Various Artists

Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians

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A group of 20 field recordings of various dances ("Cripple Creek," "Pateroller Song"), folk songs ("Sally Goodin," "The Girl I Left Behind Me," unexpectedly haunting and affecting on harmonica), blues, children's songs ("Skip to My Lou"), and hymns ("Amazing Grace," in an astonishingly beautiful rendition for solo dulcimer), made by Liam Clancy, Paul Clayton, and Diane Hamilton in Virginia and North Carolina during the summer of 1956. They confined themselves to recording local instrumentalists (no singers), including blues guitarist Etta Baker, who was one of Taj Mahal's early mentors. The recordings, as one would expect, have a raw spontaneity that comes from impromptu performance, and the quality of the digital transfer is excellent, with no distortion and surprisingly little background noise. Other players include Boone Reid (banjo), Hobart Smith (fiddle), Mrs. Edd Presnell (dulcimer), Lacey Phillips (banjo), and Richard Chase (harmonica). The raw nature of the recordings is emphasized by little touches, like the foot-stomping one hears in the background of Phillips' rendition of ""John Brown's Dream."

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