In 1933, John Lomax and his young son, Alan, traveled by car to a number of prisons scattered throughout Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. In the nation’s most restricted spaces, they recorded African-American convicts, who Lomax thought would be some of the last singers of traditional folk material due to the isolation of the institutions that held them.
As a result of this fieldwork, we now have access to a multitude of powerful songs, both well and little known, which provide some understanding of this folk group during the era of Jim Crow in America’s South.
West Virginia University Press is releasing a collection of 24 songs from that journey in Jail House Bound: John Lomax’s First Southern Prison Recordings, 1933, compiled and produced by Mark Allan Jackson. A booklet containing an introduction to this project and photographs gathered along the way accompany the CD.
Tracklist: 1. Rattler by Mose “Clear Rock” Platt 2. That’s Alright, Honey by Mose “Clear Rock” Platt 3. The Midnight Special by Ernest “Mexico” Williams 4. Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos, Ernest “Mexico” Williams 1933 5. Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos, Ernest “Mexico” Williams with James “Iron Head” Baker 6. My Yellow Gal by James “Iron Head” Baker with R.D. Allen and Will Crosby 7. Black Betty by James “Iron Head” Baker with R.D. Allen and Will Crosby 8. The Grey Goose by James “Iron Head” Baker with R.D. Allen and Will Crosby 9. Long Gone by “Lightening” Washington 10. Long John by “Lightening” Washington 11. Good God Almighty by “Lightening” Washington 12. Stewball 13. John Henry 14. He Never Said a Mumbling Word 15. Rosie 16. Alabama Bound by “Bowlegs” 17. Jumpin Judy 18. John Henry 19. Jumpin Judy by Allen Prothero 20. Sit Down, Servant by Adie Corbin and Ed Frierson 21. Levee Camp Holler by John “Black Sampson” Gibson 22. Track Lining Song by John “Black Sampson” Gibson 23. Steel Laying Holler by Rochelle Harris 24. Interview with John Lomax in 1933.
John Lomax (1867-1948) was an American teacher, a pioneering musicologist and folklorist who did much for the preservation of American folk songs.
Mark Allan Jackson, a former lecturer at WVU, is an associate professor of Folklore and English at Middle Tennessee State University who specializes in political expression in American music. He has published essays, reviews, and commentaries in such journals as American Music, The Journal of American History, Popular Music and Society, The Journal of American Folklore, and Journal of Folklore Research.
Jail House Bound is produced by WVU Press. To learn more about the West Virginia Sound Archive or to purchase this CD visit www.wvupress.com or phone (800) 621-2736. Digital files of this project can be purchased from the Association of Cultural Equity at www.culturalequity.org.
Jail House Bound, compiled by Mark Allan Jackson
Includes 24 tracks/Interview with Lomax/Liner notes/photographs
CONTACT: Abby Freeland, Marketing Manager at West Virginia University Press
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