Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The St. James Sessions

The good folks at Knoxville indie label Lynn Point Records have done a great thing. They have archived on the internet the St. James recording sessions. The Brunswick Company recorded the St. James sessions in downtown Knoxville just before, and right at the beginning of the Great Depression (coincidentally, what is now the Brunswick Boat Company now calls Downtown Knoxville its corporate home). At the time many early record companies would have to go to the music. They would set up shop in a city for several weeks, and many of the musicians in the area would travel to town to lay down their songs. These roving music producers are the same people that discovered and brought American listeners country music, with pioneering acts like the Carter Family.

What Lynn Point has archived is a treasure of early recorded American music. The songs are a product of the slow and generational evolution of musical influences that occurred before worldwide distribution of records. Recorded music was a new phenomenon when these recordings were made, so this is very much the music of the region. I think you may be surprised by some of what you hear.

Listen to the songs, and watch the feature on the St. James sessions from The Heartland Series. Also make sure you read Jack Neely’s excellent, excellent, excellent article from 2005 entitled, “The Moan.”


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