Afro-American Folk Music

Afro-American Folk Music

Various Tate and Panola County (Mississippi) Musicians


Whether you realize it or not, most music you hear on the radio today — rock, country, jazz, crappy teen pop — owes its heritage to Afro-American folk music. Even the so-called “British Invasion” was nothing more than a bunch of Englishmen taking American blues and hurling it back over the pond. If you are interested in the history of the motherlode of modern music, you may begin with this disc, a fourteen track selection of music from the Library of Congress Archives, and its accompanying booklet, containing 64 pages of tightly-written liner notes and beautiful photography.

Of course, it’s impossible to fully describe the legacy of this music in fourteen tracks and sixty-four pages. However, this provides a clear and illustrative guide to the many common threads present. Instrumental approaches range from fife and drums, to bottleneck guitar, to diddley bow, to banjo, to the prototypical unaccompanied field holler. Othar Turner provides both guitar blues and field holler versions of his signature tune, “Black Woman.” In both cases, the results are electrifying beyond the music’s sheer simplicity.

If you have even a passing interest in the roots of modern music, this is a damn fine place to start. Wonderfully researched and assembled, Afro American Folk Music from Tate and Panola Counties, Mississippi is a first-rate package, providing both instruction and entertainment.

Rounder Records, 1 Camp St., Cambridge, MA 02140;

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