers --
21.Walk With Me - House of God, Sarasota, Florida --
0.DISC 3: ACCOMPANIED SONGS & BALLADS: --
1.I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground - Chancey Brothers --
2.Going To Georgia - The Eller Family --
3.Southern Texas - George Gibson --
4.Raise A Ruckus Tonight - Brady "Doc" Barnes/Lucy & Brady "Doc" Barnes/Lucy --
5.Rambling Boy, The (Laws L12) - Myers Family & Friends --
6.Want To Go To Cuba, Can't Go Now - Shorty Ralph Reynolds --
7.Boat's Up The River, The - Ola Belle Reed --
8.Hog Drivers - Pat Hudson --
9.As I Walked Out One Morning In Spring - W. Guy Bruce --
10.Devilish Mary - Smokey Joe Miller/Gordon Tanner --
11.Barbara Allen (Child 84) - Buell Kazee --
12.Steamboat Bill - Jack Bean --
13.John Henry (Laws I1) - Lawrence Eller/Ross Brown --
14.John Henry (Laws I1) - Mose Parker --
15.John Henry (Laws I2) - Willard Benson --
16.Old Joe Clark - Myers Family & Friends --
17.Miller's Will, The (Laws Q21) - Dr. C.B. Skelton --
18.On Top Of Old Smoky - Lawrence Eller --
19.Last Payday At Coal Creek - Pete Steele --
20.Wreck On The CC&O Road, The (Laws G3) - Leasie Whitmore/Helen McDuffie --
21.Quit That Ticklin' Me - Buzz Fountain --
22.Going Up The Country (Some Kind Of Blues) - Mabel Cawthorn --
23.Talking Blues - Myers Family & Friends --
24.Don't Go Riding Down That Old Texas Trail - Eller Brothers/Ross Brown --
25.Ring Ching Ching - Jack Bean --
0.DISC 4: UNACCOMPANIED SONGS & BALLADS: --
1.Fair And Tender Maidens - Mary Lomax --
2.Bird's Song, The - Virgil Sandage --
3.Elfin Knight, The (Child 2) - Anna Sandage Underhill --
4.Gypsy Davy (Child 200) - Stan Gilliam --
5.Black Jack Davy (Child 200) - Mary Lomax --
6.Black Jack Davy (Child 200) - Ray Rhodes --
7.Battle Of Stone River, The - Oscar Parks --
8.Froggy Went A-Courting - The Phillips Wonders --
9.Factory Girl, The - Mary Heekin --
10.I'm A Noble Soldier - Jim Cook --
11.Young Man's Lament, The - Anna Sandage Underhill --
12.Butcher's Boy, The (Laws P24) - Vern Smelser --
13.Lady Lye (Child 79) - Ollie Gilbert --
14.Lullabies - Stan Gilliam --
15.Utah Carl (Laws B4) - Ollie Gilbert --
16.Billy Button - Mary Ruth Moore --
17.Ring Plays - Oneitha Ellison & Group --
18.Mohawk Love Song - Mr. & Mrs. Lazore --
19.Shenandoah - Alice Gerrard --
20.Two Little Boys - Lala Brown/Greg & Lala Brown/Greg Brown --
21.Down In The Arkansas - Mary Lomax --
22.I'll Drink And Be Jolly - Bonnie Loggins --
23.We'll March Around The Wall - Brady "Doc" Barnes --
24.John Came Home (Child 274) - Vern Smelser --
25.Farm Out West, The - Margaret Kimmett --
26.Frankie And Johnny (Laws I3) - Ray Rhodes --
27.Farmer's Son, The - Della Mae Reedy --
28.Famous Wedding, The (Laws P31) - Maude Thacker --
29.Sail Away, Lady / Greenback - Stan Gilliam --
30.Lame Soldier, The - Sudie Parks --
31.Pearl Bryan (Laws F2) - Oscar Parks --
32.Sing, Sing, What'll I Sing? - Bonnie Loggins --

Editorial Notes

Like the first volume of Art of Field Recording, this second installment is a four-CD box set of considerable size and scope of field recordings by Art Rosenbaum. The 107 tracks, recorded between 1956 and 2008 (the very year this set was issued), cover an enormous range of American traditional music. Cajun, Appalachian folk, country blues, gospel, Sacred Harp singing, sacred steel guitar, and a cappella vocals are among the styles documented. It might not quite get to everything, but it certainly captures plenty of approaches that had little to no exposure in the conventional commercial music business over this half century, yet were preserved and performed outside of the media spotlight. Like its predecessor, it's also divided into four separate thematic discs, though these are slightly different this time around. The first and second CDs are (as they were in Vol. 1) devoted to a "survey" disc encompassing a bunch of styles and a disc of religious material; the third and fourth go into different directions by presenting a CD of "accompanied songs and ballads," and another wholly of "unaccompanied songs and ballads," or songs performed a cappella. A few performers here and there will be known to folk fans (Cajun musicians the Balfa Brothers and Nathan Abshire, bluesman Scrapper Blackwell, Alice Gerrard, Buell Kazee), but mostly these are musicians without commercial profiles who make music because they want to, happening to get these performances taped by Rosenbaum.
Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2 is of a similar level of quality as Vol. 1 -- which, it should be noted, might not be to everyone's taste, even folk and traditional music fans. These are field recordings spanning several decades, so the fidelity, while always listenable, isn't always sparkling. The performances are often on the spontaneous and even roughly stark side, and while that's justly hailed as part of their emotional impact, it doesn't always make for captivating listening, especially in such a lengthy dose. And while it seems a little spoilsport to make this kind of complaint about traditional music, some of the songs are pretty shopworn -- "John Hardy" might be a very significant folk song on its own merits, but do listeners really need to hear yet another version, and hardly one of the most distinguished ones? The set's greatest value is a folkloric one that lies in its sheer diversity, with an unselfconsciousness and ease that have become rarer commodities in music, not to say life in general, in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Plus, there are occasional performances (even if these tend to be the more polished ones) that would stand as enjoyable pieces outside of the context of this box set, like the Chancey Brothers' guitar-banjo duet "Mulberry Gap/Cumberland Gap"; Golden River Grass' energetic bluegrass-gospel hybrid (with harmonica) "Over in the Glory Land"; and the Myers Family & Friends' quite movingly sung and played selections, which are a nicely swinging blend of Appalachian folk with a bluegrass tinge. And, though an entire disc of a cappella singing might be too much for some listeners, it's more diverse and listenable than many would expect, with a few surprisingly rambunctious items; noted singer/songwriter Greg Brown even makes a surprise appearance on it, dueting with his grandmother on a 1978 recording of "Two Little Boys." The packaging is superb (and the element of this release that will get it far more attention than most such folkloric compilations), the large-sized 96-page booklet including both detailed background information and more than 100 photos and illustrations. ~ Richie Unterberger
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