Art of Field Recording Vol.I: Fifty Years of American Traditional Music

Compiled by Lance Ledbetter and Art Rosenbaum, Art of Field Recording Volume I is a four disc set with a 96 page book that contains essays and annotations by Art and over 100 illustrations and photographs by Art and his wife Margo. Art took a similar approach to Harry Smith in assembling the music: the discs are divided into Blues, Instrumental and Dance, Sacred, and a Survey disc that has a little bit of everything.

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Description: Four CDs, 96 page book, LP-size box
Publication Date: November 6, 2007
Availability: Out of Print
Recognition: Grammy® Awards Winner of the 2008 Best Historical Album
Nominated for the Best Liner Notes of 2008
ARSC Awards Nominated for the 2008 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research

This is volume 1 of Dust-to-Digital’s robust Art of Field Recording series assembled by esteemed archivists Art and Margo Rosenbaum. This impressive 4CD set includes ballads, blues, spirituals, work songs and slave songs, religious singing, such as the African-American ring-shout and other traditional folk music from Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and New York performed with voices and stringed instruments such as banjo and fiddle. Comes housed in a 11″x11″x1″ color cardboard box containing a 96-page 10″x10″ perfect-bound book with over 100 illustrations and photographs, and four CDs with a total of 110 tracks.

The diverse talents of both Art and Margo Rosenbaum have allowed them to document music traditions in a way few others could have done. Art is a painter, a muralist, and an illustrator, as well as a collector and performer of traditional American folk music. Margo is a photographer that has captured many of Art’s field recording encounters.

Art Rosenbaum of Athens, Georgia, has been collecting and studying traditional American music for over 50 years. His focus covers Appalachian banjo tunes and ballads, Southern and Midwestern fiddle tunes, blues and spirituals. Rosenbaum began seeking out traditional performers while in his teens, rediscovering and recording the great blues guitarist Scrapper Blackwell and fiddler John W. Summers, both in his then-home state of Indiana. His fieldwork has produced archival material in the Indiana University Folklore Archives, the University of Georgia Libraries and the Archives of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

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Disc: 1
1. Sister Fleeta Mitchell and Rev. Willie Mae Eberhart “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down”
2. Ray Rhodes “Fred Adams”
3. Gordon Tanner and Smokey Joe Miller “Billy in the Low Ground”
4. Margaret Kimmett “Frankie and Johnnie [Laws 13] / Twenty Froggies Go to School”
5. Fidel Martin “Cup of Faith / Beaudoin Quadrille”
6. Mary Lomax “The Drowsy Sleeper [Laws M4]”
7. The Myers Sisters “Little Red Rooster”
8. Ralph Sheckel “Tony Gave a Picnic”
9. Neal Patman “Mama Whoopin' the Blues”
10. Henry Grady Terrell “Old John Henry Died on the Mountain”
11. Golden River Grass “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”
12. The Phillips Wonders “Hambone”
13. Bobby McMillon “Darby's Ram”
14. Shorty Ralph Reynolds “Darlin' Corey”
15. Epifanio Sanchez and Group “Carabina Treinta-Treinta (30-30 Rifle)”
16. Bert Hare “I'm Dying, Mother”
17. Sacred Harp Singing Group “Eternal Day”
18. Mabel Cawthorn “Tom Watson Tune”
19. Arthur Vandeveer “A Melancholy Sound”
20. Laethe Eller “What You Gonna Name that Pretty Baby?”
21. Ollie Gilbert “Who Killed Poor Robin?”
22. Brady “Doc” and Lucy Barnes “Free Go Lily”
23. John W. Summers “Brickyard Joe”
24. Mary Heekin “Lord Randolph [Child 12]”
25. Lawrence Eller and Vaughn Eller “Fly Around My Blue-Eyed Gal”
26. Old Threshers' Fife and Drum Band “Irish Washerwoman”
27. Mary Lomax “Lord Daniel [Child 81]”
28. Jack Bean “Song of Fifty Cents”
29. Dr. David Rosenbaum “One Saturday Night When I Come Home [Child 274]”

Disc: 2
1. Silver Light Gospel Singers “Don't You Let Nobody Turn You 'Round”
2. Rev. Howard Finster “Medley”
3. Sacred Harp Singing Group “Assurance”
4. Bonnie Loggins and Mary Lomax “In the Silence of the Midnight”
5. Sister Fleeta Mitchell, Rev. Nathaniel Mitchell and Lucy Barnes”Let Me Fly”
6. Leona Ruth “Over Yonder Where Jesus Is”
7. Rev. Willie Gresham and Group “Guide Me, Thou Great Jehovah”
8. Brady “Doc” and Lucy Barnes and the Gilmore Family “Teach Me, Master”
9. Lawrence Eller, Vaughn Eller and Ross Brown “Lonesome Valley”
10. Brady “Doc” Barnes and Lucy Barnes “Walk with Me”
11. Lawrence McKiver and the McIntosh County Shouters “Jubilee”
12. Lucille Holloway and Basers “Wade the Water to My Knees”
13. Deacon Tommy Tookes and Congregation “The Lord Is Risen”
14. Ida Craig “Sit Down, Servant”
15. Sister Fleeta Mitchell, Rev. Nathaniel Mitchell and Lucy Barnes “I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord”
16. Richard and Elula Moss “Idumea”
17. Tickanetley Primitive Baptist Church “An Address to All”
18. The Phillips Wonders “Walking Along the Heavenly Road / I Am a Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow”
19. Tickanetley Primitive Baptist Church “Lenox”
20. Georgia Jean Eversole “Scarlet Purple Robe”
21. Smokey Joe Miller and Newman Young “Where the Soul of Man Never Dies”
22. Nathan Palmer “Blow, Gabriel”
23. Gospel Supremes “Do, Lord, Remember Me”
24. Naomi Bradford and Macedonia Baptist Church “My Number Will Be Changed”
25. Rev. Willie Gresham and Macedonia Baptist Church “Hush and Listen”

Disc: 3
1. Cecil Barfield “Georgia Bottleneck Blues”
2. Gordon Tanner, Smokey Joe Miller and Uncle John Patterson “Carroll County Blues”
3. Brooks Berry and Scrapper Blackwell “Brooks' Blues”
4. Neal Patman and Bill Giles “Key to the Highway”
5. J. T. Adams “Red River Blues”
6. George Childers “Nobody's Business”
7. Eddie Bowles “Bowles' Blues”
8. Cliff Sheats “Got the Blues So Bad”
9. Guitar Pete Franklin “Guitar Pete's Blues”
10. James “Yank” Rachel and Shirley Griffith “Peach Orchard Mama”
11. James Easley, Guitar Pete Franklin and Raymond Holloway “Big Leg Women”
12. Joe K. Rakestraw and Art Rosenbaum “Leaving Here, Don't Know Where I'm Going”
13. Neal Patman “The Mogul”
14. Buford Boyd and Willard Benson “Deep Ellum Blues”
15. Shirley Griffith “River Line Blues”
16. Jake Staggers “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”
17. Harvie Sims “I Cried All Night Long”
18. Shirley Griffith “Maggie Campbell Blues”
19. Guitar Pete Franklin “How Long Blues”
20. Scrapper Blackwell “A” Blues”

Disc: 4
1. Dallas Henderson “Lost Indian”
2. Ben Entrekin, Uncle John Patterson and James Patterson “Flat Foot Charlie”
3. Lawrence Eller and Vaughn Eller “Down the Road”
4. Clester Hounchell “Sally, Won't You Have Me, Do Gal Do”
5. Coy Martin “Fox Chase”
6. Neal Patman “Fox Chase”
7. Gordon Tanner, Smokey Joe Miller and Uncle John Patterson “Medley”
8. James “Yank” Rachel and Shirley Griffith “Mandolin Stomp”
9. Albert Hash “Omie Wise”
10. Albert Hash and Art Rosenbaum “Train 45”
11. George Childers “Turkey in the Straw”
12. Louis Riendeau and Larry Riendeau “Arkansas Traveler”
13. Dwight “Red” Lamb “Fynne's Polka”
14. Newt Tolman “Pigtown Fling”
15. John W. Summers and Art Rosenbaum “Stony Point”
16. Earl Murphy and Bill Ashley “Cowboy Waltz”
17. Clester Hounchell “Walk, Little Julie”
18. Rev. Howard Finster “Five to My Five”
19. Delbert Spray and Art Rosenbaum “Quit Kicking My Dog Around”
20. Old Threshers' Fife and Drum Band “Yankee Doodle”
21. John W. Summers “Jig Medley”
22. Buell Kazee “Big Foot Feller”
23. Buford Boyd “Don't Let Your Deal Go Down”
24. Uncle John Patterson “Shout, Lulu”
25. Jake Staggers “Shout, Lulu”
26. W. Guy Bruce “Shout, Lulu”
27. W. Guy Bruce and Guy Bruce, Jr. “Sally Ann”
28. Gordon Tanner, Phil Tanner, Art Rosenbaum and Larry Nash “Arkansas Traveler”
29. Frosty Lamb and Buzz Fountain “Beaumont Rag”
30. Kirk Brandenberger and Art Rosenbaum “Whistler's Waltz”
31. W. Guy Bruce “Shady Grove”
32. Ross Brown “Coal Creek March”
33. Pete Steele “Coal Creek March”
34. Harry “Pappy” Wells “Jenny Nettles”
35. Lyman Enloe and Bob Black “Fourteen Days in Georgia”
36. Maude Thacker “She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain”


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Pitchfork Media: “Even when Art and Margo are, ostensibly, acting as silent observers, it is still possible to sense the Rosenbaums’ presence, and some of the interview-heavy cuts (see Mary Heekin’s rendition of “Lord Randolph,” from Disc 1) expose Art and Margo’s investment in their work. The narrations included here can be as telling as the songs themselves.”

USA Today: “Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music for a new generation…”

Wall Street Journal: “This four-disc set offers a sweeping survey of the American folk tradition, including blues, work songs, Mexican corridos, and more. Many of the recordings — which range from 94-year-old Sister Fleeta Mitchell’s “I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord” to 7-year-old Ray Rhodes’s true-crime ballad “Fred Adams” — appear on CD for the first time.”

Black Grooves: “Every tune in Art of Field Recording is a gem, and shine all the brighter because Rosenbaum’s love of music – and the people who do it – takes the listener on a journey into out-of-the-way American places where traditions are still created, re-created, and passed on down the line.”

Uncut: ***** [5 stars out of 5] “This set unearths all manner of unknown Americana. Archivists Art and Margo Rosenbaum spent half a century recording obscure artists from the backwoods: parlour tunes, church hymns, slide blues, chain gang songs, Southern gospel and creepy country ballads. Complete with scholarly tome, the result is a riveting document of an all-but-vanished culture. An essential companion piece to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.”

AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Although he’s not exclusively a folklorist or musicologist by profession, Art Rosenbaum has been making field recordings since his teenage years. The four-CD, 110-track box set Art of Field Recording, Vol. 1, as big as it is, has just a portion of the folk music he’s documented between 1956 and 2007.

It’s divided into four separate thematic discs, one a “survey” or sampling of the breadth of what he’s recorded; one devoted to religious songs; one for blues; and one comprised of instrumental and dance tunes. If nothing else, the sheer size and variety of this anthology is impressive; if it doesn’t include every last strain of American folk music, it certainly covers more of them than almost any comparable collection.

There’s country blues, gospel, fiddle music, fife and drum, a cappella vocal, Mexican corrido, and pieces on which the primary or sole accompaniment is pump organ or mouth bow. The Gospel Supremes’ “Do, Lord, Remember Me” verges on classic-style soul music, yet many other performances, if not exactly amateur, are certainly casual snapshots of common folk playing music for their own edification rather than out of any professional ambition.

A few names here and there will be familiar to the folk or blues specialist, like Scrapper Blackwell, Yank Rachell, and Buell Kazee. But mostly these are performers working wholly outside of the commercial music business, even including an a cappella vocal of a children’s ballad by Rosenbaum’s father (which Art Rosenbaum rightly acknowledges might not be to everyone’s taste in his liner notes).

As wide-ranging as it is, and as decent (for the most part) as the sound quality is, how does it stack up against some similarly ambitious folk collections from the decades preceding this 2007 release? To be truthful, it’s not as compelling or exotic as the anthologies overseen by the likes of Alan Lomax and Harry Smith, who had the good fortune to be able to collate much of the earliest such folk music recorded in the U.S.

The styles contained in this box have now been documented by many releases — not just Lomax’s and Smith’s — and the plaintive homespun nature of many of these performances will be of more academic interest than entertainment value to many listeners, even some folk enthusiasts.

Taken as a whole (which does admittedly take about five hours), however, it does impress with its mosaic of American folk forms, as well as present those forms as more of a living, breathing presence than those mustier if mightier field recordings of greater vintage.

It’s also enhanced by the 96-page booklet, in which Rosenbaum’s unpretentiously informative liner notes are complemented by numerous photos and drawings.

Online Reviews

“A celebration of music: The music on this compilation is wonderful. The sound quality is excellent, especially taking into account that all these recordings were done in the field. I like that the booklet has information on each track. I can’t say enough good things about the collection. The only drawback, already pointed out by a reviewer is the physical box that holds the discs. However, the artwork, book and music itself more than makes up for this small disappointment. I am very happy I bought this and am anxiously awaiting Volume 2.” — Chris, Amazon Reviews

“Fantastic: The recordings and the people in them are now saved for all of us to hear. An amazing job. I have been listening to folk music all of my life and this set is a most valuable addtion to my collection. THANKS TO THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THIS COLLECTION TOGETHER!!” — David A. Brody, Amazon Reviews

“Old weird America in porch recordings: This is an excellent, though hardly exhaustive, compilation of field recorded folk music. Genuine, weird folk music from the (often twisted) genius of ordinary folks.” — Michael A. Duvernois, Amazon Reviews

“Tasty box of auditory delights: wonderful compilation, excellent recording quality, broad range of performers, types of music and regional styles. If you like country, folk, blue grass, gospel there are treats here.” — Brenda Armstrong, Amazon Reviews