50watts:

Three Blind Mice, 1887


This excerpt from a children’s songbook reminds me of the Stieglitz portrait of his daughter, Katherine.

50watts:

Three Blind Mice, 1887

Alfred Stieglitz, "Katherine" (1905)

This excerpt from a children’s songbook reminds me of the Stieglitz portrait of his daughter, Katherine.

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dinosaurdiscs:

The Northeast Document Conservation Center announced yesterday the 'Seeing Sound' blog to follow the development of their IRENE optical reformatting service. If you’re interested in this technology, or any of the fascinating pilot collections chosen to prove it, this would be a good way to learn about them and follow their progress.

Good news for preservationists, archivists, et al. Glad Middlebury is offering the Helen Hartness Flanders archive to this project.

dinosaurdiscs:

The Northeast Document Conservation Center announced yesterday the 'Seeing Sound' blog to follow the development of their IRENE optical reformatting service. If you’re interested in this technology, or any of the fascinating pilot collections chosen to prove it, this would be a good way to learn about them and follow their progress.

Good news for preservationists, archivists, et al. Glad Middlebury is offering the Helen Hartness Flanders archive to this project.

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Pretty Saro (Bob Dylan, Self Portrait Sessions)

This melancholy Appalachian folk song was run through six times during Dylan’s March 1970 Self Portrait recording sessions, but it did not make the album. The cut will be released (finally) on August 27th on Another Self Portrait. (via Rolling Stone)

Roud 417

Earliest Recorded Date: 1911
Found in: US (Ap, SE, So)

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Off to the Adirondack Woods

We’ll be spending a few days on the other side of a lake, with the phone turned off and a fiddle at hand.

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Poor Murdered Woman

The Tale of the Poor Murdered Woman featuring Shirley Collins by Simon Houlihan on Mixcloud (Thanks to Ian Nagoski for bringing this to my attention.)

Collect by Rev. Charles Shebbeare from a Mr Foster, and published in Lucy Broadwood’s English Traditional Songs and Carols (1908). Shirley Collins recorded this on her 1971 album No Roses.

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The Long Harvest

Covers from the Ewan MacColl/Peggy Seeger 10-volume exploration of ballads through their British and North American variants. Released by Argo in 1967/1968. Thanks to Ghost Capital for the cover images.

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A Historic Archive Faces Digital Life (WSJ)

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Traffic has darkened the façade of the Hunter College-owned MFA Studio Building on 41st Street, between the Port Authority and the Lincoln Tunnel. The interior, a picture of institutional indifference, doesn’t look much better. But a climb to the sixth floor reveals a glittering treasure called the Association of Cultural Equity (ACE), a vast and remarkable assemblage of field recordings, instruments, books, posters and other artifacts collected by the legendary American archivist Alan Lomax over the better part of the 20th century.

In 1983, Lomax founded ACE in this building as a command post for his lifelong mission, to compile and disseminate the sights and sounds of cultures from around the globe, hoping to preserve them lest they be extinguished. Twenty-four years later, and 11 years since Lomax’s death, the building is being sold, and ACE is preparing to move into a smaller space at Hunter’s Brookdale campus, on 25th Street and First Avenue.

Fortunately, floor space has been less of an issue since ACE sold three-quarters of Lomax’s original collection to the Library of Congress in 2004—650 linear feet of manuscripts, 6,400 sound recordings, 5,500 photos and 6,000 moving images—and launched its vast online archive in March 2012. Digital copies of much of the material now fill the shelves, and a cursory stroll through ACE’s web site (culturalequity.org) offers endless hours of viewing (5,000 photographs, 3,000 videos), listening (17,400 files), and reading. One can also surf over to the Alan Lomax Archive YouTube channel, which boasts 77,000 subscribers.

"People used to be happy with published LPs and CDs, but today that’s not really enough," Lomax archivist Todd Harvey said of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center. "The idea is that if it doesn’t exist in the digital form that’s accessible over the web, then it really doesn’t exist."

But even with the sale and the effort to digitize, the ACE offices still flow with a trove of relics and heirlooms, so the company is preparing an eBayauction, to begin March 9, as it begins the move from its 2,500-square-foot space to a 1,500-square-foot space. Items for sale will include much of Lomax’s old recording equipment, video/film editing gear and other tools he used to build this archive, as well as odds and ends like his guitar and a few 78s from his personal record collection.

"We love having all this stuff around, but for practical reasons we have to pare it down," said ACE executive director Don Fleming, who’s overseeing the sale. "This is the first time that we’ve offered anything to the public. We once let R. Crumb have some 78s of Alan’s for doing a picture of Jelly Roll Morton, but this is probably the only time something like this will happen."

Though its archives can be accessed on a donation basis, and other labels, publishers and institutions often release its material, ACE continues to spread the good word on its own. On Feb, 14, it issued its first release in 12 months, “United Sacred Harp Convention: The Alan Lomax Recordings, 1959.” Mississippi bluesman Sid Hemphill’s “The Devil’s Dream,” recorded in 1942, will come out Thursday. The light-footed archive, with its $300,000 budget, may focus on historical recordings, but it is anticipating the CD’s demise, releasing almost all of them on LP and as digital files. The nonprofit uses the proceeds to help cover operating costs, but also to honor Lomax’s original contracts and make sure that artist royalties still go to their descendants if they can be found.

"We do like to monetize, and we do a lot of licensing, and in the past it’s been very lucrative," said Anna Lomax Wood, Lomax’s daughter and the president of ACE. (Bruce Springsteen, for example, used two Lomax-derived field samples on his recent "Wrecking Ball" album.) "But we’ve never been in it to make money. My father always said, ‘If you want to make money, don’t go into folk music.’"

He may not have made a lot of money, but Lomax’s cultural impact at home and abroad is incalculable. In the decade before World War II, he and his father, the famed folklorist and collector John Lomax, took several historic trips through the South collecting material while working for the Library of Congress, making the first recordings of Muddy Waters and Fred McDowell, and capturing other legends like Jelly Roll Morton and Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter.

"It is quite possible none of them would be known today, and all the influences they spawned might have never occurred, had Alan not recorded them—and worked to popularize them," said Bill Nowlin, the founder of Rounder Records, which has released dozens of albums of Lomax material.

Later, through his radio broadcasts in the 1940s, Lomax helped bring wide exposure to such American folk icons as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and continued making field recordings throughout the Caribbean, Ireland, Scotland and Spain. After 1960, he focused on what he called “cultural equity,” an egalitarian approach to expressive forms (particularly music, speech and dance) from around the world. It culminated in the last decades of his life in a forward-thinking creation he called the Global Jukebox Project, an early computer database that organized and compared various forms based on geography, style, and subsistence patterns. Initially available to institutions and researchers, a new version called the Global Jukebox Song Tree will be available online in the fall with a cache of 5,000 songs.

Though the aim of the Global Jukebox is to connect cultures, ACE is working to repatriate copies of archives back into the communities where Lomax originally documented them, even providing lesson plans so teachers in those communities know how to use them. “The physical part went to the Library of Congress, which is important to them, but we don’t need it anymore,” Mr. Fleming said. “One of the advantages of the digital era is it’s now easier to send out the entire collection on a hard drive. Because one of our missions is to get them to use it as a resource and celebrate their culture.”

— Tad Hendrickson, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: Bryan Thomas for The Wall Street Journal

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pamelatutu:



Otomi indian embroidery from Tenango de Doria Hidalgo, Mexico 
(many other beautiful examples of Otomi embroideries and fabrics in this gallery)

pamelatutu:

Otomi indian embroidery from Tenango de Doria Hidalgo, Mexico 

(many other beautiful examples of Otomi embroideries and fabrics in this gallery)

(via 50watts)

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Topic Records Great Big Digital Archive Project

The first 84 albums in Topic’s Great Big Digital Archive Project are now available to download, complete with newly-designed digital booklets, including the original sleeve notes. The digital booklets are available from the Topic website as well as iTunes.

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"Each month throughout this year we plan to release another ten archive titles, each with their own digital booklet. We will also add digital booklets to our current catalogue - later this month we publish new digital booklets for each of the WATERSON:CARTHY albums; in March digital booklets for albums from the WATERSONS. In May, to coincide with the release of Wayward Daughter a new two CD set celebrating the first 21 years of ELIZA CARTHY's career, we'll publish new digital booklets to accompany her Topic albums.”

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canaryrecords:

Since I began digging around in 78 rpm discs and got connected to collectors of them almost two decades ago, it has become increasingly apparent to me that “America” as a musical idea is a problem. This particular set of performances were all recorded in the US and its territories during the period of about 1912-55 or else in nearby countries (Cuba, Colombia, Canada) or elsewhere by residents of the US (Odette Kaddo).

The purpose of presenting music by, for instance, many recently-off-the-boat immigrants of that period is at least two-fold: first, to help in whatever small way, to disseminate and make living in the hearts of those able to hear it the music of these artists whose playing is so obviously (to me) beautiful, and who are all now gone from the world of the living themselves, whether they were celebrated in their time or not. Obscurity should belong only to the untalented and boring, and I find it strange that that isn’t always the case. Secondly, I wish for American musicians and listeners to continue to question what is or isn’t “American.”

Certainly this isn’t the most complete way of opening those questions, even from the decades in question. Where is Hindemith or any number of other musicians from the trained elite from Europe? They should be here, too. But I assume that listeners will be able to find many of those recordings on their own, even if it takes a little looking. For this mixtape I have drawn instead from middle- and lower-class musicians, wanting to give the impression of musics that are equal in grace, dignity, and refinement regardless of the affluence that training might have implied from the years presented.

It is clear to me from my time listening to old records that there is a great mystery at the center of music. It is a play with sound and every participant in that, reaching back through the millenia, should be honored equally with any notable personage in the century-and-then-some since recordings have started to be made. I hope you, reading this, are one who will participate and carry that mystery onward and expand on the joy that it can bring.

Check out and support SoundAmerican.org

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I’m Going Home

Raising Holy Sparks (David Colohan) performs Sacred Harp 282 (I’m Going Home) at Black Sun. Recorded March 8th, 2012 in Cork, Ireland.

Mr Colohan also performed with Black Sun's Vicky Langan and Black Twig Pickers’/Pelt's Mike Gangloff as Meitheal, a collaboration that was repeated in October 2012 at the Tusk Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Their “Early in the Spring, Late in the Fall”, a limited-edition cassette featuring material largely culled from the Sacred Harp tradition, is highly recommended. Listen to a track below:

Roud 15072

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January

“It was in the month of January, the hills were white with snow…”

Pat Gubler / P.G. Six perform “January” from the album Starry Mind, at the Happy Dog in Cleveland, OH, May 6, 2012.

A variant of “Winter’s Evening” or “The Fatal Snowstorm”, which has been collected in England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada

Roud 175, Laws P20

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Jason Steel’s fine version of  “Hares in the Old Plantation
"Recorded at home 11 December 2012"

Roud 363

(Source: rifmountain / Jason Steel Music)

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