Dust-to-Digital
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J. B. Smith
No More Good Time in the World for Me
Dust-to-Digital
2CD
$15

"Folklorist Bruce Jackson was among the last to record work songs. In 1964 he visited Ramsey State Farm in Rosharon, Texas, where he met Johnnie B. Smith, prisoner #130196. A native of Hearne, Texas, Smitty was 46 years old and on his fourth prison term. In his younger days, Smitty toted lead hoe in a flat-weeding gang and led the work songs. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good song leader in the penitentiary setting—one needed to be rhythmically, lyrically, and physically reliable, to maintain those songs over interminable hours of hard labor under an unforgiving south-central Texas sun.

"But J.B. also sang other songs, different songs—those he’d made up to occupy himself while chopping sugarcane or picking cotton. He referred to them as his 'little ol’ songs.' The longest stretched to thirty-three verses, or more than twenty-two recorded minutes. Although Smitty knew and sang a variety of melodies, to an assortment of work songs and sacred pieces, he employed only one tune for his compositions. What changed were the tempo and the ornamentation with which he individualized them. 'The Major Special,' 'No More Good Time In The World For Me,' 'Ever Since I Been A Man Full Grown' — each song Smith charged with its own emotional ambience, as a seasoned preacher intuits the particular colors and atmospheres that should imbue each portion of his service.

"Smith was paroled in 1967, a year after his final session with Jackson  and the release, on John Fahey’s Takoma Records, of an LP — Ever Since I Have Been A Man Full Grown — of three of Smitty’s songs. That summer, Bruce arranged for him to sing at the Newport Folk Festival, at which he appeared on stage with Pete Seeger, and, in one of the only photos that survive of him, in the company of Robert Pete Williams and Muddy Waters. A couple of years passed before Bruce heard from him again. He had returned to Amarillo, where he preached for a while; a parole violation then sent him back to prison." - Dust-to-Digital. Hear some of his epic, breathtaking No Payday Here.

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Various Artists
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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Various Artists
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, & oh man Pattie Rosemon.