Johnson City Sessions 1928-29 / Various
Bear Family already earned a Grammy nod for their Bristol Sessions set (the 1927 Victor Records sessions in Bristol, Tennessee known as "The Big Bang of Country Music"). This new set—a 4-CD LP-sized box with a 136-page hardcover book—ensures that we don’t forget the Columbia Records recordings made in nearby Johnson City in October 1928 and October 1929. New essays and unpublished photos take us to the time and place (the last recording of the 1929 session took place on October 24—the infamous "Black Thursday" when Wall Street crashed and the Great Depression arrived). The 100 tracks—the complete output of the sessions, assembled for the first time (many haven’t been heard since the Depression)—traverse the entire, entrancing musical world of old Appalachia. These string-band tunes, ancient ballads, sacred songs, hillbilly blues and blue yodels are joined by complete lyrics and discography: The Coo-Coo Bird Clarence (Tom) Ashley; Old Lady and the Devil Bill and Belle Reed; Down on Penny’s Farm Bentley Boys (those three are in Harry Smith’s famed 1952 comp Anthology of American Folk Music, and the third inspired Bob Dylan’s Hard Times in New York Town and Maggie’s Farm); Tell It to Me Grant Brothers; Prison Sorrows Weaver Brothers; Smokey Blues Ellis Williams; My Katie Fred Richards; Swanee River Bowman Sisters; I Ain’t a Bit Drunk George Roark; Johnson City Blues Clarence Green; Mary Dear Richard Harold; My Alabama Home Jack Jackson; Louise Proximity String Quartet, and more fascinating early country from the dawn of field recording! Bear Family.
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