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New Releases for 2017
We are pleased to announce that The Field Recorders’ Collective, Inc. has just released three new recordings, as listed below. They can be purchased as CDs here at our website and will be soon available as downloadables at fieldrecorder.bandcamp.com. Please visit our Store Page to find all our issues, and check out the online additional notes and articles we post for many of our CDs.
Lowe Stokes, Georgia Fiddler – FRC723
One of the highlights of my musical career was playing on stage with Lowe Stokes, one of my musical heroes. He was at the very heart of the North Georgia, multi-fiddle band sound that had so captivated us in the Highwoods and many others in the early days of the stringband revival. Stokes recorded extensively in the 1920s and early 1930s under his own name, as a member of the North Georgians, the Hometown Boys, the Dill Pickles, and most notably as the lead fiddler for the Skillet Lickers. In July 1982, when Lowe was 84 years old, he performed at the Brandywine Mountain Music Festival. As his pal Bert Layne announced, he sounds “almost as good as he ever did.” This is especially impressive since Lowe lost his bowing hand in an accident in 1930. He was able to make this great music using a prosthetic device on his right wrist and a rig on his fiddle to keep the bow perpendicular to the strings. So enjoy these selections from a true master and seminal figure of old-time music. – Mac Benford
Alvis Massengale – Mississippi Fiddle Music – FRC724
Mississippi fiddler Alvis Massengale ably led the Newton County Hillbillies on their six 78rpm recordings in 1930. Although he continued to play locally, we know little of him until the early 1970s when he made two sets of field recordings, one for Gus Meade and a later one for Howard Marshall in preparation for the 1974 Smithsonian Folk Festival in Washington D.C. which featured Mississippi musicians. Then in his mid-seventies, he was still playing impressively well, as you can hear in these recordings. Several of his tunes are unique, such as “Sebastapol” for which we have no other source. With pleasure we bring these recordings to a larger audience. – Harry Bolick
Early Upchurch – Gospel Voice of Mount Airy, NC FRC725
There’s something special about Early Upchurch (April 22, 1925-January 1, 1990) – the gospel voice of Mount Airy, North Carolina. I remember dropping down the needle one afternoon at WPAQ during the Surry Spotlight and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That pure voice so reminiscent of Roy Acuff went right straight to my heart. He had regular radio programs on WPAQ, WBOB, and WSYD with a notable list of guests including Bill Monroe and Carl Story, and traveled this country playing good ol’ gospel. I immediately made it my mission to find copies of every known recording of Early Upchurch, and with the help of his daughter Kathy, and son Bobby, we’ve done just that. We hope you’ll enjoy these selections from his ARC recordings and radio shows, and are thrilled and delighted that the Field Recorders Collective is helping get his great music out to the world to be heard once again.– Ivy S. Sheppard
Old Time Banjo Music of Alleghany County – FRC719
The various banjo players on this CD capture both the sound of Alleghany banjo playing, an open, strongly rhythmic style, and the changing music of the times from turn of the century clawhammer to the roots of bluegrass. Most of the recordings were made by Cliff Evans, a local jeweler and guitar player, who recorded a wide variety of local musicians from the 1950’s-1970’s and whose voice you’ll hear occasionally introducing the tunes. Cliff was J.H. Evans’s son and Louis’s nephew. Many thanks to the Evans family for sharing their father’s rich collection. – Lucas Pasley
Ora Watson – Watauga County, NC Old Time Music- FRC720
Ora Watson (1911-2008) played music for nine decades. Born in Watauga County, North Carolina, her father was a buck dancer and played the banjo, and her mother sang religious music and old British ballads. Her cousin Charles Isaacs was a fiddler. Like others of her generation, Ora was also influenced by radio and recordings. This album shows the wide range of her repertoire, which includes most of the genres played in the Southern mountains through the mid-twentieth century: fiddle and banjo tunes, ballads, hymns, minstrel songs, Tin Pan Alley, blues, early country and bluegrass. Ora could play banjo and guitar, but her favorite instrument was the fiddle. She formed her first group, the Isaac Sisters, at age 11, and played with various others over the years. She had a vivacious personality and was a performer at heart, cracking jokes onstage and off, and was known for being able to dance and fiddle at the same time. – Steve Kruger
Bob Holt: Dance Fiddling from the Missouri Ozarks – FRC721
I first met Ava, Missouri fiddler Bob Holt (1930-2004) when I began to attend music parties in nearby McClurg, around 1990. Because of Bob’s drive and backbeat, his preference for breakdowns, and his contagious enthusiasm for the music, I found him exhilarating to play with and listen to. His eclectic repertoire included not the only the breakdowns, rags, blues, and waltzes popular in the Missouri Ozarks, but also polkas, schottisches, and whatever else took his fancy. His early influences ranged from his father (a first-rate whistler, who used to urge Bob to play him “something quick and devilish”) and his banjo-playing uncle, to Arthur Smith, the Skillet Lickers, and Lonnie Robertson; but he never stopped listening to and learning from other fiddlers, as long as they adhered to his idea of “old-time.” Bob was proud of his NEA National Heritage Fellowship, his travels to festivals throughout the country, and his fiddle students. But he was proudest of all of his popularity as a square dance fiddler-especially of how he and the dancers egged each other on until the dancers got “wound up tighter than an eight-day clock,” attaining what old-time musicians throughout the country have come to call “Bob Holt speed.” As he once remarked, “If I can just make people dance-just make it to where they can’t possibly sit still-that’s my pay.”- Julie Henigan
Fred McBride – North Carolina Fiddle & Banjo- FRC722
Fred McBride was the nephew of Red Fox Chasers fiddler Guy Brooks and part of the final generation of old timers on the fiddle. I was lucky enough to be his cousin and to get some time with him. Fred played in numerous bands and made a couple of wonderful commercial recordings, but I always cherished these clips of just fiddle and banjo recorded in his living room between 2002 and 2005. Fred’s fiddling covers a range of influences from a childhood in Wilkes County, to playing with family in Alleghany County, to learning from others he respected like Thornton Spencer. He was always learning new tunes and bringing out old ones you never heard him play. He was a gentleman, and I hope to have absorbed both some of his playing and some of who he was. – Lucas Pasley
FRC offers quality digital downloads of our music. We have all of our CDs available for downloads. There is a Listen/Download button in the FRC store. If you are only interested in downloads, you can go directly to our Bandcamp page.
The Field Recorders’ Collective, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of noncommercial recordings of traditional American music, emphasizing material that is unavailable to the general public.
The Field Recorders’ Collective, originally formed with five collectors, is now a much larger group of collectors who have generously agreed to share their field recordings with the old time community. The collectors and the musicians that they recorded have traveled parts of the same old time music road. Members of the collective, just as did the musicians they recorded, wish to share both the tunes and the creative, individual styles that developed in isolated communities with others seeking their own right of way on the road.
Many of the musicians featured on the FRC’s CDs have been heard only sparingly on commercially-released recordings, and very few of these actual performances have previously been available commercially. Most of the musicians recorded by the collective have passed on, and in many cases we are in touch with their surviving relatives. We take satisfaction in sharing with the artists’ families (as well as with the collectors) a portion of the profit from the sale of these recordings. Judging from the letters of appreciation that we receive from family members, both the profit-sharing and our commitment to honoring these musicians’ artistry are greatly appreciated.