Folk archives includes gospel treasures      

Alan Lomax Collection: Southern Journey Volume 3: 61 Highway Mississippi, Rounder, 1997.
Alan Lomax Collection: Southern Journey Volume 4: Brethren, We Meet Again, Rounder, 1997.
Alan Lomax Collection: Southern Journey Volume 6: Sheep, Sheep Don’tcha Know the Road, Rounder, 1997.

WHEN THE Alan Lomax collection is complete, the series will include approximately 100 CDs, including field recordings from the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.

Alan and his father John were the leading collectors of folk music during this century, responsible for first recording a long list of legends, including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton and Muddy Waters.

Utilizing primitive portable recording equipment, John Lomax first collected songs in 1907, and eventually became curator of the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Music. By the mid-’30s Alan, still a teenager, was accompanying his father on recording trips.

After the elder Lomax’s death in 1948, Alan continued in his father’s footsteps, recording and developing folk music catalogues for Decca in the ’40s; an 18-volume set of traditional music entitled the World Library of Folk and Primitive Music for Columbia Records in the early ’50s; followed by a 10-record set in Britain; and, finally, a seven-volume set of Southern Folk Music Heritage for Atlantic Records.

The three volumes included here are part of a 13-disc Southern Journey Series. From the Atlantic collection, all tracks were recorded between 1959 and 1960, on what is generally regarded as the last time this kind of effort was undertaken in the U.S.

Featuring a number of previously unreleased tracks, these discs capture a sound that has all but disappeared. Each title includes some worship music, along with other styles.

Volume Three, subtitled ‘Delta Country Blues, Spirituals, Work Songs and Dance Music,’ features the first recordings of bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. Volume 4 contains Southern Protestant spirituals, hymns, testimony and Sacred Harp singing. Volume 6, subtitled ‘Southern Music, Sacred and Sinful,’ contains songs celebrating salvation and sin.

‘Corn Dodger’ pokes fun at a number of institutions, including various denominations: "Well the Methodist’s a dodger . . . They’ll talk about hell and heaven on high / And the next thing you know / They’re dodging for the pie . . . The Baptist’s a dodger / They’re a long corn dodger / They’ll drink their wine and their liquor too . . . and say, ‘There ain’t none for you’ . . . The ‘Holiness’s . . . a dodger too / They’ll jump and roll and whoop and yell / For everybody else is going to hell."

© John Cody 1999

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| May 1st, 1999 | Posted in Articles |

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