Folklorists Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, and Elizabeth Barnicle traveled through Florida and Georgia in 1935 collecting songs and other folk materials for the Archive of American Folk Song, and this disc from Document Records, the seventh in the label's field recordings series, gathers songs and instrumental pieces from the Florida portion of the journey. The first recordings made by Gabriel Brown are here, and they are the heart and soul of this compilation. Brown's acoustic slide playing is solid, even amazing, on tracks like "Po' Boy, Long Ways From Home," and although John and Rochelle French also play guitar on these tracks, it is Brown's guitar work, particularly with the slide, that carries the day. Brown, whose career as a musician lasted well into the 1950s, was no garden-variety folk music informant. He was a graduate of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College and later worked with Orson Welles and the Federal Arts Theatre. Several tracks by the duo of Booker T. Sapps and Roger Matthews are also collected here, a flurry of bluesy romps with harmonica, guitar, shouts, and interjections that sounds at times like a jug band marooned in a cypress grove. A single unaccompanied and haunting version of "Prisoner Blues" by Ozella Jones closes the disc on a reverent note.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett