Frazier/Patterson/Lusk Band

Altamont: Black Stringband Music

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From the Library of Congress comes this compilation of works by black string bands. The black string band is something of a rarity, hailing from prior to the recording era in large part and pushed under the carpet by the rush of commercial labels to provide hillbilly music and blues, with the middle-ground black string bands (essentially black hillbilly music, in some sense) disappearing in the process. In the 1940s, a pair of bands was recorded in Tennessee with the help of the Library of Congress, eventually leading to this CD. The first seven cuts come from the Frazier/Patterson Band, using vocals, banjo, and fiddle. The second seven come from the John Lusk Band. In both sections, what one hears is in large part standard-sounding string band music. What is most notable here is potentially not the music so much as its origin. There are features that are specific to this sub-style; primarily, the slight inflection of the blues mixed into the compositions. This might be something for a musicologist to enjoy, though beyond this small item there is little to note that is different from other string band recordings available. The music is performed well -- not exceptional and not terrible. Pick it up as an interested scholar before you pick it up as an interested listener, but listen once either way.

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