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The Alan Lomax Collection: Portraits - Blue Ridge Legacy

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Album Review

Those who have followed the remarkable career of Alan Lomax are likely already familiar with the work of Hobart Smith. Smith's virtuosity on a variety of folk instruments, including banjo, guitar, and fiddle, have graced many a Lomax collection, as has his salt-of-the-earth voice. Listeners may be familiar with his readings of "Ellen Smith" or "Railroad Bill." Smith's output was prodigious, but many of the records were made for companies that no longer exist. Finding his records has been a problem. What a joy then to have many of his songs collected here. Perhaps best known for his song "The Cuckoo Bird," Smith was a professional musician who performed across the country with his wife, and, as his profession demanded, could play just about anything on anything. This disc does an admirable job of summarizing his remarkable career, including both searing instrumentals and sardonic vocal performances to give the initiate some idea of the scope of this man's talent. This disc should revive interest in a man whose influence on the folk revival of the '60s cannot be underestimated.

Customer Reviews

Stories and Tunes from an Old-Timey Master

This album is a compilation of some of the most memorable tunes from Hobart Smith, born in Smyth Co., VA, ion 1897. The album kicks off with a couple of fiddle tunes, "Devil's Dream" and "Drunken Hiccups," and after that, the listener is going headfirst into a journey through Appalachia. His style of banjo playing is, for lack of a better term, blacker than others. The Clawhammer style that is common through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Bluegrass three-finger style that is common with the Nashville scene, and Earl Scruggs-type, are both significantly different than Mr. Smith's style. He plays incredibly fast, and there are no words to descibe the energy with which he plays. Listen closely on one of the album's best cuts, "Last Chance," and hear the stomping noise. That would be his feet. The album never mentions this, but he does a sort of dance while he plays. This is truly a testament of a great old-timey musician, and it's also a powerful thing to know that though these songs are so old, they'll sill be passed down for years to come.


I have the cd of this because this is my great-grandfather


Born: January 15, 1915 in Austin, TX

Genre: World

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few figures deserve greater credit for the preservation of America's folk music traditions than Alan Lomax. Scouring the backroads, honky tonks, and work camps of the Deep South, he unearthed a treasure trove of songs and singers, documenting the music of the common man for future generations to discover; through Lomax's pioneering efforts, cultural traditions ranging from the Delta blues to Appalachian folk to field hollers continue to live on, with his invaluable recordings offering a compelling...
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