“Progress, until now”
There is the matter of “my life’s work”, so to speak… the tapes that this accidental folklorist gathered in his over a solid decade of often mentally back-breaking field-work. My activities with the late Mike Hotz (O&S #105) here in Australia were a part of this whole mess to make some sense of it all, but it’s something I longed to do for quite some time. FINALLY, off we go!
It’s rather a kind of pompous designation at this point, maybe, but “watthehell, watthehell, as mehitabell was want to say”; there is a little life left in this old buzzard yet. At least I hope, so I’ll try to keep going as best I can (harder with my mild stroke getting in the way). I am very sorry that Mike will not be around for the finale, but who knows where that will be, and what it will take. It was helpful to have someone attuned to it as a sounding board: he was very good at that, and I lack another. The “biz” has changed so rapidly in the interim that I have no idea what it will look like, so I’ll do what I know how to do, and hope for the best.
What I have done so far is the fun (and fairly easy) part with, generally speaking; some single-artist collections… what we called “albums” back in the good old days. Such past goodies can be found on the old favorite/old faithful place, the internet: eighteen of those 33 1/3 rpm buggers from the old days on Trix Records of which I am truly proud. Starting with Eddie Kirkland (solo), and finishing up with some solo David “Honeyboy” Edwards, I had some unique stuff. Mostly of a solo nature of Piedmont blues people, but there were exceptions to that which added some spice! I had plans for more, but loose coin was a bit thin and I folded the tent by selling (ONLY) the issued material to Joe Fields of Muse Records. My business card says it all: my strengths are there, but not my weaknesses. – there is no mention of sales, etc. at any point as proof.
The tapes sat in a storage space in NJ starting in 1990 gathering no interest, save the occasional “when ya gonna put out more _______?” as if I still were active (or stupid). Being here was also another problem – me in Australia and the tapes in NJ – so that I just hoped the tapes were not damaged in the interim by who knows what could happen to them. After about twenty-five years of moldering away (so to speak), the tapes were finally placed in the hands of the people at The Southern Folklore Collection at the Wilson Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This had been planned rather a long time ago with Glenn Hinson, (1995) but the best laid plans… as they say. ALL of my tapes – field recordings, studio recordings, interviews and cassettes – were taken and digitized by the Library! They did well, I might add.
These have since been worked with at the library and found generally to be in generally good nick, which is encouraging; so I have toyed with some cassette copies that I had made myself of only the 5” reels of field recordings about 1990. This is a somewhat incomplete “safety” set of the tapes that I quickly cobbled together without listening to at all. I screwed/doubled up a couple of times, but do you know what? I find this: I am loaded with great music that I recorded “in the field” (and then some) then and most has survived quite well (don’t try this at home!). In that regard I am lucky as could be.
I found that (1) I have a certain number of artists already released with single-artist collections on Trix (Pernell Charity, Willie Trice, “Homesick” James, Guitar Shorty, Eddie Kirkland, “Peg Leg Sam”, Henry Johnson, “Honeyboy” Edwards, “Tarheel Slim”, “Big Chief” Ellis) as well as (2) additional material by Frank Edwards, Roy Dunn, and Robert Lockwood (not enough for a full second album). I also will have available (3) some anthologies with different material to any of those already released in both the secular and sacred vein, often by artists with not enough material for an album or their own. Not to mention (4) single-artist collections by folks like John Cephas, George Higgs, Baby Tate, Marvin Foddrell, Earnest Scott, Cecil Barfield, Turner Foddrell, and Elester Anderson who are not yet represented by me. There are also (5) folks that are “greater than anthologies/smaller than an album of their own” for a variety of reasons: Sam Swanson & Frank Edwards; pianists Eddie Lewis Person & Tommie Lee Russell; banjoists Dink Roberts, Joe & Odell Thompson, and John Snipes. I’m actually inundated with possibilities! Not to forget the tapes of the medicine show from 1972 (6), or the tapes from ’72 and ’73 concerts at Chapel Hill, NC. Lastly (8), my tapes from 1972 and 1973 of the after-hours place in Detroit, which my son says are the best things I ever did (7). Riches galore, as I’ve said!!
Of course, that’s also a problem! I mean, at who will want a 5 CD boxed-set of unreleased Willie Trice (to take the one with the most material)? Who would want such a thing, indeed? Frankly, I’d say “Why not?”, since one cannot record these people again, due to mortality, but how does one sell such a thing? Never my strong point. And in what format(s)? It’s a puzzlement! I cannot easlsee my way around that conundrum as there is so much quality there… what to leave out, if anything? Which I cannot do for the reasons I’ve stated and my personal involvement with each artist. THEY DESERVE TO BE HEARD, WHETHER A LITTLE OR A LOT, so what do I do?
They are, then, listed below, beginning with Mr. Charles Henry Tate, and ending with Mr. John Cephas, with much fun in between:
“Charles Henry Tate: 1916 – 1972 (vol 1)
”NYR – 1713 (44 min)
NTR – 1721 (62 min)
“The ‘Plains’ Man”
NTR – 1722 (68 min)
DINK ROBERTS/JOHN SNIPES/JOE & ODELL THOMPSON
“NC Black Banjos”
NTR – 1723 (75 min)
EDDIE LEWIS PERSON/TOMMY LEE RUSSELL
“88’s of Atlanta, GA”
NTR – 1728 (51 min)
“Got a Little Woman, Just About Shoulder High”
NTR – 1729 (66 min)
NTR – 1730 (68 min)
NTR – 1731 (60.5 min)
MARVIN & TURNER FODDRELL
“The Brothers Foddrell”
NTR – 1732 (61.5 min)
“Rufe’s Last Flash”
NTR – 1736 (76 min)
“No Broom Dusting Here”
NTR – 1737 (71 min)
“The Things I Used to Do”
NTR – 1738 (77 min)
“PEG LEG SAM” (Arthur Jackson)”
“My Most Unforgettable Character”
NTR – 1746 (77 min)
“Goin’ Home Alone”
NTR – 1750 (72 min)
“Gone From His Field”
NTR – 1751 (75 min)
“So Cold Up North”
NTR – 1754 (55 min)
“A Speedy Neighbor”
NTR – 1755 (55 min)
“Charles Henry Tate: 1916-1972 – vol. 2”
NTR-1758 (57½ min)
SAM SWANSON & “BLACK FRANK” EDWARDS
“’Cross the Road Blues”
NTR- 1761 (60 1/2 min)
“Early Times – ‘Wild Bill’”, 1970-1971
NTR- 1762 (62 min)
NTR – 1763 (65 min)
“Walkin’ My Baby Back Home”
NTR – 1767 (62 1/2 min)
ELESTER ANDERSON & GEORGE HIGGS
NTR – 1776 (55 min)
“His Final Session” – July 1, 1975
NTR – 1779 (56 min)
“Our First Meeting: his first session”
NTR – 1785 (49 min)
That’s all I have thus far in the way of “album” ideas – which listing does not include secular anthologies (25 so far) or “live” recordings of various kinds! I may not finalize this project in my lifetime, but I’ll sure try! And the beat goes on!! The beat goes on!!!
PETER B, LOWRY Sydney, 2019