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Category: Photographs

Five men stand on stage. One sings into a microphone.

Caught My Eye and Ear: Calypso Photos and Recordings, 1946-1947

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This post looks at photos and recordings of some important calypso stars of the 1940s New York music scene, Macbeth the Great (Patrick MacDonald), Duke of Iron (Cecil Anderson) and Lord Invader (Rupert Grant). The 1947 photos are part of the William P. Gottlieb collection at the Library of Congress Music Division, while the recording of a full-length 1946 concert by the three performers is part of the American Folklife Center’s Alan Lomax Collection. These collections shed light on an interesting time in American music, before the emergence of rock and roll, when calypso and related Caribbean styles were vying for popularity with other folk music genres. In 1944, the Andrews Sisters had a major hit with Lord Invader's "Rum and Coca-Cola." In 1956, Harry Belafonte's "Calypso" became the first million-selling LP record. During the period between those milestones, it looked possible that calypso could emerge to be one of the leading styles of American pop music. Performers like Duke of Iron, Macbeth, and Lord Invader engaged in friendly competitions like the ones documented by Gottlieb and Lomax, using witty lyrics, catchy music, and personal charisma to fascinate audiences on stage and on record. Find the photos and a link to the concert audio in this blog post.

Two men seated, one playing guitar, the other playing fiddle.

“No One Can Ever Forget It”: Stavin’ Chain’s Performance of “Batson”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is the second in a series of posts about the murder ballad “Batson.” This one discusses the performance recorded by John A. and Alan Lomax from a trio of musicians including Wilson Jones, a.k.a. Stavin’ Chain, in 1934. A little while back, I presented for the first time anywhere a version of the …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Celebrate AFC’s 40th with Photos of “MyTradition”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is part of a series of blog posts about the 40th anniversary of the American Folklife Center. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the American Folklife Center and its congressional mandate to “preserve and present American folklife,” we’re inviting people to share photos of their own folklife traditions. Do you prepare a family …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Rosanne Cash Curates a Carnegie Hall Exhibit with AFC

Posted by: Stephen Winick

When Rosanne Cash, recognized by the Library as one of the most compelling figures in popular music, was asked to curate a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, she graciously brought the American Folklife Center along for the ride. Cash asked AFC to help her curate a photo exhibit, which is being …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Alan Lomax in Italy: a letter to Goffredo Plastino

Posted by: Stephen Winick

At the American Folklife Center, researchers come from around the world to study our unparalleled documentation of traditional culture. But sometimes, they don’t even have to come here. Occasionally, new discoveries by our staff are so exciting or so curious that we feel prominent researchers need to know. For this reason, our reference librarians keep …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Farewell to the Holidays

Posted by: Stephen Winick

On this snowy January day, I’d like to wish the readers of Folklife Today a happy end to the holiday season.  Many people take down their Christmas decorations immediately after the day itself, and others use New Year’s Day as the end of their holiday. But among many communities, the Christmas season culminates after Twelfth …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

FolklifeHalloween2014 is Underway!

Posted by: Stephen Winick

FolklifeHalloween2014 is underway!  This is the first day we’ve asked people to share their Halloween and Day of the Dead photos on Flickr with the tag #FolklifeHalloween2014.  Of course, a few early birds had already begun to use the tag last week, like Daniel Baker, whose photo from 2009 is above. Others shared photos of …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

So You Want to Share Your Halloween Photos?

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Last week Trevor Owens and I posted to this blog, asking people to share their Halloween photos with us this year in an experimental online collecting project.  That post is important, and if you want to participate you should read it at this link.  But in case that much detail leaves you feeling bummed like …