Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Deep River of Song: Black Texicans - Balladeers And Songsters Of The Texas Frontier
Genres: Blues, Folk, World Music, Pop
One-fourth to one-third of the cowboys in the Old West were African American, a fact virtually erased from history. But one listen to this entry from the Deep River of Song series of the Alan Lomax Collection sets the reco... more »
Listen to Samples
One-fourth to one-third of the cowboys in the Old West were African American, a fact virtually erased from history. But one listen to this entry from the Deep River of Song series of the Alan Lomax Collection sets the record straight. Men with prosaic names like Phineas "Flatfoot" Rockmore, "Butter Boy," Moses "Clear Rock" Platt, and James "Iron Head" Baker recast British ballads to fit their own experiences ("St. James Hospital"), turn in idiosyncratic readings of cowboy standards ("The Old Chisholm Trail"), and prove that square dances knew no race ("Little Liza Jane"). Their harsh, straining voices can convey ruggedness and clarity alike; they work with sprung rhythms, regular rhythms, and no rhythms at all, but their songs are too rich in melody and catch phrases to be easily forgotten. Recorded between 1933 and 1940, these raw sides will appeal primarily to roots fanatics but fill an essential hole in American music--and history. --John Morthland
"I ain't gonna tell you no lies"
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 08/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have noticed that this website doesn't bring up every disc in this series with just a "Deep River Of Song" search. In the interest of helping people find these discs here, I'll name every other disc in the series.
Bahamas 1935 Volume 2
Mississippi: The Blues Lineage
Mississippi: Saints and Sinners
Virginia and the Piedmont
I bought the entire Deep River Of Song series all at once. So many surprises awaited me! Some discs I thought about not buying because maybe I wouldn't be into them, and some I assumed I'd love. This was one of the discs I was iffy on. Until I heard it.
This and Big Brazos are two of the best discs in the series, in my opinion. They are also two I originally thought maybe I wouldn't like. Moses "Clear Rock" Platt is great. I particularly love his Old Chisholm Trail, which happens to be the source for Mike Seeger's Whoopin' Up Cattle on his excellent solo cd, Southern Banjo Sounds. James "Ironhead" Baker's St. James Hospital, which was clearly the source for Doc Watson and Tony Rice's excellent versions (on the Doc Watson and Native American albums, respectively), haunts me. Ironhead is a true highlight of this disc.
This disc also contains my one exposure to "eephing". An odd vocal thing that defies description. In terms of musicianship... guitar playing... Smith Casey is the hidden gem of this collection. His East Texas Rag is sublime acoustic slide guitar. He certainly could have earned more tracks here. I also particularly enjoy Phineas "Flatfoot" Rockmore's Boll Weevil done to a familiar Frankie & Johnny melody.
Of course if you are into American history (the true history, not the white-washed garbage that still gets taught in American schools) then these recordings become all that more meaningful. Imagine a song that dates back to slavery being sung by a group of prisoners in the 1930s, one of the harshest eras within the Jim Crow Era.
I love this disc, but the official review on this site is correct. It may only appeal to roots fanatics. I fear most of it is just too rough for the modern listener who is used to everything being more polished. I just want people to take that into account. I'd hate to recommend something and find out someone was disappointed when they heard it for themselves. If you don't like field-recordings of true real-people folk musics, then this is probably not for you."
S. Franz | 09/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection is fantastic and shows a great respect for men who were forgotten in the history books."
S. Franz | 01/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In addition to the above comments, there is also a Louisiana volume (for those seeking to complete their collection)"