“Old Time Black Southern String Band Music”

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Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas: Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (Arhoolie)

from http://www.offbeat.com:

With the  passing of African-American fiddler Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong and the remaining few practitioners like octogenarian Joe Thompson, America is losing its last links to the black string band tradition that dates back to slavery. At least one thread of this rich legacy will be preserved with this 1960s recording of Butch Cage (fiddle) and Willie B. Thomas (guitar) who lived in Zachary, Louisiana when folklorist Dr. Harry Oster recorded them.

Not only were the rural, raw musicians part of the resultant Country Negro Jam Sessions LP (also part of Arhoolie’s catalogue) but through Oster, they had the opportunity of playing the 1960 Newport Folk Festival.

Since Cage and Thomas were born in the late 19th century to sharecropper parents, you couldn’t ask for better pedigrees in time-honored American roots music. Both played suppers and house parties for years, culling songs from a vast repertoire of hillbilly, blues and spirituals, much like they do here.

Cage’s pipes boom over Thomas’ thin, papery voice, and Cage’s scratchy, earthy fiddling and Thomas’ straight, unvaried strumming support them. They warble in and out of unison while still maintaining a terrifically soulful chemistry. Eventually others get in the act and sing, making the tracks feel like a community effort.

The last two tracks are spiritually stirring, especially “You’ve Gotta Move,” where various participants harmonize on the refrain whenever the spirit moves them. Another forgotten piece of American’s music has just been revealed.

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One Response to ““Old Time Black Southern String Band Music””

  1. Jim Nelson Says:

    You might check this out sometime:
    http://www.wirz.de/music/cagetfrm.htm

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