11 January, 2019Print
Lead Belly, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry and Dave Von Ronk lead 2019 in Folkways' Vinyl Reissue Series
Smithsonian Folkways has announced three new releases in its acclaimed Smithsonian Folkways Vinyl Reissue Series, digging deep into the label’s archives to resurrect some of its most iconic and sought after titles. The series, originally conceived in celebration of the label’s 70th anniversary in 2018, will continue throughout 2019, presenting works by some of the most influential voices of the 20th century as well as shining a light on lesser known artists whose contributions to the label’s legacy are just as vital. Each reissue is meticulously redesigned from original prints and materials, photos, and audio remastered from the original LP masters by GRAMMY-award winning sound engineer Pete Reiniger. Each limited reissue also features the iconic black textured Folkways tip-on style album jacket and liner notes booklet that was included in the original release.
Today, January 11th, Smithsonian Folkways will reissue three albums by quintessential folk and blues musicians. Lead Belly’s Easy Rider: Leadbelly Legacy Volume Four, originally released in 1953 and featuring tracks recorded in the early ‘40s, joins the series along with Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing from 1958, and folk legend Dave Von Ronk’s debut album Sings Ballas, Blues and a Spiritual from 1959.
A listening party celebrating these new releases, as well as the reissue series as a whole, will take place at HR Records in Washington, DC tonight (1.11) from 5-7 pm.
Folkways' unique nonprofit mission, to document "people's music," spoken word, instruction, and sounds from all around the world, has sustained the label for seven decades and built the most iconic and diverse collection of music of the 20th century. Some of the best-loved, all-time greats, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, and Elizabeth Cotten were Folkways artists, as are thousands of creators and preservers of cultural heritage.
More info below and at: folkways.si.edu/news-and-press/new-year-new-vinyl
Lead Belly – 'Easy Rider: Leadbelly Legacy Volume Four' (originally released 1953)
This collection of songs by Lead Belly was assembled by Folkways founder Moses Asch from recordings made in the early to mid-1940s, and it focuses primarily on Lead Belly’s observations on the hate and racism that permeated America and the world during this turbulent period of history. Songs like “Jim Crow” and “Bourgeois Blues” reflect his anger at the discrimination he and others experienced as African Americans, while “Hitler” was his condemnation of Hitler and anti-Semitism.
More info: folkways.si.edu/lead-belly/easy-rider
Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry – 'Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing' (originally released in 1958)
The acoustic music duo of guitarist Brownie McGhee and harmonicist Sonny Terry were named National Heritage Fellows in 1982 in recognition of their distinctive musical contributions and accomplishments. Although primarily considered to be blues musicians, McGhee and Terry transcended the genre by including American folk songs and ballads in their repertoire. This 1958 recording, their first for the Folkways label, provides a small but inspiring example of the range of Americana and down-home blues music the duo performed throughout their 40-year partnership.
Dave Von Ronk – 'Sings Ballads, Blues and a Spiritual' (originally released in 1959)
Dubbed “The Mayor of MacDougal Street,” Dave Van Ronk (1936–2002) was an iconoclastic folksinger and an influential figure in the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Because of his interest in African American folk music and blues, and his gift (or curse) of a gravelly baritone voice, Van Ronk was often criticized for his approach to his musical repertoire. His rejoinder was that he reserved the right to sing songs in the style that he deemed to be “the right way.” This 1959 Folkways recording, his first on any label, is a collection of 19th- and early 20th-century traditional folk and blues songs that persuasively illustrates his stance.
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