I’ve been reading Zora Neal Hurston’s OF MULES AND MEN lately (as one does!), plus I’ve been digging into my Flyright LPs of LofC[1] materials that are finally reunited with me, pulling out the 1935 Lomax/Barnicle/Hurston field recordings to go along with my readings. We owe a great debt to The Ayatollah Lomax for his incredible work around the world with vernacular musics.

But that’s not why I’m writing this! I recently received a free CD from the Florida Department of State Division of Library and Information Services. The Florida State Folklife Collection in the past has produced some CDs (around 2003) of field recordings, and I read of their latest release through a recent review in LIVING BLUES.

Over a decade ago I was made aware of their earlier efforts, so I asked them for a sample and received multiple copies of their CDs from them… all for free. In both cases, then and now, I received multiple copies of the CDs: I passed on some duplicates to others doing “local” radio shows (Mike Hotz [Adelaide, now Perth], Lucky Oceans [formerly on Radio National]). I think it’s a great and relatively inexpensive way to plug the state! Did I mention that they were free for the asking?[2] The various collections are of field recordings done on site and those made at various versions of the annual Florida Folk Festival[3].  The collections cover a multitude of music cultures – it ain’t all black! – with fine sound and worthy performances, plus notes.

Also, in the interim from then to now, the Dust to Digital label in Atlanta has released an impressive item: DROP DOWN IN FLORIDA – Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977-1980 (DTD #24). I refer to it as an “item” as it’s a 216-page book with two CDs attached, one devoted to secular music and one to sacred. All of this stuff has been edited by Dwight DeVane and Blaine Waide, with help from folklorists Peggy Bulger, Doris Dyen, Brenda McCallum, and David Evans. It’s an impressive and recommended item, indeed, if interested in “more”, though it’s not free!

PETER B. LOWRY                                                                                                                             Sydney (Sep. 2017)

[1] “Out in the Cold Again” on  Flyright – Matchbox SDM 257 (LP).

[2] The most recent one is a single artist collection: “Tell the Truth” – Richard Williams (blues and gospel).

[3] Before that were two anthologies: “Music from the Florida Folklife Collection”, “More Music from the Florida Folklife Collection”, then came “Look A-Yonder Comin…” (OTM and string bands), “Shall We Gather at The River” (Black sacred music), “Where the Palm Trees Shake at Night” (blues).


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