Appalachian Music Fellowship 10

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 10, June 12, 2009 This is the end of week two in my four-week-long Appalachian Music Fellowship in the Special Collections and Archives at Berea College. Today, just a short entry on an interesting letter I found in the John Lair papers, written by Patsy Montana in 1967. LairContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 10”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 9

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 9, June 11, 2009 Today I’m still working through some of the John Lair Papers, and mostly I’m confirming what many historians and country music entertainers have already said: Lair had a reputation for being tight-fisted and controlling. I’m amazed, and offended I guess, at how he could makeContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 9”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 8

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 8, June 10, 2009 Today I read some of the letters and contract agreements John Lair made with performers who worked (or wanted to work) on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. In 1941, Cousin Emmy was working on WNOX-Knoxville’s Mid-Day Merry Go Round Show but she could not getContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 8”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 7

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 7, June 9, 2009 How many ways can you murder your sweetheart?That’s the question I kept coming back to today while reading the verses to hundreds of “Murdered Sweetheart” Ballads (honest, that’s the genre name scholars give to these murder songs). In the countless variations of the murder balladContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 7”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 6

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 6, June 8, 2009 Today I started looking at one of the many collections of murder ballads housed in the Special Collections library at Berea. I found this asymmetrical, pared down, eastern Kentucky version of “Barbara Allen” collected from Rendy York, age 78, Bell County, Ky., in 1957. Don’tContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 6”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 5

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 5, June 5, 2009 The Coon Creek Girls used the old parlor song “Flower Blooming in the Wildwood” as one of their theme songs on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. Today I heard a 1941 radio broadcast of The Coon Creek Girls performing this song, a slow, nearly maudlinContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 5”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 4

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 4, June 4, 2009 The very public narrative that Lily May Ledford told about herself hardly ever changed. She consistently told the same story about her life and career to interviewers. I’ve read it plenty since working in the archives. But the personal narrative that her friends and familyContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 4”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 3

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 3, June 3, 2009 Today I’ve read interviews with Lily May Ledford, the other Coon Creek Girls, and other friends, and family members of Lily May. Ledford’s daughter, Barbara, gave an interview in 1996 and spoke candidly about the control that Ledford’s manager (John Lair) and husbands exerted overContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 3”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 2

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 2, June 2, 2009 Lily May Ledford devoted her musical life and talents to the strict (some say parsimonious) control of producer John Lair, who kept her out of the national limelight and decked out in calico, and cut her pay when she agreed to move with him fromContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 2”

Appalachian Music Fellowship 1

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship Day 1, June 1, 2009 *Researching music and sound archives for historical inspiration/acumen for a poetry manuscript. *The archivists in the Special Collections Department at Hutchins Library already had a tray of research waiting for me when I arrived this morning. It was like being served a fancy meal inContinue reading “Appalachian Music Fellowship 1”