Down Home’s Henrietta Yurchenco spins some of Bessie Smith’s greatest songs, sets them in their social context and offers her own personal recollections of the era in which they were recorded.
Part A: Mexico Sampler Show – featuring field recordings made by Down Home host Henrietta Yurchenco.
Part B: The Berkeley Old Time Music Convention – featuring live recordings and interviews (w/ Larry Hanks, Kate Brislin, Suzy Thompson) done by DHR host Eli Smith when he traveled to Berkeley a couple weeks ago.
Interview with Daniel Jatta– This links to an Mp3 of an interview Eli conducted on 1/4/07 with Daniel Jatta, researcher of music (particularly the akonting, an African banjo predecesor) of the Jola tribe from Senegambia. In the interview Daniel plays Jola songs on the akonting, and gives a description of his research into the instrument and its clear connection to the African-American banjo. He also discusses the cultural center he has founded in Gambia to preserve and promote Jola culture and other traditional cultures of the region. This group in Africa has retained a musical culture closest to that which arrived with slaves brought to America from that region hundreds of years ago.
See myspace.com/akonting for more information on the akonting.
For field recordings of the akonting, see below:
This weeks show begins with a look at the Johnny Cash song “Cocaine Blues.” We’ll take a look at the family of songs that he got it from, going back into the old-time music tradition. Then we turn to the African roots of the banjo. Eli interviews Bela Fleck about his trip across Africa, the musicians he met there, the album and film he recorded and his thoughts on the African origin of the banjo. Then Eli will talk about some new research that is coming out on the “Akonting,” a very compelling and direct African banjo predecessor played by the Jola tribe of Senegambia. We’ll hear some field recordings, make comparisons between the Akonting and the banjo as played by elder African-American musicians and try to really hear specifically how our American music came directly from Africa. The past really happened- A sonic history more compelling than any text book!