“American Folk Music & Left-Wing Politics: 1927-1957″- A Book Review by Mat Callahan

Pictured on the cover are The Almanac Singers

What follows is a review of the book, “American Folk Music & Left-Wing Politics 1927-1957″ by Richard A. Reuss and completed after his death by JoAnne C. Reuss. This is an awesome book, the best book on the subject. I discovered it while doing research in my college library, I found it in its pre-book form, as Richard Reuss’ doctoral dissertation (unindexed!) and then to my delight discovered it had recently been published. This book is remarkably lucid, the stuff he says makes sense (as opposed to many other books that try to deal with music and politics, which do not make sense). Reuss was a gifted researcher and in the course of reading the book you realize that he has uncovered and written down the real interactions that characterize the relationship between the musicians in the scene and political events that played out in more or less the Popular Front period surrounding World War ll. This was certainly a seminal time, making possible the careers of many great artists including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Leadbelly (as well Henrietta Yurchenco). This excellent book review was done by Mat Callahan, author of another great book on music and politics called, “The Trouble with Music.”

– Eli Smith (Host- Down Home Radio, etc.)

Book Review by Mat Callahan, musician and author of the book, “The Trouble with Music.”

American Folk Music & Left-Wing Politics: 1927-1957
Richard A. Reuss with JoAnne C. Reuss

Richard A. Reuss came to folklore studies by way of his interest in music. He led a folksinging group while a counselor at summer camp and as an undergraduate student at Ohio Wesleyan University. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1971. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit, broadening his studies to labor lore and music.

Leadbelly on Capitol Records

Leadbelly Capitol Records with zither, etc. photo by E. Gomez

This is an incredible Leadbelly record, which he did for a mainstream commercial recording company, Capitol Records (as opposed to Folkways), out in Hollywood, CA in 1944. These were his last sessions for a major label and he really seems to have put everything into the recordings he made here. They’re great! This might be my favorite Leadbelly. He plays 12 string guitar, piano, and is accompanied by Paul Mason Howard on what is supposed to be zither, but seems to in fact be a Dolceola, a very small piano like instrument seen below. This record was loaned to me by a friend and as with all the records I post here I fed it into my computer, chopped it up into tracks, and here it is! Hope you enjoy.

CLICK HERE to download Leadbelly on Capitol Records
If you have problems downloading this leave a comment
or email me at DownHomeRadio@hotmail.com .

See below for the back of the record / notes / song list


Virgil Anderson – On the Tennessee Line

Virgil Anderson - On the Tennessee Line photo by E. Gomez
I think Virgil Anderson is my favorite banjo player right now. He’s great. I picked up this old out of print County LP last summer when I was at the Clifftop banjo and fiddle convention and I’ve been listening to it a lot ever since. Virgil Anderson has such a mellow feel, very bluesy and laid back. This record is great for the early morning and late at night, or any time!

The material on this record was recorded, I believe in the late 1970’s, by folklorist Bobby Fulcher. Bobby Fulcher also produced a film called “Chase the Devil: Religious Music of the Southern Appalachians (1986) which features great footage of Virgil Anderson.

CLICK HERE to download On the Tennessee Line
If you have problems downloading this leave a comment
or email me at DownHomeRadio@hotmail.com .

See below for the back of the record and notes:

Interview with Art Bailey- The Klezmer Music of Joseph Moskowitz

Joseph Moskowitz

Today’s show is an interview with Art Bailey of the New York based Klezmer band Orkestra Popilar. The show features recordings by Orkestra Popilar as well as early Klezmer source recordings by the great Romanian cymbalom (hammer dulcimer) player Joseph Moskowitz which have been a large part of the inspiration for Orkestra Popilar’s music.

Art Bailey's Orkestra Popilar
Art Bailey’s Orkestra Popilar – See above for a live recording of them from Banjo Jim’s Dec. 5th, 2008

Notes for my talk at Podcamp New York

The following are notes for my talk on Saturday at 4pm at the podcasting conference Podcamp New York:

Notes for:
“Old Public Domain Folk Music = Podsafe Music”

Here are some links to check out for easily downloadable music. Use it on your podcast! Its awesome, its different, its easy to get and its free. Old public domain folk music is the undiscovered goldmine of podsafe music.

Check out the “Out of Print Records” catagory

– All types of great stuff

Digital Library of Appalachia:
– Lots to sort through, well worth it.

American Folklife Center at LOC online archives

Honking Duck
– More old 78s

– Search for 78 record, but there’s lots and lots of audio on here.

Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project:
– This is the most public domain of public domain, I mean this stuff is old.

Secret Museum of The Air:
– Not downloadable as Mp3, but still an incredible resource. Sorted by category, region and subject.

* Thanks to Dan Paterson for brainstorming the idea of equating old public domain music with being podsafe.

New York Banjo Festival – Coming Up On Wed. 4/16/08

Banjo Band circa 1917. Photo courtesy of Shlomo Pestcoe

Banjo Jim’s First Annual 2008 Banjo Festival – Wednesday, April 16, 2008 7:00-2:00am

Banjo Jim’s First Annual 2008 Banjo Festival with Tony Trishka, Noam Pikelny, Shlomo Pestcoe, Andy Cartoun, Dayna Kurtz, Matt Munisteri, Eamon O’Leary, Jesse Harris, Skip Ward, Eli Smith, John Pinamonti, Jake Schepps, Alexa Story, special guest Sana Ndiaye and much more! $10 cover, two drink minimum, no advance tickets, doors open 6:30pm

Banjo Jim’s First Annual 2008 Banjo Festival is being held in benefit for The Akonting Center.

(For complete schedule see below)

The Akonting Center is a grassroots, non-governmental, cultural initiative in the village of Mandinary, Gambia (West Africa), started by Gambian Jola folk music scholar Daniel Laemouahuma Jatta and Swedish banjo historian Ulf Jägfors. Its objectives are to research, document, and perpetuate the many different endangered string instrument traditions of the various peoples of Senegambia, such as plucked lutes (e.g. the Jola akonting [ekonting], the Manjak bunchundo, the Wolof xalam, etc.), bowed lutes (fiddles, e.g. the Fula nyaanyooru, the Wolof riti, etc.), and harp-lutes (bridge-harps, e.g. the Jola furakaf, the Mandinka simbingo, etc.). The Akonting Center is organized under the auspices of The Chossan Center for Senegambian Culture, a community-based NGO which strives to perpetuate the traditional agrarian way of life and folkways of Senegambia as the foundation for progressive communal self-development on a democratic cooperative basis.