While on tour in early August, my old-time string band The Dust Busters made our first radio appearance. Here we are on Mike Kelsey’s program on WFHB 98.1FM, community radio in Bloomington, IN. We play live, talk with Mike and promote the show we played in Bloomington that night. It was a great tour! Met a lot of really great people (many thanks to all those that put us up, fed us and helped us out along the way), played a lot of music and got quality time in the car!
Last December, Down Home Radio co-founder Henrietta Yurchenco passed away at the age of 91. I met her when she was 89 and we had a great time doing this show together and generally hanging out in the last 2 years of her life. She was a tremendously accomplished person who over a very long career left an amazing musical and historical legacy, some of which has been preserved for us to hear. For a short history of her carreer read my essay, her obituary from the New York Times, her excellent autobiography, or visit her website.
Starting now I will begin to bring out some of the things from her archives which I have or can get my hands on. In this entry I am re-posting a very remarkable show we did in January of ’07, airing a radio show Henrietta produced for WNYC in 1940 at the beginning of her career – It was Leadbelly’s show, and that week the guest was Woody Guthrie. This amazing show was recorded in excellent quality, preserved and found by the archivist at WNYC! We re-aired it together with Henrietta’s comentary 67 years later. So look out for more excellent material from the Yurchenco archives, as well as all the shows we hosted here on Down Home Radio.
This week Henrietta and Eli discuss outlaw ballads and how criminals are transformed into popular heroes. In conjunction with that and of extra special interest, they rebroadcast a show Henrietta produced for WNYC radio back in 1940. It is Leadbelly’s show and he has as his guest, Woody Guthrie. This program has not been heard since it was first broadcast 67 years ago! Down Home would like to thank WNYC and archivist Andy Lanset for providing us with this rare material.
Studs Terkel, author, radio show host, actor and activist died on Friday at his home in Chicago at the age of 96. Terkel is perhaps best known for the amazing oral histories that he did with working class people. He published these in books such as his well known Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970) and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974). He has said in interviews that he first got the feeling for what he would later do and received his first bit of education at Bug House Square, a famous free speech zone in Chicago. Terkel got his start in the world of media during the New Deal, working on various public works projects of the WPA. From that time he worked on radio soap operas, in stage plays, as a sportscaster and a disc jockey. In 1944 he started a radio program on WENR in Chicago called ” The Wax Museum” that allowed him to express his own personality and play recordings he liked from folk music, opera, jazz, or blues. Perhaps Studs invented “free form radio” back in 1944?
Studs hosted a radio show on WFMT in Chicago from 1952-1997. On today’s show I air an interview he did in 1963 with Bob Dylan. He was truly a great interviewer!
You can hear more audio from his radio program and learn more about Studs Terkel at his website http://www.studsterkel.org
He was interviewed a number of times on Democracy Now
Back in 1994 British folk musician and scholar Martin Carthy hosted a series of 6 radio broadcasts on the BBC 2 station. I recently got my hands on cassette tapes of these broadcasts, and they’re awesome! He did a really good job- plays some amazing music. I digitized the tapes, and here they are. The first tape is programs 1-3, Jan-Feb 1994 and the second is programs 3-6, Feb-March. You will notice in the middle of each tape it cuts off and then cuts back in, that’s where the tape side switches. I really recommend these shows, fun to listen to.
Today Eli speaks with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, a great young African American string band hailing from North Carolina. They met at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC in April of 2005, an event meant to bring forward the essential history of African American string band music. Since then they have become a very successful group, gaining more and more fans as they relentlessly tour the country. Most recently they have appeared on the soundtrack of the soon to be released film, “The Great Debaters.”
The band is:
Rhiannon Giddens (banjo, fiddle, voice)
Justin Robinson (fiddle, banjo, voice)
Dom Flemons (guitar, banjo, jug, harmonica, snare & voice).
This weeks show marks the one year anniversary of Down Home Radio! Sure we’ve missed some weeks here and there, but we’ve now been broadcasting for a full year. Its been great and time has really flown by! Lots more great shows in the works, so keep listening!
This week we have a great interview with Pete Seeger, a man who certainly needs no introduction. We talk with Pete about his experiences dealing with the music industry over his long career, trying to make money as a young artist, the controversy surrounding royalties derived from the South African song he first adapted into Wimoweh / The Lion Sleeps Tonight, his Campaign for Public Domain Reform and his thoughts about the state of the world in general. We also play (almost) all the songs he mentions in the interview!
Pete Seeger’s public domain reform proposal to the U.N.
“Old songs world wide now in the public domain are often adapted and arranged and the new song copyrighted. We propose that a share, either .01% or 99.99% of the mechanical, print and performing royalties go to the place and people where the song originated. Every country should have a public domain commission to help decide what money goes where.”
– Pete Seeger
The Committee for Public Domain Reform
Follow-up Interview with Mat Callahan – Mat is the person spearheading the actual implementation of this effort at the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) office of the U.N. in Switzerland. He explains Pete’s proposal as well as who the real culprits are in the rip-off scam that is the current copyright regime. Mat also addresses the controversy over the royalties from The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Alan Lomax’s copyrighting of folksongs, as well as the nature of the folk process itself. Click here for Mat’s previous appearance on Down Home Radio
This week Eli interviews song writer Jeffrey Lewis. Jeff is Eli’s favorite current song writer. Jeff’s done an amazing job assimilating his influences and creating a unique sound, a rare and authentic mix of folk and punk.