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Fiddlin John Carson Vol. 2 1924 - 1925

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Album Review

Volume two in Document's seven-part history of Fiddlin' John Carson examines 22 Okeh recordings made in Atlanta and New York between March 1924 and June 1925. Sound quality varies from clear to crusty. On tracks 1, 2, 9, and 10 he is joined by his Virginia Reelers, an indeterminate set of individuals who may have included banjoist Land Norris. The guitarist on the final track ("Sally Ann") has been identified as the fiddler's daughter Rosa Lee Carson. Part of the fun is in the tune selection, as old-timey favorites like "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'," "Turkey in the Straw," "Sugar in the Gourd," "Boil Dem Cabbage Down," and "Alabama Gal (Won't You Come Home Tonight?)" — a geographically specific "Buffalo Gals" — alternate with several locomotive-themed songs, instances of cynical humor ("I'm Glad My Wife's in Europe"), and social commentary ("The Death of Floyd Collins"). Early folk and blues lovers may want to compare Carson's version of "Charming Betsy" with that of singing railroad hobo Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas. As for "Run N****r Run," this lively tune was very popular among Georgia fiddlers and was also recorded by Earl Johnson's Clodhoppers and Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers. What is generally not observed is the fact that "Run N****r Run" originated among African-American slaves as a tribute to those who escaped captivity and struggled to elude patrols sent out specifically to hunt them down. Hearing it sung by a Southern white man places everything in a different context and may serve as a healthy exercise in understanding why certain words have vastly different connotations depending upon who uses them and why.


Born: 23 March 1868 in Fannin County, GA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s

Fiddlin' John Carson was already 55 when in 1923 the OKeh label released "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane"/"The Old Hen Cackled" — the first recording by a strictly country artist and arguably the beginning of the country music recording industry. Carson was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia in 1868, and worked in cotton mills for over 20 years until his fiddling talents won several contests. He began performing in minstrel shows, and came to be quite popular around the Georgia area...
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Fiddlin John Carson Vol. 2 1924 - 1925, Fiddlin John Carson
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