Friday, 24 October 2014

Appalachian Show Folk

Alan Lomax recording before digital.
Watching Alan Lomax interview and explain the customs of story tellers, musicians, mountain whittlers, clog dancers, banjo players, ballad singers, coal miners, and bootleggers, set me thinking about this peculiar breed of showmen. 

Their style and Ways are less showy than most others ever featured on this blog. They do not rely on dazzle dazzle but rather on an immediate ability to connect. Hard working, hard men and women pouring their hearts out through their music and stories. Their stock in trade; a truthfulness and no nonsense. There aint no arguing with this kind of showings of the soul.

We meet men like Nimrod Workman who worked 12 hour shifts in the depths of coal mines, digging away at the hearts of those mountains to emerge singing ballads of black lungs. With the truth of each word knocking the dust off their helmets and overhauls. Its a simple truth, the most difficult to tell, because of its nakedness and directness. Telling us about how the coal seeping into their bodies, showing it like faint tattoos under his skin, and of course giving them black lungs. But somehow in his passion giving off the feeling that the coal inside them has been forged into a diamond, by the pressures of life and the alchemical process of refining life experience into truth told by art.

With Alan Lomax himself throwing in commentary like: 
"The huge crowds which applaud the precision cloggers represents the modern passion for spectacles of regimented movement." 
I love that sentence. He then goes on an Appalachian Journey for the individual movement and style and passion in the hearts of the mountain folk and how they express it through a stripped back practical showmanship.

No comments:

Post a Comment