Showing posts with label kilby snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kilby snow. Show all posts

Monday, August 05, 2019

The Centennial Of Pete Seeger’s Birthday (1919-2014)- For The Late Rosalie Sorrels-*The Roots Of The Roots- The Old Country (Somebody’s) Roots Music of Scotland’s Jean Redpath

For The Late Rosalie Sorrels-*The Roots Of The Roots- The Old Country (Somebody’s) Roots Music of Scotland’s Jean Redpath

CD Review

Jean Redpath, Jean Redpath, Philo Records, 1975

Not every roots artist that I review in this space as part of my task of doing my part to preserve and keep alive some of those traditions is on my A-list. Nor is every such artist someone who I have taken notice of from my own personal researches or predilections. That is the case with the Scottish balladeer under review, Jean Redpath. Of course I knew her name, as one must who knows something about the origins of the Child Ballads that form the basis of the music that was brought over to American in the initial WASP waves of immigration, especially after the victory in the American revolution. I also, vaguely, remember hearing her back in the days on those woe begotten Sunday nights when I scrumptiously listened to those folk radio shows I that became addicted to in my youth. What got me thinking about reviewing her work now, however, was a little more indirect, as sometimes happens in tracing the roots of American music.

I have just finished up reviewing a six series set (two one hour shows per set) of Pete Seeger’s 1960s black and white television folk show “Rainbow Quest”. The format of that show was, aside form some stellar solo performances by Pete, to bring in a guest, or guests, from some up and coming “rediscovered” traditional music genre. On one particular show he featured the legendary Kentucky mountain music banjo/guitar/vocalist Roscoe Holcomb (then recently discovered by Pete’s half-brother, the late Mike Seeger, I believe). Old Roscoe put on one hell of a show doing old time, but seemingly familiar, mountain tunes.

Familiar in the sense that one knew the lyrics (or some part of them) or the melody, or something about the songs. And then Pete brings out Jean Redpath who then proceeds to sing the same kind of songs as old Roscoe. You see that part of the American songbook that he was singing from came from his old country, the Scottish/Irish tradition reflecting the backgrounds of those who long, long ago came over stopped for a minute on the crowded coast then moved on and started their westward treks. In a sense then, as you will note here, Ms. Redpath is singing part of the American songbook. Or Roscoe was singing part of the Scottish songbook. Either way this is good stuff. Listen up.

Barbara Allen-Child Ballad-Variation

In Scarlet town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling
And every youth cried well away
For her name was Barbara Allen

Twas in the merry month of May
The green buds were a swelling
Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen

He sent a servant unto her
To the place she was dwelling
Saying you must come to his deathbed now
If your name be Barbara Allen

Slowly slowly she got up
Slowly slowly she came nigh him
And the only words to him she said
Young man I think you're dying

As she was walking oer the fields
She heard the death bell knelling
And every stroke it seemed to say
Hardhearted Barbara Allen

Oh mother mother make my bed
Make it long and make it narrow
Sweet William died for me today
I'll die for him tomorrow

They buried her in the old churchyard
They buried him in the choir
And from his grave grew a red red rose
From her grave a green briar

They grew and grew to the steeple top
Till they could grow no higher
And there they twined in a true love's knot
Red rose around green briar

Thursday, June 18, 2009

***Enough of Mountain Music, Already –Almost

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Kilby Snow performing "May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister?"

DVD Review

Traditional Music Classics, Doc Watson, Roscoe Holcomb, Buell Ezell and Kilby Snow with Mike Seeger, Yazoo productions, 2002

The music of the mountains, in this case the mountains of Appalachia, down in coal country in eastern Kentucky, as I have seemingly endlessly noted in the recent past, is the music of my father and his forbears, although I am a city boy and came to an appreciation of that music by a very circuitous route. But it must be in the genes, right? Well, genetic disposition or not when I view the first parts of this “Traditional Music Classics DVD even I was ready to disown my heritage. Why?

Well, partly it was due to the weak performances of the first performer, Doc Watson (and ensemble). While I can take old Doc in small doses he does not generally speak to me. He certainly did not here. Then there was the problem with mountain banjo player extraordinaire Roscoe Holcomb. His previously viewed performances in other venues were the reason I wanted to see him on this one. Maybe, it is a matter of overexposure but old Roscoe’s performance here seemed weak and tinny (unless his performance on the 1960s Pete Seeger television show “Rainbow Quest” where he wowed me). And then...

And then, indeed. Up comes Kilby Snow, a performer who I had heard of previously but whose music I had not heard, with his very own Montgomery Ward-purchased autoharp (with some personally done refinements), aided and abetted by the late Mike Seeger of the New Lost City Ramblers (and Pete Seeger’s half-brother), and blew me away. Mike hardly needed to coax Brother Snow to strut his stuff but remember that point I made above about the genetic connection. Old Kilby and his autoharp-driven songs called me back to the hills of home. This is why you want to view this one.

Lyrics To "Streets Of Laredo" as performed by Doc Watson on this DVD (there are many other versions, as noted below)

As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy, all wrapped in white linen
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.
"I see by your outfit, that you are a cowboy."
These words he did say as I slowly walked by.
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
For I'm shot in the breast, and I'm dying today."
"'Twas once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
'Twas once in the saddle I used to go gay.
First to the dram-house, and then to the card-house,
Got shot in the breast, and I'm dying today."
"Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along;
Take me to the valley, and lay the sod o'er me,
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."
"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall.
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Roses to deaden the sods as they fall."
"Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly,
And give a wild whoop as you carry me along;
And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o'er me.
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."
"Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water.
To cool my parched lips", the cowboy then said.
Before I returned, his soul had departed,
And gone to the round up - the cowboy was dead.
We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,
We all loved our comrade, although he'd done wrong.

[edit] Origin
The song is widely considered a traditional ballad, and the origins are not entirely clear. It seems to be primarily descended from an Irish/British folk song of the late 18th century called "The Unfortunate Rake", which has also evolved (with a time signature change and completely different melody) into the New Orleans standard "St. James Infirmary Blues". The Bodleian Library, Oxford, has a copy of a nineteenth-century broadside entitled "The Unfortunate Lad", which is a version of the British ballad.[1] Some elements of this song closely parallel those in the "Streets of Laredo":

Get six jolly fellows to carry my coffin,
And six pretty maidens to bear up my pall,
And give to each of them bunches of roses,
That they may not smell me as they go along.
Muffle your drums, play your pipes merrily,
Play the death march as you go along.
And fire your guns right over my coffin,
There goes an unfortunate lad to his home.
However, the cause of the Unfortunate Lad's demise is not a bullet wound but a sexually transmitted disease, as is clear from the verse:

Had she but told me when she disordered me,
Had she but told me of it at the time,
I might have got salts and pills of white mercury,
But now I'm cut down in the height of my prime.