Dienstag, 28. September 2010

Carl Sandburg - 1920s Recordings from The American Songbag

Carl Sandburg 
sings eight songs from his 
"The American Songbag" 

Original issue: 
Musicraft 207-210

Recording date (possibly): 
March 4, 1926

Gallows Song (My Name, It Is Sam Hall) (207-A)
I Ride An Old Paint (207-B)

Foggy Foggy Dew (208-A) 
The Horse Named Bill (208-B)

Woven Spirituals (209-A)
I'm Sad And I'm Lonely (209-B)

The Good Boy (210-A)
Mama Have You Heard The News (210-B)




Musician Resurrects Sandburg's 'Songbag'

Carl Sandburg's FBI File (Excerpts) 

The American Songbag (35 MB PDF at archive.org)

Montag, 27. September 2010


No TWO PEOPLE, not even the professors, have been able to agree completely on a definition of folk music. The Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary of Folklore lists many, which only partly overlap each other.

One definition says: "A folk song must be old, carried on for generations by people who have had no contact with urban arts and influence. A folk song must show no trace of individual authorship."

At the other end is the definition of the late Big Bill Broonzy, the blues singer. He was asked if a certain blues he sang was a folk song. "It must be," he replied, "I never heard horses sing it."

Face it: folk traditions will change as the folks who inhabit this earth change. The real traditional folk singer, who lived in past centuries and learned and sang his songs within a small folk community, sang a song because he thought it was a good song, not because he thought it was old.

Likewise, most sensible guitar pickers and singers today sing a song because they feel it is a good song, not because they have previously screened it to be sure it is traditional. The person who beats his breast and says "I will sing nothing but a folk song" is either fooling himself or trying to fool someone else.

Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger,
New York, NY, 1972, p. 62.

Rare and Unreleased Woody Guthrie Radio (1940s)


BBC "Children's Hour", London, GB, 
July 7, 1944 (5:14)


From Guy Logsdon's Discography, 
reprinted in Santelli, Robert & Davidson, Emily (eds.),  
Hard Travelin' -- The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie
Hanover and London, 1999, p. 196:

"7 JULY 1944. Woody was a Merchant Marine, 'washing dishes on a Liberty Ship,' the troop ship Sea Porpoise which carried troops to the Normandy beach in early July 1944. After the troops were sent ashore, the ship hit a mine but made its way back to England; Woody was routed through London toward Glasgow, Scotland, toward the United States.
On a song manuscript dated 'July 13th, 1944', Woody wrote, 'this train is carrying me outside from London now; on up towards Belfast, and Glasgow.'
While in London, he went to the offices of the BBC where he introduced himself as a member of The Martins and the Coys [produced by Alan Lomax for the BBC in late March 1944, broadcast by the BBC on 26 June 1944] and was given the opportunity to sing on the Children's Hour. After an autobiographical statement, he was recorded singing with his guitar accompaniment two railroad songs:
Wabash Cannonball
900 Miles
(this is the minor-key melody that Cisco made popular)."

U.S. Department Of Health, "V.D. Blues", 
written and directed by Alan Lomax,  
most likely Washington, D.C., unknown date (1940s) (14:55)


Woody Guthrie as "Rusty, The Traveler" 
(with prob. Pete Seeger, banjo,
unknown piano)
The Great Historical Bum
(with V.D. lyrics)  
unidentified song
Hard Times In That ???? Jail
unidentified song (Empty Boxcar Is My Home?)
The Great Historical Bum
(with V. D. lyrics; Reprise)

Arizona Dranes 1926-'28 Recordings

First recorded gospel pianist got her start in Austin

A recent discovery rewrites what we know about Arizona Dranes.

Thursday, March 01, 2007                                    

New evidence shows that Arizona Dranes, the blind Pentecostal piano player who inspired everyone from Mahalia Jackson to Jerry Lee Lewis, attended the Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youths at 4104 Bull Creek Road from 1896 until graduating in 1910. Let that sink in for a sec: The first person to ever play piano on a gospel record, the musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe credited with influencing her raucous, syncopated style, learned how to play in Austin.

Dranes remains virtually unknown today, with only a single blurry photo ever found, but she's celebrated by prewar gospel and blues enthusiasts.

"Arizona Dranes is the most important performer for introducing 'hot' piano style to African American gospel music," says Grammy-winning music historian David Evans. The first musical star of the Church of God in Christ, a Memphis-based Pentecostal sect that emphasized foot-stomping music in the styles of secular music, Dranes and her lost-in-the-spirit outbursts laid the blueprint for rock 'n' roll.

Her first music teacher in Austin was a Miss B.M. Boyd. Her last here was Lizzie B. Wells. Also teaching Drane (the "s" would be tacked on later) in other subjects at the institute was Mattie B. White, a noted educator and painter, who had earlier founded the first private school for African American girls in Austin in 1892.

Until recently, the only known evidence that put Dranes in the Austin school was a 1910 census, which listed her age as 19. Though that document disproved accepted biographical information that Dranes was a mere 21 when she invented "the gospel beat" with recordings for Okeh Records in 1926, it doesn't show that Dranes attended school here from kindergarten through high school.

That jewel of information came just a couple months ago when Kristi Sprinkle, a Web administrator for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, found the official enrollment record for the 1896-1897 school year, which lists "Arizona Drane" of Sherman as a student.

Not much is known of Dranes' whereabouts from her graduation in 1910 until the early 1920s, though at some point she fell in with Hillsboro-raised singing preacher Ford Washington "F.W." McGee. Dranes is believed to have helped McGee establish a Church of God in Christ in Oklahoma City circa 1920. McGee later presided over a pair of revival tents in Chicago, where he and his Jubilee Singers backed up Dranes on five of her landmark recordings.

Dranes had been living in Dallas (not Fort Worth, as has been written) in the State-Thomas neighborhood when she was discovered by a traveling Okeh talent scout in early 1926. At the time, most gospel performances were vocal only or accompanied by guitar, but Dranes stood out with her Holy Ghost-fueled piano....

(Source: http://www.austin360.com/music/content/music/stories/2007/02/3dranes.html)
Only known photograph (seated at piano, right) 

Vocal acc. own (p).
Chicago, June 17, 1926.
09737-A    In That Day [Okeh 8380]
09738-A    It's All Right Now [Okeh 8353]

Vocal acc. own (p) with Sara Martin, Richard M. Jones (vo).
09739-A    John Said He Saw A Number [Okeh 8352]
09740-A    My Soul Is A Witness For The Lord [Okeh 8352]

Piano solo.
Chicago, June 17, 1926.
09741-A    Crucifixion [Okeh 8380]
09742-A    Sweet Heaven Is My Home [Okeh 8353]

Vocal acc. own (p) with Rev. F.W. McGee and Jubilee Singers (vo).
Chicago, November, 1926.
09877-A    Bye And Bye We're Going To See The King [Okeh 8438]
09878-A    I'm Going Home On The Morning Train [Okeh 8419]
09879-A    Lamb's Blood Has Washed Me Clean [Okeh 8419]
09880-B    I'm Glad My Lord Saved Me [Okeh 8438]

Vocal acc. own (p), poss. Coley Jones (md), several female (vo).
Chicago, July 3, 1928.
400980-A    I Shall Wear A Crown [Okeh 8600]
400981-A    God's Got A Crown
400982-B    He Is My Story
400983-B    Just Look [Okeh 8646]
400984-A    I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go [Okeh 8600]
400985-B    Don't You Want To Go? [Okeh 8646]


Dranes became Okeh's biggest gospel star almost overnight, but she wasn't always paid in a timely manner, according to correspondence between Dranes and record execs made available in 1970 to writer Malcolm Shaw. "I've only received 50 dollars from you," she wrote Okeh's owner in February, 1928, while stricken with an unspecified illness in Memphis. Her deal called for her to be paid $25 per song.

"Of coarse I dident know anything about record making or prices on them and I dident even consult our white friends down here," reads the letter. "I'm asking that you consider me as I am disable to work now and have to be confined to my room for awhile." Elmer Fearn, who owned Okeh parent company Consolidated Music Publishing, said he had lost track of Dranes and wired her the $60 she asked for.

Dranes was staying in Sherman, where her family (mother Cora Jones and siblings Milton, Millie, Rome and Bill) lived, when she was beckoned to record in Chicago for the last time in June 1928.

The Depression decimated demand for gritty gospel-blues, but Dranes remained a star on the Church of God in Christ circuit, where she often performed before church founder Bishop Charles Mason.

Although Dranes established such tunes as "I Shall Wear a Crown," "My Soul's a Witness for the Lord" and "Lamb's Blood Has Washed Me Clean" as Church of God in Christ standards, there is no mention of her in the official church biography or one written about the life of Bishop Mason. The name Arizona Dranes brings only puzzled looks from staffers at the Mason Temple in Memphis, where A.J. Dranes wrecked the house 75 years ago.

Dranes died of a stroke on July 27, 1963 at age 72. She had been living at 5219 McKinley Ave. in Los Angeles and attending Emmanuel Church of God in Christ, founded by Rev. Samuel Crouch of Fort Worth. Dranes' death certificate, listing her occupation as missionary, says she was buried at the Paradise Memorial Park in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. But no one knows exactly where Dranes' body is today.

Investigators discovered in 1995 that the cemetery had reached capacity 10 years earlier, so the owners were digging up bodies in the older sections and reselling plots. The undertakers would also stack bodies in the same plot, often crushing caskets to fit more in.

According to the 1963 burial record, Dranes was laid to rest in section 183, block 4 and lot F-3. According to Warren Clark, a researcher for Find a Grave Inc., that was one of the recycled plots. Dranes' remains were most likely moved to the mass grave, which was seven feet high and 50 feet wide.

(Source: http://www.austin360.com/music/content/music/stories/2007/02/3dranes.html)