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This is a great little documentary on folk music. Recorded in 1946. It has some folk legends in it: Pete Seegar, Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee to name a few. Only 16 minutes long, so bear with it through the lame spots! What I really loved is around the 8:14 mark when Woody Guthrie appears playing his '40's Southern Jumbo! I mean, THE guitar live and in concert!!! If you're an SJ owner, this will give you chill bumps!

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI3MzLdyOkE&feature=fvst

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That was fun! I loved the square dance at 13:00. The woman singing at 6:00 sounds like Iris Dement. Or maybe Iris Dement sounds like the woman at 6:00!

Did anyone ever see the movie Songcatcher? There were a few weird parts in it but it was a great movie about Appalachian music. If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching IMO.

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That was fun! I loved the square dance at 13:00. The woman singing at 6:00 sounds like Iris Dement. Or maybe Iris Dement sounds like the woman at 6:00!

Did anyone ever see the movie Songcatcher? There were a few weird parts in it but it was a great movie about Appalachian music. If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching IMO.

 

I saw it and I agree. I love the way the old ballads were passed down through generations. Here's a story I heard a few years ago. I have some friends who live in Fairview, Tennessee (just west of Nashville). Charlie Louvin, of the Louvin Brothers was out that way and struck up a friendship with an old woman. (The grandmother of my friends). The old woman sang to him a ballad that had been passed through her family for years called, 'The Knoxville Girl'-a story about a murder in England, (not Knoxville, Tennessee). Charlie was familiar with the song. It had been recorded a time or two over the years, but not this particular version. They recorded the old lady's version and it became a big record for the Louvin Brothers in 1956.

 

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I saw it and I agree. I love the way the old ballads were passed down through generations. Here's a story I heard a few years ago. I have some friends who live in Fairview, Tennessee (just west of Nashville). Charlie Louvin, of the Louvin Brothers was out that way and struck up a friendship with an old woman. (The grandmother of my friends). The old woman sang to him a ballad that had been passed through her family for years called, 'The Knoxville Girl'-a story about a murder in England, (not Knoxville, Tennessee). Charlie was familiar with the song. It had been recorded a time or two over the years, but not this particular version. They recorded the old lady's version and it became a big record for the Louvin Brothers in 1956.

 

 

I haven't seen this movie, but will try to find it. A large percentage of our "classical" American folk ballads are derived from or variations on traditional English and Scottish ballads, brought to America by 17th and 18th century immigrants (including my own Scottish/English ancestors).

 

One of the great compilations of these songs, if you haven't seen it, is "The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles", which may be long out of print, since I got my copy in about 1965, about the time I became infatuated with traditional ballads. It is a scholarly summary of the original ballads and as many of the American Appalachian variations on them that he could record or transcribe in the early 20th century. It has nice, simple piano and guitar transcriptions.

 

In her early recordings, Joan Baez sang a number of these traditional ballads.

 

It's really good stuff, but since it depends more on the story line of the ballad than the music itself, it is probably of limited interest to most guitarists, although many of the musical themes will be familiar.

 

Fortunately, a lot of JJN's stuff, primarily recorded in the 1950's and earlier, is available on youtube. In a lot of it, he sings a high falsetto to mimic the female singing parts. It can be a bit eerie, but a lot of these ballads are about love, betrayal, and death.

 

 

In other words, a lot of the same things we write about today.

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