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African American Spirituals of Alabama
Alabama Traditions
CD
$12

“Recorded both within and outside of a church setting in Alabama from 1947-2011, these selections present an American sacred folk music tradition. For over thirty years, Steve Grauberger and his colleagues Joey Brackner, Joyce Cauthen, Dr. Maggie Holtzberg, Anne Kimzey, Dr. Brenda McCallum, & Joe Wilson contributed to the collection of African American spirituals by conducting fieldwork. Two additional selections are included on the CD, one from the Byron Arnold collection held at the University of Alabama and one permitted by Ernestine Hill Robinson, director of the Plantation Heirs from Auburn, AL.” - Alabama Traditions. Beautiful collection with some very deep sounds. Hear a couple favorites: Oh Please Lord Have Mercy by Mary Lee Bendolph (celebrated quilter from Gee's Bend) & China Pettway and Child of God Keep Marching, led by the Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Choir.

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Drop on Down in Florida
Dust-to-Digital
2CD & hardcover book
$30

“Based on four years of fieldwork throughout the state, the Florida Folklife Program released the two-album, 27-track 2LP Drop on Down in Florida in 1981. The album was intended to highlight African American music traditions for a statewide public audience, blues and sacred traditions in particular. In recent years, the Folklife Program sought the opportunity to produce an expanded reissue of the album that would include previously unissued fieldwork recordings and photos. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork materials now housed in the State Archives of Florida, the expanded reissue includes nearly 80 previously-unreleased minutes of music on 28 new tracks, plus numerous photos documenting the musicians and communities that perpetuated these traditions.

“Notable among the previously unreleased tracks are additional musical selections and personal narratives from one-string musician Moses Williams, four-shape-note Sacred Harp singing from an African American community in the Florida Panhandle, and recordings from the Richard Williams family in the blues and gospel-blues traditions. The reissue also includes new track notes from respected music scholars David Evans and Doris J. Dyen; reflective essays from past and present folklorists with the Florida Folklife Program, including Peggy A. Bulger, Dwight DeVane, Doris J. Dyen, and Blaine Waide; and an extensive essay on African American one-string instrument traditions by David Evans.

“The 2012 edition of Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music 1977–1980 highlights the significance of the previously unreleased material. In addition, it calls attention to the importance of the original LP and makes its contents available once again, this time to a larger audience.” - Dust-to-Digital. Truly one of the great compilations. Hear some clips from Robert Denis, Emmett Murray, Moses Williams, Richard Williams, & Ella Mae Wilson.

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Ghost Memories
Mississippi
LP
$13

"The long awaited sequel to our Six Feet Under compilation! Absolute killer country and rock and roll songs from the late 1950's - early 1960's. Minor chords abound in both rocking tunes and straight up weepers. The real stuff - no goofy novelties or commercial palp. Honest people's music. All incredibly hard to find tunes from small label 45s." - Mississippi. Hear Willie Hays' Walkin' the Streets After Dark & Harold L & the Offbeats' Three Years.

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I'm in a Strange Town
Mississippi
LP
$13

"Compilation of top notch Gospel and blues recorded between 1927 and 1967. A mix of very well known artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Gary Davis, and Robert Wilkins and more obscure folks like John Lee and Charles White. A record filled with some of Mississippi Records favorite recordings - ripping guitar work outs, soulful ballads, loping drunken jug bands and more. All songs are on the theme of travel, death, and transcendence." - Mississippi. Hear Rev. Charles White's How Long, a personal favorite.

Track listing:
Rev. Charles White - How Long
John Lee - Down at the Depot
Two Gospel Keys - I Love Traveling
Rev. Utah Smith - Two Wings
Mr. Montgomery - I've Been Down
Rev. Gary Davis - Death Don't Have No Mercy
Memphis Jug Band - Stealin' Stealin'
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Matchbox Blues
Robert Wilkins - I Do
Cannon's Jug Stompers - Poor Boy
Charley Patton - Prayer of Death, parts 1 & 2
Washington White - New Frisco Train

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Lost Train Blues
Jalopy Records
LP
$14

Lost Train Blues features 22 selections from the vast holdings of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, 13 of them have never been issued before. The record includes work songs, ballads, blues, political and union songs, guitar, banjo & fiddle music, and Native American vocal music. These recordings were made between 1933 and 1950 and represent the birth of the folk music collections at the Library of Congress, now the largest repository of folk and enthographic holdings in the world. The record demonstrates the groundbreaking work of Alan Lomax and his father John Lomax, but also places them with the context of other important early field workers.

“The deluxe record includes liner notes by Alan Lomax archive curator Nathan Salsburg, as well as a 14 page booklet with photographs and original research about each song, artist and folklorist. The cover features an original lithograph by artist Jeff Tocci. Each selection has been retransferred from original discs and tapes at the Library of Congress and has been carefully remastered by sound engineer Don Fierro making for the best possible audio fidelity.” - Jalopy. Hear Camp Morris & Group's Captain Haney Blues & Buster Buzz Ezell's Roosevelt & Hitler.

Track listing:
Clyde Kingfish Smith - WPA Song
Jesse Wadley - Longest Train I Ever Saw (with John Wadley, Will Jones & Felix Davenport)
Dawson Henson - The Moonshiner
Wilson Stavin Chain Jones - Stavin' Chain
Jesse Morris - Unfortunate Dog or Stony Point
Carl Lathrop - Leather Breeches
Fred Perry & Glenn Carver - Lost Train Blues
James Blind Jim Howard - The Hard-Working Miner (Only a Miner)
Jesse Wadley - St. James Infirmary
Ruby & Oliver Hughes - Lamp Lighting Time in the Valley
Helen Luella & Juanita Hallmark - Cherokee Christian Hymn
Boys Chorus of the Santa Fe Indian School - My One-Eyed Ford
Camp Morris & Group - Captain Haney Blues
James Sneed, JF Duffey & Alvin Sanders - Southern Rag
Elmo & Bill Newcomer - Turkey in the Straw
Elmo Newcomer - Rye Whiskey
Hattie Ellis & Jack Ramsey - Desert Blues
Rowena Knight, Mary Anne Knight, Thelma Hawthorne, & Jerusha Hawthorne - Hard Times
Tillman Cadle - I Don't Want Your Millions Mister
JW Russell - Battle In The Horseshoe
Hammer Clarence Banks, Bob Bentley, Charlie Blake, & Harold Vosburg - Travelin' to that New Buryin' Ground
Buster Buzz Ezell - Roosevelt & Hitler

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M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues
Broke and Hungry Records / Cat Head / Mudpuppy
CD
$10

Soundtrack to the DVD, this features 50 Miles friend RL Boyce getting about as free as free can be, the sweet touch of LC Ulmer, Robert “Bilbo” Walker’s heartfelt take on “Bring It On Home,” T-Model Ford and his grandson Stud kicking it out, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes advising us to slow down (I’m trying, Duck!), and plenty more. Some come very obviously out of a particular tradition (Wesley Jefferson reworking “Smokestack Lightning,” Terry “Harmonica” Bean’s slightly more frantic take on a John Lee Hooker / Doctor Ross boogie, etc.) while others are more idiosyncratic.

Track listing:
Big George Brock and the Houserockers – M for Mississippi
The Wesley Jefferson Blues Band – The Wolves are Howling
RL Boyce and Lightnin’ Malcolm – Ain’t It Alright
Terry “Harmonica” Bean – I’m a Bluesman
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Slow Down, Slow Down
The Mississippi Marvel and Lightnin’ Malcolm – Black Mattie’s Face
T-Model Ford and Stud – Hip Shakin’ Woman
Cadillac John Nolden and Bill Abel – Give It All to Me, Baby
Pat Thomas – The Woman I Love
The Robert “Bilbo” Walker Band – Bring It On Home
LC Ulmer – Rosalee

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The George Mitchell Collection, Volumes 1-45
Fat Possum
7CD box set
$32

Restocked, lower price!  Several years ago Fat Possum bought the rights to the recorded archive of folklorist George Mitchell, which resulted in the release of several CDs and a slew of 7”s, a fair number of which are also stocked here. This budget-priced 7CD box compiles all of the material released on those 45 7”s, plus a full CD of extra tracks. Mitchell’s recordings and books such as Blow My Blues Away and Ponce de Leon have had a substantial impact on 50 Miles of Elbow Room, so this will get a special mention in these parts. 

For many years, the recordings made by George Mitchell as he traveled the south needed to be procured in a similar manner to which Mitchell learned about the musicians he recorded: following up on a lead here or a reference there, analyzing a scrap of information that might prove to be key, and generally a lot of asking around. A music enthusiast from an early age, Mitchell’s first trip to hang out with blues musicians took place in 1961, when he was only 17 years old. Over the next 20 years, he proceeded to periodically record, interview, and photograph many great blues artists. Along the way he made the first recordings of some artists who later went on to great renown, such as RL Burnside and Otha Turner, as well as some of the earliest “revival” sessions with pre-war stars such as Sleepy John Estes and Furry Lewis. Mostly he recorded people who remain largely unfamiliar to modern listeners, but whose music offers great rewards: the massive “Georgia Drumbeat” stomp of James Davis, the deep and inscrutable blues of Cecil Barfield, the stately slide guitar gospel of Leon Pinson, the ancient-sounding blues of Lonzie Thomas, the stunning high and lonesome tunes of John Lee Ziegler, beautiful a cappella spirituals, and on and on. Particularly noteworthy is the amount of material from the Chattahoochee Valley region, which was largely ignored by other folklorists of the time. 

Though these recordings are consistently outstanding, what makes this material truly special to me is the manner in which it transports the listener to a different place and time, giving a sense of how the blues existed during a period when the status of the musicians who played it was often starting to fade in their communities. That said, the performances often have an intimate and relaxed feel to them, as befits a music played for the joy of a few. In his liner notes to this box set, Sam Sweet sums it up quite well, “A detailed picture of 20th century black musical culture in the rural South emerges from the recurring themes in Mitchell’s archive: kids learning instruments from their relatives or family friends; musicians spending their entire life within the distance of one or two towns; musicians forming irreplaceable and lifelong musical partnerships; people staging non-church-related concerts and parties for themselves in the woods and fields near their homes. What Mitchell amassed over his 20 years in the field is as good a picture of that world as any of us are ever going to get.” For plenty of soundclips from this set, see the 7"s available on the Fat Possum page.

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My Intention is War / Seven Skeletons Found in the Yard
Mississippi
cassette
$7

"Two Mississippi compilations of calypso classics from Trinidad recorded between 1928 & 1948 on one tape! My Intention is War is a compilation with well known masters of the form such as The Roaring Lion, Attila the Hun, Lionel Belasco, & Lord Invader, as well as by some lesser known but great artists. Minor chord intense meditations on death, beautiful & fragile instrumentals, topical & poetic songs, and more. Songs include The Horrors of War, African War Call, When I Lay Me Body Down in the Grave, Exploiting, Inequality of Life and Death. Seven Skeletons Found in the Yard songs include When You Hear I Die, In the Dew and the Rain, Hojoe, Jimby's Ingratitude, Ba Boo La La, & much more. All true masterpieces." - Mississippi. Hear Lord Invader's My Intention is War.

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Running from the Law
Mississippi
LP
$13

"The third volume of the Six Feet Under series! Absolute killer country and rock and roll songs from the late 1950's - early 1960's. Minor chords abound in both rocking tunes and straight up weepers. The real stuff - no goofy novelties or commercial palp. Honest people's music. All incredibly hard to find tunes from small label 45s." - Mississippi. Hear Gene Nitz's Running from the Law & Cecil Moore's Diamond Back.

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Secret Museum of Mankind, Vol. 1
Outernational Records
2LP
$20

“This series of archival 78 transfers was originally released in 1995 on CD only. Now for the first time on vinyl, a deluxe gatefold presentation and limited edition pressings. Produced by Hisham Mayet (Sublime Frequencies) in conjunction with Yazoo Records.

“Compiled here are many of the greatest performances of world and ethnic music ever recorded. This volume represents a trip around the world, stopping at each port to sample one of that country’s finest recordings of its indigenous music. Each of these recordings was captured at a period during the golden age of recording when traditional styles were at their peak of power and emotion. Included inside are extensive notes and beautiful period photographs that work together with the music to communicate an exciting sense of discovery.” “One of the most consistently rewarding world music compilations in years, the cuts range from Macedonian fiddle jaunts to Puerto Rican Christmas tunes, from Abyssinian religious chants to ominous Japanese court music. The instruments include Ukrainian sleigh bells, Sardinian triple pipes, Vietnamese moon lutes and Ethiopian one-string violins...a profound artistry lurks beneath the alien vernaculars.” -- Village Voice; Vol. 1 contains music from Nigeria, Sardinia, Russia, Ceylon, Rajahstan, Cuba, Rumania, Vietnam, Macedonia, Morocco, and more. Hear Efisio Melis' headspinning Fiorassiu.

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Secret Museum of Mankind, Vol. 2
Outernational Records
2LP
$20

“This series of archival 78 transfers was originally released in 1995 on CD only. Now for the first time on vinyl, a deluxe gatefold presentation and limited edition pressing. Reissue produced by Hisham Mayet (Sublime Frequencies) in conjunction with Yazoo Records. Compiled here are many of the greatest performances of world and ethnic music ever recorded. This volume represents a trip around the world, stopping at each port to sample one of that country's finest recordings of its indigenous music. Each of these recordings was captured at a period during the golden age of recording when traditional styles were at their peak of power and emotion. Included inside are extensive notes and beautiful period photographs that work together with the music to communicate an exciting sense of discovery. Early 20th century recordings from Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, India, Mozambique, Ukraine, Trinidad, Kazakhstan, Ceylon, Tibet and elsewhere, compiled by archivist Pat Conte.” – Outernational. Hear Rita Abatzi's Prepei na Skeptetai Kaneis.

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Secret Museum of Mankind, Vol. 3
Outernational Records
2LP
$20

“Outernational Records is pleased to announce the third volume of this legendary series is now available on the vinyl format. This series of archival 78 transfers was originally released in 1995 on CD only. Now for the first time on vinyl, a deluxe gatefold presentation and limited edition pressing. Reissue produced by Hisham Mayet (Sublime Frequencies) in conjunction with Yazoo Records. Compiled here are many of the greatest performances of world and ethnic music ever recorded. This volume represents a trip around the world, stopping at each port to sample one of that country's finest recordings of its indigenous music. Each of these recordings was captured at a period during the golden age of recording when traditional styles were at their peak of power and emotion. Included inside are extensive notes and beautiful period photographs that work together with the music to communicate an exciting sense of discovery. Early 20th century recordings from Poland, Spain, China, Angola, Turkey, Mongolia, Russia, the Congo, and elsewhere, compiled by archivist Pat Conte.” – Outernational. Hear Iran Dowleh Helen's Byyatt Turk.

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Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Dust-to-Digital
LP
$19

All-time killer gospel comp finally reissued. "A collection of spiritual and gospel songs performed in informal non-church settings between 1965 and 1973. Most are guitar-accompanied and performed by active or former blues artists. 'Most records of black religious music contain some form of gospel singing or congregational singing recorded at a church service. This album, though, tries to present a broader range of performance styles and contexts with the hope of showing the important role that religious music plays in the Southern black communities and in the daily lives of individuals.' --David Evans, from the liner notes. LP, 16-page 11"x11" booklet, tip-on sleeve, 16 photographs." - Dust-to-Digital. Hear Blind Pete Burrell, Eddie Lee Jones, and oh man Pattie Rosemon.

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Traditional Musics of Alabama, Vol. 1: A Compilation
Alabama Traditions
CD
$10
A broad overview of Alabama vernacular music produced by the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture. A significant portion of the CD is devoted to Alabama's multifaceted sacred music tradition, but also among the 30 tracks are blues, Mardi Gras brass, polka, worksong, mariachi, and so forth. Of particular note are a stunning mourning hymn led by Luella Hatcher, Gary Waldrep's blazing banjo, Albert Macon and Robert Thomas doing a secular take on the familiar "Got to Move" theme, and a traditional Lao song that's about as far out as anything. Most of the material here dates from the late-'80s through mid-'90s, though there are some older recordings made by John Lomax and Ray Browne. The accompanying 24-page booklet provides plenty of details.