Folk Visions and Voices

Folk Visions and Voices: Traditional Music and Song in North Georgia

Field collecting, text, drawings and paintings by Art Rosenbaum
Photographs by Margo Newmark Rosenbaum
Musical transcriptions by Béla Foltin
Foreword by Pete Seeger
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n8tm
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  • Book Info
    Folk Visions and Voices
    Book Description:

    Sampling virtually all of the old-time styles within the musical traditions still extant in north Georgia,Folk Visions and Voicesis a collection of eighty-two songs and instrumentals, enhanced by photographs, illustrations, biographical sketches of performers, and examples of their narratives, sermons, tales, and reminiscences.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4649-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Pete Seeger

    What will happen to this fine collection of old songs remembered in the northern counties of the State of Georgia U.S.A.? Will it gather dust on library shelves? No.Folk Visions and Voicesreads like a good historical novel. One gets immersed in the “collecting,” in the people and their families, and in their lives. It’s an invitation to learn more about north Georgia through music and song.

    Some folklorists have dug up dead bones from one graveyard to bury them in another. But if the good people of Georgia take this book off the shelf from time to time—...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    North georgia begins at the edge of the old rolling cotton-belt plantation country, along a line running roughly east and west through Atlanta; it extends up through the red clay hills, piney woods, and textile-mill towns of the Piedmont, into the Blue Ridge Mountains up to the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. This varied landscape has given rise to and nurtured a variety of impressive musical traditions, emblematic of southern folk music, and well-springs of later American music. Among these are the stirring antebellum spirituals and lined-out hymns of black country churches, the old-time black frolic tunes and bottleneck...

  6. Transcriber’s Comments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Goin’ to Georgia THE ELLER FAMILY AND ROSS BROWN: MUSIC MAKERS OF TOWNS COUNTY
    (pp. 1-22)

    A small road turns north off the highway between Hiawassee and Clayton in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the northernmost edge of Georgia. Pavement gives way to dirt as you head up into increasingly beautiful country. The place is known as Upper Hightower, because Hightower Creek arises here, and the mountain called Hightower Bald dominates the landscape. Lawrence Eller also calls it “the garden spot of the world,” and there is far more affection than irony in his tone as he considers the creek-bottom, ridge, and mountain country where his family has lived, labored, and made music for over four...

  8. My Number Will Be Changed DOC AND LUCY BARNES, FAMILY AND FRIENDS, AND THE LIVING SPIRITUAL IN ATHENS
    (pp. 23-54)

    Doc and lucy barnes live in a small house on a rise of ground up a red-clay road from the junction of South Lumpkin Street and the Macon Highway on the south side of Athens. Theirs and a few other houses are all that is left of a once extensive black community there; now condominiums and apartment complexes for University of Georgia students surround the neighborhood of houses, sheds, and gardens, an evocative holdover of an earlier time. The builder of one of the encroaching apartment buildings was looking for a name for his development and came up the road...

  9. Farewell, Sweet Jane MAUDE THACKER, BALLAD SINGER OF TATE
    (pp. 55-72)

    The stark old classic British ballads, carrying their stories of love, jealousy, and murder on haunting modal melodies, are the oldest stratum of the folk-song tradition in the north Georgia mountains. They, and the romantic broadside ballads that went along with them, were widely known and sung a generation or two ago, but they have faded from the memories of most folk singers and musicians, who tend to favor instrumental music, railroad songs, love lyrics, and similar genres that were encouraged rather than superseded by the advent of radio and records in the twenties and thirties. It is true that...

  10. I Used to Do Some Frolickin’ JAKE STAGGERS, BLACK BANJO-PICKER OF TOCCOA
    (pp. 73-86)

    During the nineteenth century the five-string banjo developed from a crude plantation instrument of African descent, through a period of popularization in traveling minstrel and tent shows, into a favorite of southern musicians, black and white, for playing song accompaniment and dance tunes. Jake Staggers was born in the last year of the century, at a time when black musicians, who had figured most importantly in the evolution of the banjo’s picking styles and repertoire, were dropping the instrument in favor of the guitar, better suited for the blues and rags that were then coming into fashion. Jake was drawn...

  11. Down Yonder THE TANNERS OF DACULA, SMOKY JOE MILLER, UNCLE JOHN PATTERSON: SKILLET LICKER MUSIC OF THE PIEDMONT
    (pp. 87-112)

    Gordon tanner welcomed his old friend Smoky Joe Miller and Uncle John Patterson, the “Banjo King” from Carrollton, into the “oblong concern of a chicken coop” back behind his home on the outskirts of Dacula, Georgia. He had converted it into a music room, and he explained, “We run the chickens off, brought some half-stumps in.” “I’m a country boy and feel right at home,” said Uncle John. Actually the now-famous building is well fitted out, with a carpeted area at one end for the musicians, old photos and more recent trophies lining the walls, and an assortment of upholstered...

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. Let’s March Around the Wall MR. HGT AND DOC BARNES: THE LAST OF THE OLD WORK SONGS
    (pp. 113-124)

    The hard physical labor of the Old South proceeded to the cadence of black voices singing surging and powerful work songs: the timber-stowing and cotton-screwing shanties of the seaports, the cotton-chopping songs of the plantations, and the hammer songs and track-lining songs of the railroads, all of which followed the West African pattern of leader and chorus, call and response; there were also the freer field hollers and mule-driving cries. Some of the work songs were religious, some profane; at times they were ironic, at times laced with veiled or overt protest against slavery and the oppressive labor systems that...

  14. Shout, Lulu W. GUY BRUCE OF SCREAMERSVILLE
    (pp. 125-142)

    W. guy bruce never dreamed that at the age of eighty-five he would be leaving his little house and watch-repair shop out in the country near Trion, Georgia, to fly up to Washington, D.C., to pick banjo, “pai some foot,” and sing “Shout, Lulu” for the crowds at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. It was not that he had never traveled—Guy had ridden his motorcycle to Miami in the fifties, and, an avid baseball fan, he had once gone up to New York to see his favorite team, the Yankees, play. He simply did not believe that people...

  15. I Don’t Know How We Made It Over THE BROWN’S CHAPEL CHOIR OF BISHOP
    (pp. 143-156)

    Brown’s chapel is a country church outside Bishop, Georgia; its members are in large part the descendants of slaves who worked on the cotton plantations around. When it meets on the fourth Sunday of every month, the old “Dr. Watts” hymns are lined out and sung in the surge-singing style that black singers adapted from the whites long before blacks were allowed to organize their own churches. And the traditional spirituals are sung as well, by the congregation and by the choir of four women and one man, one of the most impressive vocal groups we have heard. Most choirs...

  16. I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground CHESLEY CHANCEY, GEORGE CHILDERS, AND MABEL CAWTHORN: BANJO PICKING AND FAMILY STRING BANDS
    (pp. 157-178)

    In his last years Chesley Chancey had to get around on a wooden leg and one good leg; yet he managed to do some traveling with his younger brothers, Joe and Ralph, playing the mountain music they had learned as boys in Gilmer County. Chesley and Eva Chancey lived up a holler in the Boardtown section, several miles from the county seat of Ellijay; one room in their house was filled with yard goods that Eva used in the garment-making cooperative she formed with several other women when they became fed up with the low wages and bad conditions in...

  17. Leavin’ Here, Don’t Know Where I’m Goin’ NEAL PATTMAN, CLIFF SHEATS, WILLIE HILL, JOE RAKESTRAW: BLUESMEN AND SONGSTERS OF THE PIEDMONT
    (pp. 179-204)

    Earlier in this century the blues emerged as a distinct and enormously popular Afro-American musical form, defined and proliferated by the compositions of W. C. Handy and the recordings of innumerable blues men and women, rural and urban. The Piedmont of the South, stretching from Atlanta through South Carolina to Durham, North Carolina, produced its own style of blues, recorded commercially by such singer-guitarists as Blind Boy Fuller and Buddy Moss (see Bruce Bastin’sCrying for the Carolinesfor a study of the Piedmont blues). We have met four very different blues musicians in the Athens area who play and...

  18. He Could Fiddle His Way Out of Jail RAY KNIGHT OF DAHLONEGA
    (pp. 205-216)

    Ray knight, singer and guitar picker of the old gold-mining town of Dahlonega, is just turning forty; yet he is proud to classify himself an old-timer. He will ask you if you know what an old-timer is and toss back the answer: “In between an antique and a living legend.” Full of jokes, stories, and songs, he can talk for hours about his “idol,” the late L. D. Snipes, the peripatetic Georgia fiddler who could play the fiddle twenty-one different ways, and was “the only man I knew who could fiddle his way out of jail.”

    I had heard the...

  19. Man of Visions PREACHER HOWARD FINSTER OF PENNVILLE
    (pp. 217-234)

    A long horizontal painting in tractor enamel from Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden shows a landscape of flood and devastation: trees uprooted, boats sinking, and cars overturned, their tiny human occupants reaching for help; and out of this rises a great head of Albert Einstein, labeled “Einstein painted from a postage stamp,” his eyes plaintively turned up toward heaven. A crudely lettered poem reads:

    The storm has swept my golden shores and took

    My friends away. The youth has rose and know me not

    I am a stranger on my way. My treasures lie beyond

    This land my Gold is in...

  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-236)
  21. A North Georgia Discography
    (pp. 237-238)
  22. Index of Titles and First Lines of Songs
    (pp. 239-240)