David Holt is a banjo player/multi-instrumentalist who has worked with and done valuable field recording and research on a number of older musicians including Doc Watson, Carl Sprague and Nimrod Workman. Eli asks David about these various encounters and his colaboration with Doc Watson on the 3 CD set “Legacy” in which Doc speaks about his own background and musical development and plays examples. Selections from “Legacy” are featured heavily in this program along with other recordings of Doc and other members of the Watson family. They also discuss David’s role in the film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” and his reflections on that project.
Interview with David Holt
Nimrod Workman was an extraordinary character. He was born in Kentucky and started working in the mines as a young teenager, he was a socialist, a powerful and effective and funny public speaker, and a union organizer. He knew Mother Jones and was involved in the West Virginia Mine War of 1920-21, the largest labor uprising in American history. He was an excellent singer of ballads and also wrote his own songs. Late in life he began a career as a ballad singer, playing at folk festivals and other venues. In 1986 he recieved a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He had black lung from working in the mines, smoked unfiltered cigarettes and lived to be 99 years old.
Although I only played one Nimrod Workman song in this show, I will be doing a whole program or at least a big segment on him some time in the near future- so look out for that.
Nimrod Workman was in several films:
A documentary about him called “Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category,” produced by Appalshop Films. He appeared as himself in the documentaries “Harlan County, USA,” “Chase the Devil: Religious Music of the Appalachians,” and “The Grand Generation.” He also appeared in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which also featured Phyllis Boyens (his daughter).
For more information on the West Virginia Mine War, read Robert Shogan’s excellent book “The Battle of Blair Mountain”
Music Played on This Show:
Intro/Outro Music – Whiskey Before Breakfast/Ragtime Annie – Doc Watson/David Holt, “Legacy”
1. When the Work’s All Done This Fall – Carl Sprague, “Cowtrails, Longhorns and Tight Saddles”
2.The Lone Pilgrim – Doc Watson/Gaither Carlton, “The Watson Family”
3. Ommie Let Your Bangs Roll Down – Gaither Carlton, “Clawhammer Banjo Vol. 2”
4. Your Long Journey – – Doc & Rosalie Watson, “The Watson Family”
5. That Train That Carried My Girl From Town – 1st a bit of Frank Hutchinson (Complete Recorded Works, Vol.1 on Document Records) then Doc Watson from “The Watson Family” CD, and the little intro is from “Legacy”
6. Rambling Hobo – Doc Watson, “The Watson Family”
7. Reuben’s Train – Doc Watson, “Legacy”
8. Coal Black Mining Blues – Nimrod Workman, “Harlan Country, USA”