Friday, December 11, 2009

*In Folklorist Harry Smith’s House-"Kassie Jones" — Furry Lewis (1928)

Click on the title to link to a presentation of the song listed in the headline.

The year 2009 has turned into something a year of review of the folk revival of the 1960s. In November I featured a posting of many of the episodes (via “YouTube”) of Pete Seeger’s classic folk television show from the 1960s, “Rainbow Quest”. I propose to do the same here to end out the year with as many of the selections from Harry Smith’s seminal “Anthology Of American Folk Music,” in one place, as I was able to find material for, either lyrics or "YouTube" performances (not necessarily by the original performer). This is down at the roots, for sure.


My exploration of Harry Smith’s Anthology24 “Kassie Jones” by Furry Lewis

Furry Lewis’s World

Walter “Furry” Lewis, born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1893 was a superb country blues singer and a versatile guitar player with a relaxed and sponatenous style. He spent most of his life in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, which was a rich musical center for african-americans in the first decades of the 20th century. He learned his skills on the road with medecine shows, on mississippi riverboats, streets and clubs, playing music with W.C Handy’s orchestra, but settled down in Memphis after loosing one leg as he was hopping a train. On Beale street he would meet and play with many fine Memphis musicians like Gus Cannon,members of the Memphis Jug Band, Jim Jackson etc…He recorded more than 20 sides between 1927 and 1929 but as the Depression put a stop to record sales, he returned to work as a street sweeper around Beale Street. Like Mississippi John Hurt, he had a “second career” in the sixties, thanks to the “Anthology” and the Folk/Blues revival. It was Samuel Charters, the great music researcher and writer, that found him and record him first a the end of the Fifties.When Charters first met with Furry, he hadn’t play music for more than 20 years and dind’t even own a guitar. But when the “Blues” is in you, it stays forever and when he returned to play, his natural talent for playing and singing the Blues was unchanged, maybe he was a little bit slower on the guitar but his music gained in emotion and power with age. He would fingerpick or play with a bottleneck, depending on his mood and the song, the music flowing from him, in a natural and almost improvisationnal way.He became a prominent figure on the Blues and Folk festivals, made numerous new recordings,opened shows for the Rolling Stones and other rock stars and was the only country blues singer of his generation gaining popular attention, without changing his repertoire, deeply rooted in the african-american tradition of rags and blues. He died in 1981, at the age of 88.

-For more details on his biography, go here or here

-For a complete discography, go here

-To read a fine article (in pdf format) Playboy magazine made on Furry in 1970, click here

-Here are the 25 sides he recorded at the end of the 1920’s for the Vocalion and Victor record companies. Be sure to check the other recordings Furry made in the 60’s and 70’s for various labels. (Many are available on cd format)

01 - Everybody`s blues

02 - Mr. Furry`s blues
03 - Sweet papa moan
04 - Rock Island blues
05 - Jelly roll
06 - Billy Lyons and Stack O`Lee
07 - Good looking girl blues
08 - Why don`t you come home blues?
09 - Falling down blues
10 - Big chief blues
11 - Mean old bedbug blues
12 - Furry`s blues
13 - I will turn your money green (tk. 1)
14 - I will turn your money green (tk. 2)
15 - Mistreatin` mama
16 - Dry land blues
17 - Cannon ball blues
18 - Kassie Jones – part 1
19 - Kassie Jones – part 2
20 - Judge Harsh blues (tk. 1)
21 - Judge Harsh blues (tk. 2)
22 - John Henry (The steel driving man) -1
23 - John Henry (The steel driving man) -2
24 - Black gypsy blues
25 - Creeper`s blues

No comments:

Post a Comment